“Combat is an unusual experience for most of us, but then emergencies of any kind always are. However, combat does occur, and any fully educated person knows this and prepares for it. Despite what we may hear, combat is not the characteristic of any particular occupation or situation. It may come to a policeman, but it may just as probably come to a barber, a broker or a biologist. Accepting this is the first step in physical security. No one can solve any problem of which he is not aware.”
Jeff Cooper, “The Combat Mindset” in American Handgunner Annual, 1986
“If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.”
I don’t really agree with any party or philosophy 100% and I reserve the right to be inconsistent. As Emerson said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
But I must admit to often finding myself agreeing with some pretty conservative (even extremely conservative) thinkers on issues of personal protection.
While I am of two minds over how we treat criminals in the U.S. and about what sort of laws might better manage crime and reduce recidivism (relapse into crime) more inexpensively and without warehousing a big chunk of the population , I am crystal clear in my feelings on personal confrontation with crime or violence.
I’ve had my own small-scale run ins with violence. Lots of ass kickings as a kid (I was kind of a wise ass). I grew up in a blue collar family and fights were part of life. I brushed up against criminal violence a little as a young man, at the most bottom rungs of it, but I saw what was going to happen with those guys.
I’m also a student of history and I’ve studied both war and crime specifically.
Where wars break out, civilization breaks down and people are forced to rely on their own local capabilities to survive and avoid becoming casualties or victims. The worst in people comes to the surface and ordinary people are freed to express their most anti-social instincts.
Some people don’t need a war to let loose. The True Crime books are full of stories of people encountering the wrong person or persons at the wrong time and suffering horribly. We’re not just talking about the crazy (and rare) fringes here — its all on a continuum.
This knowledge has made me a little bit of a survivalist. Enough to spend a lot of time learning to fight. Of course there are other reasons, but that’s a big one. I have a very strong aversion to being a victim.
I don’t think you can rely on the police. There are not enough of them. And now and then, they are part of the problem. You can only be 100% sure of yourself and (hopefully) your friends and loved ones.
If you look at the history of crime, social unrest, and war, there are many incidents in which good people ran into the “bad” people and suffered very badly as a result. Names like Charlie Starkweather and the Manson Family and Ted Bundy and Edmund Kemper immediately come to mind. And events like the rise of the Fascists in Europe in the 1930s or the riots in the U.S. in L.A.
These events are rare but they happen. Shit will occasionally hit the fan and you might find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I don’t really take these concerns very far. I don’t have a bunker or an assault rifle. But my goal is always to be somewhat prepared. I don’t carry a gun or own a rifle but I know how to use them. I don’t (usually) carry a knife but I have some and I keep them sharp and am modestly competent in their use as a weapon.
This brings us to Jeff Cooper and his little “book,” Principles of Personal Defense. Its a very small book, only about 20 pages.
But it packs a punch. He says a lot of extremely important things in that small space that most people need to hear.