What Does It Mean to be “Unarmed” Once Again?

Every couple of years I am forced to revisit the false equation of “unarmed” with “not a lethal threat.”

In 2016 it was an Iowa father who was killed with one punch to the head by a (seemingly) random stranger. The headline read: “De Moines man dies after single punch.”

In 2018 it was a Florida man who died in Queens after being punched in the head (by an assistant basketball coach at my school, Wake Forest University.

And now in a story from my hometown, Winston-Salem, North Carolina: a 73-year-old man died after being punched.

As I have discussed before — and as is frequently heard in armed self-defense training — someone being “unarmed” and someone not having the ability to kill or maim you are not at all the same thing. Someone whose only weapons are part(s) of their body can most definitely kill you.

It is worth pausing to consider this infographic produced by the Joslyn Law Firm using 2019 data from the FBI’s annual report on Crime in the United States.

600 homicides using “hands, fists, feet, etc.” and 564 using shotguns and rifles combined.

So, the issue isn’t whether someone is “armed” or “unarmed” when you engage them, but what sort of threat they pose. Certainly, a person who is armed with a gun and bad intentions is a threat. But so is someone armed with a knife, rattan stick, or even just a fist.

Buy me a drinkIf you want to support my work, please buy me a drink


  1. A 73 year old may not expect a 30 years old man to punch him, seniors used to be given a modicum of respect, if not honor. Even if the 73 year old has some training in self defense, his reflexes are slower, both his mental decision to block a punch and then the physical action to block the same punch. Juries weigh both participants in a struggle, age, weight, size, previous training, but the 73 year old in in the ground, nothing will bring him back.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was in college and taking Judo and Karate courses it was mentioned that boxers and those that practiced the martial arts could have their hands considered lethal weapons under the law. When I was in high school, many years ago most of the athletes were strong enough to easily break boards with their hands. UA human skull is not as strong as a board in most cases


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.