Seriousness of Empty-Hand Attacks

Bob picture 3 225x300An Interview with Robert A. Margulies, M.D.

Interview by Gila Hayes

Who better than a recently retired emergency room physician to teach about the seriousness of severe injury or death from ostensibly unarmed attackers? Recently, I had a long talk about injuries sustained in empty-hand attacks with Robert A. Margulies, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACEP (L), FACFE (L) who combines 50 years as a physician in emergency medicine, certification as an aircraft accident investigator, and a depth of experience from his first career in the Medical Corps of the US Navy where he doctored in austere environments and earned “dolphins and wings,” submarine warfare and senior parachutist and flight surgeon insignia. He headed several air medical programs after retiring from the Navy and continued his work in emergency medicine, while also making time for volunteer policing, teaching self defense and survival classes and practicing martial arts.

Over the years, I’ve referred people asking questions about head injury lethality to Dr. Margulies’ interview archive in our December 2015 journal. The dangers, however, go beyond brain injury. Increases in violent crime and large-scale release of violent offenders to America’s streets, suggest continued if not greater risk from empty-hand attack. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation about the seriousness of bodily harm an aggressor can cause with empty hands. Let’s switch now to Q & A and get a reality check from Dr. Margulies.

eJournal: Sometimes the news suggests that there’s little to fear from “just a beating,” and pundits rail against police when a violent aggressor is shot. The outcry makes people question whether a deadly force response is ever appropriate against physical attack because, having no first-hand experience with purely physical violence, many fail to grasp its risks.

Dr. Margulies: I do not think that people understand the dangers of the open hand. According to national statistics from 2021, more people died from hands and feet – and that includes boots, of course – than from all the rifles combined. Our “devastating” MSRs (modern sporting rifles) and hunting rifles and .22s were used to kill fewer people than hands and feet. (See ) That does not include the falls that come from things like the knockout and pushover games.

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President’s Message

Marty Hayes

by Marty Hayes, J.D.

For the last two months, in this column I have asked if there are any benefits you, our members, would like to see added to the Network. I received 30 responses to the question, and I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss them here.

First, most people were very pleased with the Network and benefits we offer. A few people mentioned my discussion about the possibility of raising dues, which has not been done since 2015, and most who discussed the question of dues said they felt a dues increase was not out of line. That is good, because it will be happening soon; we will announce it next month. We will give you plenty of time to renew at the current rates.

The single most requested additional benefit was not a new one, but something members wanted more of: training videos. I will tell you that will be happening, and in fact it should have been in place already, had we not suffered a major setback which has delayed the production of more video content.

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Attorney Question of the Month

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This month we asked our Network Affiliated Attorneys an open-ended question, inviting them to tell us a bit about defending clients who had used force in self defense. To guide the discussion, we asked whether the case went to trial or if the matter was resolved without a trial and how that came about. Additionally, we asked–

What factors in the situation made defending the use of force difficult and what elements turned out to be your strongest arguments supporting a claim of self defense?

The responses we’ve received to date follow, and we hope for additional reports from our affiliated attorneys.

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News From Our Afilliates

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by Gila Hayes

Gun safety, carry licensing and justifiable use of deadly force in self defense are only a few of a large range of topics about which citizens buying guns need instruction and refresher training. Several of our newest Affiliated Instructors combine these related needs in their services to their student/customers. It is hard to choose just one or two affiliates, but this month, let’s pick one from each coast, a Long Island, NY concealed carry instructor and gun store owner, and, from the opposite side of the nation, a California firearms instructor and gun store owner.

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Book Review

Unarmed and DangerousUnarmDanger

Jon Shane and Zoë Swenson
74 pgs., Paperback $17.95; eBook $13.77
ISBN-13: ‎978-0367471385

Reviewed by Gila Hayes

There is a noteworthy absence of books, articles and scholarly studies about using deadly force to stop empty handed attacks. While recognizing similarities and differences between police and private citizens’ use of force allowances, I turned to this study of police use of force against “unarmed” offenders. Unarmed and Dangerous was introduced as intending, “to dispel the myth that unarmed offenders are not dangerous,” so I paid the fairly steep price for its 74 pages.

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Editor’s Notebook

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by Gila Hayes

I enjoyed several emails with a long-time member last month that had the potential to go off wrong-footed. Instead, it turned into a friendly exchange of information – thanks in large part to that good man’s kindness and genuine wish to understand. Now and then, questions are posed with intent to prove an opinion of which the person asking the questions is already firmly convinced and deeply invested. The emails with this member were open minded and honest, which I thoroughly appreciated.

At the heart of our member’s first request was the mistaken belief that Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc. is structured as a nonprofit, charitable entity. The Network is not a nonprofit. It operates as a for-profit corporation, because, as responsible stewards of the Legal Defense Fund, we know it is essential to reserve Network assistance after lawful self defense for dues-paying members.

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About this Journal


The eJournal of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc. is published monthly on the Network’s website at Content is copyrighted by the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc.

Do not mistake information presented in this online publication for legal advice; it is not. The Network strives to assure that information published in this journal is both accurate and useful. Reader, it is your responsibility to consult your own attorney to receive professional assurance that this information and your interpretation or understanding of it is accurate, complete and appropriate with respect to your particular situation.

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