18 Oct 17

“We had no home front
We had no soft soap
They sent us Playboy
They gave us Bob Hope
We dug in deep
And shot on sight
And prayed to Jesus Christ
With all of our might

Remember Charlie?
Remember Baker?
They left their childhood
On every acre
And who was wrong?
And who was right?
None of that matters in the thick of the fight!”

From “Goodnight Saigon,” written and sung by Billy Joel in 1982

Preparing for “The Thick of the Fight”

In much of what passes for “training,” it seems the subjects of sincerely fighting for your life, and in the process inflicting painful, fatal wounds on people (evil as they may be), are never openly and frankly discussed.

In fact, in many “Gun Safety Classes,” such things are mentioned only in whispers, and only during breaks.

Even “Concealed-Carry Classes” often fail to confront real and pressing issues of lethal interaction with malignant criminals, and resulting dreadful injury and violent death.

Many students come to me with this incomplete orientation, albeit otherwise mostly competent gun-handlers. They can operate a machine, but they’ve never honestly confronted the subject of lethal self-defense. In fact, they’ve avoided thinking about it.

Lawyers and politicians (most of whom have never confronted any species of real danger) talk about it so surgically, philosophically, even casually in the aftermath, but for those of us in the “thick of the fight,” right up to our necks, the stark confrontation with death itself is just about as “real” as life gets!

In one’s general education, some subjects dare not be avoided!

Jeff Cooper used to refer to those of us who have lived through deadly violence as having “Seen the Elephant”

You’ve heard of the “fight or flight” response to deadly threats.

Actually, neither is likely, particularly among the willfully naive.

What is far more likely is “freeze or panic,” and in real, violent criminal attacks, we see both routinely, even among those who ostensibly know how to operate a gun, with predictably dreadful outcomes.

Skilled lethal-force instructors, as an integral part of their curriculum, need to compel students to straightforwardly confront the unthinkable, in addition to teaching them how to operate a machine, productively interact with our criminal-justice system, make profitable adjustments in personal lifestyles, etc.

Ignoring “The Elephant” won’t make him disappear!

“Death smiles at us all. All one can do is smile back!”

Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius (played by Richard Harris), in the 2000 feature film, “Gladiator,” staring Russell Crowe