June 24, 2017

Are You Prepared to Use Violence to Stop Violence?

Fight Violence with violence

Are You Prepared to Use Violence to Stop Violence?

If asked, “are you willing to use violence to stop violence against you or a loved one?” many of us would answer “yes”. I know I would. The truth is, unless you’ve been tested, you really don’t know. During the last couple of months, I have put in a lot of drive time, listening to the audiobook “On Killing” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. This book helped firm up my understanding of humans and their capacity and willingness to use violence. In short, the vast majority of human beings are not wired to use violence on one another.

Lt. Col. Grossman goes into great detail to explain how, through the earliest of American wars; the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the World Wars, the majority of the men fighting them would purposely miss what they were shooting at. He explained how the aversion to killing another human was so strong that a trained soldier often times would not shoot another, even if it meant losing his own life.

Leading up to the Vietnam War, great effort went into figuring out how to train men, not only to kill but to do so without hesitation. Today’s military are some of the most efficient warriors in the world’s history.

Someone might say that an aversion to violence is a good thing and that Jesus said, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword”. I would agree with Him, but He did not say we should never use the sword. In fact, I believe that if we willingly decide not to act in our own defense or in the defense of another innocent person, we have sinned. We now bare blood guilt and are accountable for all of the future acts of violence our attacker commits. We also bare the guilt of all the good that we or the person we did not defend would have done.
Less Than Lethal Force

It is my belief that the majority of humans have an aversion to using any form of violence against one another. I’ve mentioned before that I took a real world martial art called “Haganah”. I noticed that almost all new students hesitated using even minimal force to strike their partner. These are people who are aware of the need to learn to defend themselves but have to be trained that it was acceptable to strike another person. I was a wrestler in high school and had a few minor altercations as a young adult. Physical violence wasn’t completely new to me. I still had to retrain myself that using force was not only acceptable in this setting, but encouraged. I trained with some students who hesitated striking with even 10% of their force even after months of training.
10-80-10 Rule

In the book The Survivors Club, author Ben Sherwood explores a theory developed by a man named John Leach called “The 10-80-10 rule”. In summary, the rule states that the top 10% of people in a crisis excel; they think clearly and take immediate action. The middle group comprises 80% of people; they are “quite simply stunned and bewildered”; “reasoning is significantly impaired and thinking is difficult”. The last 10% of people are the “ones you definitely want to avoid in an emergency”.

A few pages later, he explains something called ‘behavioral inaction’; “The current theory of behavioral inaction goes like this: As your frontal lobes process the site of an airplane wing on fire, they seek to match the information with memories of similar situations in the past. If you have no stored experience of a plane crash, your brain can’t find a match and gets stuck in a loop trying and failing to come up with the right response. Hence: immobility.”

While he was talking about a plane crash, I believe the theory carries over to any type of critical incident. In terms of violence I think that the first 10% are capable of violence, either to harm or to defend. The middle 80% of people are those who will freeze either initially and then take action or remain frozen. The last 10% of people are made up of those who just shut down.
More Than Fight or Flight

You’ve probably heard of “fight or flight”, but there are at least five possible responses. They are fight, flight, freeze, posture and submit.

Fight – This is a group of people who have a capacity for violence, either to hurt or to protect. Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs is an excellent depiction of those who’re willing to use violence. The wolves are those who prey upon others (the sheep). Sheepdogs are those who’re capable of using violence in protection of themselves and in defense of the sheep.

Posturing – Posturing is combat without making contact, using intimidation. This is frequently seen in the animal world but can be seen in humans as well. Posturing comes easy to those who fight but I have seen some who were not typically thought of as fighter’s posture enough to prevent an attack and back a wolf down.

Flight – This is a group of people who have an innate urge to flee from harm. There are some who might initially flee, only to change to another behavior.

Freeze – People who freeze might do so for mere seconds while their brain catches up to the reality of the situation. They could also be people who are so completely overwhelmed that they simply shut down. People in this group can slide to other groups. For instance, someone might freeze for a second before being able to use violence to defend themselves. Another person might freeze before running away or submitting.

Submit – Submitting is totally giving up to an attacker. There is evidence in the FBI’s annual uniform crime report to suggest that submitting is more dangerous than fighting back. However, feigning compliance and submitting temporarily can give a person the upper hand.
Putting it all Together

I believe that the 10-80-10 rule and the five possible responses to violence can be combined. The first 10% are the people who are ready and willing to use violence and obviously have no aversion to it. The last 10% are made up of those who flee (and continue to flee), and those who submit. They are so incapable of violence they would rather perish than use force, even to save their own lives. I think that the middle 80% is on a sliding scale of sorts. There are those who, under certain conditions, are capable of using violence. There are also those who might initially freeze and later panic.

Since the majority of us fall into the middle 80% of people who freeze for some length of time, how can we make sure we override any aversion to violence? How can we make sure we don’t remain frozen? How can we make sure we snap out of it and are willing to use violence to stop violence being used against us or another human being?

Remember that the reason people in the 80 portion of the 10-80-10 rule freeze is because their minds can’t quickly latch onto something from their stored experience. What we need to do is make sure there is something in that stored experience.
Overcoming the Aversion to Violence

As I mentioned, in the book “On Killing”, it is noted that trained soldiers from much of America’s history missed their shot on purpose, even if it meant their own life. If a trained soldier had difficulty overriding the aversion, what hope can the average citizen have?

If you’re not intellectually, emotionally or spiritually averse to the idea of using violence to save you or a loved one, there are some things you can do to train yourself to act in self-defense and in the defense of others.

Lt. Col. Grossman listed several things modern training has done to make the modern warrior act, often without hesitation. I’m not going to cover them in detail, as some just wouldn’t and shouldn’t apply outside of a military setting. Many of the things that we can do are intellectual and psychological.

No, I do not mean that touchy feely, self-affirming “I’m good enough, I’m smart and doggonit people like me” crap. I mean visualize different scenarios and what you might do and say when a threat causes you to go to code orange or red. (If you don’t know what the Cooper Color Code is, follow that link and learn to incorporate it into your daily situational awareness.) For instance, thinking through the following scenario; if this person following me follows the next three right turns I make (walking or driving), I am going to do “x”.

I haven’t ever had someone kick down my door and come in with a weapon. I have thought about what I would do in many different variations of that, and Trudee and I have discussed them.

Visualization is more than just thinking through imaginary scenarios that could happen. I also think about how I would respond to violent encounters I read about, see in the news or even in TV and movies.

By mentally preparing my mind for situations where violence is an acceptable response, I am overriding the natural aversion to violence. This is something that should be done on an ongoing basis, much like weight lifting to build and keep strength.

Less Than Lethal – I am a big supporter of real world self-defense for multiple reasons. Watching a fist fight on TV or movies is a completely different thing than actually being in one. Of course, not just the physical aspect of it, but also the mental. When you’re on the receiving end of violence, there is a mental shock, which is probably why 80% of people freeze. As I mentioned earlier, there is often a hesitation to strike someone. While it’s possible to overcome that in an actual fight, I suppose, repeatedly striking someone and defending against various attacks gets one used to the initial shock and you learn how to override it and defend.

Lethal Force – If you haven’t taken a handgun training course, take one. If you’ve taken one, then take another. There are some training companies where you enter a “shoot house” and fire at multiple types of targets. There are also some places that use simunition (simulated munition), which is a paint tipped round. They put you in various real world situations and have Joe Dirtbag enter and do dirtbag stuff that you have to react to. Some places also have force on force training with Airsoft or paintball. If you can do those, great! If not, when you’re at your local range, visualize the target as the threat you visualized in the above scenarios.

The goal is not only to excel with your firearm, but also to train you to respond with violence to stop violence.
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  1. Good stuff Brother! Thanks!

  2. Bruce Briant says:

    “Lt. Col. Cooper listed several…” Cooper? Grossman?

  3. Dirty Harry says:

    And think on this training (even the best) will never get you ready for the real thing , As I look back on my military training (Marines) was some of the hardest, but I can tell you we wanted to get them as we viewed them as the bad guys, later as friends etc got killed many people got filled with I can combat hate , kill , kill , more. You have to be in a war and see how we destroy, EVERYTHING. that is why you do NOT ENTER war or killing easy. Syria will get out of control very fast. On personal level again NEVER look for trouble. and again you must think that you are stopping more crime ,as 90 % of all crime is done by the same old 10% , so again if you are fighting a bad guy that is his LIFE STYLE that will continue to go on to hurt many others……

    • You’re correct, nothing can get you truly ready for the real thing. But I believe someone who takes on the role of a protector, needs to be as ready as they can be, even if that only means visualization.

  4. Outstanding article, Chris. Thank you!

    Anyone who takes a lead role over a body of people should have been trained in and experienced with using violence to defend themselves and others.

    This applies to ALL leader positions–from the top secular position of our country (President of The United States), to the country or storefront preacher. This type of leader respects life more and will do everything he or she can to avoid violence and loss of life ONLY when that leader has personally experienced being in a fight which he perceives that the attacker is trying to kill them. Some of us learn this in the streets, and some of us learn this as warfighters-whether in the uniformed services or non-uniformed services.

    Either way, it is important that we warrior Christians teach and train other Christians not to be prey to wolfs.

    For nearly 20 years I trained in Tae Kwon Do, then later cross-trained as a second degree in Hap Ki Do. I had my sons and wife train, too, and they loved it. So much so, they earned their black belts under Korean Grand Masters and we all participated in competitions. We taught at churches–those few churches who pastors knew of our Christian principles instead of denying us access because some pastors wrongly saw all forms of Karate as evil under “Eastern Mysticism.”

    We also operated our own Do Jang which was Christian-based. Our Motto was “Learn what to do when you run out of cheeks– even Lambs have teeth!” It is based on Matthew 5:39 “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

    In today’s world and level of violence–and since I now fall into the chronological category of “senior citizen”–my trained response to a deadly attack which I would be in fear of my life (or in fear of the life of someone whom God placed in my stewardship) is simply “Two in the chest and one in head.”

    If you are in fear of your life, one must be determined to use that lethal response REGARDLESS of the attackers age or sex because our nation is having a scourge of deadly youth repeat offenders that are professional predators. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has removed the death sentence off the table for those of them who take innocent lives. If these killers do not come to Christ to change their lifestyles, they become more seasoned predatory killers after release from prison.



    • Thank you, I am glad you liked it.

      Have you had a chance to read the article I wrote call “should Christians Practice Self-defense?”

      If not I would like to hear your thoughts on it, especially on the turn the other cheek portion.

      • GhillieMan says:

        Hello Chris,

        Per your invitation, I just read your article “Should Christians Practice Self Defense” for the first time. You have provided a very intriguing set of theories and interpretations for the modern Christian to consider. I appreciate that. However, I have learned from matriculation from seminary school that many theologians are the biggest sissies I have ever met. Sissies both in the sense of pacifists, and/or homosexuals. And they want to spread their spirit of Sissyfication by writing interpretations and commentaries on Holy Scripture.

        Growing up in “The Hood” as a pastor’s son, I was taught the scriptures about turning the other cheek, too. But my parents told me that they did not raise me to be somebody’s punching bag. So for me, the practical solution was to control one’s emotions and be slow to anger (walk away if you can), but Beat Down whoever starts a physical fight with you (e.g. attacks you).

        Those principles are still relevant today, with a HUGE condition: Todays hoodlums rarely go hand-to-hand in a fair fist fight. They victimize their prey by a Flash Mob, Home Invasion, and use lethal weapons in their arsenal. Therefore, the targeted victim MAY NOT BE ABLE to walk away from a threat and could be forced to take lethal action if he or she is in fear of his life.

        Lastly, your line in the above article is a Gem: “I’ll be honest; I have never understood pacifists. I can understand not slugging everyone that frustrates me but I have always held the opinion that sometimes when a man steps too far, a whoopin’ is one of the fastest ways to set him straight and yes, myself included.”

        Take Care,


        • Thank you.

          truth be told I think that the “sissyfication” of the modern day man can be found at the root of many of our problems. Men no longer know how to be men, it’s no wonder we have so many unwed mothers and various other related problems.

        • Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris says:

          We were taught that turning the other cheek was more about insults than physical violence. We had a pastor (Old Testament Christian) who believed that Christians should never sue anyone because of that concept. He believed that Christians were to be doormats. I disagree. We have an obligation to preserve our lives and safety.

  5. Excellent analysis! Thank you!

  6. Good one, thank you!

  7. Matthew 26:52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

    John 18:11
    So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

    Jesus did not want the sword used in defense of himself, but he commanded his apostles to buy and carry swords to defend themselves.

    Luke 22:35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

    47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.

    It would have been futile for Peter and co, with only two swords, to fight the whole armed group which came to arrest Jesus, but Jesus did command his followers to defend themselves with the sword.

    Matthew 26:47
    [ Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus ] While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.

  8. Dirty Harry says:

    Aman lots great replies .one time as a kid I got beat up by 2 big teen age boys, was about 7 ,they took my money as I was going to store. long story short , went home and was crying my dad looked at me and ask what happen so I told him and said about they being 2 big guys , He said to me next time pick up a rock or stick and hit them with all you can , about 3 weeks later a big teen boy tried to rob me going to a store to get milk, so I jumped on top step and hit him with milk bottle, down he went, later his mother and police came to my house, I was about 4′ 5′ his was 6 foot tall the police looked at me and said well we know who was right here, He got what was needed. never been stopped by big guys , you give it to them and gets them off guard …

  9. Carl Rooker says:

    Another good practice is to sit down and seriously consider and decide under what circumstances you would use force. Consider the possibility that if you do use force, you or your opponent could die. This is not something to take lightly.

  10. IF and WHEN someone threatens my life, or any of my family or our home, I am prepared to use violence & have no problem putting someone down. I admit that I am not battle-tested, but I am determined, & many have told me that persistence is one of my strengths.
    As I was told at the concealed carry class, I will keep shooting until the intruder goes down.

  11. Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris says:

    In terms of killing in a declared war with uniformed combatants on both sides, the best way to get ‘our boys’ to kill the enemy is to tell them that the enemy soldiers will come over here to rape our wives, murder our mothers, and eat our babies for breakfast (look at some of the US WWII propaganda).

    At least half of the US troops during WWII pointed weapons in the general direction of the enemy, close their eyes, and squeeze the trigger.

    During WWII, many soldiers were upset by having to think that they killed another human being. The soldiers who did the best were Catholic; they confessed and were immediately absolved of the act. As Born-Again Believers, we could do the same, but we do not. Are we not as confident in absolution as the Catholic soldiers?

    Intellectually, I could kill someone who threatened me or my family. Could I squeeze the trigger if I had to–yes, I think I could. I grew up in a military household–my father was a career soldier and my mother was a Marine. They told me not to start a fight or get into a fight unless I wanted to win and win quickly. That is how it should be done. No warning shots–besides, why waste the ammunition at these prices.

    I guess this is part of the reason that in police-thug shoot-outs in NYC require the police to shoot 74 rounds before even hitting a thug. This may be a reason for so many law enforcement officer deaths.

    In relation to RedC’s comment about shooting until the intruder goes down. That is a good thing to remember. Shoot until there is no one left to hurt you. Reminds me of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

    • Yes, one of the ways used to raise the percentage of men that will actually kill on combat is to dehumanize the enemy. This is why calling them derogatory names was done.

      Red was spot on, I’ll write an article on the efficient use of a handgun in a defensive situation soon. A lot of what many of us were previously taught is a bit outdated.

  12. Thank you. I just cant say it enough. Thank you.
    “I believe that if we willingly decide not to act in our own defense or in the defense of another innocent person, we have sinned. We now bear blood guilt and are accountable for all of the future acts of violence our attacker commits.”

    I’ve lived the theory that if you pass by something wrong and do nothing, you’re as guilty as the person who did it. Big and small, I’ve done my best there, but I’ve never been able to really apply it to the sin factor. I’ve lived with a lot of guilt, a lot of worry over my past actions and the conviction to do some of the same things again if needed. I made a choice to do them, to train for them, and to keep training for that Mozambique, but it’s been a weight and I was pretty sure I was choosing a path that would not lead to mercy because I can’t really be sorry for it. I’m going to work on that, now, too, with the new perspective.

    So thank you, Chris. Again. Finding this site has taken so much weight off, especially some of the things you’ve posted this year regarding Biblical interpretations and personal choices and actions.

    • Rebecca you are very welcome, I’m glad it helped some.

      I don’t know the things you have done, but I have a few general thoughts. Christ said if we live by the sword, we’ll die by the sword. But He doesn’t say doing so is a sin, He doesn’t say doing so is unforgivable. If you have taken action to stop wrong doing, and acted in the defense of others, I don’t see that as sin.

      But the bottom line is that even if it was sin, there is mercy at the cross. There is mercy and forgiveness waiting for even the person that preyed upon others that repents and comes to the savior.

      I fully believe that there are those of us who God has gifted with the capacity for violence, and He has tasked us with the protection of others. Many of these enter into the military, or join the police, but many are just the average citizen. Some might carry the guilt of the actions they have taken in the defense of others. If you have truly acted in self-defense or in the defense of others, then this guilt is a ploy from the enemy. There is no condemnation for those who’re in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

  13. I do not want to face another hurricane Katrina. So I prepare for one based on my experience in the first one. I do not want to kill another human, So I prepare for that based on my experience in the navy seabees. I prepare for events that I pray will never happen. Isn’t that what preparedness is all about?

  14. Thanks – I may point some other believers to this article.

    I settled this issue in the 1970s when, as a young sailor, on my first deployment had discussed killing another human and being a Christian… was it a conflict of morals?

    Jesus’ dialogue with the Centurion (Matt. 8) was important to me and later Ephesian 6.
    That being in the Navy was not a sin and killing is not always murder. As I often say to other believers, “Evil, sadly, often has a human face.”

    • This is something many modern Christians struggle with. The Ten Commandments have been taught to us say “Thou shall not kill”, when the actual command is “Thou shall not murder”.

      we’re also taught the incorrect meaning of turning the other cheek.

      you’re right though, evil sadly does most often wear a human face.

  15. Good article, I would like to point two things out if I could

    1) what does a civilian have over the military in this situation… well everything. We are talking about your family, your house your neighborhood. Even if your scared if you love even one thing your protecting more than yourself you will act. The military has to train people to enter another country, fight on there turf and justify the means to that end. I have two tours of duty and I can attest that killing someone kicking in my door will be much easier than fighting someone who is probably a farmer pissed off your unit shot his family and friends.

    2) I think the bigger issue is not violence on violence that is actually an easy answer. What about those stealing from you unarmed, where do you draw the line. Do stand before god and say well I shot that man because he took my crops. And he says well the mans family was starving to death two houses down shame on you and your pantry.

    I dnk just random thoughts. I would worry about believing 8/10 people will just freeze or flop over. Look at Syria

    • Dean what you say about if you love even one thing more then you love yourself you’ll act your opinion. You may act because it is something that you have considered. That is the entire point of my writing. The average person who doesn’t consider such things, often doesn’t act, because their brain can’t pull anything forward telling them what to do.

      as to people stealing from me who’re unarmed, I would need more information to decide what action would be appropriate. Is there a scenario where I could build a case for using lethal force, yeah probably.

      I’m not sure what point your trying to make about Syria.

  16. Dirty Harry says:

    We as Christians help should brothers in Christ , and next someone in need if we can, But today we have millions of people I call takers , the bible says they are worst than the unsaved , a man that will not work does not get Gods help! THE Bible says a man who does not work, will not EAT. Our society today is upside down with all this free government hand outs , and they will be the first to be shot by me after the fall, they have a life style of no work , drugs, sex, crime, and hand outs, and no plans ever to leave that life. The best is to see how God views such in the Bible. Get a good sample go work at a Christian soup kitchen and you will learn real fast , offer up some work and watch them run like rats!

  17. buffalodrum says:

    Little old lady with a Ruger SP101 .357 magnum here. I chose the revolver because the semi-automatic cleaning process is too complicated and my arthritic hands can’t manage the rack and slide (is that the right term?) maneuver. I can, however, manage the hard trigger-pull of my revolver and am accurate to the lethal body area at the indoor distances that would likely be the situation. How do I help to minimize the revulsion to doing harm to another human being? I only use body-shaped targets. Every time I practice I’m looking at a human form. Distasteful, but this whole business is distasteful. Thanks for a great article.

    • Chris Ray says:

      you’re reasons are perfectly acceptable, and good for you for finding a firearm that works for you.

      I’m not sure you can get over the revulsion, nor do I think you should. What you can do is increase the chances that you will fire when put into a scenario where lethal force is justified.

      One of the biggest things is to make the decision to use deadly force, and give yourself permission to use ahead of time. I covered this in more detail here http://preparedchristian.net/willingness-to-use-force-and-the-permission-to-do-so/

      you can also put yourself in scenarios you see in the news, TV and movies, think about what you would do.

      one other thing, though I don’t know how up your alley it is, is to watch violent tv or movies. If the violence in them shocks you, there is a good chance in my opinion one could freeze or react slowly. I have also seen it recommended to play violent video games.

      otherwise keep practicing with human shaped targets.

      • buffalodrum says:

        Excellent point about violent TV and movies. I do have a problem with that and it never occurred to me what repercussions there might be because of it. I have long thought that watching violent programs desensitizes us and I always thought that was a bad thing. Now I shall think of it as watching an occasional training film.

    • Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris says:

      I, too, own a Ruger SP101; it is a very nice gun. I practice with .38 caliber ammo to save money. I will start using human-shaped targets–I am getting tired of zombies. I picked up two speed loaders for my revolver.

      • buffalodrum says:

        For practice, I have a .22 caliber SP-101. It feels the same (a little bit heavier than the .357) and shoots the same, except that I can fire more rounds without bruising my hand. In a practice session I shoot as many .22 as I wish, but always end the session with 15 rounds of .38’s. Any more than that injures my hand and it really isn’t necessary. I carry the 38’s in speed loaders so I’m practicing with them as well. Since my only purpose is self-defense in the home, which means very close range, if the first 5 rounds don’t do the job, even speed-loading 15 more rounds is unlikely to save me. I’m relying on the first 5 to either put him down or scare him away.

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