06 February 2013

Strategies for the Disabled

In reference to my article titled It is not always afight to the death, several readers who have limited physical abilities have asked for advice on what they are to do since combatives is not an option for them.  Here are my thoughts.

First of all, reality does not care if you are young, weak, infirm, or ill.  As a matter of fact, just like in the rest of nature, these descriptors make for excellent prey.  What then are we to do?  Well, first of all, we as Sheepdogs keep an eye on those who are mentally or physically unable to protect themselves.  We have an obligation to do so.
The next thing is that we are frank in both our self-evaluation, and discussions with those we care about in reference to their ability to defend themselves against a violent physical attack.  Once that is done, consider our role as actors in both scenarios and environments.  All situations require actors, scenarios, and environments.  Remove one or more and the situation cannot occur.  If this sounds elementary, it is because it is.
As an actor, what environments and scenarios can you avoid?  If you can avoid them all together, what can you do to limit your exposure to them?  For most people, they are safest at home.  This makes sense because we control everything from lighting to access.  For many, their greatest time exposure is outside the home.   The bigger and more predictable the environment, the more dangerous it is.  The basic rules of survival are-

#1- The ability to move, never let anyone or anything impede your ability to move.

2#- Whether you are in a building, open space, or in transit always identify your closest cover and exit.

3#- When there is no other option but to fight, do so with all the energy and power you can muster, do not leave anything in reserve.

The first two rules are about removing yourself from the scenario and environment. 

This is even more important when you are handicapped in your ability to do #3.  The more limited in your ability to do #3, the more important the first two become.  Even then there can come a time where there is no other option besides fighting.

Courts have affirmed time and time again that a disabled person against an abled person can use a higher level of force earlier than someone who is able.  Our society also realizes that people with disabilities use tools to do things that others can do without.  In a situation where one able bodied man may be able to stop a situation with a push, shove, or punch, a disabled man may be justified in shooting , stabbing, or bludgeoning an attacker.  When your resources are limited, one needs to be more judicious in their use.  There is no time for hand ringing or trying to see what works.

Then there is the tired yard of “I don’t let anyone get that close to me”.  Really, I guess you never get coffee at a convenience store or stand on the other side of a gas pump from someone.  Or even pass someone on the sidewalk.  Even if you do make a habit of not letting people get close to you, have you ever had someone walk up to your vehicle or behind you, spooking you because you were task fixated on something else?  You will not always see it coming, and need to have an idea of how bad you would be affected by being thrown to the ground or slammed into a wall.  These are actually pretty low on the use of force scale, but could render someone who is already disabled essentially crippled and unable to defend themselves at all.  Don’t feel bad though; there are plenty of tough guys who are not so tough after the same happens to them.
If you are armed with a firearm, take the time to run through some scenarios in your head and consider how much earlier in the scenario you would be justified in using your firearm due to your disability.

If you don’t carry a firearm, or for some reason the situation is serious, but not deadly force kind of serious, be prepared to hit an attacker with anything you can get in your hands to attack their Central Nervous System until they are no longer a threat.

Lastly, I recommend carrying a cane.  Like most veterans/cops my age, I have some knee and back pain. For some reason it always seems to flare up when because of travel I find myself in restrictive environments where I cannot carry a knife or gun.  It goes without saying that anyone who has any kind of a disability that affects their mobility should make a habit of carrying a cane.  Look up MCS Drugstore Cane Basics on Youtube.  The cane us usually used by the strong hand, if carried in conjunction with a pistol, be sure to train to switch it to your weak hand as part of your draw.

Believing that because you cannot physically withstand an altercation you will not be attacked, is the same thing as believing you will not get a flat because you don’t have a spare.  Reality does not care, so you better.

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