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Officer Survival: Defending Gun Grabs

Gun grabs are real and present a serious threat. What are you doing to safeguard your weapon?

Sadly, some cops are being shot with their own weapons. At the same time there is also an outcry about officers shooting so called “unarmed individuals” (I’ll discuss that later). Thugs have become emboldened in the present climate of civil unrest that seems to materialize every time a bad guy is shot. The “Ferguson effect,” as it’s become known, has caused a lot of police officers to dial back their proactiveness as they watch and read about another colleague being hung out to dry for doing his job.

That said, it’s always been important to practice weapon retention because every so often a desperate criminal will attempt to take your gun. Now it’s even more imperative to safeguard one’s sidearm as the court of public opinion seems tilted toward the side of criminals rather than cops. I’ve felt that tug on my own gun a couple of times during my 33 years in law enforcement, and suffice it to say, it’s terrifying. Thankfully, in addition to DT training, a new generation of holsters can assist us in retaining our weapon.

Modern technology has optimized our chances of weapon retention with many options and styles of so-called retention holsters. There are different levels of protection you should be aware of. Level 1 holsters, the simplest of the bunch, utilize tension screws to help keep the gun securely in the holster. However, these can be problematic because the screws have a tendency to loosen with normal use and need routine tightening. Level 1 is not really a design to prevent someone from taking your weapon. It’s more of a holster that prevents your weapon from falling out.

Level 2 holsters are best described as an enhanced Level 1 with an added mechanical element such as a thumb operated lever, a hood, or a backstrap. This is a popular holster for uniforms because it’s quick and simple, allowing for a fast draw.

As we add another mechanism, giving us two mechanisms plus the tension screws, we reach Level 3. A bit more complicated, it is nevertheless also popular with uniforms. Obviously, when we add yet another mechanism to a Level 3 holster, it now becomes Level 4.

Retention holsters, while adding protection for the officer, have a learning curve attached to them. Moreover, just because you carry your weapon in a retention holster doesn’t negate the need to continue weapon retention training—particularly grounded training. Many times a scuffle ends up with both parties on the deck, which is a perfect opportunity for the bad guy to go for your gun.

Now, the topic de jour, the gun grab. Media loves reports of unarmed Joe Citizen being shot by a trigger-happy cop. It’s never the fault of the thug who tries to disarm the cop, nor does the media report an incident unless it has a racial overtone. However, a recent study sheds new light on the claims of disingenuous news sources who love to portray cops as killers. Texas based analytics technology firm, StreetCred Software, Inc., analyzed 125 cases during the first eight months of 2015 in which unarmed civilians in the US died as a result of law enforcement encounters. The data “support no conclusion of systemic targeting by police of any [ethnic or racial] group.”

Furthermore, the study pointed out the following:

  • A sizeable portion of unarmed subjects who died in police interactions were white, as were the officers.
  • In nearly a third of the cases, officers unsuccessfully tried non-deadly control methods first.
  • Only four officers of the 125 cases had prior histories of excessive force accusations, contrasted with the violent criminal histories of those killed.
  • If the incident was witnessed by civilians, “they generally sided with the police account of events.”

The study in its entirety can be found by CLICKING HERE. As for the claims cops shoot unarmed citizens remember this: any person you contact is potentially armed. Their weapon?—your gun! The fact that a thug is unsuccessful in his attempt to take your weapon does nothing to make him an innocent unarmed person. This type of incident is clearly a deadly force situation.

What is often lost in the reportage of these occurrences is why the initial contact occurred. According to the study, 65% of the cases were a result of response to a 911 call regarding a violent crime or significant property crime in progress. The officers were not patrolling the streets searching for someone to shoot. On the contrary, cops were responding to a call for help. In fact, 26 incidents involved an assault by an unarmed civilian against another civilian before the police arrived, and two cases were murders.

Gun grabs are real. Plan for them; train for them. Don’t ever think it won’t happen to you. Have a plan and a backup plan, and as always, maintain a winning mindset.

Stay Safe, Brothers and Sisters!