• Brad 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.

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 knives, 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.

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 recently 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 and fists, impact weapons are deadly.

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.