Saturday, September 6, 2008

Confessions Of A Firearms Instructor - Part IIB

Confessions of A Firearms Instructor IIB: Our Greatest Frustration
Detroit is the most violent city in the USA. Acording to the FBI's crime stats for the first half of 2007 - January through June - the following violent crimes occurred in Detroit: 210 murders, 357 forcible rapes, 3,445 robberies, and 6,539 aggravated assaults.

Stated another way, each and every day in Detroit one (1) person will be murdered, two (2) people will be forcibly raped, nineteen (19) people will be robbed, and thirty-six (36) people will be victims of an aggravated assault. Also, be advised that these numbers only reflect crimes that were reported; criminals, as a rule, do not report crimes committed against them.

Recently, a publishing company - CQ Press, a division of Congressional Quarterly - released its annual crime study. They coronated Detroit as "The Most Violent City in America." The study, reportedly, was the result of an analysis of the crime statistics reported, by American cities with populations of more than 100,000, to the FBI.

As expected crime-stats apologists, including Detroit Chief of Police Ella Bully-Cummins, were quick to respond to the media that violent crime in Detroit isn't as bad as the data would suggest. In one televised interview, Chief Cummins, quiped, "After today, what people will walk away with is that if you set foot in the city of Detroit, you are going to get killed, and that is absolutely not true."

I absolutely agree with the Police Chief's statement. However, the facts - according to the data - remain that one person per day will be killed in Detroit. If you are in Detroit on any given day, you will have a one-in-900,000 chance of being killed, a two-in-900,000 chance of being raped, a nineteen-in-900,000 chance of being robbed, and a thirtysix-in-900,000 chance of being a victim of an aggravated assault.

Further, Bully's assault upon the study's results continued with an observation that "that most shootings in Detroit are drug-related and not random." Detroit police say that their analysis of the crime stats show that 79% of all the homicide victims had prior contact with the police and that more than 60% of all homicides were drug related.

Somehow, this info - if true - is supposed to allay the fears and concerns of Detroit residents. Instead of breathing a sigh of collective relief upon hearing this bit of trivia, many residents may now question why there are so many people engaging in "drug related" activities walking freely among us. Why aren't they locked up? Why haven't we shut down the known drug-houses? If Bully can be believed, all we need to do to reduce our murder rate is to lock up all the dope boys.

The other inference to be drawn from the observations of Detroit police about the crime statistics is that we shouldn't be upset if almost eighty percent of Detroit homicides are from people who had "prior contact" with the police. Just a few days ago it was reported in the media that Detroit Police have an abysmal clearance rate for homicides.

Currently, Detroit police reportedly ony make an arrest in only one-third of its murder cases. It is widely believed that this rate is the lowest clearance percentage of all major urban cities of the country. It almost makes you wonder if they even try to find the murderers. After all, eighty percent of them were reported bad guys. Who cares about the other twenty percent?

It wasn't that long ago, when four people - two adults and two children - were found shot to death. It was reported that the shootings occurred in the wee hours of the morning while the victims slept in a reported "drug-house." When discussing this case to the media Chief Cummings stated, "I'm tired of seeing our children die. We as adults have a responsibility to our children to allow them to grow up as adults in a safe environment, and we're failing them."

Truer words probably were never spoken, but are area residents relieved that this "drug-related" incident was not random? Of course not. Residents should not only be outraged at the murders but also at the police for allowing this "reported drug-house" to stay in operation.

Another criticism levied against the CQ Press crime study was the fact that cities Chicago (pop.2,842,518) and Minneapolis (pop. 372,811) were excluded from study due to incomplete data. This point has only moderate weight if Detroit police officials believe for some undisclosed reason that violent crime in Chicago and Minneapolis is worse than Detroit's.

Let look at the flip-side of the argument. Let's look and see what other large cities that were in study: NYC,NY (pop. 8,143,197), Los Angeles, CA (pop. 3,844,829), Houston, TX (pop. 2,842,518), Philadelphia, PA (pop. 2,016,582), Phoenix, AZ (pop. 1,461,575), San Antonio, TX (pop. 1,256,509), San Diego, CA (pop. 1,255,540), Dallas, TX (pop. 1,213,825), and San Jose, CA (pop. 912,332).

Bottom line: on a per capita basis, Detroit has too much crime for the relatively few residents it has when compared to other large cities that were in the study. A concession to the study's detractors on this point - the omission of Chicago and Minneapolis - would make the city the "Third Most Violent City in America," but I believe most people in this community believe that we are number one.

If we agree that Detroit has a serious crime problem, why are so few willing to do something about it? Certainly, desensitivity may play a part. Detroiter's are for the most part extremely sensitive to any criticism of their city however well deserved - especially if it comes from outsiders. As a community, they have had the bear the brunt of being the nation's punchline for any joke that signifies urban violence.

Detroiter's have had to live down the 1968 riots, being known as the "Murder Capital" in the 1980's, the 1984 Detroit Tigers celebration, Devil's Night fires, the Fireworks Beating, the St. Aubin Street Massacre, the Brawl at the Palace, and the antics of Jack Kervorkian. It's no wonder that the nation sees Detroit as a city of wanton lawlessness.

However, this sensitive collective psyche also explains why Detroiters are so receptive to anyone who can offer up any explanation - however flawed - for what is wrong in our community. In this vein, many Detroiters echoed Police Chief Bully's sentiments about the CQ Crime Study and got another reprieve to live in denial about Detroit's crime problem.

A lack of urgency or misprioritized priority placed on protecting himself may also cause a person not to do something about our crime problem. Personally, I know this mindset all to well, as I used to have it. I managed to get to thirty-something years of age before I came into contact with violent predators. I was lucky; I just got robbed of a few paltry possessions.

Most robbery victims aren't so lucky; most get shot, pistol-whipped, or killed. It's too easy to live in denial. In fact the law of large numbers helps to perpetuate the delusion. For example, on any given day, someone is going to be murdered within the Detroit city limits. Any one singular person has a one-in-900,000 chance of being the murder victim. But make no mistake about it somebody is going to die at the hand of another on that day.

Thus, on average, you as a single person have a very small chance of being killed that day. So, in general terms, you are still relatively safe - shielded by the large numbers of people who live in the city. The flip-side of the argument is that sooner or later you will be a victim of a violent crime: murder, rape, robbery, or aggravated assault.

The only issue is whether you will be trained and equipped to protect yourself. Make no mistake about it - if you are targeted for victimization by predators it will not be a pleasant experience.

As a firearms instructor I hear from people that are curious about taking on a greater role in their own personal protection all the time. A certain percentage of these folks have every excuse in the book as to why they aren't ready to enroll in the next available class: wife said no, can't find a kennel for the dog, have a hair appointment, daughter is visiting from out-of-town, money is tight, waiting for friend to take class with me, got called into work, taking a trip, just got custody of my daughter, my child has a recital, and etc.

These folks are the people who want to "kick the tires" by having you call them whenever a class comes up. These are the time-wasters. I do my best to screen these people from my contact lists; after a while their appreciation for my persistence degenerates into tolerated annoyance.

Although I run my training service as a for-profit exercise, monetary compensation is not my primary motivation. I am gainfully employed in the technology field for a well known transportation firm. I don't need to do this to support my lifestyle. I train people to defend themselves as a community service exercise. I make my services available for folks in an underserved market so that they can better defend themselves during these increasingly violent times.

In short, I have my Concealed Pistol License and I feel extremely confident about defending my life and the lives of my loved ones. The only question that remains is whether you want to achieve what I have already accomplished: peace of mind, security, and self reliance. It is a slight - sharply felt - when a prospect acts like he is doing me a favor by allowing me to waste my time by calling him when I am conducting a class.

The other class of people that I come into contact with as a trainer are the victims. They need no explanation as to why they need to take a greater role in their own personal protection. They have been followed, chased, robbed, raped, cut, beaten, stabbed, shot, and stalked. The only thing they need to know is how much the class costs, when the class will be held, and where the class will be held.

There is a big difference between being a potential victim and an actual victim. Actual victims know that it can happen at any time and at any place. Potential victims feel that they have time to plan attending the class at the best possible time that is most convenient for them. Never mind that they failed to convey their personal victimization timetable to the criminal element of our city. There is never a perfect time to be a victim. If you wait long enough, it will surely happen at the most inopportune time.

The single greatest frustration of a firearms trainer is trying to convince people why they should be trained to defend themselves. I go through the frustration solely due to the fact that there are people out there who realize the value of what I provide. I am literally making a difference in this world one class at a time. I truly can't put a dollar figure on the feeling I get when I train a complete novice how to safely hold, load, operate, and unload a firearm. It is truly the greatest feeling in the world.

I am a firearms instructor, a defender of freedom, and an empowering force in my community
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