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Old June 27, 2007, 08:02 PM   #1
Freakdaddy
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Head Shots

Since we've had a couple of threads lately on getting shot in the head and hostage situations, there is a question I have and hopefully someone can help.

Touching on the hostage situation, let's say the BG has a knife to the victims throat or a gun to the head (cocked revolver or pistol, probably DA) and you decide to take the head shot. I know the BG falling backwards in the knife situation will have a stronger possibility of cutting the victims throat but hopefully not too severe as there will be less force involved. But with the gun scenario, will the shock to the nervous system cause enough momentary muscle spasm that the finger could still fire the weapon? I know it is less of a chance with a DA pistol as the trigger pull is heavier but what about a cocked revolver or SA only pistol as it requires less pull? What if he is already exerting pressure on the trigger prior to head shot?

Thanks for any input.
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Old June 27, 2007, 08:46 PM   #2
David Armstrong
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In a nutshell, you don't know and can't predict what the result will be. Thus, the proper response is not to take the shot. Wait until a more favorable opportunity presents itself.
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Old June 27, 2007, 09:56 PM   #3
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+1 David. That is the very reason I'd hesitate to shoot somone with a hostage, no matter who they were.
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Old June 27, 2007, 10:57 PM   #4
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I was going to weigh in on this, but on second thought it is so dumb that I won't. Hollywood has already done this to death.(pun intended)
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Old June 27, 2007, 11:15 PM   #5
TWB
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With a handgun, this is a very touchy situation. Handguns are notorious for acting strangely in and around the skull. IF proper penetration and aim can be assured, the desired disconnect between the head and everything below can be achieved. (Maybe with one of those magical Nytrillium bullets.)

This kind of shot can be made with a decent caliber rifle, both from the increased accuracy angle, but also from the increased energy to plow reliably on a path directly through the brainstem.

A brainstem disconnect will do what is desired. Being there with the skill and power is the problem. Done correctly, there will be no twitches or other striated muscle tension.

I know that John Farnam has been looking into brainstem targeting, but I do not know if he has incorporated it into his training, or not.

Hits that do not disconnect the electrical system at the brainstem are a crapshoot. I've seen a few head shots with handguns, including one that was dead center between the eyebrows. This guy was walking around and talking to people like nothing had happened. The hole appeared to be about 9mm or .38 cal. Unfortunately, I never found out the actual path of the bullet. Others ceased conscious activity immediately, but not all of them.

Personally, I wouldn't risk it unless there was no doubt that the criminal planned to kill his hostage within the next few seconds.

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Old June 28, 2007, 06:43 AM   #6
chrisandclauida2
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lets say that the answers provided prove the huge lack of critical knowledge in this area.

there is but one off switch. it isnt the brain stem. medulla oblongata is the switch. a shot thru this about 2 inch round area will shut down a person. by shut down i mean everything shuts off the body goes limp and falls likes dead weight.

any other head shot will not have this effect. you might get this effect or you might get a spasm or tightening of muscles and if this happens then you get fists squeezing guns going off etc.

unless you hit the off switch you might not get any effect other than the physical movement from impact. the person may well die but ther could live and be fully functioning for seconds to hours.

this subject is often undiscussable because people preconceptions that head shot = dead causes them to argue or make stands that have no basis in fact but are fully based in movie magic.

the bottom line in all situations is there is only one shot that will shut a person down. it isnt a heart shot headshot or brain stem shot. while all these may very well kill there can be second to days where the one who is dieing can still kill others.

dont believe me what about the girl who just lived thru the separation of her brain stem to her cord. this kills 99.999999999999999999% instantly but she lived thru it and regained all feeling in her body.

99.99999999999% are outstanding odds but what if a cocked 1911 is pressed into your skull with a finger on the trigger. the sniper takes a shot and shoots a bit high and you dont get the instant kill or shut down. the guy tightens all his muscles from the trauma and bang goes the 1911. he dies within a minute or so and so do you.

head shots have the highest probability of one shot stops but only trained snipers or shooters who know anatomy and consistently shoot under moa can hit this almost automatically. there is still variables like the dead man hiccups or something and the sniper misses. or he is with some idiotic department using 556 as a sniper round or etc etc etc.

definitely a difficult shot. lots of us may be able to shoot under moa at 100 yards on paper all day but do it looking thru a scope at someone when you have 2 or more lives on the line.

trying this with a hand gun is lunacy. there are recorded instances where a hand gun made instant stop on hostage takers. usually these are short range where the shooter was able to get perfect position unknown to the hostage taker.

one instant i remember was a guy has a gun to a woman's head backing down a street. he had just killed someone else so time is a ticking. an officer snuck up behind a van. the guy backing down the street with a gun to the woman's head walked right to where the officer placed his 357 in the right ear and fired. the hostage taker never even knew what happened he is just instantly dead. the officer is a hero, a murderer and hostage taker is dead and the lady will never be the same but she is alive and thankful..

you can see how the hostage taker could have flinched and the lady would be injured or dead also and then everything is different.

i hope none of us have to be in a position to make this decision.
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Old June 28, 2007, 12:54 PM   #7
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Take the shot. If you have the ability. All of this speculation on what will happen is immaterial. The odds are just as good that the BG will not be able to complete his action as he will.

The reason that police don't shoot is because they control the situation. They set up perimeters, control access and communication. When was the last time you heard of a PD letting a hostage taker get away with a hostage?

As a civilian, you don't have the ability to control the situation other than to take the shot. The people I have seen shot IRL (all w/handguns), dropped like a sack of potatoes. The odds are in your favor that taking the shot will end the situation. They are not in your favor that the hostage taker will spare the hostage's life.
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Old June 28, 2007, 02:44 PM   #8
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There is no right answer, it all depends on circumstances.
If there is room for negotiation, then that is what I'll go for. If it is a family member and I absolutely can't allow them to be taken away, I might shoot. Terminal effects are variable...
But you can't have a blanket decision here and now in the comfort of an armchair.
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Old June 28, 2007, 02:59 PM   #9
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Reflexes do not depend on the brain stem at all.
They are strictly a sensory nerve to spinal cord insertion and back to muscle.
Want to find out if there is no reflex left?

Strictly a Hollywood shot.

One of the resaons for checking reflex response during a neuro exam is to see if the reflex is present, but also if the CNS inhibits the reflex correctly.
Without the inhibition of the reflex loop by the brain, reflexes apppear hyper-active.
The patella reflex, for example, becomes a large jerk of the entire lower leg instead of the typical small reaction that the brain inhibits quickly. Any defect in the cord (or higher) that slows or prevents the inhibition indicates a possible problem.
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Old June 28, 2007, 03:08 PM   #10
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Shoot the hiostage, then he has nothing on ya. 007 did it to his boss....

Lets all be miami vice crockets and shoot the guy in his head, I saw it on TV so it must be true.......

How could anyone shoot in the direction of a loved one? I am glad I will never have to face that. Anything else on TV today?
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Old June 28, 2007, 06:03 PM   #11
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One of the best tactics I have heard for this situation (IF it can be employed) is to begin circling the bg and the hostage. Circle clockwise if the weapon is in his right hand, . . . opposite if in the left.

Two things happen here, . . . you control him by making him move, . . . keeping him off balance to a certain degree. AND you buy time for the LEO's or other help to arrive.

A third thought also comes in, . . . three people are walking, hostage, bg, and good guy. No one can afford to look down to where their feet are going, . . . if it keeps up for any amount of time, . . . someone will trip and fall. Two out of three of them are the bg and the hostage, . . . allowing the good guy a good shot if he is ready for it.

On a personal note, . . . if the slug has taken my son or my wife or anyone I love hostage, . . . and I have my weapon, . . . he will not leave with them. Period.

That is a decision I made a long time ago, . . . and I have not changed my mind on it. I'll take the first good shot I get, . . . if it is less than 25 feet, . . . I only need half his head, a shoulder, a knee, a hip, . . . 230 grains of lead making a .45 hole somewhere in his body, . . . might distract him enough that we can end this here, . . . now. If not, . . . then he will just plain have to shoot me.

I've got 9 rounds to throw at him, . . . and I'll have a reload in my off hand if I can, . . . he just may get tired of trying to duck all of them.

May God bless,
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Old June 29, 2007, 11:24 AM   #12
David Armstrong
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Quote:
Take the shot. If you have the ability. All of this speculation on what will happen is immaterial. The odds are just as good that the BG will not be able to complete his action as he will.
Then why would your default be to take the shot? Given that you are postulating a 50% chane of failure in your actions, why go to that action if there are alternatives?
Quote:
The reason that police don't shoot is because they control the situation.
No, the reason police don't shoot is that it is rarely necessary to do so, and the odds of success are fairly low.
Quote:
The odds are in your favor that taking the shot will end the situation. They are not in your favor that the hostage taker will spare the hostage's life.
I'd love to see something that supports either of those conclusions, as they both contradict virtually everything I have seen, been taught, and found in my research, particularly the latter.
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Old June 30, 2007, 09:20 AM   #13
Brian@ITC
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IF you are able to make the shot and take the attacker immediately out of the fight, I don’t think that the knife will have enough pressure to cut someone’s throat unless it is razor sharp. What if the attacker were to move and lose their balance, would they cut the hostages throat then? So, moving around the HT and hostage could be a bad thing—agreed?

If they have a gun cocked to the hostages head and you shoot them, are you 100% SURE that you are going to kill them IMMEDIATELY? I am not convinced that most pistol rounds will IMMEDIATELY end the fight even with a head shot most of the time. I don’t know of any statistics that show this one way or the other.

Can you REALLY make the shot if the hostage is a loved one? That is a lot of pressure to deal with and making a head shot under that kind of stress may take a drastic toll on your shooting ability! And, let’s not forget that if the HT moves when you pull the trigger who knows WHO you are going to hit?

This is a very serious matter and no one can tell you what to do. It is based upon the circumstances and your ability to remain calm in the situation. Whatever decision you make, YOU are going to have to live with that decision for the rest of your life!

If you train your spouse on how to deal with someone who has a knife around her throat, there are things that she could do to help reduce the likelihood of the knife cutting her regardless. That would help you to eliminate one factor in the decision making process.
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Old June 30, 2007, 12:32 PM   #14
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Reminds me of a movie:

Harry: "Alright, pop quiz: The airport. Gunman with one hostage, he's using her for cover, he's almost to the plane. You're a hundred feet away. (Long pause) Jack?"
Jack: "Shoot the hostage.""
Harry: "What?"
Jack: "Take her out of the equation. Go for the good wound and he can't get to the plane with her. Clear shot"
Harry: "You are deeply nuts, you know that? 'Shoot the hostage'... jeez..."

From the original Speed film.
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Old June 30, 2007, 02:03 PM   #15
Brian@ITC
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That's funny because that is what I was thinking of when I replied. But I couldn't remember what movie it was from. It also depends on how you and the Mrs. are getting along that particular moment!
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Old July 1, 2007, 04:22 AM   #16
TWB
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brickeyee,

Which reflex arc are you talking about?

twb
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Old July 1, 2007, 05:33 AM   #17
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deleted

Last edited by TWB; July 1, 2007 at 05:36 AM. Reason: No need to discuss this further
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Old July 1, 2007, 05:35 AM   #18
chrisandclauida2
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if you want to see what happens when the off switch is hit watch this recent video of Darnell Wilson knocking out an opponent.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...arch&plindex=0

we have all seen when the lights dont completely go out and the person is fighting to avoid shutting down. this is the danger of a misplaced head shot.

when the off switch isnt instantly hit the shootee can still kill up untill he goes under.

a round to the medulla oblongata will have the effect the knockout punch did in the video. but not all head shots or brain trauma will have the same effect. like i have explained when the off switch is hit or like trauma occurs to the brain there is no spasms no clenching of the hands nothing but complete and instantaneous limpness and they cannot accidentally or purposefully cut a throat or pull a trigger. im not saying the trigger wont be pressed by the finger hitting something but that they couldn't press it even if they wanted to on purpose.
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Old July 1, 2007, 08:13 AM   #19
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Quote:
Two things happen here, . . . you control him by making him move, . . . keeping him off balance to a certain degree. AND you buy time for the LEO's or other help to arrive.
Yes, but at the same time, you are off balance, moving, and are unlikely to be able to make the perfectly aimed shot when needed.

Besides, with the exception of dramatic fiction on TV, just how many times have you seen a bad guy with a hostage you can just circle at your whim?

Quote:
A third thought also comes in, . . . three people are walking, hostage, bg, and good guy. No one can afford to look down to where their feet are going, . . . if it keeps up for any amount of time, . . . someone will trip and fall. Two out of three of them are the bg and the hostage, . . . allowing the good guy a good shot if he is ready for it.
So with 1/3 a chance that you go down and the bad guy then shoots you.
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Old July 1, 2007, 01:16 PM   #20
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Police tactics do not apply to civilians. The reason Police don't shoot IS because they control the situation. They secure the perimeter, which keeps the hostage taker from going anywhere, then they wear him down psychologically to get him to surrender. If someone is in your house with a family member hostage trying to leave, that is a totally different situation. I'd like to see evidence that supports the idea that letting a BG leave your house with a family member as hostage is wise.

You postulated 50% success rate from what I wrote. I postulated 100% when I wrote it. My point is that no one can tell you what will happen when you shoot someone anywhere, not just in the head. But, I would be willing to wager that fatal or not, the hostage taker will not be even thinking about shooting the hostage if you shot him in the head. His first thought will be the realization that you just shot him, at which point in time the second round would be hitting him.

No one can guarantee that the BG will kill the hostage or not if he leaves either. But you can guarantee that the hostage will now be left to his or her own devices and at the mercy of the BG's whim. For me, that is not acceptable. Having said that, I need to reiterate that if you don't know that you have the ability to make the shot, then don't.
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Old July 1, 2007, 02:33 PM   #21
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"...the hostage taker will not be even thinking about shooting the hostage if you shot him in the head."

The problem is that there can be any number of non-voluntary physical actions following a head shot, including contractions of muscle groups.
Want to find out if that includes pulling the trigger?

Exactly what will happen to the neurological system and the muscles is not consistent.
One of the signs of brain death is the 'cerebrate disconnect' posture.
The person looks like they have 'put there hands up' as they lie there.
Hands may be clenched, but not always.
It means the cortex is not in control anymore, but the muscles work just fine.

This is not directly applicable if you hit the medulla, but no doctor is going to place a bet on the immediate repsonse of the muscle groups in the body.
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Old July 1, 2007, 03:56 PM   #22
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The problem is that there can be any number of non-voluntary physical actions following a head shot, including contractions of muscle groups.
The problem is that you cannot predict what if any involuntary reactions will or will not occur. So, to base not taking the shot on that is no more supported by science than not. Although it would be interesting to see if there was any data to support it (actuall incidents, not extrapolation or theory). Assuming that the BG will pull the trigger is pure speculation and there is no way to determine if he can or will. However, what you can determine is that if you let the hostage taker leave, the situation is out of your control and the odds are against your loved one's survival.
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Old July 2, 2007, 10:37 AM   #23
brickeyee
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Uncontrolled contractions of muscle groups following CNS injury is pretty well documented.
The more powerful muscle group typically overcomes others and the movement occurs.
You are welcome to volunteer for either position in the experiment.

Allowing a hostage taker to leave is a different issue.
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Old July 2, 2007, 10:53 AM   #24
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My point is that you cannot predict what if any contractions or any other reaction will occur. Not that they don't or cannot. You don't know if they are going to drop like a sack of potatoes or flop like a fish. What I disagree with is the implication that if you shoot them they will pull the trigger. Your previous post summed it up well:
Quote:
but no doctor is going to place a bet on the immediate repsonse of the muscle groups in the body.
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Old July 2, 2007, 01:24 PM   #25
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Personally....knowing the human nature of the trash that has his arm around my loved one's neck and a knife to their throat....I would take the shot to the face.

I am going to guess that there is a 95% chance the BG will kill the hostage if I do nothing. I will take my chances that a good shot to the forehead will change his way of thinking and in my mind there is less of a chance that my loved one will be hurt by some muscle twitch than by his free will.

I think that reasoning with the guy in a calm manner and saying "if you put down the knife and don't harm ____ I will let you leave...I don't want to shoot you or anyone else". However, you aren't leaving with ______". I think that MOST bad guys will take the easy way out and drop the knife. After they did, I would shoot him several times for spite.

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