underestimating the bg

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics and Training' started by uspJ, Apr 13, 2010.

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  1. uspJ

    uspJ Member

    Dec 26, 2009
    i've noticed on alot of different gun related forums (thr included) that there is a trend among many of the posters to completely underestimate the bg. i continually see comments like

    - " as a rule bg's can't shoot."
    - "bg's have terrible aim."
    - "bg's use cheap junk that will most likely jam on them."
    -"most of the time they'll be high on drugs or fiending for their next fix."
    -" bg's are cowards who will flee as soon as the first shots are fired."

    comments like these make me curious to the poster's experience with violent criminals if they have any at all. i wonder if they tell themselves these things to build up confidence that meager training and practice will be plenty since in their little world the criminal they may one day face will be so inept that he couldn't possibly pose a serious threat.

    i've worked around violent men for a long time as a correctional officer and jailer for the county i used to live in. i've seen one man fight several with no training in martial arts and completely unarmed and come out on top. i've seen men stabbed repeatedly and or severely beaten and still put up serious defense against their attackers.

    i currently work with a man who is a former gang member, he now does outreach to help keep kids from getting involved with gangs. we have taken each other out shooting several times and he is a very competant shooter and a better shot than i am. he has three scars on his arm where he was shot by a rival gang member during a fist fight, he kept on fighting and told me at the time he didn't hear or feel the shots in the heat of the moment.

    the point i'm trying to make is that when i train and practice i try my best to prepare for the worst. i'm not confident that a few shots fired will make the bg turn tail and run. i'm not depending on how bad of a shot the bg will be, in fact i expect him to be as good or better than i am. i'm sure many of the criminals out on the street have more real world experience with gun fights than i do. i don't expect the bg's weapon to be crap, i wonder if he hadn't recently stolen a gun that functions just as good as mine.

    thinking of your opponent as less than absolutely lethal is imho setting yourself up for failure.
  2. pbearperry

    pbearperry Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Peoples Republic of Massachusetts
    Unless things have changed since I retired 9 years ago,many of the bad guy guns I ran across were rather small cal. such as 22,38 spl and .380.Many times when guns were tossed during foot chases,the guns were not fully loaded.This lead me to believe that many criminals may have access to guns but not to large amounts of ammo.But that was 9 years ago.
  3. easyg

    easyg Member

    May 19, 2007
    off-line mostly.
    Criminals buy ammo at Walmart just like everyone else.
  4. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

    Oct 22, 2007
    Central PA
    Thanks uspJ. This is a valuable insight, and I completely agree with your assessment of our communal preconceived ideas about the criminals we may meet.

    "They're stupid. They're lazy. They are armed with worthless, unreliable, and (by implication) less dangerous :)eek:) firearms. They don't even know how their guns work or what kind of ammo they should buy. They don't know how to shoot and never practice. They are cowards and will flee if their victim defends himself."

    Oh really? There are people that are better or worse at their jobs than others in every walk of life. Stands to reason the same would be true for violent criminals as well.

    Preparing for, or assuming that you will face the very worst of the lot is not a very sound stratagy.

    There have been studies of prison populations which indicated that some criminals practiced with their guns more often than did the local law enforcement officers. And that their practice was more applicable to their (nefarious) uses than static range "qualifying" would be.

    Seriously good post! Please do share any deeper insights you might have.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
  5. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

    Sep 23, 2006
    I think criminals can also to some degree be put in classifications, some may well fit the stereotypes listed above.
    There are others that for one reason or another are trained very well, some of the drug cartel have training from the Mexican and American military and there are reports of serious gang activity in our own armed forces.
    The biggest thing that many criminals have is the total willingness to commit the crime without remorse. When you are dealing with that kind of person they are dangerous even if they can't shoot well.
  6. MarineOne

    MarineOne Member

    May 5, 2009
    Its a huge numbers game, so think of it this way:

    There are roughly 310 million Americans.

    Of them, roughly 1 of 3 Americans legally owns at least one firearm, or 103 million people. This means criminals have a maximum 1 in 3 chance of coming across someone who is armed. I say this because not all weapons sold are pistols (semi-auto or revolvers), and not everyone that owns a handgun can carry concealed due to the laws in their area, otherwise we could use the 1 in 3 as a standard rule of thumb. Then you factor in local CCW/CHL laws and that 1 in 3 becomes more like 1 in 100, or in some cases becomes so high that they could rob hundreds of people before they happen across a legally armed individual.

    And then with cities like Chicago and San Francisco that do not allow "legal" CCW there is hardly a chance that a criminal will find someone legally carrying.

    Now your typical "bad guy" isn't going to the range to practice, won't spend money on alot of ammo, won't know how to shoot under pressure (operation, function check, clear jams, reload, etc.), and won't clean or care for a weapon because it's considered to be a "throw away" if they end up shooting someone.

    The seasoned bad guys that DO know how to shoot won't be robbing us because we're "small time" for their own "risk versus payout" (how much they risk versus how much we have that they could steal). These seasoned bad guys also know that those that do legally carry will statistically know how to shoot, move, take cover, and communicate to get help because we practice it.

  7. easyg

    easyg Member

    May 19, 2007
    off-line mostly.
    Where did you get this figure from?

    This is really irrelevant since it does not take in consideration those whom the criminal might encounter who are ILLEGALLY armed.

    This statement assumes ALOT!
    This is the kind of sentiment that the original post is talking about....underestimating the criminal element.

    Remember this: people are not born criminals, they become criminals.
    And even criminals have a life before they turned to crime.

    Many "criminals" have quite distinguished military records.
    And many "criminals" were taught to shoot by their fathers or uncles long before they turned to a life of crime, just like many of us non-criminals.
    And many criminals have more real world life-and-death "trigger time" than many cops and military personnel.

    Again, this assumes ALOT!
    There's no logic to this line of thinking.
    Not every "big time" criminal boss is a good shooter.
    And not every "small time" street hood is a lousy shooter.
    Fact is, you will never know if the thug you're facing is a good shooter or not until it's too late.

    Not true.
    The average LEGAL carrier doesn't know how to move, take cover, or communicate no better than any other average person.
    Just because one obtains a permit to legally carry a weapon that does not mean that they actually train on any regular basis.
    Most folks don't.
    I know plenty of guys who carry but who only shoot a box of 50 rounds about once a month or so....and only at a range where they just stand there punching holes in paper from 7 yards away.
    And there are many military personnel who train even less that that, some only shooting once a year to qualify.

    I believe that your views on those who legally carry are biased by your own standards...
    You probably practice and train a lot, and so naturally you are inclined to believe that everyone who carries also practices and trains similarly.
    Sadly, this is not the reality of the situation.
  8. shockwave

    shockwave Member

    Jan 8, 2010
    In the abstract, it is a mistake to make any assumptions whatsoever regarding your opponent. It could be anyone - a drunk, a gang member, a biker. Might be a disgruntled colleague, or the random person who snaps under the pressure of life. Bad guys get lucky, too. Their first shot with a .22 could be a lethal CNS hit. There's little point in the abstract to imagining the skills, armament, or motivation of your opponent. The goal should be to transform oneself into a master handgunner and perfect the essential skills of situational awareness, strategy, coolness and calm under pressure, and decisive action when needed. Bring your A-game and be ready for anything.
  9. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    northern california
    when i was in LE, we trained on the supposition that:

    we train for hours, carry expensive guns loaded with cutting edge ammo and still miss bad guys running from us

    badguys, don't train, carry POS guns, loaded with whatever they have, shoot over their shoulder at us while they are running away and will find that opening in our soft body armor to score the hit that puts us down.

    i think we had a pretty realistic view of how it works
  10. content

    content Member

    Jul 27, 2009
    South Carolina, born in Valley Forge Pa.
    Hello friends and neighbors// Bad Guy and Bad Girl with a baby

    Yep, this type of person has the immediate advantage of foresight. This is not their first dance and they do have a plan. For most of their targets it is their first encounter with evil.

    I was attacked by a man, 120lbs 5'7", wearing a dress shirt and slacks with decent shoes, accompanied by a woman and a baby( I doubt it was her's) also nicely dressed. I am 6'4" 240lbs and usually wear hiking boots, but mostly a nice guy/ gentle giant helping folks along the way.

    The month before I had helped these two purchase a part for their overheating car. Gave them a ride....everything went fine no problems man,woman and baby just different baby.

    This time a month later:
    I'm going camping/canoeing/mountain biking with a friend and his two dogs. Something we have done many times.
    He had a Ford longbed pickup with windows down the side of the shell. At the time the windows were open so the dogs could get air. On a 6'X10' trailer we had the 2 canoes, 2 mt. bikes, 4 rubber made containers full of gear fully visible and 2 coolers visible in the rear bed of the truck (giving the dogs the rest of the truck bed).

    My friend and I stopped at a grocery store on the way out of town with this veritable Spanish Galleon full of easily sellable visible items and possibly items of greater value in the truck. He went inside while I checked the oil....

    When these 2 approached with the baby, all nicely dressed and all smiles I was standing by the drivers door. We greeted each other like friends and talked about how well they were doing now.
    The woman took out some cough syrup and dipped in the babys pacifier. When I asked if this was a good idea she said it keeps the baby quiet. I found out why that was important next.I wear the keys to my truck hung from my belt loop(not the truck I'm standing next to) so they must have thought grab the keys and drive.

    The woman took a step to the right and asked me if I thought the baby was pretty. I now had to turn slightly to see the baby. As I turned the man pushed me foward into the mirror and just as he hit me in the back one of the dogs crashed through the screen and bit him in the head. He ran away, the woman had started walking off the second he pushed me. I thought the dog scared them both and he jumped into me, until I saw him running and she would not acknowledge me at all.

    Yep they had a plan, I guess I got lucky or did not have enough booty the first time we met.These we well dress, articulate people who just seemed down on their luck. Knowing I had seen them with a baby before they kept the babies face hidden until the end. An end they knew was comming and had orchestrated. I'm just glad they were unaware of the dogs and the dogs were more aware of danger than I.

    When my friend came back I told him about it. I went in and got the dog some treats and we went to Lake Fontana then to Swan Meadow cabin and had a blast. Shooting, bikeing........ The second day I put on the light jacket I was wearing in the parking lot that morning. About lung high on the left there was a 2inch knife cut (get chills thinking about it even now) glad that dog was there.

    No warning, no tingles, look you in the face smile and do whatever. That is what these people are capable of. This is what they do all day everyday and they might just be better at it than you are at your job.

    Never underestimate the Bad Guy or Girl.

    This is not their first dance.

    They do have a plan.
  11. kenno

    kenno Member

    Feb 13, 2010
    Region 10
    Anyone that has ever done even the shallowest research into the criminal element, prison populations, organized gangs and the like can tell you that profesional criminals are like any other professional, they train, they plan, they maintain cred and have no reguard for other humans. In groups they are a huge threat because they have learned to fly under the radar. Those well dressed, non-threatening, motorcycle clubs on Sunday drives..not all are as mundane as they look.
  12. smince

    smince Member.

    May 19, 2005
    Northeast Alabama
    Even in a gun-friendly state like Alabama, 99% of the permit holders I personally know only carry 'in the car. just in case' or 'when they go to the city, just in case' or it hey 'feel threatened'. I even know cops who don't carry off duty.

    So chances of the BG running into a legally armed citizen is actually pretty low.
  13. Water-Man

    Water-Man Member

    Mar 22, 2008
    South Florida
    Anyone who underestimates another is a fool. Period!
  14. Manco

    Manco Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    That's true, but at the same time there is a balance that should be maintained between one's humility and confidence. It's not entirely unlike winning sports teams that manage to fully respect the abilities of their opponents while completely believing in themselves--that they can and will prevail. It's not easy even for sports teams, and they have the advantage of knowing who they'll play next, while those who prepare for self-defense, until the moment of truth comes, can only envision combat against phantoms--whatever they imagine their mortal enemy to be. Obviously we can get some idea, in a broad statistical sense, by researching and analyzing anecdotes about real cases of self-defense using firearms, but every case is going to be different and it's impossible to predict who or what we'll be up against if it ever happens.

    While preparing for the worst case is always a prudent measure, I think it's also important not to scare ourselves into potential paralysis if and when the time comes to act. The fact is, or certainly appears to be, that most criminals, like the predators they are, want something from us but are not willing to get killed trying to get it (they'll take risks, but they'll run away if they have to). We all should keep trying to get better through training and mental preparation as if our potential enemies had superior skills, but realize that even if our skills are currently lacking we still have a good chance, statistically speaking, as long as we act decisively and aggressively. I seriously doubt that standing there quivering in fear, regretting that we hadn't spent more time at the range to become the equal of our supposedly superior attacker(s), and wondering whether we'll even be able to pull the trigger against another precious human being :barf:--who happens to be assaulting us and/or our families--would be more effective. ;)

    Now, I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, uspJ, but rather provide a somewhat extreme and illustrative example of the danger of fearing the worst case while ignoring what is in all likelihood the common case. In some threads in which I've participated on this forum, such as the following...


    ...I can sense doubt and a lack of confidence building in some. I think that both paths, humility and hubris, taken in isolation, can set any of us up for failure. And both can insidiously destroy the true confidence needed to act in our own defense when the moment comes to actually pull the trigger. The rest of what I want to say is pretty much covered in these two posts:


    Remember that the criminal is the one who made the mistake of attacking an armed person--he's the one who was overconfident and took too great a risk, putting him at a disadvantage, and it's your job to make him regret it. Always train as if your enemy were superior, but whatever your level of training, always expect to win when you have to fight (if you're going to do otherwise, then you might as well put away the gun and give up, hoping that you and your family will be spared). Do your part to the utmost, and then let fate take care of the rest.
  15. JoeSlomo

    JoeSlomo Member

    Mar 25, 2008

    IMO it's not so much about underestimating a criminal, as it is the criminal underestimating YOU.

    Just as criminals are the wild cards in society, I am the wild card in the pool of criminal "victims". I like the odds with the hand I hold.
  16. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Member

    Nov 30, 2008
    Frozen North
    This is an extremely well documented subject, the whole criminals don't practice with guns thing, I remember reading an academic study that compared police practice and actual violent encounteres to those documented and reported by criminals

    Gist was this, career criminals had 3-4 times the violent encounters than the cops they went against, and spent more time practicing with their weapon than the cops, though is was often "informal" target practice (plinking)

    Oh, and then often out shot the cops, imagine that.

    My point is, that there are different levels and involvement, but if you have the misfortune to run into a serious threat, they will have ALL the advantages, because they establish the force of violence and continue to control the situation, and they have the familiarity with the situation because it is a job to them.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
  17. Jason_W

    Jason_W Member

    Mar 4, 2010
    Valley of Stucco and Sadness, CA
    I don't make any assumptions about people who would potentially do me harm. For home defense, I focus on the potential advantages I have over an invader, and how to make the best use of them. The scary part is that it all hinges on me waking up, grabbing a gun, and getting into the right position before the guy is in the house. If I wake up first, he loses. If he gets in while I'm still asleep, I lose.
  18. ezenbrowntown

    ezenbrowntown Member

    Apr 9, 2008
    Central Texas
    So glad to see this topic come up, as it has been bothersome to me for sometime. I've sensed a false superiority at times on various forums of the quick witted good guys versus the dumb, poor firing gangsta thug or whatever they are called. Most people that I've come in to contact from that walk of life did practice..........just not usually at ranges.

    It is inaccurate, pompous and dangerously arrogant to assume superiority over someone or something you know little about. Even LE might be biased, as they come into contact with the dumber of the bunch, as they tend to be the ones getting caught. How many cars are stolen, houses robbed, people mugged every year where the bad guy gets away? Is it dumb luck of countless bumbling idiots, or a well executed plans of methodical people?

    What we attempt to do is even our odds. There is no magic tactic that stops prevents everything. Even situational awareness is not a catch all. Ever been in a traffic accident, your fault or not? Ran a red light/stop sign on accident? Hit your head on a cabinet? Stubbed your toe? All of those things could have been prevented by situational awareness too. You can't guard against everything, every second, all the time.

    I also believe the notion of everyone "high" on something is out to rip off their left arm and beat you to death with it, is a bit out there. I'm not discounting the crazy behavior of people under the influence, but I believe at times it is taking to a whole other level on here. There are people around you every day who are high on drugs, and you'd never even know it. They wait on you at diners, they repair your vehicles, they take your money at banks, they watch your kids at daycare, etc...........and you never know about it.

    The "bad guy" is not always wearing his bad guy name tag. They aren't always sporting baggy pants or bandanas. I heard about a guy who used to run a con in his old miltary uniform. I'd be willing to bet most folks on here wouldn't be suspecting that guy.

    Part of the reason I love this forum, is the most members do tend to take the "high road". I am a responsible gun owner, who doesn't want to be part of the "dumb hick with a gun" stereotype.........and I gather that from most folks on here are that way as well. While it is easy to get a case of John Wayne-isms, where we always win, the bad guy always messes up and everything ends well........that sadly isn't the world we live in.

    I say all this, not to defend the bad guy, but to try and paint a more honest picture of the situation at hand, which I believe is beneficial to everybody. A gun is not a cure all, it is merely another tool in the tool box. A great tool none the less, but still just a tool.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
  19. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

    Oct 27, 2006

    Most homicides in the United States are criminals shooting other criminals. (Such as rival gang members killing each other.) Criminals are much quicker to shoot other criminals over insults or forms of victimization that would not legally or morally justify use of lethal force for a law abiding citizen.
    Criminals are also more likely to be the victims of certain types of violent crime, because they have drugs, cash, or the predator believes the criminal is unlikely to go to the police.
    Some criminals prey exclusively on other criminals.

    I recall a significant number of violent criminals who targeted drug dealers for just such reasons. So drug dealers were much more likely to be victims of violent crime than anyone else, but since they are engaged in illegal felony actions, any self defense is often a crime and statistically is counted as one.
    So whether they are injured or killed, or kill or injure their attacker, it often goes down in the record books as a crime (and often a "gun crime".)
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2010
  20. uspJ

    uspJ Member

    Dec 26, 2009

    thanks for that, that summed every thing up really well. i agree that confidence is crucial in any confrontaion and that if you don't have that confidence and mindset then you have no business carrying a gun for sd.

    i know a few people who carry and they have zero tolerance for confrontation, i mean that i've seen them get so flustered that their hands and or legs were trembling from arguing with someone. when i see that kind of reaction to such a mundane confrontation it makes me wonder what they would do if the time comes and they had to defend themselves against brash overly confident bg who's job it is to make you feel that you can't win.

    i do not hope that i'm ever placed in a situation where i have to make a life and death decision, i am realistic guy and know that i have a good chance of winning and that i have a good chance of losing in an armed confrontation. i can say with confidence that i will do everything in my power to win, and to live.
  21. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

    Oct 27, 2006
    As for underestimating the bad guy.

    Well that is easy to do, because your typical guy willing to commit serious offenses for minor gains tends to be stupid.
    Stupid can be very dangerous, even more dangerous and unpredictable at times, but it is still stupid.

    An intelligent and capable criminal is unlikely to be running around committing violent crime over the small gains they would get targeting a typical family.
    The risk to reward ratio is skewed against that.
    The criminal robbing the local 7/11 for a small amount at gunpoint is going to be by definition extremely thoughtless. Willing to commit serious offenses that subject them to long prison terms or lethal force over very minimal gains.

    The more thoughtful criminal is not typically the one you will find pointing a gun at you for what is in your wallet.
    They will be applying themselves in a more lucrative illegal venture.
    Some of the most capable criminals just become legal when they realize it has great profit potential (Vegas for example, started by many mobsters.) Others go into the financial market or become politicians, and make far more wealth being immoral.

    So yes it is very easy to underestimate the bad guy, because by definition the bad guy most likely to be a problem and pose a lethal threat is often not too bright.
    But there is some serious exceptions.
    Not too bright though can mean they are very quick on the trigger. Not thinking about the consequences of their actions. So it is also very easy to end up dead facing a stupid criminal. Pointing and shooting a gun is not rocket science, and some of them will have previous military and gang shooting experience.
  22. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    Los Anchorage
    The fact is most of our gang shootouts involve spray-and-pray tactics. Sometimes hundreds of rounds fired at each other without a hit. That doesn't apply to all gangs or all criminals, but it's usually going to be a good idea to use distance and movement to your advantage. They're going to have a harder time hitting a target moving laterally across their field of fire, and a harder time hitting a target farther away. A trained person, in contrast, can use concealment, cover and have a much better chance of hitting at longer range.

    Of course, having bullets sprayed crudely at you is still imminent deadly peril, and you may die as you're trying to evade and shoot back. That's what they're gambling on. I don't know any magic way to avoid the risk. They can just come up and shoot you in the back of the head, too.
  23. xXxplosive

    xXxplosive Member

    May 25, 2009
    New Jersey
    IMO..............never underestimate anyone you meet. The smile on his face and then the sucker punch next and that's how it starts, guess what, you already passed "The Interview".
    The best advice is to keep your distance and tell an approaching individual...."Hold it right there" or "Don't Come Any Closer"........if they do....then.....It's On.
  24. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

    Jun 5, 2006
    In a part of Utah that resembles Tattooine.
    I very much agree with the OP, in that too many of us take these possibilities for granted.

    These ideas might even be true MOST of the time. This doesn't mean it's a good idea to face someone who is trying to kill you and assume that they are incompetent. If we face bad guys, we should assume that they are telekinetic ninjas with special powers and lots of friends. If this turns out to be generous, at least you are alive to feel stupid.
  25. Mike J

    Mike J Member

    Jul 3, 2007
    This thread makes me think about a guy I grew up withs Dad. His Dad grew up in a rough area. He told us many stories about knife fights, gang fights etc. from when he was young. He was also something of a mean drunk. The man only stood about 5'7" & weighed probably about 135-140 pounds. He was small. There was one incident I know of where an off duty cop tried to bully him. That little small man put the off duty policeman in a body cast with a folding chair. He didn't do any time over it either because the cop was out of line. Never assume you know what anyone is capable of just by looking at them it can get you hurt really bad.
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