Would you have taken the route that this legally armed firearms trainer took? Would your other skills have come to the front, or would you shoot him as well? These kinds of encounters are why we post after action reports on Active Self Protection!
Original video of the firearms trainer getting backed into a corner: https://get-asp.com/t2bl
News story of the DA’s decision on this shooting with details: https://get-asp.com/pos4
Official statement from the DA with audio of the 911 calls: https://get-asp.com/akru
What does this video teach us about defending ourselves against an attack?
- A life of self-protection must be dedicated to avoidance, de-escalation, and escape whenever possible. You win 100% of the fights that you don’t get in, so make a commitment to de-escalate, escape, or evade any encounter you possibly can. Having good situational awareness will give you more time and opportunity to see problems coming and formulate a plan to stay away and protect yourself without danger to yourself or others. This is always our first choice as self-defenders. This legally-armed firearms trainer tried pretty hard to de-escalate and escape, and that was a wise decision that probably swayed the DA quite a bit.
- Using your verbal judo to de-escalate and redirect a conflict is always the best choice if it is available, so make sure that your verbal game is strong. Knowing how to redirect, how to persuade, how to empathize, and how to talk someone down from a confrontation is critical to avoiding some fights. That said, we must also know that some people will not be dissuaded from a fight, so knowing when to talk and when to act is critical as well. This legally armed citizen used his words until he recognized that they wouldn’t help him anymore, which is good. As a firearms trainer I am sure he was thinking about his responsibilities in this area, and we all should as well.
- One of the five pillars of lawful, moral self-defense is “imminence,” (get a nutshell here: http://get-asp.com/wbbp or the whole concept here: http://get-asp.com/1fqe ). Imminence means the threat is happening RIGHT NOW, that it’s neither too late nor too early for you to defend yourself! The standard of imminence is seen as a triad of ability, opportunity, and jeopardy (also known as the AOJ triad, which is explained here: http://get-asp.com/pm3k in some detail). The firearms trainer here didn’t use his firearm until he was backed into a corner and reasonably in fear for his life from a man who wouldn’t leave him alone. He didn’t use deadly force too soon, and that was important to his legal situation!
- Pepper spray (also called OC or OC spray) can be a very useful defensive tool for non-lethal threats. I carry this one, and it’s nasty stuff: http://amzn.to/1kxJpls . It can also be used against you in a fight, so you should know how to defend yourself if you’re sprayed! Take a good course on pepper spray and how to employ it, and as part of that course take a dose yourself so that you know the effect it will have on you and how to fight through it to continue to protect yourself. Certainly in this instance, a good pepper spray may have ended this fight before the firearms trainer had to use his firearm. I am not at all blaming him for shooting the guy who attacked him, because he did what he had to in the moment. But if he had a good OC on him, he might not have had to. This is why I carry OC spray.
- As well-meaning as police officers are, they cannot protect you from danger. As the old adage says, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away!” You—and ONLY you—can protect yourself from danger when it comes upon you. A police response time of 5 minutes is considered perfectly acceptable in most suburban departments, and times upwards of 30 minutes can be the norm in rural areas! You need to have the attitude, skills, and plan to protect yourself from harm because the police simply can’t. This is why we recommend being legally armed. You and only you can protect yourself in the moment.
- Fights are physically demanding, and this firearms trainer certainly felt the physical toll of the fight. Sure, a pure gunfight might last 10 seconds and not place a huge burden on you physically, but the vast majority of encounters we see here at ASP involve physical self-defense as well. Getting into a honest-to-goodness fight with someone is incredibly physically demanding, so being physically fit is an important part of maximizing your chances to protect yourself. Fit people are harder to beat and harder to kill! The firearms trainer here needed to be able to stay in the fight for several minutes, with adrenaline flowing. That takes fitness.
- Even in a gunfight, empty-handed skills are important because many gunfights close to “extreme close quarters” or “bad breath distances.” Knowing how to protect your firearm from being taken, and how to win the fight that you’re actually in rather than the fight you want to be in, is crucial. If you’ve never fought from the clinch with your gun in the fight, on the ground and on your feet, your training has a huge gap in it. This man really needed empty-handed skills and close quarters fighting skills. He also needed to get both hands in the fight before it was time to use his firearm.
- You must be able to fight and defend yourself from all different stages of action. One of my martial arts mentors, Skip Hancock, likes to say that we must be able to fight wherever the fight happens to be! So whether we are at contact stage (just able to come in physical contact with our attacker), penetration stage (where attacks can contact and penetrate significantly), or manipulation stage (a clinch or similar where joint and body manipulations are possible), we must be able to use effective technique to protect ourselves.
- You must know how to fight to keep your firearm from being taken from you. If you carry a gun or keep one nearby, you must do what it takes to keep unauthorized people from accessing it and using it against you. If it is on your person, you must be trained and proficient in keeping the gun from being taken from its holster. (yes, that means a quality belt, a quality holster, and if openly carried, at least level 2 retention; the only one I recommend is the Safariland ALS: http://amzn.to/1SjOirW ) If it is not on your person, it must not be accessible to unauthorized people. There can be no workarounds for this rule! Your force on force and empty-handed skills training must include training on firearms retention.
Attitude. Skills. Plan.
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