Do you remember that scene from the old Hitchcock movie Psycho? If Janet Leigh had a .38 with a non-slip grip in her hand instead of a bar of beauty soap she could have demonstrated for the benefit of Tony Perkins and his mother what happens when you bring a knife to a gunfight.

Hollywood, even with its typically hypocritical anti-gun bias, is very good despite itself at showing the desperate straits heroes and heroines constantly find themselves in for lack of a readily accessible pistol. If only they had a gun!

Unlike most things originating in La-La Land, these kinds of things happen a lot in reality. All the crime you read about? Most of it would never have happened if the victim had been carrying a gun. The odd fact is that most people, even those who are legally sanctioned to carry a gun 24 hours a day, unfortunately don’t. They wear their gun like a hat -– the last thing they put on before they go out the door and the first thing they take off as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Their gun goes into its holster only when they are fully prepared to venture forth and meet the world, a time when they are probably least likely to need it.

If we are to learn anything from the history of citizen self-defense, it’s that you may very well need your gun when you least expect it. When you make a quick run down to the corner grocery to pick up a carton of milk. When you stop by the park to let your kids climb on the playground equipment for a few minutes. When you’re working in the flower garden in the front yard, mowing the lawn, walking out to pick up the paper. Strolling on a sunny city street. On your way to lunch, or having lunch, or on your way back from lunch. When you’re with a crowd of people. When you’re alone. Working, shopping, socializing, eating, relaxing, minding your own business. Having a family picnic. Dozing in your easy chair. Or taking a shower.

Crime strikes at moments that appear to the victim to be random. Even the most politically backward Hollywood director knows that, though he is of the opinion that only the characters he creates on film should be allowed to defend themselves. So how do you prepare for the unpredictable? Easy. Carry your gun all the time.

Don’t think of your gun like you think of your hat. Think of it more like you think of your underwear. Even when you’re not wearing it you’re well placed to grab it in case of emergency. And you’re not likely to let a marching band get between you and it, even during a Fourth of July parade.

Habits are easy to develop if you work at them just a little bit when you’re first getting started and follow them up with a little continuing practice. Carrying your gun is as easy a habit to develop as any.

Now, let’s be real honest. There are certain places that exert a strong magnetic attraction for criminals and are therefore more dangerous than the usual banks, jewelers, ATM machines and convenience stores. If life were a roulette wheel, these are the places where you would always stack your chips and you would probably win a fortune in the long run. The places are easy to identify. They have large easy-to-read signs that serve as printed invitations to every passing mugger, rapist, purse-snatcher, pickpocket, desperate drug addict and murderous psychopath. The signs say things like “Gun Free Zone,” “No Loaded Or Concealed Firearms Beyond This Point,” “No Guns Allowed,” and similar reassurances that victims (including you) are unarmed, that crime will not be punished and that this is a place where criminals are free to pursue their predation with impunity.

My best advice is -– never go near one of these places, whether it’s a school, an anti-gun merchant or office building or any other facility that publicly announces that it does not trust you and so is going out of its way to needlessly endanger your life. If you can’t avoid going to one of these places, my second best advice -– if you don’t have to pass through a metal detector or a body search to get where you’re going -– is to ignore the signs that are meant to intimidate you and carry your gun anyway. Let some rapist you stop in his tracks complain that you didn’t play by the rules.

Speaking of habits. It took me a long time, as in many years, to figure out that there is a vast difference between education and training. Education teaches you to question every decision you make. Training teaches you to act, much of the time without the necessity of even making a decision, certainly never to question it once it is made. Education serves to expand your thinking and raise the ceiling of your flights of fancy. Training puts you on automatic pilot so you don’t have to commit a complex thought process to the mechanics required to simply get something done. Training engenders habits. Automatic responses to given situations. Instantaneous reactions. That’s why firearms training can save your life.

It’s a well known fact that, under the intense psychological stress of a life-and-death confrontation, you will not contemplate philosophy. You will simply act, according to how you have been trained or how you have trained yourself. If you have no training at all, you may not act at all.

There was the champion target shooter who went to Africa to hunt dangerous game for the first time. From no more than 35 yards, he made a perfect broadside shot on a large Cape buffalo bull who, shot perfectly or not, immediately turned and charged. The response of the target shooter was to drop to the ground and curl up in a fetal position with his thumb in his mouth. He had never been attacked by a target before and simply did not know what to do.

There was a hot-shot competition pistol shooter who, faced with the real thing late one night, drew his gun, jumped out from behind hard cover to face his attacker and started to execute a world-class tactical reload without having got so far as pulling the trigger. He died with two full magazines in his hand, a cold 230-grain hollowpoint in the chamber of his gun and a tiny 22-caliber hole between his eyes.

There was a cop, suddenly faced with an enraged aggressor, who drew his service pistol and, in record-setting rapid fire, emptied his 17-round magazine into the floor to prevent his intimidating foe from taking it away and shooting him with it.

In a recent discussion with Louis Awerbuck, the world renowned firearms instructor, Louis reminded me, “The thing is, in a gunfight you don’t know what you’ve done afterwards, retrospectively. You think you know what you’ve done. Colonel David Hackworth had a real good expression to the effect that your perception in battle is only as wide as your battle sights. If you take five people involved in one incident and separate them straight after the incident, you’ll get five different stories of what happened. We have no perception of what’s happening when it’s happening. I’ve seen a guy with a bolt rifle drain four rounds out of it, just running the bolt, never pressing the trigger, not understanding why the springbok didn’t fall over. There are people with a semiautomatic pistol in a fight who never press the trigger, run the slide, never press the trigger, run the slide and jack out eight or fourteen live rounds on the floor. It’s called buck fever. That fascinates me, it’s the psychology, it’s all mental.”

If you get good training, or if you train yourself well and diligently, when the time comes to draw your weapon and fire you will not have to think about it. You will act automatically. Out of habit. Just make sure it’s your gun you grab in your fist, not a bar of beauty soap.