Updated: Nov 1, 2020
How many times have we heard someone say the quote by John Dean "Jeff" Cooper. Its a well-meaning thought out and studied conclusion concerning the complexities of the risk vs threat argument of self-defense.
Some people use this quote as a rubber stamp to justify all sorts of nonsense and not to trouble themselves in studying the legal implications of applying their self-defense skills.
They don't care if it's a striking, grappling, knife, or firearm. These individuals think everything stops when the "bad guy" hits the floor however when the body hits the floor the legal process begins.
Most of us don't enjoy a lifestyle where we didn't have to worry about the judicial consequence of violence. The legal repercussions could bankrupt most people in the US if they choose to defend themselves.
In the old days, the police pretty much showed up to clean up messes. All parties went their separate ways or, no one saw a thing. Now camera phones and security cameras record everything. Cops don't need or want witnesses if it's recorded. There is little chance of you walking away unscathed legally.
Amateurs Don't Know How to Hide Bodies.
The average civilian does not possess the street smarts to outwit the police. Hoodrat knowledge and skillsets that take years to craft in a 24/7 hour lifestyle. The average civilian wouldn't want to go to hoodrat school to learn these skills.
Outlaws know how to lie to the police while the average decent person does not. In addition, law enforcement authorities have the skills, techniques, and tools to catch professional liars on a daily basis. Amateur liars are a bump in the road for most cops.
Professional criminals also understand how to get away with transgressions and move about so the police can't locate them. They can get away with it for a while but eventually, the police still locate them. Amateurs like us do not have these specialized skill sets, what are our chances of engaging in violence without facing law enforcement?
If you are not participating in the gangster lifestyle where you already possess the skills to get away with it, you will be dealing with the police.
Police Get Involved in Violent Events
Never minimize the likelihood of the person who you won a fight against running to law enforcement and getting you arrested. Even if they instigated the fight. This is doubly true now that medical professionals are lawfully obligated to report to law enforcement any knife, gunshot, or trauma from violence.
Individuals based in the USA need to comprehend not only the exceptions in violence but what you can and can't lawfully do. The Introduction to Use of Force website is an easy read and overview concerning what you will have to not only learn but criteria that the use of force must meet to be considered self-defense.
The 7-page website isn't tough to understand. It provides simplistic fundamentals as they will hold true across the USA and throughout the complicated legal system. Its goal is to inform but to equip you with a practical understanding of issues that can and may affect you.
There are "knife fighting" systems out there being marketing and openly taught on the internet that that is outright murder. Using a knife on an unarmed adversary is assault with a deadly weapon.
If someone strikes you, and you draw a knife and cut and stab them then declare it was 'self-defense.' You have not defended yourself from the urgent threat of death or grave physical harm, you have drawn a deadly weapon to win a fight.
The basis for this is the assailant was not extending you the equal level of physical threat as you reacted with. Drawing an edged weapon if there is no true threat to your person, you have escalated the situation which could make the aggressor. Depending on what your state calls it, you may be charged with;
Assault with a deadly weapon
Edge weapons like knives are regarded as a deadly force weapon. The use of lethal force is very narrowly approved. If you employ deadly force on a human being you need to be firmly within those parameters. If you fail to meet the criteria in the eyes of the legal system you will be perceived as the aggressor.
My objective as a civilian is to escape or extract myself, and to do only what’s necessary to facilitate that escape or extraction, there is a likely chance they will get hurt or I’ll get hurt
Life-changing injury and even death are possible, as is the chance of bothersome consequences. Inevitable police presence after the event could lead to prosecution and heavy fines, even imprisonment, even if I did, as I should have, employ a level of force that paralleled the threat.
This can be a difficult measure to calculate, especially when you take into account your current mental state and the adrenal stress you’ll experience during such a high-threat event.
Legal matters are not discussed in martial arts, reality-based self-defense, and MMA industry. People's eyes glaze over when you bring up the topic of legal ramifications and complications of violence.
Some prefer to pull out the "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by six " card. In the real world, violence has legal ramifications. If what you were called "self-defense" was assault, then you are going to have an expensive defense case ahead of you and possible jail time.
Check Your Ego If you Safety Is Not Involved
The overwhelming majority of violence is of the social or monkey brain type. You need to understand the difference. If you don't you may overreact or underreact. If you underreact you may end up dead or hurt. If you overreact you may end up in jail. You have to be able to articulate that you reasonably didn't have a choice.
If you have a choice and it does not involve your personal safety it's not time to use violence.
Another indicator is if the opponent is still verbally communicating with you. If either of these is true check ego and save the 10 grand and the anxiety of being part of the legal system.
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