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Gun / Pistol Disarms In Police Tactics

Among the most "personal" of the many techniques in police tactics are the gun/pistol disarms. To begin with, there is an abundance and a variety of gun defenses/disarms taught these days, if the many books and videos illustrating these are to be used as a gauge. Some of these defenses seem sound, others seem absurd. Some are rooted in applied body mechanics and kinesiology; others take on a quasi-mystical aura of "sensing" the moment the trigger is pulled, and moving out of the bullet's path. While this may work in a Remo Williams movie, it defies reality in a real situation, and would almost always prove fatal. Still another reason why gun defenses are "personal" is that they involve a morality and an ideology unique to each officer attempting them. This point will be elaborated upon shortly.

As a brief background, the gun disarms originally taught to S.A.C. Airmen as part of the Combative Measures program were taken from Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu. They were direct, always had taisabaki as a first step, and provided great officer safety. Since these disarms were taught under the Taiho-Jutsu phase of the program, the follow-ups to the disarms were often the subduing of the opponent. Over time, many pistol disarming techniques became part of police tactics programs, some from other styles and other countries, others a combination of techniques labeled "new". Since there is no uniformity amongst the tremendous number of city, county, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies across the country, the variations on these techniques are numerous. The question arises, is there, or should there be, a standard used to gauge the effectiveness of a given disarming technique?

Conceptually, the answer is yes. First and foremost, officer safety has to be the prime consideration in any disarming move. Is the officer's body out of the line of attack? Is there the possibility of an aggressive follow-up from the assailant after a disarming technique has been applied? These questions all have the underlying safety principles of Taiho-Jutsu as a guide, and are essential in, at the very least, reducing the odds an officer will be injured.


Additionally, they must be effective regardless of the officer's size and build, and must be effective on any terrain, with full gear attached or without. All officers should be able to apply the moves, whether they are the fastest thing on two feet or not.

Earlier, the moral and ideological aspect of these techniques was mentioned. Here we have the most "personal" of all aspects of gun/pistol disarming techniques. The term "personal" is used because every officer has to make a decision as to how s/he mentally enters into the defense, as well as the follow-up to be chosen. Ideally, there should be no hesitation as a result of doubt in the officer's mind. There should be confidence in the knowledge of the effectiveness of the technique, and confidence in his/her ability to implement the technique in the manner required. (An interesting practice method has been to use a toy rubber-tipped dart gun. Despite it not firing as fast as a real pistol, many widely used disarming techniques have come in second place before the dart finds its mark.)

In terms of the follow-up to the disarm, we see the beliefs of the officer as well as the situation itself as factors. For example, there may be some who feel that an assailant pulling a gun on an officer only has the worst intentions. Following the disarm, s/he may counter with a side thrust kick to the knee, feeling more than justified in this move. Administrative policy and politics are not considerations in the heat of the moment. Another officer may disarm the attacker, and hold him/her at gunpoint while securing the person, and then handcuff him/her or await backup. In either case, it is one's personal philosophy about the nature of the threat, the "instinct" for survival, family, and a host of other personal considerations which all come into play, resulting in an officer's choice.

As this article demonstrates, gun/pistol disarming is not simply another series of techniques to be learned and checked off a list, but a process which at times is complex and requires an officer's forethought.

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