During a pre-interview for a televised gun rights show-down, a researcher asked me “What do you do if someone’s already got a gun pointed at you?” It’s the same gun control idea as it ever was: if you can’t use a firearm for self-defense successfully why should you have one? I know: that’s seven kinds of stupid. In the interests of time, let’s cut to the quick. If you’re behind the curve in a self-defense situation—if you’re out-drawn, out-gunned, out-maneuvered and out of options—panic! Hear me out . . .
According to the wikipedia hive mind, “panic is a sudden sensation of fear which is so strong as to dominate or prevent reason and logical thinking, replacing it with overwhelming feelings of anxiety and frantic agitation consistent with an animalistic fight-or-flight reaction.”
In other words, panic means doing something really dumb really quickly. Think cornered baboon attacking a leopard. Like every other animal behavior, panic exists because of natural selection. If it didn’t confer an evolutionary advantage animals wouldn’t panic.
In the example above, the Pittsburgh store clerk facing an armed aggressor didn’t exhibit the normal behavior for people in his situation. He didn’t cower or capitulate. He grabbed the bad guy’s gun and then grabbed the perp’s head and slammed it into the counter. And won the day.
I’ll bet you dollars to donuts the store clerk has no recollection whatsoever of the moment of truth. He doesn’t know what “made” him attack. Suffused with adrenalin, faced with a life or death situation, he didn’t act. He reacted. He attacked.
An armed defender facing a lethal threat shouldn’t rule out the possibility of attacking his or her attacker. Yes, that’s another way of recommending speed, surprise and violence of action as a viable self-defense strategy—with a difference. I’m saying that it might be best to “allow” yourself to panic.
I know: an armed self-defender should get off the X, conserve ammo, look for cover and concealment, slow down, aim, etc. But there are times when the situation is desperately dire. At that point, you might not have the time or ability to think your way out of trouble. It might be best to simply surrender yourself to balls-out fear and aggression and let loose the dogs of war.
How will you know? Who knows? But whatever you do, don’t get stuck in a psychological loop of “I shouldn’t be afraid. Why am I afraid? I shouldn’t be afraid.” As Susan Jeffers said, feel the fear and do it anyway. Even if that means letting the fear tell you what to do.
As always, good luck with that.