I took the Rangemaster Instructor Development Course with Tom Givens just the other weekend. For the most part, it pretty much validated for me (using actual research data) the training priorities I teach with respect to citizen self-defense—which made me happy, because if I am teaching people to defend themselves, it is important I’m doing it right. If I do it wrong, it can literally get people killed.
So yeah—a good presentation (from the holster) is important, point-shooting is stupid as using the sights can be done and WILL make a difference, shooting on the move, using cover, and having flashlights might be useful but almost never are even remotely necessary in a self-defense situation and as priorities fall far far far far far behind 1) having a gun, 2) being able to get it out quickly, and 3) being able to get multiple shots on target quickly.
….and what a surprise, citizen self-defense data, FBI agent data, and DEA agent data all support this.
Unsurprisingly, the class also gave me a number of things to think about, mostly about new ways to present things I already teach which makes sense as it was what the class was about.
However, occasionally there was something in the class that REALLY struck me. As such, over the next couple of months, I’ll be writing some articles about some things that perhaps you haven’t thought about–and should, if you think that it is important that you be prepared to defend yourself.
Here’s the first:
When is the last time you heard someone being charged with attempted murder? Never, right? Why is that?
Because to convict on that, you have to prove intent to kill. And intent is tough.
So instead, what gets charged for the exact same situation? Aggravated assault.
Here’s the thing–because of the wording, most of us think of “aggravated assault” as a slightly-more-serious version of “assault.” But here’s the actual legal definition (wording may change slightly per jurisdiction, but it’ll still mean this) according to the FBI:
Aggravated assault—An unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Simple assaults are excluded.
Note the important phrase: “…means likely to produce death or great bodily harm.”
That’s attempted murder. However, since “intent to kill” is not part of the definition, it is easier to get a conviction on an aggravated assault charge.
Why is this important? Because from a self-defense perspective, the criminal was trying to kill someone–or at the very least, knew what they were doing could kill someone else and didn’t care if it happened.
So when you look at crime statistics and think about homicides, you should probably actually add the “aggravated assault” category AND the homicide category together—because in both cases, the victim could have gotten killed. In the aggravated assault cases, the criminal was just incompetent, or the victim got lucky.
In Omaha in 2012, there were 41 criminal homicides. Sounds scary, but not a large number. However, there were also 1442 aggravated assaults in the same year and every single one of those could have ended up a criminal homicide if the criminal had been even a little less incompetent, or the victim a little less lucky.
That we know of, criminals tried to kill someone else one thousand four hundred and eighty-three times in Omaha in 2012.
That’s a number you need to think about.
(In Lincoln criminals tried to kill someone six hundred and seventy one times in 2012. And just so you know, in both Omaha and Lincoln, aggravated assaults were reported several times more often than robberies. Yes, criminals doing something to kill you happens more often than criminals trying to rob you. In Lincoln, 3.4 times as often. In Omaha, 1.8 times as often.)
Source for violent crime stats: FBI UCR Data-Reporting Tool
- First post in this series: Crime Definitions You Should Think About
- Second post: You’ll Never Miss on the Street
- Third post: What Makes an Expert?