Two Letters Re: The Weakness in Your Defense Plans


I want to say thank you to T.S. Your article helped reinforce the attitude I had to re-condition myself and the way I see and think. I completely understand because that is precisely what I had to do when I finally purchased a gun. That was five years ago. Further back in time (I am in my 50’s now), I worked in a retail store that sold pellet handguns. Once, alone in the back stock room I took one out of the box. The feel of the gun, the weight, and that sense of power was kind of exciting. I loaded it. Then, being certain it was safe, I began shooting it at various targets. Within moments I was suffering a headache like nothing I had ever experienced before, nor even imagined a person could suffer. The gun was for killing. A sense of repulsion flooded through me, and the weapon was put away quickly. I knew at that time I would never hold a gun again. A few years later I worked as a security guard. I wasn’t licensed, but my partner was. One evening he pulled it on a kid. There was no need to do that, but he liked the power. That headache returned, and I quit that night.

Come Sept. 2008 when the market crashed, I resolved that I had to get over this mental wall if chaos occurred and my family needed to be protected. All I could afford was a 12-gauge shotgun. Go figure. It wasn’t an easy to use .22 LR but a 12 gauge, and now I had to learn to use it.

It’s simple enough, and thankfully somewhere along my life span I learned to never put my finger on the trigger until it is time to shoot. At the range at last, loaded and ready, all I could do was stand there and stare at the target 50 yards away. All around me men, some women, and teens were shooting away, shooting paper and cheering when one made the “kill shot”, meaning dead center. I stood there alone in my thoughts. I am not like them. I am not here for enjoyment. A nauseousness began to set in. I can’t just shoot. I need a reason, and telling myself I have to learn the “feel” of shooting, I have to learn aiming, I have to learn how to hold a 12-gauge and handle the recoil wasn’t enough for me to pull the trigger. No matter how many times I set it to my shoulder and aimed, I couldn’t pull the trigger. A small headache had begun.

Yet, I was determined not to leave until I had fired at least two rounds. Why did I buy this? It was to defend my family, but all I am shooting is paper. This thing kills. Paper isn’t a threat, and shooting paper isn’t fun. I was alone in my thoughts. I had to realign my thinking. I had to re-think reality. Suddenly the image in my mind wasn’t a piece of paper. The resolve in my heart was to stop “someone” from hurting my family. I forced myself to “see” that paper as a threat– a real person. I HAD to shoot for defense. Off goes the first round. I was not even close, and boy did the kick surprise me. I felt sick, yet again I re-imagined the threat and fired the second round. I missed again. There was a lack of experience, but after six rounds I found my sighting and hit the bull’s eye. Thirty seven rounds were all I could handle. Though the last several rounds were center hits, it wasn’t elation, satisfaction, or excitement that I felt. It was accomplishment. I did what had to be done. The feeling was more somber than any other feeling. That was good enough. Though no face nor blood existed, by forcing myself to re-see and re-think, my resolve was strong enough that I could pull the trigger if necessary. Each and every time I go, I must do the same exercise.

This led to another “reality check”. Almost every post on this site mentions an aspect of knowing your environment. I walk my dog every night at least five miles. I live on Long Island. IF martial law is declared, we here are screwed. Manhattan and Long Island have been closed down/off three times since Sept. 11. Most people aren’t even aware of the ramifications should they do it again. Since that day at the range, my neighborhood no longer is the same. I live in a heavily gang populated area. I am amazed at the number of ambush sites I now see as I walk my dog. I never truly noticed them before.

A vet I know and trust gave me advice. He said under martial law you want to blend in, not stand out. If possible, avoid checkpoints. Having re-learned my neighborhood, I can clearly foresee where two checkpoints would be– both on the route traveled getting home from work.

If they had to be avoided, it is doable, even though it means adding an extra five miles, which would be done all on foot and through the woods.

My main point is, in order to overcome that unconscious mind, forcing myself to “see” and then “do”, I can now put five to eight in the center at 75 yards. I am confident now I can pull the trigger. I no longer walk my dog with my head down. I am more aware of MY environment, and I know more of the danger points and such as well as how to get around on foot through wooded areas.

I can’t leave. My family is here, over 40 of them. Most believe all things balance out. I am the nut. Hopefully, a nut who is now a step or two ahead of the crowd. – F.J.

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I am writing to question the information in the above article. I know that any questioning of the article will require some bona fides. I am an Army Warrant Officer with both Counter Intelligence and Signal experience. I am very close friends with a member of the Ranger Hall of Fame and my best friend on this ol’ Earth was a Cav Scout. I have spoken with both these men (and others) at length about Grossman and his work. Now, on to my comments.

The biggest weakness with the article is its reliance on LTC (not COL) Dave Grossman and BG SLA Marshall for its introductory thesis. Marshall has been accused of wholesale fabrication of data; at the very least his scholarship was sloppy and his conclusions cannot be supported by any actual data he collected.

Grossman relies too heavily (at least in “On Combat”) on Marshall’s work, and his (Grossman’s) conclusions have been challenged by many in the Regiment and the Special Forces community. It’s not that all his ideas are worthless, but the results of actual research on how humans react to combat and killing have not been kind to his thesis.

My recommendation, as a professional soldier, is to not over rely on Grossman’s and Marshall’s questionable thesis in making preparations. – E.W.