Self-Defense Tip: Don’t Rely Entirely on Your Gun

Karen Dolley (courtesy

“The 43-year-old woman said she awoke around midnight to the voice of a man in her house near 10th Street and Emerson Avenue on Indianapolis’ Eastside,” Indiana’s reports. “[Karen Dolley, above] leapt out of bed, turned on the lights and saw him standing in her living room, she said. Then her instincts kicked in. Dolley, standing 5-foot-6, said she immediately attacked, punching him about 10 times and cornering him in her bedroom.” I think this would be a good point to highlight the fact that Ms. Dolley is known as Foul Morguean – in professional roller derby. So . . .

She reached for her gun in a nearby drawer, but she accidentally opened the wrong drawer during the chaos of the moment, so her gun wasn’t there.

She reached for her backup weapon, a Japanese-styled sword called ninjato, which she keeps near her bed. Her intruder crouched in the bedroom as she held him at sword-point until police arrived, she said.

She called 911 and police arrived within two minutes, she said.

OK, two important lessons here . . .

First, keep your firearm in a sterile environment, separate and distinct from all other items. If you put it on your nightside table, make sure the table isn’t cluttered. If you keep it in a drawer, put nothing else in that drawer. A bedside holster works for me. As does a [relatively flimsy and relatively child-proof] “gun locker” with one shotgun contained therein.

Second, remember that a gun is just a tool, one of many that may be available to you at the time of an attack. In fact, your gun may be too far away or taken away or inoperative. Don’t worry, be snappy. Find something, anything to use as a weapon. If you don’t have a weapon, use your hands, fists, elbows, knees, feet, shoulders or head to inflict as much damage on the bad guy as possible. It’s great to train how to do so but don’t let a lack of training inhibit you from an uninhibited attack on your attacker.

“I didn’t think I was getting good blows in but my knuckles are bruised today,” said Dolley, 43, on Friday. “Hitting someone like that, it isn’t like the movies. You’re expecting it to be louder and see people jerk around, but that’s not how it happens in real life.”

To quote Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, or the matter, forme, and power of a commonwealth, ecclesiasticall and civill, life is nasty, brutish and short. Do everything in your power to make sure your defense – which is actually an attack to stop an attacker – is as well.

[h/t DC]


  1. avatar Stuart K says:

    Good for you lady! Holding someone at sword point!

  2. avatar ThomasR says:

    I like that! When it comes to a self defense situation; nasty, brutish and short it is.

  3. avatar Charlie says:

    I heard that she was an SCA fighter, not roller derby, but it turns out that she’s both!. And no, she probably doesn’t need to work on her aggression. lol

  4. avatar Taylor TX says:

    Only time Ive ever seen a grown woman literally whoop a grown man’s ass was at a roller derby after party, you would think he took into account what she does in her spare time before continuing to hit on her after being shot down.

    Glad Karen wound up on top, major cool points on the sword.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      I watched a co-ed roller derby match last week, and the women owned the track. Toughness, balance, leverage, and timing — they were sending dudes literally twice their size flying. It’s not always about raw strength (especially when you’re on wheels). Cross a derby dame, and you could get in over your head real quick.

  5. avatar Independent George says:

    “Rincewind fought as he always fought, without skill or fairness or tactics but with a great deal of whirlwind effort. The strategy was to prevent an opponent from getting enough time to realize that in fact Rincewind wasn’t a very good or strong fighter, and it often worked.”

    Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      This is it right here. Most attackers would be so overwhelmed by a sudden onslaught that their first instinct would be to yield the day. In the movies, your opponent would always know king fu and beat you handily, but that’s much less likely in the real world.

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    Well, hello Dolley. You are one seriously badass lady!

    1. Not to be a Debbie Downer here but I would say she was lucky dude wasn’t armed.
      Actually, I would say she royally effed up. She started in the bedroom and left unarmed to confront the intruder. She cased him back into the bedroom where he had access to the sword.
      What happened to “distance is your friend”?
      She was in her room with weapons choices yet stupidly chose to charge the man sans sword. She would have had time to carefully open the correct drawer to get fat.
      If what she did was her “instinct taking over”, she needs to train to get some new instincts.
      Glad it worked out this time but there is so much more to learn from this than just “don’t rely on your gun”.

    2. Not to be a Debbie Downer here but I would say she was lucky dude wasn’t armed.
      Actually, I would say she royally effed up. She started in the bedroom and left unarmed to confront the intruder. She cased him back into the bedroom where he had access to the sword.
      What happened to “distance is your friend”?
      She was in her room with weapons choices yet stupidly chose to charge the man sans sword. She would have had time to carefully open the correct drawer to get fat.
      If what she did was her “instinct taking over”, she needs to train to get some new instincts.
      Glad it worked out this time but there is so much more to learn from this than just “don’t rely on your gun”.

  7. avatar Aaron says:

    Ancient religions and hokey weapons are no match for a good blaster, kid.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      +1 for the Star Wars quote.

    2. avatar Phil LA says:

      An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.

  8. avatar Detroit Medic says:

    Train for unarmed combat.

    There is an MMA gym on every corner now.

    Learn the basics, then buy the blue gun version of your carry gun and spar while wearing it.

    Watch your perspective change.

    1. avatar Joe says:

      That isn’t the only benefit. This OFWG dropped 30 lbs over the course of a year and I’m whole lot stronger than I used to be. A little MMA is a good thing if you find a decent gym.

  9. avatar M J Johnson says:

    Go on with your bad self, Karen.

  10. avatar Aerindel says:

    Gotta love the SCA

  11. avatar actionphysicalman says:

    I think we know what Gunney Highway would say she did:-)

  12. avatar Noishkel says:

    Well queue the ‘progressive’ retards out there that’ll try and use this example of why ‘NO ONE EVER NEEDS A GUN!!1’. As if one example of where it works justifies a lifetime of BS.

  13. avatar Nate says:

    Well I’m not exactly huge (5’11 180lbs) but I’d like to think I could get the drop on someone inexperienced, I used to do a lot of boxing and that in combination with generally being pissed off someone is in my house and trying to hurt someone I care about or myself I think I’ll do fine. I also keep an ASP baton that I’m pretty good with, from some practice with it there is no way in hell I ever want to get hit specifically with an ASP, that thing can easily shatter bone. From there I usually keep a couple of knives and then I’ve got a rifle close by.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      I used to box and I was a successful street fighter. Then I clocked a guy in Key West and suffered (and I do mean suffered) a comminuted fracture of my fifth metacarpal. No more fighting for me. Now I’d just rather shoot the bastard.

      1. avatar Nate says:

        Yeah I don’t plan to go fist to fist if I can go with some better….I fractured by right hand like 4 years ago and have some residual nerve damage, luckily I’m left handled (although I shoot a rifle righty and a pistol lefty or righty but usually lefty), I can still throw a good punch but its not nearly as comfortable. Definitely not a pro but my 1 on 1 coach was a pro and a mean SOB. To be honest with all the MMA crap going around you have to be careful, although I could probably take down a couple of guys from what I learned when working with my PD in highschool, had one experienced cop with napoleon syndrome (great guy!) and he always showed us a variety of take downs and always emphasized that with MMA + Wrestling common now a fight can easily not end well for you. Never get on the ground with a wrestler! We did some sparring and I saw a couple of wrestlers outdo guys that were bigger than them. Nothing like “fighting” a LEO as part of training for them! A few buddies bruised a few ego’s during training where the sworn personnel needed “targets”. I just wish my state let me carry a baton concealed, I’d love to get some real training with my ASP beyond basic foot work but will probably hold off until I’m a LEO and maybe get someone else to foot the bill! Maybe I should grab my old cane I used, I know Massad Ayoob is an advocate of that, you can get canes real similar to a PR-24 side handle baton. When I had a foot problem I used a cane to loosen the weight but 65% of the reason I had it was it could come in handy as a make shift baton.

    2. avatar CarlosT says:

      I was a pretty good wrestler in high school. Then my shoulder basically self-destructed after that, and I dislocated it 14 times over a dozen years, almost all of which required trips to the emergency room for treatment. It’s been surgically repaired since then, but I’m not at all convinced it would hold up to any sort of fight. The gun is definitely Plan A.

    3. avatar Phil LA says:

      I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.

  14. avatar Cknarf says:

    Fists not working? Grab a gun. Can’t find a gun? Grab a MOTHERFUCKING SWORD.

    There goes the coolest thing I’ve read all day.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      In my home, I have a pistol, a shotgun, a tactical tomahawk and a BFK available at all times. But no sword.

      1. avatar Geoff PR" says:

        “In my home, I have a pistol, a shotgun, a tactical tomahawk and a BFK available at all times.”


        Blonde Female Kickboxer?

      2. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        I’ve got a Masai tribal spear on the wall. It’s got some good reach…

        1. avatar Marc says:

          Burger F-ing King

    2. avatar tmm says:

      I now have to get a sword and name her ninjato

  15. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    I saw this badazz on the evening snooze. No mention of her having a gun(almost like that was on purpose)…Yeah I wish I could do all that crap. Back in the day I could throw guys across a room . That day is over. I’ve joined the Ralph brigade.

    1. avatar Geoff PR" says:

      “I’ve joined the Ralph brigade.”

      You poor bastard…

      You’ll be needing this then:|Metamucil+-+General&utm_content=spiBJ2MxA|dc_73638179782_e_metamucil&gclid=CPLS5drWvsgCFUYWHwodoToANQ#


      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        That may be true, but membership in the Ralph brigade also comes with a couple bottles of really good scotch.

        Fair trade.

  16. avatar Accur81 says:

    That lady is definitely badass.

    While I generally agree with MMA / Force on Force / Knife / Sword / Weightlifting training regimens, that isn’t always feasible or possible. Some folks are too old, have disabilities, or are just limited on time and money. I train more with weapons than without, so I’d definitely prefer to fight with a weapon.

  17. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Right now, I’d just have to shoot the bastard.
    Just had a torn rotator cuff repaired. This is some painful crap.

    1. I agree. The order of things are wrong in this story. Go to the gun first, failure, go to the sword or fight with whatever you have. I have a rifle, bedside, pistol on nightstand with tritium night sights facing me, and a 30″ maple LL baseball bat and enough bat speed to break something no matter where on the body it hits.
      Why would I leave all that sitting there to go nano a nano with someone in another room?

  18. avatar FedUp says:

    When they mentioned her height, I knew I had to link this, but she’s clearly not 215# or blond:

  19. avatar Jon says:

    One of the things that people who “preppers’ should consider first…get your butt into shape. Be able to run, be able to move, be able to not eat for a extended time. Obese, out of shape..nothing but canon fodder.

    Not only being in somewhat decent condition will help you then but like this lady helps when the time comes. If she had been a obese slug well would of just been another statistic in the news.

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      “Not eat for an extended time”
      Exactly what is “extended” time? Anything over 1/2 hour, and you can count me out!

      1. The skinny guys die off first in a starvation scenario.

    2. avatar Nate says:

      May sound lame but I play MILSIM airsoft, a lot of guys I play with are preppers, Military and Law Enforcement. A nice 8 hour game non-stop can really show who’s got too much crap on and who’s in good shape. Never wore rifle plates but I keep soft armor in my PC since it fits better that way. I’ve done a 2 day event in one of my PC’s + a backpack full of gear, great training, practice and learning experience…especially when you work with combat veterans who are willing to teach. Oh and its real fun when you occasionally get to kick some SWAT Deputy’s ass who was full of himself 😀

  20. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    My cousin is married to an alumna of the Naptown Roller Girls. They are some tough ladies. Great story. I’m glad the guy picked the wrong house.

  21. avatar DerryM says:

    Saw an interview with Ms. Dolley last night. She’s quite a character, and seems to have a very level head about self-defense. She thinks the intruder was very “high” and kind of pathetic. She expressed her hope he would straighten his life out and be a better person after this :”humiliation”. I don’t think it had to do with her being a woman who subdued him, but more with him cowering and begging her not to hurt him after she cornered him in the bedroom with the sword.
    Your points about storing your night table gun in a clear environment, having alternative weapons and being aggressive towards an intruder are good advice, particularly the advice to be aggressive. Just because we call it a “Defensive Gun Use” does not preclude a good offense being being your first choice for self-defense within your home.

  22. avatar RockThisTown says:

    Moms Demand Action issued a statement: “While we are glad Ms. Dolley wasn’t hurt, we prefer that she be a victim. What Ms. Dolley should have done is cowered in fear, given the intruder what he wants, and prayed that he didn’t kill her, so she could join our cause with elevated victimhood status. Swords should be removed from the home, and highly regulated with background checks, waiting periods, quantity purchasing limits and elimination of the sword-show loophole.”

  23. avatar Vitsaus says:

    Full sized edged weapons are underestimated in defensive use. I’d be seriously worried about some one coming at me with a halberd, for example.

  24. avatar rick3 says:

    Wonder if using my 6 ft boar spear on a home invader would sway the jury either “for or against” me in an SD situation…”Yes, your honor, I was so surprised at the attack, that I just grabbed the first thing that was available”.

  25. avatar 2maik7 says:

    Wow, would not expect anyone on this site to quote Thomas Hobbes. A man that argued heavily for a very strong government, not just a strong government but a strong and unaccountable sovereign. Of course he had points on other issues but I think I would have ended the post with a quote from Locke instead.

  26. avatar John Franco says:

    What a woman!!! Talk about quick thinking and incredible improvising under pressure. Good for her.

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