Random Violence

“Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”

I don’t know the original source, but my old man says it all the time. He’ll say it when we’re trying to decide whether or not to bring something on a trip, or when we’d try to throw away some old piece of junk we found in the basement. It occurs to me, however, that it also applies to self defense.

It drives me nuts when people talk about some act of burglary or violence and say “Oh, that will never happen around here.” I live in a quiet, rural community, and I hear it all the time. I also hear them say “People don’t even lock their doors in town,” and they mean it.

Imagine their shock when a couple teenagers looking for a quick buck went from house to house, going into garages and cars to steal money, CDs, and whatever else caught their eye. Imagine their surprise when two young men, armed and on the run from Georgia, were chased down and arrested in a field on the south end of town. My parents lived in a small, nothing-happens-here town, and the guy renting an upstairs apartment next to them kicked in their front door one afternoon. They were out shopping, and if they didn’t have a dog, the guy could have helped himself to anything in the place.

Any one of those could have escalated to violence. What if someone had been up working late on their car, or sitting in an adjoining room, when those boys broke into their garage? What if those two Georgia boys made it through the field and tried to hide in someone’s house? What if my parents had arrived home while their neighbor was still in the house?

Today I read about Brittany Zimmerman, a 21-year-old woman who was murdered by a stranger, possibly a vagrant. She was beaten, strangled, and stabbed and the police didn’t show up for 48 minutes. The dispatcher didn’t hear anything, so the police were no doubt sent on higher priority calls. If the attacker was a stranger or vagrant as the police suspect, then they may never find the guy, much less figure out why he did it. Maybe he broke in and didn’t know she was home. Or maybe he just felt like stabbing someone.

Not likely? Allow me to share one of the most disturbing videos I’ve ever seen (language NSFW):

This guy just attacks this random car with a crowbar — a deadly weapon — simply to demonstrate how bad he is. How would you like to be the driver? Just sitting there, waiting to pull out of the parking lot, maybe wondering what to do about supper, when bam, some maniac is beating the shit out of your car, and for all you know he’s going to pull you out the door and bash your skull in. 911 isn’t going to do you a lick of good, nobody around you seems willing or able to help, and you can’t even drive away because you’re trapped between other cars.

What do you do? Try to run him over? Fight back? I’d probably try the former first, but that’s not the point. The point is this guy wasn’t provoked. He had no beef with the driver and he wasn’t trying to steal anything. It’s about as random an attack as it gets, and there’s not a damn thing that would have stopped him or defused the situation.

This is one of many reasons I carry a knife. This is one of many reasons I am studying karate. This is the reason I would carry a firearm if it were legal in my state.

“Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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  1. Adron says:

    That quote sums up how I feel as well. I don’t routinely carry my knives, but I keep ’em handy. My martial arts background is just extensive enough to know where and how to break some important stuff. I hope to never be tested. But I also hope that, should I see somebody in trouble, that I will be the type of person to try to help, and not just stare agape and useless.

    We’ve developed into a culture of voyeurs, unable to move but only watch while sociopaths (our natural predators) pick off a few of the weak or unfortunate. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy comics so much – a warped fantasy world where people are there to help and unafraid to do so. But maybe that’s what a costume, or a uniform, is for – to empower…

  2. Mike says:

    It’s as good an explanation as any. I think it’s actually encouraged, too. Don’t try to stop a fight or you may get hurt. Don’t jump in or you might get sued. Even in the schoolyard these days it’s don’t throw a punch or you’ll get suspended with the bully. Wait for the cops or the teacher or your parents to come to the rescue.

    That’s just not good enough.