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Knives Don't Run Out of Ammunition
By Jeremy Bentham

Anarcho-Tyranny Update

Massad Ayoob and other court watchers have noted that if you use a knife to defend yourself you are more likely to end up on trial than if you used a gun. Part of the reason for that is classist bigotry: the authorities are more likely to see a person who used a knife as a street thug who was looking for trouble and is now pleading self-defense (yeah right, we’ve heard that before). The knife being looked down on as a sneaky, dirty weapon favored by the criminal underclass. For example, in California for a long time carrying a gun without a permit was just a misdemeanor offense in the penal code, whereas carrying a "dirk or dagger" was a felony.

Another big reason is that the forensic evidence in knife uses of self-defense frequently makes the incident resemble a vicious assault. As we mentioned in a different post, knives lack stopping power. A single thrust or slash is seldom enough to drop a assailant in his tracks. Not like on TV. Especially not with a highly motivated and agitated assailant, one rendered abnormally insensitive to pain by rage and/or drug / alcohol intoxication. Therefore if you have to stab a berserker a dozen times or so in order to prevent him from strangling the life out of you, the evidence at the scene is all too likely to resemble a murder. Especially so to people unfamiliar with the real life dynamics of physical violence. Keep in mind that even the police are much more accustomed to seeing the innocent victim lying in a pool of blood with the criminal perpetrator standing over him, than the other way around. They’ll probably take the knife defender straight to jail and let the courts sort out the truth of the matter. Therefore the burden of proof is on the defender to convince the jury he acted ‘reasonably’ and did what was necessary under the circumstances to preserve his life.

But take heart, as you can see from this case it is eminently possible to justify the use of a knife in self-defense in the American court system.

In this case the defendant (who was black) also invoked Missouri’s version of the 'Stand Your Ground’ (SYG) law. The Left always attempts to portray SYG as a license for bigoted and fearful whites to murder blacks. The truth is that blacks invoke SYG more often than whites do (especially in Florida where SYG was first enacted into law). This only makes sense since blacks are more likely to live in neighborhoods with high crime rates and thus more likely to face sudden, unexpected and unprovoked assaults in public. Situations where retreat or de-escalation of the conflict is not a feasible response.

See Ayoob’s explanation of SYG below.

Monday, March 26, 2018

MO: Defender with Knife Not Guilty of Murder

Massad Ayoob on Stand Your Ground Laws - Long Version

“During the Middle Ages, probably one of the biggest mistakes was not putting on your armor because you were ‘just going down to the corner’.”

– Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts.

From Active Response Training and Ed’s Manifesto Blog. A grewsome, but highly illustrative example. Something to keep in mind on the use of knives for self-defense.

Like they say, knives don’t jam and they don’t run out of ammunition, but they also don’t have lot of stopping power. A single stab or slash with a light blade is not likely to drop an opponent in his tracks. Not like it’s depicted on TV and in the movies. Not unless you can cut a major blood vessel with the first strike so that he bleeds out all at once, take off a limb or decapitate your adversary. Baring that the other guy might not collapse in a heap or run away screaming like you expect. He might be able to stay on his feet and be capable of offensive action for a disturbingly long period of time. Especially if he’s motivated to kill you. Even a man pierced through the heart can often make some moves in the seconds before he bleeds out and his blood pressure drops too low to keep his brain working. So if he’s armed himself, and you’re not careful, he could very well deal YOU a mortal blow before he expires. Like they teach at the Gladiator school of Lentulus Batiatus in Capua, it’s a good idea to go for the cripple and disable the other guy’s weapon hand if you can before going for the slow kill.

Anyway, it’s just something to keep in mind if you plan on employing a knife for self-defense. That way if the evil day comes to pass and you don’t drop your assailant right away, you won’t freak out beascsue you were well aware of what could happen. Then you’ll be able to move smoothly into your contingency plan.

Taxi driver stabbed to death in Ecuador

Machete Cut to the Neck

Gladiator Training – Spartacus (1960)

The Logic of Steel Paperback


The Logic of Force


Add Comment
PRMay 22, 2018 11:42 AM UTC


Thank you. I always value your posts. I will write an effortpoast about the need for reforms of the office of district attorney which has far too much power nowadays and is always staffed by BLM auxiliaries.
BobMay 22, 2018 4:39 AM UTC

If the driver had a nice long screwdriver near his left hand he could have attacked the eyes, face, rather than uselessly grappling. Perhaps the assailant might have loosened the anchoring arm to defend.
BobMay 22, 2018 4:26 AM UTC

@ PR:

Thanks, I'll watch that MacYoung video.

@ Mr. Bentham:

Selt-belts in Iraq, ha ha, that's straight out of the "Apocalypse Now" manual.

Still on Ecuador, the passenger did flourish the knife and only started poking when grabbed. I think the sight of a knife is instinctively more stressful than a handgun; everybody has chopped beef, filleted fish and cut themselves, knows the mechanics. Not everybody has first-hand experience with gunshot wounds. Fear probably does more than half the assailant's work for him.

On the anchoring arm, this one is my go-to:
Jeremy BenthamMay 22, 2018 3:04 AM UTC

Yes PR, as Massad Ayoob and other court watchers have pointed out, the lack of stopping power in hand guns is not only a problem in combat, but also in court. A combatant will typically keep shooting until his adversary collapses and falls to the ground. In the heat of the moment the defender won't stop to think about how many shots he fired, only that he needs to drop the attacker. Long after the fact when all the Monday morning quarter-backing by the legal system occurs, if he shot the bad guy 'too many times' he is liable to incur a charge of having used 'excessive force', having acted out of 'malice' or 'anger' rather than reasonable 'fear' for his safety. Keep in mind that the DA's office as well as the jury pool are likely to be made up of people who for years watched Marshal Dillon kill all the bad guys in Dodge City with a single shot. So they will be highly suspicious about why it took you 14 bullets to drop a perpetrator you claim was trying to kill you (Like the case in Milwaukee, where a policeman put 14 .40 caliber bullets into a large, powerful schizophrenic man who was trying to club him to death with this own nightstick before the man dropped and expired from his wounds. All the while the policeman was back-peddling in an effort to avoid the rain of blows). Large caliber handgun bullets have greater stopping power than small to medium caliber handgun bullets, because they will tear bigger holes and cause more bleeding wherever they hit. However, WHERE you hit your adversary will be more important than WHAT you him with. Handguns are difficult to shoot with precision. It's easy to miss your intended target with them especially under stress, which adds to the problem of ending the fight with a minimum number of shots fired. For that reason it's better to use a shotgun or rifle or submachinegun if you have advanced warning that you will be going into a gun fight (bring friends with shotguns, rifles and submachineguns too). One should be aware then that certain methods of self-defense are all too likely to make it look like you used excessive force because they will lack immediate stopping power and will often require you to strike more than once in the tumult and chaos of man to man combat to obtain the desired effect. Like with knives. If you cut and stab your attacker 'too many times' uninformed people are liable to presume you meant to murder the other guy rather than just ward off his attack. Then you got some 'splainin' to do Lucy. Nevertheless, if you are aware of what you could be charged with you will be able to prepare a defense in advance and probably even keep your case from going to trial. Which is the preferred outcome, naturally.
BobMay 22, 2018 12:36 AM UTC

Re: Ecuador stabbing, I forgot, the gloves were much more suspicious than the jacket. Somehow, that anchoring arm has got to be disengaged.
PRMay 21, 2018 10:12 PM UTC

Here's an example of someone milling-about before a knife attack. Again, the victim lived but so do many gunshot victims:

Dog brothers on knife defense:
PRMay 21, 2018 10:00 PM UTC

I hasten to add that pistols don't have much stopping power either, which is why double-stack magazines are better. FerFAL repeatedly makes this point in his studies of shootings in Argentina.

You're right about knives though: Mexicans tattooed with Santa Muerte prefer the knife in their violent crimes. Shootings are just a lot louder whereas you may not know you've been stabbed until the attacker is running away, unless the knife attacker is really trying to kill you:

I am bummed to hear that the cops actually went and found the guy who defended himself with a knife. He was on parole and probably known in his hood, so the cops probably no-kidding thought it was a murder attempt.

FWIW, here's MacYoung's video on how to use a knife effectively:
Jeremy BenthamMay 21, 2018 2:55 PM UTC

You're welcome. Yes, to your point Bob, on the upside the seat belt can prevent a mob from dragging you out of your car, throwing you on the ground and putting the boots to you. On the downside the seat belt can fix you in place, preventing your maneuver or escape, while an assailant beats or stabs you. The enforcers of the safety rules always insist that seat belts be worn all the time, whenever one is seated in a vehicle. We had to wear them even in Iraq. The example of the unfortunate taxi driver teaches us it would be a good idea to practice unbuckling the seat belt and bailing out in the event of an attack inside the car. If you rehearse something in advance, even if it's just in your mind, it is more likely you will be able to pull it off under the stress of the actual event. Like they say, if all else fails hit the gas and crash the car. For a host of reasons the driver is more likely to survive than an unbelted front seat passenger. If I was a taxi or Uber driver I would be wearing some kind of body armor too. Body armor has saved nearly as many cops from injury in car crashes as from gunshots. Even in the summer it wouldn't be all that uncomfortable to wear if you're ensconced in an air-conditioned automobile.
BobMay 21, 2018 4:48 AM UTC

Thanks. The Ecuadorian one was quite remarkable. The conversation was very friendly right up to the end, despite the passenger's drunkenness. Didn't come across as the angry drunk. I've got to say that I don't think I'd have the presence of mind to unbuckle once the knife was drawn, given the lack of animus prior to the assault.