The Victim Menu

How do bad guys select their victims?  Bad guys are fairly predictable when it comes to victim selection, but before we really dig into the topic, allow me to offer one caveat.  For this article, I’m speaking specifically about victims of violent crime – murder, rape, robbery, and the like – and I’m not talking about criminal VS criminal violence.  If you’re a bad guy, you should expect to be victimized by some other bad guy – that’s just how it works.  Now, onto the point.

Old people are generally easy targets for violent criminals.  Please understand that the word “old” when used to describe a person is quite subjective.  I’ve heard it said, “You’re only as old as you feel,” but I prefer “You’re only as old as you live.”  If a 30-year-old bad guy, in the prime of his life was to get his hands on an 85-year-old man, it’s likely going to be a bad day for the more “age advanced” fella, even if he is still in great shape.  The flip side of this situation is that Papaw didn’t live to 85 by being a moron.  He’s a lot like Farmers Insurance – “He knows a thing or two because he’s seen a thing or two.”  Older folks are more capable of early trouble detection because they’ve seen trouble before – allowing themselves to avoid precarious situations that younger people might walk headlong into.

Young people are usually the exact opposite of the “more seasoned” population – they usually don’t spot danger as soon as their wiser counterparts, but youthful adults typically have a fighting chance at effectively fighting back.  Consider an 18-year-old who just moved out their parents’ home, headed off to college.  They’ve been protected by others for most of their short existence, and now it’s up to them to be their own defender – and let’s be honest, avoiding danger is not the strong suit of most teens / young adults.  One of the most important responsibilities for any parent is navigating the very fine line of protecting our children from the world VS preparing them for it.  If you’re like me, you probably feel like you get this wrong more often than not.  It’s tough to maintain a healthy balance.  Just keep doing your best, mom, and dad.  The right stuff will stick.

Weak people of any age are frequent targets of violent criminals.  Strong prey is harder to kill, and predators know that.  Don’t believe me?  Ask a lion.  “Hey, Mufasa – would you rather chase a healthy gazelle a half mile, or a lame one 50 yards?”  You see, the lion eats either way – but there are no bonus points for executing a more difficult kill.  So, the lion will always work smarter, not harder – and just like any other predator, violent criminals hunt their prey.  The easier we make the hunt, the more likely we are to be devoured.

People with disabilities or physical disadvantages are also easy targets.  If a bad guy wanted to rob or rape a wheelchair-bound person or someone on crutches, what’s the first thing he’s going to do to them?  He’s going to knock over their chair, or kick their crutches.  If he’s hell bent to rob, kill, or rape, he won’t show mercy to anyone at a disadvantage.  Their infirmity is precisely why he chose them in the first place.  Bad guys aren’t looking for a challenge.  They are evil cowards, with no regard for their intended victims, whatsoever.

I saved the number one victim type for last.  Regardless of age, strength, ability, color, creed, or sex – the person most targeted by bad guys for the purpose of violent crime is the person with an active case of “Cranial-Rectalitis.”  Everyone is stricken with this particular impairment at some point.  It can be acute or chronic, is often recurring, and it never discriminates when choosing a host.  In layman’s terms, this is simply having your head up your butt.  A situationally unaware person is to a violent criminal what a flashing neon sign is to an alcoholic – or what a “Gun Free Zone” sign is to a would-be active shooter.  

One of our greatest tools can double as our greatest detriment when it comes to maintaining good situational awareness.  You guessed it – cell phones.  Our modern-day cellular devices are incredible!  They allow us to be connected to others and share information in ways no one could have imagined just a few decades ago.  However, we, as a society have become so dependent, nay, downright addicted to them, that they completely own our attention much of the time.

Other than aging (which is far better than the alternative) and certain physical disabilities, we can overcome the things that make us easy targets for violent criminals.  We can make ourselves stronger – and we can learn to become more aware of our surroundings – but please don’t think that being armed will cure your awareness ailments.  I’m a major proponent for an armed citizenry, but strapping up and believing you’re good to go is downright dangerous and ignorant.  Good situational awareness will keep you safer than carrying a gun ever will.  That’s why I recommend people do both, but if you’re only going to commit to one, learning situational awareness and practicing it daily is the only responsible choice.

I encourage all of you to read “Principles of Personal Defense,” by Jeff Cooper, and familiarize yourself with his “mental color codes” as they pertain to situational awareness.  You can do this – It’s a very short book.  I also encourage folks to get some professional training from someone qualified to teach them how to become more vigilant.  Being “attentive” and being “situationally aware” are about as different as “hearing” and “listening,” and in both cases, the later must be learned.

I don’t remember where I heard this next quote, and I’m about to paraphrase the crap out of it -but I believe it and have experienced its truth many times – “The only people on the street who are situationally aware are the cops and the criminals, and the cops are only good at it about 50% of the time.”  So, let’s be better.  Let’s get our faces out of our screens when we’re in public.  If you must use your phone, keep your head up and the phone in front of you so at least you retain your peripheral vision – and don’t worry how you look to others when texting with your phone up in front of your face.  They’re not paying attention to you anyway.

Tune in next week for a very informative follow up to this installment, when we cover “Who is The Bad Guy?”  Until then…

Avoid what you can.  Defeat what you can’t.


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 (Ryan Barnette is not a licensed attorney or a medical provider, and no information provided in “Slicing the Pie,” or any other publication authored by Ryan Barnette should be construed, in any way, as official legal, or medical advice.)

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