Man or Bear … But You Have a Gun?

How does the “would you choose the bear or the man” question change if you’ve taken charge of your own safety by arming yourself?

by posted on May 11, 2024
Man Or Bear Lede 3

In case you missed it, there’s a viral question spreading around social media right now, asked of women: “Would you rather be alone in the woods with a bear or a man?” Alternatively, men are asked by the women in their lives: “If I [the wife/daughter/sister] were alone in the woods, would you rather I encounter a bear or a man?” Many women are picking the bear, and “I choose the bear” has become a bit of a social media slogan.

It’s designed to make a point about violence toward women and about how many women are afraid of men. While it has some man-hating undertones in a lot of cases, and some downright hysteria and lack of common sense in the comments, there is no denying that many women do actually live in fear of men, and that’s based on the fact that estimates say more than one in three women will experience rape, physical violence or stalking in her lifetime. (As an aside, one in four men in the U.S. will experience the same.)

One in three is a shockingly, horrifyingly high number, but keep in mind that you are much more likely to be harmed by someone you know—strong odds are that it will be a current or former romantic partner—than by a stranger. Only 10 percent of female murder victims were killed by a stranger, and only 17 percent of rape victims were raped by someone they did not know. Statistically, you’re much safer with a strange man than with one you’ve had a relationship with. In reality, if you have healthy, stable relationships, you are much, much safer from physical violence than that “one in three” statistic would make it seem.

Let’s be clear: There’s no “acceptable” number of assaults against women. We have no desire to make light of the very real facts behind how some women feel when answering this question, especially considering how many women have traumatic experiences in their past, and any violence is too much. But you don’t want to live in fear of every man you encounter because a few of them are violent. After all, 100 percent of the bears in the world have the ability to harm you, and depending on the species of bear, many of them also have the desire. We can’t find statistics regarding how many men commit criminal violence in their lifetime, but it’s safe to say that far fewer than 100 percent have the ability to harm you, and very few of the random men you will encounter have the desire to hurt you. Most men are just normal people living normal lives, and they’d rather help a fellow human than harm them.

That said, we’re big fans of your taking charge of your personal safety, and carrying concealed or otherwise arming yourself in the woods is a great way to do that. So how does the man vs. bear question change if you’re an NRA woman who has a firearm and isn’t afraid to defend herself?

A lot depends on the size of the bear and the size of your gun. If you’re not undergunned, you could stop an attacking bear or a violent man with a well-placed shot or two. But since the 9 mm Luger is the most common concealed carry chambering, if we assume you’re packing a 9 mm, you’d actually have a much easier time handling the man than the bear. Bears have all that fur and fat a bullet has to penetrate, after all. Men are pretty squishy and vulnerable in comparison.

As usual, shot placement is everything. On a heavy game animal like a bear—let’s use black bears as an example because you can pretty much forget about it with grizzlies—you’d have to place your shot just right with a 9 mm to get the job done. They’ve got thick skulls, dense muscles, strong bone structure, a generally robust build and a healthy layer of that. The projectiles 9 mm rounds are loaded with just aren’t designed with bears in mind, and their terminal performance can’t be counted on. With human threats, however, 9 mm performance is devastating, and the entire upper torso, neck and head area offers a pretty good-sized aiming point with a decent margin for error. And of course, a charging man is slower than a charging bear, so you’d have more time to get multiple shots off.

Of course, it’s all hypothetical, as very few of us will ever be forced to stop a threat from either species in the woods. But the point is, taking charge of your personal safety by carrying a firearm and having the skills, confidence and fortitude to use it in your own defense changes the whole “bear vs man” discussion entirely. When you’re not defenseless, you have much less reason to fear either one.



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