Impaired Self Defense

By MamaLiberty

First, of course, it helps to define “impaired.” Perfectly alert, with perfect judgment, perfect physical ability, and perfect training/experience describes nobody on earth, which makes every single human being “impaired” to some extent, if compared to perfection. If not perfection, to what is it compared? Who decides? And why? A person’s physical abilities and judgment is relative to so many things, and the perception of those things is subjective and individual.

Don’t think so? Try this: You say you are hungry, thirsty, or tired… Even if you can begin to articulate any measurable criteria that would apply to everyone (go ahead and try… I’ll wait…), are you really willing for someone else to define hunger or thirst, etc. for YOU – and dictate what you must or must not do in that case?

Who, then, is responsible for setting limits for your impairment if you drink, oversleep, take drugs, or any of the hundreds, maybe thousands of things that would seriously (you decide) reduce your physical and mental ability to exercise good judgment and not harm others, whatever it is you are doing.

YOU are responsible for all of that. You as an individual, and you are responsible for any consequences that result from those decisions. So it is up to you to know your limits, determine when, where and why you might become impaired, and take reasonable precautions to avoid either being harmed or harming others.

For example, the DUI “laws” do not measurably reduce the risk of a truly drunk driver, and they most certainly do not compensate anyone who is injured by such a person. It is up to individuals to decide not to drink and drive impaired, but nobody can honestly decide what that means – for you – except you. One rational precaution for those who choose to drink outside their own homes is the option of designating one of their number to remain sober and become the “designated driver.”

Now, hang onto your hats and take a deep breath because we are about to round a corner and change gears…

Same for shooting or carrying a gun. You should know when these are not safe activities and take rational precautions. But it goes well beyond impairment presenting a danger to others. In this case your impairment from drinking, or whatever, seriously affects your ability to defend yourself or your loved ones. You are probably at no greater risk of being attacked, usually, but you would then be at a serious disadvantage no matter how well you were armed or trained.

Maybe think about a “designated shooter?”

I gave all of this a great deal of thought after experiencing a serious adverse reaction to a medication I took last week after some dental work. I was unable to stand or walk for hours, and doubt if I could have reached a phone or the gun in the holster by my bed. Since I live alone, I was helpless and frightened. It took several days before I felt normal, and I didn’t leave my house at all until then, using much of that time to rethink my limits, my preparations and my training.

One thing I’m sure of…. I won’t be taking any of that stuff again, and I’m not going to do anything that would impair my ability to defend myself – not if I can help it.

When do you consider yourself impaired? What precautions do you take then? Or have you ever given it any thought?

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12 Responses to Impaired Self Defense

  1. Bob says:

    A timely read for me. As a 73 year-old firearms instructor, less than a week out of the hospital from a total knee rebuild, the word “impaired” has taken on new meaning for me. If it weren’t for my walker, I’d have nearly zero mobility, and because painkillers and I don’t get along, I’m seriously sleep-deprived, which does nothing to contribute to my situational awareness. Don’t have a dog, and seldom use the hearing aids around the house. Talk about “Impaired Self-Defense” I guess I’m about as close to a “Poster-Boy” as one can get.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      Oh boy, I do feel for you. I had to use a walker for months after I broke my leg. And I suffered for years from sleep deprivation, so I know what that’s like too. Seems it would probably be a very good idea to have someone stay with you temporarily. Hope you can figure out some way to work around all that.


  2. LarryA says:

    There’s a bit of good news when it comes to medical procedures where you need to be knocked out. (Barring unfortunate reactions. Yikes, ML.) They seem to be developing some quicker stuff. First time I went under for an outpatient thing, half-a-dozen years ago, I didn’t remember anything for most of the rest of the day. Last time I was out from under in less than an hour.

    You mentioned permanent impairment and self-inflicted. There are also unexpected ones. IMHO anyone of a certain age living alone needs a medical alert. Yes, there are certainly issues with dependence on technology, and privacy. OTOH I recently had a friend suffer a stroke while using the toilet. He sat there for three days before someone happened to come by. Almost didn’t make it.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      It’s the unexpected that can trip you up good. If I were to have some procedure or take something I knew would knock me out for a while, I would have had a friend or relative come stay with me… or gone to stay with them. As it was, this stuff should not have done more than reduce the acute pain from the dental manipulation, and I would have been no more at risk than any other time I am home alone, doors locked and “tools” readily available. I had been reading in bed after supper, having taken the capsule with the meal as directed. Suddenly, I could not see the page, and discovered that I could not get out of bed. I’ve only been intoxicated with liquor a few times (in my wild college days) and this was so much worse than that I was terrified. My mind was awake, but my body wasn’t responding… I could hardly breathe! It was a nightmare experience I hope never to repeat. I couldn’t even call for help, since I couldn’t reach the telephone right there on my bedside table. I would never have gotten upstairs to unlock the door… and if I had died, nobody would likely miss me for a month. Lots of things to think about.

      Don’t know if there is such a thing as the “medic alert” medallion service available here, but I suspect it would have done me no good that time because I wouldn’t wear anything like it to bed. It would have been as remote as the moon even just a foot or so away on the nightstand.


  3. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit says:

    Erm. Let me suggest you’re making an unwarranted assumption as part of the analysis, and that assumption is unduly coloring the analysis.

    Though it may just be a question of semantics – I presume by “impaired” you mean “impaired to a point where you cannot safely and rationally make good decisions in regard to your chosen activity.” Of course, recognize that “good” is potentially going to be Monday-morning quarterbacked by police, a judge, and/or a jury at some point. Because otherwise we can carry MamaLiberty’s Impairment Doctrine (“I’m not going to do anything that would impair my ability to defend myself – not if I can help it.”) to some fun and ridiculous extremes.

    Carrying a handgun instead of a long arm? Your ability to defend yourself is impaired – a handgun is what you carry when you want to carry a real gun, but can’t.

    How’s your tactical training? Been to every available class and refresher? No? Kinda impaired then, ML, if you haven’t “schooled up.” Oh, and make sure they’re “good” classes – some of those tactical trainers will get you killed, a definite impairment.

    Got your blood sugar monitor going? As you point out, a bit of hunger or thirst or distraction means impairment, after all.

    Oooooh … if you’re a “designated shooter,” does that mean you’re now impaired in regard to your own defense, since you’re responsible for someone else?


    How about, instead, we recognize what you clearly imply in your first two paragraphs – EVERYBODY is impaired, to some degree or other, by conditions both within and without of his control. Rather than pretend you can avoid impairment, recognize it happens, have the skills and mindset to deal with it, and learn from the inevitable mistakes. Ultimately, though, be willing to take responsibility for your actions, and make sure, as best you can, that (as Clint Eastwood famously said) “you know your limitations.”



    • MamaLiberty says:

      I actually think I addressed all that, my friend. There is no hard and fast rule for everyone, and everyone is responsible for him/herself. Impairment is relative… to a whole lot of things. I am seriously impaired from the ideal level of preparedness and training… something I make no bones about. I do the best I can with what I have, and the handicaps life has chosen to hand me. Any adaptations, accomondations or plans we make to get around any of that is not going to be perfect either. We pays our money, and we takes our chances.

      The point of the article was to share the fact that I discovered some new information, and needed to rethink my plans and work arounds for the impairments I can’t avoid. It was a shocking experience, to be so totally helpless, and I’m going to take whatever steps possible not to let that happen again. Might it happen anyway? Sure. Life’s a bitch sometimes. πŸ™‚


      • The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit says:

        Agreed. That’s why we should be having Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, and so on. It’s easier to work from a plan you have than to try and come up with something on the spot. Not that “come up with something on the spot” can ever be completely avoided….


      • MamaLiberty says:

        Isn’t that the truth! πŸ™‚ Life is risky, but that’s part of what makes it interesting. I have no desire to live bubble wrapped. πŸ™‚


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  5. Matt says:

    We are all impaired to a certain extent when sleeping, or using the shower. Reasonable precautions are quality, layered security for the house, and a solid core, quality locking bathroom door when showering. A stainless steel sidearm might be considered as well to be kept handy. If emergency medical needs access to house or bathroom, they should have the tools neccessary with them.

    I don’t drink in public anymore (never liked bars) and never acquired the habit of alcohol with a meal so public impairment is not an issue for me. I stopped drinking to impairment at home a while back and as I get older the drinking is dwindling to a stop. It messes up my sleep and I truly enjoy my sleep.

    A designated shooter is a good idea. When a member of Boy Scouts of America as a Lad we did a lot of wilderness camping and hiking. One or two of the adults were always armed and open carried. The adults were responsible and as all were verterans, always keeping the sidearm on their person wasn’t a problem. As Scouts, we were trained with firearms saftery and had several range days a year. None of the parents complained.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      Yes indeed! I think that too many people don’t consider all of the times and ways they might become impaired, to one extent or another, and give some reasonable attention to thinking up ways to deal with it. Not that it should never happen, but that it is merely another thing to think about.

      I’m seriously hearing impaired, and that’s not anything I can change, so I have had to do a lot of thinking and planning to meet that challenge, especially since I live alone. Are my plans and preparations perfect? No, of course not. I will always be impaired to a degree, but I have worked out a way to make best use of the resources and skills I am able to field, and that’s the best anyone can do, even if they choose never to be voluntarily impaired with alcohol or whatever. But too often, those are the only things considered.


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