Friday, January 13, 2023

Training away reflexes?

This is something I've thought about, related to yesterday's post.

This is kind of psychological, but obviously, I am not a psychologist so take it for what it's worth.

Most people who aren't career scumbags resist shooting someone. Sometimes until it's too late; this internal resistance is so strong. They'll go right up against that wall, and then discover it's really hard to push through any further to the point of pulling the trigger. 

Until something so extreme happens that it flips a switch in their head and in their muscles. 

Once you get to the point where that switch gets flipped, it doesn’t turn off again easily. You've gone from conscious decisions to reflexes.

That's why people will empty a magazine into a thug when the first couple of shots did the job. It's why they'll fire the final coup de grace into an "obviously" incapacitated bad guy. The switch has been flipped and there's nothing to flip it back. Not seeing that the threat is over and not the threat of government punishment or social condemnation. It's out of the intended victim's hands at that point.

And, again, the bad guy made the choice to put someone in the position where this can happen. 

If I'm one of those being protected from the bad guy, I'm going to be grateful to the defender for making sure the threat has been completely neutralized. I'm not going to care what those who weren't present have to say about it afterward.

It may be "too much", but I'm not going to burn someone at the stake for reflex behavior they didn't choose to initiate.

I can tell myself I would never let this kind of "overreaction" happen to me, but if I unexpectedly touch a hot coal, no amount of telling myself I won't jerk my hand away can change what happens next. The brain is shut out of the loop-- that's what a reflex is.

I couldn't do this without your support.


  1. I see a conflict here between this Theory of the Uncoupled Brain (TUB) and the Self Ownership Axiom (SOA.) You may be right that there comes a point when "reflexes take over" but that may violate the SOA.

    Up to the instant when TUB kicks in, you have control. The Taco Robber is still menacing you and other diners with an apparently real gun, so you (being armed) certainly have the right to protect your life by disabling him; using enough force to end the danger.

    But no more than enough; otherwise, you become the aggressor.

    So you have to plan the action and prevent TUB taking over. Shoot him center mass, okay, he falls down. Then check his hand. Is it trying to regain control of his gun? - then shoot the hand, from a can't-miss three feet away. Then see that he's trussed up with duct tape from the owner's office, return the stolen property, call for a medic and scarper (an English word meaning to leave in a hurry.) Everyone lives.

    1. I have always had a problem when people who weren't there decide what constitutes "no more than enough" in such situations. I understand the desire to judge it, but I don't agree that anyone has the right to do so.
      Yes, I agree that would always be best, but it's subjective. It's why I don't second-guess defenders. And, yes, the final head shot looks to me to be too much... but I wasn't there.

      I also agree that what you propose as the correct way to handle such a situation would be the best possible way to handle it. Of course, scarpering/scampering is going to be looked upon as a "crime" by government regardless of anything else the defender did or didn't do.

      But, again, the robber initiated the course of events. The final responsibility is still his, even when it results in his death. Basically, it's a suicide... like jumping out of a plane with a tissue paper parachute. He set events into motion that he should have been able to predict, and that aren't going to go well for him. If you don't want to risk someone taking defense "too far", don't put them into the situation and force that decision on them. They might not be able to handle it in a way that you or others feel is best.

    2. No disagreement. And BTW I didn't mean to be Anonymous yesterday; I hit the wrong button in error. It may have been TUB...

      With that theory, though, you've opened a very interesting subject. Once the first shot has been fired in a life-death situation, is the shooter unable to control subsequent shots? - if so, I suggest the onus is on him, whether or not to take that first shot. Or even to carry a gun. It's basic gun control.

      In the Houston case, Defender must have planned what he would do once Robber no longer had him in peripheral vision. Those were his critical, pre-TUB moments, lasting a minute or so. When the time came he drew, stood and fired with astonishing speed, clearly well-practised. I wonder whether he's an off-duty cop.

      Evidently, he decided to kill Robber. I don't think he should have; disable and be ready to kill, but no more. That's not of course to say anyone should punish him - but in a free society there could be a claim for compensation from him brought by Robber's dependents. If any.

    3. "Once the first shot has been fired in a life-death situation, is the shooter unable to control subsequent shots?"
      Not necessarily, but I can see how it could happen.

      "if so, I suggest the onus is on him"
      I disagree, since he's not the one who chose to initiate the encounter.

      "I wonder whether he's an off-duty cop."
      I've wondered the same-- or a former cop.

      "disable and be ready to kill"
      I disagree. You should never shoot to disable. You shoot to stop the attacker. It's hard enough to hit center-of-mass in a defense situation, it's nearly impossible to aim for the knee. A responsible defender aims his first shot center-of-mass. This is sometimes enough to stop the attack, but if not, you keep shooting until the threat is definitely over. You don't even consider whether or not the bad guy survives.

      And, yes, in the first post (or a follow up comment) I said the defender might owe some restitution to the bad guy's dependents/estate, but it would be deducted from the estate of the bad guy, who owes restitution to the defender and everyone present. Like I mentioned, if I were the arbitor I would suggest the defender pay the estate of the bad guy a couple of ounces of silver, to be deducted from the pound or two of gold the estate of the bad guy owes for him initiating the event.

    4. I'll go into this a little more in Monday's post. It's an interesting topic-- one I've discussed several times over the years. I realize I have less consideration for thieves' wellbeing than you might. The thief might prefer you arbitrate on his behalf; the defender would prefer I arbitrate on his.