Martial Arts & Owning Guns (Social issue)

yet again john t reed has already articulated my thoughts at length: ... se-course/

Owning guns

My thoughts

I've thought about whether to learn how to do martial arts or buy guns (since a lot of people do these things, including friends of mine), but we live in such a peaceful society that you are statistically almost never going to need to use those abilities unless you go looking for trouble. You could spend the rest of your life learning such skills: escaping handcuffs, building fires and shelter, leaping from moving cars, and all the other stuff in the "Worst-Case Scenario Handbook".

What's more worrying is that if you spend a ton of time learning those skills you may become likely to use those skills in an inappropriate situation. This is why front-line soldiers get screwed when they return to the US: they've developed all these automatic aggressive responses to the feeling of adrenaline and can find themselves in prison for the rest of their lives when they kill some harmless guy over a dispute over the price of weed [actually happened; I need to find the article].

When I was a kid I had several experiences in which I got so angry I lost control and started hurting friends of mine in a rage (i always was so ashamed afterward that i never forgot the experiences and quickly learned to control myself in such a situation) ; so I can EASILY see how I (or anyone else) could ruin my life in an instant through an inappropriate use of deadly force. It's just not worth it. If you're in danger, you're probably best off running away and letting the police deal with it. The most useful martial arts are probably 1) the ability to steer clear of danger before it finds you, and 2) the ability to sprint away from danger if it DOES find you.


It's really, really easy to kill people. What's amazing is that people don't get killed more frequently. You need to be careful to avoid putting yourself in situations in which you might get killed or kill someone else (which would probably also ruin your life). This is the main reason I don't like bicycling or driving in crowded areas (e.g. in and around cities): it seems like it's just a matter of time until most people get into some kind of tragic accident.

ATM I think the reasons people learn martial arts and buy guns are the following:
1. It makes people feel more powerful / safer.
2. It can give people an adrenaline rush (from the movement, exertion, feeling of danger, noise, etc.).
3. They happened to find themselves in a social environment in which that's what people do (e.g. growing up in the country, being the son of a martial artist).

Another thought I've had is that if someone decides to start a confrontation with you and you have to quickly make a decision about how to respond, you're probably best off assuming that the person has arranged the situation to be to their advantage, and thus you are best off running away until you can make a smarter decision about when to engage them (if at all). For example, the Jarnac strike is something I heard about once on the History Channel and never forgot about, because it seems like the most reasonable way to go about defeating an opponent: train over and over again to execute a single decisive blow, and then execute that well-trained response as quickly as possible, before the other guy can do very much. What you SHOULDN'T do is just start swinging away with an unfounded confidence that you'll prevail (or attack out of anger). Provoking the enemy to attack out of anger is a classic way of getting people to do foolish things.

Other's thoughts

  • John T Reed
    • [talking about a gun-shooting course he went to:]
      There is also about 15 minutes total of what I think is a dubious way to approach a room with a closed, but not locked, door and which you suspect contains a criminal waiting inside that room to shoot you. It seems obvious to me that the BEST way to approach such a room is NOT to approach it AT ALL. See my review of the book We Were One about Marines clearing houses during the second battle of Fallujah. After getting many Marines killed by using the kick-the-door-in SWAT approach, the Marines started just attacking the houses with tank guns and recoilless weapons. No more Marines died. [NW: My understanding is that in WW2 the flamethrower existed specifically for dealing with this kind of situation.  I think in Iraq they used white phosphorous as a less-horrifying-looking alternative.] In a civilian situation, it is probably best to bring in police dogs, hostage negotiators, infrared detectors, pin-hole cameras, and so on. Amateur entry with a gun, even after taking the Front Sight course, strikes me as criminally stupid. The Front Sight segment on entering a closed-door room was more an exercise in showing us why you should NOT enter such a room than it was on HOW to do it. They make it sound good at the Web site, but the whole idea is simply suicidal. Even if one of your loved ones was in the room with the criminal, few would know enough about the details of exactly who was where inside the room and exactly what was happening to justify violent entry.
      The message from the Front Sight instructors—generally former police—was that shooting a human being will change your life for the worse regardless of whether you were in the right. I believe them. Rick Morello said it was not uncommon for the shooter to have to move far away and change their names putting themselves into a sort of self-witness-protection program to avoid retribution from the relatives or friends of the person who was shot—or the guy who was shot himself if he was not killed

People whose lives have been ruined by using deadly force

Note: I don't have all the details about the situations below. It could very well be the case that some of these people should be in prison for what they did. But I've personally been in potentially-dangerous situations and it's been my experience that you need to make decisions extremely quickly with extremely limited information, and that as a result it may be reasonable to give the person defending himself the benefit of the doubt when judging his adrenaline-fueled behavior.

Bernhard Goetz got 8 months in prison and a $43 million civil judgment against him for shooting four guys who tried to rob him:

This guy got life in prison for killing someone who tried to rob him at gunpoint: ... le/3571542

this cop accidentally killed a guy just by running up and pushing him: ... ure=relmfu ... nt26m.html

this guy got life in prison for shooting a guy who was rushing at him with a knife: ... und_fails/

george zimmerman could end up in prison for life for what seems to have been an appropriate use of deadly force:
[my reading of the evidence makes me think trayvon took the confrontation from a verbal one to a physical one; it also isn't mentioned very often, but trayvon was found with a screwdriver and a good amount of jewelry in his backpack at school just a few months before this incident, so it seems plausible that some of the burglaries in that neighborhood could have been trayvon's doing. Again, it isn't a sure thing, but IMO the evidence leans in george's favor]

Other good links re: owning guns: ... e-problems