Self Defense


Good evening fellow bikers, American patriots and Second Amendment freedom lovers! I hope that you have been getting a lot of riding in this spring. Soon, we will be celebrating Memorial Day weekend – a solemn weekend to remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Hopefully, you will come out and see me at Smoky Mountain Thunder – over Memorial Day Weekend. I will be with the great folks from Thunder Roads Magazine and should be easy to find.

For the past four years, you have counted on me for information on firearms, self-defense, politics, Second Amendment news and concealed carry. This month’s article is about proper training and pistol drills. If you carry concealed, for self-defense, you must practice. Unfortunately, I have talked to many individuals with Handgun Carry Permits (HCP) who went through the process of buying a pistol, applying for their HCP, getting fingerprinted, going through the background check and passing their live fire qualification – only to never practice again. These individuals might actually be safer without carrying a firearm than with it. Inevitably, if you are ever in a situation where you need to protect yourself, you will be under severe stress and your actions need to happen from muscle memory – not stress. That muscle memory is only developed by practice.

Dry Fire Drills

Living within the city limits, I cannot practice with live fire at home. My preferred range is a 45-minute ride – which is something I do not do every week. But, as I have learned over the years, the best practice routine is dry fire drills. The are simple, and because you are not firing live ammunition, they are free.

My practice routine is very simple. I practice with all of my different carry pistols. I start by removing the magazine and ejecting the round in the barrel (if you do not carry your pistol with a cartridge in the barrel, you have a paperweight – not a self-defense firearm). Double-check that the pistol is in fact cleared and then triple-check. We all know that many deaths and injuries have come from unloaded guns, correct? Remove all ammunition from the area you will be drilling in. Yes, go overboard. Be safe. Stay alive.

First, I practice drawing from my holster. I dress the way I would in public, with a shirt over my holstered pistol. I swipe my shirt away, draw, bring my pistol to low-ready, re-holster. I repeat this for a total of ten repetitions. Then I will repeat the drill, swiping the shirt away, draw to low-ready, bring the pistol up to high-ready and squeeze the trigger. Re-holster and repeat for a total of ten repetitions. This builds your muscle memory around drawing, coming to low-ready, high-ready and squeezing off a shot.

MANTISX Dry Fire Training System

Next, I use my MANTISX System with my smart phone to practice trigger control. The Mantis system tracks barrel movement before the trigger pull, and afterwards. Practicing with the MantisX is actually better for me than live range fire. With instantaneous feedback, you can actually learn better trigger control, waste less ammunition and improve your live fire groupings. I practice with my dry-fire techniques way more often than I go to the range.

Live Fire Drills

While I do practice what I preach with dry fire training, there is still something special about the smell of cordite in the morning – in other words sending lead downrange. I like to feel the recoil and to see the physical evidence of where my shots are going. When I go to the range, I will typically start with shooting 50 – 100 rounds at paper. During this time, I am not looking to blast the bullseye out but to make sure my groupings are consistent, and my pistols are all functioning properly. Those of you that are only concerned about tearing the 10-ring up are missing the purpose of practicing for self-defense: a well placed first shot followed by an equally well-placed follow up shot. In a real-life situation, you are not trying to literally shoot out the eye of an attacker, but to incapacitate them quickly. This is done through ventilating their center-mass, making it impossible for them to breathe.

From the paper target range, I go to the tactical pistol training area. At most ranges this is the only area you can practice drawing, rapid fire shooting and tactical firing positions. I load five rounds in each of two magazines so I can practice a quick magazine change. With my pistol holstered, I walk up to the area I plan to fire from, get set in my isosceles stance, deliberately draw, concentrating on technique, take aim and fire the five shots quickly – concentrating on follow up shots on different targets. I do a quick magazine change, pull the slide back to put the pistol in battery, and fire the next five shots. I will typically run through about 100 rounds of ammunition at the tactical range. The benefit of tactical pistol practice is the instant feedback the metal plates provide.

Tactical Live Fire Pistol Drill with magazine change

Closing Thoughts

After years of training in self-defense, there is no substitute for practice. But you must practice smart. You must do a lot of dry fire practice – at least five times as much as live fire practice. Your muscle memory and trigger control will become much better ingrained from the dry fire drills. And remember, without continual practice, you will not be prepared if the unthinkable happens.

Until next month, #LIVEtoRide and #RIDEtoLIVE. I hope to see you at Smoky Mountain Thunder over Memorial Day Weekend.

Grey Beard Biker
@GreyBeard_Biker on the Twitter

Good afternoon fellow biker Patriots! I trust you had a great Thanksgiving. If you are like me, you avoided anything to do with shopping today – which just happens to be Black Friday. But if you did happen to go shopping, with all the crazy people trying to get their gifts, you had an above average chance of running into someone who has lost their damn mind and could pose a threat to you. If that were to happen, it would be a good idea to understand force multiplication.

I read an interesting statistic the other day. Over 16 million citizens have a concealed carry permit. Over ½ of these permit holders are women. I was a bit surprised that there were more women permit holders than men. But perhaps I shouldn’t have been. If you look at the overall United States population, there are slightly more women than men. I find it interesting that when I go to my local gun shop these days, there are a lot of women shopping for guns. It wasn’t always this way. When I first started building my gun collection, I very seldom saw the fairer sex in gun stores. There is a reason for this – force multiplication. Women are taking their personal defense seriously and they recognize that an attack will probably come from the opposite sex and that men are typically larger and stronger than they are. There are of course exceptions to this general rule.

Force Multiplication can be obtained with a gun, knife, pepper spray or baton

What is Force Multiplication?

The United States Department of Defense defines force multiplication as, “A capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of a successful mission accomplishment.”

These same factors hold true for an individual in a self-defense scenario. I would define it a bit differently than the DoD: “the use of a tool to multiply force and successfully fend off an attack by a more capable, determined assailant.” A simple lever is a force multiplier as it can move a heavy object with less force than required without the lever. In self-defense, the force multiplier could be many different items: pepper spray, a personal defense taser, knife, baton or a pistol.

What many women have come to recognize is that the pistol is the most effective of all these tools. It levels the playing field in most any scenario and gives her a fighting chance against a determined attacker. And of course, force multiplication is just as important for a man who takes the defense of himself, friends and family seriously.

This whole concept is important to me as I have been having a discussion with a close female family member who is in her 20s and considering getting her handgun carry permit. She lives on her own and is often alone when driving to and from work and school. But we are approaching this cautiously and we have agreed that she needs training, a pistol she is comfortable with and will have to practice a lot before she can start carrying. (Not to mention going through HCP training.)

As a certified range safety officer (RSO), I encourage anyone who is concerned with their personal safety to consider a handgun. Seek out recommendations from knowledgeable people before you decide on which gun to purchase. Go to the gun range and rent as many as possible before you make a decision on which gun is best for you. Do not get caught up in the “larger is better caliber” debate. While I can easily handle my .357 SIG chambered pistols, and often carry .45 ACP pistols, they are not for everyone. These heavy calibers produce a large blast when shooting and have a stout recoil. A well placed first shot, and the ability to quickly, and accurately, place follow up shots, is more important than the size and speed of the projectile. If you are more comfortable shooting a .380 semi-auto, or a 9mm, that is what you should be carry. If you are not able to quickly clear a malfunction in a semi-automatic pistol, a 38 special revolver may be your better choice as you can continue to pull the trigger without worrying about a failure-to-eject of failure-to-feed making your pistol inoperable. Lastly, keep in mind the size of the handgun you are considering. Full sized models inherently absorb recoil better than small guns. But if you are of smaller stature, concealing a larger framed gun in a waist holster will be more difficult.

In Closing

Do not be overly concerned about the caliber of your carry pistol. Try plenty of different gun makes, models and calibers. If you are a lady, determine whether you want to carry on your waist, ankle or in a concealment purse. Try different handguns out in these rigs to find the one which works best for you. And most importantly, remember that the most appropriate force multiplier is not always going to be a handgun. The tool you use in any given self-defense situation has to be proportional to the force your attacker is using against you. For this reason, carry less lethal force multiplier defensive tools too. Watch the GreyBeardBiker.com for an upcoming article on proportionality.

μολὼν λαβέ,
The Grey Beard Biker
@GreyBeard_Biker on the Twitter

This is the last post in the five-part series, Principles of a Self-Defense Claim and deals with Reasonableness. In review, the five critical components to a successful self-defense claim are:

  1. Innocence
  2. Imminence
  3. Proportionality
  4. Avoidance
  5. Reasonableness

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position where you have to defend yourself with lethal force, your continued freedom will depend on whether the police, prosecutors and courts believe all five of these components were properly met. If there is any doubt in their minds, that each one was met, your legal team will have to convince a jury that you did in fact meet them.

Principles of a Self Defense Claim – Reasonableness


Reasonableness of your actions is judged both objectively and subjectively. In the event that the police turn your case over to the prosecuting attorney, objective reasonableness will primarily be determined by interviews with witnesses, physical evidence – and if the case goes to court – testimony by expert witnesses. Subjective reasonableness is primarily going to be determined by your actions and any statements you make (Hint: a subject of an upcoming article). Let’s examine both of these.

Objective Reasonableness

Objective reasonableness is an imaginary litmus test. Essentially, it implores someone to consider if a reasonable person would make the same decisions and take the same actions you did if in exactly the same situation.

This imaginary person is a law-abiding citizen, does not have anger issues, does not do drugs and never drinks to excess. He/she would be cautious by nature. Average in every way, he/she would not have above average intelligence or super human strength.

When considering objective reasonableness, the police and district attorney may well transfer your physical characteristics to the imaginary person. If you are old, frail, small or handicapped you would likely fear for your life more quickly than a healthy man in his mid-20s. As such, a lower threshold would have to be exceeded before you began to become fearful and the fight-or-flight instinct kicked in – that point in time when you believed the threat was imminent.

In a self-defense case the court may also allow Mr. Reasonable to have specialized knowledge which you possess. A good example would be if you knew the person was extremely violent, unstable or had a reputation as a vicious fighter. If you were to find yourself in a position where he was coming quickly at you with clenched fists, and in an obvious rage, you may believe the threat to be imminent more quickly than if you did not have this specialized knowledge. Having this knowledge transferred to Mr. Reasonable is only fair because a reasonable person with such knowledge would be more likely to react quickly.

Other specialized knowledge, such as your previous understanding of the Tueller Drill (for more information see the article on Imminence) can be passed to Mr. Reasonable – and he, like you – will know that a knife wielding man is an imminent threat at 21 feet – which may not seem reasonable to everyone. But if you were to find yourself in court, you will most likely need to prove that you knew this before you used lethal force. Owning a book which cites the Tueller Drill, with a receipt, would be proof. Attending a self-defense class, prior to the incident, which provided information on the Tueller Drill may well suffice as proof.

If Mr. Reasonable would have taken the same actions you did, you have passed the litmus test for objective reasonableness. But that does not mean you are out of the “proverbial woods” yet.

Subjective Reasonableness

Subjective reasonableness takes into consideration all of the things you did and said. Just because Mr. Reasonable would have acted like you did, from an objective standpoint, if you did not believe you were innocent, there was not an imminent threat or your actions were not proportional, you are at risk of not passing the subjective reasonableness test. You may be wondering, “How would the police or prosecutor know I did not believe this if I did not tell them?” This is where your statement to the police may come into play. If you were to say, “I was not afraid for my life,” or “I could have taken him with my fists,” you are in jeopardy of losing your self-defense claim because there was not an imminent threat and your actions were not proportional to your perception of the threat.

Other things which can cause police and prosecutors to fail your self-defense claim, due to subjective reasonableness, would be running from the scene, hiding from police or tampering with evidence. These actions will immediately cause them to believe you were not the innocent party.

In Closing

In closing, remember that you must be able to prove the following to claim self-defense: you are INNOCENT, you believed there was an IMMINENT threat of death or serious injury, your use of force was PROPORTIONAL, there was no reasonable avenue of AVOIDANCE and a REASONABLE person would have taken the same actions.

Grey Beard Biker

Note: Neither the Grey Beard Biker or Michael are an attorney. While he has been involved in self-defense for many years, this article is provided for informational purposes only. Check with an attorney to understand your state’s laws.

This article was originally published in Thunder Roads Tennessee/Kentucky magazine and is used with permission. It was written by Michael Noirot – a/k/a the Grey Beard Biker.

Other articles in this series can be read by clicking on the following links:

A West Virginia woman, catching a 53 year old pedophile/sex offender in her 12 year old daughter’s room, uses the Second Amendment to take care of business.

As reported in Concealed Carry Magazine:

Hearing a commotion in her 12 year old daughter’s room at about 2 a.m., a Morgantown mother armed herself with a shotgun and proceeded to investigate. Upon entering the daughter’s room, she found a strange man struggling with her daughter. When the assailant turned to face her, the mother fired one blast from the shotgun, catching him in the face and taking off most of his head. The daughter was physically unharmed, though traumatized by the attack. Authorities described her attacker as a notorious pedophile with a string of known offenses against young victims. West Virginia is a Castle Doctrine state, and charges against the 42 year old mother appear unlikely at this point.

This is your Second Amendment in action and your Grey Beard Biker approves of this mother taking care of business.

Grey Beard Biker

Note: Concealed Carry Magazine is the monthly publication of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, the operating entity of Delta Defense, LLC. USCCA is an approved Grey Beard Biker company and offers USCCA members Self Defense Education, Training and Legal Protection. Grey Beard has been a proud member of USCCA since November 2013 and highly recommends them to his readers.

Grey Beard Biker’s last blog post on Principles of Self-Defense dealt with Imminence. This post will deal specifically with Proportionality – the third component of a successful self-defense claim if you use deadly force. In review, here are the five components which must all be answered affirmatively for you to prove you acted in self-defense:

  1. Innocence
  2. Imminence
  3. Proportionality
  4. Avoidance
  5. Reasonableness

From a law enforcement and legal perspective, pulling a gun during a fist fight would not be considered a proportional response. Doing so would fail the third component and would certainly put you at risk of being charged and spending time in prison. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a look at weapons that are always considered deadly:

  • Guns and other firearms
  • Bows
  • Crossbows

That is the entire list. So, would it be correct to assume only these projectile weapons are considered deadly? NO! Common items can be used as a contact weapon and be deadly: baseball bats, hammers, clubs, walking canes, bowling balls, bricks, tire irons, etc. Even one’s fists can be used to deadly effect if the attacker is much larger, he’s choking you or you are no longer able to defend yourself. But the use of any of these other weapons would have to clear the AOJ Triad hurdle in order to be considered deadly-force:

  1. Ability – The attacker has the ability to cause death or grave bodily harm
  2. Opportunity – The attacker can get to you with the force to cause death or grave bodily harm
  3. Jeopardy – The attacker intends to do grave harm to you

As an example, if you were having an argument at a softball game with the batter and he poked you in the chest with his bat, he would have ability and opportunity. But unless he intended to attack you violently with it (jeopardy), you could not immediately resort to using deadly force. Your self-defense claim would fail the third leg of the triad.

Now, if you were approached in an alley by a thug carrying the same bat, and he gets in your face, saying he’s going to kill you, the shit-bag has ability, opportunity and there is most certainly jeopardy. In this scenario, your use of deadly force should be considered justified. But only if you are innocent. You cannot be the person who started the altercation, you have to be in a place you are legally allowed to be and the threat to your life has to be imminent.

The last thing which must be considered is escalation of force. If you are arguing with someone and they throw the first punch, you have the right to defend yourself with non-lethal force. Your fists would be the most logical response. But if you are overpowered and the attacker is on top of you, pounding you in the face, this could represent a deadly threat or an attack which could cause grave bodily harm – the amount of force has escalated and you have the should have the right to protect yourself with escalated force. But again, you must be the innocent party.

My son-in-law is a sheriff’s deputy in Florida. He carries roughly 25 pounds of gear on his belt when he is working. His defensive tools include pepper spray, a TASER and his service pistol. Law enforcement officers are trained to use what’s called the “continuum of force.” This would involve going up-and-down the ladder of lethality of their available tools. Their first tool is yelling, “Stop!” This is obviously everyone’s first tool. Next would be pepper spray, then their TASER and lastly their service pistol. Obviously, if they are experiencing an imminent threat from a gun wielding robber, they are not going to start by pulling out their pepper spray or yelling, “Stop!” But if, during a routine traffic stop, the person becomes belligerent, they may well go to the pepper spray and escalate force as necessary. This is a useful illustration because many civilians often carry only their fists and their firearm. And while some of you may carry a knife, as your lovable Grey Beard Biker always does, don’t fall into the potential legal trap of thinking it is considered less lethal than your pistol. If you are in close combat with a thug, pulling your knife is the same a pulling a gun and can certainly be considered an escalation of force. Remember, from a legal perspective, it is just a deadly as your gun.

Darrel Ralph Designs
Keychain Kubotan

So, what other non-lethal weapons should you consider carrying? Pepper spray is the most obvious. It is quite effective and will give you time to separate yourself from the bad guy and call 911. But pulling pepper spray may also be considered an escalation of force if the threat is not imminent. Case law in many states has shown that juries will convict a criminal of aggravated assault if they use pepper spray in the commission of a crime. So, remember, you must always be the innocent party before you do so. Another tool which you might consider is a key chain mounted kubotan. A kubotan is essentially a mini-club and is quite effective at taking the fight out of an attacker if used correctly. But training and speed are essential with such a tool. And again, you will still need to be the innocent party in order to justify your use of a kubotan – and it must be used only when an escalation of force is required.

In summary, you cannot use force that is not proportional to the force an attacker is using against you. During a fight, your attacker may escalate their force against you, and you may escalate proportionally to their force.

Watch for the next Grey Beard Biker blog post on Avoidance!

The Grey Beard Biker

Note: Neither the Grey Beard Biker or Michael are an attorney. While he has been involved in self-defense for many years, this article is provided for informational purposes only. Check with an attorney to understand your state’s laws.

This article was originally published in Thunder Roads Tennessee/Kentucky magazine and is used with permission. It was written by Michael Noirot – a/k/a the Grey Beard Biker.

Other articles in this series can be read by clicking on the following links:

From Grey Beard Biker’s Friends at USA Carry! Like their website!

Greetings, fellow bikers. This article deals with the second critical component of a self-defense claim: Imminence. The first column in this series dealt with Innocence and can be found HERE.

As stated in article one, the use of lethal force is justified if you are acting in self-defense, protecting yourself, your family, friends or another person. But in order for a self-defense claim to be successful, all of these components must be successfully proven:

  1. Innocence
  2. Imminence
  3. Proportionality
  4. Avoidance
  5. Reasonableness

In the event that you have responded to a situation with lethal force, you first need to be the innocent party – meaning you were not the aggressor or provocateur. Without innocence, your claim of self-defense will quickly fall apart. Next, there has to be imminence. A quick Google search of legal websites will lead you to Black’s Law Dictionary. Imminence relates to their discussion of homicide in self-defense and is defined as:

“….immediate danger, such as must be instantly met, such as cannot be guarded against by calling for the assistance of others or protection of the law…. such an appearance of threatened and impending injury as would put a reasonable and prudent man to his instant defense.” – Black’s Law Dictionary

In other words, you have to respond immediately to the threat or risk being seriously maimed, injured, disfigured or killed. Lethal force, or for that matter non-lethal force, used too early, or too late (after the threat is gone), will fail the imminence test.

Massad Ayoob has been training in self-defense principles for years and I have read several of his books, most recently, “Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense.” Mas has written much on building a self-defense case and it might be helpful in our discussion on imminence to bring into play his concept of imminence, which is often referred to as the AOJ Triad: Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy.

Ability:             Is your attacker able to hurt you?
Opportunity:  Can the attacker get to you?
Jeopardy:        Does the attacker, who has ability and opportunity, intend to use illegal force against you?

I will take a deeper dive into Ability in this series’ next article on proportionality, but it is worth mentioning now that anyone has the ability to hurt you. Be it with their fists, an impact weapon – like a knife or hammer – or with a gun. It is, however, germane to the next leg of the AOJ Triad, opportunity.

Opportunity relates specifically to whether or not the thug can get at you. If you are in your locked car, at a stoplight, and the thug approaches you with nothing more than his fists, yelling he is going to kill you, he does not have the opportunity to get at you. Using lethal force in this scenario will likely fail in a self-defense litmus test. However, if the same thug is coming at you with a large brick in his hand, he may well be able to get to you. The car, in the first scenario, can be an obstacle and obstacles are something you need to use to your advantage.

Let’s consider another scenario. You are walking to your car in a dark parking lot. You are being approached by a person that appears intent on doing you harm. Can you put an obstacle between you and the thug? Perhaps you can get behind a car in the parking lot and use it as a shield against a potential attack? In this scenario, immediately resorting to lethal force on the individual would be a bad idea.

Distance is also a consideration when speaking of opportunity. If the same thug is coming at you with a gun, distance becomes a non-issue since he can reach out to you with hot lead. But if he is brandishing a machete, distance is certainly an opportunity limitation. Granted, he might throw the machete at you, but he is unlikely to hurt you from more than a few yards away. The same holds true with other impact weapons like a hammer of a knife. But at what distance does the hammer or knife wielding thug become a substantial threat?

This is dependent on how quickly you can bring proportional force into play. A good rule of thumb is the Tueller Drill. Sergeant Dennis Tueller, of the Salt Lake City police department, came up with this drill by measuring how much ground a knife wielding attacker could cover in 1.5 seconds – the time it took an average police officer to un-holster his service pistol and accurately fire two rounds, center mass. Using many volunteers, Tueller came up with a distance of 21 feet. Your Tueller Drill distance will likely be greater than 21 feet since your ability to draw your pistol and fire two rounds accurately may well take longer than 1.5 seconds.

The last leg of the AOJ Triad is the most important – Jeopardy. Does the person intend to use illegal force against you? An armed police officer standing next to you has the ability and opportunity to hurt you. But the AOJ triad would fail because he does not intend to hurt you. However, a thug standing less than 21 feet away from you, brandishing a knife, does possess all of the elements of the AOJ Triad.

In review, if you are the innocent person, and there is an imminent threat of severe injury, or death, you have two of the five components of a self-defense claim.

Watch for the next blog post on Proportionality.

The Grey Beard Biker

Note: Neither the Grey Beard Biker or Michael are an attorney. While he has been involved in self-defense for many years, this article is provided for informational purposes only. Check with an attorney to understand your state’s laws.

This article was originally published in Thunder Roads Tennessee/Kentucky magazine and is used with permission. It was written by Michael Noirot – a/k/a the Grey Beard Biker.

Other articles in this series can be read by clicking on the following links:

Hello fellow bikers. If the proverbial “shit hits the fan,” and you have to use your firearm to protect yourself, you may find yourself in a world of legal trouble if the law believes you did not operate within some basic rules. Your freedom will inevitably require you to have a legitimate self-defense claim. There are five basic principles of a successful self-defense claim:

  1. Innocence
  2. Imminence
  3. Proportionality
  4. Avoidance
  5. Reasonableness

This particular blog post will focus on the first principle: Innocence

Your actions will have to satisfy all five of these principles for a successful self-defense claim. If they are present, you will prevail. If they are not all present, you may spend a very long time in prison. This month we will focus on Innocence.


After the dust settles, you must be viewed as the innocent party. While this may seem easy enough to prove, there are many things which can happen which makes you the aggressor.

In an altercation, the aggressor is generally going to be viewed as the person who threw the first punch, brandished a knife or pulled a gun. In some states, words alone can cause you to be the aggressor. Tennessee’s laws are a bit vague with regards to who the aggressor is:

Tennessee 39-11-611

(e) The threat of force against another is not justified:

  • If the person using force consented to the exact force used or attempted by the other individual;
  • If the person using force provoked the other individual’s use or attempted use of unlawful force

Provocation is the key to Tennessee’s innocence claim and the fact that Tennessee has not clearly defined provocation, you must CLEARLY be the innocent party – not the provocateur.

Additionally, you can easily find yourself in a position where competing narratives of the event may portray you as the aggressor – especially if the witnesses are friends of the thug you were protecting yourself against. If this proves to be the case, an overzealous prosecutor may well pursue charges against you.

Proportionality, or the lack thereof, can also cause you to be viewed as the aggressor, not the innocent party. If the thug you are protecting yourself from throws the first punch, but you immediately escalate the encounter by pulling a concealed firearm, you will be in serious jeopardy of losing your innocence – and your claim of self-defense.

While the rules of being viewed as the aggressor vary from state-to-state, the Federal court system has simplified it somewhat with their finding:

“An affirmative, unlawful act reasonably calculated to produce an affray foreboding injurious or fatal consequences…” Michael J. Edwards v. United States

The keys to this are affirmative – meaning not accidental, unlawful – meaning well, unlawful and calculated to produce an affray – meaning the aggressor was the one who deliberately escalated the situation beyond what was necessary. And lastly, foreboding injurious or fatal consequences – meaning there was imminence that you are in serious risk of being maimed or killed. If it can be proven the thug exhibited these, your claim of innocence may be sustained and you will likely be cut loose and not face criminal prosecution.

There are a couple other actions which may cause you to lose your claim of innocence:

Pursuit/Sustainment – If you pursue or sustain the altercation you will no longer be considered the innocent party. In other words, if the thug decides fighting you is not in his best interest, and verbally communicates he is disengaging, and you try to sustain or further pursue him, you will become the aggressor.

Mutual Combat – If after a brush up with the aforementioned thug, you agree to meet him, or take the fight outside, you will have lost your innocence – and perhaps sunk your entire self-defense claim.

Escalation – This was mentioned earlier, and should be reinforced. If you find yourself in a fist fight, or a war of words, do not escalate the encounter beyond what it is – a nonlethal fight. If you pull your pistol at this point, you will be considered the aggressor or provocateur – meaning you are in serious trouble.

Now, if you find yourself in a position where you may have lost your innocence in the altercation, you may still be able to regain your innocence.

Tennessee 39-11-611(e)

  • The person using force abandons the encounter or clearly communicates to the other the intent to do so; and
  • The other person nonetheless continues or attempts to use unlawful force against the person

The Tennessee statue is clear here. You must attempt to disengage from the altercation and most importantly, you must verbally (preferably loud enough to be heard by everyone nearby) communicate your desire to end the affray. At this point, if the thug pursues the fight – or escalates it – you may well regain your innocence.

One other consideration you must keep in mind. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs will sink a self-defense claim. If you are planning on enjoying some adult beverages, leave your gun at home – or locked up where you cannot gain access to it. If you are under the influence and find yourself in a life-or-death situation, your best defense is not going on the offense. If you pull your sidearm under these conditions – even if you are the innocent – you are in serious legal jeopardy. If you have your weapon you must make the choice between potential death and a very long incarceration. But you risk much if you put yourself in this situation.

Watch for the next blog post on Imminence.

Molon Labe,
Grey Beard Biker

Note: Neither the Grey Beard Biker or Michael are an attorney. While he has been involved in self-defense for many years, this article is provided for informational purposes only. Check with an attorney to understand your state’s laws.

This article was originally published in Thunder Roads Tennessee/Kentucky magazine and is used with permission. It was written by Michael Noirot – a/k/a the Grey Beard Biker.

Other articles in this series can be read by clicking on the following links:

If you are reading this, you are most likely a defender of our Second Amendment. You may even conceal carry a handgun when you leave the house. If so, congratulations on taking your safety, and the safety of your family and friends seriously. We all know that the best defense against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But do not fall into the same trap many people do: that carrying a handgun makes you “bullet-proof.” It simply does not.

In fact, if you have become lazy because of that gun on your hip, you may be in more danger than an unarmed citizen who is very vigilant. Vigilance is the key to your safety and those with you – and vigilance starts with situational awareness.

According to Wikipedia, Situational Awareness is defined as:

“…the perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, such as a predetermined event.”

And while situational awareness is a key component to riding a motorcycle safely – Eg. Is that car approaching from the side road going to run the stop sign and pull out in front of me? – many riders leave their situational awareness with their helmets when they climb off their scoot. In other words, they become unaware of everything going on around themselves.

Increasing your situational awareness starts with PAYING ATTENTION! Pay attention to everything going on around you. If you are like many people, that smart phone you are self-absorbed in is putting you at risk. Do not walk around in public with all of your attention focused on your social media networks. I have walked up to friends who are on their iPhone and greeted them several times before they were even aware I was there. That same person will never be able to defend against an attack by a thug if they are only paying attention to liking their friends’ Facebook posts.

It would be helpful to look at the way a thug intent on doing harm thinks. First, you must think of these people as being like a tiger which is stalking their next meal. Like that tiger, they purposely scope out the weakest animal in a pack before they spring forward to attack. Shit-bag thugs do the same thing. If they are going to commit an armed robbery they will look for the softest of targets – that person least likely to defend themselves when they spring forward to attack. Perhaps it’s that person peering intently into their smartphone. Perhaps it’s that person walking along the dark sidewalk talking to their girlfriend on the phone. Or perhaps it’s that person in the restaurant sitting with their back to everyone else. These are their easiest targets – those who due to their total lack of situational awareness have left themselves the most vulnerable – and least likely to be able to fight back. Even if they are packing a concealed handgun, they will be unable to act quickly enough to use it in their defense – and may even have their gun taken away from them and used against them.

Here are some suggestions which will help you increase your situational awareness:

  1. Avoid dangerous areas – Do not put yourself into a situation where you will be more likely to have to defend yourself.
  2. Remove your smartphone from your consciousness when you are in a public place. It is okay, even preferable, to have it with you, but your attention should not be focused on it.
  3. If you are walking into your corner gas station put your phone in your pocket. Look around the establishment before you enter. Is it well lit? How many people are in there? Are there any people who look dangerous? (Yes, it is okay for you to profile people.) What can you use for a barrier if the proverbial “shit-hits-the-fan?” Where are the exits? Have you examined the people present well enough to describe them for a police report? If not, you are not situationally aware of your surroundings.
  4. Do not sit where you have blind spots. Avoid sitting with your back to everyone else in that restaurant. I personally like to find a corner table and have my back to the corner.
  5. Events change and you need to change with them. Closely examine newcomers entering the restaurant, pub or gas station.
  6. Most importantly remove anything which can become a distraction.

The more you practice situational awareness, the easier it becomes. Be aware of the people around you. Be aware of the structure you are in. Search out exits. Scan faces. Stay away from dark areas where you can easily be ambushed. Do not ever become the prey because your concentration is elsewhere.

Molon Labe,
The Grey Beard Biker

This article was originally published in Thunder Roads Tennessee/Kentucky magazine and is used with permission. It was written by Michael Noirot – a/k/a the Grey Beard Biker.