In Self Defense, Your Choices are Your Own; Take Full Responsibility For Them and Choose Well.

Reagan once said about his political rivals that the trouble with them “is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.”

This quote describes the political climate today just as well as it did in the 80’s, but it also describes much of what we hear in the world of self-defense. There is no shortage of “experts” that confidently make statements that may not be true upon deeper analysis.

One statement that I have heard repeatedly is, if a gunman puts a gun to your face and demands you give him your money, you can feel confident that he only wants your money and doesn’t intend to harm you because, “if he was going to shoot you he would have already done so.” I have heard high-ranking Krav Maga instructors and law enforcement officers make this claim. What an error! We can’t pretend to know the mind of anyone, let alone the mind and motivations of those willing to brandish a handgun (or other weapon). Could it be that the would-be killer simply wants to see your terror before pulling the trigger (and is using “money” as a means of getting particularly close)? The truth is, the assailant could have any number of motivations that may or may not change during your unwanted encounter.

To be clear, the reality is that if someone puts a gun to your head, you have no idea what their intentions are. You have to make a decision whether to defend, or comply, with limited information. If the perpetrator intends to kill you he may or may not tell you ahead of time. If he wants your belongings before he kills you, or just wants your belongings, he is likely to ask for them first instead of immediately pulling the trigger for one simple reason, he doesn’t know where your valuables are. Asking for your belongings makes for a quicker getaway, decreasing the likelihood of getting caught. If he pulls the trigger first and then must rummage through the pockets of an injured or dead body, he is more likely to get caught due to the sound of the firearm (alerting potential witnesses) and the inherent difficulty of looking for valuables which may or may not exist.

So, putting a gun to your face and demanding your valuables may serve one of many functions. This increases the likelihood of the perpetrator obtaining the valuables they desired with as little fuss as possible, and in the process, decreases the likelihood of getting caught.

If this scenario happens to you, you must make a decision whether to defend (based on the conditions presented to you) and in accordance with your personal ethos. Be careful not to base such decisions on well-intentioned but potentially erroneous analyses of perpetrator intentions by “experts.” The analysis and resulting decision is yours to make, and yours alone. And, the final analysis is simple: you must live (or not) with the aftermath of your decision.

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