Some time back I saw a news report of three thugs who decided to pull a daytime burglary, not knowing the homeowner was present. Breaking in the front door, they barged into the living room only to be confronted by the homeowner armed with a rifle. It looked like some sort of comedy routine when all three crooks tried to go back out the front door at the same time.
Recently, in one of our larger Texas cities, a lady was walking out of a mall to her parked car. As she got near her car, a rough-looking guy stepped out and said, “Hey, sweetie!” The lady’s reply was to stick her hand in her purse and say, “I’ve got a gun.” The presumptive suitor turned and took off.
Then, there was a couple who watched a group of criminals break down their gate and trespass onto their property. The couple armed themselves and ordered the group to leave. Although threats were hurled at the couple, the group left.
The common factor in each of these incidents is that not a single shot was fired. When you study news reports and videos, as I do, it is interesting how many times the mere presence of a gun is all that it takes to discourage criminal activity. Crooks simply don’t like it when it looks like the odds are anywhere near even.
It has been said that the first rule of gunfighting is to have a gun. Sometimes I wonder if we gun enthusiasts get too tied up with what kind of gun to have. We seem to be able to argue forever about which caliber is just the right one for personal defense. Then, having defended our favorite caliber, we can go on for quite some time about exactly which type and brand of ammunition should be loaded in that gun. We haven’t even gotten around to sharing our wisdom about what kind of holster everyone should use, or how to carry it. All of this discussion might imply that, if you don’t have the latest and greatest, you are going to die. In fact, a whole bunch of real-world encounters seem to indicate otherwise.
So, what is really important to successful personal defense? A person is probably much better off with a gun they understand perfectly and shoot well than they are with the brand-new one they saw some cool guy use in a YouTube video. Not to mention, several .22-caliber hollowpoints delivered exactly to the vital zone is nothing to be sneezed at, nor is it easily overlooked. While some calibers might be better than others, instances of people successfully defending themselves with just about any and every caliber currently available can be substantiated.
However, the person who just buys a gun and loads it with whatever ammo is available, thinking they’re good to go, may be relying just a little bit too much on luck. Now, luck is a wonderful thing, except when it’s bad. I wouldn’t be writing this if I hadn’t been lucky in a few situations. Luck can be awfully fickle, and depending on it is unwise.
Studying the same news reports and videos of successful encounters also often reveals poor tactics, or a complete lack of tactics and technique. We see indications of people engaging when they had an opportunity to just leave the scene. We also see evidence of people failing to use adequate cover when that cover is actually quite close. Worse yet, we see people following potentially violent crooks when the smart thing is to take cover and hold a position.
The law-abiding citizen certainly has a right to own a firearm for self-protection, period. But, they must also realize that we, as a society, will hold them responsible for using it improperly. Shooting when it is not necessary will have consequences. That citizen must also know they are responsible for every shot fired and that excuses are not acceptable. In short, we expect people to exercise their Second Amendment right responsibly.
Yes, the first rule of gunfighting is to have a gun. But, the second rule of gunfighting is to learn to use it effectively, safely and lawfully. With the huge amount of training available today, finding a nearby class from a reputable instructor is not difficult. In this manner, we can begin to rely more on our ability and less on luck to save the day.
Just having a gun is often all that is needed to defeat the criminal. However, having a gun and the training needed to use it effectively and efficiently increases our odds of survival immensely. Let’s face it, when we are talking about saving the lives of honest citizens and their families, increasing the odds for success is a good thing.