The Personal Defense Mindset: Resisting Criminals Can Save Your Life

Armed man with gun pistol

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By Gideon Joubert

Life is a risky business. From the moment we exit the womb we are assailed by countless forces which seek, either actively or passively, to do us harm. Whether it is childhood disease, terrible accidents, or the hostile actions of other humans, the factors that cause damage to us are legion.

As a response to these hazards we have invented all manner of innovative ways to mitigate the risk that life throws at us. We wear safety belts when driving, purchase insurance policies, keep fire extinguishers within reach, immunize our children, and create armies and defense forces to protect us from foreign enemies.

The oldest known example of mercantile insurance and risk management dates from the 3rd Millennium BC when Chinese traders would distribute their wares over several vessels to minimize the risk of loss should one boat capsize. Thus the act of humans offsetting their risks and threats is as old as civilization itself.

Even more primal and ancient is the fight-or-flight response that all humans possess. It was first described by Walter Bradford Cannon in 1915, and is defined as ‘a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.’ Through a discharge in the sympathetic nervous system you are primed to either flee or attack your threat, and so doing resolve the situation.

Crime and Fighting Back

Where does this phenomenon guide us regarding the problem of crime? It is obvious that the best place to be when a crime is being committed is someplace else. This is not always possible however, and as is frequently the case, safeguards can fail or be overcome by criminals regardless of how numerous or complex they happen to be.

As any engineer will tell you, nothing man-made is ever fail safe.

burglar home invader robbery

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It is therefore not entirely unlikely that you may at some stage be confronted by criminals in a situation from which escape is very difficult. Considering that felons rely heavily on the element of surprise to gain control over their intended targets, you may have only two options to consider:

  1. Submission – you submit fully to the demands of your assailants and hope that they will not harm you or your loved ones. Chances are even that they will injure or kill you as not harm you. Submission does not guarantee your safety. Which brings is to:
  1. Resistance – you fight back against your assailants in an attempt to fend them off. This strategy is also fraught with risk, but in perusing cases where resistance is employed it appears to be frequently successful.

I am not a proponent of submitting to the whims of violent criminals, and giving them free rein and final say over my life or those of my wife or loved ones. These are people who cannot be trusted to obey the laws and statutes of the land, so why would I trust them to spare my life?

It is plainly not logical to do so.

Considering that you do not know the full nature and intentions of the criminals who are making you their prey until it is too late, fighting back with everything you have available may greatly increase your chances of survival. Nature clearly knew what it was doing when it gave animals the right-or-flight response.

It’s Not the Tools or Talent, It’s the Attitude That Matters

When it comes to fighting back, armed resistance is obviously much more effective than unarmed resistance. Nonetheless, the attitude of the defending party is also of critical importance in determining a successful outcome. It would do you no good to possess a defensive tool, be it a firearm, OC spray, a TASER, knife or gun if you are for some reason inhibited from employing these tools when you need them most.

The sources of these impeding factors regarding self-defense are plentiful, ranging from ignorance of the law and its consequences, to a lack of competence and confidence in using the selected tool or technique, to an aversion to violence and the fear of being injured, among other numerous psychological, emotional, and intellectual reasons.

Almost all of these inhibitors can be eliminated through training, practice, study, and the development of confident competence with the chosen tool or technique. However, the desire to fight and triumph over your assailants, in other words the desire to win, can be more important than your choice in tools and level of competence.

A clear illustration of this is the case of an 82-year-old father and his daughter who successfully fended off three men in their 20s, who attempted to rob them with knives. During the ensuing melee the two victims stabbed their assailants with the pocket knives they always carry on their person, causing them to flee. The father and daughter only sustained minor injuries themselves.

Another example involves an elderly man who apprehended two robbers with his hunting rifle, and held them in custody until they were arrested by the police.

I have sincere doubts that any of these brave people had any kind of formal self-defense training. Their chosen defensive tools were also far from ideal, considering that hunting rifles are definitely not designed for self-protection, and pocket knives are better suited to fending off aggressive bits of packing tape as opposed to armed robbers. Nonetheless they triumphed over their circumstances, in no small part due to their desire to win and an indomitable fighting spirit.

To successfully defend yourself you must have the right mindset to do so, and even the humble Victorinox in the right hands is better than nothing.

Myths and Misperceptions

Detractors of armed self-defense are fond of claiming that a gun won’t save innocents from the wicked. That a firearm is more likely to be used against the victim and that submission is safer than resistance. They are partially correct, at least regarding the first part: the gun by itself will not save you. The same can be said for any defensive tool. For it to be effective it must be carried, and the carrier must be willing and sufficiently competent to use it.

It is for this reason that I very strongly advocate for gun owners to carry their handguns as much as is practically possible. The same sentiment count for any other defensive tool you may have; leaving your OC spray in the kitchen cupboard means that it is ultimately useless to you.

Another favored denigration frequently leveled at those who carry these tools is that they are “afraid of something,” or they are sarcastically queried if they are perhaps expecting an attack, and are thus accused of being paranoid.

This is a rather naïve and overly simplistic way of viewing the world. Do you wear your seat belt because you expect to be involved in an accident? Do you take out an insurance policy because you expect your house to burn down? Do you vaccinate your children because you expect them to develop polio?

Or do you take such precautions simply because you understand the risks of everyday life and attempt to mitigate them, as improbable as some of them occurring may be?

It is for precisely this purpose that many of us carry defensive tools every day. They serve as an insurance policy in the event of the worst-case scenario culminating in reality, and then provide us with a fighting chance to survive. Dismissing preparedness as paranoia misses the point entirely, and people who have household or health insurance would never be subjected to such ridicule.

Yes, You Have a Fighting Chance

If you take your personal safety seriously enough to prepare contingency measures, such as an armed response, fencing, security gates, and defensive tools, it stands to reason that you are well acquainted with crime statistics. It is also an indicator that you are an unwilling victim, eager to do whatever you can to protect yourself and your loved ones from harm.

All of these things are, of course, good.

Home defense night invasion

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Denial can be a killer. Staring reality in the face, with all the unpleasant revelations and realizations that accompany doing so, allows us to realistically prepare for what is possible. If bad and violent people manage to breach whatever perimeter you constructed, be it a wall or your vigilance, you will be forced to deal with them through some form of either submission or resistance.

Equipped with the right tools, the right training, and the right mindset, you are capable not only of surviving such an encounter, but prevailing. This is where millennia of human behavioral adaptation, and even more ancient reflexes such as fight-or-flight come into play: you have been built to win that fight and survive.

But you cannot rely on instinct alone. You need to do your part and prepare: get a legal weapon, get high-quality training, and practice. Barriers are wonderful, but they have never stopped determined criminals from getting in.

If your last line of passive defense fails, you must be ready to be the front line of an active defense. You are then all that stands between the Bad Men in front of you, and your family behind you. Considering that average 2019 average police response time was nearly 10 minutes, you have to be prepared to defend yourself and those you love.

A gun by itself won’t save you. But a gun in the hands of a competent, confident citizen can stop dangerous criminals in their tracks.

 

Gideon Joubert is the publisher and editor of Paratus.

This article originally appeared at partatus.info and is reprinted here with permission. 

comments

  1. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

    Hahah, who chose that picture of the couple with the colorful ,artistic baseball bat. The woman is too young to wear curlers. (She’s looks under 90yrs old. ) Tho, I love her red go-go boots and his silk pajamas. Wonder what they were doing……

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      Lol, honestly, I thought of your username when I saw that pic, and lo-and-behold here you are. 🙂

  2. avatar strych9 says:

    Of course, you also have to know when to deploy it which requires paying a modicum of attention.

    There are too many instances (IMHO) of a struggle for the defender’s gun because someone wasn’t paying attention and let the “other guy” get too close so a clear draw was unlikely or impossible.

    At a certain point you need a plan B if you want to be able to imploy plan A. Sometimes that’s an impossible situation to avoid, but it’s one that can be overcome by avoiding magic talisman thinking and using layers.

    1. avatar SoCalJack says:

      This article reminded me about your comment about deploying. But this couple didn’t just deploy, open carry, or brandish.
      https://www.kmov.com/news/couple-points-guns-at-protesters-who-marched-to-mayor-krewsons-home-sunday/article_afbb1b2c-b98e-11ea-ba7e-b3452007bfc8.html

  3. avatar ROBERT POWELL says:

    WE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE are facing the most deadly desease of our lifetime or any other time. the slimy-back-door takeover of our government by a bunch of communist garbage disguised as democrats.they are disregarding any constitution or bill of rights, no innocent until proven guilty in court by a jury of your peers, only the court of the television communists. no real evidence required only lies ,bullshit, and innuendo and constant-repeated fables leaked by some faceless rat in the government pool of traitors.time to lock and load at the ballot box, ONLY AMERICAN CITIZENS,VERIFIED BY PUBLIC RECORD,PASSPORT OR FEDERAL IDENTITY CARD..no more same-old crap-just different face..

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      You sir nailed it.

      1. avatar Montana Actual says:

        Want to bet they’ll still vote Republican?

        2 failed parties.

        1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

          We need a new party called The Constitutional Conservative Party. No RINO’s or socialists-communists-democrats ( I repeated myself).

        2. avatar Debbie W. says:

          Instead of surrendering to someone who took a political dump in your ear climb down off your perch, take a real good look at which party has sunk to an all time low and tell this forum which party you will vote for in Nov. or stfu.

        3. avatar Montana Actual says:

          I already have bitch. It’s not either one. Pay attention. Maybe if you voted the same way this country would stand a fucking chance. Do you honestly believe this country was founded on the idea of a republican or democratic way? Pretty sure the first president was chosen for a reason, and ever since the second it’s been a fucking mess favoring one side or the other. Maybe take your own advice.

        4. avatar Debbie W. says:

          The peeping perp pictured with the flashlight is the wrong skin color for die hard bigots who expect the boogieman to be anything but white. Their narrow mindedness leaves the door open for a lily white perp to make a bigot their b*tch.

          For everyone else…Expect the Unexpected.

        5. avatar Debbie W. says:

          Attention montunabreath…We’ll discuss how I vote and all your other spins the moment you tell this forum which party you will be voting for in Nov. Or you can and should stfu.

        6. avatar Debbie W. says:

          It appears montunabreath has left the building. He bad mouths the Party of Lincoln and ignores the wart covered history of the democRat Party. And which party will he vote for? He won’t say. If you are not going to vote for a or b then say which party you are going to be voting for in Nov. The Green Party? The Communist Party? The Libertarian Party?
          Surely an astute individual like montunabreath votes? Or does he just like to make himself feel good by thinking voters will fall for his butt spew? If montunabreath is eligible to vote he has a very crystal clear choice in Nov. Unfortunately his obvious choice is to be a complaining snot nosed slacker who rides in the wagon while others do the pulling..

          TRUMP/PENCE 2020.

        7. avatar Montana Actual says:

          You are just as bad as Ron, and tdiinva. Nobody cares who you or myself are voting for, and I already told you, neither party. Do you know how to use addition and subtraction? Somehow you manage to sign off everything with credit to your fearless leader. Amazing how naive you are. I seem to have struck a cord with you too. Good. Fuck you and everyone else who wants a part of it. Come and take it. Also, it’s always funny how the boomers like you are the ones who result to insults first, then when they get it in return the only thing they have to comeback with is “troll” and a misspelling of ones name. Real mature. Like a 3rd grade level mature. Just because you want to know who I am voting for does not mean ANYONE else here cares, and they are ignoring your rants too. Just because you asked, you will never know, but it’s fairly obvious. Maybe I’ll just write Colion Noir in to piss you off. “Another vote thrown away” lol. Same could be said for yours.

    2. avatar Mister Fleas says:

      “WE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE are facing the most deadly desease of our lifetime or any other time.”

      Just in the history of the United States:

      smallpox

      cholera

      yellow fever

      This disease, COVID19, has a fatality rate of 0.26% percent. See:

      https://twitter.com/kerpen/status/1262872489237131267?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

      All the more reason the shut down/quarantine was draconian and senseless.

      1. avatar Someone says:

        The terrible disease we are facing is not the Chinese flu. It’s communism.

  4. avatar MB says:

    Just a reminder, when you decide to threaten someone’s safety, you just sacrificed your own..

    1. avatar Kenneth Phillips says:

      True. You hit, pull a gun on me, or assault me any other way, I will hurt you.
      If I have to defend myself, I don’t have any problem with hurting you.
      I am only interested in walking away from the fight in one piece. My attitude is I keep a civil tongue in my mouth, and a respectfull of choices of language, and I expect you to do the same.

  5. avatar Montana Actual says:

    Ron, Is that you in the pic with your famous bat?

    1. avatar Ron says:

      I’m glad I’ve upset you to the point where I live in your head 24/7.

      1. avatar Montana Actual says:

        LOL. I can’t even tell if you are serious or not. You actually believe the shit you rant about here, don’t you. People who say the things like you do, are hypocrites, which tells me you think about me, my junk, and me and my junk with your wife when you are gone more than I even thought about this comment alone.

  6. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    This is seen in the FBI’s UCR. Dig into the UCR and there are numbers showing victims of crime that show no resistance being injured or getting killed in greater numbers than those who put up a fight.

    Folks, remember this: For most criminals, crime is their ‘job’ – it is how they make their living. They want the highest payoff with the least risk. There are a few criminals who want to take on risk and confrontation, and those criminals are truly dangerous. For most of them, they don’t want risk of injury or death. Once you start putting up a fight, the appetite for further engagement starts going down.

    This is also why I observed something in the 1980’s in LA: Criminals avoid crazy people. You’d think that criminals would prey on the mentally disturbed street people – after all, they seem like easy pickings?

    Nope. When I would observe a street situation where there were mentally disturbed people on the street, the criminals would give them wide berth. Why? The mentally disturbed are unpredictable. They don’t react the same way to a threat that Mr. and Mrs. White Bread do.

    The sociologists, criminologists and the police have been peddling a lie for the last 50 years of “giving the criminal what they want.” The UCR shows that your safety is enhanced by doing exactly the opposite. This is yet another case of the “experts” not knowing their ass from a warm rock.

    1. avatar EndDangerEd says:

      Serious TRUTH…. you cower before criminals and you have made yourself a victim BEFORE the crime has even commenced. Always BE PREPARED, ALWAYS pay attention to your surroundings, ALWAYS keep your hand in a pocket…. holding your keys if you have nothing better. Eye gouge with a keyring can be a show-stopper. Learn some defense AND ASSAULT moves. More than anything REFUSE to become a victim!

    2. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

      D.G.- Good point. Thanks.

      1. avatar Jerome johnson says:

        Stay in Illinois….asshat

    3. avatar Darkman says:

      @DG Basically it comes down to this. Criminals are like Bears. Once they decide you’re the victim. You have two choices: (1) lay down,play dead and hope for the best. (2) Kill the Damn Bear. Some who have picked the former have survived. Albeit plenty chewed up. Some who have chosen the latter. Failed in the attempt. At least the ones who were successful came home unchewed.

    4. avatar Ron says:

      This is very true. I spend a lot of time around violent criminals. I work in a prison.

      Criminals are largely not mentality prepared to handle someone who viciously fights back, gun or otherwise. They typically have no formal training and rely on surprise, speed, and intimidation above anything else.

      That’s why when they face an adversary who actually knows what they’re doing, they lose.

      1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

        I was taught that upon ‘Failing the interview’ (When a criminal decides you will be a victim) you tend to be playing catch-up if you are not aware of your surroundings.

        Basically ‘Failing the interview’ is being in Condition White and looking weak with stuff to steal (resources).

        Passing the interview is when the criminal decides to go after easier pickings when they observe you might not be easy.

        1. avatar 9x39 says:

          Appearances can be deceiving. The outward look of Condition White, is what I’m using as a lure right now. It’s emboldened the other to the point, as Sun Tzu pointed out many a time the frailty of humans to their ego, leading him to making radical mistakes. In full view of camera’s, & audio. Being played like a fiddle, all while thinking he has the advantage. The daft fool.

          As such I have more than sufficient, indeed a plethora of evidence against the perjured claims. Spoon fed, by himself, to me. At court, DisGoanBGud.jpg. It would be a thing of beauty, if I weren’t Orange at every given moment for the last 2 yrs running.

          Can’t wait for this to be over one way or the other, so I can relax just a tiny bit.

  7. avatar Dennis says:

    In a country that is now full of “victims,drama queens and girly boys”, the odds of the scumbag being successful is pretty high these days!

  8. avatar GS650G says:

    Remember that criminals are like businessmen. They need to make money or other returns on their investment and have results. If it’s too expensive they will defer or try it on someone else. The same rules apply to a store owner as a mugger.
    Make it unprofitable as possible on them to victimize you. Including a forced bankruptcy on their venture.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      GS650G,

      Well said.

      Here is another way of saying the same thing: why would a criminal continue to attack you (an obviously dangerous victim who is fighting back) when they can simply go get another victim who will not fight back?

      My mentor illustrated this to me about the silly automobile “anti-theft” device called “The Club”. I was an expandable metal rod that locked to your steering wheel and would prevent an auto thief from being able to steer your car after they started it. I asked why would a thief care since he/she could quickly simply snip the steering wheel with a a set of bolt cutters, immediately remove “The Club”, and be able to immediately drive away. In other words it added about 2 seconds to the amount of time it would take a thief to steal a car. My mentor replied, “Why go through the trouble of defeating the anti-theft device when you can simply steal the car right next to it without the anti-theft device?”

      So it is with victims. Why go through the trouble of attacking a dangerous victim when you can attack a compliant victim?

  9. avatar GunnyGene says:

    This is true of “criminals” in general as noted. It is not, however, true of the ideologically motivated and organized/led by someone with an agenda. These types are bent on mayhem for the sake of mayhem, and do not fit the normal “criminal” profile. We’ve seen quite a bit of the later type lately going under different labels. The point is, if you are a target of this type aggressor, even merely by proximity as a target of opportunity, you must be prepared to kill, and kill quickly.

    1. avatar Darkman says:

      To coin a Phrase: You know you’ve done a good job…When the first responders puke at the sight.

  10. avatar Gary Mandigo says:

    Excellent points all around.

    I do want to add that a person has three potential responses for threats (from criminals or maybe bears as well).
    These are:
    1. Flight
    2. Fight
    and
    3. Freeze

    It is the third (non) response that on some or perhaps many occasions causes us (almost anyone who does not train for defensive situations) to Freeze when our minds are telling us to get the heck out of harms way. The tragedy in Orlando ,Florida is an unfortunate example of this outcome. Of all the people in the nightclub (even bouncers), no one resisted the shooter. Many of the victims were lined up against a wall and the shooter just went person to person killing each individual!

    Having a warrior mindset is critical to protecting our families and ourselves.

  11. avatar Darkman says:

    Not in Their Neighborhood.
    St. Louis couple draw weapons on protesters headed to mayor’s house: report | Fox News
    https://www.foxnews.com/us/st-louis-couple-draw-weapons-on-protesters-report

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