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  1. #1
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    SD: handgun versus knife

    Last night as we were closing up at work, I got into a debate with one of the other servers...the same one who told me having a gun is stupid. She was voicing her opinion that a knife is a better self-defense weapon than a handgun. Her reasoning is that a handgun is more likely to be used against you. And if it's used against you, you have a better chance of survival with being sliced up than being shot. I posed the question, "Why is a handgun more likely to be used against you? A small compact or subcompact is no bigger than a knife." She said, "Because someone can grab the gun without being hurt. You can't grab a knife blade without getting cut." I went further to explain that over 80% of people shot by handguns survive, and that handguns are super-lethal monsters that movies and the media make them out to be. She said that a person can survive lots of knife cuts. I assured her that if someone was attempting to kill her with her own knife, they would put a nice incision right across her throat, and bleed her to death in less than a minute. I also reasoned that to take a weapon away from you, a BG has to be within his own arm's reach. You can shoot someone outside of your circle, but to use a knife, you have to be nearly in arm's length. Also, most people can avoid a swing with a knife or have the knowledge to deflect or block the motion. You can't do either with a bullet that's going 800+fps. Even with that, she still said she thought a knife was a better SD weapon than a handgun. She also said she didn't want to kill anyone, and have to live with that for the rest of her life, and that I didn't either. I made it clear that anyone who tries to severely injure me or kill me will be shot, and if they die, I will have no remorse.

    I thought about it for a bit. I think her perception of a handgun versus a knife is that a handgun will kill while a knife will not. Being that that's what she believes, joined with her unwillingness to take a life, even if her life depended on it, that would pretty much rule out what she believes to be the deadlier weapon.

    I asked three other girl servers about a handgun versus a knife for SD tonight when we were rolling silver. They all said the same thing. "A knife because a gun can be used against you."

    Trust me, I'm all about someone carrying a weapon they feel comfortable and confident with. Someone who is not comfortable carrying a handgun is more a danger to themselves and everyone around than without. But barring the issue of being a safe concealed carrier and the issues contained within, how would you all respond to someone saying that a knife is a better SD weapon than a handgun? Not a better weapon for that person because they're scared of guns, or the like, but in general. If someone stated that "a knife is a better than a handgun for SD" as a general concept, how would you respond?

    I personally feel a handgun is better. Yes, it is deadlier than a knife in trained hands, assuming you're not only measuring the lethality of outside-head-and-COM shots versus deep throat slits. I have no qualms about taking someone's life if they are endangering mine, and I would have no problems living with it knowing that had I not taken their life in SD, they could've taken mine. I also know that when one shoots in SD, they are legally justified in shooting until the attack has stopped, and until the attacker has shown full intentions of retreating or is retreating, or is physically unable to continue the attack. If they turn and run, you can't shoot them in the back. However, if they continue to attack and show no signs of discontinuing their actions or do not discontinue their actions, they're not physically unable to continue the attack until they're unconscious or dead. Either they stop what they're doing by their own accord, or they're stopped by unconsciousness or death.

    I think a lot of people (like my co-workers) who claim a knife is better are referring to their own personal usage of either, and in reality, they would probably swing a knife to defend themselves, but would not pull the trigger of a gun because they were scared they might kill their attacker. In a "kill or be killed" situation, I will kill unless I'm unable to. I may not have more than a few shards of ice in my veins, but someone trying to hurt me makes me mad. Someone trying to kill me would do nothing but enrage me, and I wouldn't think twice about killing someone if that's what it took. Please don't jump to conclusions and assume I'll go shooting anyone and everyone who place any kind of threat on me. But in that given situation, I would choose to kill over being killed.

    Unfortunately, there are very few, if any, occurences of a situation being entirely cut and dried in real life. Nobody truly knows if and when they'll die. Given that situation, I believe most would answer, "I would kill, not be killed." However, that all boils down to survival of the fittest, and the fight or flight response. Some just don't have a fight response in them, and even if their flight response was not an option, they wouldn't fight back. And a lot of those that say they would kill probably wouldn't as they wouldn't want to live with it for the rest of their lives, and that fear of the afterfeeling of killing someone would prevent them from acting, much like a person who draws their gun and points, only to drop the gun and break down in tears because "they couldn't bring themselves to kill someone." I think the girls who opted for a knife would fall into that category, or at least perceive themselves to. In the real situation, they might choose to take a life to save their own.

    If you've seen the SAW movies, you'll know they are along these lines, but are more focused on self-inflicted pain to survive. But it's very similar in the sense that it poses the question, "how far are you willing to go in order to survive?" I'm not sure I could saw off my own foot or gouge out both my eyes, but I am morally justified in taking a life to save my own, if that's what it takes and comes down to.

    How do you all think the survival instinct and evolution tie in to SD, how we act in SD, and what we choose to protect ourselves in SD?

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  3. #2
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
    Steve M1911A1 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by fivehourfrenzy View Post
    ...How do you all think the survival instinct and evolution tie in to SD, how we act in SD, and what we choose to protect ourselves in SD?
    First of all, I think your female co-workers are stuck in the "eeew, icky" response cycle because they really do not want to face the issue of self defense. I think you're right that they prefer the knife to the gun because they perceive the knife to be "less lethal." I think they don't want to look at the fact that self defense is usually a life-or-death situation.
    Most animals, including humans, are "hard wired" with an innate "decider" in the mind that instantly makes a fight-or-flight decision under duress. We usually automatically fight against a weaker opponent, and fly from a stronger one. An armed opponent is usually considered stronger by this "decider," so an unarmed person usually will attempt to flee. That's why many attackers use loud voices and forceful words at the onset: it serves to confuse, and thus "freeze," the victim, and interrupts the flight impulse.
    It is frequently useless to discuss self defense with someone who is unwilling to look at the subject with a mind open to real-world situations. If you want to pursue further discussion with your female co-workers, ask them to imagine being attacked by anyone bearing a gun, or by someone stronger than themselves bearing a knife. In those cases, would they still want only a knife as self protection?
    This is a fruitful course of contemplation for yourself, too. How would you handle those threats?

  4. #3
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Has she ever actually cut anyone in a fight? If not, she needs a quick reality check.

    Get some rubber knives, put some chalk on them, and show her how easy it is to take a knife from someone who has no training. I am sure you know from your MA training that once you control the upper arm of the knife-wielder, they cannot possibly cut you, at least not without executing a hand change, which untrained people are ill-equipped to do. But with a gun, I can shoot you well before you are close enough to take my weapon.

    Knives as fighting tools take a combination of strength and dexterity that most people simply do not possess. The overwhelming majority of women are not nearly strong enough to win any kind of physical fight with a man, whether they have a knife or not.

    Guns allow you to keep your opponents at a distance, where you are much, much safer. Knives require you to close and fight, where it becomes a contest of strength and speed. Most criminals are stronger and faster than most non-criminals, especially when said non-criminal is a woman. The gun is the only equalizer.

    And what is her plan if she faces two opponents? A knife in each hand?

    Theories about self-defense that spew from the mouths of people who have no experience with fighting are worth exactly what you pay for them.

    Anyway, ask her why if knives are better than guns, don't cops just carry big knives?
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    Excellent points...

    Re. "...more likely to be used against you..."

    If I have a grip on my gun, or a grip on my knife, neither one will be easily taken away from me.

    No one will attempt to grab the blade of a knife, or the barrel of a gun for that matter... It would only be an attempt at the arm. And like Mike said, if you control my gun arm, I can still shoot you. You're not controling my finger.

    And at 10-20ft??? How good are you at throwing that knife?

    JW

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    Great points. I explained to the first one that being that she's a 110-pound girl that's cute and lives in the downtown area and walks everywhere she goes, odds are she'll be assaulted at some point.

    Anyone who has any martial arts training can usually defend against a knife. It's almost no different than deflecting a blow. Whether it's swung in an arcing motion, or poked with, it can only be delivered in a way that a punch or hand strike could be delivered. And being that she has no fight training whatsoever, she probably couldn't stab a drunk person with a knife if her life depended on it.

    One of the campus-wide organizations that strives to prevent violence against women had a workshop a couple of months ago. One of the head women came to my sociology class to tell us about it. I asked her if they did any SD training and she said they used to, but shyed away from it. She did say she would consider letting me do a session teaching very basic SD tactics. No triple joint locks or fancy spinning kicks, but very simple things anyone could use to open up the flight option in the event they're cornered, some of it being lethal. Side knee kicks, crotch strikes, throat strikes, eye gouges, rib dislocations, etc. I couldn't go because of work and she never emailed me. It's something I'd like to do though. A lot of girls are under the impression that in a situation where they need to fight, they simply can't win. Jamming your finger into a BG's eye socket or crushing his knee sideways is pretty basic and will usually give you the option of getting away. I'm not a martial arts master by any means, but I can defend myself, and show others how to do the same.

    But like Steve said, the basic instinct is what counts under attack. You could learn all the SD tactics in the world, but when it came time to use them, completely choke up. I think training and keeping a confident mindset is extremely key. To respond to how I would react...I have a short temper. If anyone ever threatened my life, rage would overcome fear 10 times out of 10. Nobody has the right to take away what's mine and only mine, literally. In a life-and-death fight, if you don't kill me, I'll kill you.

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    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fivehourfrenzy View Post
    ...I have a short temper. If anyone ever threatened my life, rage would overcome fear 10 times out of 10. Nobody has the right to take away what's mine and only mine, literally. In a life-and-death fight, if you don't kill me, I'll kill you.
    In a real-world situation, you may find that short temper a liability. Rage tends to blank-out reason, so you need to have "muscle memory" in place to take over instead.
    I can tell you from experience that rage eventually goes away with maturity (read "age"), and when it does, you'll become a much better fighter.
    You've got the right ideas, right now, though. Keep 'em up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    In a real-world situation, you may find that short temper a liability. Rage tends to blank-out reason, so you need to have "muscle memory" in place to take over instead.
    I can tell you from experience that rage eventually goes away with maturity (read "age"), and when it does, you'll become a much better fighter.
    You've got the right ideas, right now, though. Keep 'em up.
    Short temper is always a liability. However, my temper wouldn't flare up in a non-threatening situation. It might, but not to the point where it would cloud out reason. The reasoning itself is what would lead to anger. Instead of, "this guy is pissing me off, and [I'm losing good judgement], and now I'm gonna pound him or shoot him because [I'm making the situation more than it is]," it's more like, "okay, looking at the details, this guy is threatening me with serious injury or death and has no intention of stopping. **** THIS!!!"

    A short temper has always been my problem. Now, I'm getting to where as my temper starts to flare, I'll take an objective stance and decide whether or not I should even be angry, because being angry at nothing is pointless. If the details say, "yes, this isn't right, and you should have a problem with it," then I allow myself to feel anger as a natural, appropriate occurrence. If there's no reason to be upset, I chill.

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    niadhf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Barham View Post
    Has she ever actually cut anyone in a fight? If not, she needs a quick reality check.

    Knives as fighting tools take a combination of strength and dexterity that most people simply do not possess.
    GREAT POINTS. It of course is easy to say "i would rather" when not faced with reality. But Reality gets awfully messy awfully quick.

    Theories about self-defense that spew from the mouths of people who have no experience with fighting are worth exactly what you pay for them.
    What is the saying, the only true way to be a pacifist is to study unti you know you can kill, then choose not to. Or some such i paraphrased.


    Anyone who has any martial arts training can usually defend against a knife. It's almost no different than deflecting a blow
    Got to respond here FHF. WRONG WRONG WRONG. Your adrenaline as a person REALLY kicks in when someone attacks you with a knife. It brings a whole new pucker factor to the equation. Forget what you think you know, forget what you think you will do. you will simply react. In my case, 5 years of Aikido became a knife (shiv actually) removal technique after clearing the room except for one (100 lb female) backup. It worked (WOW I am still amazed). Neither myself nor my co-worker were hurt. The "client" was hurt less than could have been.
    I do not say this to brag. But I do want you to realize that no matter what you know, when the SHTF on whatever level, life changes. (p.S. this was over 16 years ago. I still train. I train to avoid if can be, but to react if need be)
    Last edited by niadhf; 03-03-2008 at 05:24 PM. Reason: formating

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    Quote Originally Posted by niadhf View Post
    Got to respond here FHF. WRONG WRONG WRONG. Your adrenaline as a person REALLY kicks in when someone attacks you with a knife. It brings a whole new pucker factor to the equation. Forget what you think you know, forget what you think you will do. you will simply react. In my case, 5 years of Aikido became a knife (shiv actually) removal technique after clearing the room except for one (100 lb female) backup. It worked (WOW I am still amazed). Neither myself nor my co-worker were hurt. The "client" was hurt less than could have been.
    I do not say this to brag. But I do want you to realize that no matter what you know, when the SHTF on whatever level, life changes. (p.S. this was over 16 years ago. I still train. I train to avoid if can be, but to react if need be)
    I'm referring to technique, not the mental/psychological aspect. Based on overall technique, if you can deflect a blow, you can deflect a knife. Sure, your reasoning and tactics will drastically change when you perceive the risk of being cut versus the risk of being punched. My point is that it's not difficult to know how to defend against a knife attack. Nobody can defend against a bullet once it's fired at you. That's the main difference in SD against a knife versus SD against a gun. You can deflect a knife or avoid it as it's approaching you. Once a bullet's shot at your body, unless you're from the Matrix, you won't be deflecting or dodging that bullet. Hence one more reason why a gun is a better weapon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fivehourfrenzy View Post
    I'm referring to technique, not the mental/psychological aspect. Based on overall technique, if you can deflect a blow, you can deflect a knife. Sure, your reasoning and tactics will drastically change when you perceive the risk of being cut versus the risk of being punched. My point is that it's not difficult to know how to defend against a knife attack.
    About that reasoning and knowing how. You can't seperate them at such a time. they become as one. Knowing how and Doing how will change in such a sit.
    What is it they say, tunnel vision and your ability to sight (obviously not with a knife) alter in a high stress sit. Same is true big time. knowing how and reacting can be different. Unless (and even if but less so) you practice such.

    Matrix? Who do you think taught Keanu?. Watch Remo Williams:The Adventure Begins.

    I agree (obviously) about choice of firearm for SD. Just felt the neeed to point out what I saw as a sort of Blasse comment. Self Defence is not something (i Feel) to be blasse about, no matter the form of attack.
    Last edited by niadhf; 03-03-2008 at 07:59 PM.

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    Speaking as a female on the subject, I always prefer something that keeps the attacker as far away as possible. I do carry a knife, but the job of my knife is mostly a working one and not a defensive one. I am not a fan of stun guns, either, mostly because the BG has to be right up on me in order for it to work. A taser, a gun, those are better options because in most cases you can stop someone from advancing (one way or another) before they lay hands on you.

    I have used a knife to defend my life. When I worked for the armored car company I had someone come at me while I was working on a broken ATM. My knife was out because I was cutting a roll of paper to be loaded into the machine and this person was on me from behind the truck before I had much of a chance to react. This person ended up with a sizeable gash across their chest, but they did not fall and did not stop advancing. However, now they were doing their best to reach that knife and I knew enough to turn my body so the knife was ready but not accessable. Seeing as how it was a small CRKT that was only semi sharp after a day of work it wasn't my best option for defense, but my gun was unreachable now without giving up the knife. The only thing that really saved me that night was my driver bumping this person with the van. I made sure to carry a pocket sharpener with me after that and only used the knife with my left hand (gun was on the right).

    A knife can be taken from you pretty easily by anyone with any amount of training. I got my training when I was 8 years old taking karate lessons and somehow retained some of the training and knew how to make the knife ready but unreachable and knew to keep moving. Had this other person had more updated training similar to mine, they could have put me down and disarmed me before I even knew what I had hit me. But with a gun or taser they don't get the chance to try. Most people looking for self defense will, in a moment of need, freeze. I've watched a woman stand facing someone head on with the knife out at arms length in front of her and just stood there. What good does that do?

    However, knife, taser, gun, martial arts, whatever it is... you should be trained. Even someone with a gun can freeze up and be disarmed easily.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SuckLead View Post
    Even someone with a gun can freeze up and be disarmed easily.
    I think that's why a lot of people, including the girls at my work, prefer not to carry a handgun because they're afraid of that happening. They get this mental image that they couldn't kill someone, and know they'd draw and aim, but not fire.

    Also, there are plenty of stories of people having their handguns used against them. It's because they froze up.

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    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    If you carry a weapon...any weapon...you have to be trained in its use and completely prepared to use it. Maybe even prepared to use it on the automatic-reflex level.
    It's like what you said about your rage: you evaluate the situation and, if it's called for, you go into "automatic-pilot mode" and start to use your weapon without further thought.
    The important part, from a liability standpoint, would be your instant evaluation: Is armed response really appropriate in this situation?
    If it is, "BANG!"
    If not, nobody sees your weapon.
    This way, you never freeze up at the moment of truth.
    Tell this to the girls, and see how they respond. (I predict: "Eeew, icky!")

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    That's exactly what I told them. A concealed weapon should never be drawn unless its use is legally justified (unless you wanna go to prison), and you must be 100% prepared to use it. Everyone gives me the same thing. "You couldn't kill someone." That couldn't be further from the truth.

    One of the girls at work did ask me if I could really kill someone. I replied with, "If I have reason to, yes. And I wouldn't think twice before, during, or after the fact."

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    wiseguy's Avatar
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    I carry a knife as a back-up last ditch weapon

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