The risk equation

I’m so tired of the strange rangers in our midst who bristle with weapons (plural) all the time and give us a bad name.  I even knew someone who insisted on slipping a gun into his belt to walk down to the end of his (short) driveway to meet his kids’ school bus — this in a very, very safe, rural neighborhood.

Off course, I likewise wish more people would get properly trained and carry when appropriate.

But…when’s appropriate?

Well, the three factors involved with any risk mitigation tactic are 1) the risk you reasonably face (reasonably!), 2) the severity of the injury you’d sustain if the bad thing happened, and 3) the cost of such mitigation (time, money, and effort).  This is probably a well-known equation among risk management professionals, but it came to me in a flash today:

(risk)(severity)/cost  ==> how armed we are

We can all reasonably assess our risk profile.  Key word is reasonably!  Not all of us are being targeted by nationally-organized criminal organizations (though I know people who are), but too many of us act as if we are.  And of course your baseline risk (the risk of just living where you do) will differ between inner Chicago and rural New England.

The severity of our injury in a situation where we’d be legally justified in deploying our gun is, of course, high.

The cost of going armed — and how armed we go — is the rub for most of us.  It requires significant thought and it’s a real pain in the ass for me to gun up when it’s 95 degrees here and humid.  But in the Fall, wearing a jacket…not so much.  You get the idea.  And of course, if you don’t want to dress but one notch up from a homeless addict (“like a hobo” as Tamara Keel puts it), the cost of going armed increases.  There’s better restaurants than Applebees, ya know.  Not that it can’t be done…


Fasten seat belt:  (risk=lo)(severity=hi)/cost=lo ==> buckle up

Violent actors targeting you:  (risk=med to hi)(severity=hi)/cost=medium ==> gun up

Walking to the end of your short driveway in a safe, rural neighborhood: Don’t even go there!

8 thoughts on “The risk equation

  1. For me, carrying has become habit. I am a bit boring. I wear a button down oxford shirt and khakis to work everyday. I wear the same thing when I am not at work. When I get dressed, my shield is just like part of the outfit. If I am not in pajamas (sweat pants and t–shirt) I am carrying. When I undress it goes in a quick access safe.


  2. In a rural area there may be reasons to have a gun with you other than threats to your wellbeing like porkies that eat your garage or something to make noise with when bears get into your trash can. The equation still holds though just with different things plugged into it.


  3. “I’m so tired of the strange rangers in our midst who bristle with weapons (plural) all the time and give us a bad name. I even knew someone who insisted on slipping a gun into his belt to walk down to the end of his (short) driveway to meet his kids’ school bus — this in a very, very safe, rural neighborhood.”

    This tells me you don’t have even a tiny clue.

    For instance, I have a driveway in a “safe” rural neighborhood. One morning I stopped at the end of it to pick up my newspaper. I had my gun on me. It was a good thing, because I had to use it in self defense before I could even get back to my truck, let alone my house. I have also needed it on at least two other occasions in my yard or house. An then there’s this (scroll to 37:05):

    If you can stipulate when/where you are “safe,” then you will never need a gun. You do what you want, but don’t tell me I don’t know what I do know. If people take bad advice, it can get them killed.


  4. Morning, Ralph!

    Nicely provocative question poised in inimitable Mroz fashion, LOL.

    Some random thoughts:

    Seems to be there’s two points here:

    1) going armed “regularly” (whether that means down to the end of the driveway or not, etc.)
    2) gunning up or down as appropriate with threat assessment.

    I like your risk assessment, and I’d add the little formula we used for years in protective operations:


    I’ll come back to that in a minute, after I add a few other pithy aphorisms:

    “The only means of security that are sure and lasting are those you see to yourself.” Machiavelli

    “Everywhere I go, everyone is a little bit safer.” I don’t recall who said this originally, but it’s a mantra for me and doesn’t just apply to hardware, but the package of skill, experience (software) I carry around, despite my advanced decrepitude.

    “There are no safe places. There are only safe people.” A metaphysical friend who prefers to remain anonymous in public forums.

    If I were the type to go armed, and get past my raging hoplophobia, I might take Machiavelli to mean that you can’t rely on knowing what’s going to happen at any given moment whether you’re in your house or yard or shopping for kosher bacon in Mogadishu — so you carry a weapon as a form of insurance to reinforce unforeseen circumstances. And that you choose to be responsible for you and yours PERSONALLY rather than outsource that responsibility to overworked, underpaid and unavailable law enforcement who won’t be there when you need them.

    Speaking again from protective operations in several continents: if bad guys want you, they want to catch you when you are relaxed fat and happy, ideally in your bed asleep after great sex, alternatively shuffling to the end of your driveway to take the garbage out. And it can happen in the best neighborhood in the world, even in yours. And there are other threats other than bad people: I know you’re a dog lover, and I’ve seen first hand what feral dogs do in a pack to humans, and/or rabid animals, that you might encounter in your rural environment. Letting alone a lost meth head to decides to run you down at random because the voices in his head say so, LOL.

    So you either decide to be responsible, which means responsible all the time, or you don’t. Either way, I’m all about free choice.

    Gunning up, or gunning down, or going gunned at all: presupposes UNDERSTANDING what your GENERAL threat is (safe neighborhood, animals etc.) in other words your BASELINE THREAT LEVEL and overlaid over that is your SPECIFIC THREAT, which may be time dependent (two in the morning vs. nine in the morning, how many bad people you pissed off, your public political views, etc.) and then having the SPECIFIC KNOWLEDGE TO MAKE AN INTELLIGENT DETERMINATION ABOUT LEVEL OF ARMED RESPONSE, IF AT ALL. That again presupposes training, hopefully some experience or taking benefit of experience of others.

    Making oneself safe, and others around oneself who may not be capable of defending themselves (if one were given to helping civility instead of supporting civil cowardice) presupposes the above and THE ABILITY TO READ A SITUATION, and determine threat level which is dynamic and fluid.

    As one’s response should be, IMHO.

    “There are no safe places. There are only safe people.”


    In our world, our country, anywhere you go, there is no absolute “safe.” There’s only varying degrees of baseline security. The variable (not to go all Heisenberg Principle on you, LOL) is YOU: the armed, aware, trained, individual actively engaged in the individual processes that make up ongoing situational awareness and threat assessment. It’s people who make safe places, not the places. I think it’s a good endeavor to be someone who makes a place safe by being there.

    So that’s my morning rant. I’m gonna go fetch my walking stick in case I get jumped by corrupt cops guarding a corrupt banker (from my latest novel, which I’m fresh on finishing and turning into a Netflix series, LOL) since I lost my purse on the way home from the latest ladies book club meeting.

    Thanks as always for good brain food first thing in the morning, Ralph!

    Cheers, m


  5. Oh I forgot to expand on this:


    Basically in evaluating your response to threat, you evaluate those three factors for a quick thumbnail. To degrade your threat level, remove the opportunity to bring threat to you, identify intention far enough out, and degrade their capability.

    That can run the gamut from stuffing a sawed off 12 gauge down your pants leg to releasing incriminating video to LiveLeak or Judicial Watch or some sexy blonde TV news investigator, or hiring a bunch of bodyguards (hopefully competent, but rare these days) or, adopting the aware lifestyle, take appropriate measures, refuse to give into fear, and live your life as a free man (person, gender fluid or otherwise….; )

    Cheerios, m,


    • I think we agree: baseline + specific implies your level of preparedness. Reasonable people may differ on each of those assessments, though, and the preferred PERSONAL response to them. I take no precautions against contracting polio on a daily basis (it’s all but eradicated), and neither do you, so there are baseline + specific levels at which we can all agree that precautions are paranoid. In your present situation, your response is warranted. The in-between stuff we can argue over sarsaparillas.


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