Tag Archives: knife law

Preemptive Strikes and Weapon Brandishing

Preemptive Strikes and Weapon Brandishing,
or “Officer, The Guy in the Red Hat Started It.”

Preemptive strikes and brandishing. How are these two subjects connected? In an unarmed preemptive strike, you are detecting an impending attack upon yourself. You are making an educated or uneducated guess, smart or not smart, and you slug the other guy first before he slugs you. With brandishing a weapon, you are detecting an impending attack upon yourself, and with an educated guess or not, smart or not, you somehow display your carried weapon with just a peek or a flash of a jacket or vest, or…do a full pull out of a pistol, knife or stick.

In my Stop 1 Showdown-Standoff training module, and in the Level 1 of the hand, stick, knife and gun courses I teach, we cover sudden, unarmed attacks, and a whole lot of weapon draws. Stop 2 through Stop 6 and Levels 2 through 9 cover the mixed weapon, standing though ground, follow-ups. But…so, in the auspices of the Stop 1 boundaries, and in the Levels 1, it is imperative to discuss these two violence initiating subjects. Who does the physical initiation?

Unarmed Preemptive Strikes
The topic of preemptive striking and kicking a pending attacker has always been suggested in martial systems. So many folks think this is the best idea. But there are a few drawbacks. Just a few. “Red hat” drawbacks, I’ll call them. In recent years there have been a lot of YouTube videos of superstar, fad martial artists beating the snot out of a training partner who is just standing still, hands hanging down, before them. Presumably there has been an argument to kick this off? The two are close and our hero springs forward, slaps, pokes, shin kicks and smacks the other guy down in a pile, in one second. The surrounding crowd is thrilled with his amazing skill. So amazed, I hear that he charges some $800 for a two day seminar.
Where’s the “red hat” come in? It just helps define whose-who and whats-what. If the superstar is wearing a red hat, witnesses will report to the police,

“Officer, those two guys were just talking, and the guy with the
red hat hit the other. He started it.”

Handcuffing ensues. Of you. I am not saying that preemptive strikes are a bad thing, they might be wonderful at times. It just can be tricky in the big picture (especially with witnesses around.)

Weapon Brandishing
In simple terms, is just pulling a stick, a knife or a gun always sheer brandishing? When is it? When is it not? Like with an unarmed preemptive strike, what is the pre-draw situation? Federal law defines brandished as:

“…with reference to a dangerous weapon (including a firearm) means that all or part of the weapon was displayed, or the presence of the weapon was otherwise made known to another person, in order to intimidate that person, regardless of whether the weapon was directly visible to that person. Accordingly, although the dangerous weapon does not have to be directly visible, the weapon must be present.” (18 USCS Appx § 1B1.1)”

In Canada, a weapon is referred to in legalese as an “object.”  So, one must do a dog-and-pony show on what “object” was used in the situation. Pencil? Screw diver? Tooth pick? Potato chip? Thumb? (Thumb? Actually, few, if any – there’s always one wacky place – regard unarmed tactics as a “weapon,” and the myth of karate-people required to register their hands as lethal weapons is just that – a myth.)

The US Carry webpage says, Brandishing a weapon can be called a lot of different things in different states.
– “Improper Exhibition of a Weapon.”
– “Defensive Display.”
– “Unlawful Display.”

Retired special operations Ben Findly advises, “…‘brandishing’ or ‘improper exhibition’ or ‘defensive display’ or ‘unlawful display’ (or whatever your state and jurisdiction calls it) depends specifically on your state and jurisdiction. Very generally, however, for an operating definition “brandishing” means to display, show, wave, or exhibit the firearm in a manner which another person might find threatening. You can see how widely and differently this can be subjectively interpreted by different “reasonable” individuals and entities. The crime can actually be committed in some states by not even pointing a firearm at someone. In some states it’s a misdemeanor crime and in others a Felony. So, focus, think rationally, know your state’s law, and be careful out there.”

In other words, say you are the one wearing the red hat again. Things go bad and you try to scare off trouble. You pull your jacket back to show a weapon. Or, you pull a weapon to scare off this problem person, what will the witness say?

“Officer, they were just arguing and the man in the red hat pulled out a big ___!”

Fill in the blank. Knife? stick? Pistola?  Handcuffs ensue.

A quick review of several state, weapon brandishing laws include  words as legal terms like:
– rude, (was the gun-toter obnoxious and rude?)
– careless  (was the knife-toter waving it around?)
– angry, (was the stick-toter yelling and red-faced?)
– threatening manner…

…threatening manner? What? For many the whole point of aiming a stick, knife and gun at a brewing bag guy is to be threatening! What then is the line between a smart preemptive strike, a smart weapon show or pull and a crime? How can we make it all become justified self defense?  As a cop of three decades, I am alive today because I pulled my gun out a number of times, just before I REALLY needed it. This idea can work.

The remarkable researcher and police vet Massod Ayoob says, “When an unidentifiable citizen clears leather without obvious reason, folks start screaming and calling 9-1-1, and words like “brandishing” start being uttered. Thus, circumstances often constrain the law-abiding armed citizen from drawing until the danger is more apparent, which usually means the danger is greater. Therefore, often having to wait longer to reach for the gun, the armed citizen may actually need quick-draw skills more than the law enforcement officer.

A. Nathan Zeliff, a California attorney reports, “Brandishing – drawing your firearm pursuant to a lawful act of self defense should not be considered “brandishing”. However, if it is determined that you drew your firearm and the facts and circumstances show that you drew or exhibited the firearm in a threatening manner, and that such was not in self defense or in defense of another, then you may face charges of brandishing.”

I am not to sure this brandishing topic comes up all that much? Or not enough. So, here’s some collective words of wisdom on the subject. A collection of advice looks like this:

  • 1: Prepare for problems by using the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why  questions.
  • 2: Avoid possible dangerous arguments and confrontations when possible. Conduct yourself with smart, self control. Leave if you morally, ethically can.
  • 3: Obtain a valid, concealed carry license for all your weapons.
  • 4: Keep your weapon concealed. Do not open carry it.
  • 5. Do not display a stick/baton, knife or pistol, or threaten deadly force unless you, or others are threatened with imminent death or serious, bodily harm .
  • 6: Do not in any way reveal your stick/baton, knife or gun, point to it, indicate that you have a them.
  • 7: Attend a fundamentals of fighting with and without weapons training and learn the use of deadly force laws in your city, county, state and country.

Witnesses and “pointed-at, victims” can be stupid, bias and vindictive. They have cell phones and big mouths. And, don’t get caught wearing the red hat!

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Hock’s email is hockhochheim@forcenecessary.com

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Should You Even DARE Use a Knife to Defend Yourself?

Should I Even Dare to Use a Knife to Defend Myself?

A motto for my Force Necessary: Knife course is “Use your knife to save your life!” It’s also for desperate times and situations. Mine is a politically correct slogan that sets the stage for the carry-and-use doctrine.

The knife can be used for less-than-lethal purposes and lethal purposes. Yes, less-than-lethal despite its reputation. The edged weapon is not well looked upon in the legal systems of the civilized world. I must warn you that if you use one to defend yourself you usually will be harshly regarded and will be working under an emotional and costly deficit to clear yourself of legal trouble.

Carrying alone can be a problem. Most pocket and belt carry knives are illegal in many countries and in some cities and states in the United States, unless you have a very common sense reason to do so, such as your job. If you run across the street to grab a cup of coffee, from your factory job, you may be grilled by authorities about your pocket knife. (This has happened.)

Knife who, what, where, when, how and why?

Who are you to carry a knife?
What do you do that requires a knife?
Where do you do this knife-as-tool work?
When do you need a knife on your job or work?
How will you use this knife on your job or work?
Why such a knife?

These are some of the legal questions authorities will consider, investigate and ask about your knife-carry in these knife-restricted areas.

There is also a citizen-based, “never-knife” and “anti-knife” knife movement, if you will, in certain self defense and combatives programs. Many of these groups are in countries where knife carry is illegal. I get the message from several Krav Maga schools also, which is a bit surprising. I hear –

  • “I’ll never have a knife!”
  • “I’ll never need a knife, I have my unarmed skills.”
  • “Even if I disarm a knife, I’ll just throw it off.”
  • “Carrying Knives are illegal where I live. I won’t have one.”
  • “I don’t need knife training. Everyone already knows instinctively how to use a knife.”
  • “People who like and use knives are crazy, like criminals.”
  • “There are no self defense knife use statistics where I live. Why bother then?”
  • “Have you seen the kinds of people that carry and train with knives? they’re a cult. A crazy, wacky cult!”
    …and so on. 

Knives are quite ubiquitous. There are in the kitchens and probably the garages of every home in the world. They are in every restaurant in the world, and every business in the world that requires a minimal amount of handy work. There was a stabbing the other day in a Walmart. A man got a for-sale knife off a shelf and used it. These facts render some of the above quotes moot.

And I might address the “There are no self defense knife use statistics where I live. Why bother then?” comment. I usually hear it from people/instructors/school owners who live in countries where knife-carry is nearly of fully illegal. There are consistent numbers of knife and gun crime but not knife self defense. Could that be that knives are just not allowed on the streets for the normal law abiding citizen? The no-knife mentality bleeds over to forgetting the knife, like Judo people forget to punch.

Still, despite the stigma, I carry on with my own knife course – Force Necessary: Knife. Here’s why and perhaps some of the talking points I use, maybe you can use for your positions. The following is how and why I justify a “nasty, violent” knife course.  

First off, I understand your anti-knife concerns. I really do. I have wrangled with these issues. I have no particular fascination with knives themselves. I feel the same way about guns and sticks. I do not collect them, in the same way I wouldn’t collect wrenches or hammers, or all tools in general. These things to me are tools. Some folks do collect knives and of course that’s fine and fine hobby. But since I feel this way, this detachment, I might offer a very practical viewpoint on the subject, along with, needless to add, my decades of investigating knife crimes might add some value too. 
   
We live in a mixed weapon world and therefore I accept the challenge of trying to examine this…hand, stick, knife, gun world. Carry and possession laws aside, it’s still a hand, stick, knife, gun world. It’s a world of war and crime and that includes weapons. We fight criminals and/or worse, we fight enemy soldiers. Sometimes we escape them. Sometimes we capture them. Sometimes we have to injure them. And, sometimes we have to kill them.       

A person (who lives anywhere) should know how to use a stick, a knife or a gun, despite the laws possessing them. I am not talking about legal or illegal possessing here, as in walking around with an illegal weapon in your pocket. I am just talking about use. Using it. Knowing. Messing with it. Familiarization. 

The big picture.
Martial instructors with statistics of things that almost never happening? A whole lot of things hardly ever happen in some areas. There are 330 million people in the United States. Millions in other countries. And the odds of being a victim of any hand, stick, knife or gun crime is quite small in comparison. Keep this in mind when we discuss one hand-fighting-only instructor in the USA who declared it was waste of time to bother learning long gun disarming. “Long gun attacks never happen,” he said. “You would be smarter to get on a treadmill than learn long gun disarming.” He said these very things the same week a guy walked into a church with an AR-15 and killed people. Annually, consistently, people use long guns like hunting rifles and shotguns in crimes. The problem exists. Since it exists, the problem requires solutions and one movement is in the available, existence of long gun disarming training.

Stats also that say that knife defense hardly ever happens too? That beatings with impact weapons hardly “never happen.” That fistfights and unarmed beatings hardly ever happen. I agree in the big picture. I think you would discover though that even simple, unarmed fights are also extremely rare when compared to population size and the billions of personal interactions people have every day.

So then, if an actual, unarmed fight, or an actual unarmed attack/crime is so very, very rare in comparison to the population number, the interactions numbers, why do we then bother to practice any self-defense at all? If hardly anything happens? Why bother with your Krav Maga?

Crime rates are small compared to the over-all population. Most of you reading this now will never be in an unarmed fight, never a knife fight, never be shot, or never be a victim of crime. Still we work on these problems because on some level we know, it has happened, will happen and could happen to you and yours. It sort of – needs to be done.

I ask this of the “never-knife,” people, the “never long-gun” person, the unarmed-only trainer. Why bother doing anything then? Does your “no-knife” logic carry over to “no-hand,” “no-stick, “no-gun?” None of it happens a lot anyway. Why bother?

A study of the FBI crime records disclosed that through the years, 40% to 90% of the people the police must fight, are armed in some fashion. That’s a lot of weapons out there in the civilian world. But, of course, in the history of crime and war, a knife (and sharp, knife-like things) has been used, dare I say, countless times in combat. Since this “no-knife-no-matter-what” essay aired on social media back in 2016, Brits, Europeans and Australians have presented examples when desperate people have used knives to save lives and have been acquitted, even within their strict laws. Even guns have been used in self defense and shooters were acquitted in “no-gun’ worlds. In the end, the “totality of circumstances” (a legal term) and common sense should usually win out. We hope! Should you ever, even dare to use a knife to save your life? It will certainly be ugly. There will be ramifications.

I do get a kick out of the knife simpletons who say, “just stick the pointy end in someone.” Well, there are mental and physical and situational and legal issues to work on and work out. I also find it interesting that many of these same folks spend thousands and thousands of dollars to own and learn how to stick the…”pointy end of a bullet,” into someone. A simpleton might say back to them, “What? Just point the barrel and pull the trigger. Stick the pointy end of a bullet into someone.”  I would never say that about shooting and I won’t say that about the knife either.

Mental. Physical, Situational. Legal. I hope I don’t have to mention a long list of examples here. Training with a knife creates a desensitization of it’s use, something most people need. They need the speed, strength and coordination to overcome an opponent and their reflexive arms. What are the positions and situations of use? And my God, the legal issues!  One could write a book about these vital things (oh…I have!)

And I would be remiss not to comment here on the subject listed above on “lost,” dropped or disarmed knives in this essay. You might not have a knife, but he does! And in your unarmed combatives class, your Krav Maga class in “no-knife” countries still practice knife disarms ad nauseam. You break the guy’s nose and execute Disarm #22. It worked! Two things happen to the knife –

  • The knife either hits the floor, or,
  • The knife is now in your untrained hand.  

What happens next? One naysayer says he will just “throw that knife away” and continue to fight on versus one, (two or more) bad men unarmed. What size room are you in, anyway? And just because the knife (or gun) is on the floor doesn’t mean the bad guy can’t lunge down in a second’s flash and get it back. The lethal threat is not over because the knife has hit the floor at your feet. It’s still within lunge and reach and the deadly intent has been established with his assault.

Knives! Look…hey…they exist. They are everywhere. To save your life and the lives of others, use them when and where you got them. Its a hand, stick, knife, gun, world. If you call yourself a self defense, combatives, survivalist, you must have a working knowledge of hand, stick, knife, gun world.

Warning though, if you use a knife, even legally, you will still be rung through the legal ringer.  First the knife carry-and-use stigma. Then your background, your comments on social media, your “unusual” (they will call it) interest in weapons. Your knife brand name and your knife social group. Your tattoos. Everything will be used against you.  And you will spend a lot of money with lawyers. I have written about these obstacles extensively elsewhere. Violence sucks and this will suck too. 

So, despite all the negativity, I still maintain the Force Necessary: Knife course as a storehouse of information and research on the subject. Somebody has to do it.  Knife versus hand. Knife versus stick. Knife versus knife. Knife versus gun threats. Standing on down to floor/ground. Legal issues. Use of Force. Rules of engagement. Psychology. History. (Certainly not just knife dueling.)

I will leave you “never-ever-knife” folks with this thought. This question. It’s 4 am and you hear two thugs breaking into your back door. Your spouse and kids are asleep. Presuming you are unfortunate enough, deprived enough, not to have a gun handy, do you reach for the biggest kitchen knife you can get your hands on? Or, will they get to your big knife first instead, as so many home invaders and rapists like to use your kitchen knives, so they aren’t caught with a knife in transit. If you don’t even think about getting a kitchen knife in that very dark moment? You are a very poorly trained, self defense, survivalist. If you do realize you need to get the biggest knife you can find? You may have just joined that crazy knife cult you so quickly dismiss!

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Hock’s email is hockHochheim@forcenecessary.com

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