Voodoo Gun Owners and Superstitious Self-Defense

by Rob Morse

We make two large mistakes about self-defense. Some of us think guns are good, and some of us think guns are bad. Both viewpoints, as I'll describe them here, are wrong.

There is no place for superstition in self-defense. The people who think guns are bad don't belong to Second Call Defense, so let's talk about our superstitious friends who think guns are good. It sounds silly when I describe our actions in such unflattering terms, but we all know many of these voodoo gun owners.

These gun owners think guns will protect them. These guys go buy another gun if an anti-gun politician says guns are bad, yet they won't join a gun rights organization to support pro-gun politicians. They go buy another gun if there is a violent crime in their neighborhood, yet they never stop to take a training class.

You've seen your old neighbor, Mrs. Grundy, who goes to the store late and night and thinks she is safe because the dusty gun in her purse will protect her. She hasn't fired her gun in years and never took a training class. Sigh. The gun stored up on your closet shelf won't protect you either. It can't.

I'm going to be blunt: a gun isn't magic. An inert lump of metal doesn't project an invisible force field that repels criminals. Only your training and its application turns a firearm into a tool for self-defense. Only your ingrained habits can help you when you need to defend those you love. Have you built those habits through study and practice?

Marksmanship and gun handling teaches you what to do with your hands. Protecting your family means going to class. Practice means exercising the drills you were taught. It means carrying every day so you know how to live with your gun. You need to get some firearms training, but that isn't all you need.

Self-defense training teaches you what to do with your mind. You won't see potential risks unfold unless you know where to look. Developing a library of habits that help you see and avoid danger is the most important training you can get. If you've been attacked, then please tell me if I'm wrong.

Let's go one step further. You won't be able to defend your family if the police take away your firearms and arrest you. You have to learn about your local laws so you can obey them. You don't want to give the government an excuse to disarm you.

Like playing an instrument, you can't learn this in an hour. It takes time and consistent practice.

Let me set the level of expectations for you. Developing self-defense skills is a long-term process. First, you're told what to do by an instructor. Next, you're shown what to do. You watch other students trying to put their new skills into practice. A skilled instructor watches your performance and gives you feedback.

Now you know what it feels like to do the right thing. Now you can practice on your own and eventually make it a procedural skill you don't have to think about. Fortunately for all of us, there are great teachers out there and learning new skills is fun.

Let's get rid of the excuses. The hunter's safety course you had when you were a teenager isn't what you need for self-defense. The military training you had 10 years ago isn't second nature any longer. The course you took three years ago — and haven't touched your firearm since — well, that course isn't doing you much good today.

We won't know the time and place when danger decides to hunt us. Let's prepare now so you we can surprise danger, rather than the other way around.

Rob Morse works and writes in Southwest Louisiana. He writes at Ammoland, at his Slowfacts blog, and at Clash Daily. Rob co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast, and hosts the Self-Defense Gun Stories Podcast each week.