According to the Michigan State Police webpage regarding crime safety Safety Tips:
“It may be more advisable to submit than to resist and risk severe injury or death. You will have to make this decision based on the circumstances. But, don't resist if the attacker has a weapon.”
Not to single out the MSP, as that advice to not fight back or submit and be a good witness has been offered for decades by so-called law enforcement and security experts. I can remember hearing that advice over and over regarding an airline hijacking or being caught in a bank robbery.
The “Don’t Fight Back” narrative has taken an even more dramatic turn.
A man wielding a tomahawk robs a gas station. (Source: Surveillance video via Naples Daily News)
With the World Cup Soccer Tournament coming up in Brazil, the Sao Paulo Police have come up with a brochure filled with safety tips for attendees. In this list of tips, the police advise that if you are victim of a robbery “Don’t Fight, Scream or Argue.” In other words, be a polite victim.
Two hikers in Northern California apparently followed the expert security advice to the letter when set upon by an armed robber. The two men, aged 69 and 76, cooperated with their attacker and handed over all of their money and valuables. Both were then shot and left for dead on the trail.
Approximately three hours after the shooting another hiker happened upon the scene and called for help. According to the Tehama County Sheriff’s office, “Pat” Gregory died at the scene. His 76-year-old hiking partner, who was not named in the story, is in critical condition but expected to survive.
Most businesses that deal in cash have a Robbery Policy as a part of their employee handbook. I have read innumerable versions and they all go something like this:
“In the event of a robbery, do not resist, cooperate with the thief, attempt to be a good witness.”
Were I a gambling man, I would say that similar verbiage was found in the Cracker Barrel employee handbook in 1995. When two armed men entered the Cracker Barrel restaurant on Nov. 15, 1995, the three workers present followed the rules and complied with the robbers demands.
The Cracker Barrel employees were cooperative enough to allow themselves to be led into the walk-in freezer and to be tied up. Once they were on their knees and helpless, Brandy Jennings (male) walked up to each employee and slashed their throats with a knife. All three bled to death. Jennings has been languishing on Florida’s Death Row for nearly 20 years.
A man uses a machete to attempt to rob a convenience store. (Source: YouTube screen shot)
I should not have to remind the reader, yet I will, that the most glaring failure of the “Don’t Fight Back / Be a Good Witness” policy occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.
The success of the first three suicide airplane attacks on both the World Trade Center and the Pentagon can be directly attributed to the terrorist’s knowledge that Americans had been conditioned for decades to never fight back against a hijacker. “Lower your head, don’t make eye contact and try to be a good witness” was the advice I was given as a U.S. Military servicemen in the 1980’s regarding airline hijacking.
A handful of evil men, armed with only small knives and box-cutters, were able to cow hundreds of people into submission and then perpetrate the most heinous act of terrorism ever committed on U.S. soil.
Why? Because they knew they would have airplanes full of submissive victims.
The lone terrorist failure on Sept. 11 occurred when the people on Flight 93, who were informed via mobile phone that the planes were being used as weapons, decided to fight back. The few subsequent hijackings to be attempted since Sept. 11 have been thwarted by righteously angry citizens who fought back.
Despite the glaring evidence that submission leads to dead victims and fighting back leads to dead criminals, we are still treated to “expert” advice to not fight back. One might ask themselves; who are these so-called police and security experts who keep regurgitating the advice to submit and be a good victim?
A man uses a gun to rob a Carl's Jr. Image source: WFAA-TV
It would seem that these security advice experts are people who have either A) never been the victims of a criminal assault or B) consider themselves to be somehow insulated from such an event. I suppose this advice is akin to that of “never throw the first punch.” The only people who say that have never been on the receiving end of the first punch.
What is most sinister and disgusting about the “Don’t Fight Back” advice is that it convinces otherwise capable people that they are somehow incapable and unworthy of fighting for their own health and well-being. This advice also translates directly to citizens making the choice to not prepare or arm themselves. After all, the local police said not to fight back against criminals, so why arm myself?
Do I even need to say that “Don’t Fight Back” advice from police experts is essentially a green light to street criminals? When you tell the victims to be submissive, are you not at the same time telling the thieves that their prey has been set up for the taking?
If you cared to survey those who have been submissive victims of crimes and survived, you would discover that their psychological scars run far deeper than any physical scars ever could. The mental distress of having been victimized, having stood by helplessly and watched it happen, can haunt the person for years to come. Victims feel shame, embarrassment, frustration, and even guilt for allowing themselves, and potentially other people, to be abused by criminal scum.
Conversely, those who fight back, even if they are injured, have little if any mental trauma. They fair far better psychologically.
The Detroit grandmother who fought back against her attackers was shot four times. She survived and boldly announced her actions to the world. That woman had no shame or guilt for failing to submit, and thanks to her actions (shooting the bad guys) her attackers were captured and jailed.
The facts are present for you to see. You can either prepare yourself physically and mentally to fight back or you can default to surrender mode and place your life at the mercy of a felon. The choice is yours to make.
For the past three decades Paul Markel has had the privilege to study with some of the finest instructors the U.S. Military and Law Enforcement world have to offer. Visit Student of the Gun.
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