Question of the Day: Facing an Armed Assailant: Who Can Resist?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c06mH6x2Ntc

TTAG commentator Aaron is not sure he’ll be able to join us for the [soon-to-rescheduled] live chat with self-defense gun guru Massad Ayoob [not shown]. So he send me this question for Mas. I thought our Armed Intelligenstia might like a whack at it first, so we can compare your thoughts to Ayoob’s as and when . . . “I’ve seen far too many ‘America’s Most Wanted’ shows in which a victim, usually a store clerk, cooperates calmly with an armed robber and is slain anyway. Are there characteristic behaviors that would help a victim tell whether the perp will be happy with whatever is in the cash drawer, or if their intent is to take a life, as well? Or is a personal policy of ‘always resist’ the way to go?”

comments

  1. avatar Travis says:

    Great Question! I’m sure that Mas will enjoy pontificating at length on the subject. He will probably talk about assaultive behavior clues. Is the attacker simply waiting for your wallet or is he preparing to kill you. Is his pulse visibly throbbing in his neck? Are his fists clenched? Is he trembling or making movements to burn off the extra oxygen he is taking in? Is he holding a knife and target-fixating on your throat?

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    If he’s coming in my bedroom window when I get home, he’s gonna get shot. If he’s going out my bedroom window when I get home, she’s gonna get shot.

    Calm down, Mikeb. It’s a joke.

  3. avatar Roy Hill says:

    I’d say there are simply too many variables to have a pat answer on this one. I’d say you’ll just have to be as prepared as you can be, and then in a given situation, trust your gut and instincts as to what you should or should not do.

    Also, realize that a lot of what we call “gut” or “instincts” aren’t really either one, but knowledge you pick up subconsciously from all your senses.

    You get the feeling or intuition that Jim Bob mugger just wants your wallet because of things you see, hear, smell and feel without even consciously knowing that you are picking up on all the details.

    In another situation, get the feeling or intuition that Jim Bob mugger also wants to crush your skull with that hammer he’s got right after you hand him your wallet.

    Two examples. I know someone was robbed by a man with a gun, who ordered him to lay down on the sidewalk, facing away. The victim just knew he was going to die as soon as he got down on the sidewalk. Only the robber didn’t shoot for whatever set of reasons, and the victim was later able to testify in court an put the robber away for about 10 years.

    In another case in Florida, an elderly man was in a fast food place when a pair of thugs came in to rob it. The elderly man complied with all their demands and gladly gave up his wallet. But then the thugs herded all the victims into the back of the restaurant and ordered them to get on the floor. The elderly man pretended to have difficulty getting down on his knees, which served as his cover to draw his CCW pistol (a small 1911 in .45) and shoot both the thugs, killing one, and wounding another.

    In one case, the victim didn’t fight, and survived.

    In the other case, the victim fought, and survived.

    Both good outcomes.

    But the situations could have easily turned out very bad in both cases, too. And there are just too many variables from situation to situation for any pat answer to be right all the time.

  4. avatar Pete says:

    Why would you want to trust your life to the kindness of a criminal who is robbing you at gunpoint? Why are you willing to die like a sheep? And if you cooperate when you can fight back effectively, all you are doing is encouraging him to continue his actions on other people. Resist. If you want an in-depth discussion of this issue, read John Snyder’s “A Nation of Cowards”. (Enter that title on Google, print it, and read it once a year. Have your family and friends read it.)

  5. avatar NeonCat says:

    Realizing that armed robbery is probably a high adrenaline event for everyone involved, I would suspect that some but not all victims get shot by accident, simply because the perp has their finger on the trigger and pulls a little too tight (especially if they’ve never actually fired the weapon they are holding), in which case there are no behavioral clues. But in the majority of cases, I don’t know. I don’t doubt that there are people who will shoot others “just to watch [them] die”, but I tend to think that most armed robbery is just that, robbery, and most robbers would prefer not to add aggravated assault or murder to the list. “America’s Most Wanted” would tend to show the outliers, those who are violent enough to shoot even when they get what they want – I suspect this will skew the perception of what most robberies involve.

    Damn humans, always complicated.

  6. avatar Aaron says:

    Neon makes a good point – America’s Most Wanted, of course, will usually show only the worst of the worst.
    But it’s quite emotional to watch such footage and realize that you’re looking at someone’s last moments. I can’t help but think that as these people lay dying, their final thought is probably “I wish I had at least tried to resist.”
    One particularly horrible piece of security cam footage shows a pair of thugs robbing a store. They didn’t appear to be particularly agitated (as I recall), but decided in the end, almost as an afterthought, to put three low-caliber bullets into the torso of the poor old clerk behind the register. The man folds, and falls off camera. The recording had an audio component, and the viewer gets to hear the man as he spends the last 60 seconds of his life crying and gurgling on his own blood.
    I don’t want to go down that way…
    Whether or not to resist is a tough decision to make, but I figured that Mas of all people would at least have some idea of the “tells” that violent life-takers exhibit, rather than the “I’m gonna grab what I can and take off” types.

  7. avatar DonWorsham says:

    It is a risk. You will either except the risk and act or you will not.

  8. avatar BlackJack Davey says:

    When my wife went through her defense course she was taught; if an attacker wants to move you some where they are moving you to a place they can kill you. Scenario 2 in Roy Hill’s case brought that to mind. If you’ve already robbed me why move me to a meat locker?

  9. avatar miforest says:

    always fight . pick the time as best you can , look for them to glance a way.

  10. avatar Patriot Henry says:

    Or is a personal policy of ‘always resist’ the way to go?”

    That’s long been my idea. I’d love to see what Mr. Ayoob says about it. An armed robbery is a criminal threat against your life. I may not be able to stop all attacks against me, but I don’t have to sanction my own victimization.

    One of my favorite stories: loser tries to rob a store in Vermont with a Tec-9, clerk refuses to give him cash. Next day in NH, same deal. Clerks gave him no respect: http://phillipbantz.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/crime-spree-convict-has-split-personality/

    When I was 13 I was in the town library when three young wanna be hoodlums approached me and tried to mug me. I insisted, truthfully, that I had no cash, for about three minutes until they gave up and left. If someone gets the jump on me I plan on simply refusing to cooperate, unless they seem to be a real danger, in which case I’m drawing a gun or knife. I’d only comply if there were women or children around.

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