Self-Defense Tip: Beware the Bully

As a former cop, I cannot recall the number of times I saw convicted criminals while out on the town. People I’d dealt with personally. I’d see them in the local grocery store or gas station. Note: they didn’t wear neon signs that say “Danger: Violent Felon.” Armed citizens need to be aware that dangerous criminals are out there, somewhere, and they don’t announce their presence like they do on TV and movies. There’s one type of bad guy in particular that can attack you without warning and for no reason apparent reason: the social bully. A field guide in a moment. First, a bit of sociology . . .

When I went to elementary school, fist fights were numerous while shootings were unheard of. Kids who got into fist fights generally worked out their frustrations and moved on. Both actors would end up bruised and sore but ninety-nine times out of one-hundred that was the end of it. They both realized that fist fights hurt and learned their lesson.

What we have today is a highly litigious society with a “zero-tolerance” nonsense that punishes the victim equally with the aggressor. Fist fights are treated like felonies. The genuinely good and righteous kids understand that fighting back will end with their expulsion with no appeal. The good kids are afraid to fight back against the bad kids. The bullies are now emboldened and victims even more timid.

This situation doesn’t end in junior high or high school. The social bully, being even more emboldened, proceeds through life pushing people around caring nothing for others. And why should they care? The good citizens, those with families and careers, have been taught by example that they are ones with everything to lose. Hell, so-called safety experts offer advice to just “give them what they want” and “don’t fight back.”

I saw a ridiculous poster printed by the local police department the other day hanging in a sandwich shop. The poster listed “Crime Prevention Tips.” One of the tips was “if caught in a robbery just give them what they want, don’t take the chance of getting hurt.” What an awesome way to enable criminals!

Why fear the Social Bully?

The social bully might not be known to you, but he’s the guy who thinks you cut him off in traffic or took his parking spot. He’s the one who attacks you for seemingly no reason because in his mind you affronted him.

The first justifiable shooting by a Texas resident holding a concealed carry license took place after two pick-up trucks bumped side-view mirrors in heavy traffic. Driver #1 jumped out of his truck and ran over to the other. He reached into the open driver’s window and began pummeling the driver #2’s face with his fists. Belted in behind the wheel and unable to move his vehicle driver #2 produced a pistol and shot #1.

The post-mortem investigation found that the deceased had numerous, previous assault charges, was quick tempered and violent. He was a life-long social bully.

Social bullies aren’t just men. Two weeks ago an acquaintance of mine pulled into a quick-stop parking lot. When the man emerged a couple minutes later a woman tried to run him down with her car. She was angry because he “took her spot.”

Parting Thoughts

The social bully is dangerous because he or she looks just like your neighbor across the street. They don’t wear ski-masks and hide near the ATM. The social bully is in the restaurant, the movie theater, and the grocery store. Because the social bully doesn’t fit the pre-existing villain stereo-type he/she often is able to attack before the good citizen realizes what is happening.

Possessing no fear of the civilized man, the social bully moves through life largely unchecked. The enlightened members of our society will offer myriad excuses for the bullies’ behavior and innumerable billboard attorneys will get them off if ever pressed into a courtroom situation.

Being emboldened by an enabling society and fearful victims, the social bully attack can be more than a simple sock on the nose. Having lived their lives unrestrained the bully’s assault can become a vicious, crippling beating, stabbing and even a shooting. Take a long hard look in the mirror. How many vicious punches to the face could you withstand before losing the ability to defend yourself?

Your choice as the good citizen is either to increase your vigilance and rethink your image of what a bad guy really looks like or simply shrug your shoulders and wait to be a victim. The choice is yours.

Paul G. Markel became a US Marine in 1987. Mr. Markel has been a professional bodyguard, police officer and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Markel recently launched “Emergency Tactical Skills” program. For more info go to: