A sample of the writing of Jeff Cooper.

I have just realized that there will be readers of this blog who are not familiar with Colonel Cooper.

He was a lot of things, not the least of which was a writer. I hope one day to come close to having the command of the written language possessed by the Colonel.

He was the author of several books, my favorite of which is “To Ride, Shoot Straight, And Speak The Truth”, a book which should be given to every boy on his sixteenth birthday.

Colonel Cooper wrote the following article for the 1975 Guns & Ammo Annual, and I post it here so that those of my readers who did not know of Colonel Jeff Cooper may get a taste of his writing.



Cooper Vs. Terrorism,
by Jeff Cooper

So here we are in the “Age of Extortion.” Our local friendly felons have finally discovered what has long been taken for granted in what we used to call “more backward countries”—that crime does pay—in millions. All you need to do is threaten to do something terrible and people will throw money at you. You don’t need any particular talent or skill to get rich this way, and you don’t need education or training. The only requisite is nastiness, and that is no rare quality.

We can speculate at length upon why this foulness has come upon us so strikingly at this point in our history, but I doubt that any incontrovertible conclusion will result. My own suggestion is simply overpopulation. Like rats, we get testier as we get crowded. By simple arithmetic, if the proportion of goblins to people in our society remains constant, doubling our population doubles the number of goblins. And they reinforce each other as their numbers rise.

But such speculation is academic. We have the problem; never mind why. What shall we do about it? In a socialist atmosphere, the immediate response is to hand the problem to the state. Pass a law! Any law. Just so you can say that something has been done. And above all, spend money. We have come to assume that the more money we spend on a problem, the quicker it will go away.

Now it is quite true that the state can indeed abolish extortion, terrorism, and crime. History offers many examples of nations in which none of these things existed. We can start with Senacherib of Assyria and browse on up to Porfirio Diaz of Mexico. An iron fist will do it. That’s the state’s simple and effective answer to disorderly conduct. If you want it arranged so that the state will protect you, you can do so. What you give up in return is your liberty.

No deal.

The man to protect you is you. Not the state, not the agent of the state, and not your hired hand—YOU!

How often is our intelligence insulted by the fatuous claim that we should rely on the police for our physical security! I cannot believe that the people who advance this idea believe it themselves. The police do indeed abort a certain amount of violent crime by their coincidental presence on the scene, and that’s fine. But to tell us that all we have to do is call a cop when confronted by a troll is to talk like a fool—and those who tell us this know it.

The “in” crime today is kidnapping. The police have never prevented a kidnapping. Not once. On the other hand, the intended victim often has. You don’t hear much about these latter episodes, because a crime that does not take place is not newsworthy, but it is my business to know about such things and I keep track of them as best I may, and there have been at least a dozen instances brought to my attention in the last two years.

Hiring other people, public or private, to protect yourself, is perhaps not totally futile, but it must never be considered more than marginally effective. Both policemen and bodyguards can be suborned, and skill levels are problematical.

Pistol skill is not something to count on in a hired hand. Two recent examples stand out because they were caught by television cameras. These were the attempts on Governor Wallace and Imelda Marcos. In each case, guards were plentiful, and armed, but not sufficiently skilled. In each case, there was plenty of time to hit the attacker before he acted, but those responsible reacted only afterward.

On the other hand, the intended victim can seek his own skill level, and he can put it to use more quickly than any other person when he suddenly finds that he himself is a target.

Your best protector is you!

Apart from the skill factor, there is the matter of reliability. A man you hire to protect you can be hired by somebody else not to. It is nerve-wracking to be dogged about by armed men on your daily rounds, and it is also both conspicuous and un-private.

Some years ago, I undertook to train the personal guard of a certain chief of state in pistolcraft. When the course was completed, I was able to address my client thus:

“Your Excellency, 24 of your 28 men are now distinctly more efficient with their sidearms than the generality of those who guard the President of the United States. They are very good, but I don’t know who they are—I hope you do.”

He knew what I meant. One of his predecessors in office had been murdered by one of his own guards. Of my students who previously employed bodyguards, most now do not, except as car watchers.

Your best protector is you!

Still we hear, over and over again, that we should not be armed, that we should not resist, that we should rely on the police for our personal safety—that our best answer to violence is to give up. Such drivel demands a stronger stomach than mine.

One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that “violence begets violence.” I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure—and in some cases I have—that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy.

Your best protector is you!

The obvious way to eradicate crime is to eradicate criminals, but neither the lawgivers nor the constabulary seem inclined to do this. The man who elects to prey upon society deserves no consideration from society. If he survives his act of violence, he rates a fair trial—but only to be sure that there has been no mistake about his identity. If he is killed in the act, there can be little doubt about whose act it was.

But we don’t want a “Porfiriato,” in which the police simply shoot all suspects out of hand. Such a regime may indeed have a certain austere appeal in today’s climate of urban chaos, but to trade one’s liberty for security is to sell one’s soul to the devil, as Ben Franklin noted. And, to quote James Burnham, it is both our lives and our liberties that are at stake.

Laws are not the answer. We have laws against murder. We have laws against kidnapping. We have laws against extortion. And murder, kidnapping, and extortion are on the rise. The answer, it seems to me, is wrath. Let the thug take his chances with an alert, prepared, and angry citizenry. It may very well spoil his whole career.

This is not a call for vigilantism: It is a call for self-reliance. For those who feel short on self-reliance, I have a suggestion. Take up practical pistol shooting as a recreation. It is a good game. It is fun. It is “relevant.” And it does wonders for your self-reliance.

Your best protector is—as it always has been—you!

I'd like to apologize ...

12 thoughts on “A sample of the writing of Jeff Cooper.”

  1. I agree.

    Recently, there was a rape at my wife’s college. The poor girl did what she was trained to do & was RAPED for her trouble. The rapist is still at large.

    My wife has martial arts training & I’m trying to get her to carry a legal weapon on campus, ie, a tazer, can of pepper spray, eau de skunk, etc. Still, she & her workmates don’t get the danger they’re in.

    Hic haec hoc man! A hickory stick could mean the difference between safety and the 6o’clock news!

    I pray that the people wise up & inform the “girlie-men” in the legislature to recognize our right to self-defence everywhere.

  2. Cooper’s monthly bits of wisdom became the only redeeming quality of that glorified outhouse rag.

    His one back page made it worth the subscription price.

    I put a few of of his quotes on a tribute post myself.

    Further reading:


  3. “One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that “violence begets violence.” I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure—and in some cases I have—that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy.”


  4. “a book which should be given to every boy on his sixteenth birthday.”

    Why limit it to just the boys?
    “I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand.”—Susan B. Anthony

    My husband worries less about my safety when he’s not available, since I have my CHL.

    Whether one agrees with Col. Cooper on everything or not, this country is better off for having had a man who believed and taught as he did. He got people to take responsibility for themselves.

  5. any one that talks that strait, and with that much common sence will be greatly missed.

    Semper Fi Marine, this DogFace will miss you.

  6. Well, LD, I don’t know if you ride, and I assume that as a Texas LEO that you can shoot straight. But as for speaking the truth? Why do you think that your blog is the second one that I read everyday? (first is mAssBackwards, since I live in the People’s Republik of MA)

    Excellent tribute, LD. Keep up the good work.

  7. I know this viewpoint WILL NOT be popular here, but I disagree. While I agree that relying on police to protect you is not realistic, and that most of us do not have the means to hire proficient body guards, to say that you are better protection then professionals is, er… silly (I’d rather not use a stronger word) According to this article, the President should NOT have his body guards, because after all, you can’t trust them. Instead, he should be packing a gun himself. Good luck with that! Also, I’m aware that Mr. Cooper likes shooting. There are many people who don’t. Money aside, you will get better quality service if you can afford to hire high quality professionals. There is not a single person on this blog,, that can drive as well as top race car drivers, shoot as good as top professional shooters, fish as good as pro bass fishermen, cook as well as the best cooks in the country, sail as good as pro captains, etc.
    I do agree that even with body guards, one would be wise to pay attention and be armed, but you will NOT be your BEST protector. If nothing else, you are ONE person, and you can’t do the job of 10. I’m sorry, this article takes an otherwise sane and logical argument (you should protect yourself) to an extreme by using ABSOLUTE arguments that you, and you alone are the best, and frankly ONLY person that can protect you. Hope Bush doesn’t listen.

    … and yes, I am FULLY aware that this post will piss off people big time.

  8. Regarding anonymous’ post: I think the skill level is important but the more important factor is that it is impractical for the average man to hire one (or ten) bodyguards to be at his side 24 hours a day. Most “trolls” are not professional assasins, they are dope addicts and thugs who prey on targets of opportunity. By being armed, alert, and capable, you enable yourself to deal with these predators.

  9. “One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that “violence begets violence.”

    Right up there with “Violence never settles anything” folk. I beg to differ, throughout history. violence has settled a whole lot of things.

    Re: Anonymous
    The point the Col. was trying to make is not to be the best shooter, driver, sailor, fisherman, cook, etc. The point is to know how to do each of these things (and much more) with something of a passing degree of proficiency. The idea is to be able to defend yourself against the average thug-on-the-street who is neither bright nor skilled, but is definately cruel and violent (else he would not be trying to harm you for money or pleasure).

    Certainly if you are alone against 10 Gang-Bangers intent on causing you no end of hurt, you will probably lose, but if it was me, well, my status in hell is determined by the size of my honor guard, right?

    Another point he was trying to make is that people these days have surrendered their safety to a small number of professional men who can not be everywhere at once. Imagine how many lives might have been saved if, on 09/11/01, instead of a plane full of sheep, the terrorists on each aircraft had only half of the adults present actively resist their takeover attempts. Some folks may have been injured or killed, but I doubt a handful of men armed with boxcutters would have stood long against 50+ adults looking to help these men back to their seats. Instead, the passengers did what they have been told to do by our government, do not resist. Only flight 93 resisted, and only after they knew the awful fate that awaited them.


  10. Re: Anonymous

    Don’t really care if you have a big blue “Hurt Me” sign tattoo’d on your forehead. Don’t require me to get one.

    I would prefer to have the best chance possible to not be someone’s victim.

    We have 136 Officers for a population in excess of 100,000 in a popular resort township of 42 square miles. Figure 3 shifts and some are management types. Not many on the road, is it.

    Obviously I need to be a bit responsible for my own safety.

  11. Anonymous, there’s the old saying that a hit with a .22 is better than a miss with a .44 Maggie.

    If the pro ain’t there, you’re the best you got. No matter your skill level, you’re a gazillion times better than that pro who’s not there.

    You’re the only one with the responsibility for your safety. You’re all you got. Live with it. It has zilch to do with your likes or dislikes. That’s really all the Good Colonel ever said.

    He and Heinlein only wanted people to be able to be competently responsible. That’s only difficult for the intellectually lazy…


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