A resident in North Carolina successfully used a handgun to defend his home against two intruders. One of the intruders was found in a vehicle with life threatening injuries: the other fled on foot and was captured. The reporter at WCNC comes to the exactly opposite conclusion of what most people would, and felt compelled to give the following advice. . . .
Police say the answer is clear — you should never fight back. Their biggest piece of advice — DO NOT RESIST!
Here are other ways to protect yourself:
— Try to stay calm: Don’t make any sudden movements to upset the robber.
— Tell the robber about anything that might surprise him for example, someone is on their way home.
— If you have to move or reach, tell the robber what you’re doing.
— And of course, try to get a good look at the robber so you can describe them later.
The reporter would have us believe that robbers never want to rape anyone, beat anyone, or kill anyone. I expect reporters to be exposed to reasonably frequent reports of assaults, rapes, and murders. To give such advice, a reporter must believe that those people only were hurt… because they resisted!
From acclaimed criminologist Gary Kleck, using the National Crime Victimization Surveys, you can see that this advice is incorrect. From pulpless.com:
Based on nationally representative samples of crime incidents reported in the National Crime Victimization Surveys, victims who use guns for self-protection were less likely to be injured or to lose property than otherwise similar victims who used other forms of self-protection or who did not resist at all. For example, among robbery victims who used guns, only 17% were injured and only 31% lost property, compared to 25% inury rates and 88% property loss rates among victims who did not resist at all, and 33% injury rates and 65% property loss rates among all robbery victims.
Kleck goes on to explain why some police do not advise people to resist crimes. He writes that some officers may be politically motivated to push gun control; others, because they see a disproportionate number of victims. Successful resistance of robberies is under-reported, compared to completed crimes, by a 3 to 1 margin.
Not all law officers agree with the reporter’s opinion. Many give exactly the opposite advice. Sheriff David Clarke took out public service announcements to advise people to resist. From npr.org:
With officers laid off and furloughed, Clarke says, calling 911 and waiting for police is no longer your best bet. “You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you could fight back. But are you prepared?” he asks. “Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family.”
Here is the table from Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, the seminal work by Gary Kleck:
As a firearms and concealed carry instructor, I will not make a blanket recommendation that victims “always” resist, or “always” be ready to “give them what they want.” Life is much too complex and nuanced for such overarching pronouncements. Every situation is different, and may call for different responses. Individual cost and benefit ratios need to be constantly evaluated.
That said, there are psychological, emotional and financial benefits to resisting and not being a victim, even at the cost of injury. Feelings of powerlessness, impotence, self-doubt and rage can linger long after any physical scars have faded.
Missing from the analysis above, is the cost and benefit to the rest of society. When criminals are “given what they want,” they are taught an important lesson: crime pays, and violating others rights is a rewarding activity. This leads to more crime. People respond to incentives.
When crime is resisted, criminals learn that crime is a dangerous activity. They eventually learn to avoid it. Most criminals give up their criminal activities as they age. If a criminal is captured, wounded, or killed, during a crime, the potential number of future crimes is lowered.
This is not a difficult concept to master. Two hundred years ago, Thomas Jefferson quoted Cesare Beccaria’s Essay on Crimes and Punishment. Here is the English translation:
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one.”
Gary Kleck’s statistical analysis reinforces what people have known for all of mankind’s existence.
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch