Draw Guns and Knives … or Not? And When?

Draw/Don't Draw. 
Point/Don't Point. 
Shoot/Don't Shoot

     Who, what, where, when, how, and why do people draw their weapons once inside the fight? AFTER the fight has started? After the first collision? When do they or don't they draw their knives and guns, or maybe their clubs? Brass knucks? Or other weapons? We have already documented the three major weapon-carry sites here in prior essays and outlines:


Primary Carry Sites – think quick draw; 
Secondary Carry Sites – think backup; 
Tertiary Carry Sites – think lunge and reach, off the body

     These are locations on or near the body we need to anticipate for weapon pulls when dealing with suspicious people. Their hands access these weapon sites. (This is where we pack em too!)

     “Watch the hands, it’s the hands that will kill you,” is the old police adage. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you just stare at their hands during an encounter, but you just keep track of their hands.

     But if someone is armed and gets into a grappling/fist-fight, why and at what point in the fight does the weapon draw happen? When do they do it, or why don’t they pull their knives or guns AFTER the fight has started? As a Army and Texas detective, I have investigated tons of assaults, aggravated assaults, attempted murders and murders, plus have received continuous police training on crime and here is what I think.

1. No pull – they actually forget they are armed

2. No pull – they know better

3. Pull – they get mad enough

4. Pull – they start to lose

5. Pull – dominant fervor

     1: No pull – they forget. Yes, people get in fights and can forget they are carrying a weapon. When we arrest them and discover a gun or knife on them and ask them, “Why didn’t you use this?” They sometimes answer, “I forgot I had it.” This is a common occurrence.

     2: No pull – they know better. Some people understand that the situation they are in doesn’t warrant or justify the use of their knives or guns. They don't "rise to the occasion.” Some seasoned criminals know this. Smart guys and, of course, cops. Cops are carrying all kinds of weapons, get in all kinds of scrapes, and never pull the weapons from this sense of understanding and control.

     3: Pull – they get mad enough. Everyone understands this. You are in a fight and perhaps take an extra serious blow or experience something that further enrages you. You forget the law and your common sense and pull that knife or gun out.

     4: Pull – they start to lose. Everyone understands this, too. You are in a fight and sense it ending very badly for you. Predicting the disaster, you pull out the weapon.

     5: Pull – dominant fervor. An official name for this category has arisen in the last few years, which recognizes a certain personality type. When they are in the final stage of winning or have won, they hate for it to be over. They want to further punish the opponent. So rather than leave, they want to enjoy themselves and the victory. Enjoy the moment. If they have the enemies pinned against the wall or ground or in their clutches, out comes the guns or knives. They get shoved in the loser's face with celebratory words. They may carve up the people a bit. I recall a case I worked once where the winner cut the loser's face and said, "Here, wear this for awhile." Consider this as a "victory lap."

     Recently, I was talking with Queensland, Australia, police officers at a training session. They had just investigated an armed robbery of an armored car, and the suspect was shot by an armed guard. A guard has been fired from the company. He put on a mask, got a shotgun, and staked out the route of the armored van being driven by his former partner. He robbed the van at a stop. The guard put up his hands and said, “Take the money,” making the “no pull – they know better” decision that this situation didn’t qualify for a dangerous shootout. The robber took the money from the van but didn’t leave.

     He lifted up the shotgun and in an act of dominant fervor began beating the guard with the stock of the weapon. The guard collapsed and suddenly realized he was really, really losing as in the “pull – losing” category and drew his pistol and shot the robber. When the police unmasked the dead robber at the scene, the guard saw the face of his former partner. In this one situation, as in many, the guard passed through several of these draw/no-draw, topic/phases.

     If you are a professional in the military, security, or enforcement business, you've already heard of Shoot/Don't Shoot training. It is usually lame unless done in scenarios with simulated ammo. An important study topic is Draw/Don't Draw. Once that weapon is pulled out? What happens next? Is the weapon used? Not used? A bluff? Can it be out there and retained in such close quarters?



A Postscript on all this – if you will …

     The above essay has been out now for a bit, and I would like for people to consider something else about this "when" subject and the drawn knife. Like so many fights (and I have investigated many, been trained about many others, and researched many others), the fight has started without a weapon. Let’s say Event 1 of the fight started with – well, who knows what Event 1 is? A shove, punch? Whatever. Then the following singular events of a fight happen. Various things. Maybe landing hard on the ground on Event 7 with a head bounce? Whatever. Then … THEN … on say – Event 9 – for reasons described in the essay, the knife comes out.

     The man with the knife may be in an awkward grappling position on the ground crunched against the wall, injured, or just out of gas/wind and speed. He may well be a classic "diminished fighter," now holding a newly drawn knife. He is not what the "marketplace" and web experts so often describe as the "only, one real knife attack" – the emotional madman, prison-stitching attacker. But now maybe … maybe he is someone with one eye left? Or a broken arm? Or stunned brains? This gassed-out, wounded knifer is also a very real knife attacker and not the one portrayed on the web as the one and only "emotional," fresh, Event 1, supercharger with a knife.

     What is truly unrealistic is that many people have falsely defined, falsely envisioned all knife attacks down to one – sort of a "super-speed, Event 1 Assassination." This creates a certain hopelessness in training, as such ambush/rush attackers are really quite effective. But in the world of crime and war, the knife (and gun) comes out and at you in a number of ways, positions, threats, tricks, speeds, and at various times and stages of a fight, and from various levels of an attacker's consciousness and endurance. Situational!

     I have been amassing drills for years now, for these "draw during the fight," situations, for knives and guns (please use simulated ammo guns, not rubber ones). I suggest you try and list them out too and train for them, too. Do not blindly dismiss a grappling arm bar, or a face smash or various other solutions. While some might not work against an ambush, "Event 1 Assassin?" Not much does! But not all attacks and attackers are sneaky, Event 1 Assassins.


Contact Hock at HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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