Comments on Monday’s discussion revealed that there is some confusion about the word “plausible” and its application to armed self defense. Let’s take a look at what that word means and why it’s important!
In the article on how much spare ammunition to carry, I used the word “plausible”. Believe it or not, that one word has tremendous meaning to those of us who carry a defensive handgun, and it’s one we can’t ignore if our goal is actually to preserve our lives.
When we talk about all of the things that could happen to us, all of the things that could result in our death (or crippling injury), there is a wide range of events that are possible — in the sense that the laws of physics don’t prevent them. Some of them are pretty outlandish: your office building being taken over by North Korean paratroopers, for instance. It’s not impossible, because North Korea does have paratroopers, but do you really think it could ever happen? Of course not, but you have to acknowledge that it is indeed possible.
At the same time, being mugged in your office parking garage is also possible. It’s significantly more believable than than the paratrooper scenario, isn’t yet? Yet they’re both “possible”.
Planning your defensive posture around the possibility of North Korean paratroopers taking over your office building would involve some sort of fortified defensive position, land mines, machine gun nests, and perhaps close air cover. That’s a lot harder to do than preparing to deal with the guy in the parking garage with the knife!
Clearly, then, we can’t prepare for everything that’s “possible”. (Just the other day I had to laugh when I saw a quote from a defensive shooting instructor who opined that he taught his students to “prepare for whatever is possible”. I almost emailed him and asked if that included North Korean paratroopers!) No one has the unlimited time, energy, space, or money to prepare for everything that’s merely possible. We have to narrow that down somehow.
One way is to consider those things that are likely: those events which have some statistical likelihood of happening to us in our lifetime. Being attacked has a definite probability, and an attack which necessitates a lethal force response (whether that force is actually used or not) carries a smaller, but still identifiable, probability.
It makes sense to prepare for those scenarios by carrying a concealed firearm, and training with that firearm, because the consequence (death or grave harm) is high and the likelihood is measurable. We should spend the bulk of our training time, energy, money, and belt space in preparing for those likely scenarios.
You’ll notice, though, that leaves a wide range of events unaccounted for. The things that are likely to happen, those which we should prepare for, are a very small subset of the things that are possible. There are a still a lot of dangerous events that are possible and which we can reasonably conclude could happen to us, because they’ve happened on occasion to others (or are the result of events that could be reasonably expected.) These are things that are plausible: things for which there is some historical or logical precedence and therefore can be reasonably anticipated.
Carrying spare ammunition, for instance, is a response to a plausible need. It may not be likely; after all, in the private sector it’s difficult (or even impossible) to justify on probability alone, as there just aren’t a lot of incidents where the defender needed to reload his gun to survive an assault. However, it is reasonable to conclude that we might have a need for that reload, because magazine and ammunition failures do happen and multiple assailant attacks do happen. The need for a reload is therefore plausible, and so I recommend carrying spare ammunition. How much to carry is defined by the plausibility of need, which was the topic of the article.
Is there anything wrong with going beyond the plausible? Yes, there actually is — and it’s a topic I’ll tackle next week.
-=[ Grant ]=-