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Don't be a victim.

by Steve Davis, President
Guns Save Life

I had a thrilling time at the 2017 Rangemaster Tactical Conference and learning from the top trainers and instructors from all over the country. Hearing presentations from Massad Ayoob, Tom Givens, John Farnham, Andrew Branca, Marty Hayes, and  Chuck Haggard yields a gold mine of information which proves useful to both instructors and the everyday person. I highly recommend this training for all good guys and gals.

However, there is a down side to learning the facts from these highly placed sources.  When they tell you that things are much worse out in the streets and neighborhoods of this country than the political authorities want you to know, and they give you the figures to back it up, it causes a chill to go down your spine.

We have heard for some time from sources like Second City Cop, Hey Jackass and Chicago Magazine (part 1, part 2, New Tricks) just how the City of Chicago has played fast and loose with crime statistics.  The end result makes crime rates, particularly violent crime rates, appear lower than they actually are.  The information from the Tactical Conference shows this trend holds in urban centers nationwide.

So, how bad is it?  Tom Givens cited Bureau of Justice Statistics because he felt it was the most accurate figure. Over the last few years the BJS reports 5 to 6 million violent crimes per year in the U.S.  This includes usually a million or more aggravated assaults per year and close to 250,000 to 300,000 forcible rapes. How many of you have been told that your chance of being the victim of a violent crime is one in a million?  Well, according to Givens, on an annual basis, it’s closer to 1 in 50 or 60.  You can do the math on a lifetime risk.

Want to hear another statistic that you are not hearing from the government and media?  Kevin Davis, one of the top law enforcement trainers in Ohio, reports that ambushes of law enforcement officers are up 167 percent over the last year.   Police have generally stopped proactive policing in large urban areas.  This “Ferguson Effect” has left criminals to ply their trade, leading to this increase in urban violence.  The bad guys have been emboldened while law enforcement activity has been suppressed.  Meanwhile, more people fall into the victim category.

What advice do the top instructors and trainers offer in response to these statistics?  First, recognize that violent crime can happen to you.  It is not a one in a million chance.  Second, get your concealed carry permit and good training to go with it.  Don’t become a victim.  The experts recommend training that pressure tests you and your decision-making under stress.

Good live-action, reality-based force-on-force training tops their recommendations for training.  Cops and the military have used this proven training system for years.   Today, civilian force-on-force course offerings have become more common, offering the same highly-effective training for everyday Americans.

Finally, carry all the time.  Bad guys do not let you choose the time or locations where they attack. You must maintain awareness of your surroundings.  The first rule to winning a gun fight is having a gun.


Steve Davis works as a semi-retired attorney and president of Guns Save Life, Inc.  He holds Instructor certifications from NRA, USRA and Project Appleseed.  Steve loves all things guns and teaches with GSL Defense Training.

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  1. While I certainly agree that there is a lot of violent crime in the U.S. — quite possibly numbering in the low millions annually — I also want to point out that the overwhelming majority of it happens in urban cores. Stick to the nicer parts of suburbia or rural America and you greatly decrease your risk of being a victim.

    Looking at this from the other end: if you spend a great deal of time or basically all of your time in an urban core, you are probably almost guaranteed to be the victim of a violent crime in an average lifetime.

    • Yep.

      Stupid people, in stupid places, doing stupid things.

      Avoid them and your chance of earning a darwin drop dramatically.

    • ^^^^ THIS IS VITAL.

      Having lived in the worst part of a major city, I can tell you with certainty that there is nothing you can do to prevent yourself from being targeted. You can reduce the frequency with which it happens, but it is till only a matter of time.

      It IS going to happen.

      I lived in Akron, OH for 5 years while going to college. I walked 6 blocks through the worst parts of the city to get to class, and at 2AM after working my night job I walked 15 blocks from the center of the city back to my home. I carried a G19 and 1-2 spare mags and a flashlight almost everywhere I went, even when it jeopardized my employment.

      I put bars on the windows, steel security screens on the doors, and motion lights on 3 sides of my apartment building (paid for out of my own pocket).

      The results of all of that precaution: I was only robbed 3 times in 5 years.

      A roomate left the back door unlocked once. The smash & grab took place in a 30min window.
      The second time they cut through a bike lock and stole a $250 bike off the back porch.
      The third time the waited til I left and split a steel security door down the middle to gain access.

      Not IF, but WHEN

    • Almost guaranteed to be the victim of a violent crime more than once if those numbers are accurate.

      • Like the posts above make clear, if you live in the ‘burbs or most rural areas, it’s waaay less. This is a national aggregate. I know of people who have their cars prowled twice a year and have been assaulted numerous times by criminals because of where they live and travel. Those that have 25 incidents in a lifetime obviously skew it for everyone else.

        • Button….Mugged in a white suburb, by a white kid…Wow, I hope you play ‘Powerball’, because you’re 1 in 10 Million…

    • A word of warning on locations- beware of the criminal who is willing to drive. I don’t know how common it is in the US, but in Canada we see a lot of rural or semi-rural break-ins or thefts. Some are conducted by local miscreants, but more and more are happening thanks to criminals driving up and finding vulnerabilities. Keep this in mind when you think about what larger urban areas are within about an hour or two of driving.

      I suppose the biggest difference is that in most US rural areas the local Sheriff is likely to back up the home/farm owner, but up here the RCMP take a different view.

      • Your point rings true here in the northeast U.S. It is extremely common for burglars from NYC to drive up I-95 to NY and CT suburbs after heavy weather with widespread reported power outages. My grandmother had her house broken into many times in this case. Fortunately she was never home for any of them. The cops caught one idiot shimmeying up the gudders.

        • How about being on a bus route? I live at the end of a bus route running from NYC to the PA, NY, NJ borders. The bus drops off people that (obviously) do not live around here, and they have been caught wandering around neighborhoods, rifling the mailboxes, looking for anything of value. My neighbor has a remote camera on their driveway, and saw one of these dirtbags in her mailbox. She called the cops, which had no trouble finding the sore thumb.

      • This is true. I live in a small, rural college town, and a significant percentage of our worst crimes are committed either by visitors who treat football weekends like a crime vacation or by urban yoots who drive 2 hours-plus to take advantage of unprepared students and unwary residents.

      • Anyone stupid enough to travel to the rural part of the state I’m in most likely will not walk away. When 3 out of 4 homes admit to having weapons for self defense, how many of the other 25% actually do & didn’t say. The Sheriff’s Dept. backs up the homeowners too.

      • ColdNorth,

        Oh, it happens in the U.S. as well. I dare say there are more burglaries and home invasions per capita in rural areas than suburban areas. The explanation is pretty simple: there are a LOT more eyes in suburban locations and police response time is (usually) a LOT faster. This translates to a much higher probability of capture as far as criminals are concerned. So, criminals venture into rural areas where they can get in-and-out of a home literally without anyone ever even seeing them … and where it would take deputies between 15 and 25 minutes to arrive on seen even if someone did call-in.

    • While I agree that the majority of violent crime occurs in the core urban areas, I have lived and worked in the suburbs as well and crime is heading out to those areas as well. One place I was working was in a very upscale part of town. Robbery, theft, and home invasions have been on the rise for the past several years. Speaking with local LE, I was told this is because the criminals believe the “nice” areas are soft targets and easy to invade. They count on people in the suburbs and wealthy parts of town to be more relaxed, less suspicious, and overall less prepared to counter violence and crime themselves. LE also stated they wished more people were willing and able to defend themselves as much as relying on reactive police intervention. The moral is no matter where or when, always be prepared to fight for your life and loved ones.

    • Yep, what I was going to say. Not to take anything away from the article (quite good). But even for those who spend a great deal of time in urban areas (I work in one, and commute there daily), you can greatly reduce your odds of facing problems if you know the crime hot spots and avoid them. As always, being smart and staying alert are the most important things. Having as many self defense options as is legal/practical is still beneficial for those relatively rare times when being smart isn’t enough.

    • It’s not if you live in an urban center but a bad part of an urban center. It’s really specific.

  2. The other side of the equation is that many places prohibit carrying. I can tell you that going to the Post Office is a little bit of a hassle. Courts, are another venue.

    I understand that urban areas are more likely. That said, my quiet, safe suburban neighborhood recently had a burglary.

    • Look for a contract Post Office. My local grocery store has a full service Post Office and they do not prohibit firearms.

  3. We often accuse our opponents of using data without context.

    This is fearmongering to sell.

    Stay away from certain parts of the country.

  4. I’ve been to every neighborhood in Chicago. I no longer do that. The uptick in crime now extends to the entire city-Gold Coast included. And now the Spanglish boys are using AR’s. Avoid Chiraq if you can…

  5. In my 62 years, I have been a victim often. Just the schoolyard thefts and classroom thefts, the getting jumped by schoolmates of another race on the street, having paperboy collection money for one evening being stolen, the bicycles my brothers has stolen(all we had were junk, but mine was precious so it was always locked), mini bikes and go carts made in shop class. Then 2 car thefts and a few burglaries in my 20s. The breaking and entering into the homes of my parents – just about every time they were both gone from the house(my parents always lived in cheap digs, in depressed black areas – they always thought it was us boys asking for getting beat up by 3 or 4 on one) They were shocked that I bought my second house in an “expensive” area. In the burbs, you buy good schools and some safety by paying more for your home).
    You are a target and even more of one if you live in a crime infested area. Black on black crime are crimes of oppertunity, but black on poor white crime is intentional, it is a known fact that all whites are rich!!!!

    I am pretty sure that living in a depressed area, almost anyone will be a victim at least 2x a year. Short of having an amoured home with 2 Rottweilers an a huge heavy first class safe, you will have your guns taken from your home at some time.

    • Good point about having guns stolen from your house. If you live in the inner city, you will be targeted if they suspect you have guns because you are where they are. If you live in the suburbs, they may target you but chances are much smaller that they will pick your neighborhood out of all the neighborhoods they gotta drive to

  6. I wish they had given a usable link from the BJS to show the numbers they use. I normally use the most recent FBI crime report (2015) which shows just under 1.2 million violent crimes reported during that year. Using the violent crimes figure works well because they are the types of crimes that most people would be ok with using deadly force against. It comes to about 1 crime for every three hundred people.
    And of course you don’t get to choose whether you are going to be the victim or not. For instance I missed the St. Cloud mall mass stabbing by a week. That makes one think. I can but hope I’d perform as well as the man who took care of that problem.

    • I googled St. Cloud drug deal stabbing and got a disturbing number of hits. Let me ask you, hoew many of those stabbings and by how much time did you miss those? I’d guess all of them? Maybe some of them by a week or less?

      You missed those stabbings because of your choices. You chose not to buy drugs from some shady dealer in the middle of the night in some back alleyway, right? You do get to choose, to a large degree, whether you will put yourself in situations likely to end in violent crime.

      There are no guarantees, of course, but there are probabilities which one can influence.

    • Mark,

      I have used those numbers in the past as well.

      Keep this very important detail in mind regarding those numbers: those are violent crimes that victims formally reported to a police department that accurately characterized the attack … and a LOT of violent crime victims NEVER REPORT THEIR VIOLENT CRIME TO POLICE for various reasons. Some victims never bother to report their attack because they figure police will never solve it anyway. Some victims do not trust the police and do not report their attack for fear that police will unethically charge them with something. Still other victims have warrants for their arrest or were engaged in petty criminal activity when the attacker victimized them. Then you have victims who are afraid of retribution if they report their crime so they keep quiet. Finally, how many times have we heard of rape victims who will not report their rape?

      When you combine those factors, I can imagine that annual violent crimes are easily DOUBLE the numbers in FBI Uniform Crime Reports.

  7. Obligatory disclaimer: Anyone can be a victim of violent crime.

    Ok, now that that’s out of the way, your chances of being a victim are more in your control than you realize. Most victimization is lifestyle-related. If you do not have a criminal record, your odds are cut in about half right there.

    If you are female and meet even small scale physical violence in your relationship with departure and pressing of charges, your odds just went down.

    If you do not use illegal drugs, guess what? Another plummet in your chance of violent crime victimization.

    Nobody is saying go be a hermit in a cave. I’m just saying that running around doing seriously risky and illegal things or allowing dangerous people into your life are precursors to victimization. You can contribute immensely to your own safety by getting your [stuff] together. Also, carry a concealed self-defense sidearm.

  8. Crime is not uniformly distributed in population. If you live in the urban core your chances of being g victimized is much higher than 1 in 60. If you live in Mama Liberty country it might not be 1 in million but it is pretty darn low.

  9. I’ve been robbed at gun point twice while working a two different restaurants in California. I like the police. But others disagree. TTAG has many cop haters making comments. Reason magazine also has lots of cop haters leaving comments. They say we should have fewer police. Well you folks got your wish.

    You don’t want police for “other” people? Fine, now they don’t. Nature abhors a vacuum. So now you have the most evil predators controlling neighborhoods.

    Residents: Detroit police take 2 hours to respond to double fatal shooting

    De-policing is happening in major cities and small ones too. The three L’s, Libertarians, Liberals and the Left have all said the police should go away and life would be better for “inner city” people. The three L’s (mostly white) don’t live in the most violent sections of these major cities.

    • The folks you label Libertarians are followers of Rand and Rothbard both of whom rejected actual Libertarianism. These Faux Libertarians are market oriented anarchists — leftists. All their predictions about de-policing, decrimalization, and drug legalization have been proven wromg by the spike in the crime rate where their policies have been implemented. Normal leftist policies generally take years to produce their negative results but it took only a few weeks for faux Libertarian policies to fail.

  10. I was driving through southern Illinois today and saw one of the Guns Save Life “Burma-Shave” sign sequences.

    Very nice.

  11. I have cancer and take chemo therapy at appointments in venues that ban guns. So, I do not carry so much. So far, so good.

    • Are you searched before you walk in? And do signs have the force of law in your state? If you’re going for an MRI, that’s one thing. You should be able to carry off body for other procedures such as infusions.

  12. Just Fyi for everyone, GSL Defense Training offers a Force on Force class. It’s a two day class that utilizes airport guns and live roleplayers. Extremely well rated, very good class.

  13. “Well, according to Givens, on an annual basis, it’s closer to 1 in 50 or 60. You can do the math on a lifetime risk.”

    No, I can’t. Or I could if I still had my intro to stats textbook. But 1:50 annually does not equal 1:1 over 50 years. If any of you guys play poker, you know the odds “reset” every hand.

    • Yep. Much more data is required to calculate a specific individual’s chances over a lifetime. Even then it would be full of assumptions.

      • So only 26% of some other fraction of all burglaries involve violence?

        I don’t know what point you are making. I don’t if your agreeing that not all burglaries involve violence or objecting to the proposition that burglaries don’t have to involve violence.

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