A Gun Won’t Save You

Bet you never expected to read that title on this blog, did you?

Yesterday, I wrote a post that I’m sure angered many of my Liberal Readers. Well, Lib Readers, if you’re still here (and I hope you are), you’re in luck, because I don’t doubt that this post is going to piss off a good number of my Conservative Readers as well.

Anyways, this post came about because a few days ago, I stumbled across this photo gallery on Facebook. I encourage you to go take a look at it. If you’re pressed for time or whatever, I’ll sum it up for you: it’s a series of pictures of female (and female-identifying) college students holding up their self-protection implements of choice. The majority of the subjects are holding keys between their fingers, while nearly all the rest have pepper spray or whistles, and one is wearing a set of large, heavy-looking rings.

Most of the comments on the Facebook thread, as I’m sure you can probably guess, soundly criticized the ladies’ choice of “weaponry.” Remarks like “a pocketknife is much more effective than you car keys,,” or “they should be carrying guns,” were nearly universal. Believe it or not, I disagreed with that sentiment, and I still do.

Why? Go back and take another look at those pictures. Pay close attention to their faces, specifically their eyes. Now do a Google Image Search of Ronda Rousey or another professional fighter, or even someone like Larry Vickers or Marcus Luttrell. Again, pay close attention to the face and eyes. See the difference? No? Ronda, Larry, and Marcus all have a certain look in their eyes, a look that’s almost predatory. It’s a look that says, “I won’t be a victim. Mess with me and I’ll mess you up.” Maybe it’s just the way the photographer composed the images or asked the subjects to pose, but by and large the ladies in those pictures don’t have that look. They don’t appear to have a fighting mindset.

There’s a phrase that the anti-gun crowd likes to use when the topic of self-defense comes up. I’m sure you’ve heard it before “The bad guy will just take your gun away and use it against you.” Believe it or not, I agree with them. To a point. A bad guy can absolutely take your gun, or any other weapon, away from you and use it against you if you lack the will to use it yourself. Again, I may well be wrong, and I fervently hope that I am wrong, but most of the women in those pictures seem to lack that will to fight back.

Please don’t think I’m picking on women when I say that. Men lack that will to fight too. I’ve seen it myself firsthand.

If you work in a gun store, or if you’re like me and spend most of your spare time hanging around in gun stores and/or shooting ranges, you’ll eventually see something like this happens. This is a true story.

I was in my favorite gun shop a while back, in front of the used handgun display, ogling a near-mint condition nickle-plated Colt Python that was outside my budget by several orders of magnitude. A gentleman walked into the shop, approached the counter, and said he wanted to buy a shotgun. His neighbor, he said, had been the victim of a home-invasion robbery, and he wanted to be able to protect his family in case the robbers targeted his house. So he asked to see the best home defense shotgun the shop had. The clerk pulled a semi-automatic 12-gauge – I think a Mossberg 930 SPX – off the display rack and presented it to the man. The man didn’t want it: he wanted a pump-action because it made “The Noise.” You know what I’m talking about, that almighty “cha-chack!” noise when you work the pump, the one that supposedly makes even the bravest bad guy quake in their boots. So the clerk put the semi-auto back and pulled down a Remington 870 Express Tactical, the top-of-the-line model with an extended magazine tube and ghost-ring sights with Tritium inserts for low-light use. Real nice gun. The guy loved it, and immediately bought it. I don’t remember the exact price, but after taxes, transfer fees, background check fee (PA charges one), and so on, the guy had to have forked over at least $600 for that shotgun. Once the man had filled out all the paperwork and the background check came back okay, the clerk set about recommending different defensive ammunition loads for the shotgun. I’ll never forget what the man said next:

“Oh, I don’t need any ammo. I don’t want to actually shoot the bad guys, I just want to scare them away.”

He spent at least six hundred dollars, probably a good deal more, on a weapon that he never intended to actually use. He just wanted to “scare the bad guys away.” If there’s a more clear and obvious example of lacking the will to fight back, then I don’t want to know about it.

I wish I could say that that guy is the only such case I’ve come across, but sadly it’s not. Not even close. In fact, I’ve talked to a good number of people, both men and women, who own defensive implements, be they guns, knives, pepper spray, etc., who never actually plan on using them. They all have the same idea that the guy in the gun store had: that simply brandishing their weapon will be enough to scare the bad guys away. Why bother buying ammo or learning how to use it when the mere sight (or, as in the case of the shotgun, the mere sound) of the thing will make the bad guy turn tail and run.

And it is a nice plan. Up until the moment where it doesn’t work.

I always counter that idea by asking something to the effect of, “well, what if the bad guy doesn’t turn and run away?” It pains me to say this, but the overwhelming majority of the time, the person I’m talking to’s response is some variation of, “well, then I guess I’ll just have to let them rob/rape/kill/do whatever to me.” And again, I counter by saying something to the effect of, “No, you don’t have to. You can fight back. Kick, punch, claw, scratch, etc.” And again, they respond with something to the effect of, “Why bother? They’ll probably win.”

They completely and utterly lack the will to fight back.

I wish y’all could see me typing this. My jaw is clenched, I can feel a vein in my head throbbing, and I’m probably turning an interesting shade of red too. Because that mindset, that idea of having to automatically be the victim, drives me crazy. Why? Why not fight back. Yeah, the bad guy might win, but he might not. You’ll never know unless you actually try and fight. Even if you’re not a good fighter, the very act of resistance or the mere threat of physical violence might be enough to scare the bad guys off or dissuade them. The overwhelming majority of bad guys don’t want a fight: they want easy prey. And I’m not just pulling that idea out of my backside: every law enforcement official I’ve spoken to says the same thing. That includes my defensive handgun instructor, a 20+ year veteran of the job.

Voluntary helplessness and defensiveness is a mindset that I simply cannot wrap my head around. Yes, if you fight back you might lose, you might get hurt, but how can that be justification for just rolling over and dying? The most common excuse I hear is, “oh, I don’t want to hurt anyone.” Guess what, neither do I. Might be hard to believe,  but it’s the truth. I don’t want to hurt anybody, or mace anybody, or stab or cut anybody, or, God forbid, shoot anybody. But at the same time, I refuse to allow myself to be a victim of physical or sexual violence. Which is why I go out of my way to avoid locations or situations that might put me in a position where I might have to. But if the chips are down, if there’s no other way out, then I will absolutely fight back.

I’m ranting, I apologize.

Getting back to that photo gallery, I commented in the aforementioned Facebook thread that I’d rather go up against every single woman in those photos all at once, each  of them armed with their “weapon” of choice and me unarmed, than go one-on-one with Ronda Rousey in The Octagon. Another commenter called me on that, pointing out that the vast majority of people lack the time and money to achieve Ms. Rousey’s skill level as a fighter, or the genetic good fortune to be able to achieve her level of physical fitness. And he is absolutely 100% correct, but that’s not why I don’t want to fight her. I don’t want to fight her because she has the mindset of a fighter, not a victim.

I heard a story about Ms. Rousey once, and I’m going to relate it to you here. I can’t vouch for its accuracy, or the accuracy of my retelling, but nevertheless it does help to illustrate my point.

Years ago, before Ms. Rousey began training for the Olympics or became a professional MMA fighter, back when she was just taking Judo for herself, she was confronted by two men in a movie theater, who attempted to assault her. These men, by all accounts, were larger than Ms. Rousey, as well as stronger in terms of pure muscle mass. She wiped the floor with them so badly that she wound up sending one or both of them (I’m not sure) to the emergency room.

That’s what I’m talking about when I talk about having the mindset of a fighter rather than a victim. Those men decided that they were going to hurt her, or do who know’s what to her, and she decided that she wasn’t going to let them do it. So she fought back, and was able to do a real number on her would-be assailants.

Going back to Marcus Luttrell. If you’re not familiar with his story, then once you finish reading this post, then go out and buy a copy of Lone Survivor. Preferably the book, though the movie  also works. Long story short, Luttrell was Navy SEAL, part of a four-man reconnaissance mission in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan that was compromised and later engaged by an overwhelming number of Al-Qaeda affiliated fighters. Luttrell’s fellow SEALs were all killed, and Luttrell himself barely survived. But the three other SEALs didn’t give up and wait for the end: they fought back, and they fought hard, in a battle that lasted roughly three hours. Yes, they were all highly trained special operations soldiers, but more importantly than their training, they had that same mindset: they were not going to be victims. They were not just going to roll over and die. They were going to fight back, fight until their last breath.

Now, just because you yourself are not a professional fighter or an Navy SEAL doesn’t mean you can’t fight back. All it takes is the simple decision to refuse to be a victim. That right there is the core of a fighter’s mindset. Refuse to be a victim.

You can have the biggest, baddest gun on the planet. You can have the largest, sharpest knife in the world. You can have a Taser, law-enforcement grade pepper spray, a set of car keys, a whistle, whatever. But unless you have that fighter’s mindset, they will ultimately prove worthless. Because if you lack the will to fight back, then no weapon on this earth will be able to protect you.

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2 thoughts on “A Gun Won’t Save You

  1. This is exactly what I said after the recent church shooting in Charleston.

    One addition, start training. Pick something, judo, boxing, aikido, silat, kali, something, and train regularly.

    Then when wolf comes, fight.

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