Wheelchair Concealed Carry: Part I
There is little question — particularly to the demographic who read articles titled like this one — that concealed carry of a firearm for the individual citizen concerned with personal safety is something to at least consider at one point or another. Anybody who shares the belief that each individual is responsible for his or her own safety realizes this. What I want to describe here are the most prominent reasons a person confined to a wheelchair should seriously consider learning to use and carry a firearm for personal protection.
First of all, it needs to be addressed that every person has not just a right but a responsibility to protect his own life. This responsibility does not go away because an individual is labeled as having a “disability,” including those that warrant the use of a wheelchair. We live in a society that encourages the care and protection of the less fortunate and less capable. This is a great thing; it means we still have a caring heart as a people. However, an unfortunate side effect of this cultural character trait is that many people who are bound to those circumstances come to rely on it entirely. They stop being self-reliant in that respect; it is simple life conditioning.
The first thing we have to do in viewing this topic is recognize that “disabled” does not mean, for intents and purposes, “incapable.” That word, “disabled,” merely means that we, those who use a chair, are not able to solve the same life problems in the same manner (key phrase) as an able-bodied person. It does not mean in any way that the given problem cannot be solved. Those in wheelchairs know perfectly well that there is not a thing they cannot do, so we need to completely and immediately move away from the conventional practical definition of “disabled.” This is a fundamental, paramount, and unconditional prerequisite.
Now, let us talk about the symbiosis of the chair life and that of the responsibly armed citizen. Let us assume for a minute that a given wheelchair user accepts total responsibility for his own safety and personal defense. How would such an individual go about developing street survival skills that would most benefit him in a worst case violent scenario? How about hand-to-hand combat?
Though many a sensei would like to think that their system of empty-handed techniques are universally applicable to the human condition, this is not reflected in reality. Variety of body type and injury or disability is extreme among wheelchair folk. Developing a system that anybody can take advantage of in a hurry is simply not possible. Trust me, I’ve tried. The laws of physics, anatomy, psychology, etc. simply do not tip in favor of the chair bound. It is not possible for an unarmed wheelchair user with moderate training to defend his life in a real life and death scenario. He cannot generate enough energy and move enough to fulfill basic tactical requirements in a fight.
To be clear, it is indeed possible. But, it is not possible for everyone, and it is not a simple, quick, or easily developed ability. The reasons why hand-to-hand tactics are not optimum for wheelchair users extend to other disciplines that include impact and even edged weapons, as well. The key factor to the lack of success for these otherwise highly effective systems and strategies is lack of mobility. This may seem painfully obvious, but I guarantee everybody reading this that I just saved a good number of people a huge amount of time, effort, money, and frustration.
With these things in mind, let us back up and view this collective of potential problems in the most basic and general perspective possible. Lack of mobility is the hindrance. Which of the elements of a violent encounter (range, timing, relationship, and energy) does this fact affect? Energy and relationship for sure, but the biggest one is range. Without the ability to control and manipulate the ranging within the engagement, we are at the mercy of the person who can dance circles around us. What if we can create a device that makes the practical element of range irrelevant? Enter the handgun!
Where an attacker may be able to out dodge a punch from a person in the seated position by simply moving out of reach, he most certainly will have a much harder time dodging a bullet. More than that, the solution of the handgun makes up for the short comings in being able to generate destructive force with the body alone from such a compromised position. And, since firing in any direction is made possible by slightly turning the head and shoulders while the body remains in place, the problems of orientation to the opponent are also solved. The concealable handgun is thus far seeming to be our best option, not universal, but much more so.
There are some things to consider further before you stop reading and immediately go buy a firearm. First of these are that the owning and carrying of a firearm are huge financial and chronological investments. Buying a gun, accessories, ammunition, support equipment, etc. and sacrificing the substantial amount of time it takes to become sufficient in knowledge and skill with such a tool are substantial. More over, I would impress upon you that having the right quality (rather than second rate) tools and significant levels of good training are even more important for the chair-bound person.
A firearm is not a magical talisman that will ward off the wolves. As any other good instructor will tell you, it is just a tool. You would not know what to do with a roofing hatchet if nobody explained it too you, would you? The same goes with the firearm, so I encourage each and every person who takes these words into consideration to also consider putting very serious thought and deliberation into designing a complete method of self protection and defense that works for each of you personally.
The purpose of this article is not try to convince anybody to go out and purchase a firearm. It is merely to point out what in many cases may seem obvious, the necessities of proper mindset, planning, and tools, when it comes to the self-protection of the wheelchair-bound citizen. The most important thing to take away is that this topic is wholly the individual’s responsibility; and, if you have never considered learning to use skills and tools to take care of your own safety, the please start thinking about it now.
The totality of this information is just a scratch on the surface of this topic. Continue to look out for more articles as we take a closer look at the nuances of going armed as a person who uses wheels in place of legs. God bless.
Editor’s Note: The guest writers I have brought you thus far are all instructors I know personally or can directly vouch for. I have never met Jacob Romo, but after just a little vetting had no doubt he was the type of instructor, warrior and role model whose voice belonged on RECOIL. He speaks to a frequently unconsidered portion of the gun culture and his personal ethos is something we could all stand to emulate. A Marine with 3/5 when he lost his legs to an IED, he’s endured nearly 40 surgeries but continues to deliver and receive Krav Maga punishment and spend time on the range. This will be the first of what I hope are many op-eds from him. I hope you agree it was a good decision to bring him aboard. –David Reeder
About the Author: Jacob Romo is a Marine Corps combat veteran who instructs methods of self-defense to students with physical constraints such as those who are wheelchair bound. Mr. Romo has an extensive background in combatives, including two black belts and 4.5 years of service in the USMC. He is as keen a student as he is an instructor, a passion he leverages along with his fighting background to the benefit of his students. In addition to his own company, White Rabbit Protection Strategies, Mr. Romo has joined other SMEs such as Lee Vernon, Marty Hayes, Kelly Muir and RECOIL contributor Mike Seeklander as part of the Personal Defense Network staff. Classes instructed by White Rabbit Protection Strategies will run the gamut of hand-to-hand, knife, and firearm methodologies.