Just because the environment is non-permissive doesn’t mean you’re defenseless!

Just because the environment is non-permissive doesn’t mean you’re defenseless!

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Given the choice, when face-to-face with an armed attacker I’d rather have my gun in my hand. Should I give up because I can’t?

One of the common memes in the gun control movement is that we must ban guns because the average person is completely defenseless against them. Oddly enough, there are a lot of people in the defensive shooting world who seem to have bought into that line of thinking (though they don’t really realize it.)

There is a pervasive attitude in the training world that only the gun will keep you safe, that it’s so important to survival that you should never go anyplace where you can’t have it by your side. That attitude leads our training to be very one-sided, very gun-centric.

The problem is that a lot of the world — and probably more than a few of you who are reading this — spends a lot of time in what we call “non-permissive” environments (NPE): schools and jobs where the possession of a defensive firearm is prohibited outright.

For those who inhabit those environments, telling then that the gun is their only hope for survival tends to foster a mindset that leads to defeatism: cowering under a desk hoping that the bad guy doesn’t see them. It’s the 21st-century equivalent of the Cold War “duck and cover” routine.

What is slowly being realized is that the bad guy armed with a gun is not the invincible robo-killer that he’s usually made out to be. Yes, the firearm is an efficient tool with which to sow mayhem, but it has many weaknesses: its user must be capable of aligning it relatively precisely on target; it sometimes malfunctions; and sooner or later it runs out of ammunition, necessitating replacement or reloading. All of those weaknesses are avenues of exploitation by others.

When faced by a crazy with a gun, evasion and escape are certainly viable responses (and quite effective; if you’re not there, he can’t hurt you!) Barricading so that he can’t reach you is another; improvised arms, such as fire extinguishers, can be used to counter-attack; and there’s always simply waiting for the bad guy to reload, then tackling him!

Think I’m joking? Earlier this month there was a shooter at Seattle Pacific University who opened fire with the intent to kill a large number of people. He ran his gun dry and, while his attention was diverted to reloading his pistol, he was pepper-sprayed and tackled by a student named Jon Meis, then held down by a bunch of other students.

(For those who’ve been students in my classes, this is why I teach reloading without looking at the gun — a bad guy getting hit by his victims because his eyes were on his gun is an inspiring event, but if the roles are reversed it’s not nearly as inspiring!)

The point here is that these students were not helpless; they weren’t equivalently armed, but that didn’t mean that they were defenseless despite being in a NPE. Just because you can’t have your gun with you doesn’t mean you’re doomed, either; recognize that you do have options, that there are ways to protect yourself against someone with superior weapons. It may not be as efficient a response as it would be with your legally carried gun, but remember that the only time you’re unarmed is when you believe you are!

-=[ Grant ]=-

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On June 26, 2014