The worst possible self defense habits…are statistically successful?

I like data, but this time a five year old article caught my eye because evidently someone else likes data:

If you’ve been on the “gunternet” you’ve probably heard all the conventional wisdom about self defense with a firearm. You should always carry with a round in the chamber. You should never rely on a weapon stored “off body.” And you should practice, practice, practice to draw and shoot in one fluid motion so you don’t get shanked by a guy doing the 21 foot bum rush. Failure to observe ANY of these critical tactics will most assuredly get you killed on the streets.

How does that conventional wisdom stack up to actual data? Not well actually.

 the majority of incidents (52%) took place in the home. Next most common locale (32%) was in a business. Incidents took place in public places in 9% of reports and 7% occurred in or around vehicles.

That makes sense, people are generally at work or at home. The random concealed carrier stopping a mall shooting can and will happen, but the odds say that if you need to use your firearm, it’s because someone is looking to do bad things in your home or workplace. The odds of getting killed “on the streets” are actually pretty low.

Overall, shots were fired by the defender in 72% of incidents. The average and median number of shots fired was 2. When more than 2 shots were fired, it generally appeared that the defender’s initial response was to fire until empty. It appears that revolver shooters are more likely to empty their guns than autoloader shooters. At least one assailant was killed in 34% of all incidents. At least one assailant was wounded in an additional 29% of all incidents. Of the incidents where shots are fired by a defender, at least one assailant is killed in 53% of those incidents.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that if you don’t carry a high cap 9mm you’ll get killed in the streets. Remember about how “the streets” wasn’t the most likely place to need a gun to defend yourself or others?

The firearm was carried on the body of the defender in only 20% of incidents. In 80% of cases, the firearm was obtained from a place of storage, frequently in another room.

Wait, you mean that people with good security hygiene can actually hear someone trying to break into their home? Or notice when something is off in their workplace? And then have actual time to retrieve a stored firearm? I was informed that not carrying on my body 24/7 would result in immediate death “on the streets.”

Reloading was required in only 3 incidents. One of those involved killing an escaped lion with a .32 caliber revolver, which was eventually successful after 13 shots.

Lets not assume that a .32 caliber revolver is now a certified big game option, but it does serve to point out that all bullets are (eventually) deadly, and in over 99% of the cases studied here, a “combat reload” wasn’t necessary.

Multiple conspirators were involved in 36% of the incidents. However, there were no apparent cases of getaway drivers or lookouts acting as reinforcements for the criminal actor(s) once shooting starts. At the sound of gunfire, immediate flight was the most common response for drivers and lookouts.

When multiple conspirators were involved, the first tier was a two man action team. If another member was available, he was usually the driver of the getaway car and remained in the car. If a fourth conspirator was involved, he was stationed immediately outside the target location as a lookout for the police or other possible intervening parties. The outside conspirators do not generally appear to be armed. It does appear that the trend over the period has increased from one weapon in the action team to two weapons.

The largest group of violent criminal actors was 7, a group that committed serial home invasions in Rochester NY. An alert and prepared homeowner, who saw them invade an adjacent home, accessed his shotgun, and dispatched them (2 killed and 1 seriously wounded) when they broke in his door.

So encountering a group is unlikely, but if so even that old 1911 with a 7 shot magazine will literally give you a fighting chance as bad guys are generally not interested in being shot. Even that old 5 shot Chief’s Special, or Charter Arms 5 shot 38 are more than likely going to be enough for the actual defensive situations you may find yourself in (doesn’t hurt to have more, but the data doesn’t support “if you don’t have 15 in the stack you’ll get killed on the streatz!”

Incidents rarely occurred in reaction time (i.e., ¼ second increments). Most commonly, criminals acted in a shark-like fashion, slowly circling and alerting their intended victims. The defender(s) then had time to access even weapons that were stored in other rooms and bring them to bear.

But..but…TUELLER DRILL!!! Seriously I’ve been told that if you don’t carry in condition one and maintain a constant “condition yellow” you’ll get killed on the streetz! I’ve seen all sorts of gunternet personalities wax long and eloquent about how you need to be able to draw and fire a shot to beat the “Tueller Drill” time. Statistically, that’s as much BS as “duck and cover” was for actually doing anything in the event of an actual nuclear attack.

This methodology might be described as:
1. be aware,
2. be willing to fight,
3. have a weapon accessible,
4. be familiar enough with the weapon to employ it without fumbling,
5. when ready, communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, to the attacker that resistance will be given, and
6. if the attacker does not withdraw, counterattack without hesitation.

Wow, seems like pretty common sense stuff, right? And while these things ARE common sense they are also things you can avoid training on.

You NEED to be proficient at using your firearms. Period. End of story. What that means is being able to load, safely handle, shoot, unload and clear said firearms. Everything above that baseline is great, and I encourage people to attend every gun school they can afford, and even compete if they can. The Tueller Drill? Do it if it makes you feel better, but don’t insist that not doing so will get anyone “Ki11ed on dah streatz!”

You NEED to practice your awareness. This can be as simple as paying more attention to your surroundings, but it is also as simple as listening to your gut. I’ve cleared my personal home numerous times because my wife had a bad feeling, and never once have I found a bad guy lurking therein. But, ALWAYS listen to your gut. Just because she couldn’t verbalize why she felt uneasy doesn’t mean there wasn’t a change in the environment that triggered that unease.

You NEED to be able to shoot another human being or living creature (possibly escaped lion). If you have never killed anything before, it will be a significant emotional event unless you are a sociopath. I pray that you’ll never have to kill a human being, but if you have to, I hope that you can mentally prepare yourself before hand. If you hunt, or have slaughtered animals for food, you are better prepared than most because you’ve seen a living, breathing, being turn into a lifeless carcass.

Now if someone is a disciple of Cooper and can spout off all the “number” conditions for carry and all the “color” conditions for awareness, that’s great for them. Knowing a color code doesn’t make you any better at actually being more aware if you never actually practice being more aware. If you are not a disciple of Cooper (or Keith, or Ayoob, or Leatham, or Golob, etc) then there is no need to go out and find someone to mentor under.

Train for proficiency with the firearms you have. Statistically they are good enough to keep you alive. If this means you spend the money to have an actual expert give you training to get better, by all means spend the money.

Train for better awareness than you currently have. No need to go all zen and achive “zanshin” and “mushin” just put down the electronic distractions in public and keep your ears open at home. Just don’t hire Kato to randomly attack you like Inspector Clouseau did…

Now, what if the statistical odds don’t apply to you? Such as if you are a police officer or a person who is at risk for random attacks (like Republican lawmakers playing baseball)? Then DON’T listen to what I say, because that particular situation isn’t the statistical norm, now is it? Use a little common sense to make sure that your security is adequate to your personal risk level.

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3 Responses to The worst possible self defense habits…are statistically successful?

  1. B says:

    This is why I’m glad I bought that box of grenades back in ’08… Ifi can’t pull the pin and lob then I deserve to be on Darwin awards. Only problem is when I appendix carry it looks like I have a chubby all the time 😀


    • rthtgnbs says:

      Ah yes, I remember that period of instruction well, “Listen up maggots, once the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend! Never throw a grenade UP the stairs when clearing a house unless you tape it to a sand sock! Never take cover from a grenade using the walls of a tin shed! Are there any questions?”


  2. Pingback: Condition 3 carry revisited, again. | Wandering Through The Night

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