Gun as self defense tool: Myth and reality

Discussion in 'Self Defence' started by Matt_Bernius, Oct 24, 2004.

  1. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    Over the last year, the following statement has been posted here numerous times in different forms:

    "If people really want to learn self defense quickly, tell them to get a gun."

    This statement is at best a gross exaggeration. Ultimately what it does is add to the existing "cult of the gun" creating the belief that a gun is an ultimate weapon, one that can not be defeated and therefore cannot be effectivly dealt with.

    Guns can be an effective attack and defense tool when:
    1. accessible
    2. the wielder is trained in their use
    3. in the proper range

    By accessible I mean that they are either drawn or can easily be drawn. This is why, for example, police wear their guns on thier hips. It locates the weapon in an easy to reach place from which it can be rapidly deployed. However, in most places, guns carried for self defense must be concealed. The act of concealing immediate makes it more difficult to access the weapon when the time comes for it to be drawn. Since nine out of ten times most folks don't realize they are in a self defense situation until they are in it, it means that they will need to be able to draw the gun while being confronted. Not an easy task and not something people tend to train for.

    The second thing is that most people, under stress, can't hit the broad side of a barn. And that's if they remember to disengage the saftey on the gun. Just like any self defense form, drawing and fireing needs to be practiced on a pretty regular basis in order to be able to do it in time of need. And there's that ugly word again "practice." The fact is whether your learning to defend yourself with you hands or a weapon, you need to take classes and practice. So the supposed "time savings" of the gun starts to melt away.

    Finally, guns are a ranged weapon. The closer a confrontation gets, the less optimal a gun becomes. And most self defense situations occur in a relatively close area. Why? Because the person is either attempting to take a possession from you or is physically engaged in the act of threatening you with (or carrying out) physcal violence. That's extremely close range. Which is functionally a gun's worst range.

    I'm not discounting the role of guns or other weapons in self defense. We need to remember that any time we use a variation of the above quote we are guilty of propigating myths about guns and self defense. The fact is there are no easy answers or ways.

    - Matt
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2004
  2. Visage

    Visage Banned Banned

    Good thread Matt. Maybe this should be made sticky?

    I have to agree with pretty much all of what you say. They are only useful if you can get at them fast enough, if the range is suitable etc.
    Also, in some countries, guns are illegal, so carrying one immediatly puts you in the wrong, even if you're only using one for self defence. Just waving it at an attacker here in the UK can wind you up in jail.

    Again, good post.

    Hu Fa-Gui
  3. JonTheDestroyer

    JonTheDestroyer New Member

    I know a guy who got put in jail for waving a REPLICA around (in the UK). Didn't tell the guy he was waving it at that it was a replica though.
  4. Athleng Nordic

    Athleng Nordic Sadly passed away. RIP. Supporter

    Brother you wrote a mouthful. :D A pistol for defense is useless within 21 feet if it's not already drawn. Any reasonably fit person can close the gap and attack before you could draw the handgun. This range increases to 35 to 40 feet when concealed. It take as much training as MA as it does with a handgun to be able to effectively use a gun in combat or another stressful situation.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2004
  5. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    Thanks for the feedback Nordic!
  6. Athleng Nordic

    Athleng Nordic Sadly passed away. RIP. Supporter

    Pro Noblem! :D
  7. oldshadow

    oldshadow Valued Member

    Gun have been and are used at very close ranges the same as a knife. There are incidents of gun being used when both people are rolling around on the ground. Some police officers have lost their lives this way. It has also worked the other way around. Training is needed but you must have the will to use it.

    “Some people will hesitate but, I won’t” (Movie)
  8. Athleng Nordic

    Athleng Nordic Sadly passed away. RIP. Supporter

    This I know. In Iraq I had to get my sidearm out when I got jumped while reloading my rifle. Not a fun experience.
  9. snake_plisskin

    snake_plisskin Valued Member

    Ever see the...

    ...very sickening videos of police officers desperately going for their firearms as either an individual or group jumped them [seen on car "gun camera" video]. Tragic. One problem may be the tendency to see a firearm as something solely to shoot with, as opposed to a utilitarian tool that can be used as a striking or choking weapon. Seriously: make the firearm (a real one , with a *solid* polymer red/blue mag in the chamber to prevent the slide from working, all the jagged edges, etc.) an extension of your hand, and try striking someone with it along their joints. Try doing body and limb chokes with the firearm's "angry ridges" (as we call them) digging into various...persuasive portions of a person's anatomy.
    Try using different portions of the handgun... without thinking about discharging it. Heck, if you want... put a magazine (as in "clip") in your hand and see how you can use that to strike damage points. Of course, only if you were in fear for your life; you'd NEVER produce a firearm unless you feared for your life.
  10. bcullen

    bcullen They are all perfect.

    Good point! Most handguns (and rifles for that matter) without the ammo are odd shaped chunks of metal and wood. Hitting someone with the larger handgun models is something like clocking them with a three pound dumbell.

    Firearms by all means aren't a magical answer to self-defense, To do it right requires studying aversion techniques, unarmed skills, armed skills etc... All things considered, after eliminating surprise or otherwise being caught unaware (detrimental, no matter how well trained or armed). They may not be the most effective means but they are the most efficient means.

    Physical skill, strength and size cease to matter.

    Training and practice is required, but not nearly at the same level to be proficient (of course individual milage may vary).

    The noise it makes is alone is disorienting and enough to temporarialy overwhelm the senses. If you think the adreanal dump is bad when using the gun, it's many times worse being on the other end.
    Also it's the last thing a criminal wants to deal with: Gunshots always draw unwanted attention.

    Most pepper spray is equally hard to get to and deploy but less effective when used. That is: Joe Crackhead may walk through a blast of pepper spray unaffected; a collapsed lung from a bullet wound is a whole different story.

    The introduction of the firearm changed the way we fought wars and changed the landscape of self-defense by offering a better way to kill and maim your fellow man. Eventaully, someday, something new and better will come along as well (God, help us).
  11. oldshadow

    oldshadow Valued Member

    This is an interesting point. I would not recommend using most modern semi-autos as a striking weapon. This could make them inoperable. This being said if you are all ready fully engaged and the weapon is already inoperable then you have nothing to lose. Now a wheel gun with a shrouded ejector rod does make a handy club. Although you must be aware of the risk of an accidental discharge if you strike with a firearm. This was used in times past to bring the unruly to heal by the local law. The shrouded ejector rod became poplar with the cops when the un-shrouded rod was used and bent. When this happened the weapon was then very hard to use and load. A little known fact is this use of a pistol as a club was very poplar with old west law officers. Wyatt Erp was more known for his fist and “buffaloing” (which is the old west term for using the barrow of a pistol up side your head) the unruly then for shooting then in his own time. All in all I favor using the firearm the way it was intended.
  12. Athleng Nordic

    Athleng Nordic Sadly passed away. RIP. Supporter

    About the only pistol (semi-auto) I can think of that would take a pounding and keep on working (anybody else hear a watch ticking? :D ) is a Glock. All other would have the slide and frame bend.
  13. rtkd-badger

    rtkd-badger Fundimentaly Manipulated

    Thats about a cricket pitch isn't it?
    yet people can catch a ball and throw it, hit the stumps before the player crosses the crease.
    It all comes down to whether you have the balls to take a life. Not something I would feel very easy to do unless it was my family or myself that I was protecting. I am a crack shot with pistol and rifle but in this situation I'm sure I could draw but firing the shot is a different thing :woo:
  14. snake_plisskin

    snake_plisskin Valued Member

    Absolutely! And of course, the best way to use a gun is as intended. In my case, I've trained with a Russian Makarov 9x18, which is a very solid weapon, and far from exercising anything near to being the sort of "twitchy" firearm seen behind most glass counters, it falls under the heading of "crude but effective" instead . I could probably use that thing to pound nails--or play cricket--and it'd fire. Um, I don't know a thing about playing cricket, but I'm going to look it up (I loved the cricket pitch comment). Of course, now that I said that, I can see Murphy rearing his ugly head...

    I was more addressing the point of not mentally relying solely on your firearm as something to shoot with when being attacked at very close range. I recommend remembering you have other weapons that allow you to gain the distance you need to get off a shot (without hitting anyone else but the intended).

    The video we saw was used as a sort of grisly "What Not to Do" tape (the officer really was murdered then and there--it was no simulation). Besides the obvious "don't let people surround you, distract you, get behind you, run the conversation, or even get out of the car" lesson, the other was along the lines of "don't get fixated on having to shoot them-- punch them, kick them, hit them with your gun or maglight, gain distance, then use the firearm". If that means the Wyatt Earp, three-pound dumbbell method, well... so be it.

    ...and hey, I never knew that about Mr. Earp. Interesting.

    Question about the Glock: I *seem to* remember early Glocks *in a one in a million chance, I imagine* had terrible problems with accidental discharges, some of them even happening while the firearm was still holstered (and being drawn), or dropped, etc. I know the new ones are top-notch and absolutely amazing (same for H&K, but they're waaaay outta my price range!), but the early, first-gen Glocks were, as I seem to recall, the subject of reports to that effect. I cannot vouch for my veracity, but I think I saw it reported in Shotgun News and the popular press many years back--I am NO Glock expert, I'm only repeating what I VAGUELY recall from periodicals, television, and "rumor has it" at gun shows.

    Anyone who wants to do a web search to see if that was all a bunch of domestic gun manufacturer propaganda, anti-gun lobby hysteria, or simply a tall tale, please let me know!
  15. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    This goes along with some of the points Snake Plisskin and oldshadow made. (By the way, nice post idea, Matt). Here’s a few points I would add:

    1. Become very familiar with your firearm and know how to break it down, put it together, how heavy the trigger pull is, and especially how it fires.

    2. Shoot a lot and get to know where your bullets are going. Know how the safety works and practice drawing and shooting without the safety interfering

    3. Try a variety of holsters and see which ones offer the best accessibility (and concealment if needed)… you’ll probably find a balance somewhere. Try an under-shoulder rig (they aren’t as fast to get to as in the movies) and an inside the waist band holster. See how well you get to them. Practice drawing and firing at targets from the various carrying systems.

    4. Keep spare ammo around. But rotate the bullets you carry. Dispose of any that are getting old or especially if they have any scratches or corrosion on them! Check the tension springs on your magazines or the mechanics of the speed loaders.

    5. Be ready to shoot if you pull your gun. Using a gun as an empty threat is not a good thing. If you have to pull it, be ready to shoot with no or very little talking.

    6. I always aim center-mass…. It’s easier.

    7. If using your pistol as a physical weapon:

    - try NOT to strike downward with the bottom of the barrel (or lower receiver) as you may damage the weapon

    - Do NOT strike with the trigger guard, you can render the trigger inoperative

    - Do NOT strike with the bottom of the magazine as it can damage the magazine and ammo feed.

    - Strike like a palm heel strike (forward or hooking) with the pistol laying in your palm. Strike with the hand grips (side of the weapon) – this is where the most support is and the least chance to damage the weapon.

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