On the Active Self Protection Facebook page I will often hear about people asking why an officer didn’t use his TASER on a suspect rather than shooting him in a deadly force encounter. This should hopefully tamp that down a little (though I doubt it). I think that the officer who almost had his gun grabbed was very grateful for retention on that gun, too!
Original video of the TASER failing, with news story of the incident: https://get-asp.com/w6pp
What do CCW and LEO alike learn from this TASER failure and gun grab?
- Real life self-defense encounters are chaotic and there is seldom ability to focus solely on one threat. When there are multiple attackers (or potential attackers) present especially, focusing too much on one threat could be a deadly mistake. We must maintain awareness in a fight for our life not only of the immediate threat but threats all around us, and that takes great training not to get tunnel vision. Here, there are three officers in a fight that doesn’t start as a deadly force encounter but when the TASER failed could easily have gone there.
- Empty-handed skills are absolutely critical for self-defenders. First of all, more conflicts you will encounter as a self-defender will require empty-handed skills than will require firearms skills, simply because more self-defense encounters are physical than deadly. Second, since a firearm is a tool of last resort, self-defenders need to have non-lethal options that include empty-handed skills to protect themselves from likely incidents. Third, in the moment of the encounter you may not have the time to get to your gun before you can fight your way to it. Even with a non-lethal option like OC or TASER, you must be able to fight with your hands and feet.
- If you have a partner with you when you’re attacked (be it a LEO partner if you work on a team, or your spouse or martial artist buddy), you want to do everything you can to work as a team. Knowing each other well and communicating clearly will help you protect yourself from danger. This takes training and practice and commitment, but two partners working together present a formidable challenge to any attacker.
- You must understand that your intermediate force options, those in between hands and firearm/knife (like pepper spray, TASER, baton, etc.) will not always be effective. They are designed to be used BEFORE a threat becomes a deadly threat, and we must always be ready for them to fail us. At that point, we must quickly decide whether the right answer is to move to empty-handed skills or to deadly force options.
- Firearm retention is an important skill to have as a self-defender. In a real-life defensive encounter it is quite possible for an attacker to have the opportunity to try to take your firearm from you, so training in firearm retention is critical for every firearm carrier. (even CCW holders) If you are open carrying your firearm, I can’t say enough that I recommend a holster with active retention and a passive release (http://amzn.to/1n684Pu is the only one I recommend). But having a retention holster does NOT mean you can ignore good training on keeping your firearm from being taken.
Attitude. Skills. Plan.