January 2013 - Pg 7-Knife Defense
This is obviously a post-incident protection you believe it is very important for the Network member to be able to do well.
Bunke: It is very tough for folks who are not trained to understand articulation. With all of the knowledge and training that we have had, it really does come down to you being able to be your own expert witness. I have had cases go to trial in this jurisdiction where I tried to get Bob Smith (a highly-regarded trainer in the Spokane, WA area) involved as an expert witness and he was not allowed to testify. The person who can best testify is the defendant. They may have to take all the knowledge they have and be their own expert witness; that is the reality. Not everyone can get Ayoob up on the stand to testify for them. The judge may not let that happen.
eJournal: We all want to think there will be strong, knowledgeable people who can ride to our rescue and explain things better than we may be able to, but as you note, getting the expert admitted to testify is never assured. We had better get busy now learning how to articulate the facts that need to be brought forward, to be clarified.
Bunke: That is exactly right and it fits with the concept of self defense. If you are carrying a gun or a knife to defend yourself, you are saving yourself, not relying on law enforcement to come and rescue you. So why does it not seem logical to think if the case goes to a trial in front of a jury, you are the one that needs to be there to save yourself once again? You may not be able to rely on an expert witness to come in and save you, because you got yourself there when you originally saved yourself. So now it is time to save yourself again, but in a different setting.
Editor’s note: We appreciated Bunke’s thought-provoking discussion. For further study, he recommends the book he mentioned earlier, one that we immediately read and reviewed for this journal, Chris Grosz and Michael Janich’s Contemporary Knife Targeting by Paladin Press in 2006 as well as several forensics texts. The textbooks include Forensic Pathology, 2nd edition by Vincent di Maio and published by CRC Press in 2001, the Handbook of Forensic Pathology, 2nd edition, by Richard Froede and published by the College of American Pathologists in 2003, and the Medicolegal Investigation of Death:
Guidelines for the Application of Pathology to Crime Investigation, 3rd edition (now available in a 4th edition from 2006), by Werner Spitz and published by Charles C. Thomas in 1993. He also recommended the older Paladin Press video entitled Masters of Defense: An inside Look at the Designs, the Designers, and Their Tactics in which Massad Ayoob, Michael Janich and a number of other knife experts discuss knife design and use.
Justifiability issues can also be clouded by the name and appearance of a particular model of knife, Bunke added, suggesting that armed citizens gravitate toward mainstream knives like the Spyderco Delica or Endura models or Benchmade’s Griptillion folding pocket knife, of which he carries a pair. Defending self defense may require obtaining an exemplar model of the knife used, he added, so a readily-available mainstream knife model has advantages over a rare or out of production knife.
Finally, Bunke stressed, please know the knife laws in effect where you are. Unfortunately, this is extremely challenging owing to the patchwork of laws in force in various municipalities, since knife laws are rarely if ever subject to state preemption, he explained. Still, Bunke stressed, the last thing the survivor of an assault needs muddying the justification for the use of the knife in self defense is the shadow of having committed a knife possession crime. Blade lengths as well as knife features like whether it is a folder, a fixed blade or a balisong or another type of knife will bear on its lawfulness, he added.
Self defense with knives is subject to a number of very worrisome concerns, as Bunke has so ably pointed out. We hope you will continue exploring this subject, through your own research, as well as information in the rest of this journal. In addition, we are working to arrange an interview with preeminent defense knife expert Michael Janich, which we hope to wrap up at the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show just a few weeks after this publication’s release date. This emphasis should underscore how important we believe it is for armed citizens to fully understand and be able to explain self-defense issues involving any tool carried for self defense, including knives.
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