Aggravated Assault is an extremely serious crime that usually involves the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon during the commission of an assault and/or the infliction of a “serious bodily injury.” At least one definition of serious bodily injury (definitions may vary from state to state) is an injury that creates a substantial risk of death or death (people sometimes die months or years later after being seriously injured), disfigurement that is both serious and permanent, and impairment of a body part or organ. All too often that “body part or organ” is the brain.
However, it is the murder rates that tend to catch our attention. We might relax a little when they are down and become mildly concerned when they are up. However, murder rates alone may not tell the whole story. Statistics can easily lull concealed carriers into a sense of false confidence. Rather than looking at murder and aggravated assault numbers separately it might behoove us to instead lump them together in order to obtain a better understanding of what these statistics might be telling us. I believe that it was Rangemaster founder and head instructor Tom Givens that said something to the effect that in many instances aggravated assault was just another name for a failed murder. The sole reason that the victim did not die from their injuries was the skills and hard work of modern-day medical personnel. In other words, there is often the thinnest of lines between murder and aggravated assault. If the only difference between the two in many instances is fast medical intervention by skilled professionals, then maybe the odds that one of us becomes “the other guy” who got murdered or gravely injured are greater than first thought.
We should also take into consideration the strong possibility that crimes that would normally be classified as an aggravated assault sometimes go unreported, while other aggravated assault charges are dismissed because the local District Attorney has a reputation for being soft on crime or were pled down to simply assault in order to obtain a quick conviction. The odds that each of us will be involved in a violent crime over our lifetime may seem surprisingly high to some concealed carriers (I have seen numbers from reliable sources that range from one in three to one in four).
Why does all of this matter? My takeaways are as follows:
- Violent crime rates are likely higher than they may first appear.
- Murder rates do not tell the whole story. Concealed carriers are statistically more likely to be injured than killed, and often those injuries are grievous. People severely injured during assaults may later die as a result of those injuries, suffer debilitating post-stress trauma, be crippled for life, lose vision in an eye, or sustain a severe concussion.
- Many, if not most, persons sustain blows to the head during an aggravated assault. Persons who get “knocked out” or “rattled” by a blow to the head typically don’t shake it off like actors in a movie and then continue like nothing happened. Complications from concussions may include one or more of the following:
Post traumatic headache
Post traumatic vertigo
Multiple brain injuries, some of which may be long-term
Problems with memory, communication and personality disorders
Inability to work and associated loss of income
Impulse control issues
Damaged relationships with family and friends
Early onset of dementia
Some concealed carriers live in gated communities located in quiet neighborhoods or even towns, cities, or states where the violent crime rates are relatively low. I go to great effort to not be viewed as an alarmist who believes that danger lurks around every corner and that it is only a matter of time before I will engage in mortal combat with some faceless psychopath. All I have to do to remind myself that I do not always have control over my immediate environment is walk out to my truck and look at the odometer. In a typical year I will log at least 20,000 miles and travel through and stop in multiple towns, cities, and states. I have no idea how many times that I have stopped in gas stations just to get gasoline. It is virtually impossible for me to count the number of times that I will interact with persons that I know and do not know, much less the number of times I will be at a distance of six feet or less from persons that I am not interacting with that I do not know or may not even see.
Samuel Clements, also known as Mark Twain, is often credited for the following quote: “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” I have also read that credit for that same quote belongs to Benjamin Disraeli, former Prime Minister of Great Britain. Regardless of the source, I think that concealed carriers should be aware that relying on murder rates alone in order to calculate the odds that they will be the intended victim of a violent crime are low or high may be flawed, and that at some point the majority of us are going to find ourselves in a location where the odds are high. Aggravated assault does not get near the press that murder does, and neither does the physical, mental, and emotional trauma that often results. Head injuries can be hugely debilitating, and I have known way too many persons who have sustained a head injury that diminished their lives and caused great suffering.
The major takeaway for me is to simply remember that the odds that I might have to defend myself are always going to be greater than zero, there will be times when the odds are well above zero, and regardless of the odds the stakes are always going to be high. As a concealed carrier, one of my largest threats is likely to always be nothing more than complacency. Simply remembering that can go a long ways towards ensuring that I do not end up becoming “the other guy.”
Steve Moses has been a defensive firearms trainer for over 26 years and is a licensed Texas Personal Protection Officer with 7 years of experience performing as shift lead on a church security detail for a D/FW area metro-church. Steve is a co-owner and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group, LLC based in Dallas, Texas. Moses is a retired deputy constable and spent over 10 years on a multi-precinct Special Response Team. He owns multiple instructor certifications, including Rangemaster Advanced Handgun Instructor and Defensive Shotgun Instructor, Red Zone Knife Defense Instructor and Adaptive Striking Foundations Instructor, Modern Samurai Project Red Dot Sight Instructor, and State of Texas Personal Protection Officer Instructor. Steve holds a BJJ Brown Belt in Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He is a content contributor for CCW Safe and writes weekly articles on various subjects of interest to concealed carriers. Moses shoots competitively and holds an IDPA Expert rating. Steve is an annual presenter at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.