How Should you Respond to the Pulse Nightclub Attack? Skill and Will

Extended_pink_Humvee_of_Pulse_nightclub_at_come_Out_With_Pride_2013_(10118387633)As I write this it is less than twelve hours after a horrific attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The current news reports put the death toll at fifty human beings who were simply out for an enjoyable night on the town.

The full details are not yet known and I doubt we’ll have a full story even several days from now. Because of the changing nature of these stories I’m not going to speculate on motives or tactics; those things probably don’t matter to those fifty people, or their friends and families, anyhow. What does matter is how we react to it and how we keep ourselves safe in the world as it exists today.

On social media it seems everyone in the “gun world” is mouthing the tired old line: “it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun” and lamenting the fact that no one in the crowd had a gun. The problem is that the saying isn’t quite true; what it takes is a good man (or woman) with a gun AND the skill and will to use it. Without both of those, the gun is nearly useless. If you’re not willing to use it, or capable of doing so, what good is it really doing?

If there had been one person in that crowd armed with a gun, along with the skill and will to use it against their attacker, the incident certainly could have ended with far less bloodshed.

Guess what? If there had been one person in that crowd armed with a knife, along with the skill and will to use it against their attacker, the incident could have ended with far less bloodshed.

If there had been one person in that crowd armed with a heavy fire extinguisher, along with the skill and will to use it against their attacker, the incident could have ended with far less bloodshed.

If there had been one person in that crowd armed with a cane, along with the skill and will to use it against their attacker, the incident could have ended with far less bloodshed.

Do you see the commonality? It’s the skill and will to use the gun, the knife, or anything else which is truly important. If someone has a gun but lacks either the skill (training) or the will (mindset) to use it, the gun itself is impotent. It’s the will to live, the desire to avoid becoming a victim, the drive to get home to your loved ones, that has to come first. And that doesn’t happen just by going to the gun store.

Develop the will to live, the will to overcome the evil that is standing in front of you. I can’t do it for you if you don’t want to, and you can’t do it by listening to a 15-minute lecture at the start of a shooting class. It has to come from within you, and it has to include the determination to do whatever it takes to your attacker — another human being — in order that you may rightfully live.

At this point we don’t know what happened in that nightclub. We don’t know if anyone in that statutorily-imposed gun free zone took it upon themselves to launch a counter-attack against their killer. What we do know is that fifty people are dead and that it takes some time for one person to kill that many other people — sufficient time for someone to do something, even if they had no firearm.

Once you’ve decided that your life is worth protecting and that you will go home to your family and loved ones is when you need to develop your self defense skills. As it happens the skills aren’t that hard to acquire, and you have many options and sources of information. (If I may be so bold, you’ll find a lot of that information here at PDN with links to people who can give you the hands-on experience you need to develop those physical skills.) If you choose to carry a firearm, those skills need to include bringing it into action under the conditions of a surprise attack — one you didn’t know was going to happen until it did.

If you choose not to carry a firearm, your training should include both unarmed (empty hands) martial arts and some training in how to best utilize found (improvised) weapons. If you choose to carry a knife, you need to know how to use it most efficiently to disable your attacker.

Finally, regardless of what tools and defensive skills you have, you also need training in how to render aid to yourself or those around you in case you’re caught in an attack.

There is an old saying that the mind is the ultimate weapon, and everything else is merely a tool. Develop your weapon, then pick the tool(s) you’ll use as appropriate.

– Grant Cunningham

(Picture by Jeff Kern, Wikimedia Commons, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

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10 Responses to “How Should you Respond to the Pulse Nightclub Attack? Skill and Will”

  1. Pete Raciti

    Your comment about skill and will is correct, however, not everyone has the “temperment” or “will” to do it. There are those, “Sheepdogs” that do. That said, the gun free zone is still an obstacle to most law abiding citizens. There is an option, one that most do not yet know about. The Templar Rapid Response System is what will make a difference and save lives. It offers what traditional security doesn’t. 1) a deterrent, {fewer incidents} 2) reduces rampage time {fewer victims} and 3) triage the fewer number of victims much sooner. That combination will save lives. In the case of Pulse, there was 1 LE and he was not effective as a deterrent, didn’t reduce rampage time, and couldn’t apply the life saving measures to reduce the loss of life. Our system has hardware, software and training that will prepare your staff to respond in under 2 minutes. The Templar Rapid Response System will make a difference and save lives.

  2. martin

    Thanks for the info. It is true with all the equipment and tools in the world if your not willing to take them and train with them then their just a waste of time and money .

  3. keenermi

    Mr. Cunningham you gave an excellent summary in your response. That’s why I I owned most of your books , as well as Mr Pincus’s – as well- and am a gold member of the Personal Defense Network. My family tries to discuss self defense issues – plan forward and take personal responsibility for our safety and welfare. Congratulations and thank – you for your instruction and leadership.

  4. Irwin

    Thanks for the blog. Training with what I have is more important than buying more.

  5. Teressa

    All I can say is WOW, this is how you use a senseless act of violence to sell your view on self defense? If the one person in that club, where people went to enjoy themselves had not had an assault rifle with the ability to fire very rapidly, there would have been a lot less blood shed.

    It deeply saddens me that you chose to make it sound like no one in that club cared about their lives enough to defend themselves. I am very curious to see how you would respond in the very same situation. Would you have heard rapid fire gun shots and jumped right in their to defend yourself against him? Really?

    • Grant Cunningham

      It deeply saddens me that you chose to read into this article something which was not there.

      If you are unarmed against someone who has you trapped what are your options? Realistically, they are to evade (if possible); barricade (if the environment permits it, but in this case it really didn’t); or to respond (to fight back.)

      There is another option, one we hope people don’t take: cower in a corner and wait for the end. This is what many people choose to do, and have done in too many incidents. “Hide and hope” is not a strategy which has had great success, which is why we believe in more proactive approach to save innocent lives.

      You’re correct: it is not “normal” for people to respond to a killer armed with a gun by rushing him. That’s why developing the will to do whatever is necessary to overcome the attacker is so vital. No, we don’t yet know exactly what transpired inside the Pulse nightclub, but the outcome serves as a lesson for anyone who might be caught in that kind of environment: just because the other guy has a gun doesn’t mean you’re defenseless. It does mean you’ll entail more risk in responding, and it may require some cooperation with some of those so trapped, but we have examples of people fighting back and prevailing.

      You can choose to be offended and see in the article some sort of disrespect for the people who were killed and held hostage by this killer, but it’s not there. It’s a plea to everyone to understand that you are never defenseless if you first decide that you aren’t.

      I’d also encourage you to watch the PDN video “Demystifying The Gun”, as your first paragraph suggests that you may benefit from some knowledge about what firearms can and cannot do.

    • ShanLi

      It’s been over a week now and it seems clear that Grant’s view are right on. The attacker could have been using a pistol or sword and gotten the same results based on the responses of those attacked.
      And, you claim to be deeply saddened does not ring true. You sound more like deeply offended.

    • martin

      Take a look at all of these senseless acts of violence here in the U.S. and the world as a whole and the governments and antigun people are using these to try and farther their agenda. To disarm all common people so they can’t protect themselves or their loved ones or anyone else that may need help. You sound like one of those people blame the gun not the person. What if he drove acar in there and killed 50 people would you blame the car want to stop the sale of that car or all cars we kill more people by driving per year than guns do.

  6. stan ray

    How does a person get into a nightclub, in FL in “summer” clothes, with a rifle?