Here's a question: if you own a gun, do you know when to draw your gun when facing an aggressive knife-holder?
Five weeks ago, blogger William Levinson posted a piece of advice about this question ("Don't let potential terrorist within knife range!", Arutz Sheva, October 23, 2015). In that essay, he declared that "a knife-armed assailant can reach you from 21 feet (6.4 meters) in roughly 1.5 seconds, per the Tueller Drill" (ibid).
21 feet? Is that right? Is Levinson right to suggest a knife attacker who is closer than 21 feet can stab you before you can shoot him? That's pretty ridiculous, right?
We know it sounds ridiculous because of reactions to a new video making the rounds in the US about a police shooting incident in Chicago that actually took place a year ago, but which is only now making headlines (Andrew Branca, "Laquan McDonald video not dispositive of police criminal misconduct", legalinsurrection, November 25, 2015). Upon seeing the video of the shooting taken from a police dashcam, many argue that the knife-holder was too far away from police to be a threat.
An analysis of the video suggests the knife-holder was closer than 21 feet. Is that reason to shoot him?
21 feet appears to be the police standard for 'threat' from a knife-holder. If the knife-holder is closer than that, police appear to have the right to consider him an imminent threat (ibid). Why?
You'll see why, in a moment. But first, you need to understand that Levinson, above, was correct. If a knife-holder attacks you from a distance of, say, 19 feet, he'll probably stab you before you can defend yourself.
The question is, do you believe that? Most people don't.
Here now is a video that seems to have been designed for police viewing. It's called, the 'Tueller Drill'. You'd be wise to watch it. It's less than 2 minutes long.
If you own a handgun, you probably don't walk around with a round chambered. In many places, that could be illegal.
The officer in this video doesn't chamber a round after he draws his gun. He is shown drawing and shooting.
He has only 1.5 seconds and 21 feet separation to draw-and-shoot.
If you're not a police officer, but carry a gun, you'll have to draw, then chamber a round before you fire. That takes more than 1.5 seconds. For you, 1.5 seconds and 21 feet separation may not be sufficient time-and-distance to defend yourself.
Here's some advice: go to your shooting range. Work with a gun instructor. Time yourself. How many seconds does it take you to reach-draw-chamber-aim-shoot? How many seconds do you need to do all of that?
You will probably need 20-22 feet for every 1.5 seconds lapsed time. If you need three seconds to do this, you'll have to begin drawing your weapon when your potential attacker farther than 21 feet away. Will your gun instructor tell you that's okay to do?
If you have a gun, you've got to ask him.
I would guess that, unless a gun instructor has already taught this to you, you'd have no clue that you'd need more than 21 feet to defend yourself. You'd probably wait until an attacker comes to within 15 feet before you'd consider acting.
As the Tueller Drill illustrates, you couldn't defend yourself if the knife-holder attacks you from 15 feet away.
Do you know what 21 feet distance looks like? Do you know what 31 feet looks like? You have to talk to your gun instructor. Your life could depend on it.
If you do not own/carry a gun, what should you do? I think the answer to that question depends on several factors:
-What do you carry in order to defend yourself? Some people carry pepper spray. But pepper spray might not work: the attacker may have to be too close to you for the spray to work. That close, he might still stab you.
-A baseball bat might work--but who carries a baseball bat? An umbrella--the closet normal item to a bat--might not be strong enough to have any stopping power.
-I've seen individuals carrying an umbrella. But is an umbrella strong enough or hard enough to protect you?
-Then, there's your own strength. Can you swing an umbrella with enough force-and-accuracy to defend yourself? Can you swing a cane with enough force and accuracy?
-You can run. But if you're not a runner--or, better, a sprinter--don't think you can outrun a 16 -25 year-old attacker, especially if you let him get within 20 feet of you.
Without a gun, you are vulnerable. With a gun, you have protection only if you know about the Tueller Drill--and adjust the distance you must keep, based upon your own need for draw-chamber-aim-shoot.
You've got to find a gun instructor to talk to about that distance-and-time issue. You've got ask him about the Tueller Drill--and your time-distance problem as you chamber a round before attempting to fire. You've got to understand if you have the legal right to draw-and-chamber a round when an knife-holder is more than 20 feet away from you. You've got to understand how to act when your gun is in your hand and the knife-holder is more than 20 feet away.
You can defend yourself. But you can do that only if you learn what to do and when to do it. You have to think it out and plan before you are threatened. Then, you have to practice.
You can also defend yourself by being alert. Know the environment you are in. Keep your head swiveling--though not so excessively that you fall or look ridiculous. If you have to, cross the street to stay away from someone who's look you don't like.
Go online. Search for self-defense ideas. Talk to others about strategies.
Whatever you do you, remember not to be over-confident: for gun-owner, 21 feet may not be enough separation to protect yourself. As Levinson (above) has already pointed out, the danger you face in a knife attack isn't a matter of excessive force (by you); it's a question of excessive restraint by you.
Be careful. Is 21 feet safe enough?