When it comes to physical force, the only thing that really matters is did you walk away, or is it?
While that may seem simplistic, it really is a matter of did you hit your target with sufficient accuracy to stop the threat – Hits Count and Misses Do Not.
Everything but that is open to debate, online, in classrooms, in a blog, on Facebook, and in the courts. There is not always a simple answer and many people get upset when you try to add logic to the discussion. “Shut up, I don’t have time for facts – my mind is made up!” How many times have you heard, “It is better to avoid a gunfight than to win one,” or “the only way to win a gunfight is to not be in one.”
So what happens when you drive into the gas station to buy some gas, and notice that inside the clerk has their arms raised and a stranger has a pistol pointed at their head? Or you and your girlfriend are walking through a mall and someone exits a restroom with a gun and just starts shooting people at random? Is that when you should walk or run away? Or do you end the mass murder with accurate gunfire and safe innocent lives? Do you “hit em with everything you’ve got” or call 9-1-1 and hope that, this time, the police are less than 30 seconds away. Remember, When seconds count, the police are minutes away.
Are there other options available? Would another means of lesser force be effective to stop the threat? Did you consider Pepper Spray, Bear Spray, or even a high powered flashlight shined into their eyes? You know that you are legally allowed only sufficient force to stop the threat – and anything more puts you in jeopardy. Do you have other options?
Consider this scenario: it is 2;30 in the morning and you hear someone moving around outside your bedroom so you grab your handy Glock 19 or shotgun, open the door and “blow them away” only to discover that your in-laws showed up and used the digital lock to let themselves in, turning off your alarm so they wouldn’t wake you. Or maybe it was the neighborhood child with a learning disability that went into the wrong house in the dark when they found themselves outside and afraid and they ran into the wrong garage – and your own teenager left the door open. Did your attitude of “Anyone who sets foot inside my house is going to get blown away” cause you to take actions that you will regret for the rest of your life?
Nothing about deadly force is easy, and very rarely is it simple. Oh, there may be times when it is obvious – the Greenwood Indiana mall example above may be one of those times. Or the shooting at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas. But most self-defense shootings fall into that cloudy grey area when investigators and prosecutors are looking at “intent.” Those findings are based on what the American legal system calls “the totality of the circumstances.”
Or, in other words, investigators will assess and interpret everything they can find out about the time of the incident: your level of training, your physical and mental experience and abilities, your decision-making ability and what environmental factors and personal factors were involved. Were you totally innocent in the situation? Were you left with no other option but to use deadly force to prevent imminent death or great / grave bodily harm to yourself, or to another innocent party?
And even if you can 100% adequately demonstrate that any sane normal reasonable person would have acted the same way in the same situation, there will be a zealous anti-gun prosecutor that will still see you do not walk home free to your family. So how do you know you made the right choice?
The only way to prepare for the potential of a deadly force incident is to think about it and analyze how and why do those types of incidents happen? And then ask, “What would I do if….?”
The body cannot go where the minds has not been. Preparing to Protect is more than just putting rounds downrange at the club in a safe leisurely manner. Critical incidents happen in seconds – very fast – in very unpleasant series of surprises that will catch you off guard.
Most attacks happen at night, in poorly lit areas not on a range with bright LED lighting. They happen when we are tired rather than when we are rested. They happen when we are really not thinking about having to shoot and kill someone’s father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister. Yes, sometimes they smash down your door with a gun in their hand threatening to kill you. Usually it’s not that simple.
This blog series is designed to get you thinking more often, more completely and more effectively about how you carry, where you carry, and when you might have to go to extreme measures so that you can continue to breathe one more day.
When it comes time to ask yourself the question, “Should I Shoot?” is not the first time you should think about it. Will these blog posts provide the specific answer to every question? No, that would be impossible. However, we can provide situations and scenarios for you to work through, think about and talk about with others so that, if you do have to ask that question, you will have the best answer for the moment.
We will be sharing stories that will provide some insights and a real chance to answer the question, “Should I Shoot?”
Stay safe, alert and focused and Prepare to Protect