Saturday, February 18, 2012

Self Defense is the Best Defense

By Rob Watson

DISCLAIMER: Follow these rules and suggestions at your own risk. I am not a self defense expert. To the best of my knowledge my suggestions below have been tested only once. That person violated all of the rules, save one, and is alive, well, and unharmed. ( The rule she followed was to give the target a chance to run, which he did.)

Serious emergencies have, from time to time, been a part of my life. (My stories on the Merry Bee, "Attempted Robbery", or the "Fear…" pieces being examples.) Other events, the 1956 hurricane or the 2007 Big Freeze could have been problems but were not… not that any actually ended up being harmful to me in any way… just lucky so far. It could all be summed up: I thought I was in danger but I was wrong.

My favorite pro-gun statements are: "When seconds count, Police are just minutes away." and "Gun control advocates tell you, a woman, raped and strangled with her own stockings, is somehow morally superior to one explaining to police how her attacker got his fatal wound." A case in point happened this week when a social worker returned two boys to their father. His reactions caused her to fear for the children's lives. She called 911. For various reasons the dispatcher did not think it was an emergency and notified police 20 minutes later. Any delay would have been fatal and was. The father locked the doors, cut the boys throats, and set the house on fire from the inside. While nothing could have changed this tragedy, You can hope your emergency call reaches a different dispatcher.

One night while living in a house with the bedroom in the basement, I awoke to the sounds of the floor above creaking. The creaking moved slowly as if made by someone walking slowly through the house. I drew my large magnum pistol from its place beside the bed and advanced slowly up the stairs… Rethinking this situation in later years, I have concluded I made a huge mistake. In short, seeking out trouble is surely the best way to find it. (The sounds may have been made by a resident ghost, as I never found a thing opened, unlocked, or out of place)

There is a sign, sometimes found in gun stores: "There is nothing in here worth risking your life for." Or in my case, I have nothing, except my life, and that of my wife, that I wish to put myself in danger to protect. My new plan is to move to the most defendable position in the house (woods, mountains, etc.) with my large magnum pistol in hand, and wait for the other person to seek out trouble. (The other theory here is to have a pump shotgun… the loading of a pump shotgun makes an impressive sound in a quiet room.)

Once faced with one of these situations the question becomes "who to shoot" and "when to shoot?" I began reading the news papers at an early age. A story that sticks with me was of a 12 year old girl who went outside, at night, to quiet the family dog. As she walked back to the house, her father walked out the front door and shot her with a 12 ga shotgun. Her last word were "Oh, Daddy".

Another story from only a few years ago, is of a man who lived in a dangerous neighborhood. He went to the gun store and bought a handgun for self defense. One night he heard a person walking down the hall in his home. He came out shooting and killed his 18 year old daughter. A study shows this happens about 30 times a year in the US. On the other hand, armed citizens kill about twice as many criminals  as do police. Firearms may be use as many as 1,000,000 times a year, for self defense, without being fired. (Many people secretly, really, really want to shoot a criminal. If you have that urge you need to get control of it now.)

Police, people in constant danger, kill about 300 innocent people a year. A case in point: A trucker saw a police officer being fired upon and pinned down by armed criminals. He took his large handgun and ran to "help". The officer turned, saw a man running toward him with a gun in hand, and shot him dead. Or place yourself in this picture: You hear a person trying to break in your house and you see he has a gun. You call the police and report an armed person outside your home… You frighten them off with your own gun and are standing in the yard, gun in hand, when the police arrive. The best you can hope for is to be disarmed and arrested. Or, you could become one of the 300.

My thought is, one should pre-plan one's confrontation with a dangerous person. A police officer on the Dr. Phil show recommended carrying a roll of one dollar bills wrapped in a rubber band… the bigger the better. When confronted, let the criminal see the roll, throw the roll in one direction, (preferably behind the attacker, such that he has to turn around) and run the opposite direction. they probably won't shoot. ( of the ones who shoot, a huge percentage will miss entirely. Lots of the few hits will be non disabling.) Plan B is if a person uses a firearm to try to abduct you… run!!! Being shot will certainly be preferable to what they wanted to do to you. (Every victim who has ever survived an abduction will tell you the criminal fervently promises to not harm you if you go along, and they are all LIARS)( Promises like I will kill your… wife, friend, lover, whatever… if you run, only means you will both be killed when the time comes.)

Never draw your firearm when you are within easy reach of the criminal. He will just take it away from you and shoot you with it. Run first. Then draw your weapon and fire only if necessary. I do not believe in warning shots, especially if the other person is armed.

98 percent of criminals, and other bad persons, when faced with an armed citizen, will flee if given a chance. If they are not armed, give them a chance. Shouting "RUN STUPID" may get their thinking back on track. It will save you a lot of legal problems. The other 2 percent are mentally defective. They either think you will not shoot, or they think they can take your firearm from you. If the person does not flee after a few seconds, they need to be shot… the smaller your weapon the more times they need to be shot before you stop shooting. Four bullets, center of the target will EVENTUALLY be fatal. NOBODY EVER FALLS DOWN DEAD ON THE FIRST SHOT.

As a hunter, I can assure you, unless I hit an animal in the spine or the head, it did not fall down dead… no matter how big the rifle was. Humans are the same. In combat, unless the wound is disabling, 65% of soldiers do not realize they have been hit until some time afterwards.

You should hope, along with me, that we never face an armed criminal. If my weapon is put away, there are way too many questions to be answered, if and only if there is no place to run. If my weapon is out, loaded, and safety off, and there is no place to run. My plan is to shoot first and ask questions later.

In close quarters, with no place to run, there are other considerations. Your firearm and the criminal firearm may be partly or totally disabled if either is within easy reach. Most handguns have an exposed hammer. When they are cocked, anything between that hammer and the ammunition will totally disable that firearm. They all have triggers. Revolvers and double action semi auto pistols, prior to being cocked, have the trigger in a forward position. Anything behind the trigger, inside the trigger guard, will totally disable that firearm. Also, anything covering the ejection port of a semi auto pistol will disable it after one shot. The "anything" in these cases is the hand, or parts thereof. A firm hand on the cylinder of a revolver will keep it from being cocked. If the web of that hand is down in front of the cocked hammer, your revolver has been reduced to an extraneous object.

Parts of clothing also are an excellent way to disable your own firearm. Sleeves and pockets work best if the weapon is held close to the body. Scarves, handbag straps, and other articles of clothing on or near the handgun can do the same disservice. This leads to a simple rule: When shooting someone, keep your weapon clear of your clothes and his hands.

There are non fatal means of defending ones self. Some better than others. Read my post on "Tasers Don't Work" ( On this blog, September 2011 ) Pepper spray works well on all but determined attackers, where it works not at all. I have no experience with rubber bullets but I would guess they would work only if the target was wearing light clothes, like a T-shirt and shorts. I have seen shot bags fired from shotguns. A center of mass hit was impressive. The cutest one was a net fired from a shotgun, except it needed some distance to work. But, if you are using a shotgun anyway, one of the above might encourage the target to make an exit, and still be easily followed by lethal projectile(s).

Another consideration might be, where will the bullet(s) go after being fired. 9mm and larger arms will frequently exit the other side of normal sized humans and small animals. (This is less of a problem with smaller weapons.) For clean misses off target, even a .22 rimfire will penetrate five or six layers of sheetrock and still deliver serious or fatal wounds. ( Family members in other rooms)

Glazer bullets were made to limit this problem. They become non lethal after a couple of layers of sheetrock. They also become non lethal after two layers of heavy clothes. Here shotguns have an advantage even when loaded with bird shot. Almost any bird shot will be fatal within 3-4 yards. And, at any range it will be "discouraging" to most targets.

Choice of weapons? A sharp chefs knife is very short range but easy to operate and easy to reload. (and nonfatal in all but the most energetic applications.) It will need training to be used effectively. Small caliber revolvers and semi autos .22 to .38 should hold 6 or more rounds. Five shooters do not leave much room for error. Stopping power is right up there with the chefs knife.

Semi autos are an operational nightmare… what else need I say. Yes, all the TV cops use them. But there if they screw up a scene they get a do-over. You never will.

Larger handguns are more effective with fewer hits on target. Unfortunately they are harder to control and harder with which to make hits. Shotguns lack portability, not going under the car seat or in the glove compartment. Rifles, in anything but .22 rimfire, have way too much penetration.

A friend was recently given, what I consider, a fine compromise. An N-frame, S&W, Polished stainless steel, .38 special, revolver. Smith and Wesson revolvers are among the best made. (Reliable) The N-frame is the largest they make, along with the polished stainless finish it "shows" well to those inclined to act normally when faced with a large handgun.  It can easily be mistaken for Dirty Harry's .44 magnum, "The worlds most powerful handgun". The combination of large frame and .38 Special makes the weapon easy to control, easy with which to practice, and easy to find all sorts of ammunition. The bullets are inclined to stay in the target. While not the most lethal caliber, it still has a moderate sting. The weight will make it useful, once the ammunition is expended, against genitals, knees, adams apples, and skulls. Portability lets it fit in medium size handbags, under car seats, in glove boxes, and beside the bed. No safety, just point and shoot.

On the other hand, I once saw a small revolver, painted with pink and purple teflon (To protect it from rust.)  It was very difficult to take that dangerous weapon seriously... and now manufacturers are selling handguns in designer colors. TOYS!. They look like toys! They will not inspire fear in anyone.

A good choice for home defense is the Pump shotgun, 12 or 20 either. Some are made especially for home defense. They are at the top of the reliability scale. Once loaded, it is impossible to disable them on the first shot and difficult to stop follow up shots. The only catch is the safety. In a quiet, dark, room, the sound of operating the action of a pump loudly exclaims, for all interested parties, "I have a large gun". "It is loaded". and "I know how to use it." ( Here it is best not to be between the target and the door… Target will run you over trying to get out.)

In the end, the rules are simple:

1. Ready your weapon. (loaded, cocked, safety off, clear of clothing and obstructions)
2. Identify your target. ( It is best not to shoot friends, neighbors, relatives or unarmed criminals)
3. Show your weapon to the target. (a little light helps with all of the above)
4a. If target pauses, then runs, let target go. (No blood or legal issues to clean up)
4b. If target does not run, or advances, shoot four times, center of mass. ( Target is clearly a danger )
5. If target does not go down and does not run, keep shooting until target does either.
6. After danger is past, return weapon to ready condition.
7. Call 911 or the police. ( it is best to know how and what to do here, way before step one above )
8. Return weapon to secure place. ( greeting police with gun in hand may be fatal.)

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