Thursday, April 26, 2007

Better to Have a Gun and Not Need It...

...than to need a gun, and not have it. That's the cliché, right?

Well, here's a story about a time I really would have liked to have been CCW'ing. This is part of a pathetic attempt I like to call "Jay mines his life-experience to find something, anything, about which to blog in a vain attempt to catch people's interest"... :)

Actually, Les Jones got me thinking about this with something he posted yesterday. Go, read, and come back (please!) and read my own story.


I was a junior in college. I had arranged my schedule one semester so that literally all of my classes fell on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; with only Physics lab on Tuesday afternoon. I had no classes whatsoever on Thursday. This mean, naturally, that Wednesday night was a big party night. I went to a "pre-party" bash (basically a dozen guys and a quarter barrel), then was heading back to the dorms to change before heading out to the actual party. It's amazing that I never, not even once, had my stomach pumped...

Anyhoo, I'm walking with a couple of friends, when, from across the street, this kid walks over to us. I'm guessing he was about 15 or 16, a few inches shorter than me, and about a hundred pounds lighter. This was during my weightlifting phase, as opposed to the "fat tub 'o' goo" phase I would morph into later in life, but I digress (as another Jay is wont to say)...

He walks up and gets in my face. "You say somethin' to me?"

Now, I was talking with my friends about the party we're going to. I was only dimly aware of this kid's presence on the street to begin with.

"Uh, no, I was talking with my friend here. I didn't even see you until two seconds ago when you crossed the street."

"Well, I heard you say something to me."

"Nope, sorry, I didn't say a thing".

It was at this point that I heard a {click} and saw the switchblade in his hands. My "friends", fucking abject cowards that they are, took off running.

"I know you said something 'bout me."

Now, at this point in time, all I can hear rushing through my brain is, I'm going to get stabbed. Oh shit. Oh shit. And those fucking cowards just ran off, which means help is going to be a long time coming. I'm going to get stabbed. I am going to get fucking stabbed. Shit shit shit.

Apparently he could sense this, because he gets even more in my face.

"So what's your problem? Why you disrespecting me?"

Okay. He hasn't stabbed me yet. This is a good thing. And I notice something. I am twice this guy's size.

"Look, man, I didn't say anything to or about you. I was just talking to my friends about a party we were thinking about going to."

"Oh, college boy's going to a party, eh?" The knife is gleaming in his hand.

Shit, I *am* going to get stabbed. It's another townie who hates college kids. Why did those fucking assholes take off???

And then, a cold wave swept over me, and the fear was gone. I had one overwhelming thought:

When he moves towards you, block his hand, then break his fucking neck.

I don't mean "break his neck" like your mom telling you not to jump on the bed because you'll fall off and break your neck. I mean "break his neck" as in "sever his fucking vertebrae with the intention of ending his life".

Break his fucking neck.

"Look, man, I didn't say anything, okay?"

"I know you said something to me motherfucker. You want a piece of this?" And the knife started moving back and forth.


The thought was crystal clear. Sweep the arm aside, prevent him from stabbing me a second time, and then do everything in my power to end his life, right there on the spot.

KILL HIM. The thought was overwhelming. I was looking at this kid and mentally preparing myself to grab his right arm (which had the knife in his right hand) and immobilize it, then put him in a headlock and snap his neck.

"Look, I don't want any trouble. I don't know you, there's no reason for me to say shit to you, I was just talking to my friends. I just want to go drink some beer, okay?"

KILL HIM. Kill this scrawny motherfucker. He makes one fucking motion near you, you grab his fucking neck and twist it like a goddamned Budweiser cap.

At this point, I had subconsciously puffed out my chest and drawn myself up to my full 6' height. I'm running about 220 pounds, 16" biceps, 48" chest. I'm a big guy. And I'm starting to psyche myself up about killing this guy, literally, with my bare hands.

And this is starting to show - and he thankfully is realizing that I *am* twice his size, and his knife isn't the magic talisman he thought it was, as I (his intended victim) am no longer cowering in fear but now shaking in barely controlled rage.

"That's cool, man, that's cool. I just thought you said something, but we cool".

And the knife was retracted and put back into his pocket. And he walked away. Quickly.

When I got back to the dorm, I had barely made it inside when I started shaking. Literally shaking. What frightened me the most, by far, was not the knife in that kid's hand. It was the overwhelming, overpowering, frightening thought that I was literally seconds away from killing a man. I'm a pretty big, strong guy. I've moved couches and refrigerators by myself. I have little reason to doubt my strength or ability to physically injure or even kill an attacker when the adrenaline is pumping.

And I was ready to kill that kid. I was ready to make every effort to end his life on that spot. Had he moved any closer, had he made any attempt to stab me, I was going to try my level best to break his neck with my bare hands and kill him on the spot. I suspect I would have been successful in that endeavor.

When it came to "fight or flight", I chose "fight". And when I made that decision, I wasn't planning to fight to win. I was planning to fight to the death. The other guy's death. And that five minute vignette of my life is one of the reasons I trust myself to rely on a firearm for self-defense. I am reasonably certain that, G-d forbid, if I am ever in a life-or-death situation, I will not hesitate to use lethal force in defense of me or mine.

(For the record, when I found my "friends", I kicked both of them in the ass hard enough to lift them off the ground. "Thanks for nothing, you assholes".)


Anonymous said...

Damn you need better friends. You are right about a knife, it isn’t a magic wand and doesn’t guarantee the user will win a fight.

In 1989 I was a young Marine in Radio School at Twentynine Palms, CA. My buddies are I went out to a big club near LA one weekend.

At one point I looked away from the girl I was trying to pick up and saw one of my friends being threatened by a gigantic bouncer. This guy was the size of any two of us, but… He stopped what he was doing and realized he was surrounded by a half dozen Marines in fighting stances. None of us had said a word to each other – as soon as we saw the situation we were there – the training to protect each other was ingrained so deep it didn’t require conscious thought.

Anonymous said...

I'll second that notion. The only time I was in a situation like yours was when trapped by several "bikers" outside a bar.

My friend, who helped fight them off until reinforcements showed up,
is still my friend 32 years later.

When someone really "covers your back" you never forget.


Jay G said...

I s'pose using the term "friends" was in error. "Drinking buddies" would have been more accurate; "guys who lived in the same area of the dorm" would be even more precise.

I've got a story about friends that stick together brewing. It involves TGIFridays, "Long Island Iced Tea Night", and the Pats playing Green Bay on MNF...

Anonymous said...

To date I have never been threatened physically by anyone... except for a girl in 7th grade who wanted to beat me up (I ran and got on the bus, she managed to kick me in the shin... *grin*)

This doesn't mean it will never happen... just that it hasn't as yet. I've done 7 years of tae kwon do and 8 years of tai chi (and yes there is a fighting style of tai chi that is deadly). Mostly because I needed the exercise, I HATE aerobics with a passion, and I can't run worth a damn.

I don't pick fights and because I'm not a small woman, most people leave me alone. I would have no issue though with taking someone out who threatened to hurt me or my family. I only worry about being too slow.

As for guns - I never had the time (and for years I didn't have the money) to take up shooting. I do believe that if you get a gun - you need to practice using it as much as you need to practice any other form of self defense... so you don't end up hurting yourself instead of the attacker when you get in a bad situation.

You have the right mindset to fight though. After all - the attacker is certainly not worried about whether or not you live or die. And always, always strike through your opponent...never at them.

Ride Fast said...

Glad you got through that one unhurt, and didn't have to take the guy down.

I bet it would have been nice to have "out weaponed" that punk. Gun, baton, baseball bat, whatever.

Jay G said...

Y'know, I replay that sequence of events in my mind from time to time; sometimes when I'm putting a gun in a holster.

I honestly don't know that it would have turned out much differently had I been carrying a gun. In fact, I can't say for certain that things couldn't have gone worse - one of the factors in my favor was my own fear and anger, which allowed me to present a more menacing figure.

Now, if I'm carrying a firearm, the fear and most of the anger are no longer present. It's possible that I would have had to draw, and quite possible shoot, my weapon - a calm, cool demeanor may have provoked the kid with the knife, whereas an angry muscle-head who's twice the kid's size and getting angrier at him... well...

Let's just say I'm glad that things turned out the way they did. I know for my own peace of mind that I can do what needs to be done when the rubber hits the road.

Anonymous said...

If I'd been you, I'd have just flat out told him, "look pal, if you make one wrong move with that little knife, I'm going to break you".

tyree said...

Great post, thanks.
My oldest son was bullied in school. Every time the punk made sure the teachers were busy elsewhere. This went on for weeks and finally the principal told him, "You have my permission to fight back if attacked, you will not be expelled but he will." (it was a private school). You can imagine what happened next. The bully came at my son and my son balled his fists and came right back at him. The fight never took place. All my son needed was the permission to fight back and the will to do it.
He is a police officer now, protecting others from much more dangerous bullies.

RightWingNutter said...


That rings a bell. Bullies only bully when they think they won't take any damage themselves. Leave welts on one and the others will steer clear. Even better if you give noticeably better than you receive.

One guy who could clean my clock on land took me on in deep water. After I let his bedraggled ass make it to shore he left me alone, even on land.

mikee said...

A friend of mine, 65+ years old, was accosted on a lonely street in Paris by a strong arm mugger. My friend, much to his own surprise, and even more to the mugger's, beat the mugger down using training from his Army Ranger days 40 years earlier. And he said the scariest part was that he did not do it consciously. Upon being threatened the training just kicked in (and he nearly kicked in the mugger's head). He was a little upset about it, but got over the adrenalin dump in time to have a pleasant dinner. The mugger, not so much.

Little old men can be dangerous.