Physical limitations and self-defense (What if I can’t run away?) – Marc MacYoung

I have a pilot friend who was being talked down through the clouds by the tower. When he cleared the clouds he realized he was halfway down the runway. When the tower asked him “why did you abort the landing” he replied, “I like having the runway in front”.

Here is a fundamental fact that entirely too many people overlook. IF you have a physical limitation, it is incumbent on you to actively work on keeping the runway in front of you. Do NOT put yourself into situations where violence is likely. This calls for a change in behavior and planning. Because hey, you know what? If you physically can’t run, you’re not up for a drawn out physical engagement either.

If someone with a physical limitation is in your charge it is incumbent on you to actively work on keeping the runway in front of you both. IF you fail to do so, the screw up is on you. Own it. That is the ONLY way you’re going to be able to shift gears fast enough to assess the situation and do what needs to be done. Your option are incredibly limited and they are — at best — damage control.

But realize this: Damage control is NEVER as good as prevention. Included in this is accepting that your physical limitations create more of a danger to you from violence. Young and healthy can take a beating, older and infirm can’t. So therefore, while the use of a higher level of force is allowed remember you will be called to answer for it.

So you DAMN well better:

A) change your lifestyle patterns to reduce the chances of it happening.

B) have done you research on high levels of force use (especially legal allowances and what it takes to justify it)

C) know the strategies to withdraw from /prevent/ deescalate violence and DO them as part of your justification process for that higher level of force. (You make a good faith effort to withdraw so when asked ‘why you didn’t withdraw’ you can say…..?)

D) Be able to explain what the person was doing that showed you danger existed and WHY you had no other choice.

E) Mentally prepared yourself to use a higher level of force — including actively doing everything in your power to prevent having to use it.

These five points are usually completely overlooked by people asking “But what if you can’t run?” (This over and above those folks who are just itchin’ to unleash on someone and are looking for an excuse to get rattlesnake cornered*).

The physical limitations you or others operate on are real. As is the increased danger of violence against those with limitations.

But as long as we’re looking at reality, add in that higher use of force incidents are going to result in the authorities crawling up a certain orifice with a microscope for wrong doing on your part. So you better be sure you can:

The act by which a party accused shows and maintains a good and legal reason in court, why he did the thing he is called upon to answer.


*No snake is ever going to be a Mensa candidate, but rattlesnakes are dumber than most. They can get ‘cornered’ in an open field.

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