2020 is unusual. We added millions of new gun owners each month. Gun ownership has been increasing, but this year is remarkable. We bought firearms when government failed. We saw the police withdraw because of an epidemic. We saw courts put criminals back on the streets. We saw government officials overwhelmed by protests, riots, looting, and arson. We realized that we are on our own to defend ourself and the people under our care. I’ve studied self defense for a few decades, and here are some unmentioned truths that new gun owners need to know. The truth is that grandma can survive a breakin and defend herself against three thugs. The secret ingredient in Granny’s self-defense is that she cheats. She didn’t fight fair. Neither should you. There are legal cheats that let the good guys survive.
The truth is that most people do a pretty good job at defending themselves without much training. The truth is that you are not a gunfighter. A gunfighter wins because of speed and accuracy. You are a defender, and you survive because the particular way you fight makes you hard to kill.
The truth is that crime happens all the time and everywhere. Of course, we want to stay away from a riot, but a third of us are violently attacked at home. The other two-thirds of violent attacks occur away from home. No place is absolutely safe, not at work, not at the store, and not as we travel. That is why you want your defensive tools with you all the time. Those tools include a firearm, a phone, and most importantly, the knowledge of how to use them. Your attackers expect an unarmed victim, but you cheated.
The truth is that you are not a TV action hero. You won’t be shooting multiple attackers as you slide across the floor. Let’s be honest. Without practice, you can barely load and unload the gun you just bought. You don’t know how to hold your gun or how to carry your gun, let alone how to shoot quickly and accurately. The great news is that you can fix most of that by talking to the people at the gun store where you bought your gun. Helping new gun owners is what they do for a living.
The truth is that you must be awake to defend yourself. That is why you lock your doors and windows. That way, the bad guys make noise as they try to get to you. You want an alarm. It can be an electronic alarm, or a dog, or both. Your dog is an alarm, but you are the defender. You need a plan that works when you’re only half-awake.
You survived an attack because you avoided a fair fight.
The truth is that people are irreplaceable. You want to leave the lights on in the center of your house. Let the thugs take your TV and your computer. Let them steal your bottles of booze. Hide your family behind you as they huddle in the far corner of a dark room. You survive because you shoot the bad guys as they come down your bedroom hallway with the light behind them. You survive because only a gun barrel and a small part of your face is exposed, but maybe the bad guys can’t even see that. You’re effectively invisible if you stay away from the door frame and stay hidden in shadows. You and your family survive an attack because you made the bad guys come to you. You survive because you can see them and they can’t see you. That said, you must see them so you don’t shoot your neighbor who is knocking at your door to tell you that thugs lit your fence on fire. Good guys identify their target before they shoot, and you want to be one of the good guys.
The truth is that you call the police as soon as you’re threatened, but a gun in your hands beats a cop on the phone. You defend your family when you face an immediate, lethal, and unavoidable threat, and only then. Keep shooting until the threat is gone, and then stop shooting. That is how you are hard to kill and also hard to convict. You can’t win, but you can survive long enough to ask the police for help.
The truth is that a little bit of knowledge and practice makes you much safer. Make a security plan and walk through it with your family. Include a first aid kit in your supplies and learn emergency trauma care. A little thought and practice goes a long way.
I gave you 800 words. Please share them with the people who need them.
Thank you to radio host Bill Frady for the inspiration for this article.