Today’s post is all copy/paste from a write up a fellow did on Arfcom some years ago. It began a thread with a lot of discussion. It is one of the best threads on AR15.com in the years I have spent as a member of the website. Several times over the years I have emailed and IM’ed the author for purposes of reposting here and have never gotten a response either way. With that in mind I am sure he would rather as many people as possible read this and I will post a link to the thread.
Lately in GD we have had two different board members find themselves looking down the barrel of a gun along with the GF of another ARFCOMMER in street robberies. Also Blitz308 got shot all to pieces last year.
While many say it is better to be lucky than good, no one is lucky every time. In this post I am going to attempt to provide some insight into street encounters. Other may have different viewpoints. I am not here to argue. I will say some of the comments I have seen posted in the threads about this sort of matter make me realize that while some ARFCOMMERS are clearly street veterans others are not. This is really for those who are not.
First, my info. I worked in the street of one of America’s most violent, dangerous cities for 15 years. I usually worked in the worst part of that city. I spent 15 years in patrol. I liked patrol. It was wild. Most of the time I worked in areas covered in ghetto. By that I mean large housing projects combined with run down slum housing. I have worked all shifts. Later I became an investigator including a robbery investigator. I have spent countless hours in interrogation rooms talking to hold up men. I know them. I am still an investigator but have quit playing the Robbery game because my family was starting to forget what I looked like.
Some may object to me calling hold up men “the enemy”. You can call them whatever you like. I can assure you however they are as deadly an enemy as you will find anywhere but the battlefield. Even many soldiers probably lack the viciousness and utter disregard for life most hold up men possess.
No one wakes up in the morning one day and decides to become an armed robber. It is a gradual process that requires some experience and desensitizing. Before a man will pick up a gun and threaten to kill people who have done him no harm in order to get their usually meager possessions he has to get comfortable with some things.
He has to get used to seeing others as objects for him to exploit. He has to accept he may be killed while robbing. He has to accept the felony conviction for Robbery will haunt him all his life. He has to accept he may need to kill a completely innocent person to get away with his crime.
This is a process that starts with stealing candy at the corner store as a child. It progresses through bigger property crimes that may also involve violence. But one day G gets tired of selling his stolen property for nothing and decides it would be better to steal cash. Cut out all that tiresome sales stuff.
Keep in mind many petty thieves, auto burglars, residential and commercial burglars, paper thieves, and hustlers will get to that point and decide not to become armed robbers. Most will. It is a special group of outliers who decide threatening to kill people for a few dollars is the way to go.
Once a man starts armed robbing he has crossed a line most won’t. Don’t forget that when you are looking these bastards in the eye. Their decision to kill you is already made. Your life means nothing to him. Only his does. His sole motivation for not killing you is he doesn’t want a murder case. He has already accepted he may pick one up though.
We hunt hold up men around the clock once they are identified. We send teams of fire breathing fence jumper/door kickers to find them. We will bring their mother to the office and convince her she is going to jail if we don’t have Junior in our office in an hour. We have her call her son crying hysterically for him to turn himself in before she is arrested and held without bond as a material witness and her home seized for harboring him. Most of the time they won’t. Fuck their own momma.
We will hit all Juniors friends and family’s houses. We make it so no one will harbor him. He is so hot no one will let him in their house or even talk on the phone with him. We put money on him so he knows he is right to be betrayed and set up. We do this because of one thing.
That thing is they WILL kill someone if they keep robbing. That is why the city is willing to pay all the overtime. They don’t want the murders. Think about that when you see Junior coming. The more robberies he does the closer he is to killing someone. Maybe you.
The guys who hit you on the street are gang members. They are Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, Crips, Sureonos, many others. They do not see themselves as part of society. The street is all they know. They don’t expect to live long or stay out of prison. They take a delight in your fear and suffering. They are warped individuals for the most part. They can be extremely dangerous.
One time we were locking up a hold up man and having a conversation about how they target their victims. I was saying they pick easy ones, another guy was saying they preferred easy ones but would take anybody.
I pointed out a uniform Officer there was an NFL size guy to that hold up man. Frankly the dude was a monster. I asked hold up man if he would rob him. He said “If I needed the money”.
Chances are good you are a law abiding person except for maybe a little light weed smoking and maybe driving a little drunk every once in a while. Most of your life you have been taught to be nice and don’t point guns at people. You are the exact opposite of your enemy who was taught just the opposite. Remember a lot of street life is like prison life. Who’s the man is everything. Violence is the currency of the street.
You do not possess total disregard for the lives of others and do not want to kill anyone. You are concerned about the ramifications of shooting someone. Your family, your possessions and finances on the line. Your enemy has none of these concerns.
The laws that keep you from carrying your gun in bars or where ever mean nothing to your enemy. Your reluctance to shoot someone works to is advantage. His greater experience in street violence and the element of surprise is on his side.
Everyone should call their local FBI office and get a copy of Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted. When it first came out it was ground breaking because it demonstrated to academics and other elites what street police knew all along. What did it show in interviews with cop killers? Nice guys finish dead. That’s right. Most of those offenders commented that the Officer they killed set himself up to be killed because of reluctance to use force early in the encounter.
You can probably find it on line now. A lot of the victim Officers were a lot like a lot of other people, normal people. They were the opposite of their enemy.
Am I advocating becoming the enemy? No. I am saying the person who is robbing you has certain traits, attitudes, and background. That is all.
Dynamics of Encounters
Hold up men target victims on the street in an impulsive, opportunistic manner. They see someone and make a quick judgment call on whether to rob them. The time between when you are targeted and they are on you isn’t long. Therefore, situational awareness is everything.
If you see G coming you are in good shape. If you don’t you will be the victim who says “He came out of nowhere”. No he didn’t. There are many tricks to watching out but simply watching your back is the main thing. Watch your back. If you do it enough it becomes second nature and you won’t even realize you are doing it.
Watching out is great but unfortunately many self defense courses stop there. You have parked you car in a well lit area, are aware of your surroundings, and looky here, here comes three guys across the parking lot and they start to kind of fan out.
When you lock eyes with G the very first thing you need to do it indicate you have a weapon. It doesn’t matter if you do or not. If you are a woman put your gun hand in your purse and keep it there. If you are a man fan your shirt or coat tail with your gun hand. Make it clear to dude you are mentally prepared to draw and making sure your gun is clear. This will many times result in an about face by dude. It is the single best robbery avoidance tactic IMHO.
Not long ago I was walking down the sidewalk in my town to go get my car. I was holding a folding chair in my gun hand. A car slow rolled past me with 4 heads in it. The guys in the back seat turned around as they went by looking at me. They went a little farther and U turned in the street.
Here they come back. As they started to slow down I looked at them with as contemptuous a look as I could muster and switched the chair to my left hand and flicked my shirt tail with my right hand. They just drove on mad dogging me.
In another case I was at a Christmas party and walked a girl to her car about 3 am. As we said our good-byes two guys were walking across the parking lot. One went behind a dumpster. I though he was peeing. He came out from behind the dumpster with a bottle.
As they got closer I stepped clear of that girl and unzipped my jacket at those two guys. When I did the guy threw down the bottle and they walked by cussing at me. If someone challenges you after you indicate you are armed say “I don’t have a gun”. Then they will know you do.
Here is an opposite story. A girl my brother knows was walking her dog when a guy approached her. She was polite. Mistake. He talked to her about the dog and said she had pretty hair and reached out and touched her hair. She did not slap his hand down or aggressively object. Mistake. He asked her if her dog bit and she said “No”. At that time he slapped the shit out of her, drug her into a wooded area, and raped her.
The answer in the street is always “No”. Can I ask you something? No. Do you have a cigarette? No. Can you tell me what time it is? No. The answer is always “No”. Don’t be nice. Stop the encounter as soon as it starts.
When to draw
Despite warnings I often see on the Net I have yet to encounter an instance in which a hold up man called the police to report his intended victim threatened to shoot him. Thugs do not want to come into contact with the police. They may already be wanted or realize chances are good they have been identified in a recent robbery. Or what ever. They are not going to call the police if you draw on them.
Supposed two guys are approaching you in a parking lot and do the classic fan out maneuver. You indicate you have a weapon by clearing your gun hand and fanning your jacket at them. They are not discouraged. DRAW!
I am not saying you should pull your gun out, assume a Weaver stance, and scream “That’s close enough motherfuckers!” What I am saying is draw your gun and hold it beside your leg as you start to move to cover. I am very fond of telephone poles. Anything will do though. They will see this. They will remember they have to be somewhere else. They will not call the police.
Then you can just put your gun back in the holster and go back to whatever you were doing like nothing happened. Why? Because nothing did happen. A happening is when shots are fired.
Do not hesitate to draw. If you are somewhere you are supposed to be and someone appears who is not supposed to be there like a closed business show him the end of your gun. Could it be Mother Teresa looking for her lost cat behind your closed business? No it is some motherfucker up to no good. He won’t call the police to report he was prowling a location when a guy ran him off.
When to shoot
The time to shoot is immediately upon seeing his weapon. You are not a police man who has to try to arrest the guy. No need to scream at him. No exposure while you yell for him to drop the gun.
In deer hunting the experienced hunter takes the first good shot. May not be the perfect shot but it never is. Novices pass up a doable shot waiting for a better shot and then the deer is gone. Take the first good shot you are offered. Hopefully your alertness and hostile cues will prevent you ever having to fire. But once you see his weapon, shoot.
If a guy is coming at you with a gun in his hand shoot him. Shoot him right then. If you don’t shoot first you may not shoot at all. I have known more than one person who was shot and received life changing injuries and also shot their attacker. Their only regret was not shooting sooner. Like Bill Jordan said “Nothing disturbs your enemy’s aim like a slug delivered to the belt buckle area”.
Guns and weapons
The handgun is the best weapon you can carry easily. I understand it is not always possible to have one due to laws, restrictions, whatever. I am not telling anyone to disregard laws about carrying weapons. Each person has to decide for themselves what they are comfortable with. I will say there is no substitute for a pistol when you need one.
Also if you can not be trusted with a pistol after a few drinks you can’t be trusted with a pistol period. Booze is liquid bad judgment no doubt but it shouldn’t make you into a damn moron. If you are a moron sober I don’t know what to tell you.
Types of guns and ammo are always debated and probably always will be. I have seen people shot with all common calibers. My conclusion is if you hit someone between the collar bone and the tip of their ribs three times with anything, they are handled. Bigger is better but something is better than nothing. Get your front sight on his shirt and stay on him as long as he is standing with whatever gun you have.
Just have a gun with sure fire ammo. Draw early and fire immediately upon seeing his weapon. That course of action is about all you can do to up your odds of ending things favorably. Guns like the Ruger LC9, SIG 239, Glock 26/27 are examples of guns small enough to carry but with enough power and capacity to be useful. Do not be afraid to use a French Lebelle if that is the only gun you have. A gun is a gun. I like a Glock 19.
We all want the best training. It can be expensive if you are having to pay for it and it can be hard to find the time to do it. There is a whole lot of BS out there. What can you do? First, pistol handling is not rocket surgery. If you will learn the basics and practice on your own you can be fine. Smooth draw, quick pairs, reload. If you know those things well you can be OK.
I know a young man who shot down two hold up men in 2010 at very close range while he and his GF were walking home from the store. He in Wyatt Earp like fashion ignored the fire coming from the gunman and killed him and wounded his accomplice. He nor his GF were injured. He like many was willing to give them the money until he picked up on nonverbal cues that because of his GF they were not quite satisfied with the money. He had a Glock 27.
He had only the most basic of training in gun handling but did do some draws and some dry fire a couple times a week and live fired maybe once a month. That basic skill combined with knowing what to do was enough. He shot at the first possible moment despite having let the guys get the drop on them. When the gunman turned his head because a car drove by that was the opening. A split second is a long time sometimes.
Work on some one hand shooting at close range. That is a skill not as popular as it once was and you want to use two hands when you can. Often you can find yourself doing something with your off hand though so be able to shoot with one hand out to 5 yards or so.
If it comes to pass you are forced to shoot someone do not feel bad. When the police come just tell them a guy threatened you with deadly force and you were forced to fire. I know there are bad police out there in some parts of the country who don’t support self defense. I can’t help you with that.
Do not talk to them until you have your attorney present. Now most young guys don’t have an attorney on retainer and you may have no idea who to call. That is OK. You will figure it out but in the mean time don’t talk about what happened other than to say you were forced to fire. You don’t have to be an asshole just remember wait for your attorney.
Hopefully you will not give a statement for a couple days. Remember if you are put in jail that doesn’t mean you are charged. Most places can hold you 48 or 72 hours on a felony before charging you or letting you go. Breath deep and get an attorney.
Expect to never get your gun back. You may get it back one day but maybe not. Do not buy expensive guns for the street. Buy yourself a nice sporting gun if you want a nice gun. Keep your street guns basic. The factory Model 10 Smith and the GI 45 have done a lot of work over the years and aren’t fancy.
We all live in different worlds. My world is filled with felons and gang members. Violence is common place. No one would be surprised if one of their friends called and said they shot a hold up man at a place of business or parking lot. In the past when I made calls the fact that the guy who is beating his GF is also on parole for 2nd degree murder flavored my world.
You may live in a smaller, less violent place where shootings seldom occur and it would be a rare to shoot a hold up man. I envy you and will be moving to a place like your town as soon as I can.
But be advised no matter where you are a hold man is going to be about the same. Whether he is a home boy or a guy who just exited the interstate into your town and needs some quick money. He is going to have a vicious streak and no regard for your life. Treat him like he treats you.
Giving them the money, doing what they say, all that may work but there is no guarantee. If you have never read Jeff Cooper’s book The Principles of Personal Defense I suggest you order a copy immediately. It is a short book but summarizes a lot of important things.
Last year we had a trial here regarding an armed robbery that occurred. Three or four guys took a young couple from a parking garage near a college out by some railroad tracks where they raped, shot, and beat them. Their lives will never be the same.
The lesser thugs all turned on the trigger man at trial. The trigger man’s statement in the paper was after all that had happened he felt like he was a victim. Think about that. That is the mindset you are up against.
In addition to the original post some other active police members added some further thoughts. These from John_wayne777.
You can’t understand the way they think because they aren’t human. I say that with every ounce of sincerity I can muster. They are not human. They are best thought of as an alien species. They do not share or appreciate anything approaching a value system you or I would recognize. Their formative years were spent in an environment that was utterly alien to anything you or I ever lived in. As an example, yesterday I attended a lecture by William Aprill that dealt with what he termed “Violent Criminal Actors”, essentially the people who would be classified as sociopaths. He told the story of a 15 year old boy who got in a fight on a basketball court and lost. When the boy’s mother found out that he lost, she handed him a pistol and told him “WE don’t go out like that!”…and the boy returned to the basketball court and killed the other kid that beat him up. When Aprill did social work he would often stop and take a look at a neighborhood before a visit to a home. On one visit he was in an urban area and he noticed a group of young kids (8-10 years old) that were playing on a basketball court that didn’t have any hoops or backboards. The game they were playing involved grabbing one kid by the scruff of the neck, forcing him to his knees, then making the finger gun to the back of his head and mocking blowing his brains out execution style. After each repetition of this game the kids laughed hysterically and did it again.
Would your mother hand you a gun and direct you to go kill someone? When you were running around in your Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn years were you basically rehearsing street executions? I’m going to guess the answer to that is a big “No.”
That’s why you don’t understand criminals…because you’re thinking of them as human. Think of them as an alien species that just happens to be vulnerable to gunfire. They don’t think like you. They’ll become highly insulted if you don’t instantly cooperate in a robbery and feel that they are perfectly justified in killing you because…and I am not making this up…you’re the one who fucked up. They were minding their own business pulling off a perfectly routine robbery and you fucked it all up by not doing what you were told. That means it’s your fault, and you’re the one who was evil. Sociopaths consider themselves to be a breed apart from the rest of humanity. The rest of the people on this planet are nothing more than livestock to them. They have no more appreciation for human life than we have for the life of a bug when we stomp on it. In fact, they actually enjoy victimizing other people. They’ve done surveys of these guys and asked them about motivations for committing crimes and the answers range from giving them a sensation of power to actually giving them a feeling of accomplishment. You know how you felt when you graduated high-school or when you managed to get a raise? That’s how these guys feel when they cave somebody’s head in with a shovel.
From Blitz308’s AAR thread….which everybody should read…:
“Most violent criminals have been predators for a long time. They’ve actually developed a fairly sophisticated sense for what prey acts like and the characteristics of people who have fangs. They can also pick up on subtle body language cues that others might miss…like members of a small group of people all looking at one guy signaling unconsciously that he’s most likely the guy with a plan. A bad guy can be sophisticated enough to pick that up. In fact, it’s something that retired police officers or off-duty cops can encounter as people who know them can look to them in a bad situation betraying their badge.
Some bad guys react to that by fleeing. Some react to that by getting violent. You never know which you’ve got in front of you ahead of time.
Bad guys test and prod with all sorts of schemes and behaviors they’ve picked up from observation or from their criminal brethren whom they often team up with for the purposes of victimizing people. (Like the scumbag who shot Blitz did with that fat slag) To believe they are all mindless idiots who have no skill or sophistication is foolhardy. Nearly every violent criminal is or has been at one point a con man in another criminal endeavor…playing people’s emotions like a fiddle. Witness the number of bad guys who turn from attempted murder into blubbering beggar if the tables get turned. It’s not remorse…it’s a strategy designed to work on people who have a functional conscience like most of their prey has. They seared their conscience long ago.
The incident with the girl who was raped by the bad guy who touched her hair is a perfect example of that. He used a ruse to close distance (the ruse is a common tactic of street thugs), crossed boundaries to see what her reaction could be…all sizing her up for assault. He saw the girl and in that moment decided he’d see if he could rape her. That’s how opportunistic these motherfuckers are. Don’t be nice or polite to people who look like thugs. Don’t be nice or polite to people who come at you while you’re all alone.
Example: There is a fellow out there by the name of William Aprill who has spent his adult life studying criminals as a psychologist. In one of his lectures I attended, he related that criminals have been surveyed on various things including why they commit violent crimes. One of the top responses for why they commit a violent act was a “feeling of accomplishment.”
Now that’s abstract, so let me anchor it in reality: Stop for a moment and think about how you felt when you graduated high school…or graduated college…or got that promotion…or bought your first house…or finished that difficult project. Something difficult that took you time and effort and that challenged your abilities, the completion of which signaled to you achievement of a goal or attainment of a status you’d been hoping for over an extended period of time. Do you have that feeling in mind? Good.
That’s how a bad guy feels when he bashes somebody’s skull in with a fucking shovel.”