On May 23rd, a Chechen murder suspect being interviewed by FBI agents reportedly confessed to three murders and then drew a knife and attacked them with it. On May 26th in New Rochelle, NY, police were attacked by a disturbed man with a knife after they entered the apartment where he barricaded himself. Back in March, a Brooklyn man charged police with a knife after allegedly stabbing his roommate. Oh, one more thing: all of the knife-armed attackers died, and and all the cops with guns went home to their families. Should we be surprised by this? No, but not for the reasons you might suspect . . .
Gun doesn’t automatically beat knife, unless the guy with the knife advertises his intentions from a really long distance away. At indoor distances, a knife can easily beat a holstered gun.
Anyone who carries a gun for self-defense had better be familiar with the 20-foot rule and the Tueller Drill. Police experiments in 1983 discovered that a knife-armed attacker within approximately 20 feet stands an excellent chance of charging and injuring a gun-armed opponent before their target could draw their pistol and shoot them. Within 20 feet, Tueller determined, knife sometimes beats gun.
Police agencies and academies took this lesson to heart. The cops’ answer to the 20-foot rule was to draw their weapons early (outside of 20 feet, if possible) and don’t let that knife get within 20 feet. They began to treat any weapon within 20 feet as a lethal threat. If an assailant is armed within 20 feet, or if they try to close to within that range, there’s no warning shots, no more Tasers, and no more pepper spray. There’s just a hail of bullets, until enough of them connect to put the attacker down. Usually permanently.
Security-conscious types already know the saying “charge a gun, run from a knife” and this is certainly valid advice. (Especially that second part!) In the confrontations described above, the cops had all the advantages of equipment, training, tactics, and operational intelligence.
Armed citizens can never count on having these advantages if they encounter a knife-armed assailant. Armed citizens rarely carry their defensive handguns in quick-access duty holsters, they don’t operate as coordinated teams, and they rarely have warning that a particular individual is either armed or dangerous.
Remember the 20-foot rule, and as Sgt. Esterhaus always said, be careful out there.