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smince
February 27, 2011, 09:34 PM
In the "Trapped Into A Mouse Gun" thread, this line was quoted:Most self defense classes teach you the range you can legally use a weapon to defend yourself Also, I've ran across the statement in many threads that goes something likeIf you shoot someone at XX range it can't/won't be considered self defense So, I'm asking:

Where is this supposed mythical line I can't cross?

7yds?

10?

15?

If there is a BG shooting at me from 15 yards and 6 inches, am I just supposed to let him?

Personally, from bad breath distance or out past 50yds, if someone is shooting at me, I plan to shoot back if possible.

mavracer
February 27, 2011, 09:46 PM
That's one of the things that bugs me when people refuse to practice beyond 7yards. Sure most encounters are less and edged/impaact weapons limit you to somethin like 7yards. If sombodys shooting at you it'd be a good idea to stop that.

Sixer
February 27, 2011, 09:47 PM
I don't think distance counts for much if you're being shot at. It does however apply if your attacker has a knife, bat, etc.

Still, there is no literal line or distance that is set in stone. An attacker can close in on you from 10 yrd pretty quick. You won't have time to measure distance, but when you feel your life is in danger ... thats where the line is.

JohnKSa
February 27, 2011, 09:56 PM
There is no line. Determining when to shoot back will require a reasonably accurate assessment of the current circumstances and a knowledge of the law.

Shooting back when shot at is a very basic starting point, however you need more information than that to make a reasonable decision. Some questions one might ask in an attempt to make such a decision.

1. Are there better/safer options available to you? Self-defense is, after all, about preventing yourself from being injured or killed. If you can preserve your wellbeing more effectively by doing something other than shooting back then it doesn't make sense to shoot back.

2. Does the person have a chance of hitting you? If you're behind adequate cover and there's no pressing reason to move from the cover then it would be much smarter to summon the authorities than it would be to expose yourself to shoot back.

3. Would shooting back pose a threat to innocent bystanders? If someone is engaging you from relatively long range and there are people fairly close to them and behind them then spraying the area with lead probably isn't a good idea. Running for cover or leaving the area entirely might be much better options, especially if the shooter is a good distance away and armed with a handgun and therefore doesn't have a really great chance of hitting a moving target.

4. Do you have a chance of hitting the shooter? If the person is a long way off and you're armed with a pocket pistol with vestigial sights then your efforts might be better spent trying to get away than shooting back.

I'm not suggesting that someone get out pencil and paper while under fire to try to work out the situation by making a list of options and advantages/disadvantages. It should go without saying that this type of decision would be made very quickly and further that the efficacy of the determined course of action would depend on how well the defender assesses the situation based on the circumstances.

output
February 27, 2011, 09:56 PM
It depends on the circumstance. If your life is at risk, then you have justification.

Crazy88Fingers
February 28, 2011, 02:09 AM
Check your state laws, I suppose. Here in Florida a law-abiding citizen has no legal obligation to retreat if threatened. And according to Murphy's laws of combat "If the enemy is in range, so are you!"

I'm no big city lawyer, but I think your answer lies somewhere in there.

Ken - Oh
February 28, 2011, 08:54 AM
It depends so much on the particular situation and your options. Someone threatening you with their fists is different from a knife, is different from a handgun, is different from a full auto AK-47. If you are in an open field vs. behind a locked door or in a car. Or in a mall or restaurant with an active shooter.

Can you safely retreat, or are you trapped? Are you alone, or do you have three small children with you?

And of course, your state laws.

FireForged
February 28, 2011, 07:38 PM
ability- opportunity- jeopardy

mcwop
February 28, 2011, 08:04 PM
IMO the Castle Doctrine is the place to start reading, laws vary by state, I am sure each circumstance is unique inside house outside, in public etc - could depend on jury, record of perpetrator etc....

Castle Doctrine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_doctrine)

Shane Tuttle
February 28, 2011, 08:18 PM
ability- opportunity- jeopardy

pax's book speaks of this, smince. If you're serious about finding answers, pick up a copy of Kathy Jackson's "Lessons from Armed America".

Glenn Dee
February 28, 2011, 08:29 PM
IMO the distance from your assailant is only one slice of the pie. Any shooting incident when investegated will be considered in total. Pre-determining a set distance to be satisfied before you defend yourself is probably dangerous. Consider an adversary armed with a firearm. At what distance is he no danger to your life?

I will not limit myself to particular distance, but I will consider the distance depending on the dynamics of the situation.

Glenn Dee

smince
February 28, 2011, 08:49 PM
If you're serious about finding answersActually, I'm pretty sure I already know the answers.

I was throwing this out for those who think if you shoot someone past X distance it won't be justified.

Glenn Dee has stated it very well, IMO.

Shane Tuttle
February 28, 2011, 09:51 PM
Strictly making an observation of your last sentence in your opening post gave me pause to agree at the time. That's why I suggested Kathy's book...

AK103K
February 28, 2011, 10:30 PM
I will not limit myself to particular distance, but I will consider the distance depending on the dynamics of the situation.
I think this is about as close to "the answer" as youre probably going to get.

brabham78
March 1, 2011, 05:19 PM
If there is a BG shooting at me from 15 yards and 6 inches, am I just supposed to let him?


Obviously, yardage distances are not included in any self defense statutes. I don't think that is a surprise. I think that common sense would tell you that if you're being fired upon, then you certainly have the right to use your weapon in self defense, although specific circumstances (cover, a means of escape, innocent by-standers, ect) can sometimes mean that not using your weapon is the wisest choice.

Your original post indicated that you are posing this question based on what you've read in some recent forum threads. Here's some advice: Don't use gun forum threads (this or any other) as a means of getting legal advise about when it's ok to use your weapon. And if you do, I hope you're good at separating legal facts from personal opinion. Read your local laws, and use the best judgment you can.

FireForged
March 1, 2011, 06:21 PM
Why is there such a focus on distance. Distance is just one element is a host of elements to be considered. A bad guy 20 feet away on the other side of a busy highway may not have the same opportunity to harm you as a guy 20 feet infront of you on the same sidewalk.

AK103K
March 1, 2011, 06:40 PM
Distance is just one element is a host of elements to be considered.
It is, but how often is it? Considered that is. Seems like 20 feet is a long shot to a lot of people who carry guns, and 20 yards seems unfathomable.

As Smince asked, where is the cut off?

To me, its the point "I know" I can repetitively place a good hit on demand, "if" I have to.


Not to trivialize or suggest you shun the legal aspect of things, but I have to wonder sometimes, if people dont have their priorities in the wrong place when it comes to worrying about them. I put them below winning, and doing whats necessary to insure the other guy doesnt. Seems some arent to sure.

threegun
March 1, 2011, 07:17 PM
ability- opportunity- jeopardy


I was told it was Ability-Opportunity-Intent. All three must be present to use deadly force. Bad guy must have the intent to cause death of grave bodily injury. He must also have the ability to cause said death or injury. Depending on weapon he must have the opportunity to use his weapon.

AK103K
March 1, 2011, 07:35 PM
Would bullets flying by you left and right from 35 yards away fill that bill?

I know how Id "probably" respond, and its going to come before I get the law book out and read up to see if its OK.

Now if they're over there waving their gun around and farting in my general direction, I might have time to look up "the French and the proper response to smelly but very threatening insults" in my manual. :)

Webleymkv
March 1, 2011, 10:06 PM
The conventional wisdom seems to be that anything beyond 7-10 yards becomes much more difficult to legally justify because, at that distance, you should have had opportunity to retreat. The conventional wisdom, however, certainly does not cover all circumstances. An attacker armed with a projectile weapon is obviously going to extend the range at which you are in immediate danger and the Castle Doctrine removes many instances in which you'd legally have to retreat.

Personally, I practice out to 30 yards with my pocket guns and out to 50 yards with my belt guns. While it is unlikely that I'd ever have to take a shot at those distances, it certainly doesn't hurt anything to be able to if the need arises. I think it is ill-informed to limit training strictly to short range.

Nnobby45
March 1, 2011, 10:30 PM
Also, I've ran across the statement in many threads that goes something like
Quote:
If you shoot someone at XX range it can't/won't be considered self defense



I've had a little better than half a dozen good instructors through the years, in some courses that were required and some done on my own.

No instructor has ever discussed specific ranges beyond which SD wouldn't be lawful.

Some authorities, whose opinions I respect, have pointed out the difficulty that could arise when claiming SD at long distance when a rifle is involved.

All laws specify the degree to which one's life must be in danger before deadly force would be lawful.

Distance could certainly play a part in that along with quite a number of other factors when twelve retired folks who don't read gun magazines or own firearms determines your fate based on what the prosecutor and the judge gave them. I still like Ayoobs admonishment with respect to you or me facing "UNAVOIDABLE death or serious bodily injury", or words very similar.

And it's easy enough to reason that if someone is shooting at me with a pistol at any distance, then shooting back with an equal amount of force should be lawful (within reason and common sense). Don't know how those old retired folks would see it. Maybe they'd take pity on me (since I look like they do :D). Maybe not.

Skans
March 2, 2011, 08:29 AM
I like the OP's question. Although I don't believe that everyone has to have the same "line", I do believe that everyone should have a well defined line (subject to exceptions of course) in his/her own mind if they are going to carry a weapon.

For me, the "line" is about 15 feet. In my mind, anything less than that, and I'm simply not going to be prepared. But, the idea of shooting someone at a distance greater than 15 feet really makes me question whether or not I'd truly be acting in self defense. And, with the gun that I choose to carry, I'm not going to have great accuracy much beyond 20-25 feet.

But, like I said, there can be exceptions. If multiple thuggish looking people are quickly approaching me, some with guns exposed, I might consider that an exception to my line.

PS. I went back and read the responses so far. They seem to be in opposition to having any line where they will/will not shoot. However, I wonder how this can be. Most people who carry know how accurate they are with their gun out to a certain range - well, that would be one type of line as governed by the accuracy of your abilities and your weapon.

I also saw that some folks addressed situations where the BG's were already shooting at you - yes, I were to ever encounter this, that would be another exception. But, most of my defensive drills that I practice deal with situations less than 15 feet, some maybe up to 25 feet. And, other than target shooting, I really don't practice any drills involving situations beyond those distances.

hartlock
March 2, 2011, 10:57 AM
Im not believing what i see on here! Do any of you people have a license
to carry a concealed weapon? If you do, you already know the answer to
this question! Come on, guys! If someone is threatening you, does it really
make a difference in the distance he is shootin at you? This whole subject
is SILLY! Do you really think they are gonna get out a tape measure and
measure the distance you are shooting at? Ive never seen so many arm
chair experts in my life! Have ANY of you ever really been in a self defense
shooting? I dont think so, or you wouldnt be asking such stupid questions!
Im signing off now, before I say something I shouldnt! Good grief!

LordTio3
March 2, 2011, 11:10 AM
Im signing off now, before I say something I shouldnt! Good grief!

Ummm... thank goodness?

Discussing in an online forum is like trying to have a conversation in a bar. Someone at the other end of the joint always has to stand up and scream something completely irrelevant before we spend several minutes trying to decide whether it's even worthy of a response.

~LT

LordTio3
March 2, 2011, 11:16 AM
There is no definite "line" as all others have said. It all depends on the circumstances and everything is relative. If a guy has a knife and is threatening your friend 55 feet away and you shoot at him 6 times and hit him twice, you'll have a lot harder time pushing your particular course of action past a jury than your friend, if he happened to pull out his weapon and shoot the guy first.

Everything is relative and everything depends on something else, often a LOT of things.

I have a mental "line" at ~35-45' where I'd rather take some serious evasive action, gun in hand, than just stand and return fire. But again, it all depends on the circumstances. Is the guy coming at me? What's he armed with? Does he have friends? All of these things and a hundred others have the propensity to affect a jury's judgement of your decision with relation to whatever range at which you happened to engage this man.

~LT

OldMarksman
March 2, 2011, 11:18 AM
I cannot add to, nor would I take anything away from, Post #4.

Stevie-Ray
March 2, 2011, 02:03 PM
Yup, post #4 covered it nicely.

Nnobby45
March 3, 2011, 04:45 AM
For me, the "line" is about 15 feet. In my mind, anything less than that, and I'm simply not going to be prepared. But, the idea of shooting someone at a distance greater than 15 feet really makes me question whether or not I'd truly be acting in self defense. And, with the gun that I choose to carry, I'm not going to have great accuracy much beyond 20-25 feet.



Good grief, Scans, my man. A gunman could kill you from a distance far greater than that while you're still pondering whether you'd be acting in self defense.;)


Don't mean to pick on you personally, but some folks discuss the matter as though there's some kind of general description of a SD shooting based on what they think it might look like according to what pops into their head.

There are lots of situations where you WOULD NOT be justified that could be much closer than that, and situations where you WOULD be justified farther away. When you're in a dance with death, survival might be a matter of synchronizing one's actions with the situation so as to survive.

Lecture done.:D

Skans
March 3, 2011, 10:10 AM
Good grief, Scans, my man. A gunman could kill you from a distance far greater than that while you're still pondering whether you'd be acting in self defense.


Don't mean to pick on you personally, but some folks discuss the matter as though there's some kind of general description of a SD shooting based on what they think it might look like according to what pops into their head.

There are lots of situations where you WOULD NOT be justified that could be much closer than that, and situations where you WOULD be justified farther away. When you're in a dance with death, survival might be a matter of synchronizing one's actions with the situation so as to survive.

Lecture done.

All taken in good fun, Nnobby45. But, lets assume that you are carrying an AMT 45 Backup. It only has a channel sight. It is Double Action Only with a 3" barrel. It's not much different than someone who carries a .38 snub nose revolver. Anyway, That's what I choose to carry.....for now. I have practiced quite a bit with this gun. I can hit center of mass out to about 15 feet quickly. If I take time to aim and try to do 2-handed fire I might be good to about 30 feet. If I find myself in a gun battle with attackers over 30 feet away, the last thing I'm going to do is waste my 6 shots on relatively long-range misses. No, I'm better off seeking cover or taking evasive action.

Also, it's pretty hard for me to imagine anyone threatening my life from over 20 feet away. Please, give me some scenarios - my brain just can't think of any. What is going to be happening 20 feet from where I'm standing that will be threatening my life? It's not going to be someone looking to steal my wallet, atm card, money, watch, etc. It's not going to be someone car-jack my vehicle. So, what's the threat?

AK103K
March 3, 2011, 11:24 AM
Also, it's pretty hard for me to imagine anyone threatening my life from over 20 feet away. Please, give me some scenarios - my brain just can't think of any. What is going to be happening 20 feet from where I'm standing that will be threatening my life? It's not going to be someone looking to steal my wallet, atm card, money, watch, etc. It's not going to be someone car-jack my vehicle. So, what's the threat?
Its actually probably something way scarier, someone who is there with the sole purpose of killing you.

Happened to a boy nearby here, who was out in the yard having a smoke, and his "assailant", shot him "with intent", from about 200 yards away.

Now Im not saying Id normally return that, but considering the situation there, and if his first shot was a miss, he'd have 17 rounds coming to him as I was headed towards the house or barn, just to keep his head down and I could get to something that would even up the odds.


A lot of all this I suppose is what your environment is like and what you deal with from day to day. For me, my daily environment is everywhere from being jammed into the cattle chutes downtown in "the big city" to literally being "outstanding in my field", and its a BIG field. :)

Whats a good choice for one, who measures daily life in yards or meters, might not be a good choice for the other, if they measure life in feet or centimeters. The right choice will allow you do deal with "most" though.

Realistically, life is only going to be as good as what you brought along when the time comes. I'll bet no matter what that is, you still wish it was bigger and badder regadless. :)

mavracer
March 3, 2011, 12:18 PM
Also, it's pretty hard for me to imagine anyone threatening my life from over 20 feet away. Please, give me some scenarios - my brain just can't think of any.

some states allow for the protection of others. While I know it's extremely remote were I to have a shot in an active shooter scenario I think I'd have a hard time running away.

smince
March 3, 2011, 01:48 PM
Not much bigger than the AMT, I can carry and hit at 50+ yds with my G26 and practice it regularly.

One can carry a 'serious' handgun with little difficulty with the proper mindset.

markj
March 3, 2011, 02:03 PM
I saw that line once, it was right where the guy that shot me was standing. Yep right there. Was working so I didnt have any type of weapon, glad he shot only one time.

skifast
March 3, 2011, 02:46 PM
I think it is foolish to practice only at close distances as it is foolish to practice only at 25 yards and beyond.

I will know my line when I am confronted.

DAS9mm
March 3, 2011, 04:03 PM
Now if they're over there waving their gun around and farting in my general direction, I might have time to look up "the French and the proper response to smelly but very threatening insults" in my manual.

I think the proper response is to "just walk away" and "ignore him." But then again they did have a catapult and a cow. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9V7zbWNznbs

Seriously, I think if you have time to worry about is the person close enough to be a threat, shooting may not be the correct answer. The 20 foot "rule" -- as many of you know -- comes out of research showing that a man with a knife can close a 20 foot gap and engage with the knife faster than most police can draw, aim, and fire their side arm. Hopefully the police have that sequence down better than any of is lay people.

I think Castle Doctrine only applies within one's home.

Nnobby45
March 3, 2011, 05:53 PM
All taken in good fun, Nnobby45. But, lets assume that you are carrying an AMT 45 Backup. It only has a channel sight. It is Double Action Only with a 3" barrel. It's not much different than someone who carries a .38 snub nose revolver.

OK, I see your point, but the discussion here is mostly about legal pitfalls as they relate to distances from the attacker.

I'm not saying that tactical restrictions related to skill and equipment shortcomings aren't relevent to the discussion-- but they're really another subject matter. Not trying to play moderator, just trying to keep things in context.:)

Seaman
March 4, 2011, 12:54 PM
"Where is this supposed mythical line I can't cross?" [smince]

If under imminent deadly attack, I have boundaries:

At about 20 feet I shout loudly "STOP - BACK OFF."

If attacker does not stop, I draw and fire. I can draw and fire accurately in 0.40 of a second. Not Bill Jordan speed, but its the best I can manage.

Of course if there is an active shooter all distance variables are off.

I have checked this protocol with three local PDs and they are fine with it.