Home Op-Ed Give Them What They Want? No Way!

Give Them What They Want? No Way!

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By Frank Sharpe

‘Now the best means for rendering an assailant powerless are a good weapon and the ability to use it. The first can be obtained at any gunshop, the last can be had only by careful study and practice.’ – Page 4, The Pistol as a Weapon of Defense in the House and On the Road. 1875

Compliance…do you or don’t you?

It’s often parroted by police spokespersons and media pundits that when confronted by an armed mugger, victims should simply comply and all will be OK.  We’re told “They just want your money – give it to them – Don’t fight, you’ll just make things worse!

My attitude is the polar opposite.

When an armed assailant confronts me and threatens my life, they’re indicating their perfect willingness to murder me – so, I take them at their word. After all, they’ve never lied to me before.

But, Frank – If you believe that, why wouldn’t you believe they’re going to leave you alone once they have your wallet?” The answer is simple: I don’t operate on “belief”, I go with what I know. In this scenario here’s what I know:

– The assailant is armed (or appears to be).
– The assailant has indicated willingness (through actions or words) to murder.
– The assailant is forcing me to comply with a contract – he’s forcing me to sign on the dotted line. The terms of the contract: ‘Give me X and I won’t hurt you.’ But, the contract is nefarious and based in a falsehood – the falsehood is that the party of the first part has the right to force the party of the second part into the contract at all. The assailant’s use of force indicates that any promises they agree to are suspect. The contract is invalid as I was not free to agree; I’m being coerced under undue influence. The contract is a fraud – a LIE. The only truth present is their violent intent, and it’s all I can count on.

From the point of threat I make every decision based on the premise that they’re going to murder me. Action may be taken immediately, or at an appropriate window during mock compliance, but I will not just go along with it and “hope for the best.” And at no point will I allow myself to be peacefully transferred to a secondary location, as doing so is almost certainly aiding in my own execution.

Are there situations that could offer no window for fighting back? Of course. But I will not use the exceptions as an excuse for inaction or lack of preparation.

No, the fight is on. And I may die – but, I’m dead anyway.

“How is a sincere criminal, trying hard, going to get ahead in his profession if his victim fails to cooperate?” – Robert Heinlein, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls


This piece originally appeared at the Fortress Defense Consultants blog and is reposted with permission of the author.

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  1. Good points. Avoidance is my #1 strategy. Going all in when the time is right is #2.

    • I vote them both as equal. By all means, avoid trouble. But if trouble comes looking for me, I will respond in kind.

  2. You can almost be certain you will be killed even if you fully comply; the criminal’s strategy is to leave NO witnesses. If you don’t believe it, just watch the news. One guy was robbed at knife point, was polite, respectful & fully complied; his reward?; stabbed 47 times & dead. Absolutely take action if at all possible.

    • 47 times? My arm gets tired after ten seconds of chopping onions. Did the guy take a smoke break after the first 20 before getting back to the other 27?

    • As a counterpoint, you read and hear reports of far more armed robberies where the victim was not harmed than of where the victim was injured, much less killed.
      “…almost certain…” doesn’t seem so certain.
      An armed robber presents an unknown; we have no idea of that his actions will be. Should we take the threat seriously? Of course. Is the robber going to attack you with the intent to kill? Possibly, but the actual figures (physical attack vs retreat after getting the goods) say probably not. That is why the police say to give what is demanded: Your chances of escaping unharmed are far greater if you do so.

      Just saying.

    • The assailant will definitely kill you. Their number one rule is no witness left standing.
      I’d rather take my chances that I can draw and fire at him and that his first shot at me will be wild. I will be moving away from him at the get go.

      • Keith, there is nothing DEFINITE about any of this. If the Nr 1 rule for all thieves was to kill any witnesses, we’d have a rising, not falling, murder rate in this country. Further, there would be no “victims” at police HQ filling out complaint forms – they’d all be dead or going before a Grand Jury to see if they’re facing charges.
        I’m not arguing against the author’s point that it is reasonable to consider your life threatened by an armed robber and respond accordingly, but a great deal of what will be the most appropriate response to an armed confrontation depends on the exact way the situation occurs, the nature of the attacker, etc. Saying that the most appropriate way to handle such a situation is ALWAYS to shoot, if you can, is like saying that jamming on the brakes is ALWAYS the most appropriate way to handle a situation when the vehicle in front of you suddenly stops. It may actually be more appropriate to just swerve around them. If you are confronted with an armed robber, it will likely be a life-altering event-but it needn’t necessarily be a life-ending one, or a financial disaster. As the adage goes, “Every bullet you fire will have a lawyer attached to it.” YOU may be quite confident that you are shooting in self-defense, but a DA and jury may not be so sure.
        I DO think though, that it is very helpful to think out various scenarios and decide how you would handle them AHEAD OF TIME. You won’t have time to do this when you are being confronted by an armed robber/assailant and you will then be in a situation in which hesitation will certainly deprive you of some options and may even be fatal. Surprise, Speed, and Violence of Action usually succeed, but you DO need to decide when to let that demon out and when to keep it inside-it’s not ALWAYS the best option.

        • I hear what you are saying, and common sense and an intelligent appraisal of the situation is a reasonable tactic, but if someone is holding a gun on you and you have no idea what’s going in their head, I would think it is much wiser to assume the worst and act appropriately. I am not one who would think it’s a good idea to try to “talk to them” or submit in the hopes they will be reasonable and let you go peaceably once they have what they want. For that matter, how do you even know what they want or what is going on in their heads. By all means, understand the law and be prepared to react with a consideration of the situation, but we live in a world where criminals murder children and assassinate police officers sitting in their cars. (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/25080656/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/girls-found-shot-dead-oklahoma-town/#.WGw02FMrKUk)

          Assuming the best about a criminal is a recipe to be another statistic.

          • “Assuming the best about a criminal is a recipe to be another statistic.” Could not agree more. I read your link, finding it all too true about today’s truly heartless criminals. Remember, Criminals DO NOT Care About You

  3. When everyone with criminal intent considers their plan through the lens of “if I do this, I may get shot”, we will see crime drop precipitously. Unfortunately, not enough of our society is tooled up at all times… yet.

      • No, because when the police and military control the streets, we have a “police state” or “martial law”. Better to let all law abiding citizens be armed everywhere they have any business being, and pass a universal (nation-wide) law that says that if a shooting is found, upon investigation, to have been justifiable, then neither the criminal (assuming he/she survives) nor his/her family can sue the shooter (whether police or ordinary Joe Citizen), and all such lawsuits will be rejected immediately. That would hopefully have the effect of making people less likely to hesitate to shoot their attackers, and clean some of the scum off the streets. Oh, and if the shooter is a white cop, and the criminal is a black thug, and BLM decides to stage violent protests and looting, then break out the riot shields, gas masks, and shotguns, and shoot all looters on sight (make sure there are body cams available to prove the ones who were shot were definitely looting).

  4. I’ve often thought that it’s too bad that retaliation isn’t allowed.

    Ya know, comply, let them start to walk away thinking they got what they wanted and then shoot/knife them in the back then take your stuff back and take their shit too. Then be off on your merry way. Seems like fair turnabout to me but the powers that be seem to frown on such behavior.

    All I’m saying is that when a number of robbery boys are found face down missing their shoes and everything else of value being a robbery boy will quickly lose it’s appeal.

      • I just think it would be sweet to go all Protoss on their ass and whisper “For vengeance…” to them as you take their shoes.

        • Nah, just a way of letting them know that there are consequences for their actions. You go out a-robbin’ people you might get hurt and jacked for your shit to boot. Risks of your chosen profession and all that. Even pirate ships got sunk.

          Plus if you actually said something like that to someone and they survived it would scare the shit out of their friends.

          Oh, and it’s also kind of the principle of the thing too. You jacked me and wasted my time, here, let’s see how you like it when someone is that ungentlemanly to you. The difference is, unlike you, I took this personally which is why you’re getting it in the back. Kinda like Clint Eastwood when he asks “You ever notice that once in a while you run across someone you shouldn’t have fucked with?”.

        • Lot to be said for a double kneecap, but pretty sure the DA/jury would be harder on you that just killin them.

        • Nice Starcraft reference. Couldn’t comment on FPS games, but I sure wasted a couple years of my life playing Broodwar.

          (ADC)lotek gg. ?

    • Armed robbery is a felony in most states. (Check local law)
      Usually, a citizen can affect a “citizen’s arrest” (check local laws) if that citizen witnesses a felony.
      In the circumstance where that citizen is the victim of that armed robbery, he certainly witnessed it.
      If the felon is dumb enough to turn his back on the victim, and the victim is armed, he can pull his gun, and attempt to place the felon under arrest.
      This is where it might get interesting (and expensive); if the felon simply runs away, and you can’t catch him, you still aren’t allowed to just shoot him. If you do, expect to be charged.
      However, if the felon turns and threatens you, you are (or should be) within your rights to shoot, even if you are the one to cause him to stop and turn by attempting to place him under arrest.


  5. When a man takes a gun and sets out to rob another, maybe to kill in the process, he should expect no sympathy.
    Louis L’Amour – The Comstock Lode

    • Enjoyed the Louie L’Amour books. The Sackett (i think, been a long time) books pointed out that even the “bad” guys had rules. Violate those rules and get what you paid for.

  6. “Don’t fight, you’ll just make things worse!”

    People who are too fearful to fight for their survival say that to assuage their shame.

    • +1

      I attended an anti-piracy conference a half decade ago. The general consensus among the non-military attendees was that arming merchantmen was futile because fighting back would make them mad. The military attendees retorted it won’t matter how mad they got when they were dead.

        • Actually, the “roll over and play dead” crowd is advising girls and women to urinate/defecate on themselves to make themselves “less attractive” to a rapist.

          Better to get more of the “gentler sex” to start carrying, so that the rapists wet and crap in their OWN drawers (preferably as an involuntary reflex from being DEAD)!

  7. All robbers should be shot by their intended victims.
    Or as Massad Ayoob puts it, “When the vast majority of women go armed, the vast majority of rapists will masturbate at home in the dark.”

  8. Back in the 50s compliance might have been a good bet but the days of the “gentleman thief” are long gone if they ever existed. Today’s criminal doesn’t give a damn about his own life let alone yours. And I believe the CDC has shown that those who resist fair significantly better than those that comply.

  9. To quote Mal: “Well, I ain’t them. And don’t you ever stand for that sort of thing. Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill ’em right back.”

    • So…. I shouldn’t comply so I can become Batman? I mean, I won’t have parents, but they’ll rest in peace knowing that I am vengeance/the night/Batman.

  10. This is why I always pocket carry, even when I have a full size IWB. If the bad guy gets the drop on you and tells you to give him your wallet, you just tell him that is what you are reaching for.

    • I am also a big proponent of pocket carry. People look at you strange if you wander around with your hand hovering around 4 o’clock all the time, but nobody thinks twice about the guy walking along with his hands in his pocket. I can be in condition orange and look condition green…

  11. I’d prefer to give them not what they want, but what they asked for.

    If a guy shows up armed and tries to force me to do anything, he is asking me to decide: “Which life is worth more? Mine or yours?” Don’t ask that question if you don’t want to receive a very final answer.

  12. I don’t know if this is still as much of a problem as it was when I first heard about it, but I remember several years ago hearing a segment on the nightly news about how robbers in New Orleans were just as likely – perhaps even MORE likely – to murder their victims, as not, because if the victim was dead the robbers could rack up a big bill on the stolen credit cards; whereas if the victim was left alive, the credit cards would be quickly canceled.

    Another news article (this one was one I read somewhere rather than seeing it on TV) quoted a sheriff in another state classifying carjacking as “attempted suicide”, since so many law-abiding citizens were carrying.

    A possible trick to try that I have heard of is to keep a roll of greenish paper, with a real $20 bill on the outside, in your pocket and held rolled up with a rubber band. The idea is to make it look as much like a roll of MORE bills than there really are as possible. You toss the roll at a robber’s feet, and either run or draw on him and shoot while he’s distracted.

    • If I am on vacation I carry a throw away wallet & cell phone. Wallet is a fancy eel skin that has real credit cards in it that have been cancelled & cell phone deactivated.

    • Similarly, I attended a security lecture by a San Francisco cop (1996) who advised that since your valuables were what the perp really wanted the best action was to take out your wallet and rather than hand it to him toss it as far to your strong side as you could. The theory being that while the perp chased the money you cold make your escape.

      I prefer the theory that while the perp is distracted I can draw my weapon, but then I don’t live in San Francisco any more.

  13. I think you are much more likely to be killed during a robbery now than you were even 10-15 years ago, no matter how you act.

    • Because the chances are that the Bad Guy is not just some poor down and out who needs a few bucks to get by, he’s much more likely a gang-banger out to make “street cred” or the gang-banger’s drug addict customer who desperately needs enough cash for his next fix and could give two shits about anything else, especially you.

  14. 12/22 my wife and I almost got robbed. Luckily we had the option to get the hell out of the one-way in one-way out parking lot about 10 seconds before the blackhats arrived. GTFO is always a better option IF available. I have completely changed my CC system due to what nearly happened. A TCP with 7 Underwood Extreme Penetrators wouldn’t have done sh*t against three cars of low-lifes that night.

    • Big Al,

      Glad to hear that you escaped intact!

      “I have completely changed my CC system due to what nearly happened. A TCP with 7 Underwood Extreme Penetrators wouldn’t have done sh*t against three cars of low-lifes that night.”

      That is why I carry the biggest handgun possible with the most ammunition possible. For me that means a full-size Smith and Wesson M&P40 with a 15 round magazine filled with .40 caliber 180 grain hollowpoint cartridges … and at least one if not two spare magazines.

      I don’t care what anyone says about the most recent advancements in 9 mm ammunition, I’ll carry the .40 caliber platform which delivers larger bullets that weigh between 33% and 50% more than 9 mm bullets. And I only sacrifice two rounds in the magazine for that larger and much heavier bullet.

      Note that 180 grain and heavier bullets tend to pass straight through automotive glass even when they strike that glass at oblique angles. The heavier bullets also penetrate better if they have to pass through an intermediate barrier first, like a car door or car seat.

      Given your recent experience, a platform with the greatest ability to pass straight through automotive glass and penetrate the greatest possible depth through intermediate barriers could have literally been the difference between life and death had those dudes attacked.

      • Well then he should step up to an even bigger cartridge: the 10mm!

        I kid, though. Any gun is better than no gun, and most people run at the sound of gunfire.

      • I agree with the 40 decision. I like the M&P 40 as well with 2 extra mags. That is 46 rounds of deterrent. I keep all the loads at 165 gr. or lower though. Faster target requisition and in most QCC distances (10 feet or less) a few grains is not worth the possible missed follow up shot. Even my 135 grain will go through car glass at that distance. It is not always about weight but velocity and accuracy as well. I have been robbed at gunpoint with my girl friend who later became my wife. The perp was no stranger to this as he would not let me get close and kept her between us. This was 25 or so years ago and no one really carried in those days much. I wanted to get hands on make him fly but had to do what it took to keep her safe. It worked then. I am not certain that it would today. Today she might be the concern for him, not me. Anyway, just my two cents.

      • I actually sent in the entire incident as a submission on here, but haven’t heard back. I feel like a fool the more I divulge, because it all started with an ad on Armslist for a Glock 43. In messages back and forth with the guy a few too many things did not add up, but I laid down rules, which later on in hindsight of course he agreed to because it was all a setup. Anyway, I actually have about 90% of it on video on my iPhone, that’s how nervous I was going there. Had a bad feeling the closer we got.

        I feel incredibly guilty getting my wife in a bad situation. She gave me a new rule—-no more used guns, period.

        • Yeah, if it smells fishy it probably is and isn’t worth a deal… But I’ve met the nicest people buying/selling used guns. But for the reason you listed above I usually don’t bring wife or kids.

    • I have to say, only as a passing comment, that unless the bad guys want YOU specifically or something special they think you have in your possession other than the usual every day booty, it doesn’t matter what you produce that starts firing rounds in their direction, IN MOST CASES.

      Gangsters and petty theifs are not into deep thinking and planning their crimes. They don’t do a lot of planning and training like in the movies and on TV. They come in bunches only when they want a quick and easy over-whelm or they are too cowardly to act alone. It does not take a lot of time researching YouTube videos to see that in the vast majority of cases, and no matter how many bad guys showed up for the party, as soon as the victim starts shooting at them they trip all over each other getting the fvck out of Dodge!

      They came for your valuables, or your car, not to get into a gunfight.

      Bottom line, IMO, if you have limited capacity in your pistol, shoot slower and aim better, then take every opportunity to GFO.

  15. Whenever some ninny tells me that submission is the best course I always reply:

    “If you can’t trust in the good judgment, rationality, and basic human decency of an armed robber, what CAN you trust in?”

  16. Al, no reason feeling like a fool. Nothing happened in the end. Just dissect what happened, see where you went wrong, and chalk it up as a lesson.

  17. Some of you may not have read this written by a police investigator, Street Robberies and You -The Basics. If not, you should definitely read the whole thing. Here is the mentality of an armed robber like the one in the article:

    “Once a man starts armed robbing he has crossed a line most won’t. Don’t forget that when you are looking these bastards in the eye. Their decision to kill you is already made. Your life means nothing to him. Only his does. His sole motivation for not killing you is he doesn’t want a murder case. He has already accepted he may pick one up though.

    We hunt hold up men around the clock once they are identified. We send teams of fire breathing fence jumper/door kickers to find them. We will bring their mother to the office and convince her she is going to jail if we don’t have Junior in our office in an hour. We have her call her son crying hysterically for him to turn himself in before she is arrested and held without bond as a material witness and her home seized for harboring him. Most of the time they won’t. Fuck their own momma.

    We will hit all Juniors friends and family’s houses. We make it so no one will harbor him. He is so hot no one will let him in their house or even talk on the phone with him. We put money on him so he knows he is right to be betrayed and set up. We do this because of one thing.

    That thing is they WILL kill someone if they keep robbing. That is why the city is willing to pay all the overtime. They don’t want the murders. Think about that when you see Junior coming. The more robberies he does the closer he is to killing someone. Maybe you.

    The guys who hit you on the street are gang members. They are Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, Crips, Sureonos, many others. They do not see themselves as part of society. The street is all they know. They don’t expect to live long or stay out of prison. They take a delight in your fear and suffering. They are warped individuals for the most part. They can be extremely dangerous.

    One time we were locking up a hold up man and having a conversation about how they target their victims. I was saying they pick easy ones, another guy was saying they preferred easy ones but would take anybody.

    I pointed out a uniform Officer there was an NFL size guy to that hold up man. Frankly the dude was a monster. I asked hold up man if he would rob him. He said “If I needed the money”.”

    For the whole article, see:


  18. Take the first opportunity available to use speed, surprise, and violence of action to overwhelm the assailant and hopefully emerge victorious.

    Unrelated note, you also just described taxes.
    “The assailant is forcing me to comply with a contract – he’s forcing me to sign on the dotted line. The terms of the contract: ‘Give me X and I won’t hurt you.’ But, the contract is nefarious and based in a falsehood – the falsehood is that the party of the first part has the right to force the party of the second part into the contract at all. The assailant’s use of force indicates that any promises they agree to are suspect. The contract is invalid as I was not free to agree; I’m being coerced under undue influence. The contract is a fraud – a LIE”

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