It is unlikely that you will ever confront a Mafia hit man. A professional smack-down artist. A cool-under-fire master assassin like Tom Cruise in Collateral (2004) or even Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction (1994). As a member of the concealed carry community, you are, however, protecting yourself from being murdered by the incidental criminal who sees or imagines an opportunity to steal from you or molest your daughter; the incidental jerk who lacks a social “NO” button. This guy is not highly educated and does not work for a living — at least not in the customary manner (40-50 hours a week with a regular paycheck). He’s impulsive and he’s lazy.

The American Psychological Association (APA) writes about “The Criminal Mind” as if crime is simply biology gone bad; as if some birth defect is responsible for mugging your wife or stealing your car or beating you senseless if it does not agree with your politics and thus the criminal individual should not be held responsible, accountable:

  • “The amygdala — a part of the brain involved in fear, aggression and social interactions — is implicated in crime.” And there’s this:
  • “The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which plays a major role in behavior regulation and impulsivity, has also been linked to crime.”

Simply stated, the man you confront won’t be the brightest bulb in the candelabra and this aggravates an encounter because he isn’t smart enough to comprehend the line between armed robbery and attempted murder. Heck, it might be better to confront a professional criminal because he plans his work, knows exactly what he is after and probably goes straight to the reward. (At least, I suppose this is the way he works.)

For the alley opportunist who only wants a little cash for his next drug hit, you simply present a target of opportunity. This, unfortunately, means that any encounter can be wildly unpredictable.

The type of criminal we are most likely to face will not plan how to break into your house. He will not construct a layout of your neighborhood; will not diagram your home or chart police patrols and he will certainly not — like criminals on television — hack into your computer and disable your alarm. He just isn’t that smart or cautious. His carefully considered modus operandi is to kick the door down or smash a window.

The really thoughtful criminal may spend an hour watching your home or following you to the office. He will have considered an avenue of escape and how to sell your stolen AR. He will study the area for cameras and know if you have dogs. But most bad guys you will encounter are impetuous, not thoughtful.

America’s two-bit criminals are little more than a man-on-the-make. They’re individuals in search of a quick score, a free meal. And so, after the first moment of startle and hesitation, you have the advantage … if you are prepared to act on it. The common felon will seek to overpower or intimidate you rapidly, because he is thinking short-term; you could say that he only thinks tactically. You, on the other hand, are thinking and training for a strategic response.

The common criminal wants to surprise you, frighten you and grab your wallet, your cell phone and then run away. Unless he is a multiple repeat offender or in a chemically enhanced state, his adrenaline will give him tunnel-vision and tunnel-thought. You, however, as a USCCA member, are training to think beyond the shock of the instant: You are training to analyze the situation and act appropriately. Can you pull your semi-auto? Do you have room to maneuver? Is it better, in some instances, to hand over your wallet and run? An attack is going to startle you and, should you hesitate to give up the goods right away, may turn violent because this social deviant does not understand that his flash of rage is self-defeating because he has now crossed a line from “time served” to 15 years.

Guy shoves a gun in your face or rummages through your house — he does not want a “situation” unless he has some other motive. But the strategic thinker is a man or woman who carries thoughtfully, with a sense of surroundings and long-term consequences. And after the first shock, the strategic thinker always has the advantage; the chess player trumps the checker player.