Saturday, January 13, 2007

Is Psychological Impotence in the Face of Violent Crime Really the Answer?

While reading more on the news story on the carjacking and subsequent murders of a Tennessee couple, I scrolled down and saw that the story had some further links to information on how to prevent carjackings. "Great", I thought, "I'll take a look and see what I can learn." What I learned is, it is best to give the carjacker your keys and get out of the car to keep yourself from being harmed.

A further link on the news story took me to a page on "No nonsense self-defense" where I learned that the average person doesn't have what it takes to fight back against a carjacker:

If you argue or resist a carjacker, the odds are you will be shot.
Like all robbers, the carjacker has come to the situation ready, willing and able to commit violence. While it may seem "it comes out of the blue" to you, the carjacker already has prepared himself to commit violence. You are literally playing against a stacked deck. Everything he needs to commit serious violence is in place at the same time you are surprised and shocked.

Unfortunately, most people have never faced such raw, unbridled violence. They suddenly find themselves dragged out of their normal, everyday parameters of existence and thrown into a strange -- and dangerous -- alien landscape. It's a place where none of the rules they are accustomed to apply. An effective strategy to "defend your space" under normal circumstances could in this instant get your brains blown into a fine pink mist.

Your normal defenses are not enough. Words, anger or outrage are insufficient to protect yourself against someone committed to violence. It is nearly impossible for the average citizen to effectively defend himself when confronted in such a wild and unexpected manner. To go instantly from thinking about scheduling the day or what you are going to have for dinner to the killing savagery necessary to overcome an armed opponent is beyond even most trained martial artists. And by the time you could muster enough outrage to effectively defend yourself, the carjacker would have long since pulled the trigger.

Have you noticed that most of the tips you get in recent years for how to survive a violent crime involve an accompanying psychological maneuver of first trying to make you feel impotent? And instead of suggesting remedies to overcome this impotence, these survival tips usually just tell you to give the criminal what they want. But what they typically don't say is that you can get killed using that approach also. Jeff Cooper has a whole different approach to surviving violence--as I recall in one of his books, he talks about the use of color codes for getting one in the psychological mindset to deal with violence:

I forget when I first dreamed up the color code, but it was a long time ago. I have been teaching it and preaching it, practically forever, but I never seem to have got it across! The color code is not a means of assessing danger or formulating a tactical solution. It is rather a psychological means of overcoming your innate reluctance to shoot a man down. Normal people have a natural and healthy mental block against delivering the irrevocable blow. This is good, but in a gunfight it may well get you killed. The color code enables you to change your state of mind by three steps, each of which enables you to overcome your mental block and take lifesaving action.

There is no easy answer to what to do when confronted with a violent crime--certainly, it seems best to avoid a crime if possible by being aware of one's surroundings etc. But once violence is in front of you, passivity is not always the answer. Remember, the criminal has a script in his mind too--that is, that you will not fight back. The element of surprise can work just as effectively for law abiding citizens who are willing to do whatever it takes to save their own lives or that of a loved one.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This incident has finally lead to my wife considering a CCW permit.


10:41 AM, January 13, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

If I'm alone in my car then I'll let him have the car without a struggle. But if someone from my family is in the car I'm going to fight - or at least I hope I have the courage to.

I agree with you that the psychology of helplessness is not the answer. I think that psychologists, as health professionals, look at safety as the most important value for their patients. It is much the same with peace activists who put nonviolence and peace above all other concerns, such as freedom or justice or dignity. But there are things that are worth fighting for, and potentially dying for. Everyone should identify those things in their own life that are worth more than peace and safety and prepare themselves to fight for them when those things are threatened.

10:43 AM, January 13, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

The basic answer to your question is "no!"

I am not familiar with all the details of the above incident, but any time you allow someone to take you somewhere you are far more likely to be injured or killed. If the incident started in a public place then the victims made a fatal error in complying with the perps' demands by driving them somewhere.

First of all, non-compliance may make many perps seek out an easier target. Perps seek targets of opportunity, the scarier you look to them, or your behavior toward them, the more likely they will go elsewhere.

Secondly, I would much rather shot in a public place with high odds that someone will get me immediate medical atention, than in the privacy of my own home.

10:51 AM, January 13, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

And as I have said here before, you would be amazed at how hard it is to get off a lethal shot at a moving target or someone who is struggling with you.

11:00 AM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at the eyes.

If they're cracked up or on meth, they'll have superhuman strength. You might have to get jacked up just to be that aggressive in taking the car --

if the eyes are glassy and out of it, be passive if it seems they want the vehicle and not you. If you have a gun on you, I'd still get away from those eyes in such a situation of aggression

11:08 AM, January 13, 2007  
Blogger David Foster said...

To broaden the discussion a bit: I worry that our society's increasing obsession with safety and security may well have contrarian effects.

As a character in the novel "A Canticle for Leibowtiz" puts it:

"To minimize suffering and to maximize security were natural and proper ends of society and Caesar. But then they became the only ends, somehow, and the only basis of law - a perversion. Inevitably, then, in seeking only them, we found only their opposites: maximum suffering and minimum security."

12:07 PM, January 13, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

Most carjackers assume you will fight back, which is why they often wield a firearm or a knife. By the time you finish fumbling around in the glove compartment for your gun they will have gotten off three rounds into the side of your head.

2:15 PM, January 13, 2007  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Cham wrote:
By the time you finish fumbling around in the glove compartment for your gun they will have gotten off three rounds into the side of your head.

-How do you know that this is true? Are there stats to back up this assertion?

-What if my mother is in the passenger seat or my child is strapped in the back?

-Are you implying that: a) it's not a good idea to carry a gun, b) you should give the carjacker what he wants or c) you should become more skilled in identifying threats, in carrying and using your weapon and in defending against close-range attacks by armed adversaries?

I'm not saying that pulling your gun is the answer to all problems. Far from it. What I don't like, and what I think Helen is reacting to, is the defeatist assumption that if someone attacks you, then the appropriate thing to do is always to let him have what he wants. You could just as easily conclude that inability to defend yourself against surprise assaults implies that you should learn better self-defense skills. I also don't like the paternalism of "experts" who tell me that their belief in survival-at-all-costs should overrule my own values in situations where they have nothing at stake and I have everything at stake.

4:41 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To go instantly from thinking about scheduling the day or what you are going to have for dinner to the killing savagery necessary to overcome an armed opponent is beyond even most trained martial artists. And by the time you could muster enough outrage to effectively defend yourself, the carjacker would have long since pulled the trigger."

BULL... I learned a couple of years ago how to go from zero to kill in about a half second. Took all of about 5 minutes to condition myself mentally. All it takes is a little bit of practice and anyone can tap into the inner thug... which is the mindset that has the best chance of surviving (lie, fight dirty, inflict pain & permanent damage without hesitation, etc).

5:25 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to live in Newark, NJ. New York City, and Houston Tx, amongst other places. My attitude concerning how to
fast and how far to confront an assault
differs greatly from folks that may seek guidance from "official" sources.

Police/ EMT action is measured in response time. Rarely do I read that "Police were right there".

I'll take my chances with the good will of a jury of non-felons before I'll take my chances on the good will of a robber. I've made that choice, and am comfortable with it, well before it becomes an issue.

NH is a right to carry State. No-one is sure who's armed or not. NH is a
generally [i]polite[/i] State.

I entertain no debate here. No brag, just facts. (a la Walter Brennon)

5:36 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's pretty much a pile of BS.

The easiest tactics used to avoid carjacking don't even require a weapon, physical strength, or extensive training. Just get in the habit of leaving a car length or more between you and the car in front of you at traffic lights. (Try to get in a lane with space to manuever as you approach.) Then be aware of your surroundings when you stop. If someone suspicious approaches hit the gas and escape. You have a much better chance of not being hit while you are in a car and moving away than at point blank range if you let someone approach. Of course you have to use discretion - don't speed through red lights everytime someone goes to ask you for directions, don't hit any other cars or pedestrians, etc.

6:09 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there are accurate statistics on "fighting back" versus "not fighting back" then you can probably make a GENERAL recommendation for the public that will serve the most people. It's no different than advising people on other hazards.

I always thought the advice to give up your car was based on that the person is likely only interested in the vehicle not you so why engage them?

In Texas, you can shoot someone trying to steal your car. That's nice if you're in your house and see them doing it, but not so much if you're in the driver's seat and you're in close quarters.

But what you do, is up to you, in any case.

6:22 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

edited: I believe you can shoot them, only if your car is on your property at the time (there doesn't need to be a threat). Actually, I haven't checked the law there in awhile -- but I don't live there anymore, and never had to test it anyway.

6:30 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never, ever go to the second location. You may die at the first location. But you will die at the second.

At the abduction point, you have a choice to cooperate vs. flee or fight. Your odds at successfully fleeing or fighting are better at the abduction point and almost non-existent at the second location.


8:53 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They do make a point that most people are unprepared to handle a situation like this. However, they are wrong in promoting passivity as a means of handling the situation.

It is not so much that most people are incapable of violence. They are incapable of decisive violence. They do not understand that some situations need to be handled in this manner and they will dither around trying to decide what to do. The ability to make a judgement to go from normal to violent in an instant is something that our society has tried to eliminate with its love of pacifism and its belief in following laws over doing the right thing.


9:07 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good thread, Dr. Helen.

Mostly, it is indicative of our whole passive world view. Give up whatever to the feral types. If you give them what they want, they will go away. Talk to them, try to engage them.

Does this sound familiar?

Anyway, carjackers are NOT interested in just your car. It is MUCH easier to steal an unattended automobile, period. No, carjacking is about terrorizing people, and proving how ghetto you are. Street cred.

Where I grew up in Southern California, the 91 freeway ran through a very bad part of town---Compton by name. Compton wouldn't pay (at that time) for the 91 freeway to go through. So people would have to travel surface streets for ten or so blocks.

The "lil' gangstas" would be waiting. Their idea of gaining status in their "youth group" was to chuck a brick through a window and steal a purse.

One woman grabbed the kid's arm when he did that, and drove at high speeds to the local police station, where she drove in tight circles blaring her horn until the police came outside to arrest the JD.

The science fiction writer Larry Niven wrote a story (based supposedly on a true story) about a carjacker who gets into a car and tries to get the driver to drive a second location to be robbed. The driver instead floors it at higher and higher speeds, driving increasingly dangerously, until the 'jacker gives us.

Long post, but the point is the same: we should not "give in" or "try to understand" people who would threaten our lives. We have a right to protect our own lives. And giving a sociopath who enjoys terrorizing others what they want is not a path to success.

This is as true for carjackers as for larger situations.

Your mileage may vary.

10:28 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr Helen- Always especially enjoy the thought provoking blogs on self defense.

The person mentioning leaving some room between yourself and the vehicle in front of you is sound advise. This came in handy for us in a road rage incident in Salt Lake City, back in 1996.

The fellow still followed us for miles and got himself rear-ended when we came to a stop slowly at a light, but he waited and slammed on his brakes at the last second, to scare us. He was still so enraged, that after being rear-ended, he still got out of his vehicle and came past the front of his car after me, then finally threw up his hands and turned back to the situation he had created. He also got a ticket for threats. He had said we had cut him off?

We now travel with a cell phone and our 357. Cell phones were just out in '96, and we weren't interested in one. My wife and I do know the harm that could be, and both have the mindset for our own protection.

11:06 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there are accurate statistics on "fighting back" versus "not fighting back" then you can probably make a GENERAL recommendation for the public that will serve the most people. It's no different than advising people on other hazards.

If they have general statistics then they should disclose those statistics, advise people what to do for the various alternatives (flee, comply, etc.) and then let people make up their own minds. I don't subscribe to the point of view that politicians and academics are the adults in society and everyone else are children - often the opposite is true.

11:36 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ability to make a judgement to go from normal to violent in an instant is something that our society has tried to eliminate with its love of pacifism and its belief in following laws over doing the right thing.

Well often they don't follow the laws, either.

11:39 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long post, but the point is the same: we should not "give in" or "try to understand" people who would threaten our lives. We have a right to protect our own lives. And giving a sociopath who enjoys terrorizing others what they want is not a path to success.

Right - I had some people start trouble at work once, and when I stood up to them verbally they threatened me. You're right - we have to protect our own lives. These people thought they were better than other people or more important or something - they aren't. When someone commits a crime or tort against you like that you're right - you should not back down from those type of "feral" people.

Does this sound familiar?

If you're trying to make comparisons to Iraq you're a little off. Iraq is like this: You own a car dealership next to a high crime area. Some hoodlums come onto the lot and vandalize the new cars. Rather than get some new fencing and some dogs to guard the lot at night, you take a couple of your new cars into the bad neighborhood, insult the residences, and leave the cars parked there.

11:50 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:50:

Actually, I didn't claim any direct comparison; you decided that the argument sounded like Iraq. Interesting.

If you do want to discuss Iraq, I really don't think your metaphor is quite accurate.

I know ahead of time that you or people like you will flame away. Still, the metaphor you suggest is incomplete, in my opinion.

You need to add the following to your "car lot" metaphor, I think:

1. The whole neighborhood is very bad, and has been so for decades. The various street gangs cover up for each other and often sell one another weapons---especially when it comes to you, who they hate and always have hated. Then one group left their neighborhood, came uptown, and trashed several of your automobile lots in other neighborhoods.

2. You decide to take the "war" to them, so they won't trash more lots in your neighborhood uptown. You take down one gangleader in that bad part of town and build a car dealership there. Some of the folks in the neighborhood are trustworthy and some are not.

3. You do indeed hire dogs and build fences, but other people in the neighborhood cut the fences and poison the dogs. At the same time, some of the local people are glad you are there, and others are not (and some of them help the hoodlums).

4. The local newspapers refuse to call the hoodlums "hoodlums," and called them "differently educated youth." The press will not publicize any bad thing that the hoodlums do at any time. However, any mistakes you make are instantly on the front page of the paper. Why, for example, when some of your security people beat up some gangsters, the articles went on for months or years. Yet when the hoodlums killed innocent people, that is hardly reported at all---except that it remains somehow your fault that they did it in the first place. This goes on month after month after month.

5. People in your own automobile company want to be promoted over you, so they badmouth ANYTHING you do, to anyone at all who will listen--including the hoodlums (and this makes the hoodlums more confident in their vandalism). In fact, those people who are badmouthing you only have one policy: they oppose whatever you do. During December, several of them announced that you need to put more security officers into the bad neighborhood. When you do that a month later, those same people denounce your increasing the number of security people as destabilizing or provocative. The local newspaper refuses to make those people accountable for their blatant hypocrisy, while the newspaper continues to attack anything you do as "too much" or "not enough" or "for your personal gain."

Oh, I realize that you don't agree. Nor do I think that everyone has to be a "yes person" to the President. Nor do I think that the press must follow suit. But it is interesting to see how completely one sided the presentation is---especially when I put current events on your "car lot" framework.

I don't have good answers. But neither do the Democrats. And Pelosi and Reyes should be ashamed of themselves for so blatantly flip flopping---over a thirty day period---regarding more troops in Iraq.

I don't necessarily think that more troops is the answer. But I found it endlessly fascinating how "more troops" was a good idea in December from Democrats, and a bad idea from Republicans in January.

1:41 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

Your car itself is by far the most powerful and versatile weapon you have. Just rehearse a few scenarios in your own mind and you'll come up with all sorts of ways to stop almost any attack (unless it is a well planned assault on a specific target)dead in its tracks. It's so obvious that as long as you keep the possibilities in your head, you should be able to deal with almost any threat.

1:51 AM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good to read posts for people who do not openly choose to be victims. Criminals like people who want to be victims. They don't want to fight with people---let alone face a "victim" who is actually armed.

I always wondered about the folks who have anti-gun bumper stickers versus NRA bumper stickers. Any difference in carjacking statistics?

2:10 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Gerald Hibbs said...

The problem is that there are so many variables. Say you are sitting in your convertible and haven't put the keys in the ignition yet. A guy comes up and points a gun at you from the passenger side. Your chances of success at thwarting the robbery are about nil. In that case, throw the keys somewhat behind him so he has to turn away from you to get them and run for it.

Unless you are in a class addressing specific scenarios or are writing a book doing the same it is a least a bit irresponsible to go around urging people to put up the good fight when there are some times that it will almost certainly get them killed.

I would argue that situational awareness and planning ahead are your best keys to avoid day to day violence. Avoid parking in dark places with few people. Keep your doors locked and be aware of who and what is around you at all times. These two simple steps cut down your chance of being car jacked immensely. After that I wouldn't want to give general advice.

My best tactic to avoid crime has been to live as close to the rich people as I can. Better services and more police protection.

6:29 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Kirk Parker,

The Tacoma Mall shooting is a very good example of how difficult it is for a law-abiding citizen to use a weapon, especially against a young peron. I noted that one thing that stopped Dan McKown from shooting the gunman was that he was afraid he himself would be charged with having a gun at the mall--it is a perfectly legitimate thought and people are unwilling to try and protect others out of fear of ending up in legal trouble themselves now. Who can blame them?

6:34 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Gerald Hibbs,

My point here is that there are many different variables that go into a violent crime situation. Throwing the keys as you suggested is one option that sometimes works--especially if you are in a parking lot etc. However, isn't it just as irresponsible to urge people never to fight back under any circumstances? Wouldn't it be better to say, there are times when fighting back might work, and times when it might not, rather than always to urge passivity in all cases of violent crime? No one has to take responsibility if everyone is passive and does nothing--if one gets killed because of it, people shrug and say, "crime happens." If someone gets killed when fighting back, many people say, "he/she should not have fought back." This sends the message that it is never good to fight back, but it is not accurate. It is just a way to keep people weak and helpless, rather than urging them to get training to learn when it makes sense to fight back, run, or comply. It is knowing which of these tactics to take in various situations that is crucial to survival.

6:46 AM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is nearly impossible for the average citizen to effectively defend himself when confronted in such a wild and unexpected manner."

Utter nonsense. Americans effectively defend themselves against violent attacks every day of the year.

7:27 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Jerry said...

I agree that the response is really a matter of psychology. Ten years ago, a patient's husband threatened my life, and after consideration of what that was doing to my mental state, I armed myself and became expert at the use of firearms. I immediately sensed a change in my attitude. Being afraid is NOT an acceptable state in which to live, and by acting, I changed my life. I defined the circumstances in which I was willing to live, or to die. Fear of violence was not one of them.

It is unacceptable for free people to live in fear of their lives.

One must think through and consider the potential of having to take a life. In advance, one must consider under what circumstances one is willing to do that, as well as the legal ramifications of doing so. If you're not prepared to do so, don't arm yourself. Maybe victimhood is sufficient for some. I'm not able to accept that.

Being prepared psychologically is essential, but when achieved, there's a liberation that is's demonstrable in ways that everyone who's become prepared recognizes.

I legally carry a weapon at all times now....even though that specific threat is no longer imminent...but I'm addicted to my freedom, and will not give it up.

9:48 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Nicholas said...

I'm just an amateur, but how about this idea:

* Carry a weapon on your person, not in your vehicle.
* If confronted by a robber, at first, comply. Then wait for them to be busy/distracted (e.g. getting into or starting your car), pull out your weapon and shoot them. Don't do it when they threaten you - they are ready for you then.

The biggest problem I see with this is that it's probably illegal. However, I would think that if you were threatened with a gun, and then when you had a chance you shot them, it would not be considered totally unreasonable.

Am I totally off bsse?

9:48 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Simon Kenton said...

People who defend themselves with a firearm have about a 13% chance of being harmed. People who don't resist, around 50%.

It's not just the number of breaths you get to draw that comprise a noble human life.

9:59 AM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never understood carjacking, especially when the victim is already in the car.

Think about it: You're in a 2-ton (more or less) steel WEAPON, and some punk is going to threaten you with a knife or club?

And should they threaten you with a gun, the best advice is to get away from it as rapidly as possible - like by flooring the gas.

BTW, Col. Cooper passed away last November or December. He will be missed.

10:11 AM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I might also suggest looking up local law on this subject. Some jurisdictions (California, for instance) require that you retreat from any confrontation in which a prosecutor is likely to find you had an alternative to resistance (that's not what it says, but it's what it means.) This is the "must retreat" doctrine.

About 15 states have enacted "stand your ground" laws, which vary in what they permit you to do. In Washington, where I live, you are not obliged to retreat from any place you have a legal right to be. In other states, you don't have to retreat from your home, but you can't use deadly force to protect your business.

I'd caution against expecting your local laws to make any logical sense on this score.

10:15 AM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Most carjackers assume you will fight back, which is why they often wield a firearm or a knife.

I disagree this is why the carjackers carry guns. It's not because of an assumption you'll fight back, it's because if you're in your car with the windows up and the doors locked, they need a gun to intimidate you into opening the door. Without a gun, you could just slowly drive away.

One other comment - If driving with your windows up and your doors locked is good advice, doesn't that mean people who drive in top down convertibles are sitting ducks?

10:20 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

Nicholas 9:48

I'm not a lawyer, but:

Any time you shoot someone, you can count on being arrested, at least for a short time. If the person you shot is killed, then you have committed homicide. The question then becomes whether the homicide was "justifiable".

The determination of "justifiable homicide" will be made depending on the known circumstances. Sometimes they are obvious, sometimes they are not. Worst case, you could end up with a jury deciding, and they are going to pay very close attention to whether you had other options. They are going to decide whether a resonable person would have acted in the same manner under the circumstances.

Even if you are not charged with a crime, you still have potential civil liability from the perp's family in the form of a wrongful death suit.

If it ever comes down to using deadly force you will, in all liklihood, become far more acquainted with the legal system than your ever wanted to be. And psychologically it also becomes, for most people, a life changing experience.

If you have the window of opportunity or moment of inattention you are talking about, you are better off using it to escape.

10:23 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

tomcal, I agree. Once you harm or kill somebody expect to be taken through the ringer via the court system by the victim or his family. Wrong or right, legal or illegal, it doesn't matter. If you have assets and there is a lawyer willing to take their case on contingency, expect to have to hire your own lawyer, defend yourself and then wait months before you know whether you will be off the hook or not. Juries see things the way the want, decisions are not necessarily based on guilty or not guilty.

Also, not to pick, but if you use your gun to harm someone and then the courts decide you are guilty, then you are the criminal and not a law abiding citizen.

10:37 AM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those who by their choice have become predators on the societies in which they inhabit have chosen to reject the norms of behaviour necessary to keep those societies in balance. By their choices and actions they have revealed that compassion for others is not their strong suit. To believe that passivity to them in the face of their violence will be rewarded with kindness is absurd. Rather than being placated they need to be removed from the civilized majority. This is especially so to those who predate on the weakest members of those societies, that is the young, the infirmed and the old.
Non action and waiting for the police simply affords the predators sufficient time to carry out their intentions.

10:48 AM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

R U people even thinking?

Since when is a $40K car (or whatever you paid), worth the price of any life - yours, the perps, or gramma's in the back seat?

It's the same nonsense that compels firemen to enter burning buildings when there are no lives to say.

Let it burn, I say. Your life is not worth a bunch of DVD players. Or a Land Rover.

10:50 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


At times this is true, at times not. There are many examples of people who have used weapons in self defense who are hailed as heroes and not as potential suspects. The more we try to convince people that they better not defend themselves because of legal problems, the less people will be willing to defend themselves and others. The implication that one will end up behind bars is potentially damaging to a society because people become less willing to help others for fear of legal retaliation. Thus, lawless behavior flourishes, just like it did in NYC in the 1980's.

10:51 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Nihimon said...

This reminds me a lot of the way people were advised to offer no resistance to airplane hijackers... until 9/11 happened. Now, the conventional wisdom is that fighting back against airplane hijackers is the right, and expected, thing to do.

What might it take to turn around conventional wisdom on car-jackings?

My greatest hope is that our government will someday come to value citizens armed and prepared to defend themselves, and that it doesn't take a catastrophe to make it happen.

10:55 AM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Advising people to co-operate with criminals constitutes aiding and abetting, and as such should be a prosecuteable offence.

10:55 AM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hold on.

You are in your car. A bad guy shows up and threatens you. You throw your keys at him?

But the keys were in the ignition!

10:56 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

So I guess we are all expected to be vigilantes? You can take on that role if you wish, leave me out of it. My life, my freedom and my money are worth much more to me than my crappy car. One makes different choices when they drive regularly in high-crime areas rather than smugly making verbal judgement calls from the safety of the exurbs.

10:58 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Anonymous 10:50:

You make the crucial mistake that many lay people make--that a predator only wants your car--if it were that simple, there would be no need for this discussion. Predators (and I have worked with literally thousands) have many different motives for what they do. Some carjack for kicks and thrills. I saw one seventeen year old that was appalled he was in juvenile detention for carjacking an older gentleman (yes, he really was a gentleman--as he was the victim, not the perp or "person of interest" with a long rap sheet)--the teen held a gun to the victim's face and he had a heart attack. In the teen's mind, it was the victim's fault he was in jail. If he had not gotten scared, the victim would not have died. This teen had no remorse or feeling for anyone but himself. The point is, that to carjack someone is a very violent crime, the perpetrator might be high as a kite, looking for kicks and thrills or have motives that the normal person cannot fathom. Giving up your car may or may not result in bodily harm, but to think that it is as easy a decision as you claim is too be very naive.

11:00 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Nihimon said...


What about the life of your child strapped into a car-seat in the back?

Do you think your carjacker will give you the time to safely remove your son or daughter? Others haven't...

Don't you, and Anonymous, see that it's about much more than the car? It's about our right to live in civilization, and our responsibility to our fellow citizens.

From where I stand, it's even more important for the single man carjacked with an opportunity to get away to stand and fight to make sure this same predator doesn't attack a woman with her infant child next time.

I struggled for a long time with the doctrines of "turn the other cheek" and "do not resist one who is evil" until I finally came to terms with my understanding that the true revelation is "he who kills must be killed."

11:04 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...


I agree with you 100%. I carry a weapon almost all the time, in fact it's sitting here on the desk right now. But if I ever have to use it, I am prepared to be, and probably will be "run through the ringer" as Cham points out. That's a choice I have made.

I too, wish that those who choose to arm themselves didn't have to worry so much about the legal system, but they do.

If there is one good aspect of the legal issues, it is that they encourage CCW permit holders to constantly train, keeping both their skills and their judgement honed. It eventually becomes a responsibility you deal with, just like driving a car, which of course can also land you in jail if done irresponsibly.

11:20 AM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the best book on the subject of surviving a criminal attack is "Strong on Defense" by Sanford Strong.

Very Importantly, the author states unequivocably that once someone is carjacked and taken away from the parking lot or street, the victim's chances of survival are close to zero. Any resistance is better than the expected rape and torture that will invariably ensue.

Another most important point made by the author is the reminder of the common criminal tactic of a criminal to neutralize the stronger party, usually an adult man, by threatening the woman or child. Many men will respond by saying that they will do "whatever" the criminal wants as long as he doesn't hurt his hostage. Terrible mistake! Once the man is tied down, both are as good as dead.

Strong recommends a very difficult but essential mindset of coolness and outrage. The parent or husband must not back down, instead he must tell the attacker/house invader that the criminal is free to go and no police call or chase will occur if the child or woman is let go unharmed. However, if the hostage is harmed then all bets are off and the adult is willing to die AND TAKE THE CRIMINAL WITH HIM. Almost no home invader is expecting that kind of challenge.

Doing that is not easy, specially if the attacker has a gun instead of a knife but the consequences of giving in and watching your loved one get raped and murdered would mean a psychological death to anyone even if you survive physically.

11:21 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


Why try to use logic with Cham? Just think of her strategy as evolution in action.

11:27 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Gerald Hibbs said...

Howdy Helen,

I would guess we mostly agree on the fundamental issues, I wrote a longer post over at my blog but I didn't want to post it all here because it was a bit long. :-) I agree with your over all point and pointed out in the longer post that a culture that bows to criminals creates more criminality and in the long run it costs more lives. I read the car jacking self-defense article again just now and it seemed jammed pack with good advice that if followed would reduce your chances of getting carjacked to practically nil. It was full of active language rather than passive and implied that you are responsible for your own safety. I honestly don't see a problem with it. Remember, they are assuming you are already in a situation where a violent criminal is pointing a gun at you. I would urge you to look around the site and see the context of that single page.

Here's a bit from their FAQ:

"Face it, the idea of using physical violence to protect yourself is both terrifying and revolting. Or at least it should be. To that end, many people are not willing to use physical violence in order to protect themselves. That is one reason why we strongly advocate avoidance over conflict. Awareness, knowledge and understanding of what leads to and is involved in physical violence is a far more reliable strategy than physical force."


"That having been said, the bottomline is this information will work if you do not choose to "back it up" with a willingness to use physical violence. It will work better if you do choose to back it up.

"There are many issues involved about the decision whether or not to use physical force to defend yourself. And before you make a decision one way or the other it would be best to read the psychology section of this site. Even if you have already your answer, read this section."
This page has a LOT of nuance. They discuss on this page and others how most in the modern 'peace' movement are not really peaceful but are merely manipulative. Here is a relevant bit:

"But then again, neither does being physically assaulted and/or raped. The aftermath of either self-defense or victimization will be traumatic and unpleasant. The difference is that with the former, you have a choice. In fact, the best analogy is chemotherapy. Undergoing that process is a trying and horrible experience. One that no sane person would willingly undergo without good reason. However, when faced with cancer (an assault) chemotherapy (self-defense) is very much the lesser of two evils. You do it because you have to in order to survive."

Alright, so this has been a long comment. Here is my bottom line: I think this site is written by people who understand violence and criminals and that they are a force for good. They also understand white-bread Americans and know that most of them are either unwilling to fight or unwilling to do what is necessary to be ready to fight. So, they focus on avoidance as avoidance is extremely effective. They are very nuanced in what they say and want to help you be not only safe but a better person. Again, I would urge to to read more of the site and take that carjacking page in context. I have skimmed over half a dozen pages and haven't read anything I disagree with yet. The site is decidedly pro self defense.

Final quote from the FAQ:
"As mentioned elsewhere we tend not to endorse specific products or services, which means when we do it is something that we strongly believe in. One of these is Massad Ayoob's Judicious use of lethal force seminar. We categorically recommend this program in either form. The first is a two day lecture on the legalities of using lethal force. The five day course is that as well as gun safety and shooting."

11:42 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger sammy small said...

There is no "one size fits all" approach to this type of situation. Situational awareness is the best defense, along with having a spring-loaded plan of action. There are no guarantees.

About a year ago at noon at a local mall, a "feral" (I like that moniker) waited to carjack someone and score some extra bucks on the side. He waited for a luxury car to enter his area of the parking lot and strike. Soon he saw a grandma aged lady emerge in her Mercedes coupe and confronted her as she got out of the car. She was caught by surprise in broad daylight at lunchtime at a pretty busy mall. What seemed like a normally secure situation turned had ugly for her. He forced her to drive to an ATM while he sat in the back seat with a knife. She drove past the mall entrance where several people were congregating, slowed to a stop, and jumped out running. He quickly caught up with her and stabbed her repeatedly in the chest. She died and the perp was chased down by the bystanders. He later said she dissed him by not following his directions to go to an ATM. He was called a psychologically troubled kid by his grandmother. He later hanged himself in his jail cell.

Sometimes you never know whether to comply or to counter, until its all over.

11:44 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

John Sanchez:

Thanks for the reccomendation. Strong just made a sale.

11:44 AM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger pst314 said...

"Just think of her strategy as evolution in action."

Yes indeed. But why do the Chams of the world want the rest of us to also commit suicide?

11:45 AM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never fails. I get sucked into reading a decent discussion and then Helen insults someone who disagrees with her.

11:50 AM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does Cham sound a lot like Greg Kuperberg? Hi Greg!

12:06 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a 16 year old kid standing with three friends on the boardwalk at the beach, about 9:00 o'clock at night. Three fellows walked up. One put a pistol to my temple and said "give me your money." No chance for anything but compliance.
The fellow with the pistol and those with him were all about 40. Thank God, a police officer walked out of the salt water taffy store 30 feet or so away from where we stood. The men took off running.
I can't speak from the hypothetical. Although 38 years ago, the above situation affected me deeply, and forever. I do not carry a weapon for one reason, and one reason only. I believe I would have used it by now. I have been in the wrong place at the wrong time more than once - traveling the Interstate at 3:00 A.M. racing to a customer's break down situation - and been terrorized by a car load of drunks with pistols, hollering, waving and firing. They also attempted to run me off the road. I am still here, so I obviously didn't "need" a loaded weapon after all (a separate argument). Had I a weapon in the car with me, because of 38 years ago, I would have used it that night. Because I did not,I changed jobs instead.
I have read that perhaps as many as 2.5 million times a year, a robbery or murder is prevented by an armed citizen. I fear my reaction if faced with that again. So I go about my travels unarmed, don't travel alone in unknown areas, etc.

12:08 PM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


"But why do the Chams of the world want the rest of us to also commit suicide?"

My guess is that they do not want to confront the ugly side of life, for if they did, they would have to take some kind of responsibility, better to not think about it or think that giving in is the answer. In addition, they (statists that they are) want us to rely on government to solve problems--how many times do you hear people tell you to call the police during a crime--police who have no duty to protect any individual citizen from harm. They do not want others to be responsible, for the fear is, they might have to be also. Why bother, when it is so much easier to stick your head in the sand or spout passivity and appeasement as the solution for violence.

Anonymous 12:06:

I often wonder about that! Greg K. mysteriously quit commenting about six months or so ago and "Cham" and "Andrea" have popped up in his place. I must say that the Andrea character is not all bad--I have seen him/her act in a faily decent manner at times.

12:09 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deciding how one is going to react in a life-or-death situation involves a lot more than simply purchasing a gun or getting a concealed carry permit. Either of those in themselves are essentially useless. One doesn't react based on a conscious decision, whether made at that instant or months ahead of time; one reacts exactly the way one has practiced a thousand times before. Neither a gun nor an official piece of paper will change that. As an example, while teaching a self-defense class using pepper spray, we had a final exercise where a group of trainers and police officers staged a mock assault on the students, almost all of whom were women. Rather than begin the attack on the count of three as the students had been told, they went between one and two. They also dredged up the worst language they could, shouting and cursing their "victims". Even though the students had been practicing what to do for several hours, hits slight change in the script was enough to through everything out the window. Most fumbled helplessly for the pepper spray they had placed carefully at the top of their purses. Most of the rest turned their backs, closed their eyes and cowered, exactly the way they had reacted to scary things since childhood. Of course one students, who had grown up with four older brothers, reacted exactly the way they had taught her to do over the years; she ignored the pepper spray and dropped the attacking trainer with a well-[laced knee. The point is simple: you aren't helpless, but you'll react based on they way you've practiced and trained, not the way you planned.

12:41 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Helen:

You are very right: it is all about statism. Do you depend upon the government to do everything for you, including protect you from trolls or goblins (the late Jeff Cooper used to refer to thugs in that fashion)?

What responsibilities do individuals have? Other than paying taxes, I mean.

It is also part of the counterproductive "violence is always bad" meme.

Sure, I am glad that the police are around. But they will not be around during a "home invasion" or carjacking.

In fact, I have a good idea for the "Cham"s of the world: go ahead and put a bumper sticker on your car that reads: UNARMED AND NONVIOLENT.

Isn't that the "take home" lesson?

12:44 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see. Cham's first comment was, "Most carjackers assume you will fight back, which is why they often wield a firearm or a knife. By the time you finish fumbling around in the glove compartment for your gun they will have gotten off three rounds into the side of your head." This sounds like a sensible observation, to me. Not defeatist; just an observation.

Jonathan came back with some good questions. So far, we have a good discussion.

Cham said, "tomcal, I agree. Once you harm or kill somebody expect to be taken through the ringer via the court system by the victim or his family. Wrong or right, legal or illegal, it doesn't matter. If you have assets and there is a lawyer willing to take their case on contingency, expect to have to hire your own lawyer, defend yourself and then wait months before you know whether you will be off the hook or not. Juries see things the way the want, decisions are not necessarily based on guilty or not guilty.

"Also, not to pick, but if you use your gun to harm someone and then the courts decide you are guilty, then you are the criminal and not a law abiding citizen. "

So far, cham strikes me as someone who is actively involved in the discussion, trying to figure out the best way to respond to violence. There is a genuine reason to be concerned about how using a gun to prevent becoming a victim will be seen. (See the subsequent post about the woman who simply screamed being blamed.) I don't think cham suggested that the concern is reason enough to be passive.

More cham: "So I guess we are all expected to be vigilantes? You can take on that role if you wish, leave me out of it. My life, my freedom and my money are worth much more to me than my crappy car. One makes different choices when they drive regularly in high-crime areas rather than smugly making verbal judgement calls from the safety of the exurbs." Again. This seems like a good contribution to the discussion. Someone who lives in a risky neighborhood will have a very different idea of self defense from someone who only IMAGINES risky situations.

Nihimon had an interesting response.

Then Helen pops up with, "Why try to use logic with Cham? Just think of her strategy as evolution in action." Now, where the heck does that come from? Instead of engaging cham's arguments, Helen strikes out childishly. I don't get it.

1:04 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never leave`yourself at the mercy of an armed criminal. Talk your way out of it as best you can. An extremely effective maneuver is just to get out of the car and walk away, no matter what they say or threaten. Criminals are stupid and prey to impuilse. Once they see the car is theirs, they will probably just take it. If they shoot you in te street, they are cunning enough to know that they have greatly increased their chances of being caught, as well as the priority of the police in catching them.

Whatever, never let them get you alone and at their mercy, if it is at all possible. Even if you are killed resisting, it's preferable to the death you'd receive on their terms. Furthermore, if you are with your wife, family, etc., you will almost certainly stop harm from occurring to them, especially if you can get out of the vehicle and they can drive off, or then circle around to run over your assailant. People can do remarkable things under extreme circumstances.

The are two keys to self-defense, in these situations--and I mean life or death, not a fight:

1) All out speed and agression: this is why people fear dogs. Bring it directly to the enemy.

2) Your opponent may be prepared for violence, but it is not nearly as easy to shoot someone at close range as it seems, and effectively stabbing someone is even harder. The key is not to make it easy. Watch your assailant's eyes; there will always be a moment when this person looks away; even if it is the quickest glance. Attack immediately, but not directly at the weapon.

3) Though going for the groin is a sure thing if you hit, it can be a little dicey, espeially with a kick,to make effective contact, though your opponent will panic once your hand starts clawing around down there. The eyes are the best place to go. You can't miss, and ll you need to do is get a finger in there and push, straight in if possible. Whatever you do; the fight's over.

4) If there is more than one assailant, well, hope they panic, but again, it's better to go down fighting and quickly, than what is otherwise in store, and your family should be able to escape.

1:05 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Helen,

Just felt I had to comment on the article--I've been a more or less regular reader of nononsenseselfdefense for a while now and I have generally found the site owner's suggestions to be good, practical and common-sense. He seems to me to demonstrate a very deep, complex and nuanced understanding of violence and does emphatically *not* advocate passivity in all situations (for example, to go off the "kidnapping" discussion earlier, he also states that in a carjacking, you must *never* allow yourself to be taken to a secondary location because the *best* that can happen is that you will be raped; more likely you will be shot and killed). He also has some pretty harsh words for so-called "pacifists," stating that they're not really pacifistic, they're just trying to control the level of violence in which they engage. I'd actually be interested to see a discussion with him on this subject--I think it would be interesting.

1:16 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1966 I was a student at MIT, in Cambridge Mass. On the day in question, I had rented a car and was driving to Hanscom Field to take a flying lesson. On Massachusetts Avenue, I foolishly picked a group of three white male hitchhikers, probably in their 20's. I was from a very quiet town on the west coast.

The one in the front seat threatened me. He said 'You're pretty brave picking up three guys. What are you going to do now if we jump you?" Well, I was a physics major and I solved that physics problem in less than a second. I punched the car up to 70 on city streets and pulled over to about six inches from the row of parked cars on the right curb. Then I told the guy what I would do. "You're not wearing a seat belt and I am. I'll just put this rental into a parked car and you will go right through the windshield. After that, I'll finish you."

I jammed on the break and ordered them out, and they left quietly. I no longer pick up hitchhikers.

1:18 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two stories -- both are anecdotal but I trust those who told me.

My friend's father was, twenty or so years back, surrounded by a half-dozen thugs who demanded whatever he was carrying under pain of death. Even with just a medium build, the father decided not to trust the gang and bluffed. "I'll fight you, and you'll kill me," he said, "but you" -- he pointed and stared at one of them -- "you are going to die." His assailants backed away and left.

A college professor of mine was in a similar situation to my friend's father: a gang, a lone man. As my prof said, he felt like prey to be played with before the kill, so he did what he thought the gang wouldn't possibly expect. In his words, he became "some kind of insane Quasimodo-thing, howling, flailing, vomiting on myself." His assailants backed away and left.

1:33 PM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...


You are so right, and that's why continuous training (not just target practice) is so important.

In my experience, the best training is usually EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING, because the trainer (John Farnham is a good example)will lay out the "rules" of the exercize and then immediately proceed to violate them with multiple assailants, perps that don't stop attacking after they have been shot, attacking you after the threat has been declared eliminated, etc.

This drives home the point that anything can happen at any time. Your response will be automatic, and it is almost impossible to predict what you will do. The one thing you can be sure of is that it won't be what you think.

1:52 PM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger cardeblu said...

People ask, "Which is more important, your life or your car?"

What I want to know is why isn't this question demanded of the perpetrator? Why is the onus placed on the intended victim to make that decision?

I would prefer to be of the mindset asking, "Which is more important, your life or my car?"

2:16 PM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger John Clifford said...

"Suffer or triumph; be the hammer or the anvil" - Goethe

There comes a time in your life when you have to choose whether or not you are going to take control of your destiny, or cede that control to others. Always take control.

Having a gun doesn't mean you have to use it. Having a gun means you have the choice as to whether to use it or not. Training to be ready for deadly force situations doesn't mean you're paranoid any more than having car insurance means you're a horrible driver. Stuff happens.

I've written several articles on deadly force incidents; this article is a discussion on the Tacoma Mall incident where a law-abiding person with a gun hadn't throught through the consequences of an armed conflict and paid a heavy price. I hope you enjoy it.

2:19 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Several posts above work from the assumption that carjackers or other trolls carry firearms because they are afraid that their victims are carrying weapons.

Absolutely not so.

The goal of a carjacker, again, is NOT to steal a car. That is easier and more cleanly done to an unattended car.

Carjacking is about terrorizing innocent people. The guns just make it easier.

If a carjacker thinks you might be carrying a firearm, why, that is one victim that the carjacker will not pursue. The carjacker might get shot!

Again, this is all about being a victim.

2:24 PM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger pst314 said...

Dr. Helen,

I agree with your reply ("they do not want to confront the ugly side of life" and "they want us to rely on government to solve all problems".

But I would add one more reason: They do not confidently believe that our civilization is worth defending. And some actually embrace the thugs.

2:25 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Clifford:

I read and appreciated your article. I think you are quite right.

Still, many people might worry about your "proactive" strategy. I mean no disrespect; I agree with you. But you are aware of how "anti-firearm" the media is at present.

Do you know of any cases where an armed witness to a gun related crime made a mistake, or was prosecuted for such a mistake? I do not.

Your essay reminded me of the Old West story. A very bad man was terrorizing a small town. So they hired another gunman to remove that threat. I don't know what they expected---a duel, walking the bad guy out of town at gunpoint. But that wasn't what happened.

The hired gunman blocked the back door to the saloon where the bad guy was drinking. Then he set fire to the place. As people ran out of the building, the hired gunman watched. When the bad guy came out, the hired gunman shot him.

The residents of the small town were outraged. The hired gunman just smiled and said "I'm alive and he's dead and that's the way I wanted it to be."

While I don't recommend the hired gunman's approach, this speaks to attitude!

Thanks again for the pointer to your article.

2:36 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil of the Random Nuclear Strikes blog recently posted on the Five Levels of Awareness. He quoted them from Boston Gun Bible, but I assume they originated with Jeff Cooper:

Five Levels of Awareness. Some of the rules are predicated on whether you are armed and willing. If not, it's fight or flight time:

White – Unalert and unaware.

This is a separation of the conscious and subconscious mind (i.e., daydreaming). Drivers in car accidents often remark “He came out of nowhere!” This is White.

White may be fine when you’re at home with loved ones, but you should never be in White in public (a condition which is called “food”). If you look or act like food, you will be eaten.

Yellow – Alert and aware, focused and conscious of any potential problem.

Nobody can tell you what your Bad Guy (or Girl) will look like, where they’ll come from, or what they’ll be armed with. Statistically, it will be a minority male in his early twenties, however it could be a 53 year old asian woman with a cane.

Orange – Heightened Yellow.

You now have a specific potential problem. Ask yourself “What is my objective? What are my alternatives?”

If you are with somebody, immediately get their attention. Generally, your partner should then move to cover so that you both form a wide “Y” with your bad guy at the base. If you partner is not armed, then get him/her to cover.

Forewarned is forearmed, and the sooner you go to Orange on some creep, the better. See your threat before he sees his opportunity. Since reaction time .25 seconds for most people (.20 if you’re really quick), you are already behind the curve once he goes for his weapon or begins to rush you. You need time, and distance equals time, as Einstein proved. If you can’t increase your distance, then at least maintain it.

Assailants can sense your Orange, and this is usually enough to make them bypass you for “Food in White”.

Red – It is no longer a potential problem, it is about to happen.

You have a willingness to fight if required, and are holding at your “mental trigger”. You may have drawn your gun, you may have discreetly placed your hand on it, or you may be ready to affect a full drawstroke. You may or may not have warned them of your imminent fire. Whichever (every situation is unique, and thus demands its own unique tactics), you are willing/able to deliver effective fire within 3 seconds.

The nature of self-defense is that it is necessarily reactive rather than proactive. Under law, you must wait until you are attacked or until he/she begins to attack.

Remember to take some deep breaths, because your life may suck in just a few seconds. Be scanning for other Bad Guys, be looking for cover, and be thinking about your background. Move to the best tactical location. Mentally rehearse your drawstroke and movements. Tell yourself “Front sight. Press. Front sight. Press.”

Black – You are engaging and will do exactly as trained through subconscious action (“viewing from above”).

It is another separation of the conscious and unconscious mind. If you have no training then “Nothing” is exactly what you will do.

2:46 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are most likely to be injured resisting a violent assault without a firearm. You are least likely to be injured resisting a violent assault with a firearm. Not resisting results in an injury rate between the two. (source: British Home Office)

I suggest as a good read for those on the fence.

2:50 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous 10:48-

Those who by their choice have become predators on the societies in which they inhabit have chosen to reject the norms of behaviour necessary to keep those societies in balance. By their choices and actions they have revealed that compassion for others is not their strong suit. To believe that passivity to them in the face of their violence will be rewarded with kindness is absurd. Rather than being placated they need to be removed from the civilized majority. This is especially so to those who predate on the weakest members of those societies, that is the young, the infirmed and the old.
Non action and waiting for the police simply affords the predators sufficient time to carry out their intentions.

You're right, the co-workers I mentioned earlier that couldn't take someone standing up to them verbally and immediately resorted to physical threats did reject the norms of behavior. They did show that respect and compassion for others is not their strong suit. And you're right - they do need to be removed from the civilized majority. Unfortunately some of the predators don't restrict themselves to the young, infirm, and old. When someone young and healthy stands up to them they respond by ganging up, lying to thugs or the authorities, etc. Thanks for making my points - these people really are arrogant, repulsive morons that think they are better than or more important than other people.

They aren't.

5:33 PM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Swen said...

Very, very interesting discussion! One point of clarification regarding Col. Cooper's color code, the good Colonel defined a three color system: White, Yellow, and Red.

White is oblivious. "... thinking about scheduling the day or what you are going to have for dinner ..." while driving through a dangerous neighborhood would be a good example. Living in condition White makes you food for the predators.

Yellow is a state of heightened awareness. Col. Cooper stressed that we should train ourselves to always live in condition Yellow, to constantly review and evaluate those around us and never let anyone surprise or corner us. Keep the windows up and the doors locked. Keep an eye on pedestrians and constantly look for potential traps and for escape routes. Remember the 'ounce of prevention' thing and don't go into bad neighborhoods.

Finally, condition Red is triggered when we identify a threat and use our training to do whatever it takes to neutralize the threat.

The Colonel frequently railed against those who embellished his system with extra colors and stages, feeling these were unnecessary complications to the simple dictum to 1) be aware and prepared to act and 2) Act!

The predators are looking for victims who, almost by definition, live in condition White. Thus, living in condition Yellow is our best defense. Not perfect, but it beats living in oblivion and planning on cowering in terror at any confrontation.

5:39 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"eric blair" 1:48AM-

I don't have time to get into a big threadjacking debate on Iraq, and the analogy I made was a simple one and not comprehnsive. I'll just throw out a couple points:

- I seem to remember some polls showing the majority of Iraqis don't want us there

- "Taking it to them" is nonsense, that's what radicals like Al Queda want. The collateral damage and the killing of muslims by mistake or accident plays into all of their propaganda about western imperialism and radicalizes many more muslims than if we had just carefully investigated what happened and seized the responsible parties in raids and arrests.

- There are horrible dictators all over the world. If all we did was go around invading them and fighting them we would not have time for anything else. And we would be bankrupt within years.

5:45 PM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

John Clifford:

Your "Lessons Learned" articles are great, and have caused me to re-think my own "trigger-points".

I have always felt that if confronted by a situation such as the Tacoma Mall Incident, I would not attempt to interfere unless I felt that the odds of a one-shot kill from a surprise position were almost 100%. AK vs. pistol shootouts have predictable results.

The Texas incident is a little different. Wilson entered the scene from what I presume was a position of almost complete safety and he clearly brought the wrong weapon.

My question is this: Let's say that Wilson had an AR-15, or better yet, a .308 PSS, and he simply sniped the assailant from his window across the street. Would society condone such an act in this day and age, or would Wilson be sitting in jail?

5:53 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of things said here today. Many points of view. I suppose I am naive and will always be. I remember listening to the "Black Avenger" (talk radio host no longer on in my market area) while on the way home from work one day. He stated that if it were a dark, rainy, cold night, and your wife and daughter broke down on a lonely road on the way home from ballet practice and were stranded, that he's the guy you would want to pull up behind them if it could not be you. The overwhelming majority of folks in this world are that person, too. I do not understand why anyone would be any other way. It never has, and never will make a particle of sense to me.

This is a great blog site. Many interesting people. Nice idea, Dr. Helen.

Totally unrelated, but perhaps of import to some.... If any of you are smokers, quit. Now. There is a distinct possibility one can wait too long before doing so. Not holier than thou. Just a public service message from one who waited too long.

7:21 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Anonymous 5:45 (please use a pseudonym or something, so that folks can keep track), I was responding to your vastly oversimplified version of events. You were dripping scorn on current policies with your "cartoon," while I made the "cartoon" more realistic given the world situation.

Are you actually going to use polls (which are taken by oh so objective journalists and I am equally certain that their sampling statistics are accurate throughout Iraq) to justify foreign policy...or anything at all? Particularly when you haven't seen the questions being asked? Haven't we seen, time and time again, that polls seem mostly to serve the questioner's bias best?

It is very clear that Hussein and his ilk were in fact part of the big global terrorism network. To say that "well, other people are bad too" is hardly any kind of justification one way or another. Should we do nothing? Should we involve ourselves more? It is easy to criticize when you don't have a plan.

Here is a thought: what do YOU want to do about global terrorism? What is your plan? No fair saying that you will "bring together everyone to talk." That won't work (heck, the Iranians just said so!).

I would urge you to eschew terms like "nonsense" as applied to the arguments of others...particularly when you admit that your own scenario was oversimplistic. You are working down the "I'm smart/You're stupid" or "I'm completely right/You are completely wrong" slippery slope. It ends up with you spitting on the screen, yelling. Avoid it.

What Al Qaida and its elements "want" is for us to do nothing while they blow up buildings and murder and mutilate innocent people. Eventually, we will get tired and give them what they want. Surely you see that? They love it when we talk talk talk and let them do whatever they want. Particularly when the media won't even call them "terrorists."

Oh, that's right: we'll use sanctions. Just like we did with Saddam Hussein. And that maniac in North Korea.

I'm dumbfounded when members of Congress openly talk--to the world media---about how they want to eliminate our involvement in Iraq by any means necessary. Does that make the terrorists reduce their activities, or increase them?

Here is a thought experiment that will probably make you angry (just think about it): if the media had the job of supporting the terrorists, how would their actions differ from what they do today? Again, I am not trying to get you angry.

But then, you would surely find me extremist, regardless. I don't think we should give one dime of foreign aid to any country that does not openly and actively work against terrorist elements within its own borders.

And I believe in full on reciprocity. I am willing to extend Geneva convention rights to terrorists as soon as they stop cutting the heads off of hostages, and killing schoolchildren.

Iraq is a mess, to be sure. What is your solution---a solution that doesn't use silly Carter or Clinton "talk talk talk" approaches that haven't worked in the Middle East nor in North Korea?

7:24 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear br549:

I know what you mean about smoking. I have tried and tried to get my father to quit smoking. My mother quit many years ago, when I was a little boy. My father tried, but peer-pressure (he was a firefighter, ironically) was too much for him.

Evan after nearly 40 years, my mother tells me that there isn't a day when she doesn't want a cigarette.

And my father has tried everything to quit. It is horrible for him---a strong, capable man who cannot break his addiction.

So far, his health has survived all the smoking (he is 75).

Nicotine is certainly an addictive drug.

I gather you are not in good health, and I am so sorry to hear it.

I teach college students, and you can be assured that I give them the full treatment about the dangers of smoking.

7:29 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bottom line, speaking as a professional death investigator, is never, never, never allow an assailant to take you anywhere. Removing you from your environment allows the assailant to take you to an isolated location where he can do things to you that he is unable or unwilling to do in a public place. He gains both control and privacy.

Your chances of survival increase if the assailant simply takes what he wants and goes rather than taking you with him.

And yes, you may die on the spot for refusing to accompany the assailant, but the possible alternatives can be a much more horrific death.

8:18 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of points:

Strong on Defense - a good book.

The Gift of Fear - also.

I believe that whatever your strategy is (fight, run, talk, fake heart attack, etc., etc.) - it should be dictated by your gut instinct at the time. Every situation is different, and the human antenna (like the animal antenna) is a good one.

Three (atypical) stories - NOT to learn from, just to show that one never knows beforehand what the 'best' strategy is:

When I was a kid (tiny tomboy, about age 10 or 11) in NYC, someone came up behind me on the street and put me in a choke hold, demanding my money. They had a larger partner with them. They then took a closer look and said 'oh, its only a girl' like I said, at that age, I looked like a small boy. I (gut instinct) turned on the one that had momentarily loosened the choke hold and started berating him verbally - 'only a boy?' 'You male chauvinist pig!' 'you don't think girls are good enough?!' etc, etc. Kept it going as I walked down the street (them still following me) and reached my apartment (many had doormen in those days - dont remember if mine was on duty) at which point I turned and went inside. Sounds a bit funny - but I was a tiny very young (but ballsy) girl, and operated in the situation just on my gut instinct (and quite honestly a real sense of junior-feminist outrage).

Second story - flash forward to quite a few years later. I am now an adult (still a petite female). I turn my car into a parking lot in a dodgy section of town and run full on into the side of a car with a bunch of tough looking people in it (I put a huge dent in passenger side of their car - almost the width of my car front). I get out, smile and say 'it was a pleasure running into you today'... and get in my car calmly and drive off. They just watched as I left. Why? (stolen car? drugs in car?) - I dunno. The point is I had this ridiculous instinct and acted on it.

Another story: I was on a long walk in the neighborhood and it got dark. I had to pee. I found a gas station and went to the bathroom. Took a long time (some female stuff to tend to - you don't ask, I wont tell). Some guy kept on knocking and trying to get in. I finally lost my patience and went off on him verbally from inside the bathroom 'Do you think if you knock harder I'm going to come out sooner? what the f--ck??!!' - or something like that. When I finally got out, this guy was staring down on me - very big and definitely strung out - red eyes, the whole deal. NOT a 'hippie stoner' type, I can assure you. I made a sharp snappy comment (my response to feeling a bit embarrassed at him banging in front of the whole gas station and me being stuck in there) - something like 'what the f--ck'. And walked out. A few minutes later, I was walking down the dark street towards home and I see this big old car cruising behind me close to the curb. It has about 4-5 very big and strung out looking people in it, and one of them is muttering something at me. I take one look and see it is the dude from the station. I turn and (in my birks, tank-top and shorts) run up to him and poke my head in the window. I take his hand and look him straight in the eye. I say 'I am sooo sorry for talking to you that way - I was embarassed cause I had to take so long - I didnt mean to disrespect you!' (I actually meant it - it wasn't a ploy - I was ashamed of my outburst in the gas station). He said, 'oh, its okay - you know how females is with the bathrooms' - we both laughed, he actually told me that he loved me (I kid you not - strung out and all) and I wished him and his gang a good night and walked off. No fear on my part - again just a gut response.

In case you say - well, a gun wasn't pointed at you... One of my family members (a teen - ballsy too) had a pistol pointed at them. Instead of giving up their jacket and wallet as demanded, they basically told the person to take a walk. Even though there were about four people and a car, the person with the gun backed down (turned around, got in the car with his friends and drove off). The teen has excellent street instincts, is very tough, and would have used a completely different strategy had his gut told him to.

I would have killed in a situation that I needed to be a killer in. Its funny that the ones above were approached with a more offbeat strategy.

Not for others to learn from, just the idea of trusting your instincts, projecting confidence and going with your gut. Yes, luck plays into it - but so does presence of mind and a sense of one's own power.

Here's hoping that the gods of luck (and yes, keen awareness and preparedness) follow us and our loved ones.

8:55 PM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger KoryO said...

Good comments on this thread. I used to work as a civilian in a big city police department, and can definitely second the idea about never ever going to the second location. The reason is this.....heard from more than one homicide detective about what had happened to other people who did allow themselves to be taken. Where the perp is going to take you is definitely NOT a random location. It is a place he or she is familiar with, and may even have set it up beforehand in preparation for your arrival. We're not talking extra soap and towels, kids, we're talking weapons, torture items, cameras and recorders to tape your final moments as a trophy for their sick enjoyment, etc. What's left of your life at that time is going to be nasty and brutish. If it would be enough to make a veteran cop puke, you know it's bad.

Personally, I'll take my chances at the first location than go through that. Your odds are much better. Not only are you in a location where you are more likely to be able to get away, you are also more likely to still have freedom of movement in case the perp decides to shoot or stab you. If someone wants to kill me, I'd rather be able to run, hit out at them, kick them, and generally squirm around than be somewhere I'm tied up waiting for the shot to come. (Look, if a cop has trouble hitting a moving target, do you really think a drugged up, jacked up perp is going to be a better shot? I don't think so.)

One final thought. If you do decide to carry a weapon, be sure to have all of your financial affairs set up in a nicely designed trust. I still can't believe the amount of people who are willing to carry a weapon but balk at spending a few hundred to a thousand dollars to make themselves more lawsuit-resistant. I guarantee the perp is going to have some adorable child who depended on daddy's crime career to support him or her, and a scumbag ambulance chaser is going to go after you to ensure that the future predator in training gets a cut of everything you own. Don't make it easier for that attorney to make his or her Mercedes payment, ok?

1:34 AM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Purple Avenger said...

A few worthies tried me back around 93' near the I95 and Okeechobee Blvd intersection in West Palm Beach.

When they caught a glimpse of the Walther PPK/S I had on me, they decided they'd left the stove on or something and left in a big hurry.

4:37 AM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just in time for mention in this discussion, we had an attempted carjacking here in Milwaukee this morning. Bad job of victim selection, but neither of the wounded suspects, both 17-years-old, appeared to have life threatening injuries.

9:01 AM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


Thanks for the article--it shows just another example of successful defensive gun use--and it helps to be wearing body armor.

9:07 AM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My working assumption is simple. Once someone points a gun at me I am already dead. I have no more to lose at that point.

If I am behind the wheel of a car with a running engine, I step on the gas. Suddenly. If I have a car immediately ahead of me I put the car in reverse, then step on the gas.

If there is a car ahead of me and behind me, I step on the gas anyway. Big whoop if I damage the car. It becomes useless to my would-be abductor.

Regardless, if possible, my next act is to try and run the gunman down with my car. If asked later, I say I panicked, and was just trying to get away. If I succeed in running him down -- I leave him on the ground, under the wheel if possible -- while I call the cops to report the incident.

If I am out of the car, I hit the panic button on my car keys so the car starts honking and flashing lights. I look at the perp, and say "What did *you* do that for?" Then I say (pointing randomly) "That guy is looking at you."

If he is distracted, even for an instant I belt him and run like hell.

I have been in confrontations like that before. I always resisted. Every time I did, I have been rewarded by the pleasure of seeing my attacker going to jail for his mistake.

9:38 AM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Kim du Toit said...

Th hell with all that pontificating and self-justification. If someone threatens your life, shoot the sumbitch dead and worry about the consequences afterwards.

It's all very well to say the hoodlum is "prepared for violence".

I wonder if the hoodlum is prepared for ME?

10:27 AM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Kim du Toit:

I remember talking to a locksmith one day who told me basically the same thing. He told me he had no worries about someone breaking in his home as they would be sorry because then "they are all mine." I believed him, too.

11:07 AM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You should read Marc "Animal" MacYoung's "Cheap Shots, Ambushes, and other Dirty Tricks" (I think he has since changed the title slightly).
He discusses "woofing", i.e. the way attackers psychologically build themselves up and simultaneously psychologically tear down their intended victim.

11:28 AM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The book you want on this is Jeff Cooper's "Principles of Personal Defense" It's not long; it could almost be described as a pamphlet. A big part of the "Color code" philosophy is mental preparation so you don't end up surpised by a guy with a gun pointed at your temple, and when there is a guy approaching your car, you have already made up your mind to take the next step to thwart the attack. In his other books(and I'm not sure which) he tells a good story about a thwarted gun ambush and seperately expounds on why no one should ever allow themselves to be abducted.

Darrel- I believe that Cooper specifically rejected the "black" color code as unnecessary.

12:16 PM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger g said...

"... the average person doesn't have what it takes to fight back against a carjacker..."

I'd have to agree with that statement. And, putting aside the "average person for a moment, what about the 49.9999% whom are undoubtedly below average?

I'm all for self defense, but I must caution: don't engage a fight if you haven't the will or strength to see it through. The predator class will target the weakest prey available. Surely most of those attacked don't have the wherewithal to best a thug in a fight. If all he wants is the car, give it to him. Don't escalate. Today's thugs need little provocation to commit the worst violence.

An attack of a more personal nature is a different matter. Then there is more than property at risk. "Experts" also disagree on how to handle this sort of assault. Since it is not the subject of this thread, I won't go into that here, other than to opine: The best street defense is to not be seen as weak.

3:12 PM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Situational awareness will keep one relatively safe more times than not. If you are untrained and not being abducted or assaulted, give it up and run like hell. Throw your wallet and leave pronto.

If forced to fight, don't stop, and make as much noise as possible. If you know how to fight, you will do better than if you don't. Look at one of the easier disciplines to learn, like krav maga. Carrying a gun is not an option in many parts of the country, espscially the big cities. If you do carry, make damned sure you know what you are doing and when to do it. Merely having a weapon will just about guarantee having it taken away from a hesitant novice.

4:56 PM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a short woman in her fifties that travels by subway and foot I don't have much experience with avoiding carjacking, though when I have been in the situation I have always kept my windows rolled up and refused to let panhandlers approach my car.

I do have a lot of experience though with dealing with street predators. The number one rule is to always know what is going on around you and if you see someone that is not proceeding on down the street in a purposeful way, consider him a possible threat. Don't walk down the street daydreaming, don't have your ipod blaring, if it's raining and you have your umbrella up, check behind you and see if there's anyone there.

I walked out of the subway early Saturday and there were a couple of derelicts, smoking something not a cigarette, and they were between me and where I was going. I watched them like a hawk and I let them know I was doing it. When they stopped, I stopped. I made clear to a jogger and dog walker that I was watching them.

In the end they wandered off, trying to keep their silly pants from falling down. Were they actually targeting me? Maybe, maybe not. Was it racist of me to think that they were? I don't care. I stopped asking myself that a long time ago.

I can't carry a gun but I can make damn sure that nobody is going to take me by surprise. And I won't be guilt-tripped into allowing myself to be vulnerable.

6:07 PM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, you can carry a gun. Maybe not legally, but you can carry a gun.

6:28 PM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You all should be ashamed of yourselves.... Plotting violence against those poor unfortunate downtrodden victims under your hate-filled racist capitalist heels, who have had no choice but to turn to "crime" (so called) in order just to survive in this mi9sbegotten world YOU'VE created. You would not even HAVE cars to steal if not for the boot you keep pressed to thye throat of the underclass. Shame on all of you.

Revelution now! Power to the PEOPLE!! FREE MUMIA!!!

7:53 PM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

Anon 7:53

It's spelled "Revolution".


Why does everyone pick on poor old Cham so much? She obviously doesn't want to be a gun tote'n yayhoo like me, but she does say it's OK to be one if you want.

8:51 PM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Death to you and your imperialist spell checker!!!

9:02 PM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Purple Avenger said...

The predator class will target the weakest prey available.

Perceived weakest prey. They're looking for a quick score, not a fight.

A lot of that perception is based on inattention. That night in 93' I'd bought a brand new Passat a few days prior and was more preoccupied by the new car's gadgets and unfamiliar controls than my surroundings.

The value equation isn't all that hard to tilt the other way once you realize its a mental calculation they're making.

10:32 PM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

self-defense is not, and in the United States has
never been, vigilantism.

As long as the danger is imminent it is self-defense. No imminence, no self-defense.

12:27 AM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Meade said...

Violence was turning her hometown into “Bombingham” as Alabama’s governor George Wallace fought a federal court order to integrate the city’s schools. The Ku Klux Klan bombed the homes of blacks who were beginning to move into white neighbourhoods. Among the targets was the home of Arthur Shores, a veteran civil rights lawyer and friend of the Rices. Condi and her parents took food and clothes over to his family.

With the bombings came marauding groups of armed white vigilantes called “nightriders” who drove through black neighbourhoods shooting and starting fires. John Rice and his neighbours guarded the streets at night with shotguns.

The memory of her father out on patrol lies behind Rice’s opposition to gun control today. Had those guns been registered, she argues, Bull Connor would have had a legal right to take them away, thereby removing one of the black community’s only means of defence. “I have a sort of pure second amendment view of the right to bear arms,” she said in 2001.

10:41 AM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Like you I was once the victim of an armed robbery. (In my case a handgun.) I remembered that I was told that if confronted with an armed attacker, I should comply and I did. My biggest scare was when I pulled some loose bills from my back pocket and he got angry that I had previously told him that I had given him everything.
I don't know if resisting would have been worse. The police told me that I was correct to do as I'd done. Undoubtedly if face with the same situation again - God forbid - I'd act the same way.

10:42 AM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Remember airplane hijacking?

Their number greatly increased as various countries tried to 'negotiate' and give them what they wanted. They virtually stopped after the Israelis helped the whole world understand that it was better to just shoot them.

Don't ever go somewhere with a thug. Your chance of survival goes way down after the initial capitulation and drops from there. Whether planned or not, your death will seem like a better idea the longer you're with him.

Knowing all this, if you're still not up to running or fighting, that's fine. And may God help you.

4:32 PM, January 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I firmly believe that if more people fought back there would be less crime...

I keep my pistol VERY close... When I am in my car or truck it is and always will be within arms length, no need to reach. I know all states don't allow loaded guns in vehicles but the one I live in does.

Many tactics can be used depending on the situation such as acting drunk or mentally handicapped this can buy you some time in case you need a second or two so you can pull the pistol or grab the mace. For instance when approached just look them right in the eye, but make sure you are looking at them cross eyed and while talking in a very drawn out and a freaky weird way say something like my mom don’t let me have no cash, your age doesn't matter in fact this approach will work with any age the older you are the more insane you will sound, then get the hell out of there or start shooting.

I would like to add that I think that everyone should do their best to be aware of their surroundings, park in well lit areas, when heading to your car don’t stand around chatting on the cell fumbling for your keys and such have your keys at the ready when you reach the vehicle always immediately lock the doors then while locking the doors get the car started then put on your seatbelt adjust mirrors etc., look around, stay alert, be aware and ALWAYS watch to see who is behind you. If you think someone is approaching with ill intentions start talking to yourself like your insane, cussing etc. use every fowl word you can think of and just act like your insane as hell most people even the sick demented and evil ones will generally step aside for someone who appears to be insane also you suddenly appear as though you could become combative which is something they generally don’t want. I have used similar tactics myself and trust me if used properly they can and will work.

I also wanted to say that I agree with the posters that said they would rather be shot or stabbed in a parking lot or public place where someone could find me and get me some help, rather then letting them take me to god knows where to do god knows what for how long....

4:54 PM, January 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nihimon said...

What about the life of your child strapped into a car-seat in the back?

Do you think your carjacker will give you the time to safely remove your son or daughter? Others haven't...

There is a film about such a situation:

5:28 PM, January 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, so we live in a world where it pays to always be on guard, to expect the unexpected at any and every moment. I don't know of any individual who is "on" all the time, outside of say a soldier on patrol. Well, maybe an individual who always expects the worst of people at all times. If I were continually thinking that way, I would shoot first and ask questions later. "Hi honey, I'm home." "Did you shoot anyone today, sweetheart?" "Just a couple new clients. I only winged them, so they could still sign the paperwork."
Don't marry and have children, so you won't have anyone to be concerned about except yourself. Stay cold and distant. Emotions certainly get in the way of thinking clearly, or perhaps fighting fire with fire. Like the 70's "King Crimson" song, 21st Century Schizoid Man.
Train yourself with an nth degree black belt in a martial art, practice daily, carry a handgun at all times, tucked inside your bullet proof vest - that you should also wear to bed. Of course, you will only have a farmer's tan at best during the summer. Train yourself to react quickly and be meaner than a junk yard dog if necessary, but still come across as a normal individual in regular day to day interactions with people. We live in a world where that makes sense.
I believe some who have posted may need a dose of beano. Some have great ideas, and speak from a position of knowing what it is they are talking about concerning self defense. And offense when necessary.
Not that I do. I have never trained in any self defense, and never owned a weapon. I am a product of the suburbs. I learned that if you fight over a girl, lose the fight. You have a much better chance of getting the girl. That's the extent of it for me. So when I was faced with a life threatening situation, I stood there and complied. The outcome was OK. But only because I was lucky. Seems the biggest problem I have is there is not a single person in this world who needs to fear me as I can't imagine causing anyone harm. What for?
You folks certainly have me thinking, though.

7:04 AM, January 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think we live in that world so much, but the lower down the i.q./class scale you are, the more likely you are to find yourself in that world. I have Haiti in mind...

To be angry that that is real life for many people is naive. And harmful to them. I have found myself in dangerous situations, but not as many as my low end bell curve family members, and they haven't as much as the poor souls who live in these dreadful countries or neighborhoods.

Change won't happen in policy until the elites in gated communities or insulated New England towns have their peace, or fantasies, intruded in upon.

1:27 PM, January 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"OK, so we live in a world where it pays to always be on guard, to expect the unexpected at any and every moment."

There's another kind of world. Where, please?

3:09 AM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger Purple Avenger said...

If I were continually thinking that way, I would shoot first and ask questions later.

That statement is very revealing - about YOUR headspace.

Awareness != aggression.

I have never trained in any self defense, and never owned a weapon.

Those who are so quick to judge those who do usually don't. There's a word in the dictionary that describes people with your attitude:

That word is : "victim"

10:37 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, purple avenger - for pointing that out to me. I did not mean to upset you. It was not intentional. And I certainly did not mean to appear to make any judgment on you or any others concerning this subject. Not qualified.
I think that was your decision.

Actually, the post was all about my blinders, and mixed with my odd ball sense of humor. The statement that you responded to was a joke line. Like the Honey, I'm home line.

Although I travel by some sort of vehicle when I leave my home, I spend limited time on the streets and mass transit lines of the largest cities in this country while traveling for work or vacationing. Indeed, a very different world from the one in which I grew up.

It can make one slightly paranoid (aware?) when in that situation. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see it on faces of people too afraid to look up, to let their eyes meet yours. You say hello to someone and they look at you like you're nuts, or you're gonna hurt them. That's foreign to me, that's all. And just because it's reality, doesn't mean I have to like it. I admire those who don't take any crap from anyone, and do the necessary "homework" to be able to back it up. The couple times in my life I have been threatened with harm, I did not need to respond in kind. I was lucky, too. There's always tomorrow. And thanks to this particular thread, I've been thinking about tomorrow, in a slightly different way.

From what I have seen from other web blogs, I believe at this time I am supposed to say "up yours purple nurple" or "kiss my ass" or something, aren't I?

See? Humor!

7:11 PM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger Meade said...

9:11 AM, January 20, 2007  
Blogger Tom said...

Keep in mind, each time one of us succombs to a criminal without resistance we encourage him to commit further crimes. Resisting, and especially sufficient resistance to stop a crime, sends a message that not all are sheep to be shorn.

I suggest that resistance to crime is a civic duty we owe to our fellow citizens. The criminal we stop or have arrested is one villian who cannot victimize again.

I agree that using (the late) Co. Jeff Cooper's awareness color code is a good starting point.

10:43 PM, January 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had read one post from "Cham" that suggested that armed self-defense was being a vigilante.

I must wholly disagree.

Self-defense in ANY form is MOST DEFINITELY NOT vigilantism, even if the act of self-defense involved killing the attacker.

You aren't taking the law into your own hands when you act in self-defense. In self-defense, you are acting in a way that STOPS THE ATTACKER FROM HURTING YOU.

This is the fundamental difference between self-defense and vigilantism.

In vigilantism, you make the choice to violence freely and preemptively; you go out and foolishly look for trouble.

In self-defense, you make the choice to violence because the situation compels you to; the trouble comes for you through no fault of your own and if you don't act, you'll leave the situation DEAD! This is not a call to recklessness, but an acknowledgment that you may have to act brutally against another who tries to be brutal to you; life sometimes leaves you with absolutely no option to be passive if you want to survive.

Try passing the "cooperation" diatribe to the family of a Burger King manager here in Florida who was shot by a perp, despite fully cooperating with him.

If she had been armed and able to take advantage of an instance allowing surprise or if there had been an armed citizen in the vicinity, that perp could've been STOPPED!

True civility is never attained through passivity, but through a balance of freedom and justice!

It's far more civilized to see a woman shoot a rapist dead at her feet than a woman allowed to fall victim to a criminal who will undoubtedly act against another heinously again.

Or, more simply, it's either them or us! - Reinhart

12:10 AM, January 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right or wrong there are legal ramifications of using deadly force or the threat of it to defend yourself or others. In Minnesota and most states the applicable criteria is:

1) You must be an unwilling participant. That is to say you can not have done anything to facilitate or escalate the violence.
2) You must be (reasonably) in immediate fear of death or great bodily harm. While the perpetrator may not be armed that does not mean you are not at immediate risk of death or great bodily harm. It does mean that people who will be judging your will be doing so when they are NOT at immediate risk.
3) No lessor force will do. Again, you may be judged by those who could see some lessor level of force as sufficent to have resolved the situation.
4) Retreat is not practical or safe and therefore not an option. You cannot use deadly force simply to maintain your position but you do not have to jump from a second story window or a moving car. Several states subscribe to the "castle doctrine" whereby retreat is NOT necessary from your own home.

There are sources for those who have decided that they would prefer to prepare to defend themselves. The American Association of Certified Firearms Instructors ( is one along with ( that has reams of information about self defense in each of the states.

I sincerely apologize but do not know any sources for those who choose a pacifistic approach other than the proverbial 911.

Let's all remember that we each make the choice based on personal philosophy and not be disrespectful of the other person's decision. We all live in the world of violence forced upon us by others, how we respond to that defines us.

10:49 AM, January 25, 2007  
Blogger Today's American Hypocrites said...


"Christian, Newsom Buying Drugs," Nicolas Thief -
Critic Kirkland Perkins will include Lemaricus & Letalvis in Sexiest & Hardest Ghetto, Black, Male, Felon 2007 Bragging Rights Contest




YACUB 7 ALI CONDEMNS KNOXVILLE, SETS CURFEW FOR WHITES: 6AM-9AM & 4PM-6PM VIOLATERS WILL RECIEVE CARCINOMASCaleb Freeman Firebrand Prophet and scientist Yacub 7 Ali issued condemnation for the institutionalized racism and poverty Knoxville Negroes face and cast stern condemnation on the city's whites.

Ali, who trains blacks in his new science of using their eumelanin to aggressively absorb and reradiate ultraviolet light onto the skin of whites to give them skin cancers, visited the city early in the week to launch a new sect of his new Negro Sun Worship movement and to champion the Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, and George Thomas.

Following in the usual fashion, after Ali's condemnation of the city's whites, he issued a strict curfew for them to adhere to throughout the remainder of 2007.


1:02 AM, January 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Y'all,

You might want to read the entire entry on carjacking from the No Nonsense Self-Defense web page. You'll get the full story as opposed to the partial story you read in the article. Whether you still disagree with what is said on the web page, you'll at least have the whole picture on which to base your opinion.

8:11 AM, January 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before I accept your critique of the no nonsense self defense website, I have a question.

Just curious. You're personal experience with dealing with committed, unexpected, and unprovoked violence directed at you is . . . . . ?

And I'm not talking about what you've learned in seminars / clinics or analyzing a patient, but in unexpected and unprovoked violence directed at you personally. The key words being unexpected and unprovoked (by actions you may have committed).

Considering how few members of society are trained to deal with not only violence, but the adrenal stress response, fear; and being faced with someone willing, if not eager, to inflict harm- are you sure you should dismiss the NNSD advice so quickly?

4:18 PM, January 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marc MacYoung from No Nonsense Self-Defense.

Hi Dr. Helen. I'm sorry to inform you but I don't advocate laying down to criminals. In fact, I am a very big advocate of personal freedom and making conscious choices. However, I am an even bigger advocate of being aware of one's surroundings.

Therefore -- based on incoming information -- being able to make the mental shifts necessary to either withdraw from a violent situation before it manifests or being mentally prepared to act.

My Webpages are written for Joe and Jane Civilian. As such I recommend awareness and avoidance instead of kung fu killer techniques to keep them safe. While I can "flash" from a normal state into extreme violence (when given legitimate stimuli), that is not a lifestyle that I would recommend anyone to embrace -- especially for a "maybe." If one is in a high risk lifestyle, then that is one thing. However, having personal experience about coming out of a dead sleep, grabbing my girlfriend as she crawled into bed by the throat, throwing her across the room and landing on her about to snap her neck. I'm not really sure I'd advocate people being quite that "prepared" for violence.

I personally despise the "victim" mindset, so I don't advocate the victim mentality. I am a firm believer that a conscious and tactical choice for non-violence when you find yourself in an untenable situation is NOT choosing to be a victim, but instead an indicator of self-control and rational choice.

Perhaps you would be interested in viewing my video/DVD "Safe in the Street" that defines the five stages of violent crime. Oddly enough for a video on "crime avoidance" it is a court tested and commonly taught program in CCW courses for it's ability to articulate why it was necessary to blow someone's brains into a fine pink mist. If you wish, I will send you a copy.

Marc MacYoung

12:33 AM, January 31, 2007  
Blogger Today's American Hypocrites said...

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BLACK & WHITE POVERTY; Whites who failed are lazy, uncreative and or relied on their skin color too much; Negro poverty is the direct result of being held back;

"Black poverty & white poverty aren't the same. We have two different histories" - St. Nicolas Thief "Blacks have a right to commit violent crimes of necessity and act like animals."

Waldorf Carathers (SAVANNAH) - Impoverished white people and families, who have failed to 'succeed' or become anything more than 'working class' citizens in America, are the result of their own laziness, absense of true ingenious creativity, or over-reliance on their 'prefered white' skin color.

Negro poverty is the direct result of being held back.

The difference should be obvious enough for even the dullest and most unintuitive minds to see without explanation and without having to be placed into historical context. Reminders still seems necessary for some, however.

"It is better for any blacks (successful or impoverished) to steal & vandalize the property of whites than to live and die trying to acquire it through education & hard work." - St. Nicolas Thief "Too, it is better for young, black, males to earn their stripes through honest crime and go to prison than to live better than, equally to or less than the whites in their community."

Whites have had every advantage, even and particularly the institution of slavery, so their culture can be placed into higher socieo-economic classes than blacks. The failure of the millions of white people and families to accomplish this is their own. They relied on their skin color too much. "I don't have to think," I'm white. "I don't have to assert myself," I'm white."

"For every pig, God has a hundred thieves." - St. Nicolas Thief "God has given us pigs as examples of animals worthy to be slain and not eaten."

Often whites ask why there are special programs & provisions made for Negroes to ensure equal opportunities in housing, work and education. Again the reminder: historically, blacks have been denied these things. Whites never have. Whites failure to make the accomplishments to obtain them is, again, the result of their own laziness, absense of true ingenious creativity, or over-reliance on their 'prefered white' skin color. "I don't have to think," I'm white. "I don't have to assert myself," I'm white." "I don't have to be educated, I'm white."

The true spectacle to marvel while debates as these continue to preoccupy the minds of those uniformed is how the Yacub 7 Ali New Negro Sun Worship movement is changing informed blacks' tolerance level to indulge them or even find them relevant.

"Privileged whites still deserve to have their fine cars stolen or vandalized and keyed-up out of spite. The fine stores deserve to have their merchandise stolen or spitefully cut and left on the racks." - St. Nicolas Thief "Negro children should steal Snicker's bars out of the local groceries or rip their packages open and leave them upon the shelves."

While the blacks I know, successful and otherwise, support St. Nicolas Thief behind closed doors, all (who are Yacub 7 Ali converts) will still wage in such discussions solutionizing about the 'black' problem and healing the hateful divide between the races.

Their preference, however, is to just have whites in their vision for few moments so they can see them for a spell and share with them their love of the Sun of God.

Waldorf Carathers

12:20 PM, February 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If confronted with a carjacking situation, it helps to remember that one of you is in immediate control of a several thousand pound steel machine capable of accelerating to 60 mph in less than 10 seconds. Forget about reaching for a weapon, you are inside a weapon.

11:42 AM, April 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TO: Dr. Helen
RE: The Infantry Solution

"There is no easy answer to what to do when confronted with a violent crime--certainly, it seems best to avoid a crime if possible by being aware of one's surroundings etc. But once violence is in front of you, passivity is not always the answer." -- Dr. Helen

It's a lot like being in a combat zone.

Surely. Everyplace, these days, can be considered such. Life was never 'easy'. Nor was it particularly 'safe'.

The events of the last decade, in these self-constructed 'shooting galleries' we call 'schools', emphasized by yesterday's fiasco, only prove the point we've been too reluctant to admit.

Looking at it from the simple perspective of someone who is merely trying to stay alive on a battlefield, it's really quite simple....

Fight or Die!

The most effective response, way-to-stay-alive, in the presence of a 'near ambush', i.e., the people trying to kill you are just a few feet away, is to take IMMEDIATE and AGGRESSIVE ACTION against them. You ASSAULT your assailant with everything you've got. Even if all you've got is your hands and feet. Close with, assail and subdue the bat-rastard[s].

You may not survive. But others, with you, could well. Case in point, Flight 93 on 9/11.

Which brings up another topic for discussion....

....why have we been teaching our children, via the vaunted American public education system, to be cowards?


[VT (4/16/07): A herd. Not a pack.]

11:46 AM, April 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. To add another truism to this discussion....

When the shooting starts, you are either a combatant or a pop-up target.

11:47 AM, April 17, 2007  
Blogger Snowdog said...

When I lived in Orlando in the early 90's there was the rash of carjackings that had been going on. The police were full of advice "don't struggle, give them what they want" etc. So I had picked my wife up from work, and was taking a back way home, along behind international Drive, with nothing but swampy brush around (I'm sure it's fully developed now). It was just after sundown, and there in the middle of the road were three kids, pistols out sideways like they do in the movies. They had seen the oncoming lights and probably assumed it was a lost tourist ripe for the picking.

Did I mention, that I was driving a 1978 Dodge Powerwagon, with 36" mud tires, no real muffler, and about 400 hp under my left foot? I saw the guns, and just dropped into low, stomping the go pedal. It takes a lot of power to spin all four of those big tires, add in the wail from the unmuffled engine and all the tire smoke, they must have thought we were abit more than they could handle, as they dove off the road into the mud. If they hadn't have moved..I'd have gone right over them. (and probably never even felt the bumps. I miss that truck sometimes)

12:46 PM, April 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daddy always told me that if someone had in mind to kill or rape me, then make him do it then & there - don't go anywhere w/him. Put up the fight at the spot where it begins. Good advice.

1:34 PM, April 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(quote) Did I mention, that I was driving a 1978 Dodge Powerwagon, with 36" mud tires, no real muffler, and about 400 hp under my left foot?(/quote)

Brian, was your truck setup backwards, or do you have one leg? My Dodge has the go pedal on the *right* ... (hehe, I'm such a funny guy. And no offense intended if some sort of disability causes you to drive only with your left leg :)

On the topic at hand, I plan to instill some sense of honor and value in my daughter (only 9 mos. old now), that there are things worth fighting for to the death. I fear that not enough of my fellow Americans do this anymore. The fact that a 77 year old holocaust survivor directly confronted the evil murderer @ VT on 4/16/07, while the college kids were jumping out the window speaks volumes.

3:19 PM, April 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My younger brother witnessed a carjacking. A man wrestled an older woman out of her car and began to beat her. My brother, just a scrawnly kid of 17 working at a chicken restaurant, ran out of the restaurant to confront the suspect, as did some other bystanders in the restaurant.

The suspect got spooked jumped into the car and drove off with the young men actually running afterward, getting a good look at him. They called and issued reports to the police, and testified.

In many instances, passive victims and bystanders are not needed.

4:15 PM, April 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TO: anonymous
RE: Better Still

"The suspect got spooked jumped into the car and drove off with the young men actually running afterward, getting a good look at him. They called and issued reports to the police, and testified.

In many instances, passive victims and bystanders are not needed." -- anonymous

Back in the 70s, some idiot tried to stick-up the Pizza Hut off the University of Nebraska's City Campus in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The male patrons of the establishment (1) stood up, (2) attacked the perp, (3) chased him out of the eatery, (4) ran him to ground and (5) frog-marched him to the city police department a half-mile away.

THAT'S!!!! 'Fighting Spirit'!!!!!!!


[So....What do you want to do? Live forever? -- Valkyrie in Conan the Barbarian and some sergeant on Omaha Beach, Normandy, 6 June 1944]

4:43 PM, April 17, 2007  
Blogger DiscerningTexan said...

Dr. Helen:

I am right there with you.

In line with the "color coding" you mention, I would highly recommend to anyone carrying a weapon for self defense to order and become very familiar with Lt. Col Dave Grossman's The Bulletproof Mind. A tremendous and instructive guide. There is an entire disk included on Terrorism and School Violence.

5:12 PM, April 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The No Nonsense Self Defense web site is very helpful to us ordinary joes, along with the more equipped. Awareness, the likely scenarios of crime, etc., forewarned is best. Highly recommended.

Recently in Austin an upper-middle-class woman was carjacked in her Lexus because, get this, it was a spring day, she was driving around with her windows open, and when the bad guy came up to the car she thought he wanted to pet the dog. She was in the hospital for months.

There's a scene in the fine thriller movie Red Rock West that trained me to lock the doors first. And fast.

Avoidance is best.

5:53 PM, April 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TO: who, me?
RE: Okay....

"Avoidance is best." -- who, me?

....based on that comment, I get the distinct impression that you'd rather lock yourself up in whatever you call a 'home' and avoid any contact with the outside world in an effort to avoid having to confront a dangerous situation.


P.S. What kind of car do you drive?

Will you sign over the title to me? Based on your comment, I suspect that you'll, logically become a 'lock-in' sometime soon.

6:50 PM, April 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ultimately, we're all responsible for ourselves. Thank god we live in a country where we have the freedom to protect ourselves.

But, when it comes to violent crimes against yourself, there is no one size fits all answer for this question.
It's very easy when a person believes their life is in danger to make rash decisions in the heat of the moment. Any person who decides to carry a gun has the responsibility to recognize that fact and adjust to it.
For example, I was out partying with friends one night at college and a stupid friend was disrespectful of others and so about 20 people decided to beat him up. In the course of getting our friend out of the place, me and a friend had to fight a dozen people outside. Needless to say we both got a beating, but we managed to put up a fight, and wouldn't stay down. It went on for about two minutes and then they fled (there were always police in the area). We took quite a few lumps, had to get stitches, I had a broken nose and my friend had to get multiple stitches on his face. The point is that if I had had a weapon then I would have used it out of, primarily out of fear in all honesty, and for what???? I thought I was going to get killed or seriously injured, but you never know until its over.
Another concern, especially when attacks on a signle person occur in crowded places is that bullets have to go somewhere. If you resist and it leads to gunfire from either party, other people could die. The criminal isn't burdened with that concern, but a civilized citizen should be. While we have the right and the duty to defend ourselves, those that choose to do so must understand and consider the consequences of all decisions (including not making one).

12:53 AM, April 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TO: brent
RE: Yes....

"But, when it comes to violent crimes against yourself, there is no one size fits all answer for this question." -- brent we would say in the Army, it all depends on the situation.

However, there's something of a difference between a barroom donnybrook and being lined up against a wall and shot.

That's one of my pet peeves, that we are not, repeat NOT, teaching our children well, how to respond to either situation.

Thank you NEA....


[Being 'prepared' means being properly trained. cbpelto]

8:52 PM, April 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. I like Chris Muir's idea that we declare all of Iraq a Bomb-Free Zone.

You know....just like our schools.

It should be VERY 'effective'. It's worked so well for US, here.

9:06 PM, April 18, 2007  
Blogger Joe Friday said...

Wow nice post, I like your thought's on this matter.

I have used a great herbal one I got from its great.

8:18 AM, June 01, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think anyone who suggests that passivity works should study the case of the Carr brothers of Kansas and the 5 adults who 'passively' did whatever they asked. Yes, the brothers had guns -- but 5 adults (3 of them men) who spend hours abusing each other (on perps commands) and allowing themselves to be abused, taken from the house naked to atm's, and then eventually taken to a soccer field and 'executed'... there is just no excuse for that sort of impotence.

Not sure what was worse, the feeling of 'why' didn't they even try to fight for their lives (or the lives of the ones they loved) or the judicial hypocrisy the followed.

My daughters and I will fight, we will never comply, and my husband now has a conceal/carry license. We may get killed, but we will die fighting.

9:39 PM, June 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:45 AM, October 10, 2008  

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