John Wayne as a role model, or how to die sooner than you should
We were recently asked by an executive about training in defensive shooting, which, in our mind, means point shooting, about which we have written in the past (May 2000). While we, ourselves, do not carry or keep a gun for self-protection, we do teach point shooting, which can greatly increase one’s chances of surviving an actual gunfight.
The problem is that this person shouldn’t be getting into gunfights. The scope of the problem became clearer when he discussed the two scenarios in which he envisioned he might use a gun: Getting out of the car when stopped, and when he heard something go bump in the night at home.
In (or, actually, out of) the car
The first scenario was one in which he was stopped by bad guys when driving, and had to get out of the car and shoot it out with them. Common sense says that it is generally foolish to trade a projectile that weighs 2000 pounds or more for one that weighs 250 grains or less.
The reason for this is that, as it happens, cars are very effective killing machines. In the U.S.alone, about 42,000 people a year are killed in or by automobiles. There is no more effective killing machine than an automobile (we exclude iatrogenic injury and other medical issues here, as well as the difficult issue of suicide by whatever cause.). As a comparison, 57,000 Americans died in the war in Viet Nam. And although Americans own more guns than automobiles, there are only 9,000 firearms deaths per year in the U.S.(although, in fairness, four times as many Americans die from gunshots than from SUV rollovers). Bottom line, running someone over with your car is a more effective way of making them stop doing bad things than is trying to hit them with a teeny bullet coming out of a wavering gun at the end of your shaky hand.
When you are in a car you want to stay in it if you can. You want to keep moving, and, if necessary, you want to use it as a weapon. Usually you have some initial period of time – frequently measured in seconds – in which you can use the car to drive away. With training you can move most blocking vehicles out of your way (we ignore here the airbag issue), and driving the car straight at a gunman usually makes him rethink his short-term plans. The bad news is that if you are being ambushed, you will apparently not have noticed all the preparation that led up to the ambush, and may not be mentally prepared to run someone over, or drive your car through another car. And we may soon be watching the TV movie of the event, which will be entertaining to us, but less so for you and your loved ones.
Still and all, it is never too late to turn over a new leaf, and if the option of not being captured or killed seems attractive to you, then it is probably worth taking some new and daring steps toward your own survival. In this case one of the training courses in emergency driving, where you get to ram cars out of the way and do other really cool things, is a very good idea.
But what if you already have a driver? On a bet, your driver has probably never had the appropriate training. Plus, your driver is going to hesitate before wrecking a car that costs more than he earns in a year. You, yourself, may not be too happy to run someone over, either, but you may be less happy being kidnapped or dead, or having your family kidnapped or dead, and more willing to take the risk.
In terms of dealing with realistic risk, emergency driving training (which is like defensive driving training, but with the protective skills included) will be one of the best investments you can make, helping to keep you alive in both high risk and low-risk situations. Get training now in emergency driving techniques, and leave shooting for a leisure time activity!
In the house
The second scenario our inquiring executive presented was hearing noises in the house and going downstairs to investigate, gun in hand. We recommend strongly against this: Some time ago someone was running rôle playing of this scenario, and, out of several thousand runs, only three householders exited the simulation alive. These are not good odds!
The reason the odds are so bad in doing your own house clearing is that you don’t know who is in the house and what you need to do about them. If it is your child who has wandered in late, or a neighbor’s child, or a housekeeper, or any of a host of other people who don’t pose a threat, shooting them will change your life immediately and drastically for the worse. If it is a bad guy, you are at a very serious disadvantage because you have to:
• Find the intruder.
• Figure out who they are.
• Decide if they are a threat.
• Decide what you want to do.
• Do it.
The bad guy, on the other hand, knows that anyone else is not him, and can simply shoot, with all of the intermediate, time consuming, decision steps totally removed.
So what should our guy do in this case, as an alternative to getting himself killed? He should gather everyone up into one pre-selected and prepared room (that has both an ordinary telephone, plus a mobile phone in case the phone wires are cut or the phone simply taken off the hook), lock the door, and call the police. It is not inappropriate to be behind something solid, with your gun pointing at the door, and if someone tries to get in, to yell, “I have a gun and have called the police.” If the response is “Oh, Daddy, don’t be so paranoid!” you may not have a serious problem after all. If it is intruders and they decide to break the door down you will likely be happy to have the gun, or to wish you had a stronger door.
As a side note, in many jurisdictions the police won’t knock down your door, so you will need to toss them a key. Since this is likely to be at night, it is a good idea to have a key attached to a Cyclume Stick, so the police can easily see it, and find it even if it falls in bushes or buries itself in snow.
If you are really concerned, or live in an area where an attack is a real possibility, it is also worth making sure your bedroom – or whichever other room you choose to make your safe room – has a strong door that can’t be easily broken down, and in some cases, you may want to build a fortified and secure safe room. And if you do build a safe room, don’t be so quick to rent the place to Jodie Foster….