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INSIDE THE WOLF’S HEAD
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PREDATORS
UNDERSTAND HOW THEY THINK
Predators can be unpredictable in some ways, but they are very predictable in others. And the more you understand their habits, the safer you will be.
When Tampa, Florida, native Alexis Martinez answered his door at 2 a.m., he immediately recognized Samona Louise Ramey, a woman he had briefly dated. She asked him for a ride. As Martinez approached his car to give her a lift, two men jumped him, beat him and forced him back inside his home. After robbing him, one of the men shot and killed Martinez along with his pregnant girlfriend. Martinez’s tragic story reveals a lot about the psychology of predators and illustrates one of their most classic tactics.
Predators seek compliant victims. They do not want a fight, and sometimes compliance might save your life. But as Martinez’s case demonstrates, that isn’t the case when you know the criminals’ identities. If a predator thinks he or she will encounter resistance from an individual or be easily identified, that predator will often pick someone else as his or her target. That’s why obvious external security devices, such as security cameras and doorbell camera systems, often force predators to look elsewhere. But simply because a predator doesn’t want a fight doesn’t mean you’re safe if the woman sizing you up is 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 90 pounds and you’re 6 foot, 5 inches tall and weigh 220 pounds. Weapons are great equalizers, but predators use classic psychological tactics against their victims. And understanding these tactics can give you the upper hand.
I DIDN’T TAKE THE BAIT. THE ‘PIZZA’ WAS ACCOMPANIED BY THREE OTHER ACCOMPLICES, OUT OF VIEW, WHO HAD UNFRIENDLY PLANS.
THE TROJAN HORSE
In Virgil’s ancient poem
after a 10-year standoff, the Greeks present the Trojans in the besieged city of Troy with a giant wooden horse as an offering and appear to withdraw. The gift was accepted, and once inside the city’s walls, the world’s first special forces team exited from their hiding places inside the wooden horse, dispatched the few Trojans guarding the gate and opened it to let their comrades in, leading to the city ’s fall. This famous scene in Virgil’s poem gave us the idiom “beware of Greeks bearing gifts,” but it should be amended to “beware of anyone offering gifts.”
One of the most common predator tactics, designed to obtain what psychologists call “reciprocity,” is to offer a proposed victim a gift to lure him or her into a sense of comfort. It could be merely the promise of a gift designed to lead the victim to a secondary crime scene, or it might be an actual gift — such as a Rolex watch — designed to distract him or her from what’s coming.
And you guessed it: What’s coming is not going to be good.
When someone you do not know, or have known only briefly as an acquaintance, offers you a gift that you have no reason to expect, you should immediately move to Condition Yellow, and warning klaxons should sound off in your head.
Several years ago, a man dressed as a pizza-delivery person attempted to get me to open my door by telling me that I had ordered a pizza that had already been paid for. I didn’t take the bait. The “pizza” was accompanied by three other accomplices, out of view, who had unfriendly plans. I applied the belief that anything that sounds too good to be true probably is (see “It Will Never Happen to Me,” Page 62 in the January 2021 issue of
Similar to the tactic of gift offering, asking someone for a favor (in Ramey’s case, a ride) is also a clever disarming tactic. Requesting a favor makes the person asking to appear vulnerable and not in control. Appearances can be deceiving, and were Alexis Martinez still alive, he would tell you as much. Ramey knew that Martinez had video cameras, and her accomplices positioned themselves outside his view prior to the attack. Atop the reality that your potential attackers may have already thoroughly cased your residence or wherever they intend to confront you, this also reinforces that predators may not fear consequences and often believe they will escape justice for their crimes.
Females are also often used to lure victims to locations where they can be targeted. Recently, three high school students allegedly used a 17-year-old girl to lure a teenager to Show Low Lake, Arizona. Once there, two teenagers beat the 19-year-old male so badly that he required a medical airlift to save his life.
Young men — particularly socially awkward young men — are more vulnerable to this sort of tactic.
Another common tactic is to impersonate authority figures such as police officers, detectives, investigators and even attorneys. While most of us would hesitate to let someone we did not know into our homes, many of us are happy to accommodate law enforcement. In February 2021, a man claiming to be a detective in Lindenhurst, New York, convinced two teenage girls to get into his SUV by telling them that he was investigating gang activity in the area and it wasn’t safe. He dropped the older girl off at a library and took the younger one to a park where he inappropriately touched her. Fortunately, she was able to kick open the door, escape and call 911. The man was apprehended, but the ruse worked because the teens trusted what appeared to be an authority figure.
The more confident and articulate a predator, the more likely he or she is to attempt using stolen authority to gain entry or cooperation. Never expect a predator to play fair; that’s like expecting a bull not to charge you because you’re a vegetarian. Most people are afraid of authority — particularly the police. That is true even when they know they have not done anything wrong.
Predators, who often have a great deal of experience with the police, understand this. They count on it and use it to their advantage whenever possible.
In addition, many of the props necessary to pull off these types of crimes are available online for a reasonable price.
A pair of pants and a polo from 5.11, for example — combined with a few patches, a Safariland holster on a web belt and a bogus badge — could fool someone looking through a peephole or a Blink surveillance camera into thinking that he or she
is staring at a law enforcement officer.
For this reason, before you allow entry to anyone who claims to be a detective, an investigator or a police officer, it’s a good idea to call 911 to verify the identity of the person at your door. (Never use a number the person gives you. Always call 911.) A real police officer will understand and likely congratulate you on your common sense, while a predator will become more demanding and start threatening. Watch for these telltale signs.
Generally speaking, we all want to be liked. We all want to be perceived as good people. Predators know this, and they count on it. They use a number of tactics designed to play to a person’s desire to be liked and accepted.
Aniah Blanchard was a 19-year-old college student in Auburn, Alabama.
She was coming home late in the evening and stopped at a gas station after dropping her brother off at his apartment. It’s still unclear if she willingly let 30-year-old Ibraheem Yazeed accompany her or if he forced Aniah into her car before they drove off together. She reportedly texted her roommate that she was with a man named Eric she had just met. Investigators found her car — with bloodstained seats and a bullet hole in the door — some 55 miles away in Montgomery, Alabama. Yazeed allegedly took her to a secondary crime scene and shot her to death. While Yazeed has not confessed and has not been tried, it appears he was able to manipulate the young woman with charm or some other type of social engineering.
WORKING THE LEVERS
Predators know that people who make commitments tend to keep them, and commitments provide leverage.
That is why a predator will often ask for a small commitment (or sometimes a large one) in order to assert control over a victim and dominate the situation. A person who tells a predator he or she will comply with the predator’s demands sometimes feels bound to do so.
When a disbarred attorney broke into Aaron Quinn’s residence in California, abducted Quinn’s then-girlfriend Denise
Huskins and demanded ransom, the predator placed webcams and taped off the floor to control Quinn. Instead of honoring his commitment not to hurt Huskins, the predator took her to another location and repeatedly raped her.
But the predator’s control over Quinn enabled him to make Quinn call in sick for Huskins, thereby raising suspicion with the police that Quinn, and not a random home invader, had taken and harmed her (see “Make or Break,” Page 70 in the April 2022 issue of
A predator will often use fear to extract commitment and then double-down to keep the victim held to that commitment, often resulting in death or serious injury. Viewed objectively and dispassionately in the calm light of not having been awakened at 3 a.m. to people ransacking your home, the control measures implemented by the invader in the Huskins case seem far-fetched.
It is reasonable to wonder why Quinn didn’t just call 911 to begin with. But his girlfriend was a hostage, and he knew the predator was watching and was using his cellphone to keep a close eye on him.
Jayme Closs also understands how predators control their victims. On Oct. 15, 2018, a man stalked and abducted the 13-year-old girl from her home near Barron, Wisconsin. He later told authorities he decided to kidnap her, supposedly on impulse, after seeing her get on a school bus in front of her home.
After shooting and murdering her parents, he took the teenager to a family cabin 70 miles away in Gordon, Wisconsin. He kept her closely restrained with psychological measures. When he had to leave the cabin, he put her under a bed in his room, boxing her in with weighted bins. This worked for 88 days, until one day he left, telling her he would return in two hours. As soon as he was gone, Closs pushed away the bins, got out from under the bed and fled from the house. She ran into a local woman, who took her to a nearby home. The resident there armed himself and called the police.
SPOIL THEIR PLANS Almost all predators use some form of approach that is designed to minimize our normal appreciation of warning signals. They may be well-dressed, well-spoken and even appear kind. But regardless of their initial impressions, they distract their victims long enough to gain control.
Understanding these dangerous mind games and why they work gives you an advantage when dealing with people you do not know and who may not have your best interests at heart, and knowing these tactics allows you to adjust your level of situational awareness accordingly.
Arrested on Charges of Impersonating Police Officer, Abducting Teenage Girl on Long Island,” CBS New York, Feb. 4, 2021,
SCOTT W. WAGNER
THEN AND NOW
A LONG ROAD
American pocket guns followed a different path than their European cousins. While the Euros adopted the semi-automatic almost as soon as it was available, revolvers maintained their dominance stateside until almost the end of the 20th century.
Throughout history, pocket pistols have occupied the largest share of the defensive handgun market. But what is a “pocket pistol,” anyway? Well, it’s a defensive handgun that is small enough to be concealed long-term in a pocket or similar-sized area for use in unexpected emergencies.
The pocket pistol dates back to the 17th century, when the flintlock firing mechanism made it safer to carry a loaded gun in a coat or belt. Such a handgun could be carried in a pocket, even though it probably ranged from 7 to 9 inches long and was not what we would consider “pocket-sized” today.
Men who could afford firearms back then normally wore coats with very large external and internal pockets, so storage was only so much of an issue.
Over time, carrying a weapon for protection fell out of fashion in many parts of the world. In fact, an open display of weaponry other than by the military could be seen as gauche among the elite. For those who felt the need to be discreetly armed, smaller flintlock and, later, percussion-cap designs were developed. Many arms of various designs came and went with varying degrees of success, but Samuel Colt’s revolvers had the most profound and lasting impact.
MID-19TH CENTURY AMERICA
Samuel Colt patented the first truly successful revolving-cylinder handgun, the Colt Paterson revolver, in 1836.
In 1847, Colt introduced the mammoth .44 Walker percussion revolver as well as diminutive pocket percussion revolvers in both .28 and .31 caliber. Although not what we would consider a man-stopper by today’s standards, the .31-caliber version in particular found favor on the frontier, especially during the California Gold Rush. Out in the gold fields of California, where claim jumpers and other rough sorts abounded, the .31-cal Colt Pocket revolver was an important and convenient insurance policy.
(1992) notably features a Colt Pocket Model when Sheriff “Little Bill” Daggett (Gene Hackman) confronts English Bob (Richard Harris). After reluctantly surrendering his primary Colt to one of Daggett’s
deputies, Daggett stops the Englishman and demands he turn over his pocket pistol. English Bob declares, as he pulls it from his vest, “Now Little Bill, you will leave me at the mercy of my enemies?” Even if it’s a fictional portrayal of life in 1880, the scene accurately recognizes the role of the pocket gun as a backup arm during this period in history.
GENERATION AFTER GENERATION
Pocket pistols have been clutch players on the defensive handgunning roster for centuries.
Other types of pocket pistols besides Colt’s revolutionary design did exist. One
of the most famous was the derringer.
John Wilkes Booth notoriously used a .44-caliber derringer to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Other unique mid-19th century pocket-pistol designs included the turnover, pepperbox and bar-hammer pistols.
Introduced in 1857, the Smith & Wesson Model 1 was the first truly practical pocket pistol. The company also presented the .22 Short cartridge to the
world. The seven-shot Model 1 was a favorite among officers and soldiers during the American Civil War because of its easy concealability and operation.
It was extremely quick to reload in comparison to the percussion handguns of the period, even though its black powder .22 Short cartridge had less power than the .31-caliber Colt. The Model 1 was followed by the Model 2 Army, which was chambered in the .32 Rimfire Long cartridge. A host of additional rimfire cartridges appeared from various makers, including the .41 Rimfire used in the two-shot Remington Model 95 (or “Double Derringer”), which remained in production for 69 years. Rimfire cartridges paved the way for the more powerful and reliable centerfire cartridges.
THE EARLY 1900S MARKED THE METEORIC RISE OF SEMI-AUTOMATIC POCKET PISTOLS IN AMERICA. BECAUSE SUITS AND OVERCOATS WERE COMMONLY WORN BY MEN OF THE 20TH CENTURY, RELATIVELY LARGE POCKETS WERE STILL COMMON.
THE GOLDEN AGE
Centerfire rounds such as .32 Short and Long Colt, .38 Short and Long Colt, and .41 Short and Long Colt — and their counterparts, such as the .32 Smith &
Wesson and .32 Smith & Wesson Long — popularized small five- and six-shot double-action revolvers manufactured by other companies during the latter part of the 19th century. Guns produced by Iver Johnson, Harrington & Richardson and others became popular among individuals seeking reliable, concealable and affordable self-defense handguns.
The early 1900s marked the meteoric rise of semi-automatic pocket pistols in America. Because suits and overcoats were commonly worn by men of the 20th century, relatively large pockets were still common. The M1903 and the M1908
Colt Pocket Hammerless introduced the .32 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) and the .380 ACP to the self-defense world. Elegant, large and heavy by today’s standards, the Colt autos chambered cartridges of marginal effectiveness, but nonetheless fit in coat pockets of the day. Their hammerless configurations made for smooth draws — much like with the Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless Revolver. These were among the first handguns with factory modifications to enhance carry and combat effectiveness. Hammerless revolvers are the only handguns that can fire repeated shots directly through a coat pocket without being withdrawn from it, as there are no exposed hammers or slides to snag or jam. They retain that distinction today.
In 1908, Colt introduced another variant on the pocket pistol: the Model 1908
Vest Pocket. Designed by John Moses Browning, the tiny Model 1908 was an extremely popular design. Its extremely compact size and sights made the M1908 an arm’s-length weapon. It fired a .25 ACP cartridge, which was a smokeless-powder-charged centerfire cartridge loaded with an FMJ bullet. It was
highly reliable and more practical than the black powder .22 LR ammunition of the day. The M1908 remained in production for four decades.
ROARING 20S INTO WWII
Not until the 1920s did the classic pocket semi-auto reached its zenith.
Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen introduced the marvelous .32 ACP and later .380 ACP PP and PPK series of “Polizeipistole” in Germany. Originally developed for European police belt carry, they quickly became favored for pocket carry by detectives. The Walthers revolutionized pocket pistols with their double-action/single-action operating systems. This allowed them to be safely carried with a round in their chambers, instantly ready to fire with their manual safeties off — much like revolvers but with a higher cartridge capacity. Their trim dimensions, steel construction and fixed barrels made them very accurate and easy to shoot.
I carried one off-duty and as a primary gun on the narcotics unit and never experienced a malfunction with it.
The financial crisis of the Great Depression, the outbreak of World War II and the limitations imposed by the advent of gun-control measures in the 1920s and 1930s all worked to hamper the development of new pocket pistols during this period. People and companies had little money, and World War II limited the production of civilian arms due to war demand. Also, gun control clamped down on concealed firearms — especially in the major cities, where there were waves of gangster crime during Prohibition. Note that up until 1934, American citizens could walk into a hardware store and buy a Thompson submachine gun without any paperwork. The introduction of the National Firearms Act by Congress during President Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency changed that.
UP UNTIL NOW
The trend of “shall-issue” concealed carry permitting really began in Washington state in 1961. But Florida’s adoption of it in 1987 is generally regarded as a watershed moment. That’s because handgun and carry-method developments really took off once shall-issue permitting was adopted in the Sunshine State. Other states, such as Pennsylvania, Oregon, West Virginia, Idaho and more, used Florida’s model as a template for their own laws. Today, constitutional carry has been adopted by 23 states, doing away with the requirement to possess a permit to carry
Prior to shall-issue permits, there wasn’t much in the way of pocket pistols from which to choose. There were the Walther PP pistols; .38 Special revolvers; and various .25 ACP, .32 ACP and .380 ACP pistols of varying — often imported — brands. There wasn’t a demand for new variations because only cops and the very few people who were politically connected enough to possess “may-issue” permits could legally carry concealed. And there simply weren’t enough cops to drive a manufacturing boom. Like many others during the 1980s, my municipal agency allowed only .38 Special revolvers for off-duty carry. This policy was so universal that a snub-nosed revolver was instantly known as a “cop gun” by the criminal element, which is why I didn’t carry one when I was working deep undercover for
my first six months with the narcotics unit.
THE OLD ‘5 FOR SURE’
Affordable top-break revolvers like this Iver Johnson were some of the most popular options for the average American man or woman from the turn of the 20th century through the first few decades after World War II.
BOOTH’S DERRINGER: TO DISPLAY OR NOT TO DISPLAY?
On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth snuck into the presidential box at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., and shot President Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head. The assassin dropped his weapon, a .44-caliber derringer, and fled the scene. A patron of the theatre, William T. Kent, discovered Booth’s derringer on the floor and delivered it to the
Metropolitan Police Department, which then turned it over to the War Department. In 1931, Ulysses S. Grant III contacted Adjutant General of the
U.S. Army Charles Higbee Bridges and requested to display the pistol at Ford’s Theatre. “The relics should not be displayed to the public under any circumstances, on the theory that they would create interest in the criminal aspects of the great tragedy rather than the historical features thereof,” wrote Bridges, “and would have more of an appeal for the morbid or weak-minded than for students of history.”
Nine years later, the War Department yielded and transferred the pistol to the theatre’s museum. In 2018, members of the museum’s staff debated the ethics of displaying the pistol to the public. They settled on adding signage to the exhibit with Bridges’ quote and a QR code asking visitors to comment if they thought it was appropriate to display the weapon.
Frank Jastrzembski, Contributing Editor
Today, technological advancements driven by private-citizen demand have allowed manufacturers to fit the .380 round into pistols the size of previous generations of .25s and .32s. Speaking of .25s, they have all but disappeared from the market, and ammo is very hard to find. This is because the .22 LR has taken its place. The .22 LR round,
coupled with high-velocity loadings, has proven very reliable in guns that are the same size as many of the previous .25-caliber pistols, giving them a significant market share.
Of greater significance is the demand for a never-ending stream of 9mm pocket pistols — and the fact that the 9mm has virtually wiped out the .40
Smith & Wesson in new handgun models. It happened almost overnight after the FBI declared the .40 S&W and the 9mm to be equals in terms of stopping power. (I never bought into this.) Regardless, the 9mm has less recoil than the .40 and is a better fit in what are now called “micro-compact” pistols. A micro-compact will fit in a pocket, and the new breed of handgun packs far more punch than any previous generation of pocket pistols. (A pocket holster is essential for all pocket carry, but
especially with modern striker-fired nines since many do not have manual external safeties.) Special 9mm loads with reduced recoil but still with more power than most .380 loads are also available.
NEW AND IMPROVED
Continuous snubnose development brought us to the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard, which is essentially everything you need in a pocket .38
Special and nothing you don’t .
TODAY’S DEFENSIVE AMMUNITION IS ALSO MUCH BETTER THAN IT WAS PRIOR TO THE CONCEALED CARRY BOOM. THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT STYLES OF RELIABLY FEEDING AND EFFECTIVE HOLLOW-POINT AND OTHER DEFENSIVE-BULLET DESIGNS THAT IT BOGGLES THE MIND.
‘FIVE FOR SURE’ STILL APPLIES
The revolver has not stood still either.
The snub-nosed revolver remains very popular — enough so that new models are regularly introduced in newer chamberings, such as the .327 Federal Magnum. Speaking of magnum rounds, the .357 Magnum cartridge has been chambered in revolvers by all of the major manufacturers, although most of them are probably carried with the lighter-recoiling .38 Special. Certainly more time is spent sending .38s downrange. But the .357 Magnum has been providing a decisive punch since 1935.
The sales preference for any of the pocket revolvers is the hammerless style. My most frequently carried pocket revolver is a Smith & Wesson fiveshot M&P Bodyguard with a concealed hammer and built-in Crimson Trace laser sight. It is lightweight, the trigger is great, and the pistol is accurate. I generally carry it in my left-front pocket.
This is the same location I carried it for backup when I worked the streets, and I carry my .380 M&P in the same location when I want to maximize concealment.
Today’s defensive ammunition is also much better than it was prior to the concealed carry boom. There are so many different styles of reliably feeding and effective hollow-point and other defensive-bullet designs that it boggles the mind. In fact, I was surprised just the other day to see the introduction of the new .30 Super Carry cartridge and two Smith & Wesson pistols chambered for it. It gives power levels at or above the 9mm — with lower recoil — while its narrower diameter allows two additional rounds in the magazine. It shows a great deal of promise and may even be adopted by law enforcement agencies.
CONCEALABLE AND AFFORDABLE
As long as we maintain our constitutional rights, the pocket pistol will continue to be an important part in maintaining those rights and our safety. It is relatively powerful and easy to pack and is typically chambered in a cartridge that is easy to control. Most are also affordable, keeping lawful self-defense within reach for all. In fact, when all of its characteristics are weighed, it is difficult to name a style of firearm that better epitomizes the ethos of the responsibly armed American than the pocket pistol.