There are loads of self-defense myths out there, ranging from silly to outright dangerous. The ones we’re talking about today fall into the latter category. While they might seem harmless on the surface, the problem with giving self-defense advice is that if we get it wrong, someone could die.
Self-Defense Myths 1: Criminals will Run Away from a Drawn Gun
Like most of the myths you’ll see here today, they’re all wrapped around a grain of truth. For instance, it’s true that most defensive gun uses (DGUs) don’t involve firing a shot. But the problem is when that fact gets used to justify doing something dangerous, like carrying without a round in the chamber. It goes something like this: “most DGUs don’t involve firing the gun, so it’s okay if you do xyz bad idea.” XYZ bad idea can be anything from having sloppy marksmanship skills, carrying a Curio and Relic gun, using cheap ammo, or whatever it might be.
However, the truth is that not all criminals will run away. Most violent criminals have had a gun pointed at them before, so you should be mentally prepared for what to do when waving your magic talisman…uh your gun at them doesn’t have the desired effect. This especially matters if you drew your gun in a situation where deadly force isn’t clearly justified and your attacker says “oh yeah, what are you going to do, shoot me?”
Speaking of when deadly force is or isn’t justified, that brings us to the second of five self-defense myths:
2. You Shouldn’t Carry Pepper Spray and a Gun
Of our self-defense myths, this one is frustrating. Pepper spray is an especially effective tool in a civilian context. Now, you need to use a quality spray, like the one from POM, and you should understand how to use it. But, there’s this myth that goes around where if you’re carrying pepper spray and a gun, you’ll get charged with a crime if you shoot someone specifically because you didn’t try to use your less-lethal option first.
That is just patently false. You would get charged with a crime if you shot someone when deadly force wasn’t justified, that’s true. However, if you’re in a situation where deadly force is justified, there’s no legal requirement for you to try and use a lesser level of force first.
The fact is that pepper spray is very effective for civilians, and is a lower level of force than punching someone in the face. In the civilian context, the best application for spray is to “spray and run” where you use it as a distraction to create distance and escape.
Self-Defense Myths #3: Printing Doesn’t Matter
Here’s another one of our self-defense myths that is very common. You see this a lot in Facebook groups devoted to concealed carry. Someone will post a picture of their carry set up, and someone else will comment that they’re printing. Printing is when you can see some part of the outline of the gun through the concealment garment.
The original poster will say “well printing doesn’t really matter since most people are so pre-occupied that they won’t notice.” And again, like some of our other self-defense myths, there’s a grain of truth in there. Suzy Soccermom in Publix probably won’t notice if you’re printing a little bit, because she’s got two kids and is scrolling TikTok while she shops.
But we don’t carry guns because of Suzy Soccermom. We carry guns to defend our lives against dangerous, violent criminals. Some of those dangerous violent criminals are very good at spotting concealed guns. And since we’ve seen plenty of videos of people open carrying getting targeted and having their gun taken away, we know that just carrying a gun isn’t a deterrent. Sure, it might deter someone, but it also might make you a target for a serious violent criminal who sees that you’re printing and goes “neat, free gun.”
Plus, printing can expose you to civil and social consequences. Being discovered with a gun in an area where you’re not supposed to have one could lead to being fired or at worst, jail time.
4: You’ll Have time to Chamber a Round
The only people who believe this are people who still think that chamber-empty concealed carry is a good idea. Crime happens fast, and the badguys get a vote how fast it happens. In fact, in a lot of instances of violent crime, you’ll already be behind the reaction curve. So why give the criminals an advantage by making it take longer to get your gun into action?
Self-Defense Myths #5: Criminals Don’t Know How to Shoot
One of our more interesting self-defense myths comes from people who have created a fictional idea of a bad guy in their head. Sure, some criminals don’t know how to shoot. But here’s the problem with that. What happens if you’re training to defeat a criminal who can’t shoot and runs away from your gun…and the person who attacks you is a seasoned, professional criminal who’s willing to use high order violence and knows what they’re doing?
Well what happens is that criminal kills you. There are plenty of bad guys that train and know exactly what they’re doing. And the worst thing about real world self-defense is you don’t get a vote on which kind of criminal attacks you.
Bonus: Having a Gun and Knowing how to Shoot is Enough
The final entry in our self-defense myths is a bonus, but it’s a culmination of what we’ve been talking about. The biggest self-defense myth is that if you have a gun and carry it, you’re prepared.
You’re not. Self-defense is so much more than carrying a gun. Situational awareness, verbal judo/de-escalation skills, hand to hand skills, and even knowing when to run away are all parts of it. There’s also medical, route planning, and so much more. But because we’re gun people, we tend to focus on the tool. We should also focus on the soft skills that will do far more for you.
Your preparedness doesn’t stop when you stick a gun in your pants. It doesn’t stop when you walk off the range. The truth is, it never stops. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy life. What it does mean is that it might be time to make an honest assessment of your skills. Are you really prepared? Or do you just have a gun?
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