knife-wielding home intruder, TX

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 - 2:09pm

A homeowner in Grand Prairie, Texas shot a knife-wielding home intruder after the suspect shattered a side window to gain entry into the home, KXAS-TV reports.

Here we have a reasonable expectation of danger--the knife--and the homeowner stayed on the phone with 911 until the police arrived. So it was well handled according to TX law.

I may disagree with a number of you here in that I am actually rather pleased for the homeowner that he did not have to take the intruder's life: he shot the guy to stop him from coming after him with the knife and held him at gunpoint until the authorities showed up. A kill shot would have been overkill. OTOH, if the intruder had a gun instead of a knife--an long range weapon instead of a short-range, hand-to-hand one--a bullet in his X ring would have been justified. Thoughts?


Aaron M's picture
Aaron M
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 22 2008
Posts: 2373
Determining success


Honestly, I'm going to view a knife as every bit as much of a threat (if not more) than a person with a gun.

Distance is a very important variable; if a knife wielding aggressor is 30 or 40' away, yeah, then shooting to kill that person (or shooting at all) might be an irresponsible choice. If that person is at conversation distances, and you have a pistol drawn and they have a knife - you're at a disadvantage in a big way, and you'd better do everything you can to stop that person from slashing you to ribbons.

The way you do that is not shoot them. 

You probably know this, but for the sake of analogy and anyone else who may be reading this who is still learning, think about a gun "duel" like you would the tactic of the "volley line" that dominated the early musket days. 

This tactic fell out of favor with the military for several reasons:
1. It was a terribly inefficient
2. It produced an astounding number of casualties
3. It used literally no tactics; it was a pure measure of "skill" between armies.

It became apparent during World War I that while guns had given us a new way to kill one another, that digging into a trench and shooting at people was a losing strategy, and that maybe mobility was more important than equipment.Afterall, mobility was one of the chief advantages that warring cultures had used for thousands of years to do battle.

So, to put this back on the "mano y mano" scale, if you're just slugging it out with another person, whether with a gun, a knife or your bare hands, you're probably going to "lose". I say this, because under such conditions, nobody "wins". So, back to the "duel" mentality.

Let's assume that instead of trying to pace, draw and fire, Alexander Hamilton drew a dagger, and rushed Aaron Burr. What's going to happen to Burr's expectations? His composure? His aim and ability to fire accurately when being charged. Now - what if he misses?

In close proximity, a knife is easier to wield effectively while maneuvering than a gun, for most people. While in the duel scenario, it's easy to argue by saying, "Well, handguns now hold many rounds, and fire quickly". That's true, but here are some additional considerations:

A knife doesn't require precice motor functions.
It will never have a mechanical malfunction (though breakages are possible).
It is not limited in capacity.
It does not need to be reloaded.
It is not more efficient to use a knife in both hands. 

All of these "attributes" of edged weapons are negative properties of firearms.
They are time consuming, require a great deal of concentration and/or leave the shooter vulnerable for a time. God forbid you experience a malfunction because someone has already reached you, grabbed your pistol in one hand and is slashing at you with the other. 

For this reason, you should consider a knife a threat equal to, or greater than a firearm in the distance a fast human can cover between this second, and how ever long it takes you to draw and fire your handgun 5 times. For good measure, add 10-20' to that figure.

People (and I mean shooters, here) often think that the time it takes them to draw is ~1.25-2 seconds, because at the range, that's how long it takes to get a shot on paper from holster for the average practiced shooter.

However, if you're sitting down, behind a table, with your pistol under three layers of clothing, in a purse, on your ankle - whatever - the time it takes you to access that tool is significantlygreater than under "ideal" (see: Range) conditions. In addition, you're limited in mobility. This happened in Lakewood Washington. One shooter killed four armed officers, without being killed himself. 

The problem wasn't their quick draw, it wasn't their armament being insufficient. They might well have been skilled enough to have won had this been a raw martial competition (A duel, for example). But they lacked mobility, fixated on getting their weapons, and ended up dead for it.

This is a profound lesson for martial disciplines. If you are not mobile, you will very likely be killed by a less skilled, or even less adequately equipped enemy - especially if you lack initiative.

Fights are almost always a measure of:
Maneuverability, Skill, Tenacity and Initiative. 

For this reason, I'd be as concerned with an enemy who possessed any one of these in greater supply than me (for example, because I'm sitting at a diner table, and he is standing), regardless of their weapon.

Hope this is a helpful perspective,


Travlin's picture
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 15 2010
Posts: 1322
Tueller Drill

Hi Wendy

Thanks for starting this thread.  I was amazed when I first learned how dangerous a knife wielding attacker can be.  They can run to you from 21 feet away in one and a half seconds.  A gun is a poor defense.  Police practice the Tueller Drill to deal with this.

Here is a video of police training. 

Notice she is shooting under ideal conditions and would still be stabbed.  Most people would not even get off one shot.

Here is a short training video which demonstrates better tactics.

Here is more information from Wiki.

Here are more videos.



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