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Next Post warns that “Meeting strangers off the internet for a cash transaction carries some amount of risk. Be armed, alert, and early so that you can observe the area and the other party as they arrive on the scene. This is especially true for you ladies. If the arriving party just doesn’t look right then don’t be afraid to abort the transaction and make a hasty exit. You don’t owe anybody (especially a stranger) an explanation here and not wanting to appear rude in the face of an uncomfortable or threatening situation is a good way to end up as an ugly statistic.” Alternatively . . .

Don’t ever meet anyone selling anything on Craig’s list. And don’t sell anything face-to-face (FTF) with anyone from Craigslist. Craigsist killers? Yeah, they’re out there.

Although I’m more reclusive than most, I’m not recommending a hermitic lifestyle. Meeting new people FTF is one of life’s greatest and most important adventures.  The chances of a non-gang banging American experiencing a random act of violence are lower than the odds of Behati Prinsloo driving a minivan.

But it’s also true that predators aren’t stupid. (Or, if you prefer, the stupid ones have already been caught.) Aforementioned gang members excepted (sometimes), predators prey on people they don’t know. They rape, rob and otherwise molest strangers.

To paraphrase Will Rogers, a stranger is just a victim a criminal hasn’t met.

It’s one thing to experience a home invasion. It’s another to “bump into” a criminal. It’s another to invite strangers into your life. Opening your door to door-to-door salesmen, doing FTF with Craig’s list buyers or sellers, striking-up a conversation in a dodgy bar—that’s nuts.

Sure, these activities are relatively safe in the statistically safe country in which we live. But they’re also relatively dangerous. If you wear a seatbelt to reduce your risk of injury or death, why would you wear a smile for everyone you meet all the time everywhere?

There are two reasons why most people cling to what’s called “Condition White”: they’re trusting or they’re cheap.

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Trusting people as the default option is childish. It ignores the reality of evil.

Which is fine, as far as it goes. As I said, America is a safe country. But no country on earth can eliminate the innate human tendency to use violence or the threat of violence to obtain resources. (How do you think Uncle Sam gets people to pay taxes?) To close your eyes to the possibility of evil is to invite it into your life.

No really. Predatory criminals are experts at identifying victims. They can read you body language like a Classics professor can read Latin. Only faster. They can instantly ID your state of preparedness from your voice.

If you believe you’re safe, a criminal will recognize your unprepared mindset in a New York minute. A criminal masquerading as a door-to-door salesman, Craig’s list buyer or a potential pick-up at a bar will know you’re an easy mark.

Carrying a gun changes the way you stand, walk and talk to strangers. Or maybe people who carry a gun are naturally wary. Either way, and even if you don’t carry a gun, trusting your fellow man or woman without reality checking your assessment makes you a mark.

Trust no one, at least until you do? Why not? Despite the antis’ assertion that gun owners are mentally defective—paranoid people on constant perp alert—there’s nothing psychologically damaging about keeping your guard up when you need to. So what’s the downside?


Companies must have a good reputation to survive. Creating, promoting and maintaining a good rep—through people, places and marketing—costs money. Even in America’s hyper-competitive market, consumers have to pay for this “peace of mind.”

Obviously, unscrupulous people can fool some of the people some of the time. (Thank Al Gore for the Internet.) But it’s almost always less expensive to buy things from private sellers. Low overheads, low price.

Cars, guns, sex—its all the same. Buying from an individual saves you tons of cash. And exposes you to a greater chance of fraud and criminality. People who buy from private sellers eventually experience false economy. In other words, it’s worth it right until it isn’t.

You could carry gun to FTF private transactions and submit private sellers/door-to-door salesmen, one-night stands, etc. to close scrutiny. Or you could exercise some restraint pay a little or a lot more and reduce your risk.

The bottom line remains the same as it ever was: avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things. Step one, when you meet someone ask yourself “Is this person stupid?” ‘Cause criminals are stupid. Except when they’re not.

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  1. Agree with the post wholeheartedly. That being said, check the rep of the person you’re buying from or selling to.

  2. And gun sales FTF should take what precautions?
    Was on ArmsList today…
    If I am buying a weapon from someone on ArmsList should I go armed? stay in public? Daylight?

    • Gonna sound paranoid but, friend bought a gun off someone on backpage…i was waiting across the street in another vehicle, armed. Went off without a hitch, but better safe than sorry.

    • Go armed, stay in public, bring a friend and let people close to you know who you’re dealing with.

      Better yet, meet at the range if you can. Then you can test out your new buy!

  3. Yossarian: Those bastards are trying to kill me.
    1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: No one is trying to kill you sweetheart. Now eat your dessert like a good boy.
    Yossarian: Oh yeah? Then why are they shooting at me Milo?
    Dobbs: They’re shooting at everyone Yossarian.
    Yossarian: And what difference does that make?
    Dobbs: Look Yossarian, suppose, I mean just suppose everyone thought the same way you do.
    Yossarian: Then I’d be a damn fool to think any different.

  4. I’ve done lots of FTF sales from Craigslist – an old iPhone, a Wii and a bunch of camera components. Always met the person in the lobby of the building where I work, right by the security desk. I’ve also bought furniture advertised on Craigslist – always from folks in decent neighborhoods. Never a problem.

  5. Sorry, I don’t agree with this. There are ways to mitigate risk when dealing with strangers, and a handful of unfortunate incidents in the US over many years shouldn’t stop someone from selling things privately. What’s next, don’t go to my local gun shows, because there are strangers there?

    In my opinion, trusting people is not a liability. Walking around with a smile is not a liability. To use your analogy: I didn’t wear a seat belt when I rode my motorcycle–it’s inherently riskier but a hell of a lot more fun.

    I’ve gotten some pretty good deals at yard sales, from craigslist, etc., and sold plenty of things. I’ve met good people over the internet (in fact, I met my wife there!). Overall I’ve met pretty good people. It’s not all rosy; I’ve had some not-so-good experiences but nothing violent (yet). Meet in a public, populated area, and be armed and aware (condition yellow as opposed to white). Yes, criminals are good at reading people, but let’s not discount our own abilities to read people.

      • Man, you said it better than I ever could. I operate in good faith and trust people until they give me a reason not to.

        Meet up in well lit, public places during the day. Go armed if you wish. Wear a smile and generally you’ll get one in return.

        Commerce makes the world go round. Don’t let the violent minority scare you away from the peaceful majority.

    • I was wondering how far down the comments I’d have to get before I read a sensible one. Luckily, not too far. Exactly my thoughts. I meed FTF to buy and sell. I scan the area when I arrive, before I approach. I watch their demeanor. And, I’m always armed, whether we’re meeting at my home or in public.

      Avoiding FTF sales because there was a craigslist killer is like avoiding movie theaters because of the CO shooting.

  6. I’ve been selling and buying and meeting people for transactions on craigslist for 10 years or more and I’ve never had a problem but I’m not an idiot, I’m also an enormous armed white man, that might have something to do with it.

  7. I love Craig’s List. That having been said, I do go armed to sales and I woukd bring a security element in a secondary vehicle that arrives 20 minutes prior in order to over watch the sale when I get there. It’s just good business.

  8. A related addendum to this Self Defense Tip:Don’t talk to hot girls unarmed.

    Should you find out the hard way she lied about having a man in her life, it will not be a good time to be unarmed!

  9. Using Craigslist;
    This Spring, I sold a 30-year-old Gerber MK II Commando Knife (made back when Gerber was a quality company) to a stranger. We met at a Safeway grocery store.
    Yesterday, I sold off an old oak table to a couple in their 50s. They came to my home.
    No problems.

      • No more real Gerbers. The MKII’s design and best use application was in any case taking out sentries something I don’t find myself doing. I do have a Gerber camp knife (made five years ago) that I won’t rely upon beyond my backyard, even then. Gerber is not the quality company it used to be.

        If you want a real solid workhorse strong blade check out the Becker line of knives built by Ka-Bar. The Becker BK7 is like the Marine Ka-Bar ‘traditional fighting knife’ on steroids. I own the BK5 and plan on buying the BK7. I’ve replaced the factory grips with micarta grips on my BK5 and am going to buy a high quality leather sheath for it.

        • Someone who shall remain nameless (because I am married to her) lost my “real” Gerber. Before I knew about the deal with Fiskars I bought two more. Now I have two crapola assisted opening crapola knives with crapola hinges that are almost gone despite being used for nothing more strenuous than opening boxes.

  10. “Don’t ever meet anyone selling anything on Craig’s list. And don’t sell anything face-to-face (FTF) with anyone from Craigslist. Craigsist killers? Yeah, they’re out there.”

    This is by far the most ignorant thing I’ve read on this website to date. And it genuinely makes me sad. I’ve done 15-20 craigslist transactions over the last few years and all went of without a hitch. Obviously use common sense, don’t meet someone behind a gas station or in a parking garage but assuming that even half of the people you don’t know are criminals is ridiculous. Also, saying that all of these supposed criminals are psychological masterminds is a little far fetched to say the least

    “No really. Predatory criminals are experts at identifying victims. They can read you body language like a Classics professor can read Latin. Only faster. They can instantly ID your state of preparedness from your voice.”

    If common criminals were this smart, they wouldn’t be common criminals. They’d be politicians.

    • I agree. You don’t have to be unpleasant or rude to be aware or to demonstrate that you’re not an easy target. I done several FTF Craiglist transactions, all went smoothly in a public place, sometimes armed, sometimes not. Usually if the buyer seems suspicious over email or phone, the transaction never happens anyway.

      I don’t want to go through life fearful. Aware yes, but not afraid. Isn’t that the reason we carry in the first place?

  11. 1. Avoid stupid people doing stupid things in stupid places, especially at stupid times.

    2. Do not underestimate the human capacity for stupidity.

  12. Make your transaction in a busy, public place where any altercation will attract attention. Don’t go to a private place suggested by the other party or invite him or her to your place.

  13. I agree with the general idea – don’t “cling to condition white” – but there are still things you can reasonably do to protect yourself which reduce the severity of the problem. The old cliche about leaving a package for your attorney works in other situations – if you’re going to meet a stranger over something on Craigslist, you should tell an acquaintance you trust where you are going and what you hope to be doing. The knowledge you’ve left your last known address will cause at least some potential muggers to think twice. It won’t let you out of all trouble, but (ignoring the gun defense angle for a moment) this is asking too much from your situation.

    Total security doesn’t exist. Any way of living is going to come with risks; it’s literally unavoidable. Having a firearm definitely gives you another tool to deal with some eventualities, but let’s leave that aside for a moment, since the advice is that Craigslist (or, arguably, any kind of business that puts you in a strange neighborhood, if I read this argument right) is supposedly always an unacceptable risk. Picking out Craigslist as a “false economy” seems wrong. You could argue (and many do) that using a motor vehicle is engaging in false economy, both from this safety standpoint (the only safe car is one that won’t move, engineers will tell you) as well as from the standpoint of economic economy (especially if you believe in the peak oil theory). Yet we still drive cars; despite the very severe potential results we’ve all seen, our way of life would be hampered if that tool was taken away from us.

    Risk is usually quantified as the probability of a harm multiplied by its severity, and experts find that the average person worries too much about the really spectacular deaths you can theoretically suffer (the ones that make the news), rather than the low-level harms that are silent and unremarkable, even if they are deadly. Of course, dying from a bad Craigslist deal is still bad. But let’s look at some other harms you can suffer from a bad Craigslist deal:

    – Wasted time (I often find the other person doesn’t have the knowledge to adequately describe what they’re selling, and I don’t have time to go inspect everything)
    – The cost of gas (this describes a false economy)
    – The cost of lost productivity or leisure time (place this along with the cost of gas as a false economy: When you trade these for a cheap item, that “deal” is more expensive to you than the sticker price represents).

    Those harms alone are enough to keep me away from Craigslist most of the time. What we’re left with is the rare chance that you will get mugged or killed in a Craigslist meet. I agree that if somebody wants to avoid this risk, that’s their right. But there is a flip side to the “false economy” argument: You can have a false sense of the severity of a risk, and end up fearing the entire world (think Howard Hughes), and not engaging in low-risk activities because you fear the consequences. More meaningful examples we know of from everyday life include a fear of tall buildings or flying in planes because it could be dangerous. Obviously, it would be very hard or even impossible for many people to follow their chosen life if they refused to enter planes or elevators in tall buildings.

    There’s some truth to the SAS motto: “Who dares wins.”

  14. I always meet people at public places and go armed. I will in the future make sure my wife knows where I am going and has the contact information for who I am meeting. Good tip.

    I’m a pretty good size gorilla, though not zero, I think the risks are less for me than for others.

  15. If we’re going to pretend that we should be using statistics to not meet people of craigslist, you might as well just avoid nam’s. Those statistics look alot worse.

  16. Eh, I’ve used Craig’s for years in the Sac Valley, Bay area and O.C. Never had a single problem, even with folks picking up stuff from my house. Just put it in the driveway beforehand and close your garage. For vehicles, I always arrange to meet at the nearest AAA office with a DMV counter. No waiting and you can complete the transfer on the spot.

  17. This story points out two things. The first is don’t meet guys on craigslist. They’re probably scummy in one way or another. The second is backpage will say that this is a free speech issue and it’s their constitutional right to make money from the ads where these women are sold against their will.


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