Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Violence Scale

I recently saw a horrible video of a deranged man sitting on his wife's chest in the Netherlands and stabbing her over sixty times. I should point out that while it was terrible, it was to me, just another day at work. "Yep ... that kind of thing happens ... where's the coffee pot?" (I'm not being cavalier or heartless. Being as I do expert witness work in knife cases, seeing these kind of horrible videos really IS part of my job. Coffee drinking ... well that just helps me do my job).

I run a very busy e-mail list on personal safety, self-defense, et all. What was the source of debate among folks was the ineffective attempts by a few bystanders to stop the attack on the woman. It's not that they weren't trying to save her life (I believe -- amazingly -- that she lived), but they really didn't have a response that was appropriate to immediately end that level/degree of attack. As such the attack continued for a very long time.

A few Americans (who had experience with this level of situations) responded with "I'd shoot him."

This brought a response from a British woman about the knee jerk attitude of killing the man. Being as she had never been in a life and death situation she (as near as I can tell) honestly couldn't understand why other alternatives could not be used to stop him before resorting to blowing his brains into a fine pink mist. The speed that these people came to the conclusion to just kill the guy unnerved her.

While it would be easy to say it is the old "Americans are gun nuts" and "Europeans live in a nanny state" argument coming up again like an encehilda burp, I don't believe it is. Having been to Europe several times and dealing with both the general public and different countries anti-terrorist squads, I can assure you, that while the average European wouldn't have the ability or will to shoot, those units would shoot PDQ. In fact, they would shoot faster than most American citizens -- even those with CCW permits. There are some very seriously hard core Europeans protecting the rest. But this woman wasn't one of them. As near as I can tell, she really didn't understand why these people were talking about killing this man outright instead of trying other options or shooting to wound.

But stop and think about this, how different is her reaction from the American media and 'community' outrage every time a police officer shoots someone? Why couldn't they have used less than lethal force? Oh why oh why did that poor innocent person have to die? (If by innocent person you mean the crackhead with a knife who's threatening people).

In attempting to explain to her, it dawned on me that maybe this information needs to be disseminated to the American public as well. So if you've never understood why the police shoot someone (especially with a knife). Or, if you are yourself a meat eater and have vainly tried to explain to someone why the level of force you had to use was appropriate -- you might want to take a look at the following model.

10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1

Each of these indicate a level of potential threat/danger.
Levels 1 to 2 are issues that can be resolved with a stern look.
3 to 4 go so far as a harsh word.
5 to 6 require verbal threat display (yelling screaming, etc).
7 is mild physical intervention ( a slap or 'sitting on someone').
8 is more force required.
9 is serious force.
10 is lethal force, immediately applied and without hesitation

Very few people have any experience with anything beyond level 7. This is important because basically past level 8, you are not playing for the same 'goals' as are common for 7 and below. Therefore you cannot judge level 8 and above by level 7 and below standards.

Below 7 the stakes are usually social status, pride and maintaining social order. Past 8 the stakes are much higher. In fact, level 10 boils down to what Martin Luther King once said:

The question is no longer between violence and non-violence; it is between non-violence and non-existence.

That non-existence is either yours or someone else's. Now slap your hand on the table again, that's how fast non-existence can -- and does -- happen at level 10. (For example, any one of those strikes on the woman could have been the one that did fatal damage). That slap on the desk is the amount of time yours or someone else's non-existence is decided. It is that extreme, and the stakes ARE that high. If you have never faced this level of violence, it is difficult to realize that the immediate application of lethal force IS a rational and reasonable choice given the parameters. It is in fact, the best chance for you not to be numbered among the dead.

Level 10 responses are also based on a whole lot of experience with intervening and having the guy turn on you. NEVER forget this is a very real danger. For example, an old friend of my father's was a patrol cop. They rolled on a domestic violence call and pulled up to see the guy on the porch with his wife on her knees with a shotgun to her head. As they were getting out of the car, he pulled the trigger. Looking up at them he raised the shotgun towards them ...

At the inquest he was asked why he had shot the man six times. He replied "I ran out of bullets."

He told me he'd just seen this guy shoot his wife in front of cops and then point that gun at those same cops ... he didn't figure the guy wanted to talk. That's a level 10 situation.

The last time I got shot at, I was doing bodyguard work. I was escorting the client to her car when I saw the laser site 'paste her' first and travel towards me. I tackled her just before the guy opened fire. Rolling off her, I got my own gun out and I returned fire while charging his car. He floored it and drove away.

Level 10. And it went from walking to a car to a firefight in less than two seconds.

A couple of years ago the Denver PD got a call about a black kid trying to kill his mother with a knife. Upon arriving the first officer through the door encountered the kid, holding a big kitchen knife and standing less than seven feet from him. The officers behind him stopped him from retreating. He ordered the kid to drop the knife, the kid took a step towards him. Level 10, the kid was DRT (dead right there).

Later it was discovered that the kid was retarded. The knife didn't have much of a point, yada, yada, yada. The hue and outcry against why the police had to use lethal force on the poor innocent child went on ad nauseum. I went on TV and radio to explain to people that you can get dead in the blink of an eye at that range with a knife. And point or no, a 10 kitchen knife is a deadly threat. While it was tragic that the kid died, it was still deemed a clean shooting because of the known circumstances at the time. The 911 call stated that the kid was trying to kill his mother, the same kid had a knife, refused a lawful order and approached the officer in a confined space -- with that knife. The vocal community however, didn't want to hear about that. (The city of Denver later crucified the cop to appease the 'community' but they did it on issues not related to the shooting).

My point is, that to people who have never faced a level 10 situation it is often difficult to grasp that immediate lethal force IS the fastest, safest and most effective way to save a life ... and quite often that life is your own. They are still playing for the standard goals of up to level 7. The simple fact is up until about level 7 and 8 there are ALL kinds of other options. From 8 up, there really aren't that many options ... and usually the safest option is to get there fastest and more effectively.

Realize that level 10 situations don't 'just happen.' A lot has gone on before it got to that point. While you may just have come around the corner and found it, the guy who has taken it to level 10 has been working it for a while. He's worked up to full steam and if you have any hopes of either surviving -- or saving someone else's life -- you gotta be able to recognize where you are transport into same mindset without diddly farting around.

If this video were a simple beating, then maybe a less extreme response would have been feasible. If he'd been just sitting on her chest punching her, then the attempts of the people to stop the beating would have been appropriate. But that's not what was happening. He was sitting on her chest with a knife attacking her in a vital target area. The fact that the woman didn't die right there was amazing (he was actually kind of picking at her with the knife). Realize however that with a different style of attack or a lucky shot, even a 1/4 inch wound to the neck area can be fatal. This is why, when you are talking about level 10 situations, the time it takes to slap your hand on the table can be fatal is not hyperbole.

Let me also state that level 10 situations are rare. Having said that, they do occur. And the use of the term 'rare' is relative. Overall they are rare, in other circumstances/lifestyles they are common. In fact, in some lifestyles/circumstances it is a survival trait. It is only in comparison of those circumstances to the myriad of other possibilities that make it rare (e.g. every day a billion people get up and don't face these circumstances, but a few hundred thousand do).

If you're one of those billion of people, it is often hard to understand the conditions that those few hundred thousands have to operate under. This is the source of a lot of confusion and misunderstanding between those who have been in level 10 situations and those who haven't. Those who have never faced these extremes don't realize that degree of force is the logical, rational and most effective option. Remember, that extremes are extremes because they take away other, more palatable options.

So take this idea of a violence scale and next time you hear people going on about a police shooting try applying it to both the situation and what the people are saying. I think you'll be surprised by the difference in your thinking.

11 comments:

Mrs Mom said...

Excellent post. Thank you for taking the time to point out the variables.

My husband directed me to your website, where he has been reading for a while now. He firmly believes that all women need to be more aware of their surroundings, and how to get themselves out of potential bad situations. I took the time to today to start reading there, and can not thank you enough for the information you are sharing.

If it's alright with you, I would like to post a link to your site and blog on my blog, (www.opencarry.blogspot.com) where I am detailing my journey into sidearms.

Looking forward to reading more!

ttruscott said...

Hi Marc,

excellent work, as always.

Looking forward to seeing what comes next, :)

Ted

jaxx said...

hi marc, you are doing good work here.

after i read about the 19 year old who was raped (avoidably so, i think) in soho last week, i posted some advice for city girls on what to do if you find yourself stalked late at night. (warning: strong language!)

http://getangrywithme.typepad.com/get_angry_with_me/2008/05/how-not-to-get-raped.html

glad i found your blog.

End The Fight Now said...

Great post. No sugar coating.

Ryan

Low Tech Combat said...

Love your work Marc.

Your information is always easily understood and is very practical most importantly. Ive monitored it over the years and have made my fiance read Safe in the Streets which she found interesting once she got started and have continued with the education ever since. Thanks for the knowledge.

Adam
Low Tech Combat

Little English said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chicken Little said...

I just found the NNSD website. I didn't see a place there to comment. This is the first opportunity I found, and I first want to say "Wow, just wow!"

What a treasure trove of informative and thought-provoking insight into the processes and unexamined assumptions involved in crime and violence. I'm a fast reader, yet I expect it will take me weeks to get through all the material once. Not reading critically at this point, I'm just absorbing the viewpoints and the data points, checking the footnotes to see what it's based on. But so far it feels right to my scientific education and life experience, and not only clears many of the stumbling blocks I've had with the conventional secular humanist wisdom on "violence," as some kind of aberration, but opens up new explanations and understanding of some of the first- and second-hand experiences I've had.

This website deserves much wider currency in my estimation. I hope I can help you get it.

Unknown said...

Thank You Marc!

What you teach works effectively and precisely. It also prevents me from being chosen by criminals for them to be able to effectively physically attack me.
Recently in September 2016 I had to go to the post office. I was alone. It was 2 AM. A guy had driven up on the other side of the street. He said/asked, "Are you OK? Where you heading to?"
He was travelling in the direction of traffic on the street. I was walking across the street against the direction of oncoming traffic on the sidewalk.

I just turned my head, said,
"I'm fine.
Please leave."
In a flat, non-emotional tone of voice.
I had my cell phone on and was listening to music on it. Which I stopped doing. Then I put my other hand into my pocket and he drove away.
The "interview" he has done was a failure. Because, if he thought I were safe to attack, he would have. If he did have anyone else in his car with him... I didn't want to find out.
I didn't need to know.

Jennifer Dana said...

Thank You Marc!

What you teach works effectively and precisely. It also prevents me from being chosen by criminals for them to be able to effectively physically attack me.
Recently in September 2016 I had to go to the post office. I was alone. It was 2 AM. A guy had driven up on the other side of the street. He said/asked, "Are you OK? Where you heading to?"
He was travelling in the direction of traffic on the street. I was walking across the street against the direction of oncoming traffic on the sidewalk.

I just turned my head, said,
"I'm fine.
Please leave."
In a flat, non-emotional tone of voice.
I had my cell phone on and was listening to music on it. Which I stopped doing. Then I put my other hand into my pocket and he drove away.
The "interview" he has done was a failure. Because, if he thought I were safe to attack, he would have. If he did have anyone else in his car with him... I didn't want to find out.
I didn't need to know.

Jennifer Dana said...

Thank You Marc!

What you teach works effectively and precisely. It also prevents me from being chosen by criminals for them to be able to effectively physically attack me.
Recently in September 2016 I had to go to the post office. I was alone. It was 2 AM. A guy had driven up on the other side of the street. He said/asked, "Are you OK? Where you heading to?"
He was travelling in the direction of traffic on the street. I was walking across the street against the direction of oncoming traffic on the sidewalk.

I just turned my head, said,
"I'm fine.
Please leave."
He made the wise choice.
He left, and ended the interview.

Jennifer Dana said...

Thank You Marc!

What you teach works effectively and precisely. It also prevents me from being chosen by criminals for them to be able to effectively physically attack me.
Recently in September 2016 I had to go to the post office. I was alone. It was 2 AM. A guy had driven up on the other side of the street. He said/asked, "Are you OK? Where you heading to?"
He was travelling in the direction of traffic on the street. I was walking across the street against the direction of oncoming traffic on the sidewalk.

I just turned my head, said,
"I'm fine.
Please leave."
He made the wise choice.
He left, and ended the interview.