Monday, November 26, 2007

What are you reading?

I am currently reading "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin De Becker and have Steven Pressfield's "The War of Art" on deck and James Patterson's Double Cross in the hole.

"The Gift of Fear" is a fascinating look at our primal survival signals - I call it my "spidey sense" and recently had an experience that drove this home.
I was headed to the restroom (location to remain unknown) alone and as I passed by the entrance 4 young males entered the building and my "spidey sense" immediately went on full alert. And as I walked by I noticed they were headed the same direction I was headed - so I detoured to "grab a cup of coffee" on the way to the restroom and then headed back to where I had started and avoided being in a room alone with 4 people that made my "spidey sense" flair up.
Now I concider myself a physically capable person (but I avoid confromtation at all costs) and more than likely everything would have been fine - but then why did my primal fear signal go off?

Too often we talk ourselves out of listening to our primal senses.

And - have you seen the Kindle device on
It is a portable "electronic book" device - looks very promising.
Check it out.


Franz Snideman said...

Brett, that sounds like a fascinating book!

Your "spidy" sense is no doubt what keeps you safe in this world......

Christine said...

I've read Gift of Fear, it's a little unnerving if you ask me. But that's coming from a female perspective.

Rick & The Family! said...

I have read and own the book. Very good, I liked 90% of it however books like that always put a negative spin on firearms. Personally, I own them and I have a license to carry a concealed handgun. My old man always said a gun is like a condom, it is better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it. No one could ever convince me that carrying a concealed handgun for mine and my family's protection is a bad idea.


Aaron Friday said...

+1 for Rick. This is a great book to drive home the need to trust one's own intuition. For that, it gets 5 stars out of 5 from me. No other book drives this home so clearly.

On the other hand.........

When a violent encounter cannot be avoided, nothing is a better deterrent or fight-stopper than a firearm. Nothing else is even close.

A lot of people are simply unwilling to go there, including this author, but I hope nobody suffers from his disdain for firearms.

The subject of using guns for defense is intense, as it should be. Carrying a gun and everything that goes along with it (a lot, trust me), has challenged me in more ways than I expected. Ironically, I am much more generally aware and keen on avoiding confrontation than I was before I had a gun in my pocket.

Aaron Friday said...

"Too often we talk ourselves out of listening to our primal senses."

Violent criminals listen to it, but most victims don't. Fortunately, being on the wrong end of a gun is just as scary for criminals as it is for civilized folks.

Jim Ryan said...

Great post, Brett.
I have learned to develop my 'spidey sense' too. It has not steered me wrong yet!

One of my worst moments was when I was dating a stupid young thing and my spidey sense was screaming as an altercation between about 7 young men roiled and I could not get her to leave the scene.

I was really torn - trust my gut and leave her or stay to protect her and deal with the ca-ca hittin' it.

Fortunately she was draggable and I got her out of there in a very ungraceful way just as the fight broke out. Of course she was pissed at me and therefore now an ex.

As comedian Ron White says; "You can't fix stupid"

Jim Ryan said...

Right on, Aaron. I'm with you 100% on this one too.

Brett Jones said...

Thanks everyone - I cannot comment on the handgun thing as I have never owned one and my family never owned any but I am not opposed to them.
Love the Ron White line - "you can't fix stupid" - truer words have never been spoken.

Brett Jones said...

I think it is meant to be disturbing book and get people to listen to their intuition more - and the sad fact is that there is a tremendous amount of crime against women.

Joe Sarti said...

Recently finished Lone Survivor by marcus Luttrell which is a fantastic read, one of the best books I read in a long time 400 pages in 4 days

Current Books
The Power of Intention: Dr. Wayne Dyer
A Mans Life: Mark Jenkins
An Open Heart: Dalai Lama
Teachings on Love: Thich Knat Hanh
The Way of the Champion: Jerry Lynch

I read between these 5 books.

gavin de becker said...

Hi Folks: I'm Gavin de Becker, grateful that a few of you were discussing The Gift of Fear, and doubly grateful that it's been of value to you.

And I hope you enjoy the rest of it, Brett. Two of you felt I'd put a negative spin on firearms, and one post said "A lot of people are simply unwilling to go there [firearms use], including this author, but I hope nobody suffers from his disdain for firearms."

I am of course willing to go there, and I own firearms, and in my company, which protects at risk people, we have hundreds of firearms (of course). My observations in Gift of Fear are intended to help (and even to persuade) people to make informed decisions about firearms. You folks seem smart and reasonable. One post says very wisely that the person is even more careful about avoiding confrontation specifically because he is carrying gun. Very smart. Alas, not everyone is as reasonable or well-informed as you. You who read Gift of Fear and elect to have firearms (as I do) have made that choice based on being able to assess a lot of information: Not just anti-gun rhetoric, and not just gun-dealers sales pitches. And you choose to have guns as part of safety plan... perfect. I support your decisions, and I support what I observe about your approach to the subject. Guns are popular and instruments that can be dangerous, so naturally the statistics on violence that I share often involve firearms; they are built to be dangerous to those on the receiving end. In the hands of reasonable and conscious (aware) people, they can be valuable - in the hands of reckless, thoughtless, or sinister people, they are, of course, a problem for the rest of us. I could say the same for cars (and I do when it comes to my teenage sons driving too fast, for example). I don't feel guns are the primary defense instrument - I feel intuition is the primary defense instrument. Gun sellers tout having one in the house as some form of defense plan. A gun in the home of an ill informed, thoughtless, or just dumb person does not enhance their security. Accordingly, I seek to share all aspects of the issue. That is not anti gun, and I specifically state in my books that I oppose gov't gun control. You'd be surprised to learn that we might be so far apart on this topic as you imagine. best to you all - gavin de becker

Brett Jones said...

Wow - Great to have you stop by the blog Gavin!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the gun issue - from different teaching and presenting opportunities that I have I know that people will fill in the blanks they perceive in what you say and it results in the "well so and so says this" syndrome - when in fact the speaker did not.
Guns are an emotional issue and one best left to the responsible individual.

Do you have a blog or website I can link to for my readers?

Rick & The Family! said...


Great to have you here and it is nice to read your point of views. Like I said, I own the book and have read it cover to cover twice.

I do not believe you are anti-gun, but I also do not believe you are very pro private gun ownership either. You speak of additional safety features being a must on guns, which in my opinion is just another avenue the anti-gunners can use for their witch hunt. Sure, we agree to additional safety measures such combination locks, etc. now, and soon we are force fed more restrictions. I believe if we give an inch, the anti-gunners will take a mile, and I, for one, am not ready to give up ANY of my firearms.

Also, you suggest a gun owner should have the gun locked and locked up for the safety of children, etc. I again disagree. I believe in educating a child in the proper use and handling of a firearm rather then locking the gun up. My children are all avid shooters and hunters, and they have been since a very young age. They have known since they were very small that a gun is not a toy, and when they see a gun they know not to touch and to tell an adult. Now that they are older they have a deep respect for firearms but not a fear. If we, as gun owners, are to lock and lock up our weapons in our own homes, what do we do when the wolf comes calling? Personally, I do not want to have to search for a gun safe key, then scramble to remember a combination gun lock while intruders are coming into my home and threatening my family. No sir! My home defense weapon is close by and primed to go. Too many familys have been raped and murdered because #1- there was no gun in the home or #2- the gun was under lock and key.

Around page 170 in the paperback, you speak of a man named Richard Farley who went on a work place rampage. This one of many you speak of. However, I don't remember ever reading any cases where an armed employee stopped such a rampage? It does happen! Men and women who are licensed to carry, trained, and well practiced, have stopped deadly rampages before the killer could kill more. I get to my stomach when I think of the V-Tech shooting! Firearms were not permitted on campus, so only the criminals, or the insane, had firearms. Look how many lives were lost that day and if one student had been armed, he or she could have ended it before so much carnage took place. We will never know, because of the V-tech's rules! I often wonder what I could have done had I been in a classroom on that day? Had I heard the shooting down the hall? I do know that as soon as I turned 21, I never went to 1 class at the college I attended without my .45.

Gavin, I love books such as yours and I read many of them. I also have an interest in studying serial murder, but of course, when I seek out and read the best material out there, I find it littered with anti-gun sentiments. Mr. Robert Ressler himself writes on the horrors of gun ownership in America, even states how some call it a "cancer"!

I only ask that both sides are researched, and when presenting the facts, the writer uses examples from both sides. I own many guns from shotguns to assual rifles to handguns to high powered rifles. I have been around guns since I was 4 years old, shot my first hand gun at 6, and killed my first white tailed deer at 12. I collect firearms, shoot 3-4 times a week, and practice tatical handgun use weekly. I have my guns for first and foremost, protection of my family, secondly protection of my self, and thirdly hunting and recreation. My children all own their own firearms. I have a concealed weapons permit here in PA, and I carry concealed every where my permit allows. I do this because I believe not only in my right as an American to keep and bear arms, but also my right to not become another statistic.

I only ask you this Gavin, and any reader, could you live with yourself if you didn't have your gun and your family was slaughtered? Could you live with yourself if you didn't have your gun and your wife and children were tied up, beaten, and raped? Yes, we can avoid these situations by using our senses, our intuition. We can avoid and escape bad situations by using our heads! However, when the wolf comes calling and you can't escape, when your front door is kicked in in the middle of the night and you live 30 minutes from the nearest police station, when that vile disgrace for a human being shoves that gun in your face and demands your car and your wife, it is reassuring to reach down to my right hip and feel that hard lump that evens the playing field.

Thanks for the great book Gavin! Keep it up-

-Rick Walker

Aaron Friday said...

I don't think I was putting words in Mr. de Becker's mouth; I apologize if I did. I just had the same sense that Rick did from reading the Gift of Fear. Without this clarification, I would be none the wiser about what Mr. de Becker does or recommends outside of the book. The book itself does not "go there," IMO.

FWIW, the required concealed carry training in Minnesota and other states can be very eye-opening, regardless of whether one intends to own or carry a gun. A primary goal of my instructor was to scare people out of the idea. The ones who weren't scared off and passed the training understood how much responsibility they were going to be shouldering.

Cool that you showed up here, Mr. de Becker. I'm glad to read your ideas on the firearms issue.

Jordan Vezina said...

I used to work for Gavin DeBecker and agree that his concepts are right on the money, and I still use them in my daily life. In case you haven't come across it yet you might also check out 'The Bulletproof Mind' CD set by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. You might be familiar with his books 'On Combat' and 'On Killing'. As far as the gun issue, I always go back to Selleck's statement in 'Quigley Down Under': "I said I didn't have any use for a pistol, I didn't say I didn't know how to use one."

Aaron Friday said...

Jordan, I'm sure you could find a good use for a pistol.

Yes, Mr. de Becker is right on the money with understanding and using fear.

Jordan Vezina said...

Oh, I'm sure I could find a use for one, and have put thousands and thousands of rounds through them, but at this stage in my life I don't have a use for one. I make a point of carrying implements that are easier to defend in court depending on your city and state. I have to be realistic about the repercussions of my actions. So if I think I can accomplish the same task with a 3 inch blade or a COC gripper, I try for that. One mind, any weapon.

Aaron Friday said...

A COC gripper? LOL! I grip my S&W 642.

I love knives, too, but that's worlds apart from a gun. Hope you never have the need to use it against a person. Lethal force is lethal force.

Jordan Vezina said...

I agree about lethal force, but depending on where you are courts do look at the implement differently. Some judges are anti-gun zealots and others view "I grabbed anything I could to defend myself and it happened to kill him" versus "I had a gun on me" very differently. I'm dead serious about the COC gripper. Take a good look at that thing. You can use it as an improvised brass knuckle, eye gouger, killing blows to the temple, etc. Not to get too into the subject, but if you watch the assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford, that gunfight where they unload at three feet apart and barely hit one another, that actually happens. So my knife lunge isn't so crazy. :)
Ok, that's enough of me hijacking Brett's blog.

Aaron Friday said...

Jordan, Brett is a tolerant and loving man. He absorbs and teaches, and the nonsense of you and I will not likely get his blood boiling unless we disrespect respectable things.

If your jurisdiction persecutes people for employing legal means of protection, then I feel for you. It is not fair. The right to keep arms for protection is undeniable, and the states that make it difficult for people are against the spirit of this country IMO.

I own guns legally and, if I defend myself with them, I will do so legally. Your knife-thrust at 3-feet is no-doubt effective, but no-doubt took training to achieve. With similar training, a gun can also be shot straight, and bullets will penetrate 12" instead of 3" even at a distance.

Self-defense training involves avoidance. When avoidance does not work, we fight back with whatever we have.

COC grippers, while they may be used effectively for self-defense, are a terrible solution for the masses. You need to be a good martial artist to use them effectively and, in that case, why wouldn't you just use your fists, which can be employed instantaneously?

Sorry, no matter how many small implements I read about that can be used for self-defense, nothing compares to a gun. A knife is the next best thing, but it's far behind because it requires closer distance and more physical fitness and training than a gun, and is less effective for deterring or stopping a threat.

Other implements such as stiff combs, pens, kobutans, COC grippers, etc. are extensions of the human hand. If you already know how to fight, then go for it. If you don't, nothing you hold in your hand is going to make a difference against a gang of criminals, or even one tough criminal.

There is simply no substitute for a gun. I'm sorry that your locale prohibits it. Where do you live, by the way?

For the non-gun crowd, a largish can of FOX LABS pepper spray is the best idea. That, and an attitude of get the hell out of here just as soon as you can.

Knife? screw it. I don't want to get that close. I'll take a can of pepper spray myself. The range is farther, and it's non-lethal.

Good sparring with you, Jordan.

Jordan Vezina said...

All good points. You did hit the nail on the head, and I think I may take all of my training for granted and forget that the average person may not be able to employ the methods I do. A big factor in that being I've avoided being mugged in the city three times because I'm hyper aware of my environment and see it coming. Most do not. The one caveat regarding pepper spray is that while for most of the population it's like getting hit by a train, I don't trust it as I've been hit three times (military/ police grade) and pretty much walk through it. It still feels like I have had the sun shoved in my eyes, but I remain effective and able to attack. I have absolutely no problem with people utilizing firearms for self defense, and I think my main goal is that they be trained and understand the intricacies of combat shooting versus target shooting and hollywood, which I think you clearly do. Primarily that your ability to hit a target decreases dramatically in a confrontation. Something Grossman mentions in the bulletproof mind that I've experienced to a degree is the spiking heart rate in the kill house of up to 300 bpm.
I live in San Mateo, 20 minutes south of the People's Republic of San Francisco which recently decided the constitution doesn't apply here and outlawed firearms, and I mean ALL firearms in city limits. Last I heard the NRA was going to take the city to court over it.

Rick & The Family! said...

Here is my 2 cents on the knife/other weapon issue. I have many friends in law enforcement, and they all tell me you are better off killing your attacker then just wounded them. If you wound them, they can come to court and testify and then it is your word versus theirs, and though you might win, you still might get slapped with a law suit! If you terminate them and you still go to court, well then it is you and your family's story, period.

I live in PA where the laws are well defined, you can read them here:

Lots of good info there on use of force for protection and use of force for home invasion. It clear reads:

"The use of deadly force is justifiable under this section if:
(A) there has been an entry into the actor's dwelling"

I will take my chances having a gun, it is better to be judged by 12 then carried by 6!

As far as knives and hand to hand combat go, they are all well and good and who doesn't dream of charging the battle field like in "300"? However, welcome to 2007, where most criminals are armed to the teeth and have no problems peeling your head back to get what they want. Do you have any idea how many 18-19-20 year olds I work with that killed people during a crime? 100s, and we get more every day!

If you feel safe with a knife, that is fine. I have no idea how you plan to come out unharmed if your atacker has a gun, but whatever you feel comfortable with is what matters.

For the record, I do practice quick draws, firing on a charging object (my pops has a sweet set-up where he attaches a stand-up target to a remote control truck, then drives it at you), firing from a vehicle window, firing from the hip, firing while moving, etc. Does this mean anything? Well, it at least means I am as prepared as I can be if the need ever arises. Of course, no one knows how they will react under fire, but it is nice to at least level the playing field and give myself that chance.

Personally I could not live with myself if my wife or kids wil killed or injured before my very eyes because I felt there was no need to carry concealed.

Jordan Vezina said...

All good points, and while we may disagree on some, I think we have the same basic idea even if we use different methods. In parting, again I encourage anyone in the combat arms or who uses weapons for defense to have a look at Lt. Col. Grossman's material. When I worked for Gavin they gave me these cd's, and it isn't just a matter of being mentally prepared to kill, but dealing with the aftermath of it for both yourself and your family members.

Brett Jones said...

It's great to have you here and please do not worry about "highjacking" the blog conversation. Your input is very appreciated.

Very interesting stuff! Especially for the "untrained" crowd.

Aaron Friday said...

Jordan and Rick, I also appreciate your input and points of view. And I appreciate Brett for being cool.

FWIW, I am in favor of all self-defense training that can give people any tools to avoid becoming victims of violence. Awareness and a predisposition to avoid trouble are where all of the good programs start. And Mr. de Becker's book has laid this out more clearly and urgently than anything else I have read.

Jordan, so sorry your locale sees fit to operate independently from the rest of the nation. The NRA is currently fighting the San Francisco debacle in the courts. The vote was unconstitutional, and no matter the outcome of the vote, it was illegal to begin with. It will be overturned.

In Minnesota, you need to pay for, complete, and pass a certified training course to obtain a carry permit. This class costs about $150. Assuming you pass, you then need to apply for the permit and pay $100, at which time the sheriff's office will check your criminal history, mental health history, drug-abuse history, and child-support history. They will also interview your neighbors, employer, and spouse about your violent tendencies, and do whatever else they feel like to demonstrate that you shouldn't carry a gun.

If they find nothing, you get your permit. It's a pain in the backside, but the process does weed out the undesirables. The sheriff can say "no" and even the course instructor can say "no." When you go to buy a carry gun, the gunshop owner can also say "no" if something about you sets off his alarms. If you seem sane and civilized to the gunshop owner, you still need to pass the instant background check (which is redundant at this point) before you can purchase the gun.

If you're a model citizen, you still need to shell out at least $250 and actually show up to do all off these things. If you have no handgun experience, you need to take a handgun basics class first for another $150 and then be competent enough to pass the shooting test during the carry course. Not everyone passes this test.

People who can plan for, pay for, show up for, and pass the screening for this total program are not the people looking to jack us for the contents of our wallets or shoot us to make it into a gang.

I really wish California would join the fold and get with the program. Guns in the hands of responsible people make society safer, and limiting the power of law-abiding citizens does nothing to curb the tendencies of violent criminals.

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