Resolve (January 19, 2004)

From Reader Todd, who (unfortunately for him) lives in the People’s Collective of New York:

My first instinct is to agree that all households should be armed; yet I have a question about it. If a goblin comes strolling into my home in the middle of the night and I come out of the bedroom loaded for such, isn’t it possible that I have created a distinctly more dangerous situation for me and my family if I don’t/won’t have the resolve to drop the scum bag? I mean, most good Americans like me have never shot anybody and I am concerned that I may get stage fright. Practicing at the range is fine for honing the technical aspect but what about the emotional end? If this is an issue, how do I prepare for it should the situation arise?

It’s an excellent question, and one I should have addressed a long time ago.

Civilized people, quite correctly, shrink from causing harm or death to another human being. This is perfectly normal, and is indeed laudable. (Sociopaths, of course, have no such compunction, which is why they themselves should be killed.)

And quite apart from any legal issues, the moral issue of taking a life is a weighty and terrible one.

Probably the best way to approach this issue is to look at how an army teaches its recruits to kill, and it follows three different paths simultaneously.

The first is through rigorous and continuous practice. As Todd points out, practice hones the technical aspects of shooting, which is well and good — it behooves everyone to shoot accurately, and competently.

Continuous practice, however, achieves another objective: it turns an unnatural act into an instinctive one. This is why professional golfers spend countless hours on the driving range and in the practice bunker: they’re training their muscles and instincts to make the shots as automatic as possible, so that under the stress of competition, the stroke will be identical to the thousands of ones they’ve practiced.

The same is true of self-defense. Under circumstances of great stress, your instincts take over — and those instincts should include the firing of a gun, that will have come about through hours of practice. There is no other way.

Any other outcome is a bad one. Hesitation may cause a struggle for the gun, and poor marksmanship can have undesirable consequences, too.

And practice with a “silhouette”-type target, not one of those silly “bullseye” things.

The second way an army teaches its recruits to kill is by dehumanizing the enemy. Whether done through propaganda or with dispassion, the message is: “This guy is trying to kill you. If you don’t kill him first, he will.”

By making the first statement, the concept being conveyed is that the person attacking you is no better than a wild animal — and a carnivore, at that.

This, by the way, is one of the reasons I don’t refer to violent criminals as anything other than “goblins”. To me, anyone who will resort to invading a person’s home, for whatever reason, is no longer a human being, but a predator — actually, a raptor (the literal meaning of which is “taker”) of life and/or property.

As such, I’m trying to strengthen that perception among my Readers. Unfortunately, as Western civilization has progressed, one of the less-desirable aspects thereof has been to instill in people’s minds that violent criminals are just misunderstood, or that their actions are somehow excusable.

They aren’t, and this fiction is one of recent vintage. All through the millennia of history, men have treated violent criminals with violence, either in situ or through civil punishment. Plato, for instance, talks of execution as a “deterrent”, not to deter others, but “so that the criminal may not strike again.”

It is only in the past fifty years that killing bad people has become a Bad Thing, with sophistic arguments like one being “judge, jury and executioner” — when the criminal, just by virtue of his own actions, has already condemned himself to lie outside the pale of civilized society.

I’m trying to reverse that stupid trend of “criminals are humans, too”, because they aren’t, and because ultimately, that mindset benefits only the goblin, while being deletorious to society as a whole.

Finally, the army will teach its recruits to kill by instilling camaraderie  that by killing the aggressor, you’re protecting others close to you. (The self-defense aspect, one would hope, would be instinctive — although in these modern times… oy.)

Fortunately, this should need little work on the part of a citizen at the wrong end of a burglary or robbery. Protection of one’s loved ones is one of the primal instincts, and suppression of that instinct (“leave it to the police”) is one of the basest constructs ever imposed on mankind by our supposed “civilization”.

Richard Pryor once remarked that after making the movie Stir Crazy on location at Arizona State Prison, he was really, really glad that prisons exist. He illustrated that by quoting an actual interview with a convicted murderer:

—“Why did you kill all the people in that family?”
—“Cuz they was at home.”

Think about the uncaring sociopathy in that statement. Now think of that same scumbag playing his ghastly little games of death with your kids. No, you don’t know that the goblin you confront in your bedroom hallway has that on his mind: but he’s already made the first step towards it by invading your house.

Statistics indicate, by the way, that the more burglaries a man commits, the more likely it is that he will eventually turn violent towards someone resisting that crime—in his mind, because he’s got away with it so many times before, it’s not your property, it’s his, and you’re at fault for trying to prevent him from taking what’s “rightfully” his.

Remember that protecting yourself and, more especially, your loved ones and property is not only a right, it’s your duty.

And for all those pussy laws which babble about “undue violence”, “proportional violence”, “life-and-death situations” and the like, I have only this to say:


Now quit reading my fevered rantings, and get your ass out to the range. You need to practice, because as I write this, some scumbag may be planning to rob your house or murder your family, tonight.


  1. Way back when, I remember reading of a US Army study. I recall it was during WWII they observed an alarming propensity of green troops to freeze and NOT shoot at the enemy. Now this did not conform to the training of the time. All the time and energy in Basic and field maneuvers in the the States. It was a waste of taxpayer money ! So they commissioned a study. Conclusion ? Turned out that kids who had hunted prior to military service had no compunction about pulling the trigger. Otherwise they tended to freeze up. Basically the classic schism betwixt farm and city folk.

    So to your questioner, my humble recommendation is that he take up hunting. First small game and varmints. Then after sufficient time afield, progress to big game. Deer, pigs, bear etc. “Buck fever” is the field equivalent to what he is expressing. It can be overcome. Plus hunting puts protein in the freezer. Hell, isn’t the whole locavore movement “cool” now ?

  2. Very good points, an important step in learning to use a gun for self defense is working through the mental process of shooting to stop a person who has put you and your family in danger. My dear old dad told me years ago, almost 60 years ago that if you are holding a gun on someone you never let them get close enough to take it away. He said that’s what a gun is for and if they come to close you shoot them, it’s that simple.

  3. Thank you for taking the time and using the space to exhort your readers to learn to fire a weapon to protect themselves and their loved ones, but aren’t you preaching to the choir?
    Take a friend to the range (one you trust implicitly), next week take another good friend, ad inf. Soon you’ll have a club of like-minded people ready to defend themselves, their families, their homes, and their nation, as well as putting their elected representatives on notice which way the winds are blowing.
    Take your wife (hopefully the one person you trust implicitliest). I’m not whoring for SigSauer, but I purchased the 9mm P320 for her, now she delights in bringing home her targets to show me that I need more practice and she’s begun taking a few of her good friends to the range to show them how much fun they can have “punching paper.” One enterprising lady, provides the group with 11×14 photographic images of boggards; a former Liberal, imagine that.

    1. Boron, the post is more about mental prep than firearms practice. As Gun Prof’s comment above suggests, practice alone won’t suffice when it comes to self-defense.

    2. It may indeed be “preaching to the choir”, but… 1) Sometimes the choir needs to be preached at, and 2) This is an argument that the choir can learn, and take outside to where folks might not get any preaching what so ever.

  4. Cooperate, and one is at the mercy of the criminal. A group who on the whole lacks intelligence, impulse control, and empathy.
    A friend of mine from high school was a bank teller. She and another lady were held up at the bank, and cooperated. The goblin then marched them both to the vault, and shot them both in the head. One teller was doa, and my friend wound up as a quadriplegic.

    Better to have a fighting chance, and better still to have an advantage.

  5. Those who break the rules/laws of society and of society’s God, have forfeited their right to exist in that society. Tribal units would exile someone and kill them if they attempted to re-enter. Kill them where they stand, and their exile is permanent.

  6. People are just so stupid.
    I’m not talking about Reader Todd, or anyone in this thread. I was arguing with someone on facebook (sigh…. Yes… I still masturbate with Tabasco as lube….. I’m a jackass….) who was using the old lie that ‘guns are never used for self defense, because if they were, why, we’d hear about it.’ First I told her about the ‘Armed Citizen’ column in the NRA magazines, which she poopoo’d as I knew she would. Then I related one of a few personal stories, this one (short version) where I and the woman I was dating were being verrrrrry closely tailgated by drunk-n-disorderly at around 2am (when the bars close here in Texasland), and I turned around (she was driving, her car) and waved him off (using all fingers, honest), which his drunk ass took as some sort of slight to his weenis.
    She took the turn towards her place, they followed and got beside us, and he had his window rolled down and he started yelling at us. I could almost smell the beer through my window; I rolled down, told him to back off, and informed him he was pushing us into the oncoming lane, which he didn’t even realize. She turned into her apartment complex and he followed, then she (head smack) pulled into an area where he could block us in. Not the brightest, which is why I did not wife her.
    So, problem one is Blazer full of drunk assholes who want a fight. Full did I say? Full. 2 assholes in front, with a 3 rectum rear seat carrying capacity of rich, Corinthian leather, and they all began getting out of the truck (truck? car? What do you call a Blazer/Jimmy, anyway?) to kick MY ass.
    Problem 2: This was 1993. Texas did not pass a concealed carry law until ’95. Uh-oh.

    Solution: That very day, I had purchased a handgun, and had taken it to my dad’s house and we went and shot it. I had it in the floorboard in the box, loaded magazine but not in the gun and nothing in the pipe, when the incident occurred.

    Happy day: As the douchenozzles made their unsteady Sortie de Blazer and approached us, I got out, jacked a round into the chamber and aimed it at the driver and said, “I suggest you get the fuck back in your car, and get the fuck out of here before we all have a really shitty night.”
    One of them showed an inkling of intelligence by saying, “Fuck, he has a gun!” and they all followed my instructions quite well, thankyouverymuch.

    So. Problem solved, violence averted, we went to the apartment and I had a nice, long diarrheic shit.

    Now, I told you all that, to tell you this. This stupid idiot I argued with on facebook… I told her that this is the type of thing that happens. That I didn’t call the cops, because I was afraid I might get in trouble, because of the idiotic ambiguities of the ‘traveling’ clause in Texas law, and her response was something along the lines of:
    Well, you escalated the situation by using a firearm.

    WTF, you silly cuntflap, there were 5 drunk assholes, me, and a tiny Canadian, what were we gonna do, get blood and maple syrup on them till they saw the error of their ways? I de-escalated the situation by the mere presence of a firearm. Had they continued their threatened violence, I would have had no problem with shooting the closest, most threatening person to me and done a rinse/repeat until the threat was over, but luckily, that was not necessary.

    Escalated. WTF is wrong with people? Jebus.

    1. Many people are idiots. There are so many I’ve talked to who poopoo this very scenario, or say that I don’t have the right to take the life of some asshole who invaded my home.

      Of course, said idiots live is a whiteotopia.

  7. The correct answer is a combination of the themes mentioned above.

    1. Just have a firearm – 90% of self defense situation involve firing no-shots because criminals are looking for easy marks and retreat as soon as that is the case (this was the case in the one time I have been involved in a home defense situation).
    2. Practice and do it in as practical a way as possible. Under stress, you will fall back to what practice, so practice right even for “stupid” stuff. (Example: there have been police offices who stopped in the middle of a shootout to pick up brass because the range rules in the department required picking up all brass before moving between firing stations.)
    3. Hunt if you can. First of all it is fun, second off all if you are used to shooting live moving things in a dynamic environment, then you will be used to shooting live moving things in a dynamic environment when your life is on the line (duh).
    4. Have the firearm with you, with ammo and available. The perfect arm that is not with you when you need it is useless. Crap will happen when you do not expect it (because if you are like me, if you expect something bad to happen somewhere, you will make sure you are not there.)

Comments are closed.