Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Self Defense: Why Firearms Aren't Enough

I will state up front: I am very much in favor of individuals owning firearms.  No, I don't care to debate it if you disagree.

I know a lot of folks who have concealed carry licenses for firearms.  When the discussion turns to self defense, it is not unusual for someone to claim that his or her firearm is all they need.

A Good Start.
Let's skip, for the moment, the idea that the only response you want to have in your arsenal versus a bad guy is a lethal response.  I think this is a bad strategy for a variety of reasons, but I won't go into that now.

I submit that a firearm is not always the best tool in self defense situations. Especially if the other person is armed with a weapon like a knife.

Point one: Watch this clip from Dan Inosanto.

Police officers train with their guns far, far more often than most regular folks and each officer was repeatedly "killed" by Inosanto in seconds.  Their firearms training did not help them and they "died".

Point two:  just the other day my instructor was telling us the story of a friend of his (we'll call him Joe) who got into a road rage situation recently.  Long story short, Joe was in his car (and stayed there) and the other person got so angry, he was able to punch the driver's side window so hard that it broke and he was able to get to Joe in the driver's seat.  Joe did not want to kill the guy with his gun (he did have it on him) but he didn't have any other good, relatively non-lethal way to protect himself in that small space.  He got very lucky that the attacker came to his senses and left . (Note: I don't know if Joe could drive away or what, as that isn't clear in the story as it was told to me.)

So, due to a lot of considerations, if you are serious about self defense, I think you need more than a gun.

I'm admittedly weapons-biased, as I think it's usually better to defend yourself with a tool than with meat if at all possible. You've got far more weapons available to you than you think, see my post Why Study Weapons.  Also, being a middle-aged female, I think a tool will help me "equalize" my chances against a bigger or stronger attacker.  Thus, I believe that it's wise to train in weapons - firearms and others - for self defense.

But, we can't always use a tool. You always can't walk around with your weapon ready for action for practical and legal considerations, so yes, unarmed training  for self defense is critical also.

Chad is a little confused about
the term "concealed carry"
One thing that's awesome about the Filipino Martial Arts is that 99% of the time you start your training with weapons, and then move to the empty handed applications.  Or rather, the relationship between weapon and unarmed action - that you are training both - is very direct and clear, and you don't have to change a lot for either application.  So, of course, I'd recommend checking out a local FMA trainer or club near you to help supplement your self defense training (but all y'all know I'm biased in that regard).

I think your "self defense" toolbox, to be complete, should include: firearms, other weapons (including knife), empty hand striking, kicking, some locks and throws, and ground defense/grappling.  I don't think you need a billion different techniques - just a few will do in each as long as they are practiced often.

But even if you can't cover all that ground (my grappling and firearms training is pretty weak at the moment), you can't train only firearms and be prepared to defend yourself.