Avoidance: A Key Self Defense Tactic
Most self defense firearms training focuses on shooting tactics: grip, stance, draw, trigger control, clearing drills, and so on.
This is all important stuff. When you make the decision to own or carry a firearm, you'd darned well better make sure you know what you're doing when you decide to use the gun to defend yourself or others.
But because firearms instructors exist to teach you about using firearms, they tend to focus on the gun as the answer to self defense. And sometimes the purpose of self defense gets lost in all the talk about calibers, holsters, and magazine capacity.
Here's the crux of the matter: Self defense is not about shooting, but about surviving a threatening situation unharmed. It's about doing anything it takes to survive. Yes, that often means shooting someone, but "anything" covers a lot of ground, including avoidance.
American Hangunner ran an interesting article titled On Avoidance. Here are some excerpts:
Defensive shooting is more focused on what doesn’t happen to you than on what happens to your attacker. The other person getting shot is not how we define success — that’s not the goal. Shooting with that as the sole end in mind is “offensive” and not “defensive” in nature. The purpose of defensive shooting is to avoid the serious bodily harm someone is trying to inflict on you or those around you. Avoiding that harm is the only thing justifying shooting another human being and removes it from the realm of murder.
“Winning” an armed confrontation is defined as survival, whether or not the other person is even hit at all. By this definition, you win every gunfight you’re not in. Ego and pride might suggest otherwise, but those emotions tend to send people to prison or the morgue. Sometimes wisdom is knowing when to walk on the other side of the street, or when to say “check, please” and slip out the back door.
... there are hard, practical realities in why you should avoid an armed confrontation if possible. Simply put — you may lose. While armed citizens have a great overall track record, there are never any guarantees, and reading the fact patterns of capital murder cases shows a lot of murder victims who died trying to defend themselves.
Defensive shooting means you’re coming from behind in a fight someone else started. Most criminals will not attack someone unless they feel they already have the advantage of numbers, surprise or whatever. While willing to be part of a shooting — they’re not interested in being in a gunfight. By the time it turns into a fight, you may very well already be hurt and therefore less capable. Your gun may jam, which happens surprisingly often in shootings. You may miss; also very common. Your bullet may not perform as you expect. Your assailant may be on drugs and unable to realize how badly they’re hurt. There may be several suspects and one may be in ambush behind you before who you think is the primary attacker even approaches you. A thousand things can go wrong, and it only takes one to turn the cards against you.
This is not the kind of advice many gun owners want to hear. It runs against the gut feeling many of us have that bad people should not be allowed to get away with doing bad things to good people. Owning or carrying a gun can be an act of defiance in the face of evil. It's our way of saying, "We will not cower. We will resist."
But in the real-world, the fact remains that self defense is about "defense" against aggression or threat. So the goal of self defense is to remain unharmed, not necessarily to shoot the bad guy.
Don't misunderstand the point here. If you honestly believe you're in danger of death or great bodily harm, and that using a firearm is the only way to survive, by all means shoot until the threat is neutralized. But also remember that shooting isn't the goal. It's merely one option to achieve your real goal, which is to live another day.
From our friends at Second Call Defense.
You Might Be a Gun Criminal
We’ve all laughed at Jeff Foxworthy’s clever “You might be a redneck” jokes, but firearm crime is no joking matter, and there are a lot of people committing “gun crimes” every day without even knowing it. Whether you know all about guns and gun laws, or you don’t even own a gun, you might be a gun criminal. American gun laws are so convoluted and the definitions so elastic that even the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ official website omits some prohibitions and fails to clearly explain others.
As I pointed out in a previous column, it is likely that former representative, now gun control crusader, Gabby Giffords, who, along with her husband makes a show of being a gun owner while calling for more restriction, is probably legally prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. In other words, they probably are gun criminals.
It can be assumed that during the time after she was horribly shot – by a deranged Democrat – Gabby’s husband, Mark Kelly, was probably assigned a power of attorney to manage her affairs, and that she was, and possibly still is, considered legally incompetent and therefore unable to sign contracts or enter into legal agreements.
According to the Veterans Affairs health-care system and the FBI, a determination of legal incompetence qualifies a person as “adjudicated mentally defective,” resulting in loss of the right to firearms. The VA so designated some 200,000 veterans, many of whom were not nearly as seriously impaired as Ms. Giffords, and reported their names to the FBI as “prohibited persons.” For them to get their rights back, these veterans would have to renounce their disability benefit and prove to a VA doctor that they are no longer mentally impaired. Then they would have to petition for restoration of rights, but their petition could be turned down.
The only difference between these vets and Gabby Giffords is that no one reported Gabby to the FBI as a “mental defective.” But it doesn’t matter whether or not someone has been added to the FBI’s database of prohibited persons. It is the condition, not the reporting of it, that matters. According to the law, anyone “who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution” is prohibited from possessing guns or ammunition, just like anyone under indictment or convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, or anyone who is a user of a controlled substance.
As Gabby and her group pushes for expanded background checks and more comprehensive reporting of mental-health records to the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System, or NICS, she should be held to the same standards as our injured veterans under VA care. With that in mind, veterans have been told that it would be a crime for their spouse to maintain firearms in the household, even if the veteran didn’t have access to them. Under that standard, Gabby’s husband would not be allowed to have guns either, at least not in the house.
And taking the logic further, if, as the VA says – and has been acting on for about 20 years – a legal finding of incompetence equates to “adjudicated mentally defective” under federal gun laws, then not only are Gabby and Mark breaking the law, but so are the parents of developmentally disabled adults if they have guns in the house or take their kids out to plink with .22s, and so are the guardians of folks with Alzheimer’s if they let them handle firearms.
The current system is all or nothing. There is no scaled or limited application. Either you are prohibited or you are not. If you are prohibited, any contact with, or access to a firearm is a felony, and so is providing or facilitating such contact or access. There is no provision for supervised range visits, or access under controlled circumstances. Someone who kited a check is under the exact same prohibition as someone who committed murder. Someone who eats pot-laced brownies to soothe the nausea of cancer treatments is treated just like a meth dealer.
The only thing that keeps trauma victims like Gabby Giffords and our disabled veterans from being snatched up and sent to prison is the kindness and common sense of police and prosecutors. Selective enforcement is no solution to bad laws. Just because these laws are rarely enforced against nice people doesn’t mean they never will be. Just look at the way New York City’s ban on “gravity knives” has been enforced and abused. That’s gotten so bad that even the Village Voice is finally complaining about the bad law.
The sad fact is that it’s much easier to catch regular people inadvertently breaking gun laws than it is to catch real criminals. And now the Obama administration is pushing a whole new raft of abusive regulations to circumvent Congress and restrict guns and gun owners even further.
As more “minor adjustments” are made to our nation’s gun laws by Congress, bureaucrats and judges, it becomes easier and easier to inadvertently break these laws. The cruel joke is rapidly changing from; “If you or someone in your household possess firearms … you might be a gun criminal,” to “If you are ever around guns … you probably are a gun criminal.”
©2016 The Firearms Coalition, all rights reserved. Reprinting, posting, and distributing permitted with inclusion of this copyright statement. www.FirearmsCoalition.org.
Criminals think of themselves as "good people"
Recently we discussed how criminals don't think the way ordinary people do. According to Stanton E. Samenow Ph.D., criminals think in stark, black and white terms that leave no room for reason, negotiation, empathy for victims.
To follow up on this idea, here's another somewhat startling observation: many criminals actually view themselves as good people despite their bad actions.
Here's another excerpt from PsychologyToday.com:
Perhaps the most surprising discovery in my early years of trying to understand the criminal mind was that, without exception, offenders regard themselves as good human beings. No matter how long their trail of carnage, no matter what suffering they caused others, every one of them retained the view that he is a good person.
How does a one man walking crime wave retain the view that he is good at heart? There are many components to this perception. Some point to their daily activities of going to school or working as evidence. Others cite their religious practices: reading the Bible, attending church, wearing a religious symbol. Because of their talents, they are "good people." Some are artistic, play musical instruments, fashion quality products in a wood shop, and so forth. When others commend them for their creativity, their sense of being a good person is enhanced.
Another component in the offender's view of his own decency is that, no matter how tough he is, there exists within him a deep well of sentiment. I recalled a murderer who would not step on a bug because he could not bring himself to kill a living thing.
Nearly all affirm that there are others who do terrible things they would never do. Those people are the criminals. "Anyone who knocks a little old lady down on the street and steals her purse should be hung," declared one teenager. Yet this same youth invaded a home while the owner was present, terrorized her, and cleared out some of her most valuable belongings. But that was acceptable because, as he pointed out, he did not physically hurt her. "Anyone who messes with little kids should be put to death," remarked another offender who had committed a brutal rape.
The capacity to experience remorse supports this view of inner goodness. I recall a man who broke into a woman's home and made off with jewelry and priceless heirlooms. When he learned the victim was suffering from a terminal illness, he returned everything he stole. The remorse he felt in this one situation bolstered his view of how compassionate a person he was. It did not deter him from other breakins.
Does this surprise you?
It's difficult to understand how differently some people's minds work. We all tend to assume that the way we think is the way other people think.
If you or I broke into someone's home, stole their property, and hurt or terrorized people, we would know we'd done something wrong. But a criminal won't necessarily think that way. They may see nothing abnormal about their actions.
Not everyone who commits criminal acts thinks differently. But some do, generally those who are hardened criminals with a long history of wrongdoing and an unfortunate upbringing.
However, it's important to understand how truly different some people are so you can be prepared to react appropriately and legally to life-threatening situations. Being caught off-guard by what you view as "irrational" actions can cause panic and lead to poor decision-making on your part.
In other words, as trite as it might sound, when faced with a criminal, expect the unexpected.
From our friends at Second Call Defense.
Is deadly force legal if you HATE your attacker?
When we talk about using deadly force legally, we generally define it like this:
Deadly force is justified only to prevent the imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.
So, you're in your house minding your own business. A man bursts through the back door waving a machete. And you shoot him because you fear for your life. Pretty simple concept, right?
But what if in addition to fear you also feel "hatred" toward the person you shoot? Should that make any difference?
You'd think the answer would be no. But in a recent article in the Washington Post, Eugene Volokh considers a wrinkle in California law that could call into question the use of deadly force if you experience any emotions other than fear.
Are you guilty of murder, because you didn’t act based on your “fears alone,” but based on your reasonable fears plus some other motive? The conventional answer is no: The LaFave treatise, for instance, expressly says that if a defender “acts in proper self-defense, he does not lose the defense because he acts with some less admirable motive in addition to that of defending himself, as where he enjoys using force upon his adversary because he hates him.” The comment to Model Penal Code § 3.04, likewise states that self-defense “does not demand that [the belief of necessity of defensive action] be the sole motive of [the defendant's] action,” because “an inquiry into dominant and secondary purposes would inevitably be far too complex.” See State v. King (Ariz. 2010).
But in California (and apparently Idaho), it appears that you would be guilty of murder. California, like all states, allows people to use deadly force to resist an attempt to kill, inflict serious bodily injury, rape, or commit some other very serious crimes. But Cal. Penal Code § 198 provides that,
the circumstances must be sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable person, and the party killing must have acted under the influence of such fears alone.
That sounds a little crazy. So you might think that this is just a lone example of a poorly worded law. But California jury instructions say the same thing:
To justify taking the life of another in self-defense, the circumstances must be such as would excite the fears of a reasonable person placed in a similar position, and the party killing must act under the influence of those fears alone.
We can conjecture that the purpose of this law is to make sure that justifiable deadly force is limited to situations where someone is honestly defending themselves and can't be applied to "revenge" killings or other circumstances.
However, Volokh provides a realistic example of how the law as worded could turn self defense into murder.
He gives the example of a woman in a relationship with a man who has raped or beaten her. The first time it happens, the woman doesn't use deadly force even though she would have been justified in doing so. At a later time, the man admits that he has abused the woman's daughter. When the man again attempts to rape or beat the woman, she uses deadly force because now in addition to fear, she also feels hatred toward the man and even perhaps a desire for revenge.
Common sense would suggest that the added emotions shouldn't remove the justification for deadly force. However, according to Volokh, under California law, the woman would be guilty of murder because her emotions were no longer pure fear.
It's yet another example of the difference between what is right and what is legal. In law, the devil is always in the details. Being "in the right" doesn't always hold up in court.
Add to this the negative attitude many people have about firearms, and you can see why defending yourself with a gun poses tremendous risk that seems out of proportion. Defend yourself with a baseball bat and you probably won't get in trouble with the law even if death is a result. Defend yourself with a gun in the exact same situation, and it's a whole different ball game.
From our friends at Second Call Defense.
Your Tactical Training Scenario - Three Difficult Disarms
Most of the gun classes I teach involve tactics at extremely close range. When you are within arms’ reach of your assailant deflecting his muzzle or taking his gun away from him is often faster than drawing your own gun to shoot.
There are lots of systems ranging from traditional martial arts to military combatives that teach gun deflections/disarms. Most work OK in the dojo or training hall, but fail miserably on the street. Failure occurs when the street attacks look NOTHING like the ones practiced in the dojo. When the defender is faced with a situation he hasn’t seen before and tries to adapt a technique he learned in the dojo, he often fails miserably.
I have linked to three news articles below. Each of them presents a weapons disarm scenario that is very difficult to successfully negotiate. Each of these situations is one that is rarely practiced by ANY combative systems. Take a look at the articles and my analysis and see if you can improve your readiness.
Watch the video…
The robber is very calm and doesn’t give any indicator that he’s about to rob the place other than suspiciously keeping his hand in his pocket as he approaches the counter. He draws the gun as soon as the clerk opens the register to give him change. He stays alert, repockets the gun when the cop comes in, and casually walks away.
Note a couple of things…
The robber is amazingly cool under stress and very aware of his surroundings. If you were fighting him, how would you be feeling? This calm? Who has the advantage?
The gun is in LEFT hand. The criminal’s finger never leaves the trigger.
If you had to deflect or take this gun because you thought he was going to shoot, how would you do it? A serious question for Krav Maga students….as much as I like the Krav gun stuff, would “gun from the front” work here? The barrier of the counter prevents you from blasting in and delivering the punch you need to deliver. Also, how are you going to pin the gun?
Other disarm techniques depend on controlling the elbow of the weapon bearing limb. Could you get to a position where that is even possible in this case? Not likely.
None of our dojos have counters like this gas station. When we only teach techniques that depend closing the distance and striking or working takedowns, we limit our responses if such distance closure is prohibited by an intervening barrier.
I really think everyone needs to learn multiple gun disarming techniques. A two-handed grab is probably the only thing that would have worked in this spot.
Also, the attacker was left handed. How often do you practice left handed disarms? The mechanics of some systems work differently between right and left hands. If all your training partners are righties, you may not be prepared.
Family members close to the defender
The case above turned out ok. The next one ended up with far worse consequences.
This article describes a man who made the decision to fight when an armed robber attempted to take his jacket. He began wrestling with the criminal over the gun and the gun was fired. The round hit the victim’s own young son in the head.
Some points to ponder…
1) When you practice gun disarms (or any other fighting skills) do you consider that your children may be with you at the time of the fight?
2) Would you utilize some techniques if you were alone, that you wouldn’t do if you were with your kids?
3) Do your children know what to do if mommy or daddy has to fight?
Integrate your children or loved ones into your self protection plans. I bet this father wished he had. If the bullets start flying your kid should be as far away from you as possible. Standing instructions to non-combative loved ones should be: “If we are is a bad situation, immediately do whatever I tell you to do. If I don’t tell you what to do and I am in a physical fight or I draw my gun, get as far away from me as possible and call the police.”
The presence of innocent parties in close proximity is a situation most of us haven’t practiced.
Robbed while you are inside your car.
This article describes a robbery where the robber targets a victim who is sitting in his parked car.
Imagine the following scenario:
You are sitting in your car with your window rolled down. A man (who appears to be homeless) walks up to the window and asks you for some spare change. Being a charitable person, you start digging in your pockets for money to give him. As you do so, he draws a pistol and sticks it in your face before ordering you to hand over your wallet.
What do you do?
First, notice how easily this can be prevented…better awareness, rolled up windows, locked doors, and the ability to say “NO”. If all else fails, driving away on the robber’s approach would have solved the problem.
When you let it get this far, you really get yourself in trouble. You are really at his mercy unless you have both good physical skills and a weapon.
For my CCW friends, just having a gun isn’t enough. Drawing your gun while you are being held at gunpoint is usually suicidal. You need a physical skill set to enable you to access your piece.
Similar to the situation where the counter was between you and your attacker, the car door here serves as a substantial barrier. You can’t get close enough to him to put weight on the gun and you can’t deliver any powerful strikes.
What about the seated position? Your practiced skills may work well when standing, but how do they work when you are seated (or alternately, in a kneeling or laying down position)?
Weapon disarm training can’t be so doctrinaire. You must be able to adapt to the circumstances at hand, no matter what they are. All good disarm programs should contain three elements:
1) Gun deflections leading to a draw of your own weapon (whatever that is)
2) Gun deflections leading to empty hand physical attack
3) Gun takeaways
If your program doesn’t contain all three options, you are missing some critical elements in your training.
If you carry a gun or a knife for self protection, you need the physical skills that will allow you to get to that weapon.
If you train in combatives, practice dealing with these hard scenarios. Inject some barricades, some seated positions, and some innocent family members into your training scenarios. You’ll be much better prepared if you do.
Greg Ellifritz is the full time firearms and defensive tactics training officer for a central Ohio police department. He holds instructor or master instructor certifications in more than 75 different weapon systems, defensive tactics programs and police specialty areas. Greg has a master's degree in Public Policy and Management and is an instructor for both the Ohio Peace Officer's Training Academy and the Tactical Defense Institute.
For more information or to contact Greg, visit his training site at Active Response Training.
NRA Members, this is CRITICAL: Have you cast your vote for Sean Maloney?
As many of you know, Buckeye Firearms Association's own Sean Maloney is seeking re-election to the NRA Board of Directors.
If you are an NRA voting member, the March issue of your NRA magazine contained a ballot and it is vitally important that you complete and return it RIGHT NOW. TODAY!
Sean has received word that his election is currently running "too close to call." That means EVERY vote could make a HUGE difference for re-electing a man who will actively represent gun owners' interests on the board.
The best help you can give Sean right now is to use the "bullet vote" method - return your ballot with ONE and only ONE name marked - SEAN MALONEY.
Ballots must be received by May 1, so your ballot needs to be in the mail in the next 48 hours to ensure it will be counted!
PLEASE, DO IT NOW!
Vote to Re-Elect Sean Maloney for NRA Board of Directors
Why I'm supporting Sean Maloney for NRA Board of Directors
Buckeye Firearms Association Endorses Sean Maloney for NRA Board of Directors
Hillary Supporter Fact Checks Clinton: Don’t Blame Vermont for New York Crime!
Hillary Clinton apparently wants to make sure that no matter how her current campaign fares, she will at least retain her title as the least trusted person in American politics. In campaign-panic mode on Monday [April 4], having lost the last five state caucuses to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Clinton made another statement to be added to her ever-lengthening list of lies and misrepresentations.
The New York Post reports that Clinton falsely attacked Sanders by implication, telling a group of Democrats, “It’s going to be coming out in the very near future that many of the catastrophes that have taken human lives in the state of New York have been the product of guns coming over the border from Vermont.” The implication, of course, is that Vermont’s lack of restrictive gun laws – as in New York – is to blame for New York’s crime woes.
Clinton must really be “feelin’ the Bern,” because her statement is preposterous, for at least three reasons. First, ATF firearm tracing data show that crime guns don’t come from Vermont. In 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, only 0.7 percent of guns recovered by police in New York had first been sold at retail in Vermont.
Second, the average time between a firearm’s original retail sale, and its recovery by police in New York, is 15 years. For all Clinton knows, the exceedingly small number of guns from Vermont made their way to New York legally. A person may have moved from Vermont to New York and subsequently sold a firearm to a firearm dealer in the state, for example.
Third, Clinton’s attack upon Sanders isn’t even rational. Vermont’s gun control laws are established by its state legislature and governor. Sanders, a U.S. senator, serves in Congress. And Clinton and Sanders are running for president of the United States. It shows how desperate Clinton is, when she thinks she can beat Sanders on the basis of issues that have no relationship to the presidency.
Vermont’s governor, who has a role in determining his state’s laws, is reportedly a Clinton supporter. But maybe less so now, after what Clinton said. Speaking as diplomatically as possible, Gov. Peter Shumlin said, “things are sometimes said by all the candidates that sometimes aren’t entirely accurate. . . . I think you’d have a hard time convincing Vermonters that New York’s crime problems are coming from Vermont.”
A McClatchy-Marist poll released on Wednesday, the day after Sanders trounced Clinton in Wisconsin (by 57-43 percent) finds that 25 percent of Sanders’ supporters wouldn’t vote for Clinton in November, while only 69 percent would do so. The poll also finds that Sanders edges Clinton among Democrats nationally.
Clinton certainly cannot expect to improve those numbers by hurling unfair and dishonest accusations against Sanders and the state from which he hails. To the contrary, if she persists in the dishonest style that have become her trademark, she only adds to the numerous reasons voters already have to keep her out of the White House.
© 2016 National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action. This may be reproduced. This may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.