WHY CRIMINAL MENTALITY MIGHT MATTER
Written by Steve Moses,
in Section Safety And Education
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. I recently acquired this book and found it to be hard to put down. Having some idea of how violent criminals might look at the world and what they are capable of constitutes useful knowledge for the concealed carrier. Please be advised that this article addresses only a few of the points made in this book. I have intentionally avoided using terms like “always” and “will” in favor of “possibly” and ”may” in an attempt to avoid blanket generalizations, but I personally would always attempt to be prepared for the worst case scenario when it comes to an interaction or confrontation with another person whose mentality and intent is questionable.
Criminals may believe that others should behave as the criminal wants them to. They can become perpetually angry when this doesn’t happen. Remember a time when you were angry, and then imagine what it must be like to live your life angry like that almost all of the time. This means that anything that an intended victim might do that is considered less than full submittal might result in his or her death (and in a few cases the victim was killed after fully submitting just because the violent criminal actor was having an especially bad day and acted impulsively). And yet, most criminals think they are the good guy despite a refusal to consider viewpoints different than theirs and unwillingness to conform or yield to authority.
Criminals may be in fear of being put down or “disrespected”. For many criminals, respect is something that they simply deserve because of who they are, and others show disrespect by not submitting to their will. They may very well respond with extreme physical violence to an event another would consider momentarily irritating. A mental health professional might attribute this response to be an attempt to diminish a sense of low self-worth through an expression of anger. Since anger within a criminal may very well be simmering below the surface almost all of the time, criminals may “explode” when he or she encounters anything, no matter how slight, that is out of his or her control.
In the case of Road Rage, a criminal 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. While others might ignore such an event or, at worse, honk, curse, or mutter under their breath, the criminal might chase the other driver, cut the other car off or force it off the road, or even shoot at it. It is not uncommon for one driver to follow another and then confront him or her on foot.
Some criminals have stated that injuring or killing another person was “addictive” and described experiencing a rush of adrenaline when committing acts of violence. Many criminals like to characterize themselves as a “badass” possibly because it 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. It is important for concealed carriers to know that there are a significant number of legitimate “badasses” out there that look nothing like one.
Criminals may be more familiar with laws than concealed carriers but make exceptions for themselves. That thinking can go so far as to their thinking they can make any wrong right if that is what they want to do at the time.
Crimes that seem absolutely senseless to concealed carriers may make perfect sense to the criminal offender. The motivation for some of the most horrific crimes may nothing more than the thrill of doing something deemed forbidden. Such criminals are enamored with having the power of life or death over others. Criminals frequently take the stance that it was the victim’s fault that the victim was injured or killed, and even angry at the victim if they should get caught and convicted as a result. Many criminals are capable of shutting off not only their conscience but even the fears of the eventual consequences to them long enough to do some of the most horrific crimes imaginable
What can concealed carriers take from the above statements that can readily be put to use? For me, it is the knowledge that violent criminal actors are likely already angry at the moment they confront their target and ready to react with extreme violence if they perceived that person as being non-compliant or “disrespectful”. It is knowing that 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. While it is true that some people were raised under terrible conditions, it is also true that not all of those same persons choose crime.
It is also true that many criminals come from privileged backgrounds and were coddled in an attempt to heal them by well-meaning parents, teachers, and even in some cases mental health professionals. Rather than attempting to understand what caused violent criminal actors to develop such thinking errors, it is likely more important to understand that these people are indeed out there and all of us will likely be in close proximity to one on many occasions in the future.
Should the time come (and the odds are good that it might) that an actual physical encounter with a person who might fit that description appears possible, likely, imminent, or is underway, the concealed carrier might best be served by pausing for the least possible time and then responding with the action that is most likely appropriate.
This is where training pays off. The more time the concealed carrier has to respond (a function of distance and barriers) the more options he or she has.
Deterrence, detouring, disengagement, and de-escalation will always be the preferable options, but as Tim Larkin wrote, while violence is rarely the answer, when it is it is the only answer.