Thinking BEYOND the Gun: The Life-Saving Importance of Improvised Weapons

By Daisy Luther

Last week in London, civilians used improvised weapons to stop an attacker on London Bridge who killed two and injured three people.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack (but then again, they often do this falsely). However, the attacker, Usman Khan, had recently been released from prison for his part in a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange in 2012. He was certainly not rehabilitated, but ironically, he was at the site of the attack to help rehabilitate other terrorists.

The attack was stopped by civilians who used a remarkable array of improvised weapons, ranging from a Narwhal tusk (really!) to a fire extinguisher.

But nearly every article I’ve seen shared about this topic inevitably has comments like:

“A Glock would have stopped the whole thing faster.”

“Too bad they had to use a Narwhal tusk to fight a terrorist. I carry a gun and a knife both.”

“In the US someone would have just shot that guy.”

This is both dismissive and somewhat unrealistic.

Don’t discount what these people did.

You know those people who make everything about their political agenda?  The ones who either blame President Trump for everything from wildfires in a state he hasn’t been to in ages to hurricanes? Or the ones who blame guns for every problem in the United States? Or the ones who talk about “toxic masculinity” or “capitalism” being the root of our nation’s problems?

When you discount a truly heroic act of defense because the people who committed that act weren’t packing a firearm or a dagger, then you are making this about your agenda. You may not even realize that you’re acting just like the people you deem “crazy” in the way they tie everything to their own agendas.

I love guns and knives as much as the rest of you. When I’m in the US, I carry a Glock 19 everywhere. I’m the gal who always has a nice sharp knife in her pocket to open packages (or whatever.) I am adamantly pro-self-defense and pro-Second Amendment.

But this discussion is not about gun control or knife control.

And a gun or a knife may not even have been the best way to resolve the issue. This was an extremely tense and volatile situation with many factors that could cause challenges.

  • What if you pulled out your gun but people are running hysterically in between you and the terrorist? Are you going to risk taking a shot that isn’t clear just because you have a gun?
  • What if you pulled out your gun but there are people behind the terrorist? What if your bullet goes through the target and hits an innocent bystander? What if you miss the moving target and hit that bystander on your own?
  • Are you going to pull the 5-inch folding knife out of your pocket and go head to head with a dude who had two large chef’s knives, one of which was duct-taped to his hand? Good luck. Especially if you are completely untrained. If you don’t have the training to fight with a knife, the chances are high you’ll be stabbed with your own knife that you pulled to take out the bad guy. (hat tip to Greg Ellifritz)

If you look deep down in your heart, you know that these solutions may or may not be realistic ones for you. If you have extensive advanced training, you might be able to make that headshot and neutralize the attacker without harming any bystanders. Heck, you might just get lucky and make that shot.

But these solutions definitely wouldn’t be realistic for most people. We’ve all been to the range and seen the loud person who sweeps the room with his gun and is quite frankly a terrible shot. The last time I updated my concealed carry permit, I was in a room with a guy like that who – guess what – got his permit. I sure wouldn’t want to see him open fire on a terrorist in a crowd of tourists. In many states, you don’t even have to prove you can shoot accurately to get a CCW permit. You just have to prove you understand the laws surrounding carrying a firearm.

These improvised weapons were excellent choices for this particular attack.

This attacker was taken down by a 5-foot long Narwhal tusk and a fire extinguisher before a group of civilians jumped on him to disarm him.

Why were these good choices? Because they bought the defenders some distance. The fire extinguisher blinded the attacker and the Narwhal tusk kept him a distance safe enough that the user didn’t get hurt too badly. (From what I read, he still got slashed but his wounds were minor.) This allowed another guy to tackle the attacker and take him down completely.

From there, a man (who was actually a convicted murderer) stopped his car and got out to help. He stomped on the attacker’s hand until he released the knife. Another civilian picked up the knife and took it out of play. However, the attacker still had another knife taped to his non-dominant hand and wore a fake suicide vest (which of course no one knew was fake until after the fight was over.)

Here’s a video of the takedown. Police shot the attacker once the civilians were out of the way.

Here’s another view of the altercation once the attacker is down.

We can armchair-quarterback this whole event, but the fact is, quick, unconventional thinking and the courage to take action saved lives.

The ability to improvise weapons could save your life.

A dependence on guns and only guns to defend yourself in others is short-sighted and could leave you defenseless in a variety of scenarios.

There are more and more places we can’t be armed these days. In the United States, you can’t take your gun into a federal building. If you go into a courthouse, you have to go through a metal detector. You can’t go to a concert or a sporting event armed because you’re going to be searched before you go in. “Gun Free Zones” (also known as target-rich environments) abound and you can be charged with anything from a misdemeanor to a felony if you ignore a gun-free zone sign (and get caught.) Second Amendment sanctuaries are popping up all over the nation to battle unconstitutional laws, but meanwhile, many of us have to live with the constant risk of felony gun charges.

In most of the rest of the world, your access to weapons is also extremely restricted. Learning how to improvise weapons could be a skill that saves your life. (Selco has a great article about improvised weapons.)

As well, when I took Selco’s Urban Survival Course in Croatia last year, we spent half a day on “weaponizing our environments.”  We had to go into different rooms and find everything we could to bash, slash, stab, or block an attacker. Then we sat with the guys and went over our choices. They provided valuable feedback about whether our potential weapons would work as we’d hoped or not. (If you want to learn this kind of stuff too, (registration is open for the 2020 course right now and on sale through Cyber Monday for $875.)

Every time I relocate to a new Airbnb, I go through the entire apartment and choose my “arsenal.” I find everything I could possibly use as a weapon should someone break into my temporary home. This has really gotten me to think far outside the box when it comes to ways to defend myself. (If you’d like, I could do an article with photographs of the potential weapons I find in my next apartment. Let me know in the comments if that is something you’d find interesting. Keep in mind that I’m no expert. I’m a student, just like most folks.)

Looking at a room and finding the potential weapons is a great habit to develop. Just like locating all the exits and sitting facing the main entrance, it’s another piece of essential situational awareness. Guns are wonderful tools, but don’t limit your thinking to only conventional weapons. If you do, you’ve handicapped yourself when a situation goes down and you don’t have a gun on your hip.

What do you think?

What are some improvised weapons you’ve considered using? Are you strictly #TeamGun? What are your thoughts on the London Bridge civilians? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, survival, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper., where this article first appeared. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

Image credit: Pixabay

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