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Old July 18, 2005, 05:49 PM   #1
TacticalFriedChicken
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head shots malicious?

I've got a friend who just started his CCW classes the other day. We got into a friendly argument the other night when he asked me where I would shoot an attacker, and when I told him I'd take a couple shots to COM and then if they were still coming, a headshot. He said something about 'in class I learned that headshots are irresponsible and you would be seen as the court as malicious because you are not supposed to try to kill the person, you are trying to stop them without killing them.' ***? I thought the quickest way to incapacitate an attacker was to kill them dead.. Hence the term 'justifiable use of DEADLY force'. And anyway, since when is a shot to the heart, lungs, spine, or liver considered shooting to wound? I thought those were all VITAL organs as well. So anyway, is this class bogus? I've never had to use a gun in self defense, thank God, but if I ever did, I sure as heck wouldn't want to have to worry about the legal ramifications of my shot placement. I'd be interested in doing whatever it took to save my own a$$.. so if anyone could shed some light on this, I'd appreciate it.
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Old July 18, 2005, 05:53 PM   #2
FrankDrebin
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You're better off learning the law from a competent instructor...I believe most states REQUIRE that a person who is teaching a class on deadly force law and responsibility be either a judge, lawyer or somehow certified to instruct on subjects beyond sight alignment and trigger control.

For instance:

Quote:
(iv) Firearms and the law, including civil liability issues and the use of deadly force. This portion shall be taught by an attorney or an individual trained in the use of deadly force.
Doesn't sound like your guy was either.
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Old July 18, 2005, 06:14 PM   #3
Double Naught Spy
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Whether or not the instructor can teach the law can vary state to state. In Texas, they do.

Do check your state's laws, but I am confident that you will find that the law does NOT specify exactly how you can apply lethal force. In short, once your state's requirements are met for using lethal force, whether you shoot the bad guy in the head, chainsaw through the chest, or run over him with your H2 Hummer at 90 miles an hour isn't stipulated. I also believe that it will not stipulate how many times you can shoot a person either. The question may be raised as to whether the person was still a threat to you when you did the head shot, and if the person was, then there should be no problem.

You won't find a section that says that the following calibers are considered malicious to use when performing an act of self defense (list of friendly calibers). There will be no definition of tire irons, golf clubs, or size of vehicle that can be use. You will not be limited to a stick of certain dimensions to keep you from being "malicious."

I am not sure, but I have never seen any form of lethal force, used when requirements were met by the law, called malicious in a court finding. Once again, feel free to check, and Texas is the only state I am even remotely familiar with, but I don't think you will find anything.

As you note, when your life is on the line, it is stupid to be worrying about potential legal rammifications. One thing is certain. If you are dead, there are no legal rammifications to you. Your estate may be sued, but with you dead, you won't be a part of the process directly.

Check it all for yourself, but generally speaking, lethal force means lethal force and you are not dictated as to how you apply it once conditions are met for application.
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Old July 18, 2005, 06:16 PM   #4
mete
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Wasn't too much logic there .Heart , spine etc can be lethal. Head shots ? Harder to hit,bullets may glance off rounded skull.If BG is wearing body armour head shot may be the only way to stop him......In any case there is no sure thing - shoot and continue to shoot until the BG is no longer a threat !!!
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Old July 18, 2005, 06:29 PM   #5
progunner1957
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DON'T shoot to wound!!! Shoot to STOP!

Masaad Ayoob addressed the "shoot to wound" pitfall in one of his books. His outlook is that if you are truly in fear of losing your life or sustaining grave bodily harm, shoot to STOP your attacker. If you are not truly in fear of losing your life or sustaining grave bodily harm, DON'T SHOOT.

Shooting to stop involves placing hits in the attacker's center of mass - that is, his sternum (breastbone). Beneath the sternum lies the heart, and to either side lies a lung. Hits in this area give you the highest probability of stopping your attacker.

Things usually don't go according to plan in a life or death fight - you jerk the trigger, your knee buckles as you fire, you don't have a perfect grip on your gun, your attacker stumbles as he rushes you. Sometimes bullets find their way to the attacker's brain in the heat of battle.

Sometimes, center of mass hits do not immediately stop the attacker and a headshot is mandatory, that is if you want to survive.

If you shoot to wound, Ayoob says, a prosecutor will turn that against you. It is one of the oldest plays in the prosecutor's playbook. He will say, "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, there is a reason the accused shot the deceased in the leg: The accused KNEW IN HIS HEART that the use of deadly force WAS NOT JUSTIFIED in this instance."

The jury, being made up of a majority of ignorant gun-fearing schmucks, will buy it and duly send you off to "the Big House." His survivors will sue you for millions and be living in your home, eating your food and pi**ing away your life's savings while your family lives under a bridge in a cardboard box.

Ain't the criminal justice system just grand??

Get a copy of Ayoob's book, "In The Gravest Extreme." It is an older book on the topic, but is a goldmine of information.

Defending yourself and your loved ones with a firearm IS NOT A GAME. It is deadly serious business. Read. Study. Learn. Practice. Attend trainings led by competent professional instructors. If you don't, someday you will wish you had done so.
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Old July 18, 2005, 06:42 PM   #6
FrankDrebin
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Quote:
Shooting to stop involves placing hits in the attacker's center of mass - that is, his sternum (breastbone). Beneath the sternum lies the heart, and to either side lies a lung. Hits in this area give you the highest probability of stopping your attacker.
So if you shoot him in the head you're not shooting to stop? You're shooting for some other purpose? Also...I've seen plenty of people shot through a lung, gut, shoulder, chest etc, and NONE of them ever stopped as fast as the ones who were shot through the brain. A pistol round through the lung isn't going to stop many people in the time that the defensive handgunner is going to prefer. A hit to the brain stem gives you the highest probability of stopping your attacker. I'm not sure, but did you mean that AIMING at the center of mass gives you the greatest possibility of hitting a vital organ? Because I'm here to tell you that a 9mm round between the eyes beats two to the lungs for rapid stopping efficiency.

Quote:
If you shoot to wound, Ayoob says, a prosecutor will turn that against you. It is one of the oldest plays in the prosecutor's playbook. He will say, "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, there is a reason the accused shot the deceased in the leg: The accused KNEW IN HIS HEART that the use of deadly force WAS NOT JUSTIFIED in this instance."
Funny, I've been in law enforcement for 20 years, in and around the place that holds the "murder capital" title off and on, and I've never seen anyone who was justifed in using deadly force charged, let alone convicted of shooting someone because he told the police or prosecutor he was shooting to wound. Where does Ayoob get this stuff? Does he make it up? You'd think I'd have seen it happen one or two times over the past 20 years if it was the "oldest play in the playbook". Can you post any of the examples that part-time cop Ayoob used?

Last edited by FrankDrebin; July 18, 2005 at 07:17 PM.
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Old July 18, 2005, 06:47 PM   #7
progunner1957
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Quote:
Sometimes, center of mass hits do not immediately stop the attacker and a headshot is mandatory, that is if you want to survive.
Yes. In order to HIT center of mass, you would need to AIM for center of mass.

I'm quoting "that part time cop Ayoob's" book from memory; unfortunately, I did not memorize the book cover to cover. I apoplgize for the oversight on my part.

Obviously, you are the expert here, Frank. You take over from here.
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Old July 18, 2005, 06:53 PM   #8
FrankDrebin
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Quote:
Yes. In order to HIT center of mass, you would need to AIM for center of mass.

Jeez.
You missed my point...which was...the idea of "shooting to stop the bad guy's aggressive action" has nothing to do with where on the guy's body you're aiming.....It involves intent, which is the same whether you shoot him in the leg, chest, or head and whether you're aiming at the head hip girdle heart etc...
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Old July 18, 2005, 07:01 PM   #9
Tennessee Gentleman
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Head shot not good "to finish them off"

I read a case here in TN about a gentleman who shot a man wielding a knife in a bar fight and then after he fell down went and finished him off with a head shoot. He went to jail for manslaughter as the assailant was no longer a threat. Seems like your time to act can be very short.
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Old July 18, 2005, 07:09 PM   #10
FrankDrebin
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Quote:
I read a case here in TN about a gentleman who shot a man wielding a knife in a bar fight and then after he fell down went and finished him off with a head shoot. He went to jail for manslaughter as the assailant was no longer a threat. Seems like your time to act can be very short.
Same sort of thing happened around here. A doctor came upon a guy stealing his car. The guy took off. The doctor shot him. Good shooting so far. The guy then crawled under a parked car and the doctor went from a potential crimestopper to a murderer when he shot him again while he was under the car.
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Old July 18, 2005, 07:15 PM   #11
butch50
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Common sense is to shoot for COM - because it is a larger target. Unless you know he is wearing body armor.

A shot to the head would probably not get you into any more trouble than a shot to COM, if it is your first shot.

A double tap might not get you into trouble if they are very close together in time. Probably OK to double tap the head or the COM, if the shots are very close togehter timewise.

But common sense should also tell you that since your shooting to stop the agressor, not kill him (death may be a by-product but not the goal) then a Coup De Grace to the head after he has been stopped is going to get you in a world of hurt. I bet that is what the instructor was trying to relay, and it got garbled in the translation.
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Old July 18, 2005, 07:21 PM   #12
Coltdriver
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Your friend does not live in Colorado.

What an idiotic situation we are all in when a prosecuting attorney will treat a person defending their own life as if they are a super human who can pick and choose where to shoot someone in the event of a bona fide emergency.

In Colorado I can shoot you anywhere I want to if you are in the wrong. And I am lawsuit proof.

Right and Wrong is fairly cut and dried. Bleeding heart crook protecting liberalism knows no wrong except for the act of an American defending their life.
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Old July 18, 2005, 08:12 PM   #13
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Better Judged By 12, Than Carried by 6.
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Old July 18, 2005, 08:34 PM   #14
BreacherUp!
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what's the difference?

"Shooting to stop". When I shoot to the head, I am "shooting to stop." Any shot fired on a subject is deadly force. Under that umbrella, my target within the frame of deadly force is the head. It has nothing to do with "trying to kill or wound." I know the best chances of stopping someone is the head, unless the tactical situation dictates otherwise (distance, backdrop, bystanders, moving target, etc.) .
I am not arguing against COM. I am arguing against the fact that my targeting the head is to kill, rather than STOPPING the threat of serious injury or death in the quickest fashion.

BTW, love the name TacticalFriedChicken!
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Old July 18, 2005, 08:48 PM   #15
FrankDrebin
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Quote:
Better Judged By 12, Than Carried by 6.
I'd prefer to avoid both.....it's virtually always doable.
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Old July 18, 2005, 08:49 PM   #16
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You said it Breecher, you shoot to stop, not maim (thx Frank). Weather you are shooting at the head or chest, the goal is the same, stop the threat.

Its just a flesh wound!!!
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Old July 18, 2005, 08:50 PM   #17
FrankDrebin
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Why would you wanna shoot Auntie Mame???
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Old July 18, 2005, 08:54 PM   #18
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There is a school of thought that says if 2 shots to the chest doesn't stop him, more probably won't help because the target has stopped feeling pain due to the body's natural reaction. Better to turn him off NOW with a shot to the head if possible.

Also, just want to remind people that shooting center of mass isn't always to the chest - if your attacker for instance is behind cover/concealment, COM is center of whatever part of him is showing.

A class I took as a student with a firearms training company I worked for had us walk to a shooting line blind, then turn around on signal and engage different targets with BG's holding hostages mixed in with neutral targets. I turned and for whatever reason the BG's heads beside the GGs looked HUGE - no problem placing 1 round in each fast. The instructors were surprised I took head shots, but...instinct(?) took over and it just worked that way.

Anyway - go for COM because it SHOULD be a better-odds shot - but let the situation (and your right to life) decide, not some half-baked liberal idea of maliciousness.
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Old July 18, 2005, 09:14 PM   #19
FrankDrebin
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Quote:
Also, just want to remind people that shooting center of mass isn't always to the chest - if your attacker for instance is behind cover/concealment, COM is center of whatever part of him is showing.
If the guy who is shooting at you is behind concealment, why can't you just shoot through the concealment? If you see his shoes sticking out from behind the curtains, you're not gonna aim for his feet are you?
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Old July 18, 2005, 09:19 PM   #20
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Now that would be silly wouldn't it Frank?

Point taking on cover vs. concealment!
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Old July 18, 2005, 09:26 PM   #21
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I was told in my CHL class that "courts don't usually like headshots because they feel it's 'excessive force'" He also added, "even though the criminal is probably somebody that should have been executed 10 years ago by the court."
Headshots are not the best idea anyway for this reason: The head moves, the chest doesn't. Plus the head is a smaller target.
I personally wouldn't hesitate to shoot someone in the head if I thought I had to (like if I saw he was puffed up with body armor or if his head was exposed from behind cover like a car or something the bullet wouldn't likely penetrate.) S---w the idiot judges and DAs. I am alive that's what counts.
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Old July 18, 2005, 09:38 PM   #22
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If you told the police or the court that you intentionally shot for the head, then your error was blabbing--not where you placed your shots.

Shooting a moving target with a handgun while under severe stress does not lend itself to precise shot placement. I don't think it would be easy to prove that a head shot was intentional unless you help them out by admitting it was.

I'm not saying to lie--just reminding you that you don't have to testify against yourself.
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Old July 18, 2005, 09:52 PM   #23
FrankDrebin
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Somebody post one case where a police detective, prosecutor, judge or jury put someone in prison or even found them guilty because they shot an assailant in the head instead of the chest, or admitted they were aiming for the head when they had a legitimate reason to shoot. Just ONE case. There must be such a case out there somewhere where someone told a shooter with a legitimate reason to shoot that a headshot was "excessive force".
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Old July 18, 2005, 10:32 PM   #24
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Frank,

I'm not arguing that point--I'm just saying that it doesn't even have to be an issue unless the shooter decides to testify against himself.
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Old July 18, 2005, 11:30 PM   #25
CarbineCaleb
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Well, I think that shooting for the head is malicious alright, as is shooting for the chest. They don't call it deadly force for nothing! To me, the only thing that justifies shooting someone is the threat of being killed - in such cases, it's kill or be killed, so once we get to that point, I don't have any problems justifying that on a personal level.

When it comes to a jury, well, a jury is made up of human beings, and although I think that the law will be carefully explained to them, I also think that jurors will all have some subjective nature to their judgements. In that regard, it might negatively influence some jurors if they believed you were "shooting to kill".

As JohnSka mentioned however, your intended aiming point will be pretty hard to either know or prove for anyone else. Judging by the historical performance of people in shootouts, your intended aiming point is only a rough guide as to where the bullets will go in most cases anyway!
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