Guns and Gear

Weapons dependency: All fighting is fighting

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By Ernest Emerson

“Anyone pulls a knife on me I’ll just shoot him!”
-Dead Man Stabbed 17 times….Gun still in Holster

You have no idea how many times I’ve heard that statement.

I’ve seen, handled, or shot just about every weapon known to modern man some I’ve been genuinely impressed with.  Some were more dangerous to me than they would have been to the bad guy.

In today’s modern technologically dependent society someone has invented something for just about every need.  And because of this we feel hindered or even helpless when we don’t have one of those gadgets or inventions to accomplish a given task.  We are raising and our society is creating a population of young men and women who are governed by a technological dependence.  A dependence that says, “we can’t do our job if we don’t have the technological helper to do it.”

It only makes sense that this same blanket of technology has also come into being for police, military and combat applications.  That’s what I’m going to talk about here.

The young teenagers that are now filling the ranks of police academies and basic training are the same teenagers that have never been alive without a house full of computers, internet, nintendo, x-boxes and all the other wonderful gadgets we’ve grown to depend on as “necessary” items to our day to day existence.

In terms of military applications and law enforcement to a lesser degree, these technological innovations and inventions have saved thousands of lives, killed, captured or thwarted countless thousands of bad guys and at a minimum risk to the good guys.

However, as technology continues to become a vital part of our daily existence especially as it is applied to our war fighting and crime fighting capabilities we must embrace it, use it, but never become a slave to it.

As we have witnessed over the last several years, the best of our high technology can at times be defeated or denied by the tactics and strategies of “old school” low technologies and primitive countermeasures.

I’m going to digress for a moment.

I believe that it is absolutely vital to our vitality both as a nation and as a military power that we teach our children to be self sufficient, to be independent thinkers, to learn to do their best with what they have at hand – even if it is nothing.  Our children should know how to build a fire, to read a map, to know how to find water, and build a shelter.  Hell, build a house for that matter.  They should know simple electronics, how to fix a motor or engine, how to fish, how to hunt, how to treat an injury and to never feel helpless or hopeless.  They should play team sports and learn how to work within the framework of a team.  they should learn how it feels to lose and come back to try and win next time.  They should learn to take failure in stride and not be devastated by it.  On that note, I believe there is real self-esteem and false self-esteem.  Real self-esteem is learned and earned by competing, failing and then improving so that you actually know who you are, what you’re made of and how good you realistically are in any endeavor.

Unfortunately, the idea of false self esteem is what’s being propagated by our schools and most of our younger aged athletic programs.  No grades, no competition and only praise for half-hearted efforts.  What character does that build?

I strongly encourage you to pass these life skills on to your sons and daughters.  Have them join the scouts or guide organizations in your area.  Get them out camping, get them to play sports and spend time practicing all of the skills these children need and deserve to become self sufficient, independent thinking, confident adults.  Sorry for the rant.  I have daughters, a son, and I’m a baseball coach and I spend a lot of time dealing with these matters.

Anyway, back to the subject I started with.

How does this all apply in terms of the individual soldier, cop or operator?

First let me state emphatically the skills, independence and resourcefulness of the individual soldier are the paramount tools that anyone can possess.  It is not the body armor, the GPS, the laser range finder, the M-4 or the flashlight that are important.  These are only tools to supplement the means toward an objective, they are not the means.  If any of these tools fail in their use, the individual must adapt, rethink, and overcome their failure and not be governed by it.

Let’s get down to basics.  You are the fighter.  You are the warrior.  You are the weapon.  Everything else you possess just makes your job a little easier.

Here is an example of how simple this becomes.  I have seen more than once, this scenario.  In sims classes (simmunition) I have seen individuals draw to fire on an armed threat.  Their weapon malfunctions and they go completely focused on trying to clear their weapon, completely ignoring the threat they were about to engage, with deadly force.  At that moment I usually step in and ask, “What the hell are you doing?”  “I’m trying to clear my weapon, sir.”

“Son, you can go on trying to clear your weapon while this guy stoves your head in with a pipe or you can use your weapon to pistol whip him into submission.”

“Remember, you’ve got a 2 pound piece of steel in your hands that can do substantial damage as a bludgeon.  Then you can clear the malfunction and still shoot him if you so desire.”

The point is usually well made.

And that point is this; A fight is a fight, with weapons or not, but it is a fight you must win and you cannot depend on your weapons to win.  You can only depend on you.

Most people today will take the mental stance of “Oh shit I’m screwed,” if for say, they run out of ammo, lose a weapon or experience a malfunction.

The real mental stance you should have is this; “F…k with me and you’re screwed.  If my weapon malfunctions you’re screwed.  If I lose a weapon, you’re still screwed, because I will kill you if you try to harm me.  It doesn’t matter if I have a gun, a club, a knife, a rock or just my bare hands.  I am the weapon, everything else just helps me do the job a little easier.

To think of yourself as unarmed just because you have no gadget in your hand is basically, giving up and shifts a huge amount of momentum, both physical and mental, in favor of the bad guy.

One time I had a good friend hand me a “tactical” pen made out of titanium.  I looked at it and asked why I needed a $250.00 pen?  He said, “So you’ll never be unarmed, even if you’re flying on an airplane.”

I looked at him and simply said, “Do you think, even for one second, that I am ever, unarmed?”  He just laughed and put the pen back in his pocket.


Ernest Emerson is a knife-maker and personal combat instructor. His website is