By Dan Schilling
Here’s a question: do possessing martial arts skills and carrying concealed weapons prevent crimes from occurring? If your answer is yes, then you’d have to agree with this statement: Seatbelts prevent accidents.
Neither is correct. And both are common mistakes regarding personal safety, incorrectly mistaking response for prevention.
Why this is so is an important question. Many people place greater importance on self-defense training and weapons proficiency which are disciplines that are designed be utilized during a crisis, not before. Both are automatic response actions based on previous training, the extent to which one has obtained levels of skill, and just as critically, how current you are in the discipline through continued training and proficiency. Put another way, neither prevent crimes precisely because if you are employing a firearm or martial arts skill, a crime is already in the process of being committed.
So what is the value of these two common personal safety skills? First of all it’s important to understand that martial arts and concealed firearms differ from each other in very significant ways. One you carry inside you and passes through airport or event security without issue. The other is heavy, restricted to your home turf or state and of no value if you don’t have it loaded, accessible, and are prepared for the fact that anything you do with it, including if you miss your target, that bullets can severely damage people and property as far as your line of sight can carry the round.
In my 30 years of special operations, we invested heavily in the art of weapons and martial arts, but those efforts were focused on combat. In other words, engaging an enemy. That’s not a wise approach to personal safety in my opinion. My book The Power of Awareness focuses on crime avoidance and evasion rather than combating or directly engaging criminals. It is always wiser to avoid a problem than disengage from it, and to disengage than to combat it. I’m sure there’s some Sun Tzu in there somewhere. Regardless, your strategy should always be to avoid and distance yourself rather than directly engage and potentially risk your life.
If you can’t evade a potentially dangerous situation and confrontation is inevitable, training and weapons finally enter your equation. Know this though, weapon does not necessarily mean gun. The first question when it comes to investing time and resources in self-defense is to decide what you’re trying to accomplish. Fighting off, or in the case of firearms killing, criminals? Or is it avoiding them?
It is also important to acknowledge that guns are for killing, not for preventing or thwarting crime. If you think killing a person is no small thing even when justified in self-defense, I don’t believe you’ve given the reality enough thought. In my firsthand experience killing diminishes you as a person, it does not advance you in any way. If it must be done, to protect yourself or someone you love, then it must be done. But jumping to that final solution is a poor first choice. And the scars killing someone leaves are long-lasting.
For most people it is better to invest in martial arts than a firearm. It takes longer, requires more commitment and discipline but for those reasons and the others already listed, is the better choice. Anything that is a shortcut in life is usually laced with drawbacks and firearms are no exception.
In the end, the question “Do Martial Arts and Concealed Carry Permits Prevent Crime?” is perhaps in actuality a secondary consideration. A better question in my opinion is “Do I have the skills to avoid a crime?” alleviating as it does the assumption that one needs to confront a criminal. Sun Tzu would agree.