At least five days a week I interact with criminals and suspected criminals in one way or another, some are new to the job, others already carry the title of felon. From murders to look out boys to simple thieves, I have whittled it down to two types of criminal for the sake of self-defense. Cowards and Wolves.
The best representation of a Wolf is the Joker, but the Joker is a comic book character and real life doesn't have a Batman. In the real world things are rarely simple, and not largely predictable. We always knew Batman would beat the Joker in the end no matter how crazy or violent the Joker was. Good is supposed to triumph over evil and all that. If only it were that simple.
As always, there are far too many variables to say definitively how a situation is going to occur, but there is enough evidence out there to make safe assumptions. I know the tired cliche about assumptions and how we aren't supposed to make them, the problem with that line of thinking is it doesn't make any damn sense. We do have to make assumptions, we do it all the time because sometimes its the safe course of action (assume the stove is hot instead of checking with your hand sort of thing) and because we often only have an impression to work with and there is information we cannot possibly be sure of. We don't want to make needless assumptions, and those we do make need to be as educated as possible, but they are going to happen. When it comes to dealing with the criminal element, I make assumptions all the time based on what I can see, what I already know (experience) and what I can expect to happen.
Back in February, a video of a shooting started making the rounds on Facebook and, well, everywhere else. As shooting videos go, its an interesting one with an interesting story. An off-duty officer pumping gas late at night when he is approached by three men and robbed at gun point. Words are exchanged, the officer is able to blade himself and draw his weapon, shooting one of the three men. The other two leg it out of there in short order. I saw a lot of commentary on this video, lots of arm chairing and the usual discussions but what I didn't see was anyone ask a somewhat important question: Why were there three of them?
All things considered, the mans car does not speak of great wealth, nor does the neighborhood. Three men, one gun and a potential profit of what? Even if he happened to have a thousand dollars in cash on him, that isn't much split three ways. No, they work together because they are cowards. They aren't willing to take all the risk for all the profit because all things are easier with more hands, including being a hardened criminal. The permanently rehabilitated crook (the one who was shot in the head) was a 16 year old kid, he played a stupid game and he won a stupid prize. He worked with two others because apparently it takes three people to rob a guy at a gas station. What does set this situation apart is that after the wallet was handed over, the gunman maintained his aim and more words were exchanged. This is what sets the shooter apart from his partners. He was the one who ran the gun, ran the robbery, and ultimately got to chill at the gas station while his buddies fled.
This isn't just idle speculation on my part. Every chance I get to talk to a criminal about his career path, I do it. What ive learned is that sharing the work is where it starts, two or three (sometimes more) will get together and work as a team. Sometimes it even makes sense to do so, though usually you have a pair of mopes running stick ups on the street leading to a train station and splitting $40 or $50 bucks in cash per felony. Hardly worth it. Criminals evolve though, and that's when they get more dangerous.
A crime of profit is a transaction, the bad guy demands under threat of injury, something you have. If you hand it over there is a strong chance that he will then leave you alone. This is the general wisdom put out by both slides of the gun debate and it is true, sometimes. The more a stick up kid, car jacker or burglar works, the more he gets away with, the more emboldened and experienced he will get. Eventually he will work to a point where hes not willing to split the take anymore. This is when a coward becomes a wolf.
"Dunn" is a wolf. Hes doing 75 years for drug related murder type crimes and lack of desire to hold a real job. Hes in his forties now, but he started his life of crime before he was even a teenager. Breaking into cars, sheds and any place that a person was unlikely to be. He graduated to being a rooster for drug dealers and then started doing stick ups with a few friends. By the time he was 20 he was working alone and did everything from home invasions to gas station robberies. His first stint in prison was the result of a car jacking. His second was for attempted manslaughter (plead down from attempted murder). His last was for shooting some drug dealers because, well, because thats what Dunn evolved into. Hes not going to see freedom in his lifetime; but hes only one of thousands of criminally inclined individuals that start out small, scared and somewhat harmless and slowly evolve into violent offenders. Dunn has seen violence his entire life, has had more guns pulled and pointed at him than he can remember, stabbed, beaten and shot twice. If he was on the street and you had something he wanted, hes going to take it. Could Dunn be reasoned with? Maybe; but its damn unlikely. Chances are he would just shoot you whether you gave up what he wanted or not. Dunn is doing 75 years for what he was convicted of, not for everything he did.
Cowards and wolves are both dangerous, though for different reasons and its difficult to tell them apart. If you get mugged in a parking lot, telling one from the other is going to be largely academic because you cant possibly know their ultimate intentions. Their motive is profit, but how far are they willing to go to get it? We have to assume in all situations where our life is threatened that the threat is genuine. Handing over a wallet or a set of car keys shouldn't be a problem, it isnt worth our lives they say, and they are right. But what if we hand over the property and are still harmed? How do we predict that? Maybe it will be obvious that no matter what we do, the bad guy is going to try and hurt us, though maybe promises are made that if we just hand whatever it is over, no one gets hurt. Theres no thieves code; lying to you is allowed and encouraged.
We have to make assumptions, safe assumptions. Not only should we be willing to use force, but we should use force at the earliest opportunity as long as that force is justified. A coward is likely to work with others, get what he wants and be gone. A wolf will probably work alone to maximize his profit. Dunn became a wolf when he was tired of sharing the wealth and had reached the point where he was desensitized to the risk. Hes where he belongs, but he came from a place where conditions and circumstances create more Dunn's every day. If you arent prepared to exercise as much violence as possible to save your life, you dont have the right mindset. Cowards and wolves should be treated the same because telling the difference may require an unsafe assumption.
Dunn is one of the most violent men ive ever met. hes probably a sociopath, which means he isnt very well educated and lacks the charm Hollywood tells us that all sociopaths have (they dont).
Dunn doesn't care about right or wrong and cant figure out why you do, either.
Dunn is what you train and practice for.
Thats not a piece of paper you are shooting at, its Dunn.
He will kill you.