Self-Defense Tip: Be Ready for a Gun Grab

No, not the kind of gun grab that resides in the orgiastic fantasies of folks like plutocrat Mike Bloomberg, I’m talking about a straightforward attempt by someone to grab your firearm from you, either from a holster or from your hand. Renata Birkenbuel of the Missoula (Montana) Standard reports that a middle-aged woman found herself in just that situation around 5:00AM this past Sunday when allegedly accosted by two men while trying to leave a house party . . .

[T]he woman, age 47, was attempting to leave a private house party in Butte when she brandished a .45 pistol after she reported feeling threatened by the two men who live at the undisclosed residence.
“She was in her vehicle attempting to leave, just going home,” said [Captain Mark] St. Pierre [a police officer from Butte-Silver Bow, Montana]. “She thought the two men had other intentions to harm her.”
At that point, one of the men grabbed the pistol from her, then it discharged. The bullet went into the ground…but the slide from the pistol caused a “slight injury” and “some slight bleeding” to his hand.
No one was seriously injured…and the injured man refused medical treatment….
[P]olice escorted the woman home. The two men, both in their 40s, were intoxicated, but the woman was not, [St. Pierre] added.

Obviously, we don’t know the full details of the incident, including whether or not the woman was justified in drawing in the first place. Assuming that it was justified for the woman to draw and potentially use her firearm (being outnumbered by two drunk dudes at 5:00AM) she almost lost the situation entirely because she was within gun-grabbing distance of an (alleged) aggressor who was throwing caution to the wind.

Fortunately, it sounds as though the trigger pull and a little slide bite restored a modicum of sanity and sobriety, but that isn’t something you can count on. When it comes to armed self-defense, merely punching holes in a flat piece of paper at 25 yards shouldn’t be the end-all, be-all of your training. That should also include a hefty dose of mindset plus training in physical movement and hand-to-hand combat.

While pulling a heater will often end the interaction, that won’t always be the case and sometimes those situations take place at bad-breath distance, where grabbing for the gun would be a more effective counter-move for the aggressor(s) than trying to draw and present any weapons that they might have on hand.

Firearms instructor Bruce Eimer, writing for U.S. Concealed Carry, suggests four components to any good firearms-retention program:

(1) attitude and mental preparedness,

(2) physical preparedness,

(3) good equipment, and

(4) well rehearsed psychomotor skills for protecting your weapon against a gun grab.

He elaborates on the last point thusly:

Well rehearsed psychomotor weapon retention skills: It should be obvious that proper training is critical to success in whatever we do. That training should consist of the acquisition of necessary survival skills and the proper exercise and practice of the techniques learned on a repetitive, regular basis, for skills reinforcement and maintenance. Attend a good class given by a reputable instructor. Then watch training videos to reinforce what you learned, as well as to expand your skills repertoire…
Certain criteria must be met for retention and disarming to be effective:
The psychomotor skills have to be simple to learn and retain.
 The techniques have to work against a larger, stronger assailant. This is known as the “Bambi vs. Godzilla” criterion.
 They must work with any duty or concealment holster….
Lindell’s methods focus on the use of leverage vs. brute strength. This is obviously important for female officers and older officers, as well as for civilians, and us old geezers like me….
In the past, retaining or regaining control of your weapon was simply thought about as a matter of brute strength. The strongest person won. However, all that changed after the 1970s and 80s when Jim Lindell, Chief of Unarmed Tactics with the Kansas City PD, was tasked with the goal of coming up with teachable techniques for preventing officers from being disarmed and shot with their own guns.

That last part is where I fall down on the job. One of the main reasons I don’t openly carry a firearm (apart from around the house and at the range,) is because at this point, I’m not yet comfortable with my level of preparation to resist a gun grab from the holster. I’ve not had any formal training in that, nor have I yet had the time to integrate anything into my regular training regimen. I hope to change that in the future, but for now? I’m keeping it under wraps while out beyond the wire.

Oh, and just as an aside — do you think that when lobbyists and intellectual mercenaries working for the anti-gun extremists refer to defensive gun use as a “myth”, they count incidents like the one detailed above?

DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.

Originally published at on January 26, 2016.