Defending Against Empty-Hand Attacks

Bob picture 3 225x300Part II of An Interview with Robert A. Margulies, M.D.

Interview by Gila Hayes

In February’s online journal we interviewed a semi-retired emergency room physician who, drawing upon his 50-year career in emergency medicine, identified the injuries, disability and lethality resulting from empty-hand attacks. This month, we continue our talk with him about how to thwart or preferably, prevent, an attack. If you missed our February edition, browse to then return to this edition where Dr. Robert A. Margulies explores issues related to identifying dangers and reacting justifiably but quickly enough. First, a correction to last month’s interview. We introduced Dr. Margulies as “retired” when, indeed, he is semi-retired and still very active in his many pursuits. In addition to medical work, he volunteers with Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, furthering their mission to spread the truth about gun ownership through scientific facts and their own members’ expertise about firearms, encouraging gun safety and injury prevention through responsible gun ownership and lawful self defense. His contributions to their website are at this link .

We return now to our interview with Dr. Margulies about avoiding, countering and surviving empty hand attack.

eJournal: Last month, you gave us the sobering message that blunt force trauma, even strikes delivered by an open hand, can kill or cripple. How do you respond to the common reaction often heard at the range or gun store after the news reports a homicide by empty-handed means: “I’ll just shoot someone who tries to grab or punch me”? I rarely say “never,” but I’d like your thoughts on drawing a gun into a close-contact, physical struggle.

Dr. Margulies: First, if someone has already grabbed you, you are too far behind the curve to be able to get a firearm – especially one from concealment. We really do have to be prepared to use defensive tactics to make time and space. The average police officer needs 1.7 seconds to get a gun out of a triple retention holster and make a retention shot.

Handgun rounds, unlike rifles, are rarely stoppers. Handguns, which is what we’re more likely to have in the situations we’re talking about, aren’t stoppers. We have lots of cases where people have been shot in the liver which is a pretty bad place, and who kept going for 15-20 minutes. We have people who were gut shot who went on for a long time. Maybe if you are lucky enough to get a hit that is high enough to take out the neck or hit the head, they’ll stop.

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President’s Message

Marty Hayes

Membership Dues to Increase

by Marty Hayes, J.D.

After considerable deliberation and weighing many comments from our members, we have decided that we must implement a modest membership dues increase beginning May 1. I am announcing this in March so that anyone wanting to renew ahead of time at current prices has two full months to get it done. After May 1, renewal dues for current members will be $105 per year or $285 for three years. Dues for new memberships will be $150 per year or $340 for a new three-year membership, so if you have family or friends who are not yet members, joining now will save money.

At the beginning of 2023, we stopped offering our 10-year memberships out of concern over inflation. With the impending dues increase, we welcome your early renewal, while respectfully requesting that members only order one 3-year extension of their membership. “Stacking up” multiple renewals would create the same issues that led us to stop offering 10-year memberships. We ask your understanding.

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Attorney Question of the Month

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In recent Network online journals, Robert Margulies, MD gave very convincing arguments to justify using deadly force against an empty-hand attack. At the same time, experience in court also shows that when a person uses deadly force against an unarmed attacker, they are routinely prosecuted for murder. We asked our affiliated attorneys – 

In your state, if a citizen uses a gun to stop an empty-hand attack, is the armed citizen routinely charged?

Is there any established case law in your state clarifying the use of deadly force to stop an empty-hand attack? 

We received a number of good, educational responses and will split them between this month and our April 2023 journal. Here are the first half of our attorneys' answers–

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Book Review

In Defense of the Second Amendment

By Larry Correia
Regnery Publishing (January 24, 2023)
256 pages, Hardcover $29.99; eBook $14.99
ISBN-13: ‎978-1684514144

Reviewed by Gila Hayes

Has America outgrown its Constitutional recognition of the right to armed self defense and the right to possess weaponry to overthrow government tyranny? This is the underlying question when novelist Larry Correia departs from his usual supernatural epic genre for a long but informal debunking of the many reasons politicians, news media personalities, entertainment celebrities and others cite as they attempt to destroy this cornerstone of America’s freedom.

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News From Our Afilliates

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by Gila Hayes

Greg Block and Julie Schupak affiliated their school, Self-Defense Firearms Training, with the Network early in our history. Greg operated a law enforcement firearms instructor listserve for police firearms instructors, so acquainted through that forum, Network President Marty Hayes naturally invited Greg to share the Network and its educational outreach with his students. He has shared thousands of our Educational Foundation’s complimentary booklet with his students.

Greg has been teaching firearms for 40 years. As a reserve law enforcement officer, he completed numerous instructor certifications from resources including the FBI, all the major manufacturers, as well as from the State of California.

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Editor’s Notebook

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by Gila Hayes

Change is really difficult! At least we do not have it as bad as the Old Testament character Job, who is said to have lamented, “The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me.” For the past several years, I have been working so hard to hold off the need for a membership dues increase.  I’ve laid off staff and, along with Amie and Will picked up the extra work load to trim staffing costs. I am sure everyone is tired of hearing me ask, “How much will that cost? Do we really need it?” With our last dues increase announced in the fourth quarter of 2015 and implemented January 1st, 2016, I feel a little like Job, bewailing the arrival of an eventuality I’ve long worked to avoid.

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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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