Firearms are usually the best tool to use to exert force against another entity. Usually. Being gun nuts a lot of us have a tendency to over-emphasize firearms use. Now I don't want to be misconstrued - if you're 5'4" and barely tip the scales over the 100 pound mark, then a firearm is definitely the most effective way to stop that unknown and uninvited fellow from busting all up in your house (unless you've got a lightsaber). But as the old saying says "a .25 in your pocket is more useful than a .45 back at your house" it also is true that whatever you have in hand when the fight starts is more useful than anything you have to unholster.
Let's say you're sitting in a bar. You have a glass half full (cause we're optimists on occasion) of your favorite beverage. You have a very cool automatic knife with adamantium blade on your belt and a handgun in an IWB holster under your light jacket. Suddenly, seemingly out of that proverbial nowhere, a large, angry, somewhat substance-altered fellow comes rushing at you with a machete raised. So how would you get to your primary weapon?
You wouldn't - your primary weapon is already in your hand. It's the glass with liquid in it. You throw the liquid in the fellow's face, then fling the glass itself at the same face that should be drenched with that raspberry-strawberry smoothie you were enjoying just seconds before.
Even a full glass of berried up smoothie isn't anywhere nearly as effective as a handgun. But when a fight starts you don't have time to organize your equipment to your liking. The number one task is to stop this hypothetical miscreant from making you test how effective your health insurance is. Yes, shooting him once or thrice would be more effective than a face full of juice if you had time to draw and fire. In our hypothetical you don't. You do have time to hinder his eyesight by dousing his ocular region with liquid. If things go well with that, he'll falter long enough for you to introduce pain into the equation via a glass to the face. Those things will hopefully give you enough time to create some lateral distance and grab one of your other weapons.
It's a simple idea to test; have an assistant standing well off to the side with a glass of water. Place an object a few feet ahead of yourself that you intend to cleave with a machete (or axe, or tire iron - whatevs). At a signal, move forward and try to strike the object while your assistant throws water in your face. You may be able to pull it off, but you'll know you weren't nearly as efficient as you'd have otherwise been. You'll have taken longer, and that delay is the important part as it gives an opponent more time to react.
Someone, and I forget who exactly, once criticized the notion that in a theater shooting the audience should have pelted the attacker with popcorn. But that's exactly what folks should do. A bag of popcorn, even day old mostly stale popcorn like you'll find in some theaters, isn't as effective as a .45, or even a 9mm. There's not gonna be any ballistic gelatin tests or one-shot stop ratios concerning a bag of Redenbacher. But its purpose is not to stop, but to distract and/or delay.
Again, use an assistant. set up a target 25 yards away. Use whatever weapon you like. At a signal, try to fire 5 rounds into the target, but at the signal your assistant will throw popcorn at your face (from the side of course). The result will be that you'll take longer to shoot those shots, and your shots will not be as precisely placed.
If a punk decides to shoot up a movie theater, folks should throw popcorn, drinks, purses, cell phones, canes, chairs - anything they have at hand. This will distract said punk enough to decrease his ability to hit what he's aiming at. It will also remove his focus from anyone who may be trying to rush him form off to his side. And it should overwhelm his senses enough that he won't see the two or three people reaching behind their back to draw a handgun (all things being ideal).
When you're attacked your primary weapon is whatever you can use right damn now. Be that a glass or a bag of food or an electronic communications device or a barstool. Whatever you have to draw or otherwise whip out isn't. At that point when aggression is initialized against you, that slick 10mm on your belt is a goal. Just like it's said that a handgun is a good thing to use to fight your way to your long gun, whatever you have in your hand (or close enough to grab without much effort) is a good way to fight your way to your handgun.
Firearms are real damn cool once you break them out, but they are just a type of tool, and not the only type. A gunfight is just a type of fight. While the gun is a real cool component to have, the most important part isn't the gun, it's the fight.