The Bad Guys Train. Do You?

Have you ever said to yourself the words “I can’t afford to get training”? How about “Why do I need to train – I shoot well enough?” Are you the sort of gun owner who puts 50 rounds downrange once in a while and calls it good?

If any of this sounds like you, I have a news flash for you: You’re betting your life on your opponent (ie, the violent criminals) being less well trained than you are. And that is a bet you will almost certainly lose.

I came across a fascinating, but terrifying, piece of literature today. It’s a report, published biannually by the FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center. The most recent version of the National Gang Threat Assessment (NGTA), prepared in 2011, comes in a freely downloadable PDF file of some 100 pages. If you take to heart the lesson that you should “know your enemy”, this is probably some of the best intel you can get your hands on.

What it reveals, though, is sobering. According to the FBI’s statistics, more than 1.4 million people (or about 0.5% of the US population) are members of some 33,000 gangs. Collectively, these gangs are responsible for between 48 and 90 percent of violent crime in our communities. And these aren’t just juvenile toughs peddling drugs, either; gangs are moving into more profitable ventures such as human trafficking, prostitution, identity theft, and mortgage fraud.

The FBI also reports that gangs are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their training. According to the NGTA report, at least 53 gangs have been identified as active on US military bases here and abroad, and gangs are actively trying to place members in law enforcement and military jobs where they can receive both advanced combat training and access to ever more sophisticated weaponry. Gang members are acquiring AR and AK rifles, grenade launchers, body armor. And they’re training with these weapons – another FBI study of criminals arrested for attacks on police officers found that these bad guys trained an average of 23 times per year. The FBI report documented instances of military service members trafficking weaponry to gangs, and instances of law enforcement personnel who worked for – and in one case even killed on behalf of – gangs.

The fact is, criminal street gangs are big-money ventures these days, well supplied with both cash and people. Their numbers are growing and the crimes they’re perpetrating are growing. These gangs are well-armed, and their members take training seriously. You probably wouldn’t feel good about your odds of going up against a trained soldier by yourself, but with gangs increasingly recruiting among our military, that might be exactly what you’re doing.

Can you really afford not to get training yourself?

Photo Credit: stock.xchng


  1. I take my training pretty seriously and I expect all other responsible permit holders to do the same.

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