Carry your damn gun!
Carry Your Darned Gun!
Rangemaster students’ success rate (at least on events I know about) is 61/0/2 for 63 incidents. That’s 61 clear victories, zero losses and 2 forfeits. The two forfeits were people who died as a result of not being armed on The Big Day. Both were killed in separate street robberies. Essentially, both were executed for the contents of their pockets. They were not able to defend themselves because they chose not to be armed that day. They made a poor choice.
Of the 61 students who won, only 3 were injured, and all recovered from those injuries. They did not know they would need a gun that day, but they chose to be armed, anyway. Based on my interviews with the winners, I believe the two MOST important factors are:
1. Having your damn gun on you when the event occurs, and
2. Being willing to use it to save your life.
Everything else– gun model, caliber, ammo choice and Yes, even amount of training, seems to be a distant third after these primary two. Three of the shooters in our group were trained to our instructor level, four or five more to what I would call competency, and the rest had only had an eight hour carry permit course.
One of the things we stress at ALL training levels is the need to actually carry the gun daily, as one simply cannot make an appointment for an emergency. An emergency, in this context, is a sudden, unforeseen crisis in which one’s life is in immediate mortal danger. The key words are “sudden, unforeseen”, so making carrying a handgun a daily routine assures that it will be there when needed. I believe that because we stress this heavily, our students tend to be armed, and thus win when attacked.
I believe a big factor is the Bad Guy’s training, education and life experience. Most BG’s go through their entire careers without ever running into an armed citizen on the street. Only about 4% of the US population has some kind of carry permit, and I’d bet less than 1% of them actually carry on a routine, daily basis. So, when a Bad Guy confronts a citizen who is actually armed and produces his weapon, the resulting mental lag time for the Bad Guy allows even an untrained or minimally trained defender a golden opportunity. The one who starts the fight has an enormous advantage. In this context, the BG started the incident, but the student starts the fight.
This is not to say that more advanced training is not desirable. Several of my students have been in rather difficult extreme cases and still won. Fortunately, they had training beyond a permit course.
Here’s what I take from this.
First, it seems Tom’s student count keeps rising. That’s a bad thing, but from it we can glean good things. It’s bad because good people are being violently assaulted. It’s bad because there’s so much violent crime, and it shows no signs of abating. But it’s good because we can gather hard, real data, and from that learn how to improve, how to be better, how to succeed. We can learn about reality.
Second, “have your damn gun”. I think that’s become Tom’s patented phrase, and with good reason. When you have a 97% success rate, you look for patterns that contribute to that high success rate. This is what we can call, “a clue”.
You see, these violent encounters tend to be “sudden and unforeseen”. I previously wrote about violence unfolds very quickly, and if the only response you have is “I don’t know”, that will not bode well for you. You have to be prepared, and you have to be able to respond swiftly, without hesitation. Which means, 1. carry your damn gun, 2. being willing to use it to save your life.
Third, mindset matters. To make the choice to carry it on a daily and regular basis. Else you could wind up like Tom’s two forfeits, or like Tommy. To make the choice that your life is worth preserving. To understand, acknowledge, and accept there are horrible people in this world that will kill you for your pocket change, which is totally unthinkable and irrational to you, but consider people you encounter in your daily life, the news stories you read, the Facebook posts you see… and how you shake your head wondering how someone could do such a thing… and then realize there are people in this world that will do things 100-times worse. No, we don’t want this, we agree the world would be better off if we didn’t have such things and such people, but we do. And you can either be in denial, or accept it and be willing and able to cope with it when they decide to infringe upon your life and ability to go home tonight and see your family.
Fourth, please stop listening to all the crap on Internet gun forums, Facebook comment threads, or whatever, about what people think is important. Because your gun, your caliber, and all that stuff really doesn’t matter. As the old saying goes: “In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance or tactics. They will only remember who lived.” What’s going to help you live? 1. having your gun, 2. being willing to use it to preserve your life.
Fifth, yes… as professional trainers, we like people coming to classes. It’s how we make money. The more classes, the better, right? But you can see, that it only matters to a limited extent. I believe Claude Werner has a lot of data that demonstrates that most often what matters is again, 1. having a gun, 2. being willing to use it (which may not necessitate pressing the trigger, perhaps merely showing it with the obvious resolve in your eyes to use it). I do think that more education is never a hindrance in life (tell me any facet of life where you are better off being ignorant or un-/under-educated). However, we’re back to the key points that show even some level of training is better than nothing — in part because that good training should reinforce 1. having your gun, 2. helping you gain the resolve to use it.
Ultimately what comes from this is accepting that the world isn’t fully of shiny happy people holding hands. There are degenerates that are willing to kill you for no reason — even if you do what they tell you. They will take your money, your phone, your keys, your sexuality, your dignity, your life. To them, your life means nothing. To you, your life is everything. To your family, your friends, your life is most precious. Act like it.