Stopping by the Cold Steel booth at the NRAAM, I ran into a cat donning what looked like a motocross outfit. Armored breastplate, shin and forearm protectors, armored elbows, he looked like he was gearing up for a futuristic round of Kenpo. Since I had the 21 foot rule on my mind, I took the opportunity to a man who is an expert on bringing a knife to a gunfight.
Jason Heck is Division 1 rated in Olympic fencing. He is getting ready to take a beating from his boss, the owner of Cold Steel.
“I used to be in law enforcement, and for us the “21 foot” rule was a training aid. Somehow it made its way into the courts as some kind of standard for where a reasonable act of self defense happend” Jason explained.
“Yeah” I reply “I interpret it that if I shoot someone further out that 21 feet, I am looking at a murder charge, not a pass on self defense.” God forbid I should ever have to shoot someone.
Shaking his head, Jason continued “That’s how it has become to be understood, but it’s really intended to be a way to explain the bubble of awareness you should maintain.”
Jason points to two bearded men, staring at their smart phones. “If I wanted to attack those guys, I could be 100 feet away and it would not matter. They are not paying attention.”
“So the idea is to mentally prepare yourself to manage a 21 foot radius of awareness around you, so you can be aware of potential threats.”
Jason agreed. “We were instructing two new police recruits, and sent them in looking for a 6 foot tall suspect who is ‘drunk and disorderly’. We dressed the suspect in a bright red shirt.”
“The recruits walked into the area, and approached the guy in the red shirt ‘Sir, can we speak with you please’ and all that. Well, I was in the room, and I am over 6 foot tall. I ran up to them and screamed at them, getting close enough to hurt them. On the street, you really have to be aware – I would even say your threat radius should be 28 feet, nearly 10 yards, just to be safe.”