By: Grant Cate, NRA Certified Pistol and Self Defense Instructor
In part 1 of this series we have attempted to debunk some of the myths and misunderstandings about defending one's life with what is possibly lethal force. We talked about how making the decision to defend one's life by carrying a handgun is a very serious decision that should be made with soul searching deliberation. We also pointed out that defending oneself with a handgun is NOTHING LIKE TV AND THE MOVIES, and MUST BE USED ONLY AS A TOOL OF LAST RESORT. We pointed that out because frequently, the only information that people have about these kind of situations comes from Hollywood.
So, if it's nothing like we see on TV and the movies, what is it like?
First: violent criminal attacks happen very suddenly, without any warning. The attacker frequently stalks their intended victim and strikes when their victim is not paying attention to their surroundings.
Second: Violent attackers get as close as they can to their victims before "showing their hand" and attacking. If you are not being situationally aware, the attack will be under way before you even recognize that you are being stalked.
Third: Frequently, the person being attacked does not notice that they have been harmed until they feel the wetness of their own blood. They are hit by the attacker so suddenly that they do not recognize that this is an attack. Their mind is trying to get past the thought, "Why is this guy bumping into me?" Frequently, by this time, it is too late. The damage is done, and the attack is over. Unfortunately, too often, so is the victims life.
In a case like I have just described, whether or not the victim was armed is completely inconsequential. Because the victim was not on his or her guard by being situationally aware. By the time the attack started it was far too late for the victim to defend himself. At times the false sense of security that comes along with the pistol on ones hip makes the carrier of the pistol an easy target for the street predator. Many weapons carry license holders are woefully unprepared to actually use the pistol to fend off an attack. They have absolutely no concept of just how fast an attack of this nature happens.
Let me give you an example. You are walking down the street and a violent thug who is 21 feet from you yells and waves their knife at you and charges you. You have 1.5 seconds to pull your pistol from wherever you are carrying it and fire a shot that will actually hit the attacker center mass.
There are a number of elements in this scenario that should worry you.
1: 1.5 seconds to identify the threat pull your pistol from its holster and hit a charging target center mass is really, really fast. When one considers that my average student who is learning to draw from a concealed carry holster takes almost 4 seconds to deploy the pistol and hit a target that is standing still more than half the time is a daunting fact.
2: Even if you are able to deploy the pistol that quickly and get off an accurate shot hitting your attacker center mass, one shot from a service caliber pistol usually will not stop an attacker. Again, it is not like TV. People do not get thrown backwards by a bullet strike. In fact it is not uncommon for an attacker to absorb multiple 38 spl or 9mm hits and not even realize they have been hit.
3: Violent attackers rarely, if ever, give their victim 21 feet of advanced warning that they are coming.
What conclusions should you make about all of this?
First: It should become clear to any reasonable and thoughtful person who carries a handgun for self defense that the need for reaction times and speed of pistol deployment like those sighted in this example, may well show them to be woefully unprepared to use their pistol when faced with a hard core lethal attack. Without proper training and a commitment to practice these skill sets regularly a concealed carrier is not up to this kind of self defense task. The unfortunate reality is that unlike the above scenario, violent criminals NEVER give their prey that kind of advanced warning.
Second: In order to give yourself a fighting chance to successfully defend yourself in this type of situation, it is critically important that you be situationally aware and on your guard. The only way to win a fight like this is NEVER HAVE ONE! A real criminal with violent intent will do everything they can to get in as close to you as possible without alarming you. To that end many of these criminal types look for people who are unaware of their surroundings. We have all seen these people and perhaps we may have been these people ourselves....walking along the street, or in a parking garage, nose in the cell phone, and ear buds in the ears. Violent criminals look at these kind of people as juicy targets. Be situationally aware and stay away from places where you could be a target.
Don't be one of "those" people.
Third: One way to avoid being targeted and attacked is to be "obviously aware" of your surroundings. That is the first step. Don't be an easy target. Keep your head up, look behind you occasionally. Walk with a purpose, never seem to wander aimlessly. An aware, alert person is a far more difficult target. This alone may make a bad guy look for easier pickings.
Fourth: If you notice someone watching, tracking or following you, make sure they know you see them. Put distance and obstacles between you and the person you think may be tracking you, if they persist by continuing to close the distance, be prepared to launch your own violent defense. Shout a verbal warning to "STAY BACK YOU ARE MAKING ME UNCOMFORTABLE!" Generally, they will break off and withdraw.
Fifth: If they ignore your warnings and close the distance even more aggressively, it is time to prepare to defend yourself. At this point, you may be under a hard core threat. Once they start to close the gap on you, you may need to be prepared to fight them off. At this point, you need to do anything you can to create space between you and your attacker. If you are not prepared at this point, and this turns into a lethal attack, you may not be able to get the pistol deployed as your primary defensive weapon.
This is the ugly brutal reality of self defense. There is nothing cool or heroic about defending yourself from a hardcore, possibly lethal threat. These attacks and the subsequent defensive fight happen with great suddenness. They are frequently an extremely violent, bloody affair. This is nothing like TV and the movies. The good guy does not always win. In fact sometimes they get badly hurt or even killed as they attempt to defend themselves.
Beyond that, in today's world, it is entirely possible to do everything by the letter of the law in defense of myself and family and still end up financially ruined in a subsequent lawsuit, or even end up spending years in the penitentiary. Companies like U.S. Law Shield can provide you with legal services at no cost to you beyond a small monthly retainer (as little as $10.99 a month) if you ever have to defend yourself.
Ask yourself these questions.
1: Am I willing to defend myself with potentially lethal force knowing the reality of today's world?
2: Do I know the laws and the criminal and civil justice system well enough to navigate successfully through the aftermath of a defensive shooting?
3: After reading this blog you probably have a fairly accurate understanding of the true nature of a defensive fight, particularly one outside of your home. Do you believe that you have the skill sets that will be required to get your pistol into the fight, and prevail?
If the answer to question 2 and 3 is no, then you need to take one of two courses of action.
1: Don't carry a gun for self defense, because the reality is that the pistol on your hip likely makes you more in danger, not less. Face it, if you don't really understand the ins and outs of navigating through the aftermath of a defensive shooting either the penitentiary and or financial ruin may well be in your future.
Beyond that, if you have not trained to the point of proficiency to defend yourself with your handgun, then there is a pretty good chance that the best case is that you will be unsuccessful in deploying your handgun effectively. A worst case scenario is that the pistol you are carrying gets taken away from you and then gets used on you.
Give up any thought that strapping on the pistol automatically makes you safer. That is pure fantasy. Unless you are willing to invest a significant amount of time and money and are properly training, you ARE NOT SAFER because of the gun. Unless you have experience as a law enforcement officer or as a combat soldier you need to get training. If you choose not to use our company for that training, that is fine, but get training from some competent self defense trainer, and then practice... Get started, there is no time to delay!