Friday, December 3, 2021

A New Defensive Pistolcraft Post ...

 ... from Jon Low. There is a lot of good stuff in this post, and Jon seems (at least to me) to have included much more of his own commentary and ideas. Before getting to my main point, I want to direct you to a few items from Jon's post that I especially liked or found interesting.

  1. Near the beginning of his post, Jon  discusses the fact that the goals of civilian self defense are avoidance, deterrence, and escape, and ties it into Farnam's Rules of Self-Defense. That is, you should avoid becoming a victim by avoiding behaviors, places and times where you are at a significant greater risk of being victimized; if that fails, then you try to deter the criminal, which is generally an issue of "failing the interview" by which each criminal judges a potential victim; and, finally, if all of the above fails, by escaping (or stopping) the attack which may (or may not) require you to employ a deadly weapon. 
  2. Related to this, Jon discusses the three "problems" or "battles" you will face if you ever have to defend yourself: (i) the physical battle (i.e., physically dealing with the criminal), (ii) the criminal legal battle (i.e., dealing with law enforcement and prosecutors in the aftermath), and (iii) the civil legal battle (i.e., dealing with the civil liability aspects, such as a wrongful death lawsuit, getting coverage or a defense from an insurer, etc.). While we tend to think of this arising in the context of a defensive shooting, it potentially applies at lower levels of physical force or injury. For instance, if some guy starts hassling you and you punch him breaking his nose, you could still be facing criminal charges for battery and a personal injury lawsuit being filed against you.
  3. For those of you that are firearms/self-defense trainers (or, really, anyone that runs a business), Jon has advice about not wearing your politics on your sleeve. You customers/clients are there to purchase a service or product, not hear your opinions about Biden (or Trump). He also cites to articles with breakdowns of the increasing number of shooters that are from demographics differing from the traditional white, conservative, rural or suburban.
    Finally,  Jon had read David Kenik's book, Armed Response, and picked out 12 points or assertions raised by Kenik that Jon either especially liked or with which Jon disagreed and provided a response or counter-argument. I recommend reading Jon's list and his thoughts, but I wanted to offer my own thoughts on a couple topics/issues.   

  • Page 18, "A knife threat from 50 feet is not a lethal threat, . . . "

    Like Jon, I have to disagree with this one. Remember that under the Tueller Drill, 21-feet represented the closest distance at which the average police officer still had time to draw a handgun from a duty holster openly worn on the belt and make one shot before the attacker could stab the officer. That time was 1.5 seconds under the circumstances presented in Tueller's scenario. So, if you cannot draw and shoot within 1.5 seconds, then your knife wielding attacker's deadline must be at a greater distance. For example, a two-second draw and fire would make 28-feet (assuming 7 feet per 0.5 seconds) the closest distance at which you still have a chance to draw and fire one shot.  A three-second draw would require the deadline be at 42 feet, and so on. 

    The foregoing represents a situation where the attacker is right on top of you by the time you get a shot off. So, if you want to keep the threat further away or think you may need to fire more than one shot, then the distance to the hypothetical deadline would yet again increase.

    Where a lot of people go wrong is thinking of the Tueller Drill as a shoot/don't shoot guide. It is not. It is simply to provide information concerning a particular set of circumstances and the point where you no longer have the option of resorting to your handgun to stop an attack. If someone is charging you with a drawn knife, it has relevance. If someone is sitting on the ground with a drawn knife 21-feet from you, the circumstances are vastly different. You need to consider the circumstances and pre-attack indicators to determine if and when someone becomes an imminent threat.

    I would also point out that most school buses and city buses are more than 50 feet long. So, Kenik is essentially saying that if you were riding at the front of a bus and a criminal armed with a knife was at the back of the bus, he would never pose a lethal threat to you. 

  • Page 18, "If you are threatened as intimidation, you do not have the right to use lethal force . . ."

    I again agree with Jon's opinion that this is incorrect and for the reason he gives: you cannot read the other person's mind to determine what is the purpose of his or her threat or display of a weapon. Rather, you need to go back to the basics of whether you are being faced with the imminent threat of grave bodily harm. If the pre-attack indicators are there, and you can articulate them, you may even be justified in acting before the attacker throws the first punch.  

  • Page 21, "If you have a safety or a decocker, engage it." Kenik similarly stated on page 42, "Do not release the external safety (if your gun has one) until you are on target and ready to fire."  I don't have the context of these comments, but it seems to tie in with a later statement on page 49, ". . . I now feel that firearms with single action triggers are unsafe for defense use in all but the most highly trained hands, . . ." and Jon's citing a study of law enforcement officers which found that:

... under stress, the trigger finger often subconsciously travels to the trigger to 'confirm its position.'  Lt. Dave Spaulding, of the Montgomery County Ohio Sheriff's Office, observed that 632 out of 674 officers tested periodically placed their fingers in the trigger guard during FATS [a firearms training simulator] training.  This is astounding -- 94% of the trained police officers tested placed their fingers on the trigger under stress!  This number included many highly-skilled and motivated officers. The officers that he observed doing these "trigger searches" had no memory of doing so."  

     Jon disagrees with Kenik's assertion that you should have the safety engaged (or hammer decocked) at all times unless you are actually taking a shot, instead contending that you should not engage the safety or decock your pistol until just before you holster it based on the philosophy that "your holster is your safety."

    I recognize that ideally our finger should never touch the trigger until we intend to fire--that is the goal toward which all of us train because it is good safety. But while ideal, it may not be realistic as the above study shows. Especially when faced with a threat that may require an instant reaction. I remember reading a comment from Gabe Suarez some years ago on this topic in which he argued that it was unrealistic to select a handgun while ignoring the reality of "trigger searches". 

    One of the things that has always bothered me about the Glock and similar handguns is that they are, for all intents and purposes, a single action pistol. I'm not going to quibble over the mechanics inside the gun, but just looking at it from the viewpoint of user operation. Unless using something unusual like the "New York trigger," a Glock gives a relatively light and short trigger pull much like a single-action pistol and there is no safety to prevent you from inadvertently pulling the trigger due to having your finger on or near the trigger and suffering an involuntary grasping reaction upon a fall, due to surprise, etc.--unlike the manual safety on a 1911 or the long, heavy trigger pull of a double-action. So, in that regard, the "manual safety" for Glocks and similar striker fired pistols is, in fact, the holster. 

    I'm going to take a middle ground concerning the safety or decocker and say that their use depends on the circumstances. I think that as a general matter, engaging the safety or decocking the weapon unless you are about to take a shot is probably too restrictive, particularly if there is a risk of another attack or another attacker--e.g., scanning for another target or covering a downed target. On the other hand, I think that a safety should be engaged or the weapon decocked during movement when there is more of a chance of falling, tripping, or being surprised--e.g., moving from one room to another in your house--or someone who is not a target passing in front of you, or you falling back behind another person.

    As for single-action handguns being beyond the ken of the average gunowner, I would again disagree. Given the number of 1911s, Glocks, and similar out there, if such weapons were substantially more dangerous in the hands of mediocre or incompetent shooters, we would have seen it in the statistics on accidental firearm injuries and deaths. I've seen some statistics from, I believe, the LAPD that indicate a slightly higher incidence of self-injury using the striker fired pistols over DAO and DA/SA handguns, but not enough to get excited about.

As always, I'm not your lawyer, and the foregoing is not legal advice


  1. The first 18 years of my 22 year career I carried a .357 magnum revolver. On the hand full of times I had to draw down on someone I durn sure had my finger on the trigger. No baloney about a longer trigger pull; I don't want to hear it. The double action trigger pull can be very fast.
    Don't put any obstacle between you and a deadly threat. Period.

    1. Jerry Miculek sure demonstrates how fast a revolver can be:

  2. I had never heard of David Kenik until I heard him on a podcast. I trust no one until I have vetted them. Although David Kenik might have some good self defense techniques, he doesn't pass the ethics test for me. Search for "David Kenik scam"


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