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Self-defense when you can't carry a gun

Jan 25, 2017 0 comments

More and more conservatives have taken to carrying a concealed firearm. Ever since states started reforming their concealed carry laws, with more and more of them moving from "may issue" to "shall issue" on the issue of concealed carry permits, the number of people who carry has been on the increase. Florida now has over 1.3 million law-abiding citizens with concealed carry permits, almost double the rate per capita of second-place Texas.

If pro-gun lobbyists and lawmakers have their way, 2017 might see the passage of a nationwide reciprocity law, allowing people with concealed carry permits to carry them in all 50 states, including states which currently deny citizens that right.

Then there are the states which are bypassing concealed carry permits altogether and going to constitutional carry, stating that the Second Amendment gives us the right to carry, whether openly or concealed. Just a few short years ago only New Hampshire had a constitutional carry law, but as of this writing, nine states have implemented it.

Granted, not all is sweetness and light in the world of gun laws. California, New York and other liberal havens are still working hard to take away their citizens Second Amendment rights. While their victories are insignificant on a national level, to the folks who live in those states, they are significant indeed.

Yet, no matter how many strides are made in supporting our Second Amendment rights, there will always be places where firearms are not allowed. Limiting guns in courtrooms and prisons only makes sense, as allowing people to carry in those locations could give prisoners access to them. It could also make it easier for accomplices to attempt to break those who are incarcerated out, by allowing them to carry firearms into the courtroom.

What this means is that we all need alternate forms of self-defense that we can count on, during those times when we can't carry firearms. I travel in and out of Mexico fairly regularly, so this is something I'm used to dealing with. Considering how dangerous Mexico has become, being able to defend myself has become an important issue.

Of course, the martial arts community would tell me that I need to learn one of their forms of unarmed combat to assist me. But at my age, and frankly, my weight, I don't really see that as a viable alternative. Besides, it takes years of practice to become proficient in any form of martial arts, time that I really don't feel I can afford to spend.

But that's not to say that I don't have options open to me, because I do. Sometimes, the best of those are options are things that are not normally considered weapons. These have the distinct advantage of being things that authorities and others won't recognize as weapons. As such, they are unlikely to put you in the position of breaking any laws or arousing the suspicions of the police. But they must be chosen carefully, as what is legal in one context may not be in another.

What Your Weapon Choices Need to Do

Before talking about any possible weapons choices, we need to determine what it is that those weapons need to do. Like any other tool, they must match their stated purpose. You can't hammer a nail with a screwdriver and you can't load a shotgun with a butter knife.

One of the keys to this is understanding that the true weapon is the brain. I don't care if you're talking about guns, knives or nuclear tipped missiles, it's the brain that makes any other weapon work. With that in mind, anything can become a weapon. It's all a matter of figuring out how to use the weapon for the best possible result.

We recently saw this in German, as a Muslim fanatic drove a truck through a Christmas market, killing a dozen people and injuring 50 more. While I'm sure that some liberal hothead started screaming about gun control after that, the truth of the matter is that there are no laws which can be enacted, which will prevent such an attack from taking place. The driver of that truck used the best weapon he had, and that gave him the ability to determine how he could best use the tools he had at his disposal.

When the violence being carried out by the drug cartels started in Mexico, I was going in and out of border towns a lot. Since I wasn't able to carry a firearm into Mexico with me, I had to depend on other means of defending myself. So in my mind, the 3/4 ton van I was my primary weapon. While it wasn't as good as a gun, it could lay a world of hurt on anyone shooting at me.

There's a saying that one shouldn't bring a knife to a gunfight. While I agree with that basic philosophy, I wouldn't hold it as a hard and fast rule. If all you've got available to use is a knife, than by all means bring it. But you would be better off having a gun to match force on force.

Even then, as we all know, equal weapons don't mean equal ability. For that reason, unequal weapons doesn't guarantee a win to the person who has the best weapons. What's more important is knowing what you can do with those weapons. The best gun in the world, in the hands of someone who never practices, is unlikely to send the bullets where the shooter intends.

The weapons we use give us the capability of doing a number of different things, all of which could play a part in defeating an enemy. We must remember that our goal isn't to kill them, or even to wound them, it's to stop them; specifically, to stop them from inflicting an injury on us. If we can do that, then we've won the battle. In that regard, we want to think of weapons that can help us win, through any one of the following:

  • Distracting
  • Delaying
  • Disarming
  • Debilitating
  • Disrupting their plans
  • Detaining
  • And finally, Defeating

A single engagement may include several of these elements, each accomplishing only one part of the work. But put together, they can create victory, even in a situation where you are severely outgunned. Surprise can work in your favor in this, as a gun-wielding thug is unlikely to expect you to take action, especially offensive action.

Going on the offense is critical to any win. If all you do is act defensively, then you are at the mercy of the attacker. Your greatest chance of winning comes when you go on the offensive and take the initiative away from them. They have already given you the legal opening you need to do that, simply by threatening you with a weapon. From that point on until one of you wins or leaves the combat arena, you are acting in self-defense.

Timing

One of the key elements in winning a self-defense fight is knowing when to act. While the temptation to act immediately may be strong, you will probably be better off waiting, unless they are already shooting. If the bad guys don't know you are armed, they won't expect that you're going to take action. So when you do, it can be a complete surprise.

Adrenalin will be running high in the bad guys' systems right at the beginning. Their nerves will be on edge and they will be ready to act. The more time that goes by, the lower their adrenalin level will be and the more they will relax. That will also help you to generate surprise when you attack.

Waiting also gives you the opportunity to select your moment of attack for the maximum effect. Perhaps two bad guys are widely spread apart at the beginning, making them poor targets. Or the opposite could be true, where they are so close together that you would have to engage them both at the same time. Either way, waiting a few moments could give you a much better tactical situation.

Distracting

Those who practice the art of magic learned long ago that you can do just about anything, if you distract someone first. So they always have one white gloved hand, which they wave around doing things to keep your attention, while the other hand, which isn't gloved, performs the trick.

A distraction in a fight can buy you a few seconds, increasing the time to have to surprise the assailant. This can be accomplished through a variety of means. One common distraction is to throw a handful of money on the ground. Since the human eye is drawn to movement, as well as being drawn to light, it is natural to look to that moving money, missing what is actually happening.

One company has developed an actual device for this, intended to replace flash-bang grenades. While it really isn't bright enough for that purpose, it can provide an excellent distraction, especially in low-light situations. The device consists of three round balls with lights in them. When illuminated and rolled on the ground, they naturally attract the eye for that crucial moment.

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But that doesn't mean that you have to spend a lot of money to buy these tactical balls. You can accomplish the same thing with a number of other items, such as the aforementioned coins. You could also use fireworks, a flashlight, or throwing just about anything in their face. All it's got to do is distract, and it only has to do that for a few seconds.

Delaying

Delaying an attacker can take many forms, even something as simple as talking to them, so that they don't attack immediately. But it most often takes the form of slowing down a charging attacker. When you are on the receiving end of a change, you are at a definite disadvantage. Even if you have superior firepower, the charge limits your ability to stop it, simply by limiting the time you have to react. Any charge takes the initiative away from the defender, causing them to react, rather than act.

But a charge can be delayed fairly easily, drastically reducing its effectiveness. In doing this just about anything can be used. We've all seen scenes in the movies, where someone is spilling furniture in the path of a charging attacker. While this never seems to conclusively end the altercation, it does delay the attacker, sometimes long enough to allow the defender to escape.

Debilitating

Another excellent tactic is to debilitate the attacker, reducing their ability to do anything to you, the defender. Theoretically, at least, the attacker must think they hold enough of an advantage on you, or they wouldn't be attacking. That advantage could be in the weapons they are using, their own physical strength, or the thought that you are defenseless.

Every wound you can inflict on the attacker will debilitate them to some extent. That's why I council attaching the knife arm, when facing off against a knife-wielding thug. Attacking their body may carry with it the ability to stop the fight quickly, but it is harder to do and puts you at risk in the process.

But, assuming that you're armed with a knife as well, making cuts on their arm will weaken the arm, causing them to wince in pain, lose strength through blood loss and eventually eliminate the ability for them to use that arm. A series of small, easy to accomplish cuts just might be the easiest way to take the initiative away from them to end that fight.

But that's not the only way to debilitate them. One of the things that people depend the most on in any fight is their eyes. So, take away their ability to use them. That's actually what pepper spray does, more than anything else. With the tears flowing freely, it's difficult to see to attack.

Roughly the same thing can be accomplished by throwing sand, dirt or any other powder in the attacker's eyes. The temporary loss of vision, gives you the opportunity to strike first, while they are trying to clear their eyes, or to flee. Unless there is a reason to attack them, fleeing may very well be the best option.

Another way to attack the eyes is with a tactical light. Most tactical lights have a strobe function for just this purpose. Pointed directly in an attacker's eyes, it prevents them from seeing much of anything. In this, a flashing light is much more effective than a steady one, as it doesn't give the eyes a chance to adjust to the light level.

However, you're going to need a good light to do this; a 300 lumen light really isn't enough. I've got a 600 lumen tactical light which I carry, which I know is strong enough to disorient and debilitate anyone who might try to attack me. The weaker lights might work outside at night, but my 600 lumen light will work just fine indoors. I know, I've tried it.

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Disarming

In some situations, your best course of action might be to disarm the assailant, rather than focusing on fighting them. The average criminal counts on intimidating their intended victims with their weapons, not using those weapons. They don't want to fight, they just want to get the victim to submit. So if you can get the weapon out of said thug's hands, there's a good chance that they will flee.

My weapon of choice for use against an armed attacker, when I don't have a gun, is a stick. I particularly like a walking stick about four or five feet long. But if I don't have that, any stick will do. The stick gives me an advantage of reach; plus, when I swing it, I get more velocity than I can with my bare hands. Hitting any weapon in the hand with sufficient force will cause the bearer to drop it.

If you don't have a stick, pretty much anything long and slender can be substituted. I've always thought that a golf club would be good in this regard. Not only is it hooked at the end, but the end is weighted, giving more impetus to the swing. That added impetus doesn't just have to apply to golf balls.

I mentioned a bit ago that I go into Mexico quite a bit, where I can't carry a firearm. So instead, I use a variation on the stick idea, when I have to go into Mexico. That is, I carry a sword-cane. Yes, you read that correctly, I have an actual sword-cane that I use. At my age, it's easy to pretend that I need the cane for other things, making it credible that I'd have it with me.

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Many years ago, I was leaving a party at a restaurant, dressed in a costume like a Roman Soldier. A drunk thug thought that was funny and drew a switchblade on me. That didn't last too long. Even though the sword I was carrying was a decorative one and not a real fighting sword (my sword cane is Damascus steel, so it's an excellent, if short, fighting sword), I was able to disarm him by hitting the hand holding the knife with the flat of the blade. Once disarmed, he ran.

Disrupting their plans

Any attacker is going to have some sort of plan of attack, crude though it might be. They are expecting to do certain things and expecting you to react to those things in a certain manner. In fact, their victory depends in large part on you acting in the expected manner.

If you don't, they don't know what to do; that is, they don't know what to do, unless they are trained fighters. Few criminals are. But those that are, won't be phased by anything you do to disrupt their plans, so this tactic is somewhat limited. Be ready yourself, just in case they react as a trained fighter.

Ok, so what do I mean by disrupting their plans. For the most part, criminals expect you to cringe in fear at their brandishing a weapon, whether a knife or a gun. They really aren't expecting to have to use it. So any sudden action on your part is unexpected, whether that's to pretend to faint or to charge them. But if you choose to charge them, be sure to sidestep along the way, so as to not be directly in line of their weapon.

Should the fight continue, keep looking for opportunities to do the unexpected. Each time will give you a momentary advantage. But more than that, they take the initiative away from the enemy, giving you the advantage.

This is one place where unexpected weapons can be extremely useful. If you have a taser or tactical pen in your pocket, you could use it without much resistance on the part of the assailant. Of course, that's assuming that you use it within seconds of taking it out of your pocket, before they know you have it. Once they are aware that it's in your hand, you lose that element of surprise.

Detaining

Your goal in any confrontation with a criminal is to stop them, regardless of how you do that. In some cases, that may require killing them, but in most it shouldn't. What then, do you do with the criminal once you've managed to stop them?

If you're away from home, the best solution is to run and get out of there, before they can get up off the ground. But if you're at home, and you run away, the criminal has won. They can take their time to ransack your house for whatever they can find of value. Clearly, that's not your best option.

That means detaining the would-be thief, until the police can come to collect them. Of course, if you had a gun in your hand, you could just make them do pushups until the police showed up. But we're assuming that you don't have a gun or can't use it for some reason. In that case, you're going to need something to detain them with, or you'll probably find yourself in round two of the fight.

The easiest thing to use is the plastic handcuffs that the police use. Many people mistakenly think that these are the same as the plastic zip ties used to bundle wires and cables. While they are similar, they really aren't the same. Not only are the ones used by police much stronger, but they have separate loops for each hand, making them much more effective.

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This isn't to say that you can't use plastic zip ties, if that's all you've got. Go ahead and use them. Just be aware that it's not really all that hard to break out of them; so if you use them, go double. That should be enough to keep pretty much anyone from breaking them. You can also make them more effective by looping two together, making a figure eight out of them. But, unless you double them up, that figure eight will actually weaken the zip ties, giving a focal point to any pressure applied to break them.

And finally, Defeating

The win for you is keeping the bad guys from harming you or stealing anything from you. That doesn't mean you have to hurt them either, no matter how much you might be tempted to. Taking that extra step of trying to inflict pain on them, as some sort of punishment for what they've done, just puts you at risk. It also requires you to stop outside the bounds of self-defense, leaving yourself open to criminal prosecution.

There's a very fine line here between what's acceptable as an act of self-defense, and what's not; and it's not based upon the weapons you use or the damage you inflict, it's based upon the necessity of using them. Your actions must pass what's known as the "reasonable man" rule. That means that it is what a reasonable man would do in similar circumstances. But that reasonable man is actually a judge who is looking at the situation from the benefit of hindsight.

So, you can never lose control of yourself in such a fight. Once they are either on the ground or heading for the door, it's over. Even pursuing them for the sake of capturing them and turning them over to the police is illegal; not because you're capturing them, but because you are taking the fight to them, once they have given up the fight. In that moment, you change from being the defender, to being the aggressor.

As the aggressor, your actions are subject to a whole different set of restrictions. Few things you can do would actually pass muster as being a necessary part of self-defense. So you would lose any protection that the law is able to provide. This includes the benefit of the doubt in a civil case, something that you have to take seriously if you actually cause any permanent harm to the criminal.

Dave Steen

About The Author: Dave is a 58 year old survivalist; father of three; with over 40 years of survival experience. He started young, learning survival the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. Now, after years of study, he's gray-haired and slightly overweight. That hasn't dimmed his interest in survival though. If anything, Dave has a greater commitment to survival than ever, so that he can protect his family. Click Here To Read More About Dave


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