This is why threatening with weapons does not work

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Every guy who carries has run that scenario through their heads. The one where they’re at a pub, having drinks with their girl, and a group of drunk morons keeps hassling them. Making comments about your girl’s ass. Calling her “sweetheart”. Asking her to come over to them.


And when you decide screw this, you’re leaving, they get up to follow you outside. Fuck.


Now, you don’t want to fight 5 guys. But they’re being drunk assholes, so you don’t want to shoot them either. At least not yet. So I don’t know about the rest of you but I sometimes have to fight the urge (during this particular daydream tactical visualisation scenario) to draw into sul and tell them to “Stay the fuck BACK!”


Fortunately I’m not so stupid that this ever actually works in my daydr visualisations. ‘Cause it sure as shit isn’t likely to work in real life.


To paraphrase Rory Miller (because I can’t find the original quote at the moment):

“Never threaten with a weapon. If you do you’ll either have to use it or it will be taken away from you and used against you.”


Witness the guy in Anaheim. Watch what happens when he pulls his pistol. Did you see all those kids running away? Nope, neither did I.



Or take these guards (are they cops? I can’t tell) in Stockholm. When the group started interfering with them detaining someone and the guy pulled his baton (without hitting anyone), did the group surrounding him disperse immediately? Nope. They did try to snatch his baton away on several occasions though. Rory Miller ladies and gentlemen, right once again.



That Rory Miller quote exposes the mindset of all those “But won’t they take away my gun/knife and use it against me?” people.


No more threats

So I think we need to immediately drop the idea of ever using a weapon to threaten someone (especially a group) in order to make them keep away or back down.


The reasons for this are simple. Firstly, it doesn’t work. You can see evidence of that in the 2 videos above. (Yes, exceptions do exist, but usually only with people who weren’t going to attack you anyway.)


Secondly, it makes things worse. To understand why this is so, we need to understand why we threaten in the first place.


Why do we threaten?

Why do people pull weapons and threaten someone? It’s not to shoot them, or they’d just shoot them. They want to not shoot them. People threaten for the same reasons they puff up their chests during a shouting match. For the same reason they shove the other guy.


They don’t want to actually attack him. They hope that by showing their big bad wolf selves that the other guy(s) will see that you are dangerous and get scared and back down.


Threatening with a weapon is just another step in the escalation process that we use to prevent physical violence from occurring. We pull a weapon, not to use it, but because we’re hoping that the mere sight of it will stop the other side (and so we won’t have to use the weapon).


And this is universal programming throughout the human race. So the other side knows that you’re pulling a weapon because you’re reluctant to use it.


So if you ever feel the need to pull a gun and shout at someone to stop, all you’re doing is telling them that you really, really hope you don’t have to actually pull the trigger.


And they know this. They see a huge jump in danger when the gun appears. But then they see that nothing is actually done with that weapon. You’ve just programmed them to believe that the gun is not a real danger.


This emboldens them. And that makes things worse for you.


So what’s a fella to do?

The situation will dictate. (And yes, I know that sounds like a cop-out.)


If they’re a bunch of drunks can you talk them down?

Drunk dude #1: “Hey baby, you got a great ass.”

You: “Nah, she’s a 6 at most – you know who does have a great ass? Stifler’s mom.”


Can you do something stupid that drunk guys will get totally distracted by? Like super-duper break dancing? Can you challenge them to a drinking competition?


All while your girl gets her ass to the car and starts up.


Can you pepper-spray the lot of them and bolt? Can you let one or 2 get closer than the others and then drop that one quick and see if that makes the others pause long enough for you to get out?


Fuck it, can you ask the bouncer for help?


Oh, I know! Can you blind the 3 drunk guys with your tacticool 500 lumen flashlight, quickly sneak behind them and (in Super Husky Christian Bale Batman voice) scream “Where’s the Joker! Where is he!”


And most importantly

Do you have a line in the sand beyond which you realise that this is going to turn violent and you now need to get in first and put people on the floor. Have you been articulating the factors to yourself as they develop so you’re not mentally caught up in the situation? You’re not in an “oh my gosh” situation, you’re sitting in HQ ticking off boxes .


#1 – Do I need to kill them all? No, they look more drunk than aggressive.

#2 – Do I need to put someone on the floor while breaking an arm? No, they seem like stupid happy drunks

#3 – Do I need to push and trip one of them onto his ass? No, 4 of the 5 are starting to move together towards a different car, and the other one can barely walk straight.


In which case everything will probably be cool.


Or maybe you get different answers to the questions.


#1 Do I need to kill them all? Inconsistency – front man sounds drunk but is walking fine and has laser focus on me. Witness check – 3 guys behind him have hunched shoulders, chin down and are looking around the parking lot. (Boxes checked, violence is imminent. Hope and unicorns stops.)

Line in the sand – If they spread out to surround us (or in ANY way interfere with us leaving) – they die.

“Honey get in the car and start up” while you orbit to the side to see if you can reset OODA loops by changing their plans (and get your girl out of the immediate vicinity).


Threatening doesn’t work

Can it work? Sure, you’ll get exceptions. But as a rule, somebody threatens because they’re not prepared to punch (and the other side knows this on some level). This includes threatening with a weapon. If you’re not prepared to punch, then the pistol/knife/baton is definitely not the right answer. Either your tactics need to change or your mental goal needs to change.


P.S. Here’s Kathy Jackson’s excellent article on personal boundaries (her lines in the sand).

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