Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

On self-defense.

Tamara expresses her dismay with the Illinois State Police's take on what a woman should do in the instance of an attack.

She's right, of course, that puking on your assailant is not only of questionable efficacy, it's completely self-demeaning. Now there's a concept for you-- survival without giving up your dignity.

Being raped or murdered is pretty undignified, and I hope that my friend Tam will even lower herself to such indignities as puking to avoid them, should, you know, her pistol go to slidelock and her BUG jam and... well, whatever. It's just another tool in your box. You don't have to use it, but it's nice to have should you need to.

So, at the risk of looking sexist, the following appears to be addressed at women. It's completely applicable to men, too, if they'll listen.

It's a tired old saw that you should have a good idea of your surroundings, so that no one can ever attack you by surprise in the first place. It's quoted so much, we find ourselves nodding and responding before the sayers are even done spouting off about tactical awareness. Yes, we're aware. Yes, we watch behind us. Yes, we see who just walked through doors, parked, ... yadda yadda. But the reason folks say it is because it's frickin' true. If you have an idea that you're being stalked, you can make some incredibly important decisions in your favor.

You can call someone. Got a cell phone? No? GET one. No money for service? Not a problem. Everybody and their dog has their old worn-out model and charger, and 911 calls don't require you to pay for service. If someone is approaching you, and they make you nervous, dial 911Send, and start talking. Even before the operator answers, start talking. No one wants to attack a person that's on the phone and can tell of his wherabouts. He'll wait. When the operator comes on, give your location and demand help before your give the details. Note: Older phones are harder to triangulate position on. Try to give your location, even if you have to drop the phone to yell it.

Are you scared of looking silly? Let me tell you this as a cop: I have NO problem answering a call for help and finding out that the lady in question over-reacted. That's my job. Let me prioritize. Trust me-- that's the kind of call I got into this business to answer.

Next, consider-- what about running? Are you afraid that he'll chase you? Going back to that whole situational awareness issue, the earlier you see him, the better chance you'll have of running away. Remember, you don't have to outrun him-- you just have to make it to an area where he wouldn't risk attacking you.

And on that point: I used to walk a fellow student to her car after math class every night. We discussed the concept of what she would do if an armed attacker confronted her. She spent a lot of time on campus, where weapons like guns and some knives and all clubs represented felonies to carry. She also said that she was non-violent. "That's fine. There are ways to deal with attacks that are pretty non-violent," I started. . . And then she parroted off to me the things she had been told: how she was supposed to be non-confrontational. Give him what he wants. Tell him that she wasn't going to fight him. Make herself human to him... blah blah blah. You know what the main problem with all this was? She was talking like she was going to be in the same city block with him. This young lady was in her mid-twenties, and a dance student. She could have outrun me like a deer can outrun a bull. Why in Gawd's name would she consider submitting to anyone? But the guy would be armed! With a gun! Oh, yikes. Um, here's some news for you: Most people who threaten with guns don't know how to shoot them very well. I promise you, if you run from your assailant in a criss-crossing pattern (not straight away!), and he's armed with a handgun, not one bullet in 10 will find you. And that 10th bullet? Well, I'll tell you a little secret: Handguns are hard to kill with. Handgun rounds are inherently ineffective except for center hits. KEEP RUNNING.

Where do you run to? Well, my friend told me that she would run for the best, deepest, darkest cover possible. NO! The things attackers hate most are bright lights, open spaces, and crowds. They also hate noise, which means that they're most likely willing to do anything not to shoot that gun. But if they have to, make 'em chase you toward a crowd to do it.

Once a big lummox like myself has his hands on you, a lot of your most effective options go away. Don't let him touch you. If he grabs you, don't let him continue to have a grip on you. Break it by whatever means you can, and run like a striped-arsed ape.

SCREAMING. Make a really, really loud nuisance of yourself. "Get away from me!" and "I'm being attacked!" and "This man is hurting me!" are good ones to bring the cavalry. It also makes him want to be somewhere else.

Something that I'm really impressed with, and which is legal to carry in most states (Texas included) is the Taser. They've got a special one for non-cops now, that looks quite purse-or-pocket-friendly. I'm seriously thinking about buying one for my wife. Expensive? Yep. But if we're talking about something that may save the life of a person who won't or can't carry lethal force, they're a pretty interesting option. Trust me-- they knock me down.

Mace and pepper spray have their uses, but mostly in the contexts security and law enforcement, in my opinion. The cross-contamination issue is considerable-- I would estimate that, in my own experience, observations, and discussions with fellow cops and bretheren in the jails, that good guys take a hit about 3 times out of 5 uses of pepper spray. Add to that the fact that it's slow to incapacitate, if it ever does, and you have a questionable weapon. I still carry it... in my patrol bag.

Impact weapons like batons, kubatons, etc require training. They also can be regulated, sometimes to silly degrees. In Texas, you can get a Concealed Hangun License and carry all over town with very few exceptions, but if you're caught walking around with the ASP baton that I carry on duty, you can be charged with Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon. You can carry a shotgun, but not a spear. You can carry a rifle, but not a sword. Yes, I know that the laws are silly. But don't expect that to save you from the ride, or even the rap, for that matter.

Knives are damned useful. Every adult should carry some kind of knife. I do. My wife does. My mother does. My girls will, when of an age and not in public school. They're also extremely difficult weapons to wield effectively without drawing your own blood. Hey, if a lockback is all you have when the threat comes to you, do what needs doing. But understand that it's good to consider the issue before you ever have to. Brandishing a little knife may just get you into exactly the struggle you don't want, or it could make the narsty fellow leave. Waiting to make a sly fast cut with the hidden knife might be effective, or it might not. I'm kind of lukewarm on knives as self-defense weapons.

Feet and hands are always on you. You can deliver the hardest blows with your feet, and the most accurate blows with your hands. Understand that fair hits are a ridiculous concept. If I, a 6'5" 270 lb 35 year-old man am attacking you and you're under 6'0" tall and under 200 lbs, we're not talking about a very fair fight. Trust me-- I know that lots of trained people can throw me over the horizon, but on the average, physics says that I've got an edge. Don't fight fair! My eyes are soft spots-- make them go away. (Got a pen?) My throat is unprotected-- crush it. My cojones are right there for a good high kick or swift knee, if you're too close-- drive 'em through the uprights. It takes very little training at all to learn how to kick my knee or the common peroneal pressure point to make my leg fold up under me. Use your claws. Use your teeth, particularly on hands and face and neck. Bite something off, spit it out, and bite some more.

While we're on the subject of fighting back-- what kind of lethal force do you have? Gun in the trunk? Not much good, is it? Gun in the glovebox? Mmmmmaybe. If you realize that you're being carjacked before they're in the car. Gun on your person? Properly carried, this is ideal, if you're trained. Don't assume that ownership equals competency; get some range time with a qualified instructor.

If you're in a car, what would possess you to get out when threatened? You're in a two-ton weapon that you control-- get to weilding it!

Remember that you are at least 100 lbs of clawing, hitting, screaming, running, ranting, biting, kicking, shoving, cutting, shooting, squirting, slashing, spitting, and yes, even puking, rage, whom some poor bastard has made the mistake of trying to pick on.

Who the hell does he think he is?
Don't submit. Ever.

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At Tuesday, April 10, 2007 8:01:00 AM, Blogger HollyB said...

Very good advice! And don't forget... ears can be torn very easily,just grab a hunk of the top and pull towards you and down at the same time, like tearing a piece of paper out of a note book.
I've been told a fist slammed down on a collar bone will break it. Also, if you're being choked by someone facing you, before panicking, try turning your head to the side to breathe, while continuing to bite and kick and scratch, of course.

At Tuesday, April 10, 2007 9:00:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

very good points.

I live in Illinois where CCW is illegal. Other strategies have to be employed and you covered some of them very well.

At Tuesday, April 10, 2007 9:44:00 AM, Blogger Tam said...

As PDB put it so eloquently: "I would rather be armed with a pointy stick and a furious rage than a death ray and a rabbit's timidity."


At Tuesday, April 10, 2007 3:42:00 PM, Blogger J.R.Shirley said...

Tasers make even tough guys do this:

And then, you're left with this:

At Tuesday, April 10, 2007 7:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tasers do that -- if both probes of the single shot within them actually hits the target.

Can't get someone to the range to practice shooting a handgun, at a dime a bullet. What are the odds that people are going to practice accurate shooting at $20/shot?

At Tuesday, April 10, 2007 9:38:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Anonymous, here's the thing about modern tasers with regard to self-defense:

Got only one barb in him? Not a problem- he's advancing on you, right? Drive-stun him. See, all you need are two points of contact, and there are two on the taser (like a simple stun gun.). Push that taser into your advancing adversary, and you create a second, and even a third point of contact. Cool part is, the wider apart the contacts are on a guy, the harder the shock hits him. So if you get one barb in the leg and the other misses, but you drive-stun his body, you get nice separation, and heap big results.

With regard to aiming, I have to say that the laser device is golden. The barbs don't fly parallel to each other (except is the long range cop versions)-- they're offset by a few degrees for that needed separation. Shots at much over 10 feet aren't really recomended. Put the laser dot on the guy, and squeeze the trigger. I've personally seen a jailer corporal make a first time, first shot hit on a guy running around his holding cell like a monkey on meth. The guy went from combative and running to... quivering floor meat.

Holly-- I'm not so big on the collarbone strike-- it would take a mighty lucky, mighty hard strike for most women to break my collarbone, or, say, my brother's. If you've got the reach and the swing to do that (I.S.P. is quite correct-- roundhouse swings are too easy to block, generally), better is a brachial stun, at the joint of the neck and shoulder. Easier to hit, with awesome results when it's hit.

At Tuesday, April 10, 2007 9:59:00 PM, Blogger quidni said...

Well written, and a timely reminder. Thank you!

At Wednesday, April 11, 2007 12:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who you callin' timid?


At Wednesday, April 11, 2007 2:05:00 PM, Blogger J.R.Shirley said...

You know, your post reminds me of a serial rapist who was loose in the Tacoma area. I was stationed at Fort Lewis when this bastard attempted his 8th (IIRC) rape...on a 13-year old girl coming home from her violin lesson.

She fought him off with her violin case.

It all starts with loving yourself, loving yourself enough to know that no-one has the RIGHT to hurt you, and that you love yourself enough to be sure that you never, ever submit to incursions on your person.


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