Friday, September 16, 2022

Ungunned but not Unarmed


Ungunned but not Unarmed

by Art Joslin, J.D., D.M.A.

Joslin AThis month, I'd like to discuss a topic I have given lectures on for several years. What do you carry for self-protection? What do you do if you can't take a gun in a specific situation? I've heard many times, especially from students, that they carry a weapon and are sure they will be ready when they need it. That is very optimistic. What if you can't get to your gun when you need it? What if you must enter a building unarmed (church, school, etc.) for just a few moments? Do you ever run up to the ATM for just a few minutes and leave your gun in your vehicle's center console? If you do have it on you, what if you turn around and suddenly are pinned against the cash machine by a knife-wielding thug? Your gun is pinned, too, and can't be accessed anytime soon. How do you fight your attacker? 

We usually train with firearms in an environment of a square range, three to seven yards from the target, on even ground, and in excellent, sunny weather. Three yards can be close quarters, but that gap can close quickly, bringing an attacker into extremely close quarters. Rarely do we train where the attacker is twelve inches from us or even more immediately. So, what other weapons can you possibly use instead of a gun in close quarters or where you're prohibited from carrying a gun? I've listed a few options below in no particular order. Indeed, there may be other options, but these are at the top of my list of alternatives to firearms.

Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is a highly effective irritant from capsaicinoids in sure hot peppers. Oleoresin capsicum (OC) is the active ingredient that gives pepper spray its heat. Heat is measured by an index called Scoville heat units (SHU). For example, Tabasco® sauce has a SHU rating of 2,500 - 5,000. Pepper spray has a rating of 2 million - 3 million…quite a difference!

Pepper spray is considered an inflammatory agent and causes eye watering and burning, resulting in temporary loss of vision, coughing, runny nose and difficulty breathing. Where it contacts skin, a burning sensation occurs. Inhaled into the respiratory system causes throat irritation and burning with every breath.Spray

Pepper spray can be problematic when deployed improperly. The blowback to the user and over-spray can contaminate you or innocent bystanders. I've been over-sprayed with pepper spray simply because I was standing in the wrong place. One slight whiff can set the pain in motion, and the effects can last up to 30 minutes or longer. 

Pepper spray is a close-quarters weapon but can be used effectively up to about fifteen feet. Imagine you're not carrying a gun (for whatever reason) and wrestling on the ground with the perpetrator. A free hand could reach your pepper spray and discharge it effectively into the attacker's face. The drawback, as I mentioned, is the back spray you might experience, in only slightly less intensity than your attacker experiences. This is a good argument for pulling pepper spray as early in the fight as possible when you're still on your feet and can still move dynamically away from the area where you discharge it.

Depending on the delivery method, pepper spray can be a multi-distance tool, delivering the pain to 12 to 15 feet. Most manufacturers make different patterns of spray such as stream, cone-shaped fog or mist, foam, or gel, each of which has advantages and disadvantages depending on whether you are outdoors, inside or crowded into close proximity to others. Stream delivery gives a directed stream best used to cover a greater distance. Foam is good at close quarters and can be directed into an attacker's mouth, eyes and nasal passages, with less likelihood that innocents will be affected. In addition to limiting the risk of cross-contamination, a unique ability of gel is that it sticks to any surface like the face, causing the attacker to rub their eyes, mouth and nose, inadvertently spreading the gel across other areas for increased exposure. The cone-shaped fog or mist delivery method covers a broader area with a fine mist and can spray out to about 6 feet, including soaking door entrances and exits. Pepper spray in a fog or mist is also more likely to affect people wearing glasses, brimmed caps, or other facial protection.

One final caveat: just like a gun, your container of pepper spray must be readily accessible. Most females I know carry pepper spray in their purses, buried deep into the nexus, where it usually takes days to find.


An electro-muscular-disruption device, most commonly exemplified by a TASER®, has two barbed prongs that, when fired, transmit a high-voltage, low-amperage signal through thin wires, into the prongs and into the assailant's body causing temporary muscle contraction. The idea behind the civilian TASER® is to pull the trigger, hit the intended target, set the device on the ground and run to safety during the 30-second jolt. Police TASER®s are compliance tools. They give a 5-second jolt to help police bring a fighting suspect into compliance, while the civilian model is meant to provide you with time to run and seek help. 

For a TASER® to be effective, both prongs must make contact with the assailant. Therein lies one major issue; the prongs must make complete contact to be effective. A single prong making contact has zero effect on the assailant, so a missed shot would require a reload, but there is a minimal chance the supply will be fast enough. The TASER® cartridge is not reusable, but it is replaceable. Recently, TASER® introduced two-shot models that mirror law enforcement models' 5-second incapacitation cycle. TASER®s can be carried 12 to 15 feet on the right or left side in a unique holster and drawn like a gun.


Introduced in the late 1960s, the Kubotan, developed by Grand Master Takayuki Kubota, attaches to the keyring and can be used on pressure points, joint locks, or as a small impact weapon. Attached to key rings, it allows the keys to be used as a flail for self-defence when swung circularly. Some states consider a Kubotan an offensive weapon, which may be illegal to carry or possess, a vital distinction determined by your jurisdiction.

Early on, the Kubotan was popularized when female officers of LAPD were trained to use it to restrain unruly suspects. Monadnock Lifetime Products, a police and security equipment company, licensed a version called the Persuader™ and made it part of their defensive tactics training. Several knockoffs have evolved, some changing the original grooved 5 1/2 by 5/8-inch hard plastic flat-ended design; these are often called self-defence keychains or mini batons.

The versatility of the Kubotan is in its ease of carrying and use as a weapon anywhere a finger can go and the ability for a trained user to apply varying levels of force with it, as appropriate. Its non-threatening appearance is another benefit that makes it easy to carry in your hand, waistband or pocket where it is quickly accessible.

Hand to Hand

Hand-to-hand combat is something everyone should know. Whether you master a few simple techniques or make it a life-long study, empty-hand defence skills will serve you well. I'm not talking about martial arts. Martial arts take years to perfect, and most aren't the most effective against an attacker in close quarters. This is not to say that martial arts can't be practical (as well as give many other benefits), but I'd humbly submit that close-quarters fighting requires close-quarters techniques. Basic Krav Maga (Krav mah gah) will teach you street fighting because that's where you'll be fighting for your life.knife disarm

Krav Maga began in the early 1970s and was initially taught to Israeli special forces. It has developed over the years; it is used by U.S. armed forces and police worldwide. To get started, you don't need fighting experience; students of any size, strength, or physical condition can train. I teach it, and I've had students as young as 10 and as seasoned as 79 in my classes.

Krav is technique-based, not strength-based. Even though it doesn't require much strength, it requires a reasonably solid technique to be effective. It can be a very violent defence used to attack or "softer," where its methods can be used to hold a suspect until police arrive. I've had experiences when I was a bouncer where I had to use Krav to stop a fight or throw someone out of the bar who wanted to fight me. I've also used it to take a suspect into custody.

Hand-to-hand skill is such an invaluable tool in the toolbox.

Gunless but Not Unarmed

In closing, one can use many self-defence options without a gun present. However, let's not overlook some other standard tools you can use. Your belt can be used as a flail, a chair to block a knife attack, and a broken bottle can be used as an edged weapon. You may have to fight your way to your gun. If threatened by someone with a gun, I might use a gun disarming technique and take the suspect's gun if I can't get to my gun in time.

Make sure you have been trained before attempting any of these defences. Not only does effectiveness rely on proper technique, but a class by a certified instructor can also alert you to laws and restrictions of which you must be aware. If you travel, you will need to research the legality of self-defence tools where you intend to visit and the limits applicable to taking your defence tools onboard your mode of transportation. Many states and municipalities have laws regulating possession and use of TASER®s, pepper spray and mini batons.

Written in law in all 50 states are provisions allowing less-than-lethal self-defence methods to be used against non-lethal and lethal force. Even when using less than lethal force, one will be held to standards that parallel those governing the use of deadly force. For example, lawful use of either fatal party or less-than-lethal methods generally requires you to be in a place in which you have a legal right to be; generally, you cannot be committing a crime, and you need to have an honest and reasonable belief that deadly (or non-deadly) force is necessary. You may use proportional non-lethal force to stop someone using non-lethal force up through lethal force but not the other way around. Know the laws in effect where you are!

One final comment: I thank those who responded to my previous journal article, How to Spoil Your Self-Defense Case. There were great suggestions and comments, and I'll incorporate them in future articles.


About the author: The Network's Director of Legal Services, Art Joslin, J.D., D.M.A., has worked as a security and close protection specialist in the security and legal services industry. He is skilled in verbal judo, firearms, close protection, executive protection, and armed security work and has been a bar bouncer. His experience in crowd control, venue security, and working across the force continuum has nurtured a solid ability to rapidly de-escalate situations. He has provided executive protection, armed and unarmed, for high and medium-risk talent escorts and has been a high-risk armed escort and driver for the jewelry trade. He is a fourth-level black belt in Commando Krav Maga with 35 years of experience and training in Hapkido and Brazilian Jui Jitsu. He graduated from Force Science Institute, Massad Ayoob's Use of Deadly Force Instructor class. He is certified as a TASER® International instructor, and his firearms instructor and police certifications. He welcomes your questions and comments at

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Book Review-We’ll Be Back: The Fall and Rise of America


We'll Be Back:
The Fall and Rise of America

By Kurt Schlichter
Published by Regnery, July 2022
303 pages, hardbound $25.32; eBook $14.99
ISBN: 978-1-68451-330-7

Reviewed by Gila Hayes

With the primary elections stirring up all hate and discontent, I bought a book to help get me through the long, fractious months leading up to the general election. Will freedom-lovers regain a little clout in congress? What will happen at the state level? Will it make enough difference to save or recover some of our lost liberties? On a whim, I decided to buy. We'll Be Back, released in July by retired Army infantry colonel, Los Angeles trial lawyer, columnist and fiction author Kurt Schlichter. Although I follow his columns on Townhall (, I read neither dystopian nor action thriller fantasy, so I had not yet read any of his books. I was surprised to find some optimism in a book that mainly suggested pessimism.

As the title suggests, Schlichter explores the path to a return to national strength and prosperity. He does not promote armed revolt and emphasizes civil war's high, irretrievable costs. Instead, he suggests how our future could play out through possible scenarios and comparisons to the fallen Roman and Weimar republics. He observes that America's founding fathers were inspired by Rome's "Republic based on the notion that a polity was to be governed by citizens within a procedural framework that protected individual rights" and saw, perhaps, the evolution of Rome as a mirror image of "a nation of sturdy farmers, obsessed with honour, unbelievably stubborn and tough, creative but also willing to learn from others."

Unfortunately, he warns that Rome's success led to its disintegration, noting, "prosperity changed Rome forever…and within a few decades, the republican virtues that had sustained Rome's rise were being discarded with astonishing regularity." Whether the year is 300 A.D. or 2022, change is unavoidable, and Schlichter writes, "We need to understand that America will fall, in the sense that at some point—and it may not be in our lifetimes—it will morph into something different." He later adds, "It is cold comfort to observe that even as bad as things are, America has not yet hit bottom; the left is fully prepared to hit bottom and then keep digging."

Do not underestimate the hatred the left harbours for individual success, he later explains. "'If you are prosperous, the left cannot buy you, and if you are free, you will not choose subservience." The left thrives on misery because "through the struggle, it accumulates and exercises power," so it sees no upside to individual prosperity. Not that the leftist elite suffers; deprivation is for the masses. The result? A lot of normal people are furious about the lies and corruption, unavailability of basic supplies, job losses to overseas labour, and looting, burning and rioting that reveals the incompetence of "our ruling caste."

Don't read We'll Be Back expecting a screed against liberals and Democrats. Schlichter has plenty of harsh words for both political parties for mismanaging the war in the middle east, disastrous foreign policy decisions, economic incompetence, and intentionally inflaming hatred between people of differing beliefs. He defines the opposing ideologies: "Unlike the left, we do not seek to remake society into something new, but rather something old and proven by time. The Constitution, and all it entails, is the key."

Nonetheless, both parties have contributed to the massive administrative state that, Schlichter observes, runs on "a wink and a nod of support from the political branches that are happy to let faceless bureaucrats take the heat for the inevitable screw-ups of governing." Still, the left seeks more "power via the force of government" and subverts the Constitution's limits on government. If they prevail, he writes, we'll lose the Republic and end up ruled by "the new elite" bent on "crushing and looting internal dissenters."

He explores the various checks and balances implemented by the founding fathers, noting that a certain amount of injustice is just part of life, so the question must be not whether a single individual's rights were trampled but the scale of the injustice. Even the worst outrages in our past didn't "justify armed insurrection against the government of the United States," he writes. "The reason is that these violations of basic human rights could still be, and eventually were, addressed by the processes within the Constitution. You don't fight when you can fix it some other way."

He writes later that before the armed revolt, "there has to be a point when someone decides that he has nothing to lose...that your life as you knew it is essentially over the second you pull a trigger...if you pull the trigger at a fed and it does not turn into a successful revolution, you are done. Your life is over. You are going to jail forever; at best, you will be hunted forever. The second you take up arms, everything changes, and your life will never be the same," he writes, adding, "This is a good thing. We want to discourage this in all but the direst situations. It sets the bar for the shot heard 'round the country."

Having dismissed armed revolution as a fruitful option, Schlichter imagines how a negotiated separation into two nations might play out. An informal break is already underway with conservatives moving out of liberal states; why not get a divorce? He asks. Approach with caution, he continues, citing the Balkans as a caution. "Yugoslavia's breakup devolved into a massive civil war...If we wished to divorce, we should carefully review how they broke up Josip Tito's territory and then do the opposite."

He believes the Czech Republic and Slovakia's breakup in the early 1990s better illustrate "successful," meaning bloodless. I raised a skeptical eyebrow, wondering if the strategy scales up to so land-rich a nation as America. Schlichter further ponders how to divide the United States, acknowledging that our liberal bastions are not contiguous. Every "red" state has "blue" enclaves. Do you eject those of different political bent? We condemned "ethnic cleansing" in the Balkans, so "In all likelihood, a national divorce simply is not going to happen, unless the violence threshold has already been crossed, in which case all bets are off," he admits.

Is there a solution within our existing political structure? Schlichter discusses possible outcomes if the 2024 presidential election puts a truly conservative Republican in the White House. Expect the left to sponsor violent protests and riots to test the president's mettle to prove whether he, like Lincoln, standing firm during the dark times of the Civil War, will enforce the Constitution. A genuinely conservative president will tread the fine line between "playing hardball" without "willful rejection of the checks and balances that the Constitution envisions" as he struggles to get the nation back on track.

Schlichter outlines international troubles looming on America's horizon as military effectiveness declines, and we rack up ever more debt to China, to name only two significant dangers. While war with China would extract a high cost in lives lost, Schlichter believes we are more likely to borrow and spend America into obscurity. He suggests our nation could fade or crumble as apathy builds, we abjure aggression, risk-taking and sacrifice independence, church attendance drops, we view the national debt as something for later generations to deal with, and we burn through trillions with impunity. Still, we have little to no infrastructure improvement to show for it, and we keep paying people not to work. He warns, "The multiple trends that lead to slow decline—economic malaise, cultural exhaustion, and the infusion of outsiders—are not unusual or unprecedented. Rome finally fell—the big fall, with the subsequent Dark Ages—after these trends had gone on for hundreds of years."

What would it take to turn the nation around? "To recreate a vibrant civilization and snap out of decline, you would need a societal purpose. How would that get turned around? Perhaps it could be, but it would take a grassroots movement, like a Great Awakening, because it could certainly never be imposed from on high by the current elite." Schlichter continues a bit later, "We need a new kind of conservative Republican, one unafraid to exercise power, one not restrained by arbitrary conceptions of what a conservative Republican can do, but still aware that to rebuild America for the long term, we cannot succumb to the expedient of true authoritarianism in the short term."

The book's closing chapters read like a recruiting document to "hire" a new president who isn't afraid to destroy the old, worn-out institutions, is immune to the lies and mischaracterizations sure to be spouted and who comes into office with their own strong network, so the presidential appointments aren't just handed out to establishment favourites, a mistake Schlichter says plagued Donald Trump. That all depends on our willingness to address election fraud, a fight we failed despite ample evidence in 2020.

Overall, We'll be Back turned out to be optimistic but tempered by a strong dose of reality. Schlichter writes, "I believe America will rise again, albeit with scars. What has happened in the last three decades will leave a mark. All the shattered norms cannot be pieced back together again so easily. The rules we thought we had agreed upon about personal freedom, property rights, and government relation to citizens have been rewritten for short-term convenience. They will not go back to what they were."