Desensitized to Violence?

I’ve started reading On Killing by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman - only a few pages in and I’m intrigued.

It has already got me thinking about the oversensitivity and (at the same time) desensitivity to killing in today’s age.

Graphic violence is almost worshiped in movies and video games - people have become desensitized to violence. Think about the security guard in Chicago who was beaten and no one did or said anything until he drew his gun to defend himself and everyone started screaming no!

Yet we can’t stand seeing a mouse killed in a trap so we have enclosed mouse traps. (I personally have a hard time eating something that looks like what it was.)

Would I have a hard time with the emotional aftermath of shooting in self-defense? Probably. I don’t want to hurt anyone. But I want my loved ones to survive.

What have you done to help prepare yourself for the mental aftermath if you have to shoot in self-defense?


I think there is more to it than being desensitized by video games or movies.

Unfortunately more and more people make a decision not to get involved when they see violence. I think this is for one of two reasons.

  1. Our children are being taught to not even sand up for themselves in our schools. If they do over half the time they get a greater punishment than the bully does.

  2. Our society has become sue happy. People are afraid if they get involved they may get sued even if they were doing the right thing.

Wither you believe in corporal punishment or not even the verbal threat of it can get a parent in trouble if said in public and heard by the wrong person.

Each person deals with things differently mentally, you can try to prepare yourself or your children but we are at a disadvantage. I believe our current society has become so over protective of everyone’s feeling there is no longer a healthy reaction to major injuries or death.

In general parents have become lazy and just want to leave educating their kids to someone else.

It is also my observation, parents who are gun owners and teach their children about guns and gun safety are much more involved with and concerned about their children’s raising and education.

After reading this post through it seems I jumped around a lot. I decided to leave it as is because I put it down as it came to me. I hope you can make sense of what I was trying to convey.


There is a fascination with the, “what would I do if such and such happened”? In my experience plans can fall apart far faster than they are made.

Yes I believe you can be desensitized by video games and movies but hardly anyone is desensitized by the real thing.

One question I was asked the most when I came home from Vietnam was, did you kill anyone or more politely did you shoot anyone? Not many of us answered the question. It is not something you can share so that others know what to expect. That being said, the real thing is not like in the movies.


@DBrogue - yep, when people believe that meat comes from the grocery store in tidy white trays, we have lost touch with one of the essential truths of our existence. That has consequences. When violence is purely entertainment and people learn that being easily offended and fragile is the key to controlling others, the character traits of resilience, fortitude, backbone, and forbearance become increasingly rare.

@Dawn, you’re into one of the most important books I’ve read on what we think and why we think it, what we do (or don’t) and why we do (or don’t do) it. Really brilliant book. On my list to listen to again later this year.

Mental prep - well, part of it is being a farmer. We bottle feed some of our lambs, raise them up, and then slaughter them, and have them for dinner. It’s a thing that many people have a hard time getting their head around. We do some of our own slaughter (chickens, ducks, maybe turkeys this year, and rabbits in the past) plus when livestock is injured, or a horse has reached the time to be put down, we do that ourselves. We don’t do the large animal slaughter, but whenever possible, I’m there to be witness to it.
It’s not easy - and it’s not supposed to be. It puts a perspective on everything we do. We provide the best life we can for the animal that it is, then give it as swift, painless, and calm a death as we can, and afterwards waste as little as possible. If you’re going to be the angel of death for livestock, I think it’s good to be swift and merciful.

I think maybe the difference between where we are with this, and where many people are, is that while I find the killing process disturbing, I don’t feel a need to be protected from having that experience.

I think it’s right that I take it seriously, and I think it’s right that I find it unsettling. If it were “meh, whatever” I’d be very worried about having that reaction.

I think it’s also right to have that disquieting experience and be a farmer. These animals have lives because they will eventually be dinner. I’m grateful for that, and try to keep that in mind throughout both their lives and their deaths.

Where this intersects with defense is this - If I had to shoot someone in the defense of me and mine, I’m pretty sure I’d find it disturbing. But I don’t feel a need to be protected from that experience if it is the thing that needs to be done. Knowing that I can tolerate things that are disturbing, but are the right thing to do, gives me some peace about that part of it. I would choose because it was the right thing to do, rather than avoid doing what had to be done because I might be distressed later.

I’ve spent a great deal of my life learning to manage and come to terms with fear. What I know is that my fears should not be making my decisions for me. They are useful input, but they do not own me.

If I am afraid of feeling distress after shooting someone in self defense, and that’s what I’m attending to in the moment of crisis, I would not be able to make clear choices - my fear of that experience might make my decisions for me. Instead, I accept that if I shot someone, I would feel distress. Ok, that’s a thing. It would very likely come to pass. So I own that, and then I set it aside because it’s not relevant to the decision I’d need to make - Am I in danger? Is my family at risk? Is there no other effective option for protecting myself and them? That’s where my focus needs to be, right in that moment, not on how I might feel after.

On Killing is an extremely useful book because should after come, the physiological and psychological and mental and emotional reactions that may happen will not be unexpected. I now have a roadmap for the many and varied experience I might have - and the knowledge that those things are normal, typical, biological and psychological experiences that human beings have. The additional distress of feeling like something is wrong with me because I felt some particular way is diffused by knowing something about what to expect, and by knowing how varied individual experiences can be.


“No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” No matter how well you plan, and how many plans and options you considered, you will not have planned for what actually happens.

Yeah, my husband too. Until he and I were married (long after he returned) he never talked to anyone about it. I think that has a lot to do with what you said. His reactions were his reactions and his experiences were his experiences. I don’t think he wanted to have to explain why he felt what he did, or justify his reactions to someone who didn’t have common experience and couldn’t be expected to understand.


Tell him welcome home for me.

To sort of explain the feeling I will use this example. I was a hospital Chaplain for close to ten years. For a time I was a hospice Chaplain. For years I sat with people and listened to their deepest fears and family stories. In Hospice 100 percent of my patients were terminal. I had sat with many people and held their hand as they passed away. I thought I was doing quiet well filing the experience away till one day a doctor friend asked me to dinner for a talk. He asked who I shared with? Who did I talk to? I asked if he ever lost a patient and he said yes. I then said then we can talk and I will share.


@Robert5 - I will tell him. and welcome home to you as well, from both of us. :purple_heart:

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I follow Lt. Col Dave Grossman closely and a lot of the programs he’s involved in very closely. He has helped change a lot of my habits. Two of the biggest things I’ve learned is honest self assessment and close the gap between training and real life as much as possible


I think this is the first time I really honestly truly believe that if something happens I WILL DIE if I don’t protect myself.

I do believe we have dehumanized ourselves as a nation - there is a smoldering hate toward man-kind in this country - I can’t speak for the rest of the world… . but I think it’s more than just Hollywood or video games - I think those are the outcomes of something that was brewing long before. I hear the theme of ‘how man kind is destroying this planet’ over and over again. . .and how there’s nothing good or beneficial here. . .almost like living with an abusive parent. No good can be seen these days. It prevails in our culture . . .and then the hyper reaction that’s as sick as any ‘ism’ in drug abuse or alcohol abuse jumps into play. . .make a law against this make a law against that. . instead of addressing the issues - and changing as a culture.

I am not sure that I am desensitized to violence (I still hide my eyes when I see it on TV - it still really bothers me) probably because I’ve been the subject of violence so many times - and I know it’s reality.

I do know that the world is a very dangerous place - and we as human beings use all sorts of mechanisms to cope. Denial is here whether we watch the TV or not. . whether we accept it as the ‘norm’ or not. If you look at history - people didn’t celebrate their child’s first two birthdays - because they were ‘normally’ dead and buried before the age of three. We cope with what ever reality hits us in any given age. It’s not new - we’re just told it’s new so that we would be offended. . . at ourselves - and suddenly it can be twisted to being the victim’s fault so that we don’t defend ourselves. Sounds like child abuse. . it’s such a sick twist of things. (IMhumbleO))

In preparing myself: I am now insured, which is a relief - especially for my family’s sake.
If I kill someone, I will cry. I don’t want to take a life, but I also understand that is THEIR actions that place them in the situation where they will be defended against. They have a choice NOT to attempt harm to me or my loved ones. I will rely on my faith to heal me from the fall out. I absolutely do not want to take a life - but if I have to and there is no other choice - I will do what I can to neutralize the threat and I will know that it was their choice, not mine.


Thank you for the profound conversation going on here. Thank you for your service - both in the military and to those who were at the ends of their lives @Robert5 - and @Zee please give your husband my appreciation as well.

I don’t think that it’s just tv and video games that have desensitized us - but they are definitely a sign of how desensitized we are.


^^^ This, right here. This.


I won’t just blame video games. I’ll blame the news and social media. When I was a kid, the most violent news stories weren’t aired until late at night. Shows like Dateline, or 60 minutes weren’t on until after “bedtime.” Now, the more provocative the story, the sooner they want it on. Our biggest fear in school was a tornado. Now they do active shooter drills. I was listening to a series last night for training to be a church camp staff volunteer. It broke my heart listening to the statistics about sexual abuse. The same can be translated to violence. Violent offenders are getting younger, and younger. When 9/11 happened, the whole world stood still. When the Easter attacks happened 5 days ago, it got a 5 minute spot on the news. As for games, it’s up to us parents/guardians to filter what comes into our homes. I review every game my son plays. I play free downloads, or rent games before I’ll buy them for him. Case in point, Fortnite. I downloaded it on my phone, and played for an hour. At the end of that hour, I threw my phone across the room. My son says his friends play it, so my wife reached out to other moms on social media. They all said, of the kids that played, they had noticed more aggressive behaviors from the children, but, it’s just a game. I believe, we should expose our kids to what violence is, so they understand it is real, and it is out there. I want my son to understand, there is even a justifiable time to be “violent” by definition.


I was asked the same question numerous times, here’s how I answered "I managed to stay alive, kept you here safe and held my FLAG up high. Now, would you like to join me in the next one?

Thank you for your service, you are a Hero my friend.


As we see from most of the responses many people have noticed and tried to prepare themselves for an event that can impact their lives. I believe being desensitized or overly sensitized is exacerbated by not being prepared. While no one can be totally prepared for the unexpected a lot of the people in this thread have done what they can to prepare themselves for the event and the aftermath. The simply act of being aware of the areas you live and shop in is a beginning. Insurance, Pepper spay, stun guns and weapons and even a CCW are additions to that preparedness. Even additional training shows a person is trying to get in the right mindset. There is little else someone can do.

Having listened to returning veterans and LEOs I have learned that outwardly they may seem desensitized but inwardly they are as concerned as any of us. I believe that most people have learned to see movies and TV as just artistic drama and yes are no longer shocked by what they see. Very few are able to carry that feeling over to real life.

@Sheepdog556 makes a valid point about assessing your condition to see how it matches your goal. @45IPAC has expressed the current conditions that heightens our anger or in some cases righteous indignation that may justify a violent reaction to violence confronting you.

As an aside I believe we as a community have to encourage each to continue to be vigilant for our family and friends. We need to honestly asses the hyperbole presented by our media on the conditions in our communities and the world. And we need to be aware of the dangers our media tries to cover up as well.


As a person who has been in this situation more times than I can remember as a Vet and a cop ,believe me when I say unless you’re a psychopath, you NEVER become desensitized. Fear is what give you that edge. That ultra heightened awareness that will keep you alive. Courage isn’t lack of fear, it’s the ability to act despite of it. The human spirit is an amazing thing. Training/knowledge plus keen situational awareness will protect you. As long as you know within yourself you did the right thing you will be all right and live to fight another day.


I don’t know about being desensitized, both boys are into violent video games and movies. Both have big hearts and are pretty respectful. I think a lot of this crap is from social media and the disconnect it has on some socially. I’ve read a lot about “screens” and their effect on younger undeveloped brains, it’s pretty interesting. I don’t think some of this tech is healthy for our children.


You also have the threat of arrest. Unless I know someone I wouldn’t get involved unless I saw the whole thing unfold or its extremely blatant on what’s happening, you have no idea if the person being beat, held at gunpoint or shooting is the victim or victimizer.

The best bet is to try to deescalate a situation before it gets too far, I’ve done that many times.

Bullying is huge issue and while there is a “zero tolerance” policy most teachers and administrators turn a blind eye unless you stick up for yourself as you stated. I made another huge post like last night about bullying but will save it for another time and will just post the video.

Great video about the pitfalls of helping:

You can start at 5:50 and it gives good examples:


  1. Two men in the subway in London don’t help a women being robbed/harassed, she’s more upset at them then the criminal.

  2. A man with a criminal history defends a women getting beat, he ends up serving 6 years for punching the criminal once causing a brain bleed and swelling. He had a few crimes he was wanted for but the punch was one of the charges he was convicted of.

US 5:50:

  1. A man pulls a women from an overturned vehicle, preforms CPR, gets her breathing, has medical training, police arrive and order him to move his truck, he refuses and stays at the women’s side in case she stops breathing again, gets arrested.

  2. A man finds a toddler lost at the park walks around asking people if its their child, has witnesses that he wasn’t trying to kidnap girl, toddlers dad and men approach and beat him. Story goes viral on social media and the man is forced to leave town over death threats for being a “pervert” even though the police and witness confirm he was a Good Samaritan and the news even reports on it.


78 year old man is held hostage in his kitchen during a home invasion with a screw driver by men in their 30’s. A struggle ensues and the old man stabs one intruder who dies. He’s charged with murder and police won’t make a statement if he used a knife or the screwdriver against the criminal.

On a side note, what happens if the two men helped the women in the subway, the women jumps off at the first stop and at the next the police arrest the two men for assaulting the man?

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My first post in this thread to @dbrogue about bullying was much longer and I didn’t want to do another marathon post like last night :smile: so I saved it for you.

Correct, I’ll give you only two examples of a few I’ve learned.

We live in the suburbs of Portland, we met a group of friends about ten years ago in Portland at a working class bar we stopped by on accident. We grew up in working class families and that’s who we like to hang out with. Our group is diverse, any race you can think of and that’s how we could protect each other during the down slide.

Portland has went to crap since then and really downhill in the last 3 or so . You got homeless, tent cities, aggressive pan handling, antifa and very heated race issues etc.

They’re all given a pass with a night in the “drunk tank” and the police have been told to stand down on enforcing most laws on them but the average person isn’t and now it’s also false race based claims if a fight starts, defend yourself from a homeless person and your in trouble, if they’re a different race you’re really going to get it. We finally had to stop going after this New Years after seeing a local article and knew I’d be in jail if I ever had to really defend myself.

Clearly if the DA hid the case for three months until he exonerated the man for punching and killing a older disabled vet who used a “racial slur” and took a swing at an able bodied man, I stand no chance. Basically you can you use lethal force against anyone if you say they said a bad word.

There’s too many “if’s” on self defense in Portland. So we now just hang out in the burbs with the most boring people in the world since the group of 8 to 10 don’t want to travel and Uber every weekend.

My first lesson, in winter I wear long sleeve shirts, unbuttoned with a wind/rainproof windbreaker. The buttons on the shirt sleeves were always buttoned tight and the Velcro on the coat sleeves pulled just as tight.

Some vagrant came in through the back exit by the pool table in 2016, our group was scattered doing different things and he sat down at the half booth next to one of the girls and my wife, the girl said hi to him so I thought she knew him(there are friendly homeless). I was sitting on this raised bar stool across from them and he grabbed my sleeves and twisted them inwards and pulled me forward face to face with him so I was almost off the stool. I couldn’t snap my arms out or around because he had them perfectly held by the clothing, I couldn’t even reach for my pepper spray let alone my gun.

My only hope as he was demanding al my money and a PBR(lol) was the bouncer seeing, one of the guys from my group or my drunk wife paying attention and using peeper spray. He was sitting too low for me to knee him if I came off the stool. He got kicked put in a head lock 20 seconds later by the bouncer and kicked out.

My shirt sleeves are now never buttoned and the Velcro is loose enough that I can pull my arms out of both shirt and coat even when grabbed.

The second, the only time I’ve every had to actually draw my weapon in self defense (I’ve slid it out and put it under my leg while driving or waiting somewhere before) was at that same stupid table in the back.

They kicked a guy out, the back door is twenty feet down a hall where they have the offices and supples etc. 10 minutes after being kicked out glass came flying down with a loud bang, everyone yelled gun.

It was mayhem, as they say in MiB a person is smart, people are stupid. Everyone by the pool table ran across the line of fire and hid in the men’s bathroom, the front of the bar went out the front door that lines up perfectly with the back(so stupid). We were basically trapped.

I had already grabbed my wife and the same girl as before and started to move behind the pool table as soon as I saw the first glass coming down the hall. I power stepped with my left foot, went to power step with my right, I needed 3 good power steps to get safely behind the pool table and to be able to cover the last few feet of the hall at an angle and be behind cover.

On my second step, I thought I had been shot but didn’t feel anything and had no idea how I falling/skidding lol, I was low and pushing off with my right foot as I just skidded across the carpet. It was nothing like the movies when someone falls and the gun goes flying across the floor or you pull the trigger and discharge(trigger discipline!!). I just slid in slow motion and put my middle finger on the grip to hold tighter which activated the green laser grip. That was it, it was like a quick green laser show on the back wall.

The bartender and bouncer saw the laser and came straight over the booth avoiding the line of fire to get behind me they knew what that green laser meant.

I look as I’m skidding and my wife had dove under the pool table like she had been taught to at work and had tripped me. As I’m now setting up in place after skidding the last five feet I have the bartender on his belly grab her and trying to put her behind us as she’s keeps yelling “this is what you’re supposed to do in an active shooter situation”.

I grabbed her as she was being pulled beside me and said “this isn’t work, shut the &&&& up” and proceed to tell them “if I say “go” follow me, if I move and don’t say anything stay in place. Nick(bartender) you’re in charge of my wife”.

By that time the second and now the third shot is down the hall with more glass, the fourth “shot” bounced off the bar and hit the security guy kneeling behind me.

It was over, they were just black rocks from the landscaping. It was dim, you could only see the glass shards and hear the bangs. As soon as he called out “it’s just rocks”, the bathroom emptied and five guys chased him down outside, two got stabbed, the police show up an hour later. Catch the guy later that night in bloody clothing and he served a night in jail for being high, he was just defending himself from a mob attack lol.

I did get a month worth of free meals and my two beers a week comped(that’s all I drink when I go out, it’s legal to bar carry but I don’t want to be drunk and have to shoot, I even carry my own professional breathalyzer, I only ever hit .02 and by 8 or 9pm I’m at a 0.00).

The bar was empty except for our group and the staff, I went to reholster and decided to take a look at me knees that were killing me, I had severe rug burn on my knees, left side of my face and somehow my elbows even though they just skimmed the carpet. I had no idea you could get rug burn through clothing and so severely, I could barely walk or move my arms for two weeks. I put peroxide on my face since the carpet is filthy. I looked like a mess and decided to walk to our friends house a couple blocks away(that hurt so bad) put my gun up and drink all night and after closing we spent the night at their house drinking more and finally coming home late Sunday evening.

It lasted no more then 45-90 seconds at most but the adrenaline is something else. I’ve been in other crazy situations(almost drowning, barely missing a fatal car accident) but nothing compares to that rush, even the drinking barely phased it. At like 8 or 9am when we were finally done drinking and people were falling asleep I was still wide awake.

The other girl I grabbed with my wife must have frozen, she had started to move but never left the booth(I didn’t know until afterwards) her husband was pissed at her(he had ran and hid in the bathroom leaving her to begin with lol), I apologized and said I still had her covered if it had been real and he had come down the hall shooting, I had him before he could see her. She played it off and pretended she knew it was just rocks them changed her story to say he didn’t want to shot us, just the bouncer and bartender.

It was a crazy night, I had tried to make my wife practice and go over scenarios in the past but she would only partially listen and wouldn’t go through any movements. After that night and her knowing how dangerous it could’ve been, how much she screwed up, how pissed I was at her and how much she had hurt me by tripping me, she suggested that we should practice lol.

now we’ve at least practiced with her drinking(no gun for her) and when she’s sober and carrying alone and together.

Even with practice something will always go wrong though.

And every idiot after that night said they were going to find me to hide behind in the future. I had to tell them to stay on the ground in place behind something, don’t crowd me or block my aim I don’t need a herd of people running towards me or group behind me making it hard to move.

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Being a good Samaritan is a risky thing today. Abused women are likely to take the side of the abuser until they have successfully gotten out of the abuse cycle. And that is not a slight against women who are abused at all. It’s mental programming that is very difficult to overcome.

If you haven’t seen the video of the security guard at that McDonald’s in Chicago who was attacked - and the crowd was silent until he brought out his gun in his self defense.


I just watched a news story about it, nothing until the gun comes out. They then showed the video to passerby’s and the majority agreed it was self defense but you always have the ones who are shocked “a gun isn’t a toy” “it could go off at any time”. Yeah if they kept attacking him and he pulled the trigger. What surprised me was there were more pro then anti especially in such a liberal place.

In my younger years I worked WITH federal law enforcement and occasionally local(not in a law enforcement capacity) and the locals were always most worried about domestic abuse calls.

One second the women could be crying wanting the husband arrested and was tired of the abuse and as soon as he was being arrested or cuffed the women could change her mind and attack the officer/s.

Even just watching COPS in the old days you could see the issue, sometimes they would get angry and demand the guy be released or they would start crying, apologizing and trying to kiss the guy through the police cruiser window while promising to get them out as soon as possible.

The only time I’ve stepped in is when it’s friends and they’ve had too much to drink and start arguing because one has become jealous that the other talked to a person of the opposite sex etc.

I’m not citizen patrol or a wanna be mall cop, I mind my own business, anyone that wants to can buy pepper spray or a handgun/training to defend themselves. It’s not my job to defend everyone, especially in a liberal state where 60% want to take my right away to defend myself.

But I would’ve stepped in to help the security guard of course when something is that blatant, it’s why I carry lethal and non-lethal anyone watching could’ve went out and pepper sprayed the attacker’s but choose to do nothing even though the situation was perfectly clear.

You guys should really offer a SHTF policy, I know one company did a long time ago in case you got Zimmerman’d by the press and justice system, they would stand behind you the entire time finically, especially for us in liberal states.

I’m going out tonight so no more big replies from me but I think I’ll start a topic tomorrow to see who has contacted their USCCA lawyer they picked and how the experience went. Which category topic would that fall under?