Every now and then, someone posts a question, either directly to me or on some internet forum I may look at in which they raise the basic question of why should they bother with any sort of hand-to-hand training since they have a CCW permit and carry a firearm. Isn’t that good enough? Well, many times, the answer is no, it isn’t. As a matter of fact, the gun solution might be a really, really bad idea.
The firearm is the great equalizer, for sure. It is the easiest way for a physically handicapped person to deal with a violent assault from a big, strong, young attacker. In many instances, it gives us the best chance of coming through a violent situation with the least amount of harm (partly due to the fact that the firearm gives you “stand off” capacity to defend yourself, something no other weapon or empty hand solution can offer). However, there are times it may not be possible to use a firearm, and there are some instances where it may actually be a bad idea.
To my way of thinking, there are three contexts where having an unarmed answer is a good idea. They are:
1) You may not have a gun – If we plan on living in the real world, there will be circumstances where we won’t have a gun. Even if you are a LEO, there are many times when you can’t be armed. Being on a plane for instance. Some types of buildings/facilities even refuse to allow LEOs to be armed. I for one refuse to be helpless and reliant on someone else to save me and to always have some way to defend myself, regardless of where I am or what I am doing. No one can ever disarm you of your H2H skills/knowledge/training.
2) It may not be justified – Not every confrontation meets the legal standard for deadly force. Shooting Cousin Ernie because he was drunk and disruptive at the family Thanksgiving dinner might not make you that popular in your family. And, more importantly, there are some situations where the legal standard for deadly force may be met, but you will still suffer consequences of your actions that may be worse than a legal punishment. Does anyone want to trade places with George Zimmerman? He was eventually found not guilty, but how much money did he have to spend to defend himself, and how much of an emotional toll did he endure? There was absolutely a valid and functional H2H solution for his problem that could have easily avoided the need to employ deadly force. I try to avoid clichés, but this one fits – “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.
3) You may not be able to access the gun – Even if we are legally and morally justified in using deadly force, and it is a good idea to do so, and we are carrying a gun, we may not be able to deploy it. Especially if the attack is already under way, we may not have a clear pathway to using the gun in the manner we need to. Remember, if you introduce the gun into the fight and you do not have 100% control over it, it is now available for the other guy to use as well. You may very well have to fight your way to the point where you can access, deploy, and use the weapon.
In my opinion, if we want to be truly prepared to defend ourselves, having the ability to utilize an unarmed physical response is just as important as carrying a gun and being able to use it.