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Adam Deciccio at the American Firearms School is a major proponent of SSVOA. Speed, Surprise and Violence of Action. When someone’s gunning for you and escape isn’t an option, attack and attack HARD. THEN escape. To implement this strategy you need a mental “trip wire.” For example, if a bad guy orders you to move to another location (e.g., into a car or back room), know this in the deepest part of your mind: it’s go time. Your mind and body may seem stuck in peanut butter. Overcome it. Don’t wait. Attack with everything you have, including, if possible, your firearm. The bottom line is simple enough: hesitation kills . . .

In the video example above, let’s assume the off-duty cop was being robbed violently. It sure doesn’t look that way to me, but we’re here for the sake of argument. So, for instructional purposes, pretend that the “good guy” in blue was in imminent danger of death or grievous bodily harm.

The cop draws his weapon and . . . waits for the bad guy’s submission. Pardon me for saying so, but that’s typical cop thinking. I’m a cop. You do what I tell you. If I draw a gun, surely you will do what I tell you. To which this perp replies (in effect) “Don’t call me Shirley” and attempts to swat the gun away.

And, by the way, leaves. A bad guy leaving at the sight of a firearm? Result! Best to let him or her go. Dial 911 (ALWAYS) and thank your lucky stars you’re not looking at Murder, Man One or a family vendetta. Where was I?

Right, submission. There are no reliable stats on the effects of brandishing on bad guys. But it’s certainly not a reliable way to stop a violent attack. The upside is fantastic; it could save you a mountain of paperwork. The downside could be terminal. As in you dead.

If you want to go that route, you need distance. A lot of distance. If you have, say, ten yards between you and a slow-moving or stationary attacker, you may have the time to hesitate on the trigger pulling part of the program. If the attacker’s moving quickly into your “exclusionary zone,” you won’t.

In that case, count yourself lucky that you got your weapon into play in the first place. You know, if you do. (If you don’t, don’t forget to do something.) As a general rule of thumb, the less time and space you have, the less time and space you have. You have to act, act quickly and act decisively. If you’re going to shoot, shoot.


If the alleged bad guy above had been wielding a knife, the cop would have been in a world of trouble. There was no place for the cop to retreat; he lost his advantage the moment he didn’t shoot. Not that it looks like he should have shot, but you know what I mean.

If you have no option other than armed self-defense, don’t hesitate to do whatever it is you have to do to stay alive. As Lyndon Johnson said, a bad decision is better than no decision. At least you’ll be alive to discuss your defensive gun use (DGU) with your lawyer. And no one else.

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  1. Related to decisiveness is commitment. Once you decide to act, you act decisively. One you act you commit to that choice, making a choice to fight and changing your mind a second later is worse than committing to or deciding not to fight.

  2. From the broken glass in the video, didnt he end up shooting, or was it broken in a way I missed? And couldn’t his hesitation been caused by the 2 other innocent people in the video? It is nice to see that Mexican cops can exercise restraint, and that officer safety isnt #1 south of the border. I remember someone yesterday talking smack, probably in the Brooklyn article, saying that I should try dealing with the cops in Mexico, from the looks of it, they do a better job of not shooting innocent people.

    The downside of firing on the suspect, is that he will certainly want to kill you , where before he may have just been interested in your wallet.

  3. I can’t quite tell from the video, but if there wasn’t actually a threat justifying a DGU, then this is a where pepper spray would fit in well. Because it’s nonlethal, you don’t need the same threat level as a gun or knife, and it could give you the space to get away.

  4. When I read this, I thought of my father, who was career military and a man of few words. “If you draw a gun, be prepared to shoot, and if you shoot, shoot to kill.”

    Enough said.

  5. Why didn’t he just kick the guy in the head when the guy bent down at :26???? He could’ve also hit the guy in the back of the head.

  6. The first video is from a Brazilian police captain on a off-duty day. He’s carrying his gun which is a normal procedure in Brazil due to cop assassination issues that happen if the cop is identified.
    He dropped his card on purpose and the robber (whose had an revolver) went to get the card, so he drew his weapon but he didn’t shot immediately (probably because of the other client that had just entered the bank), the robber walked away and THEN he shot him (5 times).


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