6 Things You Can Do to Disarm the Shooter if You're Ever Involved in an Orlando-Style Attack

The Orlando massacre on June 11 shows us (again) that ISIS and its jihadist sympathizers strike targets where the vast majority of people are unarmed. This makes sense if you are a bloodthirsty killer. You want to attack targets where you are reasonably sure that people won’t fight back.

I am a CCW (Carrying a Concealed Weapon) instructor in my home state, so I can certainly see the value in American citizens obtaining firearms, learning gun safety, training in accurate shooting, and carrying their pistol wherever and whenever they can. You are NOT helpless.  You CAN fight back.  We are at war, after all.

Of course, in some places it is illegal to carry, like bars. Obviously, you don’t want people who are consuming alcohol to be packing a loaded gun. In such situations it would make sense to have armed guards present. That would be the best-case scenario for that situation. However, the terrorist, Omar Mateen, shot his way into the Pulse bar, while shooting down the off-duty police officer who was guarding the entrance. Once inside he was free to spray the area with bullets, while patrons went for cover.

People have asked me, “Couldn’t someone have tackled him and disarmed him?” I don’t know. Since I was not there, I do not know if anyone was close enough and had the presence of mind to attempt such a move. Imagine a scene: the noise, the carnage, the darkness, the confusion of people affected by alcohol. It is terrifying to say the least.

However, if … if someone were to try to disarm someone with a rifle (or shotgun or even a pistol), bear in mind that it is highly risky and your chances of survival are slim. (But you may think that if you don’t try, more will be killed.) If you are going to do this, here are the things you must know and must do:

1. You must be within range.

Common sense will tell you that if you are more than arm’s length away, you will not be able to disarm the attacker. You will have to get close to stop him or her.

Next Page: What to do if you are in range.

2. If you are in range, you must redirect the gun.

That means you must grab the barrel of the firearm and push it away from you, either up toward the ceiling or down toward the floor, while twisting your body out of the line of fire. (Yes I know it sounds impossible, and it probably is for most people, but our police, military, and many martial artists train for this every day. It can be done.)

Renowned Combat Hapkido instructor John Pellegrini demonstrates how to disarm someone with a rifle:

Next Page: So they’re disarmed. Now what?

3. You must control the firearm.

Image Via Shutterstock

Image Via Shutterstock

At the same time that you grab the gun’s barrel, you must hang on to it. You cannot simply “knock it away” or out of his hand. The terrorist will have an iron grip on it. You must keep your hands on it and not let go, all the while keeping your body out of the line of fire. (Yes, the barrel will be warm from all the firing, but if you let go, you will certainly be shot.)

Next Page: So you’ve got control of the gun. Now what?

4. You must disarm the attacker.

This means, while you are holding the gun pointed away from you, attack the terrorist with vicious head butts and knee strikes. You can even bite him (in the face or neck … whatever target is available). If you think this is extreme — it is. Once you have softened him up, you must wrest the gun from his hands. I have supplied a few videos to show how it can be done.

Here is a video from Krav Maga (an Israeli martial art) fighters on defense against a rifle:

Next Page: Once you have taken the gun away from the attacker, you’re still not done.

5. You have to shoot the attacker.

Once you have taken the gun away from the attacker … you must shoot him until he is no longer a threat. He is a terrorist. How do you know he doesn’t have another gun or knife? He is still a threat. Shoot him until he is no longer a threat.

Make sure you put the gun down immediately once the police arrive, and get your hands up.  They may not be able to distinguish between you and the terrorist at first.

Krav Maga fighters on defense against an AR-15:

Next Page: A final tip — all of this has to be simultaneous.

6. Each of these moves have to happen at the same time.

You must do all movements (redirect the gun, control the gun, and disarm the attacker) all at once. It is not three steps. It is one quick motion.

And how could you possibly do this under such stress? You cannot. Unless you train. You will not rise to the occasion. You will fight like you train. So, if you want to take this seriously, get a training partner, buy some airsoft guns, and begin to train.

Pistol disarms:

The best DVDs on self-defense I have ever seen are by Sammy Franco. His no-nonsense approach to real world self-protection (Contemporary Fighting Arts) is simply the best. You can find all his DVDs and books at I have found his DVD on gun disarms “Under the Gun–Gun Disarming Techniques” to be exceptionally good. Here is a “sneak preview”:

I hope you never find yourself in an active shooter situation. But in our current state of warfare against jihadism, it seems to me that we need to prepare for the worst. You will fight like you train. So start training. The terrorists certainly are.