Knife Talk

Ahab has a good post up on Knife Carry:

With regards to the self-defense needs of carrying a knife, I do still carry a knife when I’m not carrying a pistol. However, carrying a knife changes my self defense strategy quite significantly. While a knife certainly qualifies as a force multiplier, it also requires me to get right up on top of my attacker. If my attacker is armed with a knife, we are both going to get cut. That’s what happens. You always get cut.

I carry a Leatherman on me at all time, which has a 3 inch blade.  I don’t carry it with self-defense in mind, though I suppose it could be used that way in a pinch.  When it comes to force less than a firearm, I prefer Fox OC spray.  I don’t carry OC all the time with me either, but it’s useful to have options all the way up the force continuum.  I’d much rather OC an attacker than get into a knife fight.  Faced with a knife wielding attacker, and having only my Leatherman, I think I’d take Ahab’s run like a little girl option.   I’m not too proud for that.

7 thoughts on “Knife Talk”

  1. How much OC spray do you carry? Those 3.5 inch keychain models look too big to carry as a keychain and too small to be of much use. Does a 2oz make more sense, carried on the hip? And what if you’re packing–do you just leave the OC at home?

  2. I carry the 2oz version, usually just in a coat pocket. I rarely carry it in the summer when I don’t have a coat pocket. If it’s not in the coat pocket, I usually keep it in the car.

    I have mixed feelings about OC. On the one hand, there can be situations where less than lethal force is called for. On the other hand, I don’t want a jury asking the question “Why didn’t you just OC him” if I shoot a knife wielding attacker.

    I knew someone on a grand jury over in New Jersey that was hearing a case about a cop who shot a knife wielding assailant. To me the case sounded like it was overwhelmingly justifiable self-defense, but the jury demanded to know why the cop didn’t just spray the guy, or knock the knife out of his hand with his baton (I kid you not). And this was a cop! Imagine what they might decide to do to me? Ultimately, because it was lawfully self-defense, they no-billed the cop, but my friend relayed to me his disappointment that the law was structured that way, rather than being a proportional force model.

    So I like the idea of OC conceptually, and I think tactically it’s a good thing to have, but I don’t know if I want a jury telling me I should have given the attacker the benefit of doubt. Deadly force is properly met with deadly force. Some people have a problem with that, and I worry carrying a less than lethal would cause a jury or prosecutor to ask “Why didn’t you just use that, instead of shooting this poor victim with your evil gun”

    But keep in mind I don’t have much faith in people in the part of the state (Philadelphia) where I might be most likely to have to defend myself.

  3. Great point; I guess in this day and age the law is only part of the question; making sure that everything you do “looks good” to a jury is the other part. I wonder if a PA jury would have more sense than the NJ jury–I would hope so, especially outside of philly.

    It seems to me that in my area (a college town) most crimes are being committed by unarmed or lightly armed people. Last night a kid got hit over the head with a beer bottle and robbed. His assailant lifted his shirt to reveal that he had a knife, but didn’t pull it out. In that case, it seems to me that OC spray would have been the only legal self-defense option. And since my school has the enlightened policy of no firearms (we all know how well that worked for the University of Washington), OC is all I could carry on campus without the risk of getting expelled. Better than nothing anyway.

  4. In the case you mentioned, that was absolutely a deadly force scenario. OC is what you use on someone not presenting a deadly threat. A drunk tries to engage you in a fist fight, or some other such situation where there’s not a significant force disparity. There are certainly plenty of situations where less than lethal force is justified, and deadly force isn’t. Someone demanding my wallet, but presenting no weapon, for instance, might get OC’d. The minute the guy says he has a weapon, especially if he shows it, he’s getting drawn on.

    If someone threatens you with a knife or broken beer bottle, that’s absolutely a deadly force situation. You’re justified in shooting him. It’s not required for him to pull the knife out and try to stab you, all he has to do is threaten you with it. A beer bottle can be potentially deadly weapon either as a bludgeon or as a cutting weapon. In either situation I’m definitely drawing my pistol on that threat.

  5. Considering some things that have happened at your school in the past Nathanial, I’m not sure I’d give a rat’s rear end about the schools no weapons policy. In Pennsylvania, it has no force of law. They’ll just kick you out. Pennsylvania doesn’t restrict carry at universities by law. The state college system and private colleges are allowed, however, to act as property owners and kick you off (or expel you) if they catch you, but you can’t get arrested for anything, unlike most other states.

  6. Thanks for the clarification on use of deadly force. I presume that you wouldn’t be able to actually shoot the guy unless he continued advancing. I guess I need to read up on that or get some training; any recommendations?

    As for breaking the rules, yeah, I’ve thought about that. I wouldn’t hestitate (since they are only rules, not the law) if I knew that the only way I would get caught and expelled was if I had to protect myself or someone else. In that case, it’d obviously be worth the penalty, and I could probably make a big enough stink about it that it wouldn’t actually happen. The problem is that I think the more likely scenario would be me saying the wrong thing around the wrong person or accidentally revealing a hunk of metal on my hip. I wouldn’t want to get expelled for something like that.

  7. There are a few books out there on the subject. I would suggest Massad Ayoob’s “In the Gravest Extreme” as a starting point. It’s also a good idea to talk to, and have a lawyer, if you’re going to carry a firearm. Pennsylvania requires no training, but it’s a bad idea not to take some. Most gun ranges in my area offer some sort of concealed carry training. I took some, and the shooting portion was really basic, but having the lawyer come in to talk to us about the legal use of deadly force was very helpful. There are more advanced courses out there that have more advanced range exercises. IDPA competition can also be useful.

    As for a campus situation, I wouldn’t be comfortable having a firearm in a dorm unless it was a) Locked away when not carried, b) my roommate was also a shooter. Off campus, same thing if you have roommates. You have to be very discrete when carrying. That means no telling people you’re doing it. That means no telling people you even have a license to do so unless you know them well enough to know they won’t freak out and won’t talk. In 5 years of carrying, I’ve never been “made”, and only once had an officer ask for my license, and in that case I told him I had it on me because I was required to by law in Texas. If you’re doing it right, no one should ever be aware. I conceal a Glock 19, which is a fairly large gun. Smaller pistols are even easier.

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