A firearm is a force equalizer. A frail old man with a gun can defend himself against a large, strong assailant with the simple squeeze of a trigger. Provided the elderly gentleman has a gun to hand, brings it to bear in time, shoots his attacker in the right place and doesn’t get assaulted while the bad guy is experiencing neurological failure, cardiac arrest, suffocation, exsanguination or some other form of lead poisoning. Yes, there is that. A gun is no guarantee that you will prevail in an attack. But it’s better to have one than not, right? Well . . .

Maybe.

First, let me say this: I completely reject the antis’ assertion that Americans are safer going through life unarmed than tooled-up. This incessant anti-gun agitprop relies heavily on studies that incorporate firearms-related suicide and domestic abuse homicides. The former is only tangentially related to firearms ownership (“gun free” Japan has a higher suicide rate) and the latter is misleading (domestic abuse homicide victims are not usually killed with their own gun).

What’s more, the studies invariably discount or ignore tens of thousands of successful defensive gun uses, a significant percentage of which go unreported. When seen in its proper perspective, when you balance life ending with life saving, gun ownership is not only safe, it’s effective.

But you knew that. And you don’t really care about the stats. When you’re facing the prospect of death or grievous bodily harm – as we all might given the nature of man – you want to have a gun with which to defend yourself, thank you very much. The right to keep and bear arms for personal defense is a natural and civil right. No moral person can deny it.

That said, it’s certainly true that having a gun can enable strategic failures. If you draw, stand and deliver when you should be escaping or evading you might be making the wrong choice – and pay the ultimate price for your mistake. By the same token, the bad guy may take your firearm away and use it against you, as above.

To avoid engaging in a gunfight when you can escape, avoid or evade an attack, make sure it’s Job One. As much as possible, take firearms training that offers a “no shoot” response to a life-or-death scenario. Force-on-force training with Simunitions or Airsoft is often excellent in that regard. Many live-fire instructors include it as well. Ask for it.

Meanwhile and in any case, weapons retention should be a strategic priority. Here are common sense steps to make it so:

– Maintain situational awareness. The sooner you recognize a threat the easier it is to avoid it entirely. The bad guys can’t take your gun away from you if you’re not there.

– Distance is your friend. If you sense a threat put as much distance between it (the potential bad guy or guys) and yourself as you can as soon as you can. If you’re in doubt, if you’re not sure if the person approaching you is friend or foe, do it anyway.

– Don’t draw your gun if you don’t have enough time/distance to use it effectively (e.g. if you have children in tow preventing a quick draw). In many cases, it’s better to strike the bad guy first (any way you can) then draw your weapon. Take some kind of martial arts class to learn how to hurt an attacker (Krav Maga is my fave).

– Blade your stance as soon as possible. Put the gun further away from the potential perp’s reach

– If you’re open carrying, use a retention holster.

– Block! If you sense a threat, try to put something between you and the potential bad guy or guys. Cars and trees are awesome blockers. You’d be amazed how easy it is to run around a solid object to avoid physical contact when your adrenalin’s flowing. (If it worked for The Three Stooges, it’ll work for you.)

– Move and shoot! Distance doesn’t stop being your friend when you draw your gun. As Rob Pincus will tell you, learning how to run while shooting backwards accurately is a priority one skill.

You may have noticed that all of the above advice (cribbed mercilessly from various gun gurus) relates more to a handgun defense than a scattergun. In the video above, the perp took control of the homeowner’s shotgun. Long guns create specific challenges for weapons retention because . . . wait for it . . . they’re longer. It’s easier for a bad guy to grab the barrel, take control of the gun and kill you with it. A few thoughts:

Don’t move towards an unseen bad guy if you can help it. Assume a defensive position and wait for them to come to you. In case you don’t have a choice, learn how to bring a long gun around a corner (“pie” the room and/or lower the gun when you go through the door). Don’t forget you can shoot the bad guy off the end of your gun.

In short, don’t get caught up in the idea that a gun gives you an advantage in a self-defense scenario. It might, it probably will, but thinking so could get you killed. Especially if you make it easy for your attacker to take your gun away from you.

41 Responses to Self Defense Tip: Keep Your Friends Close, Your Gun Closer

  1. “Long guns create specific challenges for weapons retention because . . . wait for it . . . they’re longer. It’s easier for a bad guy to grab the barrel, take control of the gun and kill you with it.”

    Another great argument for SBRs and SBSs coming off NFA …its for the children, after all.

    • While an assailant can gain more leverage on a longarm, they’re not particularly likely to be able to get it away if someone’s using a sling. The issue is more maneuvering a larger gun in a tight space, but I agree that SBRs and shotguns shouldn’t be on the NFA.

      • The guy was shot out-of-doors at night near the front edge of his property. I don’t see how the defensives instructions in the post relate to those facts. Light, visibility, holding the shotgun ready to go save only for final aiming, all those are important. Clearing what is behind you before you advance is important, for obvious reasons.

        Above all, a man’s got to know his limitations. Limitations in training, in firearms manipulation, in state of mind (alcohol, sleeping pills).

      • If they know how the Quick Detach works, then all they have to do is push the button.

        Of course, if they’re that close they could also just use the sling to bear you to the ground – unless you use the quick detach to get out of it.

        I don’t think a patrol sling is a particularly great retention device. And I can think of ways it can be used against you.

  2. Really Krav Maga? Didnt know you were into that, I saw some of the stuff the instructors do to attackers: its brutal(efficient). Eye gouges, groin kicks, ankle stomps…the person on the receiving end is not going to be a happy camper.

    • Krav Maga is definitely very much centered around “speed, surprise, and violence of action” but they don’t have the market cornered. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but in the Tao of Jeet Kune Do Bruce Lee says something along the lines of “It’s a fight. As long as the other person can get up, he can hurt you. Kick him in the stomach, in the groin, wherever necessary to stop the fight.”

      • Texas Wing – Chun teaches us to pull on the testicles of your attacker like you are starting a lawn mower.

        Eye gouging, throat strikes, knee and ankle stomping, bone breaking…..It’s a fight…If you’re an adult and in one, you may as well assume that the other guy will try to kill you. There aren’t rules unless you are in a cage / ring.

        • Yeah I remember that from doing wushu. Chinese martial arts may look pretty when running through the forms, but they’re pretty brutal if you actually understand what’s going on.

        • My idea of a fair fight is clubbing baby seals. In real life, that translates to when you have to fight, fight dirty. But, then fight you are guaranteed to win is the one you don’t have. Don’t go looking for trouble and leave at the first sign of.

    • I believe you have all missed the part of the post that described the victim as “an elderly gentleman.”

      Krav Maga would have been of little utility for him or many others with physical limitations, hence the presence of the firearm.

      As for coming around the corner with the barrel down rather than straight ahead – YES! Even if he surprises you and tries to grab the gun you can put a load of buck or birdshot in his knee or foot. Might change the odds.

      • The post said ‘elderly gentleman’ but the video showed otherwise.

        As for long guns for home defense: You’re supposed to have a handgun to back it up, and back it up fast, in case of a jam, gun grab, or need to use both hands. Bright light is a must. A must. This victim was shot out of doors at night. Don’t investigate without a very bright flashlight actively used. If people didn’t get this from Zimmerman’s debacle, I’m amazed.

        Sad when this happens.

  3. Good advice. Having a gun can change your odds, too many people get into situations they wouldn’t unarmed or don’t take a chance to get out of them because they feel the talisman of the kel-tec (or whatever) that they think will protect them.

  4. When talking about long guns, I once heard Clint from Thunder Ranch say” if he grabs my barrel, he’s bought himself an e-ticket ride”.

  5. Blade your stance as soon as possible. Put the gun further away from the potential perp’s reach

    I’m confused. With a hand gun, if you blade up with the shooting side forward, the gun will be closer to the BG. If you blade up with the shooting side to the rear, you then may have to shoot across your own body.

    A compressed high ready would seem to be the way to go. No?

      • A quick check tells me that “high ready” with a shotgun is defined in various ways by different instructional schools. My idea of high ready is much closer to int’l skeet’s ready position, really.

        Whatever the ready position, it won’t matter if the holder of the gun allows a threat to blind side him. The simplest way to screw up a search for a threat is to focus on the first one seen, letting an accomplice jump the search from behind.

  6. If I was being threatened by a dude with a knife, or other instrument of death, and the law was clearly on my side, I would take pleasure in eliminating said attacker, even if I could avoid the threat. Reason being, If you exit the problem, you are just leaving it for the next poor guy, who may not be armed, and may be seriously hurt or killed.
    People like this have no place in society, It wouldn’t bother me one bit to send some of these dudes to the forever hot place.

    • While I generally agree, from a philosophical standpoint, simply standing and delivering well-deserved justice may not be the best strategy.

      IMO, given the opportunity, fire two or three and move away. Still a threat, fire and move again. At the very least you will be able to claim in your defense that you were trying to depart. At the very best you will get some telling hits. He might survive, he might die, that part is not realistically your choice. Nor is getting the rest of your life fvcked if you get jammed up in the legal system. At some point all the people down-stream have to take responsibility for their own safety.

  7. The way I think when shooting on the move is going forward is heel- toe. Backwards is toe heel.
    If in need to shoot while moving left or right I pointy feet in the direction and turn my torso to engage.
    Hope this helps. The way I practice is in my house, seeing as it’s fairly close quarters.

  8. It does make point to mention that if your weapon is grabbed move with the motion of the grab and use the opponents energy to swing the weapon away from grasp.

    Also, with a long gun, if an opponent grabs the firearm and you have room to do so, step backwards kneel or crouch, most often this will put your opponent on your muzzle, from there… blast away.

    Source: Gunsite

  9. “-Move and shoot! Distance doesn’t stop being your friend when you draw your gun. As Rob Pincus will tell you, learning how to run while shooting backwards accurately is a priority one skill.”

    I do believe you meant “…learning how to RUN BACKWARDS

  10. “-Move and shoot! Distance doesn’t stop being your friend when you draw your gun. As Rob Pincus will tell you, learning how to run while shooting backwards accurately is a priority one skill.”

    I do believe you meant “…learning how to RUN BACKWARDS while SHOOTING…”

    Unless Mr. Pinkus is a proponent of shooting over your shoulder as you flee.

  11. Jeet Kune Do is Pure Self Defense for most practitioners. Becoming a quite significantly “self defense only” martial art fighting system, and incredibly serious in nature, it doesn’t suit every person! It really is a bit as well critical in nature for little ones, unless the curriculum is significantly modified and restructured to suit kids. I have located that generally a little something terrible must occur to someone until they comprehend a must learn Jeet Kune Do, the martial art practiced and taught by Bruce Lee.

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