I’m not a self-defense expert. I’ll be the first to admit that. But I feel that I’ve covered defensive gun uses (DGUs) and crime enough in my career as a gun journalist to talk intelligently about the subject. When a DGU video goes viral, like the one above, which was recorded in Uberlândia, Brazi, I typically like to break it down and discuss what I learned or noticed during the encounter.
Here are several things I noticed, starting with the most striking aspect to the footage which was the element of surprise.
Element of Surprise
Just like in battle, in a self-defense situation the element of surprise is critical. If the assailant ambushes the victim that victim is at a distinct disadvantage. He hasn’t had time to assess the threat, prepare a plan to deal with that threat (fight or flight) and execute that plan. Instead, the victim is on his heels, merely relying on instinct and training (if he has any) to engage the assailant.
However, if the victim recognizes the threat before it confronts him, he can plan and, if he chooses to fight back with force, use anticipatory self-defense to gain the upper hand. In other words, strike at the threat before it strikes at you. This is precisely what happens in the video.
As the homeowner, an off-duty police officer, pulls into his garage he notices that several would-be robbers are entering in from behind. It appears the victim draws his gun in preparation for the confrontation. When the would-be carjacker, identified as 32-year-old Eliseu Santos Paulo, opens the victim’s door it’s apparent that he wasn’t really expecting much resistance, let alone gunfire. Paulo had his gun pointed to the floor and not in a position where he could fire off a round on target quickly. Had he known that the police officer was armed, he probably would have either (a) left the victim alone altogether or (b) would have approached the vehicle in a more cautious manner with his gun pointing at the door.
In any event, the victim turned the tables on Paulo, shooting first and taking him by surprise.
Paulo would later die as a result of his injuries. Meanwhile, the victim and his wife were unharmed.
Capacity matters. Not in every defensive gun use, but in many it does — especially in those encounters with multiple assailants. By my count the victim fires at least eight rounds at the intruders. For those of you who carry six-shot revolvers or single stack pistols, perhaps you may now be reevaluating your carry choice. Then again, maybe you’re aren’t. Maybe you’re comfortable and confident with six or seven rounds.
Gunshots Send Criminals Running
I don’t have an exact percentage, but I’d wager to guess that at least 90 percent of the DGU videos I’ve watched show criminals running at the sound of the first gunshots. To put it another way, the vast majority of criminals do not adopt a military mindset. That is to say, they’re not willing to back their buddies and use force against force against a victim who is shooting at one of their pals. Instead, they flee the scene at the first sign of trouble.
As it applies to the video, Paulo’s buddies did not attempt to engage the victim. Perhaps they weren’t armed so they couldn’t. But chance are, even if they were armed, they still would have ran as opposed to opening fire on the victim.
Shoot Until the Threat is Neutralized
This is a lesson that many often forget but notice how that even after he has been shot, Paulo fires back at the victim. You have to shoot until the threat is no longer a threat because an armed wounded man can be every bit as deadly as a non-wounded man.
Yes, luck always plays a role. In this particular instance, the victim is lucky that: they didn’t attack via the passenger door where his wife was seated, they didn’t start shooting right away, they ran after their friend was shot, etc.
Bottom line: to survive a deadly encounter one has to be lucky. All the training and preparation doesn’t really matter much if one doesn’t have lady luck on one’s side.
Again, I’m not an expert but those are my quick observations. What did you take away from watching the video?