There is a very real possibility that a lot of armed citizens take for granted: good guys can lose fights. I meet a lot of people in the gun culture who thump their chests and suggest that simply because they carry their guns, victory is inevitable if they are ever involved in a critical incident. A lot of the time, these folks will suggest that they will even instigate fights over mere property just because the state law (as they interpret it) may make some allowance for doing so. To put it frankly, there is a dangerous amount of hubris that permeates the gun culture that can put lives at risk if carried through to action.
It is possible that when you draw your gun even in a clearly justified and reasonable response to a threat, that the threat may defeat you in the fight that ensues. There are no pre-determined winners in these situations, and it could be that you find yourself on the ground bleeding out after pulling your firearm in self-defense. The likelihood of an armed citizen winning a fight increases to some degree based on the level of training the individual may have and how prepared they are for the fight. The rest of it comes down to circumstances and chance, which are totally out of our control. The unfortunate reality is that most armed citizens don’t spend near enough time on the range training and practicing with their defensive tools, which makes the probability of losing a fight that much higher. However, even if you train and practice regularly, factors outside of your control may put you at an insurmountable disadvantage that nullifies your level of preparedness.
Does this mean that you should have a defeatist attitude toward personal defense? Absolutely not. I am by no means telling you that you can’t or won’t win your fight if it ever comes. I bring up the possibility of defeat to drive home the fact that you shouldn’t develop a false sense of security just because you carry a gun. If you can avoid putting yourself in situations that may lead to armed confrontation, you should always do that. If there are things that you wouldn’t do unarmed because of the potential danger they pose, you shouldn’t do them armed either. Unfortunately, I hear far too many people express the opposite disposition. While I understand that a lot of that has to do with “sounding cool”, I’m afraid that it sometimes reflects a very reckless mindset.
I see this dangerous mindset expressed most frequently as it relates to using deadly force in defense of property. In my opinion, which is informed by reading a lot of legal scholars and case law; there is nothing you own that is worth taking a human life to defend. Deadly force should only be used in defense of life, not stuff. The fact is, if you aren’t willing to give your life in defense of your property, you shouldn’t be willing to take someone else’s either. It may be the case that when you instigate a confrontation over property, you may lose your life over your tractor/car/dog, etc. when it is all said and done. When you go into your yard and confront the guy trying to steal your riding lawn mower (an actual scenario a student brought up in class), you may find yourself bleeding to death next to that lawn mower if the fight doesn’t go your way. Don’t be that guy.
When you accept the reality that fights are not always won by the good guy, it should motivate you to avoid the fight altogether to the extent that you can. Despite how “badass” you may believe yourself to be, there are no guarantees in life, and you can’t predict how a fight will go down. Your gun doesn’t confer superpowers on you, and you are not Superman. Guns are merely tools designed to help you efficiently respond to the threat of deadly force when and to the degree it is immediately necessary to do so. Regardless of whether you decide to train and practice with your firearm, your positive mindset should never turn into an irrational hubris. Train, practice, and be vigilant; but don’t start to believe that you are invincible, or it may lead to making bad decisions that end in your ultimate demise.