The Time to Fight

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Well, here’s a picture for you:

Euric Cain, a convicted felon, tries to fire a fatal shot into the head of Tulane medical student Peter Gold
Euric Cain, a convicted felon, tries to fire a fatal shot into the head of Tulane medical student Peter Gold

If you haven’t heard about this incident, you can read more about it here.

Peter Gold found himself facing The Unthinkable when he tried to help a woman that was being dragged down the street by this violent criminal.


Coming face to face with the worst sort of violent criminal while unarmed or minimally armed is not the sort of thing people like to talk about at parties. When it is discussed, it’s usually in a rather dismissive manner. A phrase I saw over and over again as this incident made rounds on the web was “There’s not much you can do.”

Yes there is. 

Let’s consider some facts. Firstly, most people who are shot by handguns survive the ordeal. This is partially due to the relative weakness of handguns and partially due to the inability of most who are using handguns to put a bullet where it will shut down the human machine. I’ll reiterate here something Tom Givens shared with us in his Intensive Pistol Skills class:

“One hospital in Memphis treated more than 3,100 gunshot wounds in a single year. Only 74 of those 3,100 plus GSWs were fatal, and the vast majority of victims were out of the hospital within 48 hours. Handguns, regardless of caliber, are not death rays.”

Nobody wants to be shot, but being shot isn’t the same thing as being dead…but if you don’t contest the bad guy’s efforts to end you, it can very well turn into being dead. Be like Jared Reston: “This sumbitch is not going to sit here and kill me at all!”

Let’s also consider that many criminal actors are carrying weapons that don’t work terribly well. Greg Ellifritz over at Active Response Training actually did a detailed analysis of guns his department took off of criminals and found that a significant percentage of them were not in proper functional order, meaning that they couldn’t fire more than a round or two without a stoppage. Some were entirely unloaded or loaded with ammunition that wouldn’t work in the weapon.

Fighting isn’t just your only option…it’s got a much higher chance of success than you might believe. Say you have the foresight to carry a small knife on your person (an item legal to have on you in most jurisdictions) and you find yourself shot in the gut with this dude trying to fix his gun so he can execute you on the street. I guarantee you that opening a few of that bastard’s favorite arteries is going to screw with his game plan something fierce. Killing a person offering no resistance is one thing. Killing a person determined to fight to their last breath as they busy themselves working a knife into your anatomy like a Singer sewing machine is another thing altogether.

To have a hope of fighting that hard, though, you have to create that mental parking spot to employ the level of violence necessary to prevail. Like ol’ Josey says:


The person who can get “plumb mad-dog mean” when attacked is very dangerous. The dangerous person is often able to win fights that on paper they should lose, usually because the person who picked the fight with them wasn’t expecting to encounter the kind of violent tenacity that the dangerous man/woman can summon. Bad guys want victims, not opponents.

As the good guy you don’t usually get a say in whether or not some catch-and-release felon tries to make you a victim…but you do get to decide that there’s going to be a fight. You do get to decide that if this bastard wants to end you, he’s going to have to earn it. There’s a time for deescalation and even for running away as fast as possible. There is also a time to fight. A time to summon every ounce of malevolence you can muster and unleash hell on the bastard that is trying to harm you and yours.

I’ll remind you once again of this:

“You are fundamentally a bio-machine shaped by 17,000 ‘stupendous bad-asses’, as Neal Stephenson once said. Seventeen thousand times, your ancestor survived the famine that killed his neighbor, survived the wolf attack, survived the battle, survived the fall, the injury, the disease, the conflict. Seventeen thousand times, your ancestors survived to reproduce. You may feel like a weakling as you sit in your bean bag chair and play Candy Crush Saga, but you are an apex predator by birth.”


  1. Gun looks like a Tec-9. Was it? If so, that might explain the jam.
    In any case, I hope that the perp will spend the rest of his life in some place where he’ll never be a threat to innocent people again.

    1. It was indeed a Tech-9. Given that this violent felon attempted kidnapping and murder all in the same night you’d think he would go to jail for a very long time…but odds are he’ll be back on the street in a few years.

  2. Tim, you must be mad! We should relinquish all responsibility of our own protection to the Nanny State and rely solely on them for our safety and willingly give up our arms. After all, having to fight for yourself is scary and not part of our modern lifestyle. Places with strict gun control like France and California and Chicago are free from such violence and bloodshed. Oh, wait….

  3. Something an announcer stated while commenting on the, then, ongoing situation out in San Bernardino infuriated me to no end and sums up why scumbags keep getting away with this sort of shit. The guy stated that in such a situation you should 1st – Run away, 2nd – Hide and 3rd – “Only if absolutely no other choice is available” then you should fight for your life. If even half of the victims of these recent shootings had been armed and chose to fight as option number one then these examples of low life filth would not be given the opportunity to do the damage they cause.
    So, instead of making it difficult for these bastards to mow people down by taking them out first we should behave like nice little sheep and cower in the corner somewhere and hope for the best.

    1. They give that advice because they are, deep down, worthless amoral cowards. They give this advice in the hopes that others might heed it, thinking it wise or sage because, truly, no one wants to die. They hope that when others heed this advice, their own cowardice will be masked by the fact that others are doing this also, so it must be The Right Thing To Do.

    2. Run/Hide/Fight is a valid procedure if you are rendered helpless by choice or by the authority of your ‘betters’. It’s the best advice available for the defenseless.

      For the rest of us, it’s more like, ‘If you have the shot, take it. If you don’t, get out.”

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