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  • Writer's pictureBrad Parker

Self-Defense: Beware of Familiar Weapons

Row of common kitchen knives that can be deadly weapons in our self-defense
Sure, they are just kitchen knives. But deadly in the hands of an attacker.

One thing we have to be aware of is the tendency for us to downplay the dangerousness of potential weapons we are familiar with. Yet these threats play out every day.

We all recognize the lethal nature of firearms. FBI crime statistics for 2019 show that handguns are the most used weapon for homicides with 6,368 people last year.

But, the next most used weapon is a knife accounting for 1,476 murders in 2019.

There are a number of items which can fall into the FBI's category of "Knives or Cutting Instruments":

  • Knife

  • Machete

  • Boxcutter

  • Linoleum knife

  • Screwdriver

  • Broken glass

Yet, because they are so familiar, we tend to dismiss the lethal results which can result when they are used in an attack. People will say "it's only a knife". An American late night show host for HBO said this in reaction to the shooting of Walter Wallace, Jr., in Philadelphia :

[The police] “have to find a way to not kill people who — you could do it — you could get rid of a knife from a guy without killing him. This, to me, is more about…tactics and training and this attitude that the police have that our lives are somehow more valuable. I’m not saying they’re less valuable, but they’re not more precious. You could defuse a guy with a knife without firing 14 slugs into him. You can’t — police have got to stop this attitude..."

But, it's just a knife.

As if we don't need more evidence, the real life examples of deadly attacks with common objects continue to add up every day. Even venues and countries that you don't normally associate with crime are affected.

Like a supermarket. In a so-called super-safe country like New Zealand. A man walks into a grocery store in Auckland. Goes over to a kitchenware display. Pulls a long knife out of the display and proceeds to start slashing and stabbing shoppers.

Witnesses said [he] pulled out a long knife from a display in the store and began stabbing people. Six people in total were wounded, and three were in serious condition.

Or you are on vacation in California and you go to a super cool Malibu beach with your family.

Two homeless guys come up and start to accost your family. The two men are argumentative. Then one pulls out a machete and starts hacking and slashing you. Your injuries are severe and you lose one of your eyes.

The family from out of town was eating lunch on Dan Blocker Beach in Malibu Sunday when two homeless men approached, telling them they “were not allowed” there, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

An argument ensued and one of the suspects pulled out a machete and started hacking at the father, cutting the man’s upper torso and hand, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.

Franck and another homeless man...then proceeded to chase the family of five from the beach back to a parking lot near the Pacific Coast Highway.

Now in this case, to be fair, they were not attacked with "just a knife". However as noted above, the FBI lumps machetes in with other common tools like linoleum knives and box cutters.

But my point is that you are relaxing at the beach and suddenly you're under attack by an assailant with a deadly weapon.

Are you prepared? Do you have the mindset to recognize and defeat this kind of attack?

A number of people underestimate the violence and lethality of armed attacks because they've never personally experienced violence. One particular presidential candidate was noted for suggesting we only need to go out on the back veranda and unleash two shotgun blasts to scare off criminals and that police should not "shoot to kill", just be trained to shoot attackers in the leg.

As you can see in the video below showing a Chicago man armed with a knife attacking a female cop, it can very difficult to stop a committed attacker with a knife -- even with a Taser and multiple handguns.

Knife attacks are often particularly savage. Just because we use knives as a tool every day, don't dismiss them when in the hands of a human. If you aren't convinced, take a look at the bodies of the victims of the knife attack at a French church in the city of Nice. Any kitchen knife is capable of killing a human.

Skateboards seem to be a newly discovered impact weapon by perpetrators. You've seen them used to break windows in cars and businesses, and seen them used to hit people during violent riots. But, how many of us immediately think 'threat!' when we see a person carrying a skateboard?

Screwdrivers are similar. Used in an attack, any screwdriver four inches long or more is essentially a lethal dagger capable of mortal stab wounds. Yet screwdrivers are commonly kept in homes, businesses and vehicles.

Even being attacked with fists and feet can be a lethal threat. More people are beaten to death by "personal weapons" than with blunt objects. And more people are murdered by blunt objects than killed with rifles or shotguns.

FBI chart showing murder victims by weapon 2012-2016
Feet, fists, and impact weapons are surprisingly more deadly to us than we allow ourselves to believe.

Don't let your normalcy bias lull you into complacency when you see someone with a tool. It can very well be turned into a deadly weapon in a heartbeat.

All of us need more work on adding defense against edged and impact weapons to our self-defense skills.

Get the knowledge and training you need to become a more well-rounded fighter.

Then, train like your life depends on it.

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