The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Tactics and Training

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old December 14, 2006, 05:38 AM   #1
Indrid Cold
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 8, 2006
Location: Seattle
Posts: 205
Non (Less) Lethal shots?

I'll admit I'm fairly new to the rules pertaining to self defense, but from what I understand (and this is a broad generalization), you're only really in the right if you have reason to believe that your life is seriously in danger. Only then are you allowed to take potentially lethal actions against your assailant. What are the rules about generally non-lethal shots? For instance, suppose my assailant was much larger than I was and advancing on me with just fists, or some makeshift weapon. Not a gun or anything, but something that could do serious harm. Would I be justified in shooting them in the leg or knee as a means to stop them? I recognize that any wound could be potentially lethal, but a shot to the knee is much less likely to kill someone than a shot to the chest or head area unless you really mess up the femoral artery. Are the self-defense laws based on lethal force, or just force in general? Thanks for any help!
__________________
"Don't depend on the enemy not coming; depend rather on being ready for him."

Sun-tzu, The Art of War
Indrid Cold is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 06:29 AM   #2
rmagill
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 29, 2005
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 142
To begin with, I am not a lawyer. If I were in your shoes, I would research state and local laws where you live. Self-defense and lethal force / force laws vary by state and locality.

Normally, the justification for self-defense is that a resonable person would be afraid of severe bodily harm or death, and they did not start the encounter. In other words, the other person does not need a weapon for you to be justified in shooting them.

Also, if you shoot someone, you shot someone. Legally, there is no difference between shooting someone in the leg or shooting them in the head. Bottom line: you shot someone. Now, where this does make a difference is when you are in court. However, if it is a justified shoot, a good lawyer would be able to get you out of the legal mess.

Most people around here seem to subscribe to the theory of shooting for the chest (crititcal organs there... quickest way to stop someone) but to only shoot until the threat is no longer a threat.
rmagill is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 06:43 AM   #3
evan price
Junior member
 
Join Date: December 5, 2006
Location: O-H-I-O, where men are men and Jeeps are muddy
Posts: 27
This is a myth. There is NO SUCH THING as shooting someone "to wound". You could shoot someone in the hand. They could die of shock and/or blood loss.
Any shot is a shot to kill. Look up "Assault with a deadly weapon" for more information. That Hollywood B.S. about shooting guns out of hands, shooting in the knee or shoulder, or whatever, is Hollywood B.S. and that's all it is.
Certainly, shots targeted to certain areas of the body tend to result in nonlethal wounds more often. But, anywhere you inject hot lead into a human body has the potential to cause death.

Let's face it. The only reason you (legally) have to shoot someone is in defense, from a danger to your life or serious physical assault (rape, for example) or someone else whom you know to be in danger of life or serious physical assault (such as rape). There is no other (legal) reason to shoot someone. You shoot in that particular set of circumstances (in fear of your life, etc) to end the threat. Only. When the target is no longer a threat you can't shoot them any more. The only way to reliably stop a human threat, even one that is NOT under the influence of mind and physically altering drugs or chemicals, is a shot to the CNS targets, brain stem, spine, etc. Otherwise, even a man in reasonable health shot through the heart will be a threat for several minutes and could do you considerable harm.

If you weren't in sufficient fear for your life to shoot someone to end their status as a threat by rendering them incapable of acting on that threat, then you weren't in a situation that would warrant deadly force. Then you should not have shot them to begin with.

Also we must consider the penetration aspect of what you shot with. The average 9mm will easily sail through an arm or leg with minimal expansion. What's on the back of your target? You are responsible for where your bullets ultimately wind up.


Understand? Try that "Shoot to wound" B.S. and your state prosecutor will have a nice cell reserved for you for the larger part of your life unless, maybe, you have exceptionally skilled defense attorneys and deep pockets to pay them AND you get a sympathetic jury.
Then, the victims will just get the privelage of taking everything you own and throwing you out on the street penniless.
evan price is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 06:55 AM   #4
JoshB
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 18, 2006
Posts: 333
Shooting to disable is a sticky situation. I know you can't possibly contemplate every situation, but if you consider the following [outside of the military] I find it hard to justify a shot to disable.

1) If you have to shoot a BG, you better be acting in defence of your/someone else's life.

2) If you can't justify deadly force, you shoot to disable & then the guy ends up dying, you find yourself in an interesting situation.
__________________
-Josh
Deut. 12.32
JoshB is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 07:29 AM   #5
Double Naught Spy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 8, 2001
Location: Forestburg, Montague County, Texas
Posts: 10,526
Quote:
For instance, suppose my assailant was much larger than I was and advancing on me with just fists, or some makeshift weapon. Not a gun or anything, but something that could do serious harm. Would I be justified in shooting them in the leg or knee as a means to stop them? I recognize that any wound could be potentially lethal, but a shot to the knee is much less likely to kill someone than a shot to the chest or head area unless you really mess up the femoral artery. Are the self-defense laws based on lethal force, or just force in general?
Self defense laws are not based on lethal force per se, but appropriate force. With that said, certainly things get defined as lethal regardless of intent or implementation. Shooting somebody is considered lethal force in this manner. It isn't legal to shoot unless the local law says the situation allows it. HOWEVER, once you are in a situation that allows for lethal force, the law does not state what sort of lethal force needs to be used or how implemented except maybe for the fact that it may continue to be used so long as the criteria for lethal force usage continues to be met.

So a guy comes at you with a pipe and is threatening to bash in your skull. He is demonstrating intent, has the ability to carry out the action, and by moving towards you and being in close proximity is creating the opportunity to do so. As such, you are in fear of grave bodily harm. You can use lethal force to defend yourself. If you opt for and accomplish a knee shot and stop the threat, that is fine. However, the legal liabilities to you are equal regardless of where you shoot. Keep in mind that most less-lethal shots are more difficult shots to make that COM shots and so your chances of missing are much higher as are your chances of hitting a bystander and/or waisting a shot and the time of the shot such that you are now further endangered by the attacker.
Double Naught Spy is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 07:55 AM   #6
Indrid Cold
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 8, 2006
Location: Seattle
Posts: 205
Thanks for the information everyone. Glad to get that all cleared out. Evan, as I said in my original post, I'm fully aware that any shot can kill someone. I was just curious as to whether or not the law recognized a difference in whether or not you blatantly shot to kill (head/vitals) versus a shot which would generally produce a much lesser chance of death. Looks like the answer is no, so the issue is resolved
__________________
"Don't depend on the enemy not coming; depend rather on being ready for him."

Sun-tzu, The Art of War
Indrid Cold is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 07:56 AM   #7
marlboroman84
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 20, 2006
Location: Memphis,TN
Posts: 541
Good advice thus far. Remember this, There is no such thing as shooting someone a little bit. If you can't justify shooting to kill, then you can't justify shooting period. Not to mention, in a situation where you think you are in danger the possibility of you hitting the knee of a moving target is very slim!

Something for you to look into is what most states call a "force continuum".
It basically goes like this:

Verbal: Telling someone to back away and yelling for help.

Soft hands: Pushing someone away.

Hard hands: Hitting, kicking, gouging, etc

Pepper Spray: Self explanatory.

Impact weapons: A baton, a stick, a tire iron, a plank of wood,etc

Deadly force: A handgun, rifle, shotgun, use of impact weapon in such manner that assailant would not yield resulting in death.

It does not mean this will always be the case where you have to attempt all these things to be justified. It just means you use your best judgement in what is necessary at the time.

I for instance am 6'2, 165 pounds, ex-military, train in martial arts, and am a young male. It would be hard for me to justify killing someone who just wanted to pop me a few good ones. Now if I was 55, 145 pounds, in poor health, and was being attacked by 2 25 year old males, then that changes things.

Look into your state laws and seek additional training and advice from professionals. it's the best way to stay legal.

Best regards, Chuck
__________________
Ban Liberals, not guns!
ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒE (mo-lone lah-veh)
marlboroman84 is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 08:01 AM   #8
Indrid Cold
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 8, 2006
Location: Seattle
Posts: 205
Thanks very much for the continuum, Chuck - that illustrates things a lot better.
__________________
"Don't depend on the enemy not coming; depend rather on being ready for him."

Sun-tzu, The Art of War
Indrid Cold is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 08:03 AM   #9
marlboroman84
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 20, 2006
Location: Memphis,TN
Posts: 541
Not a problem. It was something they taught in permit class and i found it very useful as well.
__________________
Ban Liberals, not guns!
ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒE (mo-lone lah-veh)
marlboroman84 is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 08:34 AM   #10
swk314
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 9, 2006
Location: Virginia
Posts: 176
Quote:
Now if I was 55, 145 pounds, in poor health, and was being attacked by 2 25 year old males, then that changes things.
Marlboroman's example also brings up an issue called disparity of force. Two 25 year old men would likely inflict great damage on an older man. An older man is more likely to be out of shape, thus limiting his chances to escape and defend himself against multiple oponents.

Another example would be a man who attacked a woman. A man can render crippling and deadly blows to a woman. The woman would be at a severe disadvantage here, and would more than likely be able to use deadly force to defend herself. Then again, maybe not depending on the laws in that state.

I would check out some shooting schools in your area that teach self-defense tactics and deadly force issues. How much training you have will have a great bearing on surviving the violent attack, and will also give credibility to you if it ever ends up in court.
swk314 is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 11:29 AM   #11
Samurai
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 20, 2001
Location: Knoxville, TN
Posts: 901
Shooting a gun at somebody is always considered lethal force, regardless of what you were aiming at. And, to use lethal force, you must be in "reasonable apprehension of serious death or severe bodily injury."

Learn this phrase. Be able to rattle it off. Say it in your sleep. And, know what it means.
__________________
- Honor is a wonderful and glorious thing... until it gets you killed!

- Why is it that we fire 1,000 rounds and know that we need more practice, but yet we punch a bag 10 times and think we know how to fight?

- When in doubt, train, train, train...
Samurai is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 11:49 AM   #12
stephen426
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 11, 2005
Posts: 2,886
Indrid Cold,

There is lots of good information here. I just wanted to clarify something that evan price mentioned...

Quote:
Any shot is a shot to kill. Look up "Assault with a deadly weapon" for more information. That Hollywood B.S. about shooting guns out of hands, shooting in the knee or shoulder, or whatever, is Hollywood B.S. and that's all it is.
Certainly, shots targeted to certain areas of the body tend to result in nonlethal wounds more often. But, anywhere you inject hot lead into a human body has the potential to cause death.
Any shot is a shot to STOP the attack and the attacker. This may seem like a matter of semantics, but it may also mean the difference between getting charged with a crime and not getting charged with a crime by some over zealous district attourney. You stop shooting when the person is no longer a threat. That may be before you even start shooting (if the attacker drops his weapon and/or flees) or when the attacker takes his last breath. The idea is to STOP the attack, not kill the attacker.
__________________
The ATF should be a convenience store instead of a government agency!
stephen426 is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 11:52 AM   #13
stephen426
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 11, 2005
Posts: 2,886
Quote:
Originally Posted by swk314
Another example would be a man who attacked a woman. A man can render crippling and deadly blows to a woman. The woman would be at a severe disadvantage here, and would more than likely be able to use deadly force to defend herself. Then again, maybe not depending on the laws in that state.
Another good reason to make sure the wife is happy. She could claim that you were beating here and blast you with a gun. Just make sure you don't buy too much life insurance or else you might be worth more dead than alive.
__________________
The ATF should be a convenience store instead of a government agency!
stephen426 is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 11:56 AM   #14
Rugged
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 14, 2006
Location: People's Republik of Kalifornia
Posts: 241
to use deadly force, you must have a reasonable fear that your life is in danger, or while affecting a citizens arrest on a violent felon during commission of a violent felony. Murder, rape, robbery, burglary, mayhem, assault, etc.

also, we learned in law school, that deadly force is deadly force. If you shoot someone in the leg, or in the head... the result is the same if they die. (and yes, you can die from a leg shot) The result is the same if they do not die.

The bottom line is for self-defense to work, you need to be able to make the jury believe that you believed at the time that your life was in danger.
__________________
"GET RID OF THAT NICKEL-PLATED SISSY PISTOL AND GET YOURSELF A GLOCK!!!"
Rugged is offline  
Old December 14, 2006, 09:20 PM   #15
JohnKSa
Staff
 
Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 18,501
Quote:
There is no such thing as shooting someone a little bit. If you can't justify shooting to kill, then you can't justify shooting period.
Correct. Said a different way: Shooting someone is using deadly force. If you're not justified in using deadly force, you can't shoot. If you ARE justified in using deadly force, that almost always means you are in immediate danger of death or serious injury. In that case you'd better take your best shot. Shoot at the center-of-mass of the target until the threat ceases.
__________________
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
JohnKSa is offline  
Old December 15, 2006, 03:42 PM   #16
Para Bellum
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 7, 2005
Location: right there
Posts: 1,847
shot to stop

you shoot to stop (incapacitate). Only hits in the central nervous system achieve that reliably. Pelvic shots might also do that. All shots that make you survive because the incapacitate the threat are such severe hits that they are hard to survive. Don't think about the enemy. If you are justified to shoot, your dead already. All you can focus on is winning your life back.
__________________
Si vis pacem - para bellum
If you want peace - prepare for war
Para Bellum is offline  
Old December 16, 2006, 08:43 AM   #17
locknid
Member
 
Join Date: November 22, 2006
Posts: 26
also remember that just because your attacker(s) does that have a weapon or a gun does not mean your life isn't in danger. self defense and deadly force laws also have many features such as disparity of force. This could be either multiple attackers, extreme size difference, extreme age difference such as 20 vs. 80, male vs. female, if you are exhausted and injured from fending off another attack and can not possibly defend yourself against another upcoming attacker, etc. Also if they have a weapon, as long as if it can cause extreme bodily harm or death then you can most likely use deadly force. This would be maybe a knife, club, crow-bar, etc. Usually you can follow the formula of AOJ to know if you can use deadly force in the situation. Does the subject have ABILITY? I he carrying a gun, contact weapon, or have multiple supjects with him. Does he have OPPURTUNITY? For a gun as long as he is in range of being able to hit you then he has the oppurtunity. If he has a contact weapon then of course he has to be closer to you in order to have OPPURTUNITY. Last do you as a reasonable person feel like your life is in JEOPORDY because of the attack, did the attacker vocalize an intent to shoot or kill you, if he has a knife did he vocalize an intent to hurt you. Also if he demonstrates the means to attack you because of the situation you are in, or is swining the knife at you, grabbing on to the gun in his waist band is a demonstration of intent. You will want to Check with your local laws, or better yet find a shooting range in your area which teach self-defense courses or if you live in a state where you can get a concealed permit when you take that class they usually go over local laws and realistic situations during the course to let you know what will fly and what won't. If you have AOJ then usually you have the right to blow the other guy(s) away. Also if you do feel the need to pull your gun go for the chest mass and not try to shoot a leg or an arm. If you miss that could be the split second between his life and yours.

This is speaking from being in AZ though so check your laws. Also this may sound kinda girly but carry a small container of high quality pepper spray such as fox labs or sabre red. A good can of OC can stop an attacker in his tracks, or at least blind and disorient him enough so you can vacate the area pronto.
__________________
Glock 23(My Baby)
Mossberg 500 w/ Knoxx Specops recoil reducing adjustable stock
locknid is offline  
Old December 17, 2006, 01:57 AM   #18
chrisandclauida2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 21, 2005
Posts: 312
NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER EVER EVER NEVER NEVER EVER EVER EVER FIRE A WARNING SHOT UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES FIRE A WARNING SHOT.

first and most importantly it shows you weren't really in fear that you could immediately lose your life. this can be baaaaaad mojo in criminal and civil cases.

second you cant shoot into the air obviously and rarely can you shoot into the ground and not have a chance of a ricochet.

you shouldn't pull your weapon unless your in the sh1t. while legally threatening deadly force is considered the same as physical force and justified in any instance where other physical force is justified it is very high risk to do so.

you introduced a weapon into a situation that and that immediately puts you in a position of having to back down if they call your bluff and you lose and of the threat your body language carried up to that point. you also have to protect that weapon and now that its out you only have one hand.

warning shot should never be considerd
chrisandclauida2 is offline  
Old December 17, 2006, 05:32 AM   #19
Para Bellum
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 7, 2005
Location: right there
Posts: 1,847
that depends

Quote:
NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER EVER EVER NEVER NEVER EVER EVER EVER FIRE A WARNING SHOT UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES FIRE A WARNING SHOT.
I don't agree. Somtimes it can have a very sobering effect on humans and dogs. Especially if there is enough time for plan B and a secure backstop. I have seen it work perfectly well. Ending a lethal threat without having hurt anybody.

BUT: you must not shoot in the air. Bullets come down far away and still lethal. The backstop must be in your sight. (downwards would be best, earth, sand, mud etc)
__________________
Si vis pacem - para bellum
If you want peace - prepare for war
Para Bellum is offline  
Old December 17, 2006, 09:51 AM   #20
locknid
Member
 
Join Date: November 22, 2006
Posts: 26
well it wouldn't go over to well here in AZ firing a warning shot because for one it is illegal to fire in residential neighborhoods, other is here in AZ it is illegal to fire into the air because this girl a few years ago got hit by a stray bullet, so they made a law just because of that one instance.
__________________
Glock 23(My Baby)
Mossberg 500 w/ Knoxx Specops recoil reducing adjustable stock
locknid is offline  
Old December 17, 2006, 09:51 AM   #21
2400
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 12, 2004
Location: AZ
Posts: 389
If you have to shoot, shoot to stop the threat.
2400 is offline  
Old December 17, 2006, 04:17 PM   #22
Double Naught Spy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 8, 2001
Location: Forestburg, Montague County, Texas
Posts: 10,526
Quote:
NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER EVER EVER NEVER NEVER EVER EVER EVER FIRE A WARNING SHOT UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES FIRE A WARNING SHOT.

first and most importantly it shows you weren't really in fear that you could immediately lose your life. this can be baaaaaad mojo in criminal and civil cases.
Quote:
well it wouldn't go over to well here in AZ firing a warning shot because for one it is illegal to fire in residential neighborhoods, other is here in AZ it is illegal to fire into the air because this girl a few years ago got hit by a stray bullet, so they made a law just because of that one instance.
Mojo isn't relevant, just a term that sounds cool to use.

I personally don't like the idea of warning shots, however, they do often work as noted by Para Bellum. I would not want to count on working, however.

Warning shots are perfectly legal so long as you had the right to use lethal force. I prefer my warning shots to be COM, but in the ground at the perp's feet for an actual warning would be fine.

You most definitely can be in justified fear for your life and not want to have to shoot the other person and have the legal right to shoot and not hit the other person if lethal force is warranted. Of course, you are responsible for the round and whether it strike the ground harmlessly or kills some National Honor Society student 6 blocks away is another matter.

And yes Virginia, there is NOT a Santa Claus and it is illegal to fire guns in residential neighborhoods, except in self defense when lethal force is justified.
Double Naught Spy is offline  
Old December 25, 2006, 01:34 PM   #23
shadowwodahs
Junior member
 
Join Date: August 24, 2006
Location: Tennessee/moving to Northern Michigan
Posts: 24
Stopping A Threat

My goal is to stop a threat or attack first....and if that dosen't work, shoot to kill. I don't wish to kill anybody regardless of their disposition, and that is why my first round is a CCI shotshell. It will stop the threat 99% of the time. All you have to do is aim high and you will take out the eyes of your threat. Now, let's see how aggressive an attacker is after losing his eyesight. I don't recommend a shotshell for any caliber less than a .38 as they are not effective. In my .45 acp they are wicked and have good penetration. Should the situation call for a bullet, it's easy the rack my slide back and chamber a 230 grian solution. Just my opinion!
shadowwodahs is offline  
Old December 25, 2006, 01:48 PM   #24
Rob Pincus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 1998
Location: Hotels
Posts: 3,679
As an interesting side note to this converasation, while I was in Europe last year at a NATO LE Training Conference, I had a long conversation with some Dutch Police on this topic. They are "required" by policy to shoot to wound before shootnig to kill. In their culture/vernacular/law/policy there IS such a thing as shooting to wound/stop and it is defined differently from a Lethal Use of Force.

What's even more frustrating than the existence of such a policy is that they don't train it... they shoot center mass for all of their training and qualifications, but they are told to shoot the legs first.

Rob Pincus is offline  
Old December 25, 2006, 02:18 PM   #25
WIN71
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 28, 2005
Posts: 649
Well, I was aiming for his kneecap

The longer I live the more strange things seem to be. I just cannot believe a Department would have a "shoot to wound in the legs" policy and have no training to assist the officers in complying with the policy. There's more to this than meets the eye. Maybe the policy is in existence to satisfy the whims of some portion of the population.
I can see the statements now, after a borderline 3 to the ten ring shooting.
" Will, I was aiming for his knee"
Kind of like the warning shot that went sour.
WIN71 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:56 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.14699 seconds with 7 queries