If you face an imminent, credible threat of grievous bodily harm or death, it doesn’t matter who your assailant is or why they’re after you. You are legally justified in using lethal force to stop the threat, regardless (check your state’s laws for the inevitable caveats). But if you know the three types of bad guys, you may be able to avoid shooting or, in one case, shoot sooner. Here they are . . .

1. The Opportunist

A criminal opportunist is someone who sees — or simply stumbles across — a chance to make some “easy money” and takes it. Like a bad guy who sees you walking down a street yakking on the cell, wearing some nice clothes, and he or she thinks, yeah, I’ll have me some of that.

Drug addicts desperate for a fix certainly fit in this category. So-called “petty criminals” too.

While opportunists aren’t planners, they will ambush to attack — why wouldn’t they? “‘Scuse me I’m lost.” Like that. Or they’ll simply hide behind something and surprise their victim. An opportunist’s attack’s highly likely to go down in a public or semi-public place (e.g. a parking garage or gas station).

The best way to deal with an opportunist: don’t give them the opportunity. Avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things (e.g., meeting that nice guy who sells you weed meeting in an unknown location). Maintain situational awareness (SA), especially getting in and out of your vehicle. LOOK like you’re aware (that Facebook post can wait).

Note: you can never assume that any attacker will be satisfied with your cash or valuables. An opportunist may be the least likely of our three criminal types to hurt, kill or rape you, but the potential is always there.

Carry a gun, and make sure you can get to it quickly and efficiently.

2. The Professional

What kind of criminals are in jail? Stupid ones. If you think all criminals will fold at the sight of your firearm, think again. Professionals are experienced and they’re good at what they do.

Professionals criminals calculate risk/reward the same way your banker does. They plan their attacks to reduce their risk and increase their reward. To that end, they know how to ensure compliance, often by hurting you: beating, stabbing or shooting. Which is also a good way for them to eliminate a witness.

A professional criminal might be a mugger. Or a rapist (note how many rapists are only caught after multiple attacks). Your average home invader is also a professional criminal, often working with a partner or partners. They may case a neighborhood and target your home.

Avoidance and situational awareness also help defend against a professional criminal. If you’re a better-than-average target — someone who carries cash, drives a Ferrari or works in a high value goods business — up your SA game. (Some might say attractive women are a particular target but I couldn’t possibly comment.)

You know all that operator operating operationally training? Close-quarters combat, seeking cover or concealment, having a knife for a back-up, etc.? It’ll come in very handy when facing a professional criminal. God forbid.

Make no mistake: if you engage a professional you’re in for a serious fight, possibly to the death. Odds are they’ve been in that situation before — and won.

3. The Psycho

I’m talking here about stalkers, terrorists, aggrieved employees, psychopaths and the like. These are by far the most dangerous threat to your existence.

Psychos aren’t motivated by traditional ideas of personal gain. They’re out to hurt or kill you. Period. It’s not about risk. It’s all about psychological reward.

In other words, they don’t care if you call the police or other people are nearby. They don’t care if you fight back. They may want you to fight back. And they’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish their mission, the realization of a deeply planned attack, come what may.

You may be “lucky” enough to get advance warning from a psycho; they like to mentally torture their victims. If you do, if you get a warning letter or phone call, your normal life is dead. Take action. 

Contact the police immediately. Home carry. Change your locks and reinforce your doors. Practice a home defense plan. Use your alarm system. Keep your head on a swivel. Vary your routines.

Send your children or significant other to a distant relative. How about you leave town? Consider that option; you are in imminent danger.

The cops aren’t very good at stopping psychos, who are patient, cunning and determined. Consider hiring a private detective to go out and find the bad guy (I did for a stalker and it paid off.)

Not to be much of a Debbie Downer, but defending yourself from an attack from a psycho — especially if you don’t get a heads-up (e.g., a terrorist attack) — depends as much on luck as your ability to fight.

As always, the best personal defense weapon is a firearm. Know how to use it. And be ready to do so at a moment’s notice.

[NB: I’ve written on this subject before. I reckon it’s worth repeating. Keep calm and carry one. Or two.]

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26 Responses to Three Types of Bad Guys and Armed Self-Defense

    • Somewhat different category, I’d say, more like mob / riot attacks. You can’t avoid them with 100% certainty, but the avoiding stupid places etc. practices has application here too.

      On the other hand, I would be … reluctant … to allow a group like that to keep me from going to a lecture I was looking forward to. Trade-offs between common sense and giving them the victory by staying away are things I’d need to evaluate on a per-instance basis.

  1. How’s about instead of leaving town you find mister psycho and impress upon him the errors of his ways. If the cops can’t protect you from him they aren’t going to do him much good unless he does something to get himself locked up.

    Everybody should have an off the books gun that nobody, not even your wife knows about.

    • Off the books gun to use on antifa thugs ? I thought about a cheap Super Soaker filled with isopropyl alcohol and a book of matches to discourage physical attacks.

      Then they could swap their “Become Ungovernable” banners for banners that say “Become Unburnable”

    • One of the requirements for a valid claim of self defense is that the threat is imminent. Seeking out your tormentor and doing it to him before he does it to you doesn’t qualify even if your identification and assessment of his intentions are correct.

      Moving away to escape a psycho isn’t practical. You have a job. Probably, so does your wife. Your kids need to attend school. The best you can do is to make yourselves the most difficult and dangerous targets possible. Half of it, which is your responsibility, is to be armed everywhere it’s legal, to avoid places where it’s not as much as possible, and to use technology like alarm and surveillance systems to their utmost.

      The other half is to solicit assistance from police, employers, your children’s schools, friends, neighbors and coworkers to watch your backs and report suspicious behavior. For example, no one but you or your wife picks up your children from school. If anyone else tries, even if they appear to have some sort of government credentials, the school should immediately call 911 to report an attempted abduction.

    • the nature of psychopathy or sociopathy is such that trying to dissuade them in this manner will rarely do any good unless its terminal. Their social construct is so different from yours that what would impress you to refrain would only encourage or inflame them.

  2. “Did they look like psychos? Is that what they looked like? They were vampires. Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them, I don’t give a fuck how crazy they are!”

  3. The really smart ones use the law and police against you in a myriad of ways. From brandishing charges to assault accusations you need to watch your position with the authorities.

    The guy who tried to Jack you at a gas station might call the cops after you draw on him and say you freaked out and brandished a gun.

    Arms are not just politically charged but legal fireworks.

    • That’s why you promptly called 911 to report an attempted carjacking. As much as we dislike surveillance, it benefits the good guy and helps convict the bad guy.

  4. Wow, the Talking Heads! Dave Byrne and his band are Rhode Island School of Design alumni from the 70’s. I’m told that they hung out at the cool bars in downtown Providence, like Leo’s, 3 Steeple Street and The Incredible Trumpet. I was there too but i didn’t know who they were and they didn’t know me either … lol

    • The first show I went to was the “Talking Heads”. It was 79 @ the Armadillo. Paid $4.50. They sold beer to 13 year olds. Went there every Friday till they shut down.

    • Ah, Mr. Farago! Brilliant use of wonderful music! Kudos! One of my personal Talking Heads favorites, musically and lyrically , is “Life During Wartime”.

  5. It is my anecdotal experience that professional criminals are usually *less* dangerous than those taking advantage of an opportunity that fell in their lap.

    Professionals are calculating but this is actually what, IME, makes them less dangerous. Yes, if you cross them they’ll hurt you to make a point but they’re not looking to “catch a body” and generally eschew violence whenever they can. They’re out to make money while minimizing the risk of getting caught. A mugging will be investigated, a murder or attempted murder will generally get more attention and they don’t want that. They want your cash, jewelry, electronics or whatever and to be on their way ASAP.

    This is why professional burglars watch your house to make as sure as they can that no one is there before they hit your place. They don’t want a confrontation. Sure, they’ll get violent if you surprise them but they’d really prefer to avoid that. Professional “robbery boys” (my former neighbors unfortunately) will generally avoid people they think are too much trouble and operate via ambush and/or overpowering numbers almost exclusively. If they really are professionals at this then usually by the time you know they’re a problem (that they really are robbery boys and not just some shadeballs) you’re probably fucked if you resist because they wouldn’t spring the trap if they didn’t know pretty damn well that they had you dead to rights. As one of my former neighbors noted to me “Robbing ni**as by yourself is stupid. That’s how you get shot”.

    The saving grace for pros is that the fact that professional criminals are calculating and experienced means that they are not prone to panic and do something stupid nor are they prone to intentionally do something stupid to enhance their street reputation. They’re not newbies or wannabe gangbangers that might shoot/stab/beat you just because. They don’t rob a gas station, take the clerk in the back and shoot them for no reason. They’re out the door as fast as possible and if you don’t get in their way they’ll usually leave you alone.

  6. As someone who works around these dirt bags for a living, this list is generally correct. But it needs more.

    As others have noted, “professional criminals” do seek to avoid confrontation, as in typically commit break ins on homes during business hours, then commit break ins on businesses during non business hours. Businesses themselves offer a greater reward with less threat. Though they don’t have a problem with violence, violence and death is hard to escape prosecution from.

    Also, though “professional criminals” can be pretty hardcore, there’s often a misconception brought on by movies and media that they are these insanely ripped, highly trained killers. They are not. They can be fought and defeated by anyone who is proficient in their skills and situationaly aware.

    This isn’t to say to under estimate such types, but I hate to see the mentally of “well they’re so good they’ll win anyway so I’ll just give up.” They can bleed just like anyone else.

    Now I would agree the “psycho” style killer is the most dangerous for the reasons mentioned. They’re the most likely to plan out an attack on you and know you personally. Personally if I had this type after me… I honestly wouldn’t care what the law said or constrained me as… I’d go on offense.

    I’m not giving you legal advice, in fact that’s bad advice, I’m just saying that threat is dangerous enough to the point I would no longer be concerned with getting in trouble and just surviving.

    I’d also add another category that others mentioned: violent political opponents. There’s real merit to someone who is for all things considered not “criminal”, who will then engage in violent criminal behavior in “group think”, feeling they’re advancing an agenda or religious deed. Examples are the current “antifa crowd”, Islamic extremists, racial extremists such as black lives matter or the Klan, and really anyone engaged in any kind of heated protest, who may see you as the enemy simply because of your clothes, race, or vehicle.

  7. I’m not sure I agree with everything about the professional. They are VERY likely to be detered by fire arms. The reason being that most individuals are not going to have anything worth taking that will be worth the risk of being shot. It’s easier just to find a better target. This is why jewelry merchants often have armed guards.

  8. As someone that works in private security, I can echo what others have said. Professional criminals are less likely to resort to violence because it’s attention they don’t want, and generally they’ve planned on how to avoid it.

  9. Note: you can never assume that any attacker will be satisfied with your cash or valuables. An opportunist may be the least likely of our three criminal types to hurt, kill or rape you, but the potential is always there. — The Truth About Guns producer Robert Farago

    Case in point: two criminals saw Mrs. Petit at a grocery store, decided she looked wealthy, and followed her home intending only to rob her and go on their merry way. After entering her home and obtaining thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry, those two criminals decided to also rape Mrs. Petit and one of her daughters … and then kill Mrs. Petit and both of her daughters (setting them on fire and burning them alive).

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