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Posted on March 8, 2021 by in Training



Tom Givens recommended In the Rangemaster 2018 Three-Day Firearms Instructor Development and Certification Class a book on criminal psychology titled Inside the Criminal Mind by Stanton E. Samenow, Ph.D.  It is an excellent book and shed significant insight into how violent criminals might look at the world and what they are capable of is useful knowledge for students. This article addresses only a few of the points made in the book. I avoided using terms like “always” and “will”” in order to avoid blanket generalizations. Regardless, I think that it is best to always be prepared for the worst-case scenario when it comes to an interaction or confrontation with another person whose mentality is questionable. This is true even if they initially come off as friendly or harmless.

Violent criminals may believe that others should behave as they want them to. Many can become perpetually angry. Students might remember a time when they were angry, and then imagine what it must be like to live their life angry like that almost all of the time. This could mean that anything that an intended victim might do that is considered less than a full submittal might result in his or her death. In a few cases, the victim was killed after fully submitting just because the violent criminal actor later confessed that he was having an especially bad day.

Violent criminals may be in fear of being put down or “disrespected”.  For many violent criminals, respect is something that they simply deserve, and others show disrespect by not submitting to their will.  Some may respond with extreme physical violence to an event other would consider momentarily irritating. A mental health professional might attribute this response as “an attempt to diminish a sense of low self-worth through an expression of anger.” Since anger within a violent criminal may simmer below the surface almost all of the time, some violent criminals may “explode” when he or she encounters anything, no matter how slight, that they deem is a show of disrespect.

A violent criminal or even a person with anger issues may interpret another driver cutting them off as an affront personally directed towards him or her, and not as the action of another driver who was careless or simply rude.  In addition to honking, cursing, and gesturing at the other driver, this person might chase the other driver, cut the other car off, force the other car off the road, or even shoot at it.  It is quite common for one driver to follow another and then confront him or her on foot.

Some violent criminals have openly stated that injuring or killing another person was “addictive” and described experiencing a rush of adrenaline when committing acts of violence. Many such criminals like to characterize themselves as being a “badass.” This not only provides an occasional outlet for their simmering anger but may be the one thing that provides them with a sense of value and gains them the respect they believe they deserve.

Crimes that seem senseless to students may make perfect sense to some violent criminal offenders. The thrill of doing something forbidden may be the sole motivation for some of the most horrific crimes. Many are enamored with having the power of life or death over others. Violent criminals frequently take the stance that it was the victim’s fault that the victim was injured or killed and even become angry at the victim if they should get caught and convicted as a result. Many violent criminals are capable of shutting off their fear of being caught and convicted long enough to do some of the most horrific crimes imaginable.

What can students take from the above statements that can readily be put to use?

  • Violent criminal actors may already be angry at the moment they confront their target and ready to react with extreme violence if they perceive a person as being non-compliant or “disrespectful”.
  • A violent criminal actor may attack another person simply because they enjoy the sense of power over another and take extreme pleasure in injuring or killing their intended victim.
  • Rather than attempting to understand what causes violent criminals to develop such thinking errors, it is likely more important for the students to understand that these people are indeed out there and that they will likely be in close proximity to one on many occasions in the future. 
  • Should the time come that an actual physical encounter with a person who might fit the descriptions described above appears imminent, the student might best be served by pausing for the least possible time and then responding with the action that is both appropriate and likely to succeed. This is where training pays off.

Whenever possible, deterrence, detouring, disengagement, and de-escalation should be the best answer during an encounter with a potentially violent criminal. Author and defensive tactics Tim Larkin is quoted as saying while violence is rarely the answer, sometimes it is it is the only answer. A properly prepared concealed carrier is one that is capable of skillfully responding with any of these answers.

Steve Moses

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.