They say a picture is worth 1,000 words.
Well, here’s a picture for you:
If you haven’t heard about this incident, you can read more about it here.
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.”