Ever heard the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? It should be engraved on concealed carry licenses all across the country.
You’re always better off taking small precautions (regular immunizations, checkups, and eating properly) to prevent getting sick than you are spending lots of money trying to get well after the fact.
In self defense terms, it means that your best chance of winning a conflict is to not be there when it happens.
Nothing is certain
There’s something you need to internalize if you’re going to actually keep yourself (and your loved ones) safer: in any conflict, in any defensive incident, there is a greater-than-zero chance that you’ll lose.
I want you to stop and really think about that for a moment. You can lose. No matter how fast your draw, no matter how short your split times, no matter how Special your Roland, there is always the chance you won’t be fast enough or your aim not true enough to win. If you believe your mad gunfighting skills will save the day because you’re just that good, always remember that there’s always someone out there who is better than you are. Or more ruthless than you are. Or simply luckier than you are.
Let’s say the worst doesn’t happen; you survive, but with grievous injuries. Are you prepared for the medical bills? You say your medical plan is great — but what happens if you’re out of work for an extended convalescence? Will your job wait? Can you still make your mortgage payments without an income?
If you survive the encounter unscathed, you may still get taken out by the legal wrangling afterward. There might be a criminal trial, and even if there isn’t you might face a civil trial. Even if you win both, you’re going to be out many tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars.
The legal and financial damage is just the beginning. You might live in a state where civil lawsuits in self defense cases are limited (most common) or completely forbidden (much less common), and if you do that’s great. If you don’t, you might have one of the self defense insurance plans that are on the market. None of that will save you from the inevitable societal disapproval you’ll face.
Ready for your friends and neighbors to disown you? Ready for a job loss, and difficulty finding a new one? It happens, more commonly than you’d probably believe. Yes, even in gun-friendly “conservative” states like Texas.
Knowledge is power
I mention these things not to scare you away from carrying a defensive firearm or having one in your home. I bring them up because the very best way to win a fight is to not be in one, and I believe a very good motivator to put in a little extra effort toward that end is understanding the alternatives.
Reducing your victim profile isn’t something most people want to do, because the peer pressure to display what we have is intimately tied into our consumerism-based economy. Learning about spatial and threat awareness, putting into practice safe habits at home and away, all take some time and effort. Developing the courage to say “no” when friends want to go to stupid places to do stupid things is a tough thing for a lot of people to do, but it’s a core part of actually being safer.
Not letting your concealed carry firearm affect your decisions is also important. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me “I won’t go there without my gun”, I wouldn’t need to teach classes and write books to make a living! The point all those people miss is that if there are places you won’t go without your gun, you probably shouldn’t be going to them at all. Don’t allow the gun to give you false confidence to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do. (Back to stupid places and stupid things.) Putting yourself in places and situations that you know to be unwise only increases the chance of a fight you might lose.
There are many other things you can do to reduce the chances of being in a spot where you need to defend yourself with lethal force. Start with examining your attitudes, then consider your habits and behaviors from the standpoint of risk avoidance. Learn the skills and perhaps get the equipment you need to anticipate a threat, deter the aggressor, detect a threat before it becomes immediate, and then consider how you might respond to and recover from an attack.
Luck counts, but you can’t count on luck
As my friend and fellow instructor Georges Rahbani tells me, his experience is that luck may be more than 50% of the outcome in a defensive shooting. Note he doesn’t make the distinction between good luck and bad luck, because it might go either way. You might get lucky, or you might be unlucky, and there’s no way to know in advance which it will be.
The best way to put that luck on your side is to do whatever you can to keep from needing to use it. Yes, have a defensive firearm (if you’re allowed to and are so inclined.) But also study a good defensive martial art; learn about pre-assault cues and social violence; listen to your inner sense about danger; study how criminals choose their victims; install proper lighting and door reinforcements; travel with the means to secure your hotel room; and all the other things I’ve talked about in this blog and on my PDN Training Talk Show.
If for some reason lethal violence still visits you, that’s when your skills with your defensive firearm come into play. If, however, you do all you can do to prevent the encounter, your chances of needing your gun are dramatically reduced.
And so are the risks of losing.
P.S.: I’ve recently published the book that can help you with the details of self defense and preparedness: Anticipate, Deter, Detect, and Respond. Prepping for Life: The balanced approach to personal security and family safety helps you figure out what dangers you face, and keeps you on track with all the things you should be doing to reduce that danger. Lots of books can tell you what to do in an emergency, but only Prepping For Life is built on helping you plan to avoid it!
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