The Act of Killing: Not So Easy; Is It Something You Can Live With?

This is going to be a different kind of article. No gear or techniques to aid in survival, but nonetheless – it’s a topic I want to discuss because it relates to something that is often brought up, though rarely do we discuss its consequences. I have been musing about this topic for a while now, thanks to the divisive narrative that I see around me these days.

Violence. It’s an ugly word and yet as a species we are obsessed with it. We embrace its potential and elevate it to something almost academic. A while back I stumbled upon an article detailing the top 5 ways to kill an armed robber; this sort of detached commentary has become the bread and butter of the survival community, and it’s left an elephant in the room that often goes wholly ignored, but that I think needs to adequately be discussed.

killing - live with that


It’s difficult, so difficult in fact that we as a species have a natural aversion to random acts of violence. You may be sitting at home thinking that if you needed to protect your family you would kill, and you know what? I would be right there with you in regards to that assessment. I have no reservations about defending my home or my family. With that said, killing is very different from the pseudo heroics that Hollywood shoves down our throat. Its application was complex enough that one of the best “tactical” books ever written, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, talks exclusively about the methods and techniques various militaries have used to force young soldiers to overcome their aversion to doing it.

We as a species are all about life, survival and death. Often those intersect. We may need to kill to survive and to protect life, but the objective reality is that killing is the brutal conclusion stemming a violent act. Plain and simple.

We talk a lot about the potential for violence and the harsh realities of conflict in the world. I am guilty of this, too, with my recent articles, and whilst I stand by everything I wrote, I admittedly did all this without considering death. Its finality was brought home to me by a longtime reader and someone I consider a friend – Dan Seven. His comments are frequently insightful and thought provoking, even if we disagree on some issues, and his response to my self-defence & home defence scribbles over the last month were no exception.

Now, I won’t be discussing PTSD or the trauma inherent in taking a life, I am 100% not qualified to do so, but I am interested in acknowledging and discussing limits, especially my own. In this chaotic and unpredictable world, we are drowning in the potential for conflict. Now, as Dan loves to say, the numbers don’t lie. We are a safer society, but on the other hand, we publicise and record absolutely everything so we hear about violence so much more. The natural consequence to being bombarded with threats through the media is that we overthink scenarios.

We plan for x, y, and z. If terrorists try to hijack a plane, we will do this and save the day. etc. etc. This narrative is not inherently bad, discussing situations and our response to them is healthy but I do find myself wondering with some of the underlying sentiment I read about sometimes, if people have really thought things through and if they are truly prepared to deal with the act of extinguishing life.

Yet again, not to say that it isn’t a good thing to step up and save the lives of family members, those aboard a hijacked plane, or any other similar situation. It is (in my opinion). But that doesn’t mean it will be easy.

I know this is an odd article to scribble out, but it’s a topic I have been mulling over for quite a while and I really want to hear your thoughts on the matter, as I write this, 2 people who I greatly respect (Zack & Dan) have clashed heads over this exact issue on our forum.

The Aftermath: Preparing for Post Disaster Problems

Clearly, it’s a divisive topic with no true right or wrong. The distinction between thought and action being derived from one’s own personal limits with regards to the act of killing and the consequences that they bring home – intended or otherwise.

Where do you stand on this? Any anecdotal (or personal) events that have changed your mind? (via

ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge Fixed Blade Survival Knife – Product REVIEW

Self-sufficiency and Preparedness solutions recommended for you:

Lightsoutusa   (You will have communications in ANY TYPE of disaster)

Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)

BulletProof Home (A Prepper’s Guide in Safeguarding a Home)

Mega Draught USA (NASA Study Predicts 100 Years Of Mega-Drought)




  1. Jeremiah VanRensselaer

    I have discussed this very issue with my family.
    A little back ground first. I work in the world of EMS and fire fighting. Which doesn’t mean I’ve seen it all and know all. Far from it, but what it does mean is I’ve seen all kinds of death in all kinds of natural, non Hollywood flair, non scripted situations.
    With that said it amazes me the number of people that have never seen a deceased body, or that have never even thought about death, even with all the media attention to it.
    So to the elephant here, I’ve talked to family, told some very watered down stories of what I’d seen. Even asked the question ” can you kill someone in defense of you and your family?” The immediate response “of course!”.
    But then bring in the theroy of it. What, when, where and most of all why? Then the socaial aspect, even in a dooms-day scenario there will be social scrutiny amongst family and team members.
    The ideas vary widely of the application of “killing” among my group. And many have never seen, touched or even smelled death. Many are big hearted want to help even those we don’t know and I envy that at times but know that that very thing is what gets people dead.

    So in preparation I occasionally bring the topic up. I have even covered with a select few what to do with the corpse to prevent disease, attention and retribution from others. Death is never pretty, killing is even worse but being dead doesn’t help those you love.

  2. The Gray Homestead

    I’d have no problem killing in a truly self-defense situation. Neither would my partner. I don’t think I would kill over scarce resources though.

    I had the pleasure of listening to Lt. Col. Grossman as he was addressing a group of would be soldiers around a campfire one frigid night. He was very inspiring. I have no doubt that had he given the order, the 100 or so people in our group would have followed him into a hail of bullets, or even into a nuclear exchange (he even spoke about that eventuality that night). He had lots of charisma.

    But I was merely a child then. At this point in my life (nearing 50), I’m far less inclined to take a life. I can’t imagine doing so over material things. It would truly be a matter of self defense or defense of others.

    I’m not sure how I would handle the aftermath. I’m not sure that anyone who hasn’t killed before could say for certain how they would react. Death is final. Taking a person’s life has to be the hardest thing any sane person can do.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: