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Monday, January 28, 2013

The Mindset Of Taking A Life

There was a recent story here in the SF Bay Area where an undercover Oakland cop was shot by some gang members.  He was an unknown person in the wrong neighborhood, and was about to be executed.

The fact that this officer lived is amazing.  He was shot as the gang bangers heard the sirens of approaching police cars.  They knew the cops were almost there, but it didn't matter.  They still attempted to execute the stranger in their midst.

He moved, the shot hit him in the arm.  He's already been released from the hospital.

Four days later, a guy shot another Oakland PD officer in the leg.  This time, the bad guy knew he was shooting at a cop.

No matter.

The Chief of Police responded to these shootings with an almost comical statement:
"You cannot shoot at police officers when they are out there in the line of duty trying to protect the community," a visibly angry police Chief Howard Jordan said at the scene of Friday's shooting.
Apparently, the bad guys didn't get that memo.

Obviously, these scumbags don't care if you're a citizen or a cop.  If you get between them and their business, expect to be dealt with very quickly and very violently.  If you don't have the means and the mindset to protect yourself, you'll be dead.

A scenario:  Three armed, masked bad guys enter a police station.  How do you think the cops should respond?

I think most people would say that the cops would start shooting at the bad buys until the threat was eliminated.  The bad guys would either be dead or would have surrendered.

I also think virtually every person in America would say that that was a proper response to the situation.

Another scenario:  Three armed, masked bad guys enter your home.  How do you think you should respond?

I made a horrible assumption.  I believed that everyone would answer the question the exact same way as they did with the police station scenario.  Your most primal instinct would kick in - self-preservation - and you'd do anything and everything possible to stop these bad guys and save your life.  If you had a gun - just like the police - you'd shoot until the threat was eliminated.

Apparently, not everyone shares that view.  With whom did I make this bad assumption?  My mom.

Just before Christmas, my brothers and I took her out to dinner.  We were chit-chatting about things and got on to the Sandy Hook School shooting.  I was saying how the only thing that could have been done to stop the slaughter at the instant the crazy bastard started shooting, was for an armed person to shoot and kill him.

My mom said she could never use a gun to take another life.

WTF?  No circumstance at all?

She then said that she could maybe do it if one of us or her grandchildren were being threatened, but only then.  If someone with a gun (or a bat, or knife) broke into her home, she would never defend herself with lethal force.

After I brought my blood pressure back from, "She's gonna blow, Captain!!" levels, I asked her why she felt that the life of this scum bag - this maggot who had entered her home with evil intent to do her harm - was worth more than her life.

She started crying, and my brothers gave me the, "Nice Christmas present, you asshole!" looks, so I stopped.  I can be a teeny-tiny bit intense about this subject....

So today, somehow, the subject came up again while we were talking on the phone.  We got to the point of her placing a higher value on the life of the scumbag over her own, and she just said, "Well, I guess I do value their life more than mine."  She obviously didn't want to continue with this discussion, and just cut it short.

But I'm still dumbfounded by her attitude.

I get this once in a while when I teach one of my safety awareness classes.  Someone will state that they could never take the life of another - that all life is equally precious - and they won't be a party to such madness of having the God-like powers of determining which life is more valuable than the next.

If you've got people in your life with a similar naive, Pollyanna outlook on life, take them through these questions that I ask my hesitant students.

Part 1:

I'm not here to make you feel warm and fuzzy that you took a class on safety awareness or self-defense, then praise you with, "You go girl!" or a "You da man!"  I'm here to help you save your life.  And sometimes, that process is unpleasant.  Here goes....

Ma'am, do you have any children or grandchildren?


What are their ages?

Two grandchildren, four and 6 years old.

Great.  Picture this:  You've taken them to the park, and one of those White Panel Vans pulls up.  They grab you and your two grandkids.  You are punched in the head, and knocked unconscious.

When you awake, you see your grandson being raped by one of the attackers.  The other one is readying himself to do the same to your granddaughter.

The badguys, believing you to be unconscious, have left their guns within your reach.  What are you going to do?  Are you going to grab the gun and shoot them, or are you going to tell yourself that their lives are just as valuable as the lives of your grandchildren and allow them to continue with their rape?

[If they say they'll shoot, I go on to part 2 below.  Some say they will point the gun at the bad guys, and hold them for the police.]

OK, being badguys, and having done this before, they don't believe you when you say you'll shoot if they don't stop.  The way you're shaking and crying, they know you won't do a thing.  They actually laugh out loud as they continue their rape.

What are you going to do?  Allow them to continue with the rape of your grandchildren, or shoot them?

[I have yet to have a student say they would allow the continuation of the rape.]

Part 2:

I'm very glad to hear you made the decision to place a higher value on the lives of your grandchildren over the lives of the rapists.  You've acknowledged that all human life is NOT of equal value.  It may make you very uncomfortable coming to that realization - and that's not a horrible thing in itself.

What's important is you recognizing that there are some horrible situations where the decision of life or death may be thrust upon you.  You've shown that, as unpleasant as it may be to your intellect, your ethics, your humanity or your morality, you do have the ability to place a higher value on one life over another.  That, at times, it is more moral to take a life in defense of another.

That extends to the defense of your own life.

What I want you to do is to acknowledge that your life is more valuable than the life of someone attempting to end it.  That this animal has no right to decide when your life should end.  That the world will NOT be a better place with them in it, and you in the ground.

Your life IS more valuable than the attacker's.

I'm not so naive as to think that even after putting folks through that very emotional gauntlet, they all suddenly take up arms for self-defense.

What I AM very confident about, is that they are thinking about it.  Every one of them.  They're thinking about something they may have never considered before.  That's all someone in my position can do.  As the saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."  True dat.

I can't force someone to defend themselves, I can only show them why they should do it.

I've clearly got some work to do on my mom.  You think I should do it just before her upcoming birthday? ;-)

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Anonymous said...

Great article! Just one thing...there's no such word as "themself."

Chief Instructor said...

[Head hung in shame] Thanks. I also didn't fully proof read it, and I just found a number of (now corrected) spelling errors.

My bad.

Anonymous said...

This, your mother's, is an attitude I ran into quite often when teaching women's self defense classes.
Telling the women I was going to be down and dirty with the speech and tactics taught, I'd have at least one, more often several (who were also friends with each other- so it's a 'hive' thing, IMO), who'd say they could never hurt an attacker. I'd just tell them that 'then perhaps this isn't the kind of class you should take, but you can learn to protect your family'.
Recently ran into a lady's blog you may be interested in sharing. Hers is a similar story.


Chief Instructor said...

JSW, it was kind of cool.... a couple of months ago, I taught a Pepper spray/stun gun class to a local business. Since I charge a flat rate for the class, I encourage the businesses to invite their family members to attend the class as well. A couple of wives attended - both were school teachers. When I got to the part of the class where I get into being able to take a life to save your own, these ladies were all on board. Not a one had any hesitation, and even asked what I thought about teachers carrying guns in class (this was a month or so before Sandy Hook). I told them, "hell yes!"

Sadly, this is the very rare exception to the rule.

I really like your line about using the skills to save the life of another. I think that would play to the maternal instinct in most women. Then, I think if you have someone beating on you, you'd be inclined to save yourself if you had the tools and skills readily available.

I'll check out the link. Much thanks.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps what your mom is really unsure of is her ABILITY. Maybe for her birthday you get out a .22 pistol and take her to the RANGE. Get some special targets with CANDLES in flame and teach her to BLOW THEM OUT. Get her more comfortable with her ABILITY and perhaps her ATTITUDE will adjust accordingly.

Adam said...

I have dealt with this. I have family members and friends that have said they couldn't shoot an attacker.

The absolute worst thing for them to do would be to own a gun and "use" it for self defense. The criminals will absolutely know without a doubt if you could pull the trigger or not. They can see it in your mannerisms.

If you want some good (but very dry) books on the mindset, try "On Combat" and "On Killing" by Dave Grossman.

Chief Instructor said...

Anon, I've really been thinking about your suggestion. My initial reaction was, "She'd never EVER go to the range". I then though how, if she weren't my mom, what I'd do. How would I work to convince this person that learning to shoot is in their best interest. I'm still chewing on it...

Adam, I think that is part of what I worry about with my mom. She'd have that look in her eye or, "We both know I'm not going to shoot." Part of it was her entire life, she had someone there to protect her. My dad, being a LEO, always had the ability and proper mindset to bring violence if needed. She was "Daddy's Girl" growing up.

Jeez, I know this is off topic, but it's a little snap shot of what happens when you're not require to take responsibility for yourself, such as when taking government hand outs. You give up a part of your personal responsibility and you forget what it means to provide food, housing and clothing for yourself. Have the idea that the police are there to protect you (which they're not), and it now makes you repulsed by the idea of defending yourself? What the hell...

GunRights4US said...

I struggle with the whole concept of NOT defending one's self or family from attack. I vakue human life, but I value mine and my family's above all others. I have no desire to kill anyone unnecessarily. On the other hand, to kill someone in my defense would not cause me the least bit of anguish - I'm convinced I could eat a sandwich over the corpse! The mindset of the tender hearted sheeple just boggles my mind.

Chief Instructor said...

Guns, Indeed, I don't get it. My mom, in particular, has me perplexed. I remember as clear as day, when I was about 6 years old. We had moved to a new neighborhood, and an older next door neighbor kid was trying to punk me. I had just gotten the, "go make some new friends" talk, and this kid was all in my face. She said, "Go tell him that if he throws the first punch, you'll throw the last punch".

He did, and I did.

She taught me at that very young age that self-defense is a good, moral thing. I simply don't understand her apparent change in perspective.