The Weekly Drop: It’s OK to Be Ruthless

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

Another Saturday, another batch of reader mail ready for the weekly drop. Lately, lots of people have asked me questions related to self-defense and different ways you can protect yourself in the event of an attack.

Basically, you should do whatever you need to do to get out of the situation alive.

Sometimes that means utilizing an object on your person as a weapon. Sometimes that means learning a new technique to be able to do maximum damage with minimal effort. And sometimes that means using lethal force.

Of course, I don’t advocate violence for violence’s sake. But if your life depends on it, it’s OK to be ruthless.

Now let’s get to the questions.

I own several tactical pens… I teach night classes at a local university, and recently, one of my female students was attacked walking home after class. She fought off her attacker but had been carrying a can of pepper spray in her pocket and couldn’t get it out. I gave her one of my tactical pens and talked to her about it. I’ve also taken mine through TSA several times and literally do not leave home without it!! 

— Christine C. 

Christine, I’m glad you are staying safe and sharing your tactical pen with others. My family members and I never leave the house without our pens, either. In today’s world, you always need to be prepared no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

I read one of your articles where you mention Krav Maga for self-defense. You are the first person I have heard mention this other than Israeli commandos. I had the privilege of learning this technique from a former Israeli commando when I was a paratrooper. It is a very, very effective self-defense program, with which an assailant can be controlled, incapacitated or terminated.

— James W.

Krav Maga is a great self-defense system to know, James. It’s practical, very effective and doesn’t have any rules or limitations. When evaluating a self-defense training program, I always recommend looking for a system that doesn’t have any rules.

Judo, boxing, karate and similar sports all have rules. If you punch someone below the belt, you can get disqualified. If you punch them in the throat, you can get disqualified. And if you try to gouge their eyes, you can get disqualified.

In a true self-defense scenario, you need to be unapologetically brutal. In other words, if a system has rules, then it probably won’t work on the streets.

I work in IT, and I could not have a safer, run-of-the-mill job. But I also do music on the side and am starting to get a lot of followers. I am much more situationally aware than most people, and I also practice martial arts. What other kinds of safety precautions should I take if I become a famous musician? 

— Eric F. 

Well, Eric, the most important safety measure I would take is opening a P.O. Box and having all your mail sent there. You want to be sure no one can find out where you live or stalk you.

In addition to taking physical precautions, you should also take steps to protect your identity. One of the best ways to safeguard your information is to put a freeze on your credit report. This is very easy to do — I’ve had mine for over 15 years now. Knowing someone won’t be able to access my credit to purchase any big-ticket items certainly helps me sleep better at night.

For step-by-step instructions on how to put a freeze on your credit report, check out this report. If you’re not already a subscriber of my Spy & Survival Briefing, you’ll need to sign up here to access it.

For high-rise escape, how about 500–1,000 feet of rope? I have that length on an extension cord spool. It takes little room, and I know that the necessary accessories are readily available to lower a man quickly from atop a building…

— Craig P.

As long as you know you could safely lower someone from a substantial height, then it’s better to have the rope and not need it than to not have it and need it.

I have been reading your articles — especially those focusing on self-defense. Firearms, tactical pens and strikes to the ETGS [eyes, throat, groin and shins] are highlighted. I am surprised and puzzled that you have not made any mention of using a cane. It is a weapon that has a long history of being a part of a “gentleman’s attire” along with his top hat and gloves. In France, cane combat is still taught, and there are competitions held for exponents of this art/sport. Use of the cane is also taught in Korean hapkido as well as Filipino martial arts. Finally, to date, I don’t know of any TSA official that has ever confiscated a cane from a passenger boarding a plane. It is, after all, a “medical device.” So there you have it. I welcome your response… 

— Philip J. 

You’re 100% correct, Philip. The cane is also an excellent self-defense tool. The reason I mention the tactical pen often and not the cane is because a lot more people are willing to carry a pen in their pocket than to carry a cane with them. But if the cane makes sense with your lifestyle, it’s certainly a viable option with which to protect yourself.

You answered a question concerning Front Sight as a training facility and mentioned that it was good for a beginner. What do you think of Gunsite Academy, in Arizona (where the Front Sight founder came from)? I understand it’s excellent for both beginning and advanced training. 

— Doug T

Actually, yes, Doug. Gunsite Academy is indeed an excellent school for both beginner and advanced training. If you live in the area and you’re looking for more serious training, I would recommend going there versus Front Sight. Check out their website, here.

In the state of New York, do you know, or where I can find information on, exactly what type of warning needs to be given and what would justify my family’s need to protect ourselves using a firearm? Assuming a person or people illegally entered my home. Thank you. 

— Mark B. 

Unfortunately, Mark, I am not a lawyer, and I only like the one I’m married to, so I can’t give you any advice on New York state law. However, anywhere in the country, you’ve got to be in fear for your life or serious bodily injury in order to justify using deadly force.

As my buddy Danny Lane — who is a retired police officer — wrote on Thursday:

The majority of states have a stand-your-ground law or no-duty-to-retreat law, which can be used as justification in a criminal case. Basically… if a person is somewhere they have a lawful right to be — like their home — they have no duty to retreat. They are permitted to use any level of force if they reasonably believe the threat of serious bodily harm or death exists.

Now, this is, obviously, subjective so you need to be absolutely sure that a jury would believe you had no choice but to shoot the person because otherwise they would have killed or seriously harmed you.

The bottom line is if you own a gun, then you should to find yourself a good self-defense lawyer as soon as possible. The worst thing you can do is wait until the day you have to shoot someone for trying to kill your family and then have to flip through the yellow pages in jail trying to locate someone.

That’s all the reader mail for this week. If you have any feedback or a question of your own you’d like me to answer, send an email to

Until next time…

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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