When you assume…

Whether you acknowledge it or not, you have a concept of what (your) attacker will look like.

Ask anyone about violent crime, about being attacked, and ask them to describe their attacker. Oh, they may not have fine-details down, like the color of their eyes, but they do have some sort of notion about the person – or the sort of person – that would attack them.

Often times it’s male, probably in the 18-30 age range. They’d probably be dressed in some sort of “covering garb”, like a mask or something else that obscures the face, with dark, long-sleeved clothing; people don’t imagine a Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts.

As well, they might imagine the person’s circumstance, like they’re just some drug-addict looking for a quick score.

Stereotypes come from somewhere, usually seeded in truth. The problem comes when we start to base life-important decisions upon stereotypes.

I recently came across a discussion on Facebook on the topic of firearms. A person with a fairly anti-gun stance was coming from an angle of “assault weapons are stupid and unnecessary for home defense”. He said:

Most criminals look for soft, easy options. If you
don’t have an alarm system, but your neighbour does, and the crook is in your neighbourhood, guess what? Yup, you are getting broken into. Same goes for screens, and doors. They look for the soft options.

Now, he is correct. Fundamental rules of home safety/defense really start with other matters such as having locks and using them, having alarm systems and using them, and other things you can do to make your home a less-appealing target (relative to your neighbors). But this is not a discussion of home safety/defense.

What stood out to me was his assumption of who would be coming to break into your home, and under what circumstances. And thus, based upon those stereotypes and assumptions, whether guns (or a particular type of gun) was or was not appropriate/worthy/legitimate of use.

Back in April, John Hearne was on Ballistic Radio discussing the Newhall Massacre of 1970. If you’re unfamiliar with the incident, give a listen to the episode, or you should at least read about it.

Two men, Bobby Davis and Jack Twinning, were well-established violent felons before the incident, determined to not go back to jail and not be captured. In Newhall, they murdered 4 CHP officers. As they fled the scene of the initial shootout, the men split up. Davis came upon a camper, violently assaulted the owner, and took off in the camper. Twinning broke into a nearby home, and took the occupants hostage.

How do men like Davis and Twinning fit into your assumptions?

These were sophisticated, violent criminals, determined to do whatever it took to escape or die trying. They came upon innocent, uninvolved people – like yourself – and inflicted violence upon them for, what would appear to the victim as, “no good reason”.

Was this an anomalous situation? Certainly. But like many things, statistics are of little comfort when you’re the exception.

It is dangerous and risky to your life and the lives of those you love to predicate behavior upon assumptions, especially when there are solid facts that you could better predicate upon. Take time to examine your assumptions, discarding what is incorrect, and revising to make better.

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