What's More Important Than The Gun You Carry?

Viewing self-defense from a different perspective.

posted on April 10, 2023
city view

A wise man once said, “One of the fallacies of our era is the notion that equipment is the equivalent of force.” Some of us get too wrapped up in trying to select the latest and greatest defensive handgun, just the right ammunition and the newest style of holster. All of that is nice, but the fact is that the defensive handgun and assorted gear is only one small part of the personal-defense program. Every so often, we need to step back and look at the big picture.

We might consider ways to harden a target. This concept includes a lot of factors. On several occasions, I’ve discussed the ways to make our homes more difficult for home invasions with the addition of good locks, lights and security cameras, but the same approach should be taken with change to us, too.

As any shooter knows, small handguns are difficult to shoot well. In spite of that, too many people select a small defensive handgun because it is the what fits best with the style and type of clothing they choose to wear. The serious armed citizen will select clothing that allows him or her to carry a more substantial pistol because they know the importance of being able to make precise shots out to 25 yards and vital-zone hits to 50 yards. The fight is going to be what it is going to be, and we may have little-to-no control over that.

Of course, the greatest defensive skill is awareness. The more we are tuned in to what is going on around us, the more likely we are to be able to deal with it.

It is also wise to keep in mind that not all criminal attacks may warrant a response with firearms. It is a good idea to have a defensive tool that fills the gap between a harsh word and a gun. A striking instrument or pepper spray (where legal) should be part of every armed citizen’s arsenal, and coupled with that is the skill and ability to use them properly and effectively. Physical attacks without weapons happen frequently; they just don’t always get the press that gun-related incidents do.

Of course, the greatest defensive skill is awareness. The more we are tuned in to what is going on around us, the more likely we are to be able to deal with it. We may be able to prepare for a criminal attack, or just leave before it goes down. The earlier we are aware of the problem, the more options we have for dealing with it. 

Besides just keeping our heads on a swivel, we also need to know what is going on in our community. Are home invasions on the rise, or is it carjackings that seem to be most popular with the crooks right now? If it is convenience-store robberies, that might be a good thing for me to know when I go out at 10 p.m. to get that loaf of bread. 

Right in line with awareness being the greatest defensive skill is the fact that none of us are as aware as we could be or should be. Very few people pay attention to what cars are following them as they head for home. Carjackers are looking for a chance to get the vehicle, while home invaders are interested in locating the residence. I also wonder how many people have any plan as to what they should do if they discover they are being followed. Awareness is the most important way to harden a target.

My response to the gear guys has always been, “Don’t tell me what you carry; show me what you can do with it.” And, I would not be interested in knowing what a person did once, but what they can do virtually every time, on demand. A police officer in Austin, TX, made something like a 50-yard, one-shot stop on a criminal with his duty handgun. A church deacon made a 15-yard head shot to stop a killer wielding a shotgun. A citizen in a shopping mall successfully engaged a shooter at something like 40 yards. Can you make those kinds of shots, under that kind of pressure?

Regular practice is also more important than what a person chooses to carry. With practice, we not only improve our shooting skills but we also learn more about the kind of guns and ammunition that could  potentially make a difference in a life-threatening situation. 

So, by looking at the total picture of personal defense we realize that we have the ability to harden a target, making ourselves less desirable to the criminal. We study what might most likely happen to us and have a plan to deal with it. And, we continually practice all of the necessary skills that might be involved. You aren’t looking for trouble and you would prefer to avoid it at all costs, but if the crook decides to jump on you, you want it to be the worst mistake he or she has ever made. Equipment is just one small part of the total package that is self-defense.


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