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You might wonder what the above confrontation has to do with you. The obvious lesson: if someone draws a gun on you, it’s best to run, comply, de-escalate and/or attack. If you’re going to charge a guy with a gun, don’t wait for an engraved invitation. Here’s something else to keep in mind: if it’s the other way around, if you’re aiming a gun at someone in self-defense, do not expect compliance. If someone is f’ed-up enough to want to threaten you or your loved ones with death or grievous bodily harm they are more than likely ready, willing and able to take swift and immediate violent action against your lethal threat. Can of worms opening time . . .

For this reason, some armed self-defenders are dead set against brandishing. “If my gun’s coming out, I’m shooting.” The logic is simple enough. They’re not going to unholster their gun unless they’re in life-threatening danger AND imminence is imminent. In other words, the gun’s out because bad shit’s going down. If BS is going down the bad guy’s going down. Period.

I used to ascribe to this GOS (Gun Out Shoot) philosophy. Like many armed citizens, I was afraid I’d be paralyzed by fear in a self-defense situation. I wouldn’t shoot. Or shoot fast enough. The GOS is binary; it removes the pressure to process information in a crisis. So I adopted the GOS philosophy and ignored the mentally muddling middle ground.

Not to go all S.E. Hinton, that was then, this is now. I now understand that a defensive gun use (DGU) is a messy business: a volatile, inherently chaotic situation where I must try to combine training (a.k.a., muscle memory) with strategic thinking.

Not only can the threat change dramatically between unholstering and aiming, but my perception of what’s going on may also alter. Ask a lawyer: shooting when you shouldn’t shoot is just as big a danger as not shooting when you should.

Committing to GOS locks the concealed carry defender into a course of action which may get his or her ass killed. If nothing else, it could distract the good guy from thinking about his or her prime directive (leave). A decision is only as good as the information upon which it is based; an armed citizen in the middle of a self-defense shit-storm needs to keep ye olde OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) spinning.

And that means a well-trained concealed carrier has to live with—and prepare for—uncertainty. Who knows what’s going to happen in a DGU? Not you. Which is why I bring my gun out of the holster with my finger off the trigger. Ready to fire. Ready not to fire.

Bottom line: when you brandish a gun, you’re asking a question: will my attacker (or attackers) stop threatening me? If they cease and desist, legally, morally, strategically and financially, you should hang fire. If they keep coming, chocks away. But you won’t know which way it’s going to go until you draw your firearm. And maybe not even then.

No matter what happens or doesn’t happen, unholstering your gun and expecting (i.e. waiting for) some sort of compliance is a terrible idea. Brandishing is the beginning of a DGU. Not the end. Even when it is.

42 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Brandishing is a Question, Not An Answer

  1. I could not hear what was being said on the video but it looked to me like the skateboarding guy was not doing anything to deserve a gun being pulled on him.

    The only thing I will add to this is:

    If you are going to pull a gun on someone then you had better be ready to use it!

    Putting a gun (or yourself) within the others person reach is just inviting them to take it away from you and turning your gun upon you.

    • “Putting a gun (or yourself) within the others person reach is just inviting them to take it away from you and turning your gun upon you.”
      —–
      That is not nearly as easily achieved as said. We can meet up and try it with a blue gun if you’d like.

      • Oh, ok moonshine.

        I will take that little offer and splain to you how it would have gone down.

        You pull a gun on me.

        I turn around concealing from your sight my pulling out of my gun and as I turn back around I put a hot 45. longcolt hollow point round in your chest.

        FLAME DELETED

        • But that isn’t what you said. Here, let me quote you again:

          “Putting a gun (or yourself) within the others person reach is just inviting them to take it away from you and turning your gun upon you.”

          The instant you reach for my gun, you have proven to be a threat. Firing will commence and will continue until that threat evaporates. You can’t take away someone’s gun when they have it pointed at you. Quite simply, you’re not that fast.

          FLAME FLAME DELETED

        • 1st off, I don’t need to know anything about you, as the laws of physics are evenly applied to everyone. You cannot move your arm fast enough to grab my gun before I squeeze the trigger. Could you do it in a mock self-defense scenario, say in a classroom, in a controlled setting, where you know exactly what’s going to happen and you trust your sparring partner to not make you look like an idiot? Maybe. Out here in the real world where you don’t know anything about your attacker except that he’s got the drop on you and that he’s pointing a real gun with real bullets at you? Go ahead and bet your life, mate. I’m not going to stop you.

        • look dude, you did not read or understand my 1st cooment.
          I never said I would reach for your gun, I said as I turn around I would pull my gun and shoot you. Thats because I practice that senario myself with a bellyband holster and I don’t have to move my arm at all as i pull it, giving you zero indication because my back is turned to you and I practice point-shooting.

          So, as I turn back around, my arm has not moved but in my hand, close to my waist is my gun, and I would turn and fire. Maybe you get off a shot too, but I would take that chance knowing that my aim is true, and I had the surprise.
          Anything less IMO, is leaving yourself at the mercy of a thug and I will NEVER do that again.

        • Moonshine’s right on target. I had a judo instructor ask me to pretend I was robbing him and he’d show us how to take the gun away. I pointed my loaded FINGER at him and went bang you’re dead. He said that I shot him for no reason and I told him that I was just trying to eliminate the only witness and that it was easier to rob a dead body that taking the chance of having him resist me. Judo and Karate aren’t magic and in the real world you never know what the BG is willing to do to take what you have.

  2. “do not expect compliance”

    We can’t expect anyone — even with a gun pointed at them — to start behaving passively, non-aggressively, rationally, calmly, etc. People can go into a fight or flight mode. To some people their ego, pride, and not feeling humiliated (especially in front of other people they know) is more important than physical pain, injury, and death. Different people have different biological fear/anger adrenaline responses. Some people are current or former hard drug addicts.

  3. Jeff Cooper, in his “Principles of Personal Defense,” would wholeheartedly poo-poo complying with an attacker. He advocates whippin’ the attacker’s ass at lightning speed and being ruthless about it until the attack has stopped OR simply hauling ass like Jim Thorpe, but never compliance. I’ll have to stick with Cooper and say, “Do anything except comply.” I don’t put my trust in the goodwill of criminals. As a former paramedic, I’ve seen firsthand what such misplaced trust can get you. It goes w/o saying that the skateboarder was in one, damn bad spot in this video. There was way too much time and opportunity for the scumbag to shoot. Glad it turned out well. Now, what happened to the thug’s gun???

    • There are times when the odds are so stacked against you that compliance is the only sensible option.

      He who doesn’t fight and waits for a chance to do so (or escape) MAY live to fight another day.

      • A business owner in Chicago did exactly as you would recommend given the laws of the city ;
        he was confronted with two pistol packing felons demanding money from his gas station on New Years Day. He gave them the loot, and the perps both emptied their magazines into the proprietor on their way out the door ,for all to see on videotape.He is survived by his wife and infant child.

        The best way to ensure the odds are not stacked against you is to pay attention to your surroundings. Either the perp will be surprised when you present your firearm, or you will be when he presents HIS.

        • As RF said, “There are times when the odds are so stacked against you that compliance is the only sensible option.” Your example does not invalidate his comment; there are, I am sure, a far greater number of compliant victims who survive their encounters than are gunned down. That does not mean everyone will live, but RF’s point stands. Since there were two armed assailants, I fear his options might have been very limited. As I have read here before, sometimes, a person can do everything right and still end up shot.

  4. I’m a member of a private gold and silver owner blog. All the members are pro gun, against big government/wall street/banking, pro liberty, into grilling bbq’ing foods, and using cast iron cookware. One of the members wrote how he ‘knows’ that any home invader will be terrified upon meeting him in the middle of the night as he is a BFWG 6’4″ @280lbs(?), owns a double barrel 12 gauge, and will be getting out of bed fully naked covered with more body hair than a bear to confront an intruder.

  5. You should only draw your weapon if you have cause to shoot, therefore any delay in applying that deadly force seems foolhardy. I don’t want a bad guy to know that I am armed until he feels that first bullet impact.

    If I ever have to draw(hopefully never) then I will be yellIng something along the lines of “stop or I’ll shoot!” and the assailant will have a short period of time to stop whatever he is doing and leave. If he doesn’t stop or start moving away then he is going to be shot at until he stops or starts moving away.

  6. Location,location,location.

    Question one,why were these guys skating in the ghetto?If I stoll down the west side of Chicago at 2am wearing designer clothes ill bet someone is going to walk up to me with a pistol and some dangerous intent.In those parts of the city they won’t be nice and approach face to face brandishing like above….they’ll just pop you in the head with a .380 at contact distance from the rear.

    Second,if you HAVE to be in the ghetto-and skating doesn’t count-you should be in the frame of mind to *expect* to pull your weapon to survive.As for conducting affairs elsewhere,one should be in condition yellow at all times.The time to draw down isn’t when the perp is walking up gun in hand,but when he is around the corner doin’ the *hard walk* on a beeline for your direction.The skaters in this video saw the scumbag coming and simply stood there waiting to be assaulted.

  7. Jeeze, watching that just reinforces what I already know (or darn well should), do not get into a physical altercation with ANYBODY when you are a true OFWG!

  8. “To quote Fiddler on the Roof, I think I better think it out again. ”

    Nit-picky, I know, but that is the playOliver – a line from the Artful Dodger as he is trying to figure out what to do to disentangle himself from a bad situation.

    Just sayin’

  9. Excellent topic! Gave me something to ponder about for a while. I am (was?) of the school “gun-out-shoot” but I see your point that it might not be appropriate under all circumstances. As to the skater dude video, that was one lucky dude, and I can understand his beating down his opponent after staring down that gun barrel.

  10. I am absolutely amazed at how many people think that a BG will flee just at the sight of a gun. It ain’t necessarily so, and anyone who counts on it deserves whatever they get.

  11. Usually in a DGU, things are not really textbook, and things are not always predictable. Keep on top of situational awareness, be alert, and read the play.

  12. That skateboard boy got himself some stones. The kid has a pretty good right hand, too, and his street cred just went up by about a thousand points.

  13. The hood got off easy, I would have kept going and taken some teeth as souvenirs. He would of had his own skateboard in his rear for life. He didn’t have the balls to pull the trigger, more over he started something he couldn’t get out of and he’s damn lucky someone didn’t pop a cap in his ass as well.

  14. Dude got off light. The edge of a skate deck to the head could well be fatal. And he would have deserved it, since he started with the deadly force.

  15. As it appears that the vast majority of defensive gun uses do not involve firing the gun, being committed to firing when you draw seems a bad idea.

    • Have only had to draw once in that situation. Still dont know how that 5lb trigger didnt touch off that .44 mag, 3 other times, slid the coat back and rested my hand on it, then one other time, lol, burglar got his backside full of bird shot at 12 ft range. He ran really good with all that #9 shot in his arse.

  16. Did no one else hear a shot during the initial struggle? It sounded like the muzzle was in the dirt when the trigger was pulled.

  17. The first thing I thought when I saw this was “Tueller drill”. Obvious, the ‘tard with the gun was interested in intimidation, not defense, but in a defensive situation, you don’t want to be right in someone’s face with your gun. That’s just moronic.

  18. It’s been noted already in the thread that most DGUs don’t include firing the weapon. That being said, one certainly should be ready to do so it the presence of the drawn weapon fails to result in the desired response. Upon being covered with a gun some people run, some shut down and freeze, others will advance; often any of these are despite any command to the contrary. If already under physical attack drawing and firing is the only remaining sensible course of action. However if you avoid condition white this should also be the rarest situation. Keep your distance from anyone who looks suspect, if they bee-line get a grip and prepare to draw. In the end, having your gun out when it wasn’t needed beats not having it out when it was. If you’re only going to draw after having made the decision to shoot, you’re usually late on the draw.

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