Sam Harris on Self-Defense
I thought this was very interesting. His three principles are:
- Avoid dangerous people and dangerous places.
- Do not defend your property.
- Respond immediately and escape.
I thought this was very interesting. His three principles are:
Greg • November 16, 2011 1:13 PM
This is valid information – I’ve often told my wife if some miscreant orders you to do something by force, you never comply. You don’t get in the trunk or the car, even if they have a gun.
Not only is it better to be shot in front of witnesses than in a field somewhere, the criminal wants to get away with whatever crime is being perpetrated, and if you refuse that totally fucks up his control scenario, maybe leading to some confusion on the perps part as well, creating enough time or distraction to escape.
Years ago friends of our family years ago were kidnapped off the street in Westwood California by worthless scum and killed in a field nearby so that these scum could use their car to commit another crime. Luckily the losers were caught and prosecuted, but if I could not help but wonder what would have happened had they not complied. Probably nothing as Westwood was a busy place at the time – there would have been too many potential witnesses, or at least more witnesses than in an empty field.
karrde • November 16, 2011 1:17 PM
The “do not defend your property” line is somewhat dependant on “what property?” and “where?”
Check your local laws. Talk to local police.
Some legal systems in the US allow lethal force in defense of property. Others allow lethal force in response to immanent threat of harm.
Some legal systems have different rules for public places vs. inside-the-home.
The laws vary, but are usually the same within a given State.
Wayne • November 16, 2011 1:23 PM
True it matters what property and where, and under what situations. Take a carjacking attempt. If someone has a firearm pointed at me and I don’t think I’m in a position to safely disarm them and I believe they are just taking the vehicle, they can have it. Now if I thnik they will shoot me anyways or if my child is in the car, they will have a fight on their hand.
And just because a legal system says you may use legal force in defense of property, should you? Easy to say, the reprucsions can be strong. From facing long civil suit battles from mommy because you shot and killed her little boy so she wants a million dollars now to dealing with your own ethic/beleif system. Police officers can have a hard emotional time with shooting someone, imagine a person untrained in this area that hasn’t given it any thought.
karrde • November 16, 2011 1:34 PM
The civil-suit part also varies by State. Some States have laws that explicitly disallow civil suits for events that police have classified as self-defense.
Other States don’t.
It’s also true that not all nations in the English speaking world have a strong legal presumption in favor of self-defense.)
As to psychological effects of killing, I don’t have much to say. (Except to add to the reading list. Lt. Cmdr Dave Grossman wrote a book on how and when soldiers kill, titled On Killing.)
I was already familiar with some of Rory Miller’s work before I saw it cited in the article.
I’ve also been told that many criminals will flee when they realize that the intended victim is armed and resisting. I don’t know if this is as well-documented as the advice given in the article.
MarkH • November 16, 2011 1:38 PM
Though the article makes reference to the risk of prison, that is not the real foundation of the principle:
Unless you or another person is being physically harmed, or an attack seems imminent, avoiding violence should be your only concern.
As I read it, the author’s guidance is advice about protecting one’s bodily (and phsychological) integrity, not legal advice.
John Hardin • November 16, 2011 1:40 PM
…if someone sticks a gun in your face and demands your wallet, you should hand it over without hesitation – and run
This principle I cannot agree with. It makes the often fatal assumption that a criminal who has just broken the social contract of “I won’t steal from you by force” will now honor the social contract of “I won’t hurt you if you give me what you want”.
What if the armed robber doesn’t want to leave any witnesses?
What if you’re a woman and he decides a spot of rape would be just what he needs after taking your money?
Granted, there’s no great way to respond when taken by surprise, but trusting the bad guy to behave honorably carries as much risk as fighting back. I wish I had handy a reference for the study that quantified the results from cooperation vs. resistance and showed that resistance using a firearm was the safest action and led to the lowest incidence of injury to the victim.
vasiliy pupkin • November 16, 2011 1:43 PM
Very interesting information.
My short comment:
– in other legal systems there is NO civil trial therafter if person applied in self defence letal force or any damage to the offender’s health when level of force applied in defence was not in substantial mismatch with the level of threat/ offence;
– Second Amendment is worthless if you can have firearms, but deprived the right for a c t i v e self defence with firearms protecting your life, health, your family and property against criminal offences without any future civil claims from offender(s) except substantial mismatch of threat level and applied force in defence.
John Galt III • November 16, 2011 1:52 PM
I have a really good reference to post on this topic, but I can’t find it. These are similar content that I found with a google search. The common denominator is that there are important indicators, maybe three in the article that I can’t find. One that surprised me is a grooming motion, like the assailant brushing their hand across their face or hair immediately before attacking. The author was a hands-on security expert and indicated that this was almost universal in all of his experience. There were two other equally important indicators of imminent attack. I’ll post the link if I find it later.
Dead or Alive: The Choice is Yours:
Chapter Two – Attackers and Attack Rituals: Lessons Learned
The Definitive Self-Protection Handbook
THE RITUAL OF VIOLENCE
Most attacks are preceded by stalking and dialogue entrapments. Most attackers use dialogue as their leading technique, but I find that many instructors of self-defence are so concerned about the physical tricks that they forget those vital seconds leading up to assault. It is those people that handle the pre-fight most effectively that tend to win when a situation becomes live. In fact, if you are switched on to the attacker’s ritual, you will not usually even be selected as a victim.
This is absolutely the most important factor in real situations and yet it is one area nearly always overlooked by other defence gurus.
One aspect of the ritual is the aforementioned four ‘D’s. This involves body language as well as the spoken word. Such dialogue is often called the interview. I’ll explain more about this in the relevant paragraph.
If you can spot the ritual, you can stop the crime.
Mar 8, 2007 – of this ‘speak’ will unveil signs of imminent assault -literally giving you
a countdown to his attack. The ritual alters …
Crime Signals: How to Spot a Criminal Before You Become a Victim – Google Books Result
books.google.com/books?isbn=0312362196…David Givens – 2009 – Health & Fitness – 240 pages
… and dishonesty Manipulative personality Acute triggering anger In the next chapter,
you will learn to read the warning signs of imminent assault. …
[PDF] The Art of Fighting Without Fighting Geoff Thompson
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
‘speak’ will unveil signs of imminent assault – literally giving you a countdown to his attack.
The ritual alters according to the category of attack, as does the …
[PDF] SIGNS OF IMMINENT ATTACK
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
SIGNS OF IMMINENT ATTACK. (by Geoff Thompson). Erratic eye movement.
The subject or his accomplice, concerned about being caught mid-act,
AG • November 16, 2011 1:58 PM
I’ve got the funny feeling many of you watch too many action films and also haven’t really read the article. Or you have missed the point.
An armed intruder into your house came prepared to hurt or possibly even kill you. Any other burglar would have waited until you were gone. Quite possibly the intruder has hurt or even killed before. And you really think you’ve got a chance?
That works in action films, but most likely not in real life.
RH • November 16, 2011 2:13 PM
@John Hardin: You have a point, but the articles POV was that “if he wanted to do either of those things, he’d do it regardless of your response.”
I think there’s two things to handing over the wallet
a) It may be all he wants
b) You can use it for positional advantage.
I would hope that anyone handing over a wallet would do so in a way which puts valuable inches between them and the perp, or forces the perp to move to a less advantagous position (such as bending over to pick it up after you drop it)
I have to always remember the predator prey pattern for stuff like this. I always go down a line of logic that starts with “if everyone just hands over their valuables then thieves will be rampant because they fear nothing.” I have to stop and remember that these are predators who do this for a living. Watching predators in the wild, they take almost no risk in pursuing their prey. A predator who breaks his leg is worse off than a predator who didn’t eat that day. Accordingly, if a predator approaches you, you have to remind yourself that you’ve already been deemed “no risk,” so unless you’re SERVERELY bluffing about your weapons skill and combat skill, you can’t fight to defend your belongings. You only fight when fighting is the last option.
The rule I’d go by is “if you didn’t see that the person was a predator until he makes his demands, you are likely not going to be able to ‘beat’ them. Anyone with sufficient combat training is also going to have been taught sufficient awareness to pick the predator out”
My method to avoid crime is to not have anything worth stealing. If you take my wallet you will get a credit card and a few loose bills. If you break in to my house, you will get clothes that don’t fit you, some custom-built computers you can’t sell, and some particle board furniture 🙂
Graham • November 16, 2011 2:16 PM
“Run away!” — King Arthur, Monty Python and the Holy Grail
mcb • November 16, 2011 2:33 PM
Interesting concepts an intriguing guy. While it feels like responding to a violent threat with a rapid and precise gunfire would be more emotionally satisfying, I suspect he’s more correct than I care to admit just now. OTOH, Fleeing your home while an intruder holds a razor to your spouse’s throat will probably end up in divorce court…if both of you survive.
Fred P • November 16, 2011 2:41 PM
Considering that it’s a general advice column, and not one going into the details of each sub-situation, I think it’s good advice. I, for example, have some weak training in how to defend oneself against guns. The parameters for a nearly-guaranteed success in defending yourself against a gun are fairly narrow, and should pretty much be reflexive. Outside of those boundaries, “running” (i.e. quickly making it hard or impossible to shoot you) is probably usually the best course of action.
Daniel • November 16, 2011 2:53 PM
That article is interesting only as a good example of bad inductive reasoning. Take a bunch of random facts which the author pulled out of his ass and then jumble them up with some inapposite examples in an attempt to prove a set of prejudices.
I can only conclude that Bruce is suffering from book fatigue.
Bruce Schneier • November 16, 2011 3:03 PM
“I can only conclude that Bruce is suffering from book fatigue.”
Well, that’s certainly true. But it’s almost done. It’s down to these last few days. Then, I will have dealt with all of the copyeditor’s comments and suggestions. After that, there’s not much I will be able to do except correct typos.
Peter • November 16, 2011 3:11 PM
The best answer, IHMO, is avoid violent situations. In my sixty years, I have never been in a violent confrontation of any sort, and I personally don’t know anyone who has been. The issue is irrelevant. Don’t live that kind of life.
moo • November 16, 2011 3:27 PM
@ John Hardin:
About that advice to hand over the wallet and run away. The advice given in the article seems very sensible to me. When the mugger points a gun at you and demands your wallet, you have basically 4 choices:
(1) Fight back. For most people who lack formal training for situations like this, this carries a high risk of being shot by the perp. Even those with the right skills are taking an unnecessary risk if they fight back.
(2) Hand over the wallet and stand there waiting. Bad idea… Now that he has what he wants, maybe he’ll still shoot you. If not, your continued presence is a challenge that the mugger has to defuse somehow. Every second you spend in his presence increases the risk that you will be harmed in some way.
(3) Run away without handing over the wallet. Probably a bad idea. If the perp is willing to shoot you at all, he’s probably willing to shoot you in the back in this scenario. After all, he’s taken a big risk in mugging you, and so far he’s got nothing to show for it. (If you get away, he “loses”. Or he could just shoot you, and then take the wallet.)
(4) Hand over the wallet and then immediately run away. The mugger has what he wants (the wallet), so he hopefully will just let you go. If he’s still intent on shooting you in the back as you flee, then he would certainly have shot you in any of the other scenarios too.
In summary: You want to hand over the wallet right away, because thats what the mugger wants. Handing it over may reduce the chance of further violence to you. Not handing it over will probably increase the chance of further violence to you. But you also want to run away right after. Sticking around has no benefit and poses a continued risk to you. If you complied so far, he might make additional demands (“gimme that leather jacket”, or whatever). Running away is the safest thing you can do, provided you already gave the mugger what he wants.
atk • November 16, 2011 3:35 PM
@Greg, “never comply” isn’t always the right response for “ordered to do something by force”. It depends upon the type of violence and the goals of the offender. An asocial predator will often want to move you somewhere that there are no witnesses, and “don’t comply – never go to a secondary crime scene” is good advice. On the other hand, social violence with a warning often contains instructions for how to survive – “get outta here or i’m gonna kill you!” is someone with whom you often should comply, or you risk them trying to follow through on the threat.
You should read Rory Miller’s “Meditations on Violence” and Frank Boltz’ “The Counter Terrorism Hand book”. They both talk about types of violence and appropriate response.
o.s. • November 16, 2011 3:44 PM
Um ok so his advice for self-defense is to be a yellow-bellied coward? Umm…interesting…wimp.
Bruce Schneier • November 16, 2011 3:45 PM
“…to add to the reading list. Lt. Cmdr Dave Grossman wrote a book on how and when soldiers kill, titled On Killing.”
I second this recommendation.
Paul Renault • November 16, 2011 4:01 PM
I had just read Sam Harris’s essay, not half an hour ago…
The Canadian Dept of Defense’s Journal (vol 9, no2) posted a review of ‘On Killing’ written by Robert Engen, a doctoral candidate in military history, who works for the Canadian Forces Directorate in of Land Concepts and Designs at CFB Kingston.
I’ve just snarfed it, I haven’t read it all the way through yet.
It’s interesting to get the perspective from an military tradition that has a different ethos than the US’s.
jggimi • November 16, 2011 4:25 PM
I wish to recommend Massad Ayoob’s “In the Gravest Extreme”, ISBN 978-0936279008. Though written in the late ’70s and published in 1980, it is an excellent read for anyone who owns or is even considering owning a firearm for use in or out of the home in self-defense.
Curious • November 16, 2011 4:43 PM
I imagine that the personality (vaguely the accumulation of life experience and attitudes, not personality type) of someone assaulting others can lead to either of two extreme situations.
One being the polite attitude when performing a robbery or assault, maybe speculating that he will suffer minimal consequences should things go wrong somehow, the other being premeditated murder as a practical measure where one can get away with this.
I imagine that a landway robber in afghanistan might rather prefer to kill the people that are about to be robbed, to make sure he himself is not put at risk, as people might try to defend themselves.
Wayne • November 16, 2011 6:04 PM
I would suggest to many people here reading Rory Miller’s book “Facing Violence”. Lots of good advice in that book.
Remeber, best thing to do is avoid places where violence takes place. Failing to do that then escape/evade/de-escalate to avoid violence. If that fails then protect yourself. Granted at times you might have to go directly to protect mode, but that would be an exception and not the norm.
Dirk Praet • November 16, 2011 6:55 PM
Most of the article is plain common sense, beit with some oversimplification here and there. I’m pretty sure most of the pointers given by other posters go into much more detail.
1) Avoid dangerous people and places.
Very true, but what if they decide to come to your neighbourhood, your local pub or the building you live in ? You can talk as much as you want to, ignore provocations and ditch fights seventeen times, but sooner or later you will have to make a stand or get chased out of your own turf.
2) Do not defend your property
If somebody asks your for your wallet at gunpoint, it is in your best interest to give it up no questions asked. That is unless you’re familiar with some very efficient Krav-Maga techniques. It becomes an entirely different story when your jewelry store has just been hit for the seventh time, you can’t get insurance anymore and the well-known perps laugh at you in your face because even if they get convicted the prisons are full anyway. That’s pretty much the situation over here.
Only a few weeks ago, a jewelry shop owner shot a robber in self-defense, and a senior citizen stabbed a 17-year old to death when forced to open his vault for about the 11th time. Despite his young age and being followed up by local police, the guy had already about 40 similar facts on his wrapsheet.
Sociologists and criminologists can say what they want, but in a situation of factual impunity an advice not to defend your property is an open invitation for criminals to rob everybody blind and drive even the most pacifist folks to despair.
3) Respond immediately and escape
Depends on the situation. In an unknown and hostile environment, you may wish to get away asap. When confronted with professionals or overwhelming force, the same applies. But the macing silly of an opportunistic burglar breaking into your home or a western-style group bashing of a pickpocket steeling a purse at the local pub may make him think twice of becoming a career predator.
I agree that violence often provokes more violence, but in my experience the use of non-lethal violence against predators often acts as a deterrent that will make them look for softer victims. When the building I live in was recently hit three times by an identified burglar, he moved out of the neighbourhood after a serious thrashing by some of the tenants. Pickpockets avoid the pub I usually hang out because they risk loosing their teeth or getting thrown through the window with an invoice to boot.
Matt • November 16, 2011 7:48 PM
There’s a locally owned jewelry store here that, like many jewelry stores, has an electric lock on the customer entrance, and they push the unlock button when they make eye contact with you from behind the counter.
While waiting on an employee who was in the back office getting something for me, another employee noticed that I was glancing up at the 10+ cameras recording everything happening in the store. She said “enough cameras?”. I laughed and said “Yeah, I think so!”
She told me “Everyone here is within two seconds of being armed.”
I don’t know if she was bluffing or not, and I wasn’t about to start asking probing questions about their security setup. I was there getting a piece of jewelry altered, and hopefully, she didn’t think I was “casing” the place for a future robbery. Considering that my wedding ring and my wife’s engagement, wedding, and 5th-anniversity rings all came from there, that’s one heck of a cover story for casing the place.
If I recall correctly, a lot of mega-chain stores have strict instructions to comply with robbers’ demands. Corporate can cover monetary losses, and the lawyers at corporate probably don’t want lawsuits from the dead robber’s family. Heck, if a mega-chain jeweler at the mall got vaporized, corporate could probably restock the whole place.
This place is locally owned, though. The owners work the counters, and they have an excellent local reputation. No nervous lawyers to worry about lawsuits, and a robbery at a one-location jeweler could be financially devastating, as there’s no “corporate” to suck up the losses.
This isn’t directly related to security, but I would be fascinated to know if there’s ever been a lawsuit because a jewelry store wouldn’t unlock the door for someone who was of the “wrong” skin tone.
Gabriel • November 16, 2011 8:23 PM
Defense of property is not as great a need now as it was before. Years ago, when you didn’t have insurance, theft of your horse, tools, or other property might mean your family starves through the winter. That would certainly warrant the use of lethal force, if they didn’t back down to your threats. Same for theft of cash, esp. If it was a substantial sum you had to live off with little means of replacing. Now, lethal force is less warranted. The greatest cause would be home intrusion, attempted kidnapping, child still in car, etc. although I could see a valid use of lethal force if you were out somewhere where depriving you of your property could endanger your well being. Such as stealing your car in the middle of the desert or your gear when you are in the wilderness and might freeze.
echowit • November 16, 2011 9:28 PM
Makes a lot of somewhat simplistic sense but won’t be a very popular read with some.
If this is a bit of an aside I apologize, but:
Strangely, to me at least, Harris’s methods for avoiding violence seem to both agree and conflict with my current read, ‘Hagakure’ by Yamamoto Tsunetomo (translation by W.S Wilson).
Hagakure is supposedly the musings of a retired samurai-turned-Buddhist-monk about the old-school samurai code, “The Way”, which, if Wilson got his translation right, seems on the surface the height of really extreme machismo.
What stands out is the seeming concurence between Tsunetomo’s elements as regards preparation for violence, summed up neatly in his phrase “Winning before the fight” and Harris’s tips on avoiding a fight.
So alike in theory — “Train to know yourself. Focus. Be resolved. When necessary act immediately”.
So different in philosophy — “Escape and survive” vs. “Storm the castle. Cut a few of them down. Die Honorably or, if you fail, kill yourself”
Brian • November 16, 2011 10:58 PM
Ego is definitely a factor for at least one person responding here (o.s.), but I suppose everyone should take into account what they’re defending when they talk about self-defense. If defending your wallet (or sense of honor, if we’re being more abstract) is more important than defending your life…I suppose that’s a decision we all have to make for ourselves.
But we have to make that decision intelligently. Life is not an action movie, and unless you are well trained to instantly respond with deadly force to dangerous situations, chances are good that fighting back will end up with the criminal getting what he wants anyways and you injured or dead. The “storm the castle” attitude should probably go with “storm the caste” training.
RobertT • November 17, 2011 12:39 AM
Having been mugged at gun point on a few occasions so let me offer my personal advice.
1) the longest seconds of your life are the ones after you hand over your money and WAIT to see if the perp pulls the trigger.. believe me you’ll relive those few seconds many times over.
2) Most perps are very nervous and dont really understand what they are doing, this makes the whole event doubly dangerous. On one particular occasion the perp was waving the gun around pointing it everywhere but at me. (I should have disarmed and killed him…)
3) my best advice is too keep your wits about you, comply with what he wants but locate yourself relative to the perp so that exchange is cumbersome (move towards his right side (assuming gum is held in the right hand) if he wants to take the money in his left hand than he must reach across himself, usually this move will result in the gun pointing away from you. Gives you a split second to flee or act defensively.
4) any request apart from hand over your wallet should be ignored / refused, Dont turn around, it’s an excuse to shoot you, but also don’t look directly at the perp they only get more nervous.
The most important thing, in these cases, is to buy time and decide on your defense. If it is a “random” kidnap attempt they’ll either use force or flee because the plan has gone wrong.
A blog reader • November 17, 2011 1:09 AM
From what one remembers, there was a book about surviving high school that included information about personal safety. (This might have been the book “Surviving High School: Making the Most of the High School Years” by Michael Riera-not sure.) Among other things, the book mentioned a tale that included the following: There was a character by the name of Don Juan and another person by the name of Carlos. On at least one occasion, Carlos asked Don Juan something along the lines of “What would you do if you went outside and there was a man with a gun pointed at you?” Don Juan answered “Easy, I would not be there.” Indeed, no matter how much Carlos persisted on the issue, Don Juan maintained that he would not be there.
With regard to the issue of “don’t obey an order to get in a car at gunpoint” (i.e. it may be better to retreat), it may be hard to generalize from a specific example, but there was an incident in 1966 involving serial killer Kenneth McDuff where three young persons were ordered into the trunk of a car. The victims were transported to a different area and two of the persons were killed; the third was transported to yet another area, raped multiple times and then killed.
Will • November 17, 2011 1:42 AM
Seems very solid advice.
I’ve brushed through the whole martial arts, boxing, pubs, drinking scene when I was young – there wasn’t much in the way of prepared weapons but people say that’s changing where I grew up now.
Looking back, I think it would have been a much smoother ride if my friends and I were all practicing this sensible avoid trouble approach.
Problem now is, how to prepare wifes and others for when they are threatened you’re going to run? I rather imagine they will respond exactly wrongly. And this isn’t a subject you can easily bring up.
Winter • November 17, 2011 2:23 AM
My advice for womens self-defense training is always “100 meters hurdle”. Larger distances normal running would be OK too.
Over the years, I have not seen any reason to change that advice. (note that you learn to kick really hard with hurdles)
TedL • November 17, 2011 2:26 AM
If you value your own life above your property and pride and hopefully most of you do, you can’t argue with his three principles.
However I still read his article as fear mongering and peddling the ‘stranger danger’ threat above the reality that we don’t like to think about.
He focusses on the risk of being robbed, assaulted, raped, or murdered each year. Now if we disregard the first one the sad truth is that we are statistically far more likely to be attacked by our spouse, family member, friend or acquaintance than by a stranger.
From the same source he cites for his top line numbers: FBI_Stats
So, statistically, your best defence is probably to make sure you have good relations with your friends and family and (people in the US are going to love this!) remove anything that makes it easy to kill or be killed by them in the heat of an argument.
If you want to minimise the ‘stranger’ risk live, work and socialise in good areas.
Pat • November 17, 2011 2:42 AM
A point I like to make is the difference between fighting and combat: In combat you are willing to get injured as long as you survive the encounter, because it is assumed the intention of your opponent is to take your life.
It is a tough call to make. Combat implies lethal force and no restraints. However misjudging the situation may leave you dead or in jail. Yet at least, everyone should make sure to know where the line is drawn for them before having to make that call. It’s an important reflection.
In my case, I am peaceful, quiet and easy going, and do my best to talk my way out of any trouble that finds me.
But I was never trained for fighting, I was trained for combat. My presumption is always that anyone attacking me, or trying to coerce me by force instead of letting me walk away, has lost self control and is after my life or that of my loved one. I react in kind, immediately, with determination.
Standing up has so far been enough deterrence to prevent things getting out of hands. I have found far more bullies looking for an easy score than hardened criminals – but make no mistake, those are out there too.
mashiara • November 17, 2011 2:50 AM
Um ok so his advice for self-defense is to be a yellow-bellied coward? Umm…interesting…wimp.
How’s that for them social dominance games, eh ? 😉
This attitude is no better than the old (and still lingering in Japan, they’re second in world suicide statistics per capita [my home country is 1st but for different reasons]) honor code of the samurai where even small infractions not only justification but requirement for lethal violence (including being ordered to commit suicide)
Train for survival, not fighting and definitely don’t train “fighting” (ie. sports. the sporty martial arts have rules designed to minimize injuries and the techniques are optimized to these rules [and in pathological cases: to look good]). This is of course simplified but you will need to train for many, many years to be able to see what parts (besides general physical conditioning but that’s obvious) of the sports are actually usable in a survival situation.
It’s not “honorable” getting killed or seriously injured over trivial amounts of money (for anything else there is insurance), causing grief and financial trouble for your family (general term for people who care about you).
Of course when things get as bad as Dirk describes then the the result of the calculation changes as well since in this case they have a lot more to lose.
renoX • November 17, 2011 3:11 AM
A very mixed bag..
I agree with TedL: his use of statistics is awful.
Plus there’s the stupid implication that “rape is worse than murder”, stupid because what message does it give to rape victims?
That they should have fight to death? Thanks!
Then there are assumptions which are totally unsupported: in the third part he implies that a stranger who broke in your house will kill/rape you not steal you, this may be true, but do you have statistics to show that this is true instead of a mere assertion?
grumpy • November 17, 2011 5:39 AM
Then there’s the Derren Brown approach: mental judo as described in “Tricks of the Mind”. I haven’t been able to find any direct online references but this describes the idea nicely:
http://twntysmthg.sg/2010/12/avoid-getting-killed-or-beaten-without-lifting-a-finger/ – “BE INCONGRUENT”
In short: perpendicular mental motion just might save the day. I can’t say if it works (never been in a situation to try it on) so YMMV.
Winter • November 17, 2011 5:51 AM
What the original article also does not discuss is the fact that complying with an attacker is a way to buy time. Time which might allow you to escape later.
The trade-off is between the probability to be killed on the spot if you do not comply versus the probability to be killed later if you comply.
So the relevant statistics are not “X cases where the victim complied and was killed”, but x% of those who complied were killed versus y% of those who did not comply were killed. If x is bigger than y in a statistically significant way, then it makes sense to resist.
But there will be few statistics on “victim complied and survived”, irrespective of the odds.
When in doubt, people will sensibly try to delay the decision.
Btw, there was a cartoon in an old Mad magazine issue:
Old lady is mugged in hall of an apartment building. Mugger says “You can cry for help, but this is NY, so nobody will come”. Lady yells “Fire!”, and suddenly the whole hall is full of people carrying fire extinguishers.
brazzy • November 17, 2011 6:24 AM
I am very, very certain that “resistance using a firearm” is in fact the action that has the highest probability of getting you killed.
dilbert • November 17, 2011 6:25 AM
I see that many of you value your pride, ego, and “machismo” more than your life. This is absolutely solid advice for survival. My oldest daughter is away at college. Her mom bought her a baseball bat for “defense”… I sent her this article, told her to read it at least twice, then talk with me about it when she comes home to visit next time. I also asked her to share it with her friends.
Ian • November 17, 2011 7:46 AM
Small nitpick – LTC Dave Grossman, USA (ret) is/was a Lieutenant Colonel, not a Lieutenant Commander. LTC is an O-5 in the Army, LCDR is an O-4 and is a Navy rank (equivalent to a Major in the Army).
Great recommendation though, it’s a fantastic book. I’ve had some great conversations about it with people from all over the political spectrum, and I strongly recommend it.
Chris • November 17, 2011 7:47 AM
If someone puts a gun to your head and demands your purse or wallet, hand it over immediately and run.
In this situation I immediately imagine the hyper-nervous, inexperienced perp that just out of his own fear pulls the trigger on a sudden movement of the victim. Also RobertT reports very nervous [that] don’t really understand what they are doing.
Is there any statistically significant evidence that running away in such a situation is better than staying?
Fred P • November 17, 2011 9:48 AM
Here’s a study: http://www.theppsc.org/Staff_Views/Aveni/OIS.pdf “Officer-Involved Shootings:
What We Didn’t Know Has Hurt Us”
And the best table on your question:
NYPD Hit Ratios By Distance
Gunfights, Other Shootings vs. Perpetrator, and Against Dogs
DISTANCE (Yards) HIT RATIO
So if you can increase your distance from, say 1 yard to 5 yards before the shot goes off, you have roughly 1/2 the chance of being hit, according to these statistics (if the shooter were NYPD during the aforementioned years). Assuming that there’s nothing unusual about their training, willingness to aim for you, or about the guns of that time, I’d think that in many cases, running would be a good idea.
On the other hand, I have long legs. Obviously, if you can’t run effectively, it may be a bad idea.
DL • November 17, 2011 10:06 AM
BJS (bjs.osp.usdoj.gov) statistics actually put not resisting as having a higher chance of getting you injured than resisting with a gun if things turn violent. Resisting with a knife is actually the worst. (At least, according to their latest statistics from 2001)
As far as fatal violent crimes, I’d assume the statistics are about the same.
Slack • November 17, 2011 10:10 AM
Alcoholics Anonymous members are told to stay away from people, places and things that are associated with alcohol. The same rules work very well when applied to criminal behaviour.
John Galt III: You may be thinking of a gentleman by the nom de guerre “Southnarc” who identified several pre-assault indicators that are typically seen immediately prior to an attack. They are, in no particular order:
1) Facial/head grooming.
2) Shift of weight (to ‘load’ the bodyweight behind the strike)
3) Glance to targeted area (groin/jaw etc)
4) Sneaky movement toward the beltline (for weapons access).
5) Quick visual scan of the environment (to rule out unexpected surprises)
A very smart man, I recommend that anyone who is into this kind of stuff seek him out. He’s written plenty and heads an active internet community.
Anon • November 17, 2011 11:44 AM
I’ll dispute your claims, however, in that it is a proven point that some people don’t have the physical dexterity to behave appropriately in tight quarters under stress. Their fatality rate can be quite high if they attempt to use a firearm.
Small incorrect actions can greatly diminish your chances of survival in such a situation. Little things like, for example, hitting the “s” on the keyboard when you actually meant to hit a “j” which come to think about it is halfway across a querty keyboard.
(Joke, BTW, don’t go all machismo on me….)
Try bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov instead.
Steve • November 17, 2011 6:48 PM
“What if your attacker has a knife to your child’s throat and tells you that everything is going to be okay as long as you cooperate by lying face down on the floor? Don’t do it. It would be better to flee the house”
So you, your wife, and your other child all manage to escape.
And your surviving child says “Hey dad, I really respect the way that you ran away and let that psycho shoot my sister. Next time it happens, will you run away again and let me die?”
Nick P • November 17, 2011 7:09 PM
The issue is kind of simple for me. If they think I’m not an easy target, most of the time they’ll just go for someone else. Also, while I’d advocate just loosing the wallet most of the time, I’m not about to let them have assets I worked hard for just because they threatened me. They try to invade my home, they’ll get shot. If they attack me, they best had some good martial arts training.
Sadly, there’s actually a high risk of physical assault, from rape to murder, in the city I often work in: Memphis, TN. Memphis & Detroit go head-to-head for murder capital of the US, according to many sources. Training makes all the difference. We have a good Krav Maga group & places like Range USA. One gun school surveyed their students to see how many people got attacked & what the result was. There were over 50 & each used their firearm to successfully stop the attacker. Without training or psychological preparation, a defender should simply try to escape, maybe giving up property in the process.
For me, it’s about both protecting the one life I have & reducing the number of violent crooks. The deterrence effect really can work. Most studies show violent crime going down in areas that passed concealed carry laws & property crime going up. Crooks did a risk assessment & figured they’d rather not get shot. Similar principle for making your home or person look less tempting. You can also use tricks like keeping your money/ID in an inner pocked & giving out a decoy wallet. For the home, get the book The Big Book of Secret Hiding Places & make some modifications.
Lanius • November 17, 2011 7:57 PM
David Grossman’s book is a load of bull.
Firstly he started out with now discredited SLA Marshall’s WWII research about firing rates and went from there.
This review sums it up pretty nicely..
Lanius • November 17, 2011 8:06 PM
This review by a military history graduate is more comprehensive and better argued…
RobertT • November 17, 2011 10:46 PM
Comments seem to be mainly from those that have never faced the business end of a 38, held by a nervous teenager. With expert advice like this who needs friends…
I’d say the main facts effecting my decision to run, stay or attack, are:
-the age and disposition of the attacker
-the circumstances and country in which the attack happens.
running might seem like a good idea but remember the gun is pointed at you already. It is not a fight or quick moving situation, plus at the time you hand over the money you are less than 1 meter from the perp, so even an inexperienced shooter has a high probability of shooting you. If I had to move quickly I’d probably duck down and toss the money on the ground behind the perp. Ducking is important because most inexperienced shooters aim at your head, hopefully even if he shoots it’ll be high and most subsequent shots are even higher (recoil) that gives you a chance to put a few meters between you, while the perp focuses on the wallet which is behind him.
Anyway these days I live in a country where guns are extremely uncommon, so I’ve put my wayward ways behind me.
cipherpunk • November 17, 2011 10:47 PM
Rexkwando and Accidental Death Insurance is all u need….
Vitro • November 18, 2011 4:27 AM
He’s nuts if he thinks you can dive through plate glass to escape from anything. I doubt you can even dive through 3 mm glass, which most windows are made of. You’d end up with a large bump on your head. I’ve hit scrap pieces with a shovel after throwing them into the dumpster and they’ve not broken. And diving through raw glass would be nearly suicidal if you managed to break it, when the long, sharp pieces cut you up. Yes, I work in a glass factory. People have died from being careless with raw glass, when they got cut on the neck and nobody found them until it was too late.
In order to break glass, you either need to hit it on the edge, especially near the corner if its tempered (which would be inside the window frame and not accessible to anyone but someone in a factory trying to get rid of trash), or to apply a lot of pressure to a small area. If you’re dealing with laminated glass, though, you’re probably just out of luck.
So it’s probably faster to open the window than break it. But if you do have to break a window, find a pole or something thin and hit it near the edge. I doubt any of you have the small, spring-loaded device we use to make tempered pieces pop so that we can see if the pieces are small enough to meet safety standards.
If you break a window, it will either explode into a million tiny pieces (tempered glass), crack into several thin and very sharp pieces (raw glass), or it will look all broken but stay in place (laminated glass). Don’t bother trying to break through laminated glass, unless you plan to pour alcohol on it and set that on fire. Why yes, that is how we melt the PVC (plastic) interlayer to cut it when we have to, though we have a proper cutting machine to do the straight cuts.
I know that was just an offhand comment in the article, but I have a lot more experience breaking glass than most people ever will. That stuff they use in the movies that people dive through? It’s made of sugar.
Fred P • November 18, 2011 9:55 AM
Very interesting. I always thought that plate glass was easier to break than you state.
However, the following site supports your statements:
Glass has great inherent strength. It is weakened only by surface imperfections, which give everyday glass its fragile reputation. Special surface treatment can minimize the effect of surface flaws.
The practical tensile strength of glass is about 27MPa to 62 MPa. However, glass can withstand extremely high compressive stresses .
mashiara • November 18, 2011 10:14 AM
ref “resisting with a knife”
Remember: There are no winners in a knife fight.
most people will definitely be better of unarmed than trying to use a knife as “defence” weapon.(hell, I consider myself half-decent with a few different kinds of knives [~14yrs of martial arts, not the sporty kind] and I’m fairly sure I would kill an opponent by accident if I didn’t get incapacitated/killed first [and no matter how good you think you are you will get cut if the opponent has any sense at all], I think I will have much better chances unarmed against a knife than in knife vs knife combat)
I must add I like the distinction Pat makes between fighting and combat (I used “survival situation” to get the same meaning but combat is better word)
Fred P • November 18, 2011 10:20 AM
I realize that I left something important off of my last comment. The article goes on (after discussing tempered glass) to state:
Glass produced with no surface flaws have strength values approaching the theoretical tensile strength values of 6,5 GPa
Rhino • November 18, 2011 11:04 AM
@Fred P: “I always thought that plate glass was easier to break than you state.”
For some good, real-life demonstrations of just how hard plate and laminated glass windows are to smash, try finding some of the footage of the summer riots in the U.K. on YouTube or on the BBC website.
There are several quite amusing clips of the Chavs and Scallies a-whoppin and a-whumpin shop windows with fire-extinguishers and scaffolding poles, to little or no effect.
Dan A • November 18, 2011 2:25 PM
I couldn’t read much of this article:
“While I do not consider myself an expert on personal security, I know enough to have strong opinions.”
Then it seems like a bad idea to take advice from you. In fact, having strong, uneducated opinions might be doing more harm than good. Seems like “just enough knowledge to be dangerous”.
Also, fun with statistics:
But here are the numbers: In 2010, there were 403.6 violent crimes per 100,000 persons in the United States…. Thus, the average American has a 1 in 250 chance of being robbed, assaulted, raped, or murdered each year.
Not true. Especially in crime ridden neighborhoods, many of those crimes likely have overlapping victims. There’s no easy crimes to victims conversion ratio. The source statistic is for crimes, not victims.
The rest of the article I just briefly skimmed, because I could not trust the accuracy of the information with such logical fallacies at the beginning.
anomie • November 18, 2011 4:27 PM
@TedL: thanks so much for being a voice of reason. The (supported, sort of) essay didn’t sit well with me, and I was having a hard time putting my finger on it. Yes, violence is a real threat. Yes, we should err on the side of avoidance.
But I’d add to your good points that – statistically speaking – there are substantially greater threats that don’t make for good, sensational journalism (i.e. for scaring the living shit out of us). For those of you in the US, try a search for the CDC’s leading causes of death. Violence / intentional injury / homicide are not in the top ten (and number one is an order of magnitude larger than number ten).
Although I do agree with the author’s general advice, I feel dumber (and like I got another gray hair) for reading it. Rubbish.
John Galt III • November 18, 2011 5:05 PM
@Slack – Thanks! It was vexing me and even with the name it took me a while to find it.
situational awareness: contact assessment
grooming, looking to 3, 6, 9, weight shift
Clive Robinson • November 18, 2011 5:20 PM
A number of people have commented on “distance from a gun” and all appear to assume the closer you are the more likely you are to be shot.
Like many things in life this is an over simplification. In general the dangerous part of the gun is the muzzle from which the bullet leaves the gun. If you are not in line with it you cannot be shot.
At distances of less than three feet you have the ability to have physical contact with the gun and thus in part determine the direction it is pointing in. Thus the point of maximum risk is where you don’t quite have the ability to physicaly control the gun (ie just out of reach).
Too put this in perspective think of a long barreled weapon such as a shot gun or rifle, once you are behind the muzzle you can simply clamp the weapon against your body and the attacker would have to break it free to be able to shoot you. To a lesser extent the same applies to short barreld weapons such as hand guns. Although I would strongly advise against it a hand clamped over the top of an automatic weapon ejection port will cause the weapon to mis-feed when fired and thus render it just a lump of metal untill cleared.
All that said the advice my father gave me I have given to my son which is “the smart and safe place to be is somewhere else, when trouble starts.”. For this to work you need two things “situational awareness” and “freedom of movment”, if either are lacking then it may be difficult if not impossible to make your escape before trouble envelops you.
Sadly there are times when you have to stand your ground, just a few days ago I caught somebody trying to break into my home whilst I was inside. I had to force him and his accomplice of the property, and due to the laws in the UK I could only use what was demonstrably a defensive weapon (a small stainless steel sauce pan). The younger of the two attacked me with a lump of fencing which judging by the dent it left in the pan if it had hit me in the head or shoulders he was aming for I would not be relating this story. I have no doubt he would have continued to try and kill me if I had not told him to “Smile for the CCTV camera” which I pointed to. At which point he stopped mid swing droped the fencing turned around and just walked off the property and down the road with his accomplice following shortly there after.
Yes they were both arrested very shortly there after, the Police were very very keen to have them prosecuted. Unfortunatly in the UK we have something called the Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS) and they decided (probably because both men had no fixed abode) to not prosecute…
John Galt III • November 18, 2011 5:26 PM
Here is one more from my notes, and one that I found is below it.
Poor situational awareness, 2 bad guys and “Where’s my gun?”
A recent incident involving a male attacked by 2 bad guys at a gas station, video below. Poor situational awareness, he turns his back to BG 1 several times, and his weapon was in his vehicle at the time rather than on his body. In my opinion he was very lucky to come out of this incident unscathed. He discusses the incident in this thread, I have not read it. One suggestion I have for people involved in an "incident" is not to post their thoughts, feelings or anything else concerning the matter online unless you want it used against you in a court of law. I understand the need to vent, seek advice from like minded people and just blow off steam about the ordeal but do yourself a favor and STFU unless you like attorney's fees. Video here: http://www.whiotv.com/video/28315602/index.html I think there are a few good lessons here and most will be obvious to the vast majority of members here, please discuss. I apologize for starting a thread and not being able to participate in it today but it's time for boating, beers & bikinis! I love summer time!
Lee • November 18, 2011 8:24 PM
“Although I would strongly advise against it a hand clamped over the top of an automatic weapon ejection port will cause the weapon to mis-feed when fired and thus render it just a lump of metal untill cleared.”
It might cause misfeeding of 2nd and thus subsequent rounds, but the first shot will be unaffected.
Cripes, if you found yourself in hand to hand combat with an assailant with an automatic weapon you are in big trouble, you’re only option is to run and zig-zag, or go for the muzzle of the weapon…..
Peter Maxwell • November 18, 2011 8:26 PM
@Clive Robinson at November 18, 2011 5:20 PM
“At distances of less than three feet you have the ability to have physical contact with the gun and thus in part determine the direction it is pointing in. Thus the point of maximum risk is where you don’t quite have the ability to physicaly control the gun (ie just out of reach).”
Agreed. If I were ever unlucky enough to be seriously threatened with a fire-arm, I would prefer to be within physical striking range. Fire-arms are projectile weapons, they lose advantage in close quarters.
Knives are the exact opposite, running is generally the preferable course of action there.
“I had to force him and his accomplice of the property, and due to the laws in the UK I could only use what was demonstrably a defensive weapon (a small stainless steel sauce pan).”
Having been in that situation before, I always keep a broom handle within easy access lest my broad Glaswegian accent doesn’t discourage them: it’s light enough that no reasonable person would consider it could cause serious damage, and I’ve got enough training to be able to keep an assailant at bay especially given the most common weapon for these wee muppets to carry is a knife (a jo/short-staff gives you at least 3ft extra range on them).
In relation to the original article, the person in question has seemingly never been to Scotland. Most pub scenarios where aggressors try the “male dominance” thing, is not in fact anything to do with a dominance game but finding someone to fight because they like violence and see it as a personal challenge.
In that scenario if you back down too quick the aggressor thinks you’re a weak target and you will get a kicking; similarly if you escalate the situation you’ll also get a kicking. The only way to talk yourself out of it is to make sure the aggressor knows you’ll win and that there are weaker targets while still allowing him to save face. Think port-scanning as an analogy: they’ll keep trying until they find something they think is easy.
Put it this way: I’ve been physically attacked far more frequently when responding passively whereas when I’ve kept eye contact, strong body posture and a firm but calm voice not once has the aggressor actually attacked.
Peter Maxwell • November 18, 2011 8:45 PM
@Lee at November 18, 2011 8:24 PM
“It might cause misfeeding of 2nd and thus subsequent rounds, but the first shot will be unaffected.”
Yeah, I would intuitively have thought that.
Bearing in mind that we Brits have very little exposure to firearms, least of all handguns, am I right in thinking that the firing pin for the first round would be independent of the slide and that the slide uses the recoil energy from the first shot to bring the second round into the chamber?
Assuming that’s right then I certainly wouldn’t want my hand on top of a semi-automatic when fired… I imagine it may hurt somewhat.
“Cripes, if you found yourself in hand to hand combat with an assailant with an automatic weapon you are in big trouble, you’re only option is to run and zig-zag, or go for the muzzle of the weapon…..”
Yes, but if you must fend off someone with an automatic weapon when you are not similarly armed, I would prefer to be up-close-and-personal: at least you have a small window of opportunity to influence the direction of firing and try to be behind the muzzle. I certainly wouldn’t fancy my chances trying to run.
Also, if you’re within physical striking range, you have a small chance of maneuvering to their outside: their free hand cannot reach you, their gun hand is otherwise engaged so you may be lucky enough to hit them hard enough to stop them.
Running and “zig-zagging” is very unlikely to work. I can’t imagine anyone with an automatic weapon missing you, zig-zagging or not.
Whatever you do, if the assailant wants to shoot you, it’s unlikely you’ll come out without being shot but I’d still take proximity as a preference over being at a small-medium distance.
Vitro • November 19, 2011 2:00 AM
@Fred P: Yeah, if you find a big “clam shell” defect in the edge of the glass or near the corner and it’s tempered, you can most certainly blow the whole thing up. But we reject glass that has flaws like that for that exact reason. Even if we don’t see it, glass like that will probably blow up before it leaves the factory.
Oh, and I should mention one thing about glass cutters: those only work on raw glass (plain glass; we call it that to distinguish it from tempered glass, which gets “cooked” in a tempering oven). With laminated glass, you still have the plastic interlayer to worry about. With tempered glass, the whole damn window will explode into little pieces when you try to break off any piece of it.
And I do mean “explode.” It’s like a balloon popping. Tempered glass doesn’t merely crumble into a little pile, it flies everywhere because it’s under stress. That stress is concentrated along the thin edge of the glass, especially near the corners. That’s why they protect it inside of the window frame. It’s also why the edges of the glass get sanded down by diamond belts before going into that furnace: they have a bad habit of exploding inside the quench if the edges are still sharp, because too much stress accumulates there.
If you have two tempered pieces on a conveyor that just barely bump into each other at the corner, they will almost certainly explode. Even though you might have difficulty breaking the same piece of glass had you thrown it away and tried to smash it on the flat side with a shovel.
If you live in the southwest USA and bought tempered windows within the past few years, there’s (very!) roughly a 5% chance that I personally had a hand in making them. That chance goes way up if it was a weirdly-shaped piece of tempered glass. A lot of the difficult stuff seems to end up getting sent to me, to the point where they seem to expect me to work magic upon ratty pieces of cardboard cut in uneven shapes.
Clive Robinson • November 19, 2011 12:18 PM
“It might cause misfeeding of 2nd and thus subsequent rounds, but the first shot will be unaffected”
Partialy true (see below), but yes, that is what I was refering to by “fired” which is also why I’d strongly recomend against trying it.
@ Peter Maxwell,
There are two basic types of automatic weapon firing, those that are pin and hammer and have a round in the chamber with the bolt closed or forward long prior to firing, and fixed pin which are all “open bolt”, that is they chamber a round as part of the actual firing process.
The old UK “plumbers delight” SMG was fixed pin and to cock it the “bolt” was physically pulled back and held back by the triger mechanism. To actually be fired the bolt was released moved forward at speed under the power of the spring, scooping a round out of the magazine and pushing it far enough forward into the chamber and at sufficient speeed that the fixed pin would sufficiently deform the percussion cap to fire it.
So grabing this sort of open bolt weapon across the ejection port would prevent it firing the first shot.
It did however have a number of quite serious failings resulting in mis fires and effectivly negligent discharges. Just dropping it could set it off on full auto spraying the content of the magazine wherever the barrel was pointing.
Thus conventional automatic hand guns are a little more complicated with pin and hammer and a slide mechanism and importantly a much more reliable cocking and safety mechanism.
If you grab one of these across the ejection port the gun will probably fire (unless it has an external hammer your hand or thumb is also blocking). The slide will try to move back and depending on how tightly you’ve got a grip on it, a number of things will happen. If you stop the slide going far enough back the gun will neither eject the spent casing, re-cock it’s self or chamber a new round. Even if the slide does go back far enough to re-cock itself the fact that you have stopped the spent casing leaving the ejection port it cannot chamber a new round nor slide forward enough to fire it even if it had chambered a round. If you slow the slide down when going forward the round will almost certainly not chamber well and misfeed which will usually stop the gun from being fired.
Even if the gun does fire by now you have probably forced it down or away from you so if it does fire again it is considerably less likley to hit you or hit you anywhere vital.
Also is the question of psychology, the perp is probably “projecting power” through the weapon which is now effectivly non functioning and thus makes them effectivly impotent because their attention is so strongly focused on it. If you give them a “Glasgow Kiss”  at this point they will become confused and possibly freeze for long enough for you to follow through with a “Glasgow Handshake” .
Simply forcing the perp onto the ground or very much off balance will vastly improve your odds of getting a suitable distance away whilst theey wipe the tears from their eyes regain their balance or get up and have thhe prescence of mind to clear the weapon before they start aiming in your direction again.
Even if that all fails as you note I’d rather be shot for a bear (that atleast fights back) than a duck (that fails to flys away).
1, Glasgow kiss – a head but to the eyes/nose of your adversary.
2, Glasgow handshake – 1, the same as a kiss, 2, “a knee to the happy sack” or “family jewels, 3, a boot instep slamed down on an adversaries knee cap.
Nick P • November 19, 2011 7:12 PM
@ Clive Robinson
Forget Glasgow stuff. Just learn Krav Maga or Israeli Ninjutsu weapon defense. There are numerous easy-to-use techniques for gun disarms. I taught one to a friend that works at a gun range & he’s disarmed coworkers three times. They are always dumbfounded that the loose the gun before they can think to react. Here’s some vids with practical techniques.
Krav Maga basic disarm w/ analysis
Police Tactics Ninjutsu (basic & advanced)
Matt • November 19, 2011 11:11 PM
Due to circumstances that too lengthy to explain, I once found myself locked out of a house, naked with my girlfriend while she was housesitting in the middle of the night. Neither one of us thought it was a good idea to stroll over to a neighbor’s house butt naked so we decided to break a pane of glass on the door and hopefully replace it later. After about ten minutes of hitting it with a rock it was still solidly in once piece no worse for wear.
Eventually I did manage to get inside, but it didn’t involve breaking a window. Glass is much harder to break than people realize.
Vitro • November 20, 2011 4:33 AM
@Matt: That was very probably tempered glass. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was 5mm or 6mm thick (about 1/4″), though even 3mm glass can take quite a bit of abuse from a blunt object depending on how you hit it. To break it easily, you want to focus a lot of pressure on one small spot. So think hard and pointy. Oddly enough, you can break tempered glass by throwing other glass at it and getting the corner of the thrown piece to land on it, as we know from experience in trying to break the pieces that get thrown into the dumpster, but don’t want to break. There are always a few pieces that just don’t want to break no matter what. Not to mention those tempered pieces that explode for absolutely no reason when no one is anywhere near them… but I doubt many of those get out of the factory, though you might be able to simulate that by accident by putting hot things on a tempered glass table.
That said, there’s a reason why safety glasses are required where I work: when tempered glass breaks, it explodes. It’s a lot like popping a balloon: the pieces of it go flying. I’ve had glass blow up on me, even while holding it, but there’s no way I’d want to do that naked. Especially without something to protect my eyes.
Glass slivers suck They’re hard to see and they tend to break when you’re removing them, leaving even smaller pieces of glass in the wound. And tempered glass may be safety glass, but all those tiny pieces have nearly invisible sharp little pointy bits coming out of them. They’re bad enough if they get stuck in your hands. I don’t want to know what they’d be like in your eyes or private parts. Ouch. Just… ouch.
RobertT • November 20, 2011 6:30 AM
Last winter I had a piece of tempered glass in my shower explode just after I finished showering. The bathroom window had been open all day and it was a cold day and I had a hot shower, I didn’t bash the glass in any way, obviously I opened the door but that’s all.
Scared the **** out of me when it suddenly exploded beside me, if it had not happened with me their I would not have believed that 8mm thick glass like that could so suddenly explode.
Nick P • November 20, 2011 10:27 AM
“Due to circumstances that too lengthy to explain, I once found myself locked out of a house, naked with my girlfriend while she was housesitting in the middle of the night. ”
LOL. You just can’t say something like that without giving the rest of the story. So far, seems like it might be worth a lengthy explanation.
Clive Robinson • November 20, 2011 12:20 PM
“… if it had not happened with me their I would not have believed that 8mm thick glass like that could so suddenly explode”
It may not be due to the reason you think.
Some sheet materials that are effectivly a crystal or solidified crystalline substance can develope a “memory” for physical damage.
That is you smack them good and hard with something and apparentl do not do any damage. However some form of micro stress is built up in the substance and some time later something quite gental such as just picking it up with a suction cup causes all the stresses to come out at once with quite alarming exploding results.
It is one of the reasons plate and other sheet glass gets put through several annealing processes.
I’ve been told put not experianced it that galium waffers can and do occasionaly break due to this.
I’ve also personaly experianced it with the polycarbonates used for making CD’s etc. And it is one of the reaons given when a CD exploads inside a 25x + drive.
Vitro • November 21, 2011 12:46 AM
@RobertT: I can see why. You shouldn’t change the temperature of tempered glass too quickly. We see a lot more of that in the factory than I hope people showering see. You don’t even have to touch the glass at all, it will break on its own. Pieces of glass can explode even when no one is anywhere near them. There’s a reason that most glass breaks in the quench, where it gets cooled after going through the tempering furnace. Clive is right about stress building up, but temperature changes can cause that in their own right, with no one having pounded on anything.
That said, it makes me wonder why they didn’t use laminated glass in your showers? It’s the obvious choice, but maybe it’s too expensive. At least it doesn’t explode, though. It’s just annealed (AKA “raw”) glass with a plastic interlayer (usually PVC, but there are other plastics, including translucent ones and even some that are supposed to dampen sound). If you manage to damage it, lami will look smashed up, but it won’t break into pieces or come apart unless you manage to do something to destroy the plastic inside (we use fire or special cutting machines most of the time; a razor also works, but is more difficult).
As a side note, in your car, your windshield is laminated glass for that reason. Just imagine if your windshield would blow up in your face whenever a rock hits it. Your side windows, however, are tempered and you should be able to find a tempering logo somewhere in the corner of them telling you exactly what sort they are.
Fred • November 22, 2011 5:44 AM
Guys, with over over 20 years of security experience and self defence training I think you are being a little too pedantic with this author. Sure you can debate various aspects of what he said but in general, in context, his recommendations are extremeley sound, perhaps not for every situation, but for most.
I read years ago from Tony Blauer that you can “always talk a talker”. However I am sure there are those that will disagree. It is generally better to avoid situations but of course there are exceptions such as in the case of Glasgow (above), but if you read Geoff Thompsons technique of “ballooning” you will see that the author has pointed you in the right direction for such a scenario.
Christoph • November 22, 2011 12:16 PM
When reading the article, I wondered about the high stated risk. It was enlightening to read the Wikipedia article on crime rates in the US. The average homicide rate in the US, according to that source, is 4.8 per 100,000 population and year, compared to 0.9 in Ireland and Germany. Living in Europe, I wonder where this huge difference comes from (and I feel justified in not beeing afraid when walking the streets of many central European towns at night).
Judge Dread • November 22, 2011 3:26 PM
Do not defend my property? Pardon me while I pull and park two in your brisket, scumbag.
Running Away? • November 23, 2011 9:30 AM
Running away seems to be a bad idea.
“[Non-killer people can reliably carry out face-to-face killing] when non-killers are in groups, when they are under authority, or when an opponent is running away from them, all of which were circumstances Grossman identifies as those in which “normal” individuals might overcome their resistance to killing.”
David Brant • November 23, 2011 3:30 PM
Just one thing to say, not sure it’ll further the discussion at all.
I was the victim of an attempted robbery at gunpoint.
I was out painting my garage one day, and a guy came up to me and said “Give me your wallet”. My first reaction? I laughed. Who in the hell would have his wallet with him when he’s painting his garage?
My reaction didn’t sit well with the man. Only when he pulled the trigger did I notice that he had a gun pointed at my belly.
I don’t know whether it’s luck, or stupidity, that is to blame for the fact that — the gun never fired. It may not have been loaded; it may have been a toy, I really didn’t notice; it may have actually failed to fire. Whatever — it didn’t fire, and the guy had already begun to flee by the time I heard the click.
When I got around to calling the police about sixty seconds later, the would-be thief was long gone … but the police responded quickly, and with multiple vehicles. There had been an undercover operation going on in the neighborhood.
John Galt III • November 27, 2011 7:04 PM
Quote of the day—Sean Sorrentino
By: Joe Huffman Friday, October 21, 2011 7:23:22 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) ( Gun Rights | Quote of the Day )
Anti-social violence can be broken down into two categories, Resource crime and Process crime. A resource criminal is willing to kill you to get your stuff. A process criminal is willing to kill you in order to enjoy killing you. They have different motivations. If you give up your wallet to a resource criminal, you’re probably going to be ok. If you mistake a process criminal for a resource criminal and hand over your wallet, you’re still going to get killed because your wallet wasn’t what he was after.
The mindsets of both those that would commit violence against us and that of our opponents are so alien that many of us simply cannot believe it is possible. But it is.
There exist, and probably will always exist, people who get pleasure from causing harm.
The only thing which can be done when such a person engages in violence against an innocent life is to do exactly what our anti-gun opponents say should not be done. Violence should begat violence.—Joe]
Nick P • November 28, 2011 3:16 AM
@ John Galt III
I like the source article. The longer & more controversial one, that is. The point is accurate: regardless of probability, proper preparation & equipment can manage the risk of the few that will attack in typical ways. Having lived in “hood” areas, I met dozens of these guys a month. They would brag about their exploits & war spoils. Many had done time, but that didn’t matter (bragging rights, actually). Many, even felons, often carried concealed guns on them.
Only someone with a legal gun who was prepared to use it properly could handle these guys. If then. Their environment had made them something less than human in some ways. Legal risk doesn’t deter them. Jail didn’t change them. L.E.O.’s didn’t prevent (or often capture) them. They are a problem that can only be solved by mentally-prepared, trained, armed citizens. Then, they are no longer a burden on society. “Sad, but true.”
Clive Robinson • November 28, 2011 7:03 AM
@ John Gault III, Nick P,
You are bringing normal distrubution tail arguments to the table…
Yes there are people who are naturaly wired up to go out to kill for pleasure but by and large they are very thin on the ground these days. In times past they were important to the defence of a community from external aggressors often providing the “lead into battle”.
These “berzerkers” / “nutters” actually provide a catalyst for others who whilst their brains are wired up more normaly have a very poor aversion to risk. And again in times past they provided protection for the community and were between 20-30% of the general male population (remember life expectancy for men back then was early fourties).
Usually they were in their teens and twenties and represented a significant percentage of that population (ie over a half). It has been argued that the strange behaviour of teenagers that usually develops into risk taking sports is a hangover from this.
However most street and home breaking criminals are actualy career cowards with bravado, that is they basicaly want to get away with stuff of value, not suffer broken bones or oozing blood.
Thus they put up a front to provide distance between them and those who actually represent a threat to them. In nature a deep booming voice generaly discorages rivals not so well endowed irespective of their actual physical state.
However where gang culture exists and LEO presence is low it changes the game dynamics from modern society back to tribalism, it’s nolonger a case of “act tough to stay safe” the gang hierarchies usually have atleast on “nutter” who’s brain is not wired up correctly, and the gang members know that that person will turn on them and kill them if they don’t walk the walk as well as talk it. Often the nutter can be identified by their age, as unlike the other members who grow out of their teens and the violence the nutter is locked in by their brain.
Hence the “tail probabilities” you describe respectivly.
What you don’t cover is the victim type probabilities.
That is there is a question of the potential victims behaviour, ordinary people do not routienly see let alone practice violence. Even if they have had training they generaly don’t keep up the required level of fitness or practice in dealing with violence.
Often the victim has been selected as a victim because they look like they have an inability to fight back (or the opposit in the case of “nutters with something to prove”).
To be honest though most people are proto-victims simply because they neither pay attention or can run at a sprint for 300meters (effective maximum range for the majority of hand guns) and not colapse in a heap let alone take avoiding action whilst doing it.
Then there is the question of their mental performance, not only are they not paying attention, by far the majority of people are bystanders not reactors. They stand their with their mouths half open whilst their brain trys to deal with what their eyes are telling them, by which time their goose is cooked.
Thus they have lost the significant first few seconds, thus can not get the mace out of their handbag reach for the whistle or even use anything they actually have in their hands as a weapon. As for getting a gun out of a pocket or bag not a chance. Even those with the appropriate holsters forget to put the appropriate weights etc into their clothes etc to prevent fouling. As for “quick on the draw” forget it few people do the two or three hours daily practice required, look up the British SAS “Killing House” training to get an idea of what’s required, and even they stand down on rotation because you just cannot maintain the level of mental alertness.
The best weapon any potential victim (which is all of us) has is always first and foremost situational awareness, ie pat attention to your immediate environment and what’s in it. It gives them advance warning whilst their potential attackers are still sizing them up at a distance, and robs the attackers of the first few vital seconds.
And this is in it’s self a problem, due to lack of experiance the potential victim cannot tell an actual threat that has to have action taken, a potential threat which will not progress if proportianate action (such as crossing the road) is taken and what they think is a threat but is not.
As I’ve remaked before the best place to be when violence is about to kick off is somewhere else, preferably in a calm physical and mental state, without the fight or flight hormones pumping around your system potentialy shortening your life (stress is a way way bigger killer than violence even on modern battle field levels of violence). Those stress hormones have to be “burnt off” if they are not to do you longterm harm and that means hard excercise in most cases and most especialy not caffeine or alcohol.
But what distance is a minimum, well consider it beyond the effective range that an attacker may use to “project violence”. So beyond the mad dash with flailing fists (20meters), beyond the distance of slow run and slashing movments of knife wielding (50meters), and if they have one beyond the range of any hand gun they might be carrying (300meter). The problem with much city life is many people can be well within 20meters of you when you are walking on the street which is what the likes of some street criminals (pick pockets etc) rely on.
The downside of “carrying concealed” is “Walter Mitty” mentality even well trained soldiers suffer from the mistaken belief they are better than they realy are as the cautionary saying goes “there’s old and there’s bold, but never old and bold”. The old saw about “he who runs away lives to fight another day” is more likley to see you right than a view point of “I’ve done the course now I’m walking tall”. To be in reality, what the “Walter Mitty types” daydream they are, requires long hard and continuous training that very few are physicaly or mentaly prepared for, or if they are have the time for.
If you want to know just how bad the “Walter Mitty” effect is versus training, have a look at Afghanistan, most Afghan men carry loaded AK47’s, but few actually know how to use them even remotly effectivly. They have a habit of firing “John Wayne style” from the hip in “spray and pray mode” the result is the Talib have a very very high mortality rate, often running into a hundred to one against trained foot soldiers in non ambush fire fights.
However the Talib are learning and tend to prefere ambush attacks these days with heavy machine guns and RPG’s. So even with the open fire fight statistic the prefered method of dealing with Talib these days from the ground is precision use weapons such as 0.5 inch sniper rifles at and beyond 200meters, and smart weapons such as javelin missiles. Failing that from the air with other precision or smart weapons such as 70mm rockets, 500lb pound air burst iron bombs with smart guidance such as paveway IV or 1000lb+ iron bombs equipped with smart weapons such as the paveway II or JDAM systems. But at the end of the day it is a war of attrition and the Talib appear to have no difficulty in using money (from drugs), drugs, terror and indoctrination to find young male recruits to stand there and take a bullet for their cause.
Peter Maxwell • December 6, 2011 11:14 AM
@Clive Robinson at November 19, 2011 12:18 PM
“2, Glasgow handshake – 1, the same as a kiss, 2, “a knee to the happy sack” or “family jewels, 3, a boot instep slamed down on an adversaries knee cap.”
That’s a new one on me, and I was brought up near Glasgow.
There’s the fairly common “Glasgca kiss”, and the rather less common “Glasgca send-off” (used by criminals and invariably fatal).
@Nick P at November 19, 2011 7:12 PM
“Forget Glasgow stuff. Just learn Krav Maga or Israeli Ninjutsu weapon defense. There are numerous easy-to-use techniques for gun disarms.”
Erm, a Glasgow kiss is a colloquial term coined because of the preferred method of most Glasgwegian men for handling a fight, which in fairness works as you normally have a drink in one hand and the other steadying you on the bar 😉 Also known as “sticking the heid in somewan” or simply a “malkie”.
As for disarming people with firearms, it does take significant amount of training and even then difficult to do reliably. The subject is more concerning what the average person on the street could accomplish and what would improve their chances as compared with years of martial arts training.
@Clive Robinson at November 28, 2011 7:03 AM
“Often the victim has been selected as a victim because they look like they have an inability to fight back..”
That covers many potential situations very quickly: attackers almost always look for the weaker/easier targets, trick is to ensure that’s not you.
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