Normalcy Bias

Student Review: Virginia Combat Team Tactics July: Roger
August 8, 2015
Student Review: Citizen Close Combat (C3) August 2015: Duane
August 11, 2015

While away at Combat Team Tactics (CTT) this past weekend, I noticed what I considered to be a disconcerting thread on Facebook. Greg Ellifritz, who runs Active Response Training, had posted an article from another site (Adaptive Defense Concepts):

‘To chest rig or not? …for the “citizen carbine operator.”

It had the following photo accompanying it (I’m biting my tongue):

Fat fucks range

Now, there is nothing wrong with Greg, and nothing so much wrong with the actual article, other than it is a lot of square-range-centric-tacticool-carbine-class-lack-of-operational-experience-thinking. What shocked me was the comments by others on Greg’s FaceBook post.

In short, it was one helluva lot of normalcy bias and ‘civilians don’t need more than one magazine, and probably don’t need a carbine either’….


If I wanted to play dress up I would shoot cowboy action.

It seems its mostly handy to have a chest rig at a class for portable storage purposes. Sweet-spot ammo retrieval, then (“feed the beast”/resupply the sweet spot) as required when required.

I think for a civilian… If you ever have to reload a carbine in a fight.. Your gonna have your 15 min of fame on CNN…

I think if you reload a carbine as a civilian in a self defense scenario either you can’t shoot and the other guy is a moron or you had plenty of time to evade.

The idea that you’ll be facing off against a bunch of Blue Helmets in an offensive firefight Lexington and Concord style is a bit of a Walter Mitty fantasy. The likelihood you’ll be using a rifle in ANY defensive scenario is pretty unlikely. You have to keep in mind though, there are a lot of people who own ARs now in the post Sandy Hook Gun Culture 2.0. They want to DO something with those rifles. Let’s be honest, training for practical 25m or less indoor defensive scenarios with a rifle is not nearly as fun as running around in a plate carrier blasting away at “tangoes”.
Some people will scratch that itch by going into 3-gun or other shooting competition. The ones who don’t really like competing or running around and shooting against a clock will opt for engaging in one of the many “tactical band camp” carbine courses available almost everywhere these days taught by just about anyone who has ever collected a DOD paycheck. While most do teach some useful skills for someone operating in a combat zone, the civilian applicability is pretty limited. As long as people keep it in perspective that such training is primarily entertainment (shooting is FUN, duh), I see no real problem with that.

Anyway, my take on this, I’ve used a chest rig in a class. It was helpful, but even then, I was still dragging a 3 day pack of mags along. We were frequently out at the 150yd line doing close work. I would load my mags in the motel room the night before, and reload them when we had classroom time. I used the pockets of my cargo pants in one class. It was ok, but yeah, constantly hunting for mags.
In the real world, a redi-mag on the gun would be ideal. For training, a chest rig and something like a GCode belt pouch. After that mag is used, reload the pouch from the chest rig. Being only 5’8″, I prefer something that only holds about 4 mags. The dump pouch mentioned, isn’t a bad idea. This depends somewhat on the class to.

I got rid of my chest rig.
It was great if you we doing a 3-day patrol in the Korengal Valley, but pretty impractical for civilian use.

I have a discreet carry bag that has in it my rifle and 2 HSGI tacos on an RCS moduloader that I cab quickly slap on my belt.

It all depends on what you’re doing. Carbine class? Belt pouch and one or two mags in back pockets.

Well, that is just one huge bunch of normalcy bias, assumption, ignorance and belief that someone else will always be around to save your ass. It also explains why we don’t see these guys at MVT classes, because clearly their idea of a ‘carbine class’ looks  a little like the photo above, and involves mainly standing in front of a target at close range doing pew pew drills. This is the problem we face in attempting to wake people up to the need for real tactical training.

They won’t need it, of course, and anyone who thinks they will is a Walter Mitty wing nut fantasist waiting for the blue helmets to arrive, and their 15 minutes of fame on CNN…..

Now, I recently wrote an article titled ‘Ballistic Plates: Yes or No?‘ In that article I discussed the lack of knowledge of what a collapse may look like, and the potential for a period, however long, of a ‘slide’ or ‘gray collapse.’ You may not immediately be shooting at blue helmeted reptilians while wearing your multicammies. You may be carrying concealed with some gear in your vehicle or at home, such as a rifle and chest rig and/or plates.

But to believe that things can never go past the need for a carbine and perhaps another mag in a back pocket is…well, it’s just……well….normalcy bias.

It can never happen here, right? Someone else will always be around to save your ass, right?

I commented on the FB thread and said I was going to write a post about this. Well, Mosby beat me to it and already did, and the link is below. It is well worth the read. He says what I wanted to say. He mentions the whole FB comment thing in the article:

Mosby: ‘TEOTWAWKI is NOW! Overcoming Normalcy Bias: Critical Thinking for Survival.’



  1. BBQ'd says:

    A sad but true fact. In my own family, no matter how much I encourage, quote crime stats, read stories, show videos, and harp they just refuse to accept the reality of life today. At best they may have a hand gun stuck in a drawer somewhere with the buckets somewhere else.

    I point out to them that when I was a kid you could buy guns from a magazine and buy dynamite at the hardware store with a signature just to point out how far our liberties have been eroded but again I get the “whatever” stair.

    Range time? Nah, there’s a game on, race on, or it’s nap time. What the hell, they haven’t been attacked yet, right? It frustrates the ever lovin hell out of me but adults get to make their own decisions.

    With most of our children grown and the grand kids too young there is little I can do, yet. I do have a 15 year old who is being, somewhat reluctantly, required to learn the few skills I have acquired until she is old enough to get some MVT or similar training. “No” will not be an option for her. And my 10 year old grandson knows some of the basic skills I learned from the CRCD class I took for “airsoft.” Hey, it’s a start.

    In the end I will NEVER forget a post by Mosby a couple of years back when he stated something to the effect…
    “When you lay drying in a pool of your own blood watching your wife and child being raped, don’t blame me.” That one sunk in to my SOUL.


  2. Mike H says:

    I’ll second what Mark says. Denial is the way of this country now…”just get me to the next escape and I’ll be happy…now pass the chips”.

    Mosby was and is spot on.

  3. Diz says:

    I would like to address this chest rig thing because I have personally run into this many times.

    Beyond normalcy bias I also find these younger generations are insufferably arrogant. For some reason, especially since the internet, any fuckwad can read about something and become an instant expert about it, online.

    Everyone has an opinion, which they will tell you all about, regardless of where it’s coming from. Then you get a group of them together, that agree, like this guy’s website, and it becomes de-fault “truth” because they have reached some kind of consensus on it. Those that disagree are oftentimes chastised about it, until they change or go away.

    It’s the “Wikipedia” effect, for lack of better words. If it’s in print, then it must be true, right?

    Anyways, this kind of thinking was led by the big trainers of the day, like Clint Smith, Pat Rogers, Larry Vickers, Paul Howe, etc. who stated that the likelihood of mere “civilians” using a carbine was so miniscule, that hey, I’ll take your money, but you’re not ever gonna need this training. That was the actual sentiment pre-GWOT. Now some are slowly changing their tune. But this concept has always been around, and continues to be espoused by fellows like this ART website.

    So yeah you get this whole, I got 30 rounds in this mag, what more do I need kind of thing. Which to me, is totally looking at things from the perspective of what went down before, and therefor what will “probably” happen in the future. Now there’s the rub. We are seeing such a wide spread between people’s estimate of the situation, that those on the lower end are poo-poo-ing those on the higher side.

    Well fiddly-dee, fiddly-doo, I don’t have Mosby’s crystal ball either, but, I do think it’s foolish to base you planning entirely on what the “average” violent confrontation looked like, according to the feds.

    You know, sometimes I think you have an apples to oranges comparison here. Are we confusing “common”, every day street crime, with “uncommon” street crime, as in the U-dub we may face? And are these folks in such denial that they cannot imagine it ever happening?

  4. RobRoySimmons says:

    When the Obama financial bubble finally collapse normalcy bias is going on trial. Right now my social circle is spiffy car comfortable house awesome vacation and worry free retirement centered and that is the extent of their world.

  5. […] recently posted about ‘Normalcy Bias‘ and put a copy of the post up on the MVT Forum. As usual, Diz hit the nail on the head with […]

  6. DUMC says:

    People are free to think what they want, no matter how invalid their belief is. Anything can happen, anywhere, anytime. Granted, there are signs and symptoms, observable occurrences and such, that precede a ‘happening’ but to not pay attention to what we can equate to as early warning indicators and then say such and such can’t happen? That person is setting themselves up to get handled by a situation rather than handle the situation. I carry a spare tire, a tire iron and car jack in my car. Do I fantasize about my tire going flat? Nope. It’s happened to me before, I recognize it could potentially happen again, hence having the skill and tools to handle said situation. And just because someone has never experienced something or heard of something happening doesn’t mean that it can’t happen. If anything, that means it hasn’t happened yet.

  7. “The idea that you’ll be facing off against a bunch of Blue Helmets in an offensive firefight Lexington and Concord style is a bit of a Walter Mitty fantasy.”

    1930 Jews probably thought the same thing as well as all those other murdered people in history. Won’t ever happen again, right?

    I have to agree with that statement though. Something that being involved in all this for near 30 years has shown me is that most people, even many on the political right and gun owners, will not only not resist gov tyranny, UN troops in the street or a foreign/ISIS attack, they would actually support it if beer, tv and football continued. Truth be told they would be just as happy being slaves and would never think of resisting to be free. To them a chest rig, owning more than 3 rifle magazines or having more than a 200 rounds of ammo is for fantasy as they would never fight to be free. It is also a waste of money since they would line up to turn those same guns in when outlawed.

    If people don’t believe that many in the US desire servitude over liberty then look at what is sitting in the White House and how many people would vote for Hillary. Not saying Republicans are much better since few care that a Republican nominee openly touts his desire to wipe his ass with the Constitution for our own good.

    If as many people were fired up over the loss of liberty as they were about a lion being shot then we would have leaders in this nation that would be so pro-American that they would make Ron Paul look like a socialist by comparison and there would be a 5 year waiting list to attend tactical classes.