A dated article but a great one.
Because I always carry, I get the above questions frequently – as well as the question “why do you carry knives versus a firearm?”
The simple answer to the latter is because I train with the blades several times a week (as we all do), as opposed to the occasional trip to the firing range. I don’t get to the range enough to be comfortable with my ability to use the firearm under duress. Also, because it’s an indoor range, shooters cannot practice from the draw which is critical in personal protection training. Also, with a blade I don’t have to worry about over-penetration and who’s standing behind the attacker. Being in the motorcycling community, I frequent multiple events each year in crowded, close quarters venues and wherein most of the other attendees are also carrying knives (some of whom have no qualms about using them). I also live in a neighborhood that becomes rather dangerous after the sun goes down, and strong-arm robberies are not uncommon and usually involve edged weapons.
My tool choices depend almost entirely on ease of deployment. My rule of thumb is that if I have to dig in my pocket and manipulate it or have to unsnap something to deploy the blade, it’s a utility knife. That’s not to say I won’t carry a folder – I do. But it’s a Fox DART straight-blade kerambit. It’s clipped to my pocket and deploys when drawn, which makes for fluid motion. Size is of little consequence, as I’ve explained to a few people, as most of the vital targets are close enough to the skin’s surface that my little 2 3/4″ blade can reach them.
I also get the question as to why I carry two blades. My second is a fixed blade belt knife, in a leather & kydex sheath, which is behind my back (scout carry) in a left-hand draw. Which one is primary/backup depends on which hand is free and/or closest to the target. The military axiom “two is one, one is none” applies here – if my first blade should get jammed, I may need the second one to end the altercation.
The fact knives are more permissive than firearms in my state (Maryland) also factors into my decision of what to carry. Fixed blades can be carried so long as they are not concealed, and folders are considered penknives here thus any size is legal. Demeanor is normally the deciding factor as to whether law enforcement questions someone about a knife – so long as you are not acting in any threatening or overly assertive manner local LEOs in my area normally don’t bother, unless you’re already engaged in conversation with them and they’re just curious. Even then it’s usually “what” you have as opposed to “why,” as they may be considering one for backup purposes; and if you can articulate specific uses other than defense (hunting or other regular outdoors activities) it’s really no issue.
All that being said, the level of responsibility when carrying a blade for personal defense is the same as with a firearm – as is the burden of proof for justified lethal force. This is where a thorough study of the local laws and, just as importantly, of legal precedent in cases involving a deadly force response to an attack is absolutely necessary. It is all too easy to go from victim to attacker in the eyes of a jury once you address the threat. If the attacker’s weapon comes out of his hand, your counterattack must stop or you will be seen as the aggressor (I imagine this is the case in most, if not all states). As such, the Sayoc principle of fear for one’s life must be adhered to before your blade comes out; and in MD you should be able to demonstrate that avoidance of the threat was not an option, as it is not a Stand-Your-Ground state. That means everything you do and say will be scrutinized closely through witness testimony and any security camera footage that may be available. The homework cannot be skipped.
Another part of my EDC is a flashlight – it serves the same utility with a blade as with a firearm. I keep one in my pocket at all times. A full trauma kit stays in my vehicle, and I keep a hefty first aid kit (with an Israeli bandage and SWAT-T tourniquet) in the backpack that also goes where I do.
EDC is not something that should be done on a whim – research, planning and practice are critical.