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Mark Rivera

FBI-CJIS Security Policy Compliance Officer

Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.

Columns : Editorial

Stop Making Victims

It’s high time for police to tell people that sometimes you have to fight for your life, even if it gets you killed.

January 03, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

CC_Flickr: bill85704

One of the first stories I ever covered as a reporter was about a crime prevention class for women taught by a female police sergeant. Most of that class was largely forgettable, but I will never forget one of her comments about rape: "If he's got a gun or a knife, then ladies you might as well lie back and enjoy it."

The women in the class laughed at that crass joke. But it disturbed me, and it's stuck with me all these years. It stuck in my head not just because it perpetuates the false belief that rape is a sexual act; I remembered it because it's really bad advice.

That officer told her audience that resistance ends the minute the bad guy has a lethal weapon. That might be the CYA version of crime prevention, but what do you think that officer really believes?

Not resisting is fine when all Joe Thug wants is a wallet or purse. But if he wants to kill, it's time to resist. Hopefully the would-be victim has a gun or a knife but if not there's bricks, rocks, car keys, elbows, knees, feet, fists...

"If somebody tries to kill you, you try to kill 'em right back." That's a quote from the TV show "Firefly," but it's also the American way.

But now we as Americans have forgotten that brutal bit of wisdom. We have taught our children that it's wrong to fight for any reason, even their own self-defense. So when someone attacks them, they die helpless hiding under the nearest furniture instead of fighting back.

Americans need to know that they can—and should—resist being slaughtered like sheep, regardless of how well the bad guy is armed and how poorly they are armed. They need to know that they can fight. They may very well get shot; they may very well die. But fighting back is better than waiting for the bullet.

At Columbine, athletic young men and women hid under tables in the library as their homicidal classmates gunned them down. At Virginia Tech, only one college student—a freshman ROTC cadet name Matthew La Porte—chose to rush the gunman. He took eight rounds, but he almost got the murderous swine's throat in his hands before he was killed. His classmates, many of them fit young men and women, died crouched under their desks waiting to be shot.

Matthew La Porte knew what to do when someone tried to kill him. He went on the attack. And if just one other student had joined him in that attack, together they might have succeeded in taking out the gunman and saving lives. In several recent active shooting incidents that's exactly what's happened. The would-be victims have delayed or foiled the gunman by simply throwing things at him. It's hard to fire a pistol at somebody when you're dodging thrown chairs.

The great security myth of modern America is that guns are magic sticks that automatically make people dead the minute they are fired. You need to advise your fellow Americans that that ain't necessarily so. People can take a lot of damage from most street firearms before they are mortally wounded and that includes head shots. Case in point: Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who is now doing TV interviews and (supposedly) writing books one year after being shot in the head.

Americans need to regain their fighting spirit. And I believe we will because so many veterans are coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq, and they know that sometimes you have to fight even if it means you might die. Can you imagine what would have happened if the Virginia Tech gunman had walked into a room full of those vets? They would not die under their desks; I can tell you that.

As I was writing this column, a woman was burned to death in an elevator by a thug in New York City. The 72-year-old was sprayed with a flammable fluid and then set on fire with a Molotov cocktail. The attacker had no other weapon. Still when he sprayed her with the accelerant, she crouched down in a ball and took it.

She could have fought back. In her hands were two bags of groceries. And you can't tell me that there wasn't something in those bags hard enough to brain this guy. A swinging grocery bag full of cans makes an excellent club, and if she could carry two grocery bags from the store to her apartment, she could have swung one of them in his face.

Stop telling people to lie back and be murdered. Americans are a fighting people. Tell them that when their lives are on the line, even if they have no weapons, their only hope is to take it to the thugs. Stop teaching people how to be victims. Teach them how to fight.


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