Sep 05

Assessing Threats

Personal safety should be a concern of everyone. I’ve written about Personal Safety and Self-Defense in the past and offered some great links for further reading. If you have not read the aforementioned article I encourage you to do so.


Some thoughts to ponder; When seconds count the police are minutes away. The simple fact of the matter is that the police can not be everywhere at all times and furthermore they have no duty to protect you anyway!

The most important factor to staying safe wherever you are is situational awareness. Follow the previous link for an overview of invaluable information on the subject.

It is imperative to assess threats in the context of;

#1- Proximity – How close is the threat? The “21 foot rule” was established in the early 1980s, also called the “Tueller Drill”. This rule pertains to the importance of keeping a safe distance from an attacker who is armed with a knife or other edged weapon. Twenty-one feet is accepted as a minimum and given other factors the distance may need to be increased to maintain safety.

#2- Severity – Is this a serious threat? Is the attacker armed? Are there other circumstances that may increase the danger?

#3- Magnitude – Is the assailant larger/stronger/younger than you? Are there multiple attackers?

#4- Vulnerability – Are you alone? Are you with your wife, child or other loved one? When assessing threats it is important to keep in mind your level of vulnerability. For example; If you are with your wife or girlfriend it may be necessary for you think of protecting her from a dangerous assault for she is more vulnerable than you may be.

#5- Time – Do you have time to evade the attacker(s)? This relates to distance as the Tueller Drill makes clear that an attacker with an edged weapon can inflict lethal injury before you can effectively stop him.


Many Americans fear we are returning to a time in history where it is a common occurrence to fight for one’s life. The previous link has plenty of good info about being prepared for such a situation.

What to do if you are shot!


With regard to using lethal force to repel an attack it is vitally important to understand the generally accepted standard for applying said force must meet the following criteria; The threat must be credible. You must be in a position that there is simply no opportunity to retreat and the attack is likely to cause grave bodily injury (rape meets this criteria) or death.

Stated another way; the attack must be an immediate and otherwise unavoidable threat of grave bodily harm or death. This is what is known as – Opportunity, Ability and Jeopardy…more on this topic from Kathy Jackson at the Cornered Cat. If the situation in which you find yourself meets all three you are most likely justified in using lethal force to stop the attack. Anything else will probably be considered an act of homicide and will likely result in a charge of homicide.


Whatever you do please stay safe.

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