Resource Predators versus Process Predators

The two kinds of violence that an armed citizen is likely to encounter are social violence (called “the monkey dance”) and predatory violence. In Short-Circuiting the Monkey Dance we explain how to escape from social violence. In The First Rule of a Gunfight we explain how to avoid predatory violence. Here we explain how to tell them apart, and we subdivide predatory violence into resource predation and process predation.

How to Tell Social Violence From Predatory Violence

Distinguish social violence apart from predatory violence by the presence (or lack) of an audience. A monkey dance challenger seeks audience approval from either a peer group or girlfriend. In order to attract his audience, he will seek a public place and strive to be louder and more visible than normal by shouting, prancing, and arm-waving. If the audience were to lose interest and walk away, the attempt to goad you into a monkey dance would end. A predator in contrast, does not want witnesses. In order to avoid attracting attention, a predator will seek a secluded place and strive to be invisible by speaking softly with slow, controlled movements. If an audience were to suddenly appear, the predation attempt would end.

To recap: A monkey dance challenge is noisy and public in front of an audience; predation is quiet and private with no witnesses. To avoid a monkey dance bow, apologize, and back away. To avoid predation adopt the interview stance and shout a warning. Do not get the two confused. Shouting a warning at someone who wants a monkey dance will escalate them to violence, and apologizing and backing away from a predator will cause them to strike.

But what if your warning a predator has no effect? What if you yell “Stop or I’ll shoot!” and the predator ignores you? In that split second you must decide whether you are facing a resource predator or a process predator.

Two Kinds of Predation: Resource and Process

A resource predator wants something that you have (wallet, jewelry, watch, car). A process predator enjoys inflicting pain. Let the former take whatever they want. Defend against the latter at all costs.

Resource predators want your money or something that they can turn into money. They are usually drug addicts who will do whatever it takes to get their next dose. They have the same interest in you personally that a cow has in a blade of grass—none. Your persona is irrelevant. If you give them everything valuable in your possession they will leave after warning you not to tell.

As mentioned in The First Rule of a Gunfight peer-reviewed studies by Gary Kleck of Florida State University and John Lott formerly of the University of Chicago show that 90 percent of resource predators turn and run when their target adopts an interview stance and shouts a warning. But what if you have the bad luck to face the one-in-ten resource predator who is too strung out or too desperate to flee, and who would rather be shot than continue suffering withdrawal symptoms?

If a resource predator does not turn and run when you adopt the interview stance and shout a warning, then I advise you to give him whatever he wants, tossing your wallet, car keys, etc. to the ground in front of him. If a resource predator takes everything that you have with you, including your car, and departs, you will have lost a few tens of thousands of dollars. On the other hand, if you shoot a resource predator you will go to prison. No state allows deadly force in defense of property. Even if you reasonably feared for your life, it will cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to convince a judge and jury of it. It is far, far cheaper to let the robber have what he wants.

Process Predators Want to Hurt You

Process predators are different. Process predators enjoy inflicting pain. The most extreme process predators achieve sexual satisfaction by torturing and killing others. The mildest ones find temporary catharsis in beating their victims senseless. They are not strung-out drug addicts. They are not impoverished or homeless. They have homes, cars, credit cards, and bank accounts. There is no point in offering to give a process predator “what they want”. They have no interest in your money or your property. What they want is to hurt you, nothing more, nothing less.

If a process predator does not turn and run when you adopt the interview stance and shout a warning, then I advise you to shoot him until he is no longer a threat. You will probably go to prison. Even if you were to convince a judge and jury that it was your life or his, it will still cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, there is no realistic alternative. Letting someone who enjoys inflicting pain have his way with you will likely leave you crippled, a vegetable, or dead. The most well known recent example is George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin while the latter was astride the former, pounding the back of his head into the pavement. Martin was not a robber. He had money. He simply wanted to hurt the other. Zimmerman’s choices were either to shoot and destroy his own family’s future life, or to die on the spot.

Sometimes, police spokespersons stupidly advise potential victims, especially women, to treat all predators as resource predators, “Don’t resist. Give him what he wants”. The advice is stupid for two reasons. First, it assumes that process predation is rare. It is not rare; it is common. Second, it assumes that acquiescence will satisfy the predator’s need to inflict suffering. It will not. It will merely force him to apply more severe pain in order to get the desired result. Peer-reviewed statistics show that women who fight and scream and struggle throughout a rape are more likely to be left uninjured at the end. Those who yield to the inevitable are more likely to to be permanently maimed or killed afterwards. [See Sarah Ullman, Journal of Interpersonal Violence (1998); Criminal Justice and Behavior (1997); (Furby, Journal of Interpersonal Violence (1989); Kleck, Social Problems (1990); Southwick, Journal of Criminal Justice (2000); Lizotte, Journal of Quantitative Criminology (1986).]

The two most common forms of process predation are forcible rape and sudden unprovoked mob attack. Oddly, both are somehow related to a crash in U.S. Black/nonBlack “race” relations over recent years. Black on nonBlack forcible rape now happens at seven times the expected per-capita rate, while nonBlack on Black rape is virtually unknown. In 2008 (the most recent year for which data have been published), there were 19,292 Black on nonBlack forcible rapes and zero nonBlack on Black forcible rapes. [See Table 42 of the latest NCVS data: Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2008 (May 2011). See also William Wilbanks, “Frequency and Nature of Interracial Crimes,” submitted for publication to The Justice Professional (November 7, 1990), p. 53; and Andrew Hacker, Two Nations, pp. 183, 185]. Also, over recent years, the United States has suffered hundreds of Black on nonBlack mob attacks in cities across the nation that have killed or hospitalized dozens of victims. [see Colin Flaherty, White Girl Bleed a Lot (2012)]. The cause of recent collective Black rage is beyond our scope here. Nevertheless, it is important because collective rage spawns the two forms of process predation that armed citizens are most likely to encounter: Black on nonBlack rape and Black on nonBlack mob attack.

Process predators of moderate skill are easy to identify. Because their enjoyment comes from inflicting pain, they want it to last as long as possible. Consequently, they try to take their victims somewhere private (where no one can hear the screams). Also, to quell resistance they try to zip-tie or handcuff victims’ hands. The rule of thumb is therefore simple. When a predator says, “I am not going to hurt you, but I want you to come with me,” or “for your safety and mine, I need to tie your hands behind your back,” it is time to fight for your life, whatever the effort, whatever the cost.

Skillful process predators are harder to identify. Attractive ones plead for help. Serial killer Ted Bundy wore a plaster (fake) cast on one arm and asked women to please open his car door for him. When they did, he struck. Child abductors ask victims to help find a (fictional) lost puppy. When the child walks away from the playground to help find the puppy, she is never seen again. Unattractive process predators pretend to be resource predators. Here is an example of how this works:

On January 1, 2008 on an Appalachian trail, 61-year-old process predator Gary Michael Hilton spotted petite 24-year-old hiker Meredith Emerson. She walked too fast for him to overtake her so he waited to ambush her on her way back. When he attacked, Emerson (who held middle kyu ranks–green belt and blue belt–in two martial arts) ripped the bayonet from his hands. He switched to a police baton, but she took that away from him as well. They fought savagely and rolled down a slope. She broke his hand. He broke her nose. Finally, he explained that he never wanted to hurt her. He just wanted her ATM card. She believed him and let him zip-tie her hands temporarily, “for her safety as well as his”. He then spent the next three days raping and torturing her until, bored, he cut off her head and dismembered her nude body. He told the above story in great detail in return for a light (30-year) sentence. He also bragged that from the moment he saw her, he never had any intention of letting her live. Incidentally, much later it was discovered that he was a serial killer (to this day no one knows how many). He was later convicted of some of his other murders and is now on death row. The point of the story is that Hilton’s M.O. was to persuade his victims that he was a resource predator and that he would walk away if they gave him what he demanded.


Monkey-dance challengers are loud and seek an audience. Apologize and back away. Predators seek secluded venues with no witnesses. Adopt an interview stance and warn them. Ninety percent will then flee. One in ten resource predators will still try to take your property and escape. Let them. No property is worth going to prison or spending your life savings to avoid prison. Process predators will try to take you somewhere private or bind your hands. Fight for your life.

For more on this topic, visit:

Cornered Cat

any book by Rory Miller
also, Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear


Frank W. Sweet is an NRA-certified firearms instructor who teaches the safe and effective use of handguns for self-defense. He was awarded an M.A. in Civil War Studies in military history from American Military University in 2001. He is the author of Legal History of the Color Line (ISBN 9780939479238), Six Gems of Forgotten Civil War History (ISBN 9780939479023), and of numerous published historical essays. To receive a schedule of his firearms training courses, email to The information above should not be construed as legal advice.

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