This is why police shoot guys brandishing knives who refuse to follow lawful orders to put the knife down. Knives are deadly. A single nick of any one of dozens of key arteries or veins may result in death in minutes. A stab to the heart or major artery can kill you in seconds, even if you’re in the ER of a major hospital. Cutting any one of thousands of nerves can prove permanently and severely disabling, and severing some nerves can prove fatal.
When it comes to the lawful use of firearms in defense of life, limb, and property, the law varies state to state, so you must know your local, county, state, and federal laws!
The following rules, however, are nearly universal throughout the United States. Please note I said “nearly.” Again, it’s up to you to know your local laws:
Rule 1: If at all possible, avoid the confrontation. You can’t be punched, beaten, stabbed, or shot if you’re not there.
Rule 2: If at all possible, leave the scene of a potential confrontation as soon as possible. If you’re carrying a firearm and stay, someone is likely to be punched, beaten, stabbed, or shot, and that someone just might be you. No matter how good you think you are, there’s always someone better. If you’re able to leave before any fighting starts, you will have de-escalated the situation back to Rule 1. As long as you’re within 21 feet of an attacker, however, you’re only one second away from probably harm and possible death.
Rule 3: If you cannot leave, attempt to de-escalate the situation. Deflect the tension. Use humor or whatever it takes. You may be able to take control of the situation, if you have the power and authority to do so. You may also need to detain or arrest someone. Just remember, in the vast majority of states, you can do so only if you have witnessed them committing a felony. This process is not for either the feint of heart or poorly trained, however. Law enforcement officers get plenty of training yet still have their butts handed to them by bad guys on a regular basis.
Rule 4: This applies in all situations: If at any time you’re facing imminent threat of life or limb, under the laws of most states you’re cleared hot (cleared to shoot to stop the threat). In some states that authorization extends to property. Check with your state’s laws beforehand, however, as you won’t have time in when the going gets tough!
Bottom line: Know the law, remain well-trained, not merely with respect to handling a firearm and shooting targets, but also with respect to knowing what course of action is best for any given situation.