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Finding your why: what are you willing to fight for?

You probably won't have the luxury of boxing gloves in a real fight.

All too often, I hear someone comment that they respect my right and decision to carry a firearm but they themselves could never use a gun on another human being. They're utterly convinced that if push came to shove, they'd freeze and be unable to fight back. They wouldn't be able to hurt another person. They would rather be killed than risk killing someone else. And as alien as that mindset is to me, they might be right! But we can help them change that.

It seems that plenty of us are resistant to the idea that we have a right to exist without being harmed by a criminal. We might fully support the police using force against criminals, but don't believe we could bring ourselves to do it. We agree that self-defense is a sacred human right, but we aren't sure we ourselves have what it takes to use a gun when it counts. We might even question our own right to survive at the expense of a criminal's life.

Those of us who have cultivated a defensive mindset might scoff at the notion that someone could actually believe they have no right to survive an attack. But it's a real concern. I met a lady who confided in me that while she knew a would-be mugger or rapist was wrong to force her to comply with his demands, she wasn't at all sure that she had a right to forcefully stop him. Didn't his life matter too? After all, being assaulted, as terrible as it would be to endure, is potentially survivable. Killing an attacker is the end, the final judgment. Do ordinary people have the right to exact that judgment on the violent criminals who intend to prey on them? Most of us in the defensive training community would emphatically nod our heads yes, but that attitude is far from universal.

Laugh if you must, but this victim mindset is very real, and I find it to be distressingly common among exactly the kinds of folks who are most likely to attract the attention of a predatory criminal: the trusting, kindhearted, somewhat naive people who typically lack good situational awareness and are reluctant to listen to the gut feelings that are screaming at them to GET AWAY from the bad man who is showing obvious signs of violent intent.

Definitely not sketchy or scary...

The good news is I can usually help these people find their warrior spirit by asking them a simple follow-up question: would you be willing to shoot someone to protect your spouse or child? And the answer is almost always some variation of, "Of course! I wouldn't let anyone hurt my family." From there, I begin to carefully describe hypothetical settings and situations in which they might have to use lethal force against an attacker. What if they were babysitting a friend's young child? ("Of course! I could never let anything happen to a baby!") What if their elderly parent were dependent on them for care and medication, and if something happened to them, the parent would be left unattended, perhaps for days? ("I couldn't let my dad suffer! I guess I'd have to fight...") And so on. By helping them envision situations in which their healthy moral code would force them to act with swift and effective violence against an attacker, it becomes progressively easier to help them see that they, too, are deserving of life and safety--far more deserving, in fact, than the predator who is trying to kill them.

If you have someone in your life who is resistant to learning more about firearms and the world of shooting, consider that they may not have fully thought about the various scenarios in which they would be solely responsible for protecting innocent life and the safety of their loved ones. When we help people see the need to act as their own first responder, we begin to break down the walls they've built around their natural civilized reluctance to use violence against another human being. Violence should always be our very last resort, but it must be on the table as a possible necessity for self-defense. Sometimes, a gentle but persistent conversation about the "why" of defensive fighting can help someone see that their life is precious and just as worthy of protection as that of their child or spouse. When we help someone identify what they'd be willing to fight to protect, we show them a new way of thinking about crime and violence. We empower them to fight back.

Be patient, be persuasive, and stay safe out there!