Category Archives: self defense
Chuck Rives is an Affiliate Instructor, for Mike Janich’s Martial Blade Concepts. Chuck has been a martial artist for about 30 years. Chuck lives in Amarillo, Texas and is an Emergency Manager for a Federal Government Agency. Chuck teaches knife, and defensive tactics regularly to peace officers and corrections officers.
So, Chuck knows his stuff. Chuck’s been coming to KR Training for a while to host shorter classes, and I’ve wanted to check out his classes for some time but just haven’t been able to for one reason or another. But this class I didn’t want to miss because 1. it was a full day, 2. it was also going to have Allen Elishewitz. Alas, Allen was unable to make the class, but that really didn’t detract much because Chuck ran a great class with much to teach. You may know who Michael Janich is, as he’s been a part of the TV show The Best Defense for some time now. While I’m not a huge fan of a lot of the “training” TV shows out there, I am a fan of Michael’s and what he teaches is solid. What Chuck teaches isn’t pure MBC curriculum, Chuck is an Affiliate Instructor of MBC and is highly recommended by Janich.
The knife work is founded in Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) style and concepts. Consequently, it’s logical, simple, and effective. What Chuck has put together for this 1-day workshop provides a basic foundation of simple concepts and techniques that almost anyone can use to defend themselves with a knife.
The workshop started out with a discussion of self-defense, what defensive knife work is (this isn’t dueling, it’s not Westside Story). Some talk about knives themselves in terms of construction and blades. Then a live demonstration of various knives via “Pork Man”. Watch this video:
That’s Michael Janich, and the first 3 minutes or so give his background, followed by some useful footage of actual knife attacks (close, swift, aggressive, brutal), and finally the “Pork Man” demo. What you can see is that knife attacks can be ugly, even with small/short blades. One thing that Chuck’s demo showed that the YouTube video doesn’t, is how blade shape/construction matters. Chuck had a knife that looks evil and threatening — it’s big, black, looks “tactical” and “scary”. But actual cutting ability? It was pretty poor due to blade and edge shape. Then some smaller, less threatening looking knives did far worse damage, but again it was due to superior shape and edge. There’s a lot one can glean from such a demonstration.
After Pork Man, we had discussions of targeting, stance, deployment, grip, and then angles of attack. Again, if you’re familiar with FMA, these angles of attack are familiar. I won’t give away all that Chuck teaches — you’ll do better to learn from the teacher. But if you’re a student of Kali or Arnis or Escrima, you probably already know what’s going on here. Basic blocks and attacks, all based upon the same/similar concepts. At first, it seems like you’re learning a lot, then you realize as the day goes on that you’re learning the same thing and it doesn’t seem like much, and that’s the great thing about it — it’s simple, it’s less to learn, but yet it’s effective regardless. This means when the flag flies you have less of inventory to hunt through for a response, which means a faster response. Good thing.
What Chuck taught was simple and effective, but there’s no question you cannot just take the class then forget about it. You are going to need to practice these things to get them smooth and reflexive. When practicing these, I found myself a few times with brain fade and reverting to techniques I already knew from past martial arts experience. What was soberingly evident? Chuck’s techniques strive to get you on the outside of your attacker, which is generally a safer place to be, especially when a knife is involved. So much of what I learned in the past? Works to get you inside your attacker and keep you there. Really, there’s no one right place because inside and outside can have advantages and disadvantages, reasons to want to be there and reasons to not want to be there. It was just an interesting contrast to have Chuck’s material presented, which focused on getting outside, and finding myself at times reverting to old habits which want to keep me inside.
Was there anything bad about the day? Well, it was hot, sunny, windy, which really took a lot out of you. In the later afternoon we probably should have taken it back inside, cleared the room, and continued working in there. But Chuck was good about taking breaks, cooling off, getting water. It’s good when instructors aren’t just attentive to material, but also these other realities and necessities of teaching. I do wish there was more way to apply the techniques, like some FoF scenarios. But I’m not sure logically how that could be worked out. I know in past martial arts study we’ve done things like get a red magic marker and white t-shirts, so it doesn’t hurt too much but it also shows the damage done. But that’s also probably too much material for one day (2 day course? Maybe a “Level 2″ workshop that starts with a review of this material, adds a few more things, then spends the afternoon in FoF?).
One thing I kept thinking about was my past defensive folding knife training with Insights Training. I thought Insights’ work and Chuck’s work went well together. It’s cool when you have different people with different backgrounds and different courses that wind up in essentially the same place. I don’t think one replaces the other, but they do complement. For example, both came down on about the same side of knife selection (Chuck with a Spyderco Endura, Insights with Spyderco Delica). I still like Insights’ approach of two knives, one in each pocket. I thought Insights did more to cover drawing and getting the knife into play, and discussion of that importance. But it’s interesting how Insights tended to focus more on being in the fight then getting your knife; Chuck spoke a lot about how you can get the knife ready before the fight is on. Insights seemed to have a bit of “gun as your primary” tendency, whereas Chuck acknowledged the knife may have to be your primary and how to treat it in the face of that or NPE’s. Insights focused on a few simple but different techniques. Chuck focused on a few simple but similar techniques. However, application was different. For example, Chuck addressed distance, getting outside, and getting away. Insights had a solution for the clinch and being caught in close. Both focused on targeting to disable your attacker so you can get the fight to stop and/or escape. Insights had a stance where your knife-side was back (thus your “empty hand” was forward). Chuck put your knife forward, so your empty hand wasn’t just a target. On this last point, I think Chuck’s position is more sound, either when attacking with or defending against a knife (so long as you have one too); but that’s going to be very hard for gun folk to learn since so much gun technique is about keeping your gun side away from the attacker. Anyways, I don’t think either group has a monopoly on knowledge and technique. Both present sound solutions, and I think they do far more to complement and augment each other.
Not only did I pick up on direct course material, but I took home some other things. First, I still feel good about choice of Spyderco Delica. They are fast to deploy, solid, and you just don’t have the fumble factor that other folders suffer from (e.g. due to pins; the big hole really helps with thumb deployment). They have good design, and aren’t too expensive such that if you have to lose or ditch the knife, life goes on. Still, a folder isn’t as good as a fixed-blade, and Chuck had a technique that was so simple towards carrying and deploying a folder that I’m going to experiment with it for my own carry. I also picked up on some things for my own teaching (“Tony Chin”). I liked Chuck’s style: very personable and friendly, very passionate about this material, and you can tell he really wants to take the time and care to ensure people learn and grow.
If you care about personal defense, you should care about the knife. If you choose to carry one, you ought to know how to use it. To know how to cut veggies in the kitchen is one thing, but to know how to defend yourself with it is another. But even if you don’t carry one, you’d do well to get some training in how to defend yourself against a knife. Yes, a gun can be an effective defensive tool, but you first need to get your gun out. Being able to perform a few simple movements (again, the FMA-based techniques can work for you if you have a knife in your hand, a club in your hand, or empty hands) to stave the initial attack, get to the outside, and buy you the time to get your gun out… well, there’s much to be said for such knowledge and ability.
I look forward to training with Chuck again.
On one final note, I’d like to give some love to my friend, Shawn Hatcher of Hatcher Knives. Shawn came out and was my training partner for the day. He was kind enough to fashion a trainer version of the REH out of some G10. We spent the afternoon beating each other up, overthinking together, and having a grand time. I must say, Chuck’s techniques are more directly suited for a forward-type grip, so I did use my Delica Trainers for much of the class. But I did use the REH trainer when I could to see how it would convey. Because the REH is designed with a reverse edge and also to typically be held in a reverse-grip, I found myself thinking WAY too much about technique application. But on the same token, most of Chuck’s techniques became even more ugly due to the hooking motion. Yes, some techniques wound up just striking the blunt back-edge of the REH, but as you followed through with the technique… yeah, fun stuff. Shawn took the REH home with him — going to add some “version 1.2″ refinements. The joys of custom knives! Shawn’s really evolving as a knife-maker, and if you’re in the market, you should give him a try.
From Karl Rehn:
Self-defense training is about risk reduction. Those making choices based on Y chromosome-induced testosterone poisoning, rather than logic, reason, and data analysis, deserve whatever problems their stupidity leads them into.
(posted in a FB comment about the SERPA holster).
Best fights are the ones we avoid.
- Mr. Han (Jackie Chan, the 2010 remake of “The Karate Kid”)
Whenever people dole out self-defense tips, it tends to be under the guise of you being in the fight. The fight has started, or the fight is inevitable, and how can you manage the fight. Granted, sometimes this is how it goes. But what might be better is if we could avoid the fight in the first place.
There are good techniques for this, like SouthNarc’s Managing Unknown Contacts (MUC) techniques, or just following the Insights Training ABC: Always Be Cool. Marc MacYoung knows a lot about the subject too, and when he posted this article I thought it was one worth sharing.
The article is titled “Eight Self-Defense Tips for Men to Avoid Violent Conflicts“. I would argue these are good self-defense tips for everyone to follow, but I can see the author’s point towards men because I get reminded of LowTechCombat‘s examination of Alpha vs. Predatory.
Here are the 8 points, without elaboration (you can find that in the article):
- Forget what you see on the screen
- Live, love and be happy
- Know yourself
- He’s human too
- Get over yourself
- Peyton Quinn’s rules
- Stick to the mission
Notice there’s no tips on how to punch him just right, how to shoot more effectively, none of that. It’s about mindset, it’s about mental approach and tactics for situations — before they become situations. This is more important.
It’s also about humility. There’s so much bravado, so much macho about fighting and self-defense. I recently saw a posting on Facebook, of a picture of a bank holdup scene and captioned basically “and what would you do”. The comment thread was full of big talk, heroics, fantasy, and few posters acknowledged realities involved (tho it was cool to see Rog mention the Beer & TV Maxim; one of the few rational comments on the picture). I think about #8 of “stick to the mission” which is basically:
Every time I leave the house, my mission is to return to it and my loved ones safely and unharmed so I can live a long and happy life with them.
So does your macho, your bravado, your fantasy, your heroics, do they permit you to fulfill your mission? Granted, your mission may be different, but then at least you know your mission. You do clearly know your mission, right? If you don’t, if you cannot stop right now and state it clearly aloud, then perhaps you should take a moment to define what your mission is. It will guide you and your decisions, which may be critically important when the flag flies.
Give the whole article a read. It’s quite good. In fact, most of these tips will apply beyond “violent encounters”. I mean, we have conflict on the job or in other interactions in our daily life. Tips like Peyton Quinn’s rules will help you manage those just fine too.
Paula Bolyard writes:
As I listened to the police scanner during the Boston manhunt, I wasn’t thinking about “police all over the place” in the “personal security guard” sense that Feinstein seemed to be implying.
Instead, I imagined a mother huddled in the nursery with her baby. Her husband is out of town and she is also listening to the police scanner, praying the terrorist doesn’t burst through her back door.
I imagined an 85-year-old World War II veteran living alone. He fought the Nazis on foot across Europe and his government just instructed him to “shelter-in-place.” He turns out the lights in his home and hunches over his radio waiting for updates though the long night.
I wondered if they could protect themselves if the worst happened.
In the middle of that night listening to the Boston police scanner, I evolved.
I realized right then that if I were holed up in my house while a cold-blooded terrorist roamed my neighborhood, I wouldn’t want to be a sitting duck with only a deadbolt lock between me and an armed intruder. There are not enough police and they cannot come to my rescue quickly enough. They carry guns to protect themselves, not me. I knew at that instant if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev showed up at my door while I was “sheltered-in-place” and aimed a gun at my head and only one of us would live, I could pull the trigger.
Her story resonates with me because I too evolved. I was never against guns and wanting to ban them on the whole, but I didn’t see why anyone needed “a machine gun to hunt Bambi”. Then, Wife was sexually assaulted while taking Oldest (then an infant) out for a walk/push in his stroller. That was my evolutionary moment. It still took me a number of years to come around to owning a gun and carrying a gun, but that moment opened my eyes to many realities about life and the world. That moment set in motion my quest for knowledge, education, and enlightenment about personal safety, crime prevention, etc.. To then own and carry a gun became a logical conclusion, because when you strip away your ignorance, your bias, you emotions and all you have left is fact and harsh realities about the world? Things become pretty clear on their own.
Legitimate defense can not only be a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life, the common good of the family or of the state. Unfortunately it happens that the need to render the aggressor incapable of causing harm sometimes involves taking his life. In this case, the fatal outcome is attributable to the aggressor whose action brought it about.
A fuller examination from Mr. Michael T. Barry. (h/t Wife) Please click through and read.
So despite what some “Catholics” might feel and say about gun control, they do not speak for The Church and one should not mistake their opinion for dogma.
Austin Police Chief Acevedo admits his department cannot keep you safe. That the FBI can’t keep you safe. That the government cannot keep you safe.
“It really illustrates the importance of vigilance,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said. “The police department can’t do it alone. The FBI can’t do it alone, government can’t do it alone. Ultimately, we’re all responsible for safety.”
Ultimately WE are responsible for safety.
You are responsible for (your) safety.
And yet, he testifies against campus carry and recently went to Washington DC to testify in favor of gun control proposals that won’t do much to impact crime but will affect your ability to do as he says and be responsible for your own safety.
So Mr. Acevedo, which way is it? I mean, great that you say you support CHL but again, your actions don’t exactly jive.
Nevertheless, it’s nice to see the Austin Chief of Police admit and acknowledge that the only person that can be responsible for your safety is yourself, and that “others” cannot truly keep you safe.
As they say, admitting it is the first step.
You don’t have a choice.
When you were rear-ended at the stoplight? You didn’t have a choice in the matter — you were the unfortunate recipient of the fender-bender.
When the teenager was more concerned with texting than driving and t-boned you? You didn’t have a choice.
When the drunk-driver veered across the double-yellow line and smashed head-on into your car, you didn’t have a choice.
Actually, you did have some degree of choice, and you likely exercised it. The moment you got in the car, you chose to buckle your seatbelt. In fact, you may have exercised some greater choice prior to driving the car. When you bought the car, you may well have researched things like the crash ratings and other safety features of the car, and chose your purchase at least in part based upon the car’s safety features.
We accept that life has risk. When we get into our car, we accept that risk. We may not consciously think about that risk every day, and we may only buckle up out of habit, but it’s a pretty good habit to be in if the statistics are correct and there’s a 1 in 84 chance of you dying from a car accident.
We buckle up not because we expect to be in an accident, but because we understand it can happen. If we could expect it, if we knew it was going to happen, why would we go there in the first place? Why wouldn’t we avoid it to the fullest extent of our capabilities? But since we can’t know when, since we can’t know where, and since we cannot choose when or where it will happen, since it takes us by surprise, since we have no choice, we take measures so that if it does happen, we can improve our chances of coming out on the other side alive.
No one considers you paranoid for taking steps to preserve your life. No one asks you what you’re afraid of. That’s because they understand that such things happen, and your actions are wise towards the preservation of your life.
When I put on my gun in the morning, it’s not because I’m afraid of anything. It’s not because I’m paranoid. It’s because I understand that violent crime happens. Rough numbers are what? about 1 in 250 of being the victim of a violent crime in the US? It’s not too far fetched that in your lifetime you’ll be the victim of a violent crime.
When that crime occurs, you won’t have a choice. You don’t get to choose when it will happen. You don’t get to choose where. Some people decide they’ll carry their gun when they go here but not there. Why? Is “there” somehow invulnerable? and if “here” is bad enough that you know you need a gun, why are you going there in the first place?
Some just want a gun in the car, in the glove compartment. What good does that do when you’re attacked while in the parking lot (which is where many victimizations occur). Again, you didn’t get any say in when or where you’d get attacked.
It’s important to accept that bad things happen that you have no control over. You get no say, you have no choice. But there are aspects where you can have a say, and where you can choose. When you make these choices, you don’t do them out of fear or paranoia, you do them out of acceptance of life’s risks. You do them because you understand the realities of life, that “shit happens”, and the more you can do to deflect the shit, the better your chances are of continuing your good life. It’s why we always buckle up when we get in the car, and it’s why some of us chose to carry a gun… always.
In short, 2 guys trying to rob a store. They failed because the shopkeeper and employee fought back. But in watching the video, one thing really stood out to me.
The shopkeeper was trying to fend off the robbers by using a baseball bat. Not a horrible choice, but it was generally ineffective. It didn’t really deter the robbers until their second attempt, when the guy with the gun jumped over the counter (probably to get a key or some such to unlock the front door) and then the owner could get some better hits in. All this “fencing” did was kinda keep the robber at “arm & bat distance”. The swings didn’t connect, nor was there anything behind the swings (if they did land, they wouldn’t have done anything). The robber kept pressing his attack, trying to grab the bat or at least swat it away, and the “fencing” really wasn’t doing much.
Here’s the thing.
The bat didn’t do much because the gunman was out of (effective) range of the weapon.
Of course, the gunman could have easily overcome this by shooting, but he didn’t. From how he was shooting and behaving, I reckon he can’t shoot worth a damn and figured he had to be up close in order to try to hit anything. So, that works in YOUR favor because yeah, most bad guys with guns can’t shoot (but don’t count on that since some studies and surveys have shown that many criminals actually practice more than cops).
That’s a strong advantage of a gun: the ability to overcome distance.
Many people advocate other weapons: knives, baseball bats, tasers, pepper spray, as some means of effective self defense. But the reality is, do you really want to get up close to the bad guy? I mean, if this guy would only shoot at close distance, since he obviously had no reserved about grabbing people by the throat… do you REALLY want to get up close with this guy? Because up close is the only way for those other tools to be effective.
But a gun? It traverses distance. Distance is your friend in self-defense encounters: creating as much distance as you can works in your favor. I mean, isn’t that what fleeing is about? creating a LOT of distance between you and your attacker? So in a case like this? Yeah, a gun would have been more effective than a baseball bat.
The store owner is quite fortunate, and I’m glad he fared as well as he did. The main reason for that was his choice to not be a victim and to fight back. Next time tho, choose a more effective weapon.
Fine. The gun nuts are nuts. The NRA is fucked. Ted Nugent is fucking nuts. Don’t listen to them.
It seems to be accepted that it’s OK for police to have guns. We seem to be alright with the notion of relegating our protection and safety to them. We consider them the experts. Everyone I speak with and hear from that’s anti-gun seems to agree with the above. So let’s go with that premise. (BTW, I started writing this before the PoliceOne survey came out, and frankly in light of that, I think that survey and this article go together to say maybe we should consider what the police have to say, instead of Joe Biden; you know, people that have a clue instead of those that don’t).
How do the police react to mass shootings?
The speed and deadliness of recent high-profile shootings have prompted police departments to recommend fleeing, hiding or fighting in the event of a mass attack, instead of remaining passive and waiting for help.
That’s from the New York Times. I’ll be using bits of the full article throughout. The article continues:
The shift represents a “sea change,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which recently held a meeting in Washington to discuss shootings like those in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo.
The traditional advice to the public has been “don’t get involved, call 911,” Mr. Wexler said, adding, “There’s a recognition in these ‘active shooter’ situations that there may be a need for citizens to act in a way that perhaps they haven’t been trained for or equipped to deal with.”
The change started after Columbine. Traditional response was to have everyone assemble outside, set of a command post, wait for backup, wait for SWAT, then go on. All that waiting? Too much time. It allowed too much time for more people to be killed. It allowed too much time for more damage and death to be done. It was unacceptable to wait. Police procedure changed to the whole “first responder” concept, that whomever gets there first you must engage swiftly and immediately. Yes we’d all like to wait for backup, but who knows when that’s coming. We do know “you” are here now, and if you don’t act immediately then more people will die. And it tends to work out in the modern “active shooter” scenario because in the majority of cases the moment any sort of resistance appears, the shooter offs themselves. However we get them to stop, they stop and that’s the goal. Thus, we must respond and act as quickly as possible.
It’s about time we stopped preaching that the correct response is to be a victim and “just give them what they want” (but then, isn’t that what modern social thought and politics is all about?).
But to Mr. Wexler’s last point… “they haven’t been trained for or equipped to deal with”. There are ways to remedy that, and I’ll discuss them later on.
The article continues:
Research on mass shootings over the last decade has bolstered the idea that people at the scene of an attack have a better chance of survival if they take an active stance rather than waiting to be rescued by the police, who in many cases cannot get there fast enough to prevent the loss of life.
In an analysis of 84 such shooting cases in the United States from 2000 to 2010, for example, researchers at Texas State University found that the average time it took for the police to respond was three minutes.
I’ve discussed this point many times: we cannot yet bend the laws of space and time, so it still takes time for other people to get here. But do you know who is “here” right now? You.
So if a “bad thing” is happening “right here right now”, who do you think is the person able to respond first? YOU! Police arriving are technically the second responders… well, that is if you respond at all. If you curl up in a ball and wait to be murdered, well…. I guess that’s a response. But you can choose to die, or you can choose to not die.
In the absence of a police presence, how victims responded often made the difference between life and death, Dr. Blair said…. “The take-home message is that you’re not helpless and the actions you take matter,” Dr. Blair said. “You can help yourself and certainly buy time for the police to get there.”
Emphasis added. Dr. Blair’s study shows how people’s choices made a difference. Those that chose to be a “fish in a barrel” died. Those that chose to flee or fight, lived. Some even chose sacrifice of their own lives, to buy time for others to flee and live. Your choices matter and affect not only if you live or die or if others live or die. This is what we’ve learned and can see by studying all the mass shootings we’ve had so far.
Your Actions and Choices Matter
As further example of how your choices — and preparation — matter:
Kristina Anderson, 26, who was shot three times during the Virginia Tech attack, said that every situation is different but that she thinks it can help for people to develop a plan for how they might act if a mass shooting occurred.
“Everywhere I go now, I think about exits and doorways and potential places to hide and things to barricade and fight back with,” Ms. Anderson said. “Some person has to take action and lead.”
Instead of using her victim-status as a way to lobby for increased victimhood, Ms. Anderson has learned and grown from her experience. She doesn’t live in a fantasy world. She doesn’t live in “condition white”. When she goes somewhere, she looks for exits, she looks for ways to be able to manage the situation, should it happen again. Paranoid? If you want to define it that way, I guess. I think she’s a person that went through a horrible experience, is wiser for the wear, and realizes that even something with a remote chance still has a chance and it would be horrible to be caught in (again), so she’d rather not. She’d rather be prepared for what life may bring. Think how much better off she and others could have been if they knew before what they know now. So perhaps, be wise yourself and learn from her experience instead of repeating the mistakes of others.
So yes, fighting may be the right solution. Some people cannot fathom that, but I think it’s only because of the societal structure we’ve created. I know it, I was raised in it. We learned early on that “you don’t hit other people”. That hitting is wrong and not the way to solve problems. When I first became a parent, I preached the same mantra. But eventually I realized my hypocrisy in teaching this to my children, when I spent time learning martial arts and firearms and so on (because my wife had been sexually assaulted, and I wasn’t going to let that happen again) — I understood that sometimes you have to hit, that sometimes you have to engage in violence because the cost of not engaging in it could be worse. So I no longer teach or say “it’s not/never OK to hit”. Instead, I teach that it’s important to give the appropriate response. If your sibling took your cookie away, no, hitting them is not the appropriate response. If someone is trying to rape you, hitting them is a very appropriate response. What we need to shift in our culture is to accept that violence is OK, appropriate, and even our duty to utilize under the right circumstances. We need to stop understand when it’s right to utilize.
Susan Riseling, chief of police at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, said the Virginia Tech episode changed her thinking about how to advise students because it was clear that Mr. Cho had “one goal, and that seemed to be to kill as many people as possible before ending his life.”
The department’s video, screened during training sessions around the state but not available online, tells students to escape or conceal themselves if possible, but if those options are not available, to fight. In the video, students are shown throwing a garbage can at an attacker and charging at him as a group.
“If you’re face to face and you know that this person is all about death, you’ve got to take some action to fight,” Chief Riseling said.
So according to Police Chief Riseling, here’s one of those right circumstances. Remember, the premise here is that the police are our protectors, they are the people our society grants such authority to, and we defer to as the experts on such matters. Thus if the experts and the authority are saying we should react this way… maybe we should listen.
Consider however that it’s again about appropriate response. The appropriate response may well be to flee. None if this negates the “beer & TV maxim“; in fact, it flat out encourages the maxim! You are certainly going to be able to enjoy more beer and TV if the best response for the situation is to flee! Your goal is to live, and if fleeing is the right thing to do, then do it. In fact, sometimes the right response might be to just give them your wallet. Say you have a dummy wallet with $5 and some fake cards on it; you throw that at the mugger and take off. You live. Is that a wrong response?
The thing is, a lot of folks are going to assume my solution is: get a gun. That we all should have guns, and bring back the OK Corral. Well, I do agree that firearms are useful tools and sometimes it’s the right and only tool appropriate for the task. But I am also aware that you cannot play golf with only one club in the bag (thank you, Tom).
Pepper spray can be a useful tool. It’s not necessarily going to stop an attacker, but if it enables you the window you need to escape, then it’s an appropriate and useful tool.
You know what’s even more useful? Awareness. Instead of having your head down in your iPhone and your ears plugged up with music, keep your eyes open, up, and scanning around; keep your ears listening for things. Do you know what most criminals want? an easy target. Do you know what most people say after an attack? “They just came out of nowhere.” No they didn’t, but it only seemed that way because you were unaware, they knew it, they took advantage of it.
Awareness can be even more mundane. When you enter a new building or room, look for the exits. Rather, look for the OTHER exits. Everyone knows about the exit they came in through; consequently, if something bad happens — like a fire — everyone stampedes for the door they came in. There have been more than enough stories of hundreds of people dying in club fires because everyone tried to go out the door they came in (dead bodies piled at the front door), but the back and side entrances were empty. It costs you nothing but a few seconds to find the exits, it doesn’t impede your life, and if something bad happens well… those few seconds spent are sure going to enable your life.
Do you have any medical training? Can you handle basic first aid like burns, cuts, bee stings, heat exhaustion, shock? Can you handle slightly larger issues like severe bleeding, broken bones? CPR? Heimlich Maneuver? (shout out to my buds at Lone Star Medics). If someone is choking, bleeding, or otherwise on their way to dying, again YOU are “right here right now”, YOU are the first responder. It will take time to dial 911, talk to an operator, talk to a dispatcher, convey all the information, get an ambulance dispatched, for them to fight traffic and drive to your location, to park, to come in, to assess the situation and orient themselves, then to act. It all takes time, time that may not be available to the suffering person. But what can you who is right there right now do to help?
Being Trained and Equipped to Deal With It
So this isn’t about “having a gun”. It’s about having a lot of things. It’s about being prepared. As Mr. Wexler stated at the top:
There’s a recognition… there may be a need for citizens to act in a way that perhaps they haven’t been trained for or equipped to deal with.
No one is asking you to be a hero. No one is asking you to rush in and save the day. What is being asked is to accept that the world can be full of unexpected unpleasant undesirable things. Many of these things are time-critical, where the first response is vital, and since those “right there right now” are the ones that can respond first, wouldn’t the world be a better place if citizens perhaps were trained and equipped to deal with those situations? Be it training in first aid and equipped with that knowledge and a small med kit in their purse, or training in how to run and equipped with a good pair of Nikes so you could flee, or in knowledge of how to operate a handgun and equipped with the right tools and mindset for its use.
There’s this notion of “finding common ground”. There’s this lip-service to “meeting us halfway”. To that, I offer this. We appreciate “first responders” because we know the first people on the scene are the ones that will save lives. That lives are saved because people have the knowledge, skill, and ability to act swiftly in the face of a bad situation. That the sooner the responders can respond, the better the chances are of lives being saved. That when it gets down to it, the person “right here right now” is truly the first person able to respond. Thus, shouldn’t we all work to be able to be a first responder? How you choose to respond, that’s up to you. But at least let’s come to find common ground on the premise that first response is vital to life, and there’s no one that can respond faster than those immediately there. There’s no one that can respond faster than you.