Consider this Life-Saving Method with an Armed Attacker

If you encounter an armed attacker who is so close that running or hiding is not an option, then you might want to grab, drop and strike.

Consider this Life-Saving Method with an Armed Attacker

Knowing what to do in a hostile situation, like being attacked by someone with a weapon, could save your life. Be aware of your surroundings, at your place of work or at the grocery store. Do you know the proper procedures if your building has an attacker? Do you know the nearest exits? Preparing yourself in small ways like these could help you stay safe.

Bill Delong, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s protective security adviser for Maine says his first advice to a civilian is to run, reports the Portland Press Herald. If you can’t run, hide, and if you can’t hide, fight.

“Commit to it, go, go hard, go as hard as you can go,” DeLong said. “You will be amazed what some adrenaline will do to people’s strength.”

He also shared his thoughts on workplace safety, giving some advice on staying safe:

  • Does your business have a policy on missing uniforms or lost badges? Or a policy for deactivating old badges?
  • Do you have a way to alert employees and visitors inside the building if something goes wrong?
  • Do employees know where to gather if they’ve rushed out of the building?

Grab, Drop, Strike

The idea of having to fight an attacker who is armed is a scary thought. Stephen Lopez, Chief of Police at New Mexico State University, says if you are an unarmed security officer and you encounter an armed attacker who is so close that running or hiding is not an option, you might want to use this method of defense.

Grab the weapon (firearm, knife, etc.) around the user end with both hands, and pull it rapidly toward your chest while twisting. Grabbing here can reduce most firearms to a single shot, and twisting it as you pull reduces the chance of a critical wound.

Below you can see the four steps to successfully grabbing a gun out of an attackers hands:

1. Start the grab

2. Secure the grip









3. Pull hard while twisting

4. Hold tight to the chest







Drop to the ground quickly while holding on tight to the weapon.  Let gravity work in your favor to tire out the attacker.

Strike the suspect in the head and neck area, but don’t let go of the weapon.  If you can’t use an elbow or your head, call for others in the area to help.

The author of this article, Chief Stephen Lopez, will be presenting at this summer’s Campus Safety Online Summit July 7-8. For more information and to register, visit

About the Author

Stephen Lopez

Stephen Lopez is the Chief of Police at New Mexico State University. He has been in law enforcement for 29 years, and holds bachelor degrees in criminal justice and psychology, a masters in strategic planning for critical infrastructure, and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

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