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“The police sergeant who saved himself from being shot by jamming his finger in a goon’s gun said Sunday that he felt lucky to be alive,” reports. Roger that. “[Sgt. Michael] Miller and his partner were patting down a man they pulled over in a speeding car in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, about 4 a.m. Saturday when Miller felt a gun in the man’s pants.” Apparently the suspect wasn’t happy to see him . . .

The suspect whipped out his gun as Miller was attempting to handcuff him. Miller wedged his finger between the hammer and cylinder as the gunman tried to fire the loaded weapon. Miller said he felt “a real sharp burning pain” in his finger. The bone in his finger split at the tip, doctors later told him. ‘Your adrenaline is eating away your energy,’ Miller told the AP. ‘I felt like I ran a mile. It was then I realized the enormity of what had happened.’

As the cop sitting next to me at the bar knocking back Knob Creek whiskey told me last night (with a scary glower), it’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback. Sgt. Miller survived a deadly encounter. Period. The good guy won. Period. These are not instructions for a telegraph operator. Exclamation point.

But it is true that that bad guys tend to telegraph their intentions, through body language, language and their tendency to carry weapons with which they can f you up. Even so, there may not be enough time between the realization that someone (or a group of someones) are about to attack you and the attack to do much of anything. But as soon as you DO have that uh-oh moment, you need to do something.

As you’re not a Bed Sty cop cruising the streets of the city at 4am shaking down protecting the populace from marauding drug dealers, you have no obligation to “do” anything about a bad guy— save not get killed or hurt by him, her or them. So running is always option 1. If it’s available.

Not all attacks occur in that Still Crazy After All These Years early morn dead zone, or in the middle of Wide Open Spaces. You may not be alone when the bad stuff goes down; you might have friends or family with you at zero hour. You may be facing fit felons; people who can chase you down and shoot you like a dog (not that dogs are great shots).

In short, escape is not always a viable option. If you can’t escape, you’re going to have to fight. The sooner you make that realization the better. And at that point, you have a choice. The biggest choice of your life.

Option 1: Defend!

Assume a defensive position while move towards or positioning yourself behind cover or concealment (where possible) and removing your carry gun. Point it at the bad guy or guys and give them a chance to stop their attack. If you have the time, a verbal command like STOP! wouldn’t go amiss.

There is anecdotal evidence that aiming the business end of a handgun at an attacker or attackers tends to make them call it a day. Statistically, well, one can hardly imagine a time when a human being is less interested in statistical data than when they’re in the middle of potentially deadly attack. Either the bad guys will stop or they won’t.

If they do, it’s time for the great escape. If they don’t, if imminence is imminent, you’re good to go. Let slip the dogs of war. Bon chance mon ami. Don’t forget to call 911, STFU and speed dial your lawyer.

Option 2: Attack!

As gun guru Adam Deciccio says, speed, surprise and violence of action baby (I think he said baby). Why give the bad guys a heads-up that you’re not going to go quietly into that long good night (or a hospital bed)? Why give them thinking time? Attack!

Cover? We don’t need no stinking cover! The closer you get to a target the easier it is to shoot what you’re aiming at. Get up close and personal as quickly as possible and deliver a telling ballistic blow. As many as needed to stop the threat.

Disclaimer (again): the attacker or attackers must have the ability to hurt or kill you. They must have the opportunity to do so (i.e. it’s got to be a credible threat). And you must be in immediate danger of death or grievous bodily harm. If it’s one, two, three green light, remember: fortune favors the brave.


Option Three: Attack and defend

If you “suddenly” find yourself in a life or death situation with a bad guy or bad guys at bad breath distance, do everything all at once. Krav Maga! Attack AND defend at the same time. Nothing helps de-focus an attacker’s mind (disrupting their OODA loop) more than a violent counter-attack.

Withdraw your gun with one hand and attack with the other hand (or elbow, knee, foot or head). Shoot with one hand as you defend with the other. Whatever. Give it all you’ve got as soon as you can. As Emile Chartier said, nothing is more dangerous as a plan when it’s the only one you have. (OK he said “idea”. Same difference.)

Inserting your finger between the firing pin and the cartridge of a revolver during a life-or-death struggle is not what I call a great plan. I’m sure it wasn’t his first plan. And it was “a” plan. Which is better than no plan. Besides, you want to tell the cop what he did was dumb?

No matter what you do in a gunfight, don’t forget option three: a good defense is a good offense is a good defense is a good offense. If you can get some basic hands skill training, that would probably be more useful for creating that option than extra range time. Just sayin’

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  1. The abilit to control the bad guys weapon hand for just a second gives yiu valuable time to draw and fire while reducing your chances of being fired upon at very close range. If a situation has gone bad and the BG already has a handgun in play it definitely is more advised than playing Quickdraw McGraw on someone who isn’t participating in that portion of the game anymore. Everyone is not a martial artist or suicidal-brave enough to physically battle a BG but you are not always given a choice. The best defense is a good offense and that can be your best chance.

    If he’s produced a weapon and is bringing it to bear the best physical attack is usually step in, pivot and present one side to him and get hole of his arm just at or behind the wrist and get it in front of you with one hand. While pulling him to you, strike his face and neck with your free hand. This can dislodge the weapon from his hand or stun him long enough to let you draw your weapon. Either that or try for cover or draw first. Those are the essential options. You can’t predict which is best for the situation you may run across but they remain viable if you’re physically able and willing to attempt survival.

  2. Miller wedged his finger between the hammer and cylinder

    Sure he did, right after he passed through the eye of a needle. What’s interesting to me is that his finger ended up in a good place. Did he actually try to do that? I kinda doubt it.

  3. Back in the 70’s, one of the Manson freaks tried to kill Jerry Ford with (I think) a 1911.

    A Secret Service agent grabbed the gun and the webbing between his thumb and forefinger wound up between the hammer and the back of the slide just before she pulled the trigger.

    Never underestimate the power of dumb luck.

  4. If he’s already drawing a gun don’t try to turn it into a shootout, what you have to do is stop him from shooting you, preferably by keeping him from deploying the gun. You won’t beat him to the draw, and having two people tied for dead is not an ideal outcome in your gun fight in a phone booth.

    The two places to be against a guy with a gun are very close and very far. So get very close if you can’t get very far. If you think anyone is trying to deploy a weapon against you and you are close enough to reach him you need to hit him as fast and as hard as you can and to keep doing it until he stops being a a threat.

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