Tag Archives: mindset

The cost of killing

‘too bad they didn’t kill him’

‘needs to get more practice at the range so they have better aim [to kill him]’

–Internet common-taters

Often when a story surfaces in which an armed citizen wounds but doesn’t kill an attacking criminal, statements such as that will quickly show up in the comments section on the Internet. Persons who make such comments have no clue about the cost of killing someone. Even when there are no legal and financial costs, the emotional, psychological, and social costs will be considerable.

As in every class I attend or teach, I learn something from the students. Yesterday was no exception. I attended, as a student, the Proactive Mindset class taught by The Complete Combatant. The trainers graciously allowed me to give a short presentation at the end. One of the things I mentioned was the psychological cost of killing. The incident I cited was that of the citizen near Chattanooga who shot an old man with Alzheimer’s. The killing was ruled justifiable and he was not prosecuted. Coincidentally, someone who knows him was in the class. When the class was over, she came up and filled me in on how things developed after the incident. Suffice it to say that the emotional costs to him were enormous and continue to this day.

The cost is not only borne by the individual who does the shooting but also by their family. At some point their children are going to go to school and one of their classmates is going to taunt them with ‘my daddy says your daddy is a murderer!’ No matter how justifiable the shooting may be, someone in the community who feels that self-defense is an unacceptable concept will express their feelings to their children and the children will pass it on to your children.

Even one of the great police gunfighters of our time, the late great Jim Cirillo, bore the cost. Despite the fact that all his shootings were eminently justifiable and he didn’t suffer psychologically, he still had to pay the social cost. When his superiors recognized his bravery and devotion to duty, they recommended him for promotion. The promotion was turned down in the upper echelons of the NYPD because they said it would send the wrong message to the department and the public. ‘We don’t promote people for killing.’ This is one example of what Massad Ayoob calls the ‘Mark of Cain syndrome.’

Now imagine what it’s like for people who unintentionally kill a member of their own family. A parent who kills their child or someone who kills their spouse will probably never get another good night’s sleep as long as they live. The saddest part of these incidents is how avoidable they are. A flashlight and the ability to verbalize ‘who’s there?’ would have prevented almost all of them. A small flashlight was included in the goodie bag given out for Proactive Mindset. Great idea; everyone should have a couple of flashlights. Good ones are very inexpensive now.

That’s why our priorities should always be:

  1. Avoid,
  2. Escape,
  3. Confront,
  4. Resist

When we jump to Confront and Resist before we absolutely need to, we’re being emotionally hijacked by the situation, our pasts, our current influences, and our egos. Allowing an emotional hijacking is no more a recipe for success than going along with any other kidnapping attempt. There’s always going to be a very high cost.

Internet common-taters take note; you’re not the ones who will pay the cost.

Mindset and Decision Making

Then I guess it will just be time for him and me to be with Jesus.

Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics related a mind-boggling story recently about one form of mindset. He posed questions to some friends in the context of encountering two burglars in their home. The concept of giving scenarios and asking people questions about their anticipated reactions is often far more effective than pontificating about what they ‘need’ to do.

The friends are a couple who have a 10 year old son. The wife is a petite woman who is a practitioner of boxing; good for her. What Caleb did was to posit a scenario of initial violence and asked her what she would do. She replied she would fight them. Since the scenario was two burglars whose combined weight was three to four times hers, he continued escalating the scenario in his questions. In the event her resistance was overcome by the two burglars, the sequence of escalation he gave was:

  • her being badly beaten in the fight,
  • her being raped,
  • her child being raped,
  • both of them being murdered.

The lady’s reply to the escalation of murder was the above quote about ‘being with Jesus.’ She apparently had accepted that as an outcome. However, her husband, who was listening to the conversation, did not find that acceptable. At the time of the conversation, they owned no weapons, other than perhaps a butcher knife. While butcher knives can be used to defend one’s family, especially when wasp spray doesn’t work, it’s unpleasant and quite messy. The questions and subsequent conversations led to a better understanding of their options and possible decisions for defending themselves.

Make good decisions model

A few days later, I related the story at dinner to another friend. His comment was “people with that kind of mindset really don’t understand what the events leading up to ‘being with Jesus’ are going to be like.” The beginning (assault) and end (being with Jesus) can be grasped but the process in the middle is much harder for people to understand. The Petit family murders  are an example of just how horrible the process can be. I’m not sure if Caleb had the Petit murders in mind as he was talking to the couple but his sequence of events was very similar to the horrors the Petits were subjected to.

It’s hard for good people to understand the depravity that exists inside many criminals. That’s the main reason I teamed up with William Aprill for our Violent Criminals and YOU course. The more decent a person is, the harder it is for them to grasp just how evil and FITH some criminals are. A mental health professional is in a better position to describe that than a trainer who teaches physical skills. It’s also why we’re offering a discount when bringing a family member; family members are part of the decision process.

My friend at dinner also made the comment “Two days sitting in a classroom is a long time and might be tiresome.” That’s understandable, which is why William and I are teaching in alternating two hour blocks of instruction. I’ve taken many many weekend classes and I know hearing the same voice continually for 16-20 hours can be a chore, regardless of how engaging the instructor is. Splitting it up will help keep things from being monotonous in our class.

He and I also talked about teaching decision-making. For a long time, I have had reservations about how the industry teaches decision-making. He’s been to a Force on Force class I was a role player in for many years, so I asked him “In the crawl/walk/run training progression paradigm, where does Force on Force fit?” “Run” “How many repetitions of decision-making did you get in those eight hours of training?” “Six or seven”

His answers reflect my reservations about our current methodology. Giving students a few ‘Runs’ with a simulated gun in a FATS machine or with live role players does not represent a particularly effective adult teaching methodology, in my opinion. What we essentially do is throw someone in the deep end of the pool a couple of times and then call them a combat swimmer. ‘What’s wrong with that picture?’ as the saying goes.

To improve on this, I have devised a process where students will get dozens of repetitions of decision-making with the full range of the personal protection options available to them in a few hours. The patent application for the process is not yet complete, so I’m not at liberty to disclose more than that. I can say it will be an experience unlike anything else in the industry. Because the full range of options will be available, the process is NOT limited to gun owners. Excluding the full range of options is a major weakness in our current methodologies and my process corrects that. Family members may have a different opinion about what the appropriate options and decisions are, at least for them.

Mindset and decision-making; think about them hard, regardless of what training you choose or choose not to take. My research into Negative Outcomes has made me realize how much more important they are than the weapon or caliber debates the gun community loves to indulge in.

I have a friend who will kill you with a .25 Lorcin and there’s nothing you’ll be able to do to stop him.

–a well-known and respected trainer

Violent Criminals and YOU course information