Behind The Curve, Part 1: DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS OF SELF-DEFENSE
Some Points of Self-Defense You Need To Consider…
From teaching self-defense courses for many years and studying what happens in self-defense situations, I discovered what I call the “Dirty Little Secrets”. This is information that often is not taught, shared or discovered, and in some cases deliberately left out of training.
The three points I focus on are,
- First: The bad guys get to do what they want, when they want and can’t be held liable for lying about it.
- Second: The police do NOT have to respond to a call for help such as a 911 call, and
- Third: In Utah, concealed firearm permit holders have their name checked against arrest lists submitted to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) daily.
For this installment, let us focus on the First item: The bad guys have free reign, which puts law enforcement and armed citizens behind the reaction curve.
As armed citizens, there is an expectation from society that if you are forced to engage an attacker in self-defense, you will do it correctly and within the bounds of the law. That is a reasonable expectation since society, via your local county or state government, has given you “permission” to carry a firearm for self-defense. Permit holders are held to a higher standard of care, as Massod Ayoob frequently states in articles and books. That standard includes not going and looking for trouble, taking care to avoid locations and situations that would cause you to have to employ your self-defense tool, disengagement and de-escalation of potential deadly force confrontations, and not knowingly going into locations where trouble has frequently happened. With all that said, the dirty little secret is this; the criminal chooses time, place/location, mode of attack/ambush, the weapon, the language, etc. and to his or her advantage, if caught afterwards, can lie or refuse to talk about the attack. This places law enforcement and permit holders at a distinct disadvantage in self-defense, since we are always reacting to someone else’s actions, this puts us behind the curve. It is not fair. It is not right. It just “is” the reality we have to live with.
That reality has been recognized for many years by credible experts and trainers of police and armed citizens. It is the reason awareness is such a vital part of training and lifestyle. It also has been shown through studies done by the FBI. (See the chapters reviewed in the Defense Actions website) Scott Reitz who writes for SWAT Magazine made particular note of this inequality between good guys and bad guys. He is a 30-year veteran of LAPD and is a highly acclaimed instructor. Writing in the December 2008 issue of SWAT in his “Frontline Debriefs” column, Reitz said, “Suspects are afforded the latitude of making the “first move” so to speak. This is an indisputable fact of life in this profession (Law Enforcement). Everything we do is reactive in nature. We, as the good guys, are almost always working behind the power curve. We have to wait and then react based on the suspect’s actions—which will always place us at a distinct disadvantage.” He states further, “When suspects are given the latitude of making the first move, then the officer’s reactions and skills have to be that much better. This is why we train….”
Self-Defense Points…According To Poole
Careful consideration of Reitz’s statements shows that just having a gun or getting a concealed permit is not enough. Awareness and a cautious approach to life are also needed, thus further training is imperative. This has been discussed on the Defense Actions website blog several times. I recently read an article by Eric Poole in the January 2009 “Tactical Weapons” publication. (Yes, I’m still trying to get my reading caught up). The title is “Combat Focus Shooting” as taught by Rob Pincus of I.C.E Training. In a sidebar Poole noted why the bad guys win:
- They have the initiative. Bad guys control or choose the circumstances, regardless of what “color” of awareness you are in.
- They are intuitive and will move more efficiently with a combat mindset. (See the FBI studies)
- Good guys have a false sense of confidence or are often overconfident about their ability. Scores in competitive shooting matches don’t translate to competency.
- They have a lower perceived penalty. Bad guys have considered the risks and consequences before setting an ambush. When the good guys are caught in a surprise, only then do they begin to calculate the risks and consequences of making a shot.
- Real people are not paper targets. Repetitive double taps and similar drills will only reinforce a bad habit. Two shots may not take down a bad guy but a momentary pause to check a threat may be a lethal mistake. A bad guy will find it easier to kill and will continue to pull the trigger as long as he feels threatened.
Self-Defense Mindset v. Criminal Mindset
The more I’ve studied this, the more I believe we must understand the mindset of the criminal. One part of the National Rifle Association’s “Refuse to be a Victim” seminar is how criminals act, think and view their victims. Dave Grossman’s work about wolves, sheep and sheepdogs also covers this in an intriguing manner. When Damon Thueson and I reviewed the FBI studies, we discovered more of how the bad guy thinks and trains. The good guy, as indicated by Poole above, may hesitate, may have trained in a manner that is actually lethal when applied in real life, has not considered the aftermath of the decision to pull the trigger in self-defense, and has not prepared mentally to fight. Gabe Suarez has shown through his work that some accepted training methods do not work in force on force training and in actual confrontations. Self-Defense is an ever-evolving subject. Techniques, tools and accessories are changing rapidly. Not only do we need to stay current with that part of the equation, working on our own combat mindset is required.
Shortly I’ll present some thoughts on “bein’ willin’” as John Wayne’s character so eloquently stated in his last Hollywood movie, “The Shootist.” That will be in the near future here on the Defense Actions website. If you have not considered what has been brought out in this discussion, take the time to do so. It could make the difference in that moment we all hope never comes. We prepare. We train. We visualize and train some more. We are cautious, avoid bad places, and teach our families to do the same. In doing so, we try to overcome the dirty little secrets and prepare to shorten that time we are behind the curve.
Stay safe and check “six” often.
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