Many concealed carry permit holders spend untold hours at the range, honing their handgun skills at drawing, aiming, movement, and of course, shooting. But no matter how adept they become with a firearm, those skills may not necessarily be useful if an attacker decides to opt for a different type of assault; a close encounter of the knife kind.
Knife attacks are on the rise in the U.S. for a number of reasons. The most obvious one is ease of access. Anyone, regardless of criminal background, can walk into their neighborhood Walmart, Bass Pro Shop, or swap meet and pick out their blade of choice, from pen knife to machete.
Unfortunately, there is a far more sinister reason behind the upswing in edged weapon attacks. The terrorist organization ISIS has a predilection for knife attacks, believing it is the preferred murder weapon of Allah, as documented in the Fox News article “Blade of Jihad: Extremists Embrace the Knife as Tool of Terror.”
Radicalized Muslims worldwide are using easily obtained knives to administer “Allah’s will” as witnessed by the September 2014 incident in Oklahoma where a recently fired employee entered the company building, stabbed two females, and then proceeded to behead one in the same style as the sensationalized ISIS internet videos. And in September 2016, an attacker stabbed 8 victims in a bloody Minnesota mall rampage and apparently asked at least one victim if they were Muslim.
So how does one avoid becoming a knife attack victim? Well, according to author Scott W. Wagner in his article “Knife Attack: How Do You Respond?” at USConcealedCarry.com, the key is distance:
“In order for a potential victim to avoid becoming an actual victim, he or she must maintain distance and use it to his or her advantage.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
In order for a knife attack to be successful, the attacker must be in close proximity to the victim. The attack-free zone is generally considered to be 21 feet. This distance was determined by law enforcement professionals to be the minimum distance required in order to have time to draw a weapon, aim, and fire. The distance would likely be 75 feet or more for someone carrying a firearm under a shirt, tucked in a belt, or stashed in a purse.
There are a few tips that will help increase the odds of surviving a random knife attack for those carrying concealed weapons.
First, maintain a high level of situational awareness when out in public and ask for ID from anyone purporting to be law enforcement or security. At the same time, try to keep your firearm as accessible as possible without making it obvious.
Use some range time to practice weak hand shooting; a random attack may slash your strong hand. Practice drawing from concealed carry positions. Since time is paramount, mount a laser sight to your gun. It will save precious seconds while trying to aim. Finally, watch the YouTube video Surviving Edged Weapons, a law enforcement training classic that describes how to survive a knife attack.
Following these guidelines, along with common sense and a little preparation will go a long way toward helping you survive a random attack, or better yet, avoid it altogether.
Twenty years ago, the notion that someone would carefully devise a plan to enter a church fully armed with intent to gun down the innocents within would have been practically unthinkable. It’s only in the post-911 age of terrorism that places of worship have become fair game.
Historically, the church has been viewed as a safe place or sanctuary dating back to ancient times.
By the 4th century, the right to sanctuary had been formalized by the early Christians. The churches offered sanctuary mostly to criminals for hundreds of years until being abolished during 1540 as part of the Reformation. The Catholic Church was the lone exception, keeping the sanctuary option as part of its Code of Canon Law until 1983.
It’s a sad commentary on modern times when churches can no longer be considered a safe haven, but it doesn’t mean that pastors and their congregations are powerless to protect themselves. Author and United States Concealed Carry Association Magazine editor Kevin Michalowski explains the mentality that is taking hold in the nation’s churches in his article “Carry Your Gun in Church? Hell Yes!” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“I cannot tell you the number of church groups that have reached out to the USCCA for help and guidance defending their congregations and ensuring those who would defend the flock are also protected from the legal system.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
By its very nature, carrying concealed in church requires due diligence beyond what permit holders practice every day. The pistol must remain absolutely concealed at all times. Becoming the center of attention for all the wrong reasons at church will undoubtedly bring down more restrictions for everyone, but may make for a different kind of sermon the following Sunday.
As most permit holders are aware, having a home defense plan is an integral part of anyone’s overall defensive preparations. Your expertise and training could prove invaluable to your congregation. If you are comfortable enough to talk to any of the congregation members or clergy, you can approach them about discussing some security options.
Even without the assistance of the congregation or clergy, there are steps you can take to better protect yourself and your family. Do not sit near the rear of the church, as this is most likely where any attacker would enter, and stay away from the seats closest to the center aisle to give yourself time to react. Be aware of other entrances/exits that could be used as an escape route.
Whatever action you decide to take, remember that the shooter will most likely be dead or gone by the time first responders arrive.
It doesn’t take long for gun owners to become familiar with the more widespread urban myths surrounding the world of firearms. Those in the concealed carry community are even more likely to hear unsubstantiated stories, dubious statistics, and just plain hearsay because they’re more involved in the cultural aspects of responsible gun ownership.
Most of these myths can be easily discredited by knowledgeable firearm owners, but a few of these urban myths have survived through the years and are now somewhat dangerous in that many people simply quote them as fact without fact-checking their sources.
What follows is a short list of urban legends that aren’t true and can get someone into serious legal trouble in the event that they take action based on their false beliefs.
Author John Caile discusses the dangers of spreading unsupported urban myths in his article “Well My Buddy’s Dad Was a Cop and He Says…” on USConcealedCarry.com:
“But whatever you do, ignore [what you’ve heard]. And please, don’t be so stupid as to repeat them publicly, especially online! Instead, learn everything you can about what really happens in criminal and civil court — especially how decisions based on ‘urban myths’ can have devastating results for you and your family.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
The most popular misconception is the notion that you can shoot someone anywhere on your property and then move them inside. With today’s technology, the trained crime scene investigators can easily determine that the body was moved. At that point, be prepared to be treated more like a suspect than a victim.
Another widely-spread misconception is that deadly force is acceptable if you’re fearing for your life. While this is essentially true, it’s an abstract concept and very difficult to prove in court. The jury will have to believe that the attacker had the ability to kill or maim you with intent to do so.
The belief that anyone in your house is fair game is also likely to get you in serious trouble. The term “Castle Doctrine” refers to the various laws governing the rules of self-defense in the home. The laws vary from community to community and will most likely work against you in court.
And of course, there’s the myth that a wounded intruder should be finished off so there’s no possibility of a lawsuit. As mentioned before, the forensics unit will easily determine that the invader was basically executed and there’s no guarantee that the family of the deceased won’t opt to sue. On top of that, you’ll likely face criminal charges.
When examined in a rational manner, many of the myths are easily dispelled. Unfortunately, it’s often easier to spread misinformation than to become informed. Members of the concealed carry community should strive to be up to date on the latest laws and regulations regarding weapon use in their homes and locales to ensure their safety as well as their families’.
When you become involved in a gunfight, there will be the need for several split-second decisions.
So many options will be parading in front of you that it can become difficult to know what to do. As you’re considering your options, they will disappear and you’ll be confronted with new choices a few seconds later.
It can be tough to decide if you should fight or run for it. Should you reload? Should you be on our phone calling 911 or aiming at the threat nearby?
None of these questions can be fully answered beforehand, but in general, there are several rules of thumb to keep in mind.
First off, you don’t want to be in a situation where bullets are about to fly or are actually being fired. The fact you’re in such a situation means that you’ve failed to get away from the threat.
You’re now forced to deploy your weapon and this probably means you’ll have to shoot someone. The probability of you being able to render the threat inoperable is not 100%. You might miss. Your gun might malfunction. The opposing party may get rounds off first or have backup.
Again, having to use your weapon is a worst case scenario, not one that you should willingly walk into if it can be avoided. The chances of you getting killed or injured are much higher, not to mention the possibility of encountering legal trouble later on.
Opportunities may arise during the conflict where you can quickly extract yourself from the situation. If such a chance comes up, you should be ready and quickly take advantage of it. This especially holds true if you have other people with you that you’re protecting. Getting them out of harm’s way is the number one priority.
If at all possible, a phone call should be placed to the police (911) as soon as possible. Even if things haven’t escalated yet, but look like they might, a phone call made ahead of time can make all the difference. The sooner the police arrive, the better.
If you’ve already fired some rounds, any opportunity to reload should be taken. Of course, this can temporarily disable you for a few seconds, so speed is critical.
Depending on what type of firearm you carry, there are many fast ways to reload that you can include as part of your carry kit. For semiautomatic pistols, spare clips are a good way to go.
In the case of revolvers, things like moon clips can prove useful.
Author Duane A. Daiker talks about using speed strips for revolvers in his article “Bianchi Speed Strips” on USConcealedcarry.com:
“The Speed Strip is a flat piece of black, flexible plastic that securely holds 6 rounds of .38 Special or .357 Magnum ammunition. When you want to load, you insert the rounds into the cylinder one or two at a time, and peel off the strip as you go, releasing the rounds into the cylinder.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
No matter what weapon or reloading solution you choose, make sure to practice with it so you’re familiar with how the device works before you have to use it in a stressful situation.
In any self-defense situation that may require the use of deadly force, there are a number of questions to consider in regard to how appropriate it is to involve a firearm in the dispute.
As you know, a gun is a deadly weapon. Involving one in any type of altercation immediately raises the stakes to the highest level.
This not only includes firing the weapon, but even presenting, drawing, and making it known that you have a gun.
This is especially true if the aggressor has not yet brought a firearm into the dispute themselves.
Arming and training yourself to use deadly force significantly raises your level of personal responsibility. You need to keep your cool and make rational decisions at all times. You cannot give into the pressure to hurl insults, make threatening statements, or cause the situation to escalate in any way.
You also have the responsibility to leave the situation if you can do so safely. It’s on you to keep your pride and ego out of the equation.
It doesn’t matter if someone is verbally insulting your character or that of your significant other, mother, or sibling. Such actions may be incredibly provoking and may hit you in all the wrong places emotionally. However, nothing that is said in the heat of the moment gives you the right to use deadly force.
Time and time again, it’s been proven that many situations can be diffused by simply leaving the area.
In that instance, you may be verbally harangued for what may be perceived as “backing down.” You might feel as though your honor has been brought into question, but as author Joe Kalil clearly states in his article “Use of Deadly Force” on USConcealedcarry.com, your honor and pride do not matter where life and death are concerned:
“The law-abiding citizen should make every possible effort to avoid using deadly force. Prevention, avoidance, de-escalation, and retreat are all good alternatives, allowing you a much better opportunity to maintain your freedom and return home safely to your family.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Think about it this way : If you were asked if you were willing to spend time in a courtroom with the possibility of jail time hanging over your head simply because someone raised your hackles, what do you think the answer would be?
We all know that carrying concealed requires discretion. It also requires responsibility and should require continual knowledge when it comes to self-defense and handling a gun. Here is a list of common dos and don’ts that apply to the world of carrying concealed firearms for personal defense:
- DO tell your significant other about your decision to carry a firearm. Make sure you ask them about their feelings on the matter. Including them in the process will help eliminate any surprises or miscommunication later on.
- DON’T purchase a firearm and only fire it a few times, assuming that is enough practice. Training is an important part of carrying and doing so will only boost your confidence and effectiveness.
- DO carry at every opportunity. Of course there will be places where you can’t legally possess a firearm such as banks, courthouses, or schools, but you should always carry even if you are only making a quick trip to the store for groceries or it you’re taking a two-week road trip, providing it’s legal to do so through each state you cross and at your destination. It’s always important to check the reciprocity laws for each of those states and areas.
- DON’T risk saddling yourself with the guilt of not having your gun with you when you could have legally done so.
- DO research ahead of time and find out who the good lawyers are for individuals who carry concealed. If you ever have to use your weapon in self-defense, there is a good possibility that you’ll need a lawyer to help you navigate the legal system. Even something as simple as having a business card for a local attorney is good. Or, become a member of USCCA. We’ve got you covered.
- DO always have a round in the chamber. Having to cycle the slide on a pistol adds seconds to your defense time, assuming you even remember to do so. You don’t want to pull the trigger and have nothing happen. Keep a round in the chamber and treat the weapon accordingly.
- DO invest in a good holster and carry system. One of the most difficult parts of concealed carry is the presence of a heavy and bulky metal weapon on your person at all times. Even the best holstered gun can occasionally jab and poke you in the wrong places. Even more dangerous is the possibility of a loose or poorly secured gun coming free and hitting the ground. A good holster is something you’ll never regret spending extra money on.
USCCA has a few additional words of wisdom in the article “Buildertech Company’s – the CCW Shirt” on USConcealedcarry.com:
“Know how the gun [you are carrying aims]. Know how the gun fires the ammunition you have chosen to use. Be sure the ammo is right for the weapon by firing it at the range. I know this can get expensive, but you have to know your limitations. Know if your automatic (assuming you use an auto) is going to cycle properly when called on to do so. What good are those deadly rounds if they won’t go “bang” when you pull the trigger?” (Read more about the CCW Shirt at USConcealedCarry.com)
Being prepared to defend yourself is a mentality of planning for the unexpected and realizing that you cannot predict the future, but you can plan ahead.
Doing any less is just going to compromise you.
Of course, you’ll never learn all there is to know about the ever-changing scene of personal defense and firearms, but it’s not that difficult to grasp the basics.
It is important to gain a solid understanding of what you can and can’t do first.
Keep in mind that anything you choose to fully incorporate into your life will potentially be subjected to scrutiny by your friends and family even if only comes in the form of curious questions. Regardless of the nature of these inquiries, you should be prepared to eloquently explain your reasons for your heavy decision.
Consider the testimony of CCW permit holder Kurt Peterson related by author Tim Schmidt in his lifestyle article “Kurt Peterson” on USConcealedcarry.com:
“Interestingly, handguns never crossed my mind until a day about 10 or more years ago when my uncle told me that he regularly carried a handgun, which rather shocked me. He said that he felt he had to protect himself and his family as he had a friend in the same sort of business that he was in, who was shot point blank in the back of his head one day while out changing a tire on his vehicle (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)”
The only certainty in your future is that it will be unpredictable. You’ll never know for sure when you might need a firearm for self-defense and that being the case, the only logical course is to ensure you are carrying whenever it is possible and legal.
By choosing to be armed and practiced, you are taking responsibility for the fact that your future remains uncertain. It also means that you might have the need to use deadly force to protect yourself and your family.
This is a sizeable responsibility and some feelings of being intimidated are normal. The solution to this uncertainty and the uncomfortable feelings is to train and educate yourself as much as possible.