To Arms!

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The title of this essay could be either a call to action, or a toast to weapons.  Either way, the purpose is to discuss the decision of whether or not, and to what extent, a person should be armed.  The author is biased in favor of being as heavily armed as is legal under any given circumstances, and has a hard time coming up with reasons for not being armed.

The Right of Self Defense

I would bet that nearly all of those that regularly visit SurvivalBlog will agree that a person has a natural right, independent of and senior to any legal system, to defend his life and property.  This audience would also tend to agree that this right extends to defending others who are under an attack that could result in their loss of life or sustaining great bodily injury. 

The perversion by government of the self-defense right, and the attempt by governments to create a monopoly on the use of force, is at the root of our problems with government.  There are many governments, such as that of New Zealand, that do not recognize a right of self defense.  The United Nations also has trouble with that concept. The assertion by governments of a monopoly on use of force and denying it to individuals, and the use of that force to coerce obedience, to seize property, and to take lives, is perhaps the greatest of all evils.

Denying that individuals have the right of self-defense is an amazing thing, but you hear "civilized" people make that argument all the time.  Once you have been conditioned to think that the right to self defense is even debatable, you might find yourself also debating whether or not you should even consider arming yourself to do so.  If you are worrying about whether or not you should or can arm yourself, then this essay is aimed at you.


Humans have big brains, and are bipedal, so that they can maximize the use of "tools."  A review of the scientific literature makes it clear that "tools" is a PC alternative to the word "weapons."  Humans are hard-wired to use weapons, and being interested in perfecting that ability does not make you uncivilized, it makes you more human.  Being disarmed makes you a slave rather than a citizen, a human beast of burden, who differs from a plow-horse only in that a human slave is also a "tax-payer."

Many people have an innate abhorrence of weapons, and regard any act consistent with owning or using a weapon to be inexcusable.  Weapons guru Jeff Cooper coined the term "hoplophobic" to describe them.  The views of such people are ignored in this paper, because such irrational sentiments are of no interest to evolved humans who believe in individual freedom and personal responsibility.  (Note: I am often seized by a perverse desire to see the onset of a TEOTWAWKI event because hoplophobes and their progeny will be among the first to succumb, greatly benefiting the species.)

To defend your life and property you have to be willing to fight, and fighting involves weapons.  The array of weapons ranges from the natural weapons of the human body that martial artists seek to develop, to the group-served weapons and machines fielded by modern armies.  It would be nice to live on a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and use it for your personal protection, or to have a fleet of armed drones at your disposal to eliminate your enemies, but that would mean enslaving millions of tax-payers and forcing them to pay for it.  Let’s take a look at what is possible and effective for the individual to use for his own defense and those of his family or tribe.

Threat Assessment

A professional security assessment, whether involving the geopolitical strategy of a superpower or the defense of a small antimony mine in the ungoverned regions of Honduras, is built around the definition and analysis of a threat.  As in all strategic exercises, we begin not with what we think we know, but with the right questions, which in this context would include:

  • What/who is the threat, and its objectives, means, weapons, and capabilities?
  • What is the realistic probability of attack, and can you change that by deterrence/avoidance?
  • If there is an attack, what is the most effective response/defense? and,
  • How will the threat evolve if and when you successfully deal with an attack?

Security assessments for major commercial facilities in dangerous environments are often substantial documents requiring hundreds of man-hours from a diverse group of experts to compile.  For our purposes, the model can be condensed into a shorthand form that, with practice, can be effectively applied to any situation.  Let’s look at a few situations:

Wild Animal Attack – This can include mountain biking in Orange County, where lions have attempted to feast on bikers, or the backpacker entering grizzly country in Yellowstone, or the older couple taking their grandchildren to the local park where a pair of pit bulls is running amok (don’t freak – I like pit bulls, grizzlies and cougars!).  The probability of such an attack is normally small, but indeterminate; an attack might be avoided or deterred depending on the circumstances (aggressively resisting a mildly hungry cougar) or avoided with timely local intel (avoiding a recent grizzly kill noted on a map for you by a ranger).  If you can’t rely on avoidance/deterrence, then I prefer a large-caliber rifle (my 500 A-Square works great on cape buffalo), but that isn’t usually convenient and might not be legal, so a large-caliber pistol is the most practical defense most of the time.  Evolution of the threat isn’t a consideration – you aren’t likely to shoot a grizzly to death one day and find another one wearing Kevlar the next.

Muggers – The most commonly portrayed self-defense situation is that of a person innocently going about their business in public and being robbed, assaulted, or jacked.  Again, you might be targeted or randomly selected, and although avoidance/deterrence is possible, it can’t be depended upon.  The self-defense handgun you train with most regularly is the right weapon to carry here, but if it is illegal to carry a pistol, and you chose to refrain from doing so, then by all means equip yourself with the appropriate number of knives and a sturdy walking stick. Threat evolution is a factor – muggers learn to avoid people who might be carrying, and might also focus on gun-free zones.

Home Invasion, Burglary – When you are sitting at home, or lying in bed, you probably feel pretty safe, and you might be, particularly if you have a good security system, which should include dogs and guns. On the other hand, if it were possible to determine all of the independent variables, you could decide that you are more likely to suffer an attack at home than you are out and about. The safest approach here is to have firearms strategically located around the house, with appropriate measures in force to prevent misuse by children or incompetent adults.  If you carry concealed during the day, then why not continue to do so after you get home? 

Unlawful LEO Activity – What if you are assaulted by law enforcement acting outside the law.  I have many friends in law enforcement, who are just as upset about these incidents as we are.  If you think this is uncommon, then check out these web sites: here, and here.  Note also a disturbing recent

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