A Lack Of Certainty

There are a number of people who, when they find out about my charity work, decide to attack me verbally.

angry man pointing finger

They are angry, livid even.  They don’t like the idea that I teach violent crime survivors the rudiments of armed self defense, and they are certain that they have found a flaw in my reasoning that proves all my efforts are in vain.

“So what happens if the bad guy gets the drop on you?  Huh?  What happens if they already have their gun in hand before you even know they are there?  What happens if they come up behind you in the street and shoot you in the back of the head without you even knowing they are there?  Your gun won’t do you much good then!”

gregory peck with a fgun to his head

I have encountered people presenting this argument, if you can call it that, ever since I started my charity work more than two decades ago.  My answer is always the same.

Carrying a gun doesn’t ensure that anyone will be able to escape a violent criminal attack unscathed.  In the face of unreasoning and active violence, there is no certainty that the innocent will prevail.  Instead, the only thing that a gun carried by a trained citizen will do is give the good guys a chance.

The people who raise the objection detailed above seem to think that there is no reason to bother playing the odds unless there is some sort of guarantee.  I, however, deal in reality.  The real world is messy, full of chaotic factors that are beyond the control of anyone.  You do your best and you take your chances.  My job is to make sure that innocent people have that chance.

So I don’t give guarantees.  If you want a guarantee in the real world, you better go buy a washing machine.

1901 one minute washer antique washing machine

In the light of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, there has been some discussion here in the US concerning whether or not it a good idea for journalists to arm themselves against violent extremists bent on taking their lives.  This has caused some rather overwrought hand wringing from the usual suspects who claim that having a gun just leads to more violence, or that the best defense for violence directed against the press is the fact that journalists are assumed to always be unarmed.  In fact, the only objection that makes any sense whatsoever is that a handgun would be of little use against a rifle, such as the AK-47’s used by the terrorists that attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices.


(Picture source.)

So the argument against journalists arming themselves is that they have a better chance if they continue to be helpless against rifle equipped terrorists who are willing to die as long as they kill the members of the press?

The logic escapes me.

So far as the point that handguns are little match for long guns, it seems obvious to me that not having any gun at all when someone is hell bent on shooting you is not a strategy that will enhance your chances at survival.  Better to have some chance, no matter how small, than to suffer and die with no chance at all.

12 thoughts on “A Lack Of Certainty

  1. I too am perplexed by this sort of thinking – it would make sense to increase one’s odds if one can reasonably do so.

    With luck you won’t mind this digression, but I am reminded that this sort of defeatist thinking has been known for centuries. For example, here’s a comment from 1707:

    I remember, that I have many times heard artists reproach’d and upbraided, with such expressions as these: To what purpose is all your art, and regular lessons, as well defensive as offensive, when it is frequently observed, that a vigorous and stout ignorant or naturalist, with a swinging irregular pursuit, will put any of you off from all your orderly postures of defence, so that you shall be in such a condition, as not to be in a capacity to make use of your art; not in a manner know to what hand to turn you; of so very little use and advantage is art many times, to those who pretend a great del of knowledge and dexterity in it, especially when vigorously attacked.

    This is essentially “why bother to learn to defend yourself when you may end up facing a large and aggressive ruffian who will overpower you, and lose anyway”.

    • It seems to me that such nay-sayers have already decided that, in the event of a violent criminal attack, they would be nothing more than helpless screaming meat. The insistence that others cannot defend themselves is nothing more than projection.

      Lucky thing I don’t care about their opinion.

  2. They’re letting the perfect become the enemy of the good. The problem being that what they offer isn’t perfect. It isn’t even good.

    The important thing to remember is that progressives don’t think, they emote. For whatever reason they don’t like guns on an emotional level, so guns must be loathsome and only evil people would want to be around them.

  3. There’s a different aspect to it all, which you’ve described in the past. These people were victims of violence before they came to you, and they live fearful lives. When you teach them to defend themselves, it makes them feel less helpless.

    Even if they never face another violent situation in their lives, that attitude change represents an improvement in their quality of life.

  4. Those people want us to be defenseless. The want us to go quietly to the slaughter.
    Clearly, they do not (NOT) have our best interests at heart.

    • The real point of the Second Amendment is to make sure the people have the means to rise in revolution in case the government becomes tyrannical. It was ratified just a few years after the American Revolution, after all, and the Founders were well aware that the new government they were creating could eventually become a tyranny as well.

      Private ownership of guns permits the owner to have a credible means of defending against criminals. It also gives the owner a credible ability to resist government oppression.

      I’ve long been of the opinion that it is guns in the hands of law abiding citizens that the gun-grabbers truly fear. They want to establish a (leftist) tyranny but know they can’t as long as so many citizens are armed. Resisting crime, and hunting, aren’t really the issue for them. They don’t truly care about either subject.

  5. Jim,
    Some folks just want us all to be victims, because, somehow, victims are more pure.
    I’m proud you do such things, and support your efforts!


  6. I have never had that argument made to me.

    I remember one instructor tell the class that anyone can be punched, shot, or killed, from a thug on the street to the president to the pope. It’s just a matter of the price you’re willing to pay. Clearly the firearm is not a magic talisman, but tool to help balance the disparity of force. Just saying no to violence isn’t enough, you must be able offer enough violence in response that the VCA will take his or her act somewhere else.

    I believe the same applies to “lone-wolf” terrorism. When enough people are willing/prepared to offer violence in return to terrorist, a tipping point will be reached and they will take their act somewhere else.

    Here’s my shameless self-promotion on that: http://tactical-talk.blogspot.com/2015/01/ccw-vs-terrorism.html


  7. So here’s my two cents:

    As said by a previous commenter the gun is not a magic talisman shielding you perfectly from all evil. And it is perfectly possible that a good guy with a gun might be killed attempting to defend himself or others. It is also possible, however, that even if the good guy dies, he or she may delay the lunatic long enough that others may live.

    For example – Joseph Wilcox was killed by Jerad and Amanda Miller at a Las Vegas WallMart. After they murdered two policemen, they stormed into the nearby Wallmart and threatened the customers (http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/10/justice/las-vegas-shooting/). Mr. Wilcox confronted Jerad only to be shot from behind by Amanda Miller. But his actions appear to have disrupted their plans for more carnage, and they retreated to the back of the store and, depending on which news accounts you read, were killed/committed suicide without killing or injuring more people.

    It’s worth asking, I think, how many more people might have died but for the actions of one brave soul who stepped up and tried to do the right thing.

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