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Old September 4, 2007, 10:23 AM   #1
Hard Ball
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Average Civilian Gunfight Range

I am trying to determine the average civilian (not military) gunfight range. I find most views fall into three groups
o 3 feet
o 3 yards
o 7 yards
There seems to be general agreement that the time averages 3 seconds
Since the range would hace a significant impact on tactics, techniques and equipment choices I would loke to know the correct answer and the data which backs it up.
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Old September 4, 2007, 10:35 AM   #2
ZeSpectre
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Usually...

1) Contact or a few inches
2) 3-6 ft
3) then it jumps out to 15 to 30+ feet (this was very rare by comparison)

Quote:
the data which backs it up.
Personal experience from my previous LEO work "back in the day"
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Old September 4, 2007, 10:40 AM   #3
PPGMD
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Actually this extends to many police gun fights.

The Rule of 3:
3 Seconds
3 Yards
3 Shots

90% of all gun fights in the civilian and law enforcement world occur at 3 yards or less, and 80% of those happen at a range of one yard or less.
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Old September 4, 2007, 10:42 AM   #4
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The exact information is here -

New York Police Report

Personally, I think a better generalization would be: 3 shots, fired in less than 3 seconds, from inside 7 1/2 yards. Consequently I regularly practice at 10 to 12 yards because I feel this gives me an edge.

Relevant Questions: (1) Who fired those 3 shots? Answer: Hopefully the good guy! (2) Why just 3 seconds? Answer: 3 seconds is a very long time in a CQB gunfight. 3) What distance? Answer: You're going to be very close. Many guns are drawn by bad guys at what amounts to knifefighting distances.

Ironically, if you read this report carefully, you will notice that the rules-of-engagement for law enforcement are NOT identical to the legal requirements placed on civilians: e.g., an officer may draw in anticipation of deadly force being used against him, but a citizen often may not.
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Old September 4, 2007, 04:05 PM   #5
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There is no central database of that type of information involving civilian shootings. The links and the FBI UCR deals with LE shootings. I am in the process of compiling some of the data for a project I am working on. Here is some of the data provided to me by L.E.A.'s:
Distance is usually 6 feet or less (one agency said they had no record of a civilian shooting occuring at more than 21 feet).
70% happen in the home
80% in low light or darkness
45% 1st shot hits


Most of the statistics people toss around come from sources that are covering Law Enforcement shootings.

It is a safe bet that most occur at 21 feet or less. The time will be different depending on how you measure it. Number of rounds fired I am guessing will be in the neighborhood of 2-3.


Based on what I have seen, the single most important skill to develop as a civilian is the ability to hit the target quickly.

Quote:
an officer may draw in anticipation of deadly force being used against him, but a citizen often may not.
In most states that is not true. You can draw your weapon at the point where you feel your life is in danger. You do not have to wait until the last second. If someone threatens you with deadly force (in most states) you would be well within your rights to either put your hand on or draw your weapon. The most important thing to do is KNOW YOUR STATE'S LAWS!
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Old September 4, 2007, 04:46 PM   #6
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Average is just that, an average from whatever available data they have.

Sure most are closer range as usually someone is robbing you or such. But I would not take it to far as for what 'average' means.
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Old September 4, 2007, 06:39 PM   #7
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In most states that is not true. You can draw your weapon at the point where you feel your life is in danger. You do not have to wait until the last second. If someone threatens you with deadly force (in most states) you would be well within your rights to either put your hand on or draw your weapon. The most important thing to do is KNOW YOUR STATE'S LAWS!
Naaa … You’re being way too overly simplistic. Over the years I've read dozens, if not hundreds of reports, on civilians drawing guns that contradict the altruistic tone of this statement. Just the term, 'brandishing' covers a multitude of ambiguous definitions. I wish the above statement were true; but, realistically, it is not.

One story that stands out in my mind is a case reported in Combat Handguns magazine about a group of teenagers who tried to rob a man outside a convenience store. The guy pulled a gun on them; they backed off; and, then, called the police, themselves, to report a, 'man with a gun'.

Guess who got hassled?

It's typical for the police to, 'strenuously interview' anyone who draws or displays a gun. You may know you're threatened; you may know you're in trouble; explaining things to the police (or, perhaps, the county prosecutor) afterwards is an entirely different matter.

Less than a year ago one of my 60 + year old (and not so clever) neighbors used a 22 caliber rifle to stop 3 teenagers from burning down an abandoned building on his property. With the fire already lit, he held them at gunpoint until the police arrived. Guess who got a summons for - not arson, but - trespassing, and who went off to jail in handcuffs - charged with, 'threatening' and improper use of a firearm?

Go ahead, just guess!

I didn't create this situation; I just have to live with it. Police officers are trained not to like guns or anyone who uses them. Unless you've got a, 'Philadelphia lawyer' at your elbow, be very chary about drawing a pistol - even under the most justified of circumstances. Personally, were I to be confronted by a crook who decided to back-off once he realized that I was armed, then, as far as I'm concerned, he's free to go.

If the bum should scurry on down the road and rob or even kill someone else, well, that's NOT my problem. Go ahead and tell it to the Clintons, if you like; maybe, one of them will step forward to correct the situation! (Ya think?)

There was a fellow from Philadelphia who posted on GT that he left his carry piece locked in the glove box of his car because he didn’t want to go into a nightclub armed. His car got stolen, and the gun along with it. Guess who, in spite of hiring a lawyer and making several appeals, ended up getting his CHL yanked for, what may be, life?

Go ahead, take another wild and crazy guess!

Me and mine aren't, 'junior rangers' with handguns. Why should I front $7,000 to $10,000 in legal expenses in order to corral some bad guy and make the world a better place for all mankind? What protection do I have against some official dork like, 'Captain Jenkins' showing up as the responding officer or from either one of the extremely aggressive and entirely politically correct county prosecutors whom I've known?

10 years of reading, 'It Happened To Me' in Combat Handguns have convinced me that any police officer responding to a, 'gun call' isn't coming there as my friend - and it doesn't matter how justified I might have been at the moment I pulled my piece.

(Which reminds me: This is exactly, 'How' I got into Glocks. A friend pointed out to me that if I ever had to use one of my Colt Series 70's in order to defend myself - right or wrong - away it was going to go into a cold, dark, (and, perhaps, damp) police evidence locker where it might reside, un:maintained, for the next 2 or 3 years!)

My personal conclusion? Yes, I carry a gun. I, also, know my state's firearm laws far better than most. Still, I'm very careful and very chary about when or where I'm even going to show - let alone use - a firearm. There's a whole crap-pile of politically correct, legal antipathy just waiting for any CCW holder who even comes close to crossing any of the numerous - often vague and ambiguous - legal parameters regarding guns and the legal use of deadly force.

This said, everyone else is welcome to proceed in whatever fashion they think best.
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Last edited by Night Watch; September 5, 2007 at 07:14 AM.
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Old September 4, 2007, 06:56 PM   #8
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uhhhh...

...I don't see a connection between this report and non-leo gunfights at all...This is from the NYPD...Isn't it a little unusual to carry a handgun in NYC?
There may be some stats somewhere but unless those are based on other states, it's got to be a bit off...for the rest of us...
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Old September 4, 2007, 08:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Based on what I have seen, the single most important skill to develop as a civilian is the ability to hit the target quickly.
This definitely makes a lot of sense to me. I would also add that its important to be able to place a number of rounds on your target, accurately and very rapidly because of the often times ineffectiveness of handgun rounds.

Im not trying to divert the thread off topic...but this got me thinking a bit....
with in these kinds of distances (7 yards or less), retention would be a big issue as well as being able to present your weapon quckly. I dont often hear about CCW holders stressing the importance of have a quickly accessible weapon. A relatively fast draw from concealment is about a second and if you add to that a sticky, IWB leather holster, an untucked shirt, and a jacket, your going to be closer to a 2 second draw which is a liability in a close in fight. I would say to have the best chance of being effective you would want a kydex OWB holster and some type of open front vest or shirt, similar to the 5.11 vest thats common in IDPA to get the weapon deployed quickly. Of course you wouldn't want it to be obvious to everyone around you that your armed, but wouldn't you want the scale tipped a bit in favor of speed as oppose to comfort / max concealment? Just a thought......
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Old September 4, 2007, 08:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
...I don't see a connection between this report and non-leo gunfights at all...This is from the NYPD...Isn't it a little unusual to carry a handgun in NYC? There may be some stats somewhere but unless those are based on other states, it's got to be a bit off ... for the rest of us ...
That's because there is NO DIRECT CONNECTION between the information the OP has requested and any of the more common sources for this sort of data. The best information available must be extracted from either the FBI or NYC gunfighting statistics.

If you'd been paying attention, you would have realized this! As Lurper mentioned:

Quote:
There is no central database of that type of information involving civilian shootings. The links and the FBI UCR deals with LE shootings. I am in the process of compiling some of the data for a project I am working on. Here is some of the data provided to me by L.E.A.'s:
Did ya get it that time?

Hard Ball, I'll suggest a possible source of relevant information for you: Your own television set! All ya have to do is watch those convenience and jewelry store security tapes in order to see that crooks are pulling their guns from very close range - Certainly from within 7 1/2 yards.

Again, you're going to have to extrapolate; but, here are two reports you should be able to glean useful information from:

http://www.fbi.gov/publications/leb/...jan2007leb.htm

http://www.policeone.com/writers/col...icles/1243754/

That's it! This is the best I can do for ya!
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Old September 4, 2007, 08:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Naaa … You’re being way too overly simplistic. Over the years I've read dozens, if not hundreds of reports, on civilians drawing guns that contradict the altruistic tone of this statement. Just the term, 'brandishing' covers a multitude of ambiguous definitions. I wish the above statement were true; but, realistically, it is not.
Again, not true depending on the state. Brandishing is in no way meant to hinder a law abiding citizen's right to defend themselves. One can always use a statistical outlyer as an example, but they are just that - outlyers, not the norm. There are as many cited examples of citizens using firearms to stop crimes (ever read The Armed Citizen?). Also, as I said it varies from state to state and municipality to municipality even. Typically what happens is that the citizen resorts to using a gun before they feel that their life is threatened (in other words, they jump the gun no pun intended). Some pull a gun with the idea of scaring someone. That is improper use. The proper response should always be: I was in fear of death or serious bodily injury and I'd like to speak to an attorney before answering any more questions.
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Old September 4, 2007, 08:24 PM   #12
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I suspect there is no data on "civilian" gunfights (no LEO involved) for the simple reason that there are very, very few, and even fewer involving an "honest citizen" defending himself/herself with a gun outside the home.

Most "civilian gunfights" get reported under headlines like, "Two shot in argument outside nightclub" or "Drugs believed a factor in shooting." I doubt anyone keeps statistics on range, weapon, draw time, etc.

Jim
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Old September 4, 2007, 09:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
There are as many cited examples of citizens using firearms to stop crimes (ever read The Armed Citizen?). Also, as I said it varies from state to state and municipality to municipality even.
Wow, hot topic! Yes, I've read, 'The Armed Citizen'. I'm, also, aware that these extraordinarily favorable reports are at variance with numerous other news media accounts. Obviously, they are gleaned from a large variety of other incidents where things didn't turn out so well for the shooter.

I'll agree that, 'things', very well, might vary from area to area - Just as they do within the same area from incident to incident; but, I continue to stand behind everything else I've said. So far nothing I've read, yet, has caused me to change my mind about the turbulent socio-political situation that is attached to, as well as the extreme caution that needs to go along with carrying a gun for SD.

Anyway, back to the original topic: Data is usually collected in order to serve some sort of useful purpose. I'm wondering, 'What' the OP's purpose is in seeking out this information?
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Old September 4, 2007, 10:07 PM   #14
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Average? Probably damn close...

But it's still a good idea to practice shooting at longer ranges if for no other reason than it shows flaws in technique. Bad form could result in a hit only an inch or two off your point of aim at three yards, but let me tell you, it will be a lot more than that at 25 yards.
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Old September 4, 2007, 10:57 PM   #15
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This one made me think a little, and I'm not sure the topic is easily defined.

There were the two fellas shooting at each other around a sofa; one with a .380 and the other with a sawed-off 12 gauge. Shotgun boy hit the other fella in the chops with a load of birdshot, but .380 boy also shot him through the ankles and knees after he fell. Both decided it was no fun and called a ceasefire to await paramedics, and of course, us; the fuzz. Both lived to engage in other silliness, not involving gunfire, later.

Then there was the property-line war; Party A nicked Party B with an '06 at about 40 yards, but Party B laid in wait with a .357 Blackhawk and nicked Party A a whole bunch, including a reload. He started at about 20 yards and finished at powder burn distance.

Of course there was the idiot that shot up his girlfriend's folk's house with a .22, and then kicked the door in and tried to charge upstairs and take her by force. Dad caught him in the crotch with a load of #6's at the bottom of the stairs, effectively ending both his ascent and his interest in the disputed daughter. He didn't die either, but probably wished he had.

Two characters who we had numerous run-ins with met in a big city park, and shot it out with .380's and 9mm's. Range looked to be about 15 yards between the corpses. The 9mm guy apparently landed hits first, but both lost anyhow.

Another set of antagonists evidently stumbled onto each other while hunting, and #1 shot #2 with yet another 12 gauge. loaded witn #8's, at about 35 yards. It was a tight-choked 870 and the shootee nearly died, but not before emptying a Marlin Model 60 into his tormentor. He died right there.

These are five I can remember off the top of my head. Lessons?

Longuns, when available, showed up in a number of shootings. They were not always weilded by winners. Ranges varied from spitting distance to about 50 yards. Close events were often preceded by physical contact. The first good hits were usually landed by the winners, although bad luck and only moderate shooting skills occasionally dictated that there were no winners at all. Much the same can be said for 'determination'; it either carried the day or kept someone in the fight until their luck ran out.

For my own purposes I have determined to be proficient with a heavy handgun to not less than 50 yards, without forfeiting speed at contact distance. I'll take a long gun, in addition to a good handgun, anytime one is available. I note that moving targets stand a better chance of avoiding fatal wounds, but not avoiding wounds, fatal or otherwise, altogether. Cover before the fight starts seems to be a solid advantage.

Oh, and yes- avoid getting shot in the face or crotch with a shotgun, whenever possible. You might not die- and that might be the worst of your luck. In fact, avoid gunfights whenever possible. You have to be 'good'; the other guy only has to be lucky.

PS- This pertains to "Civilian Gunfights", not necessarily defensive shootings, per the original inquiry.
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Last edited by Sarge; September 4, 2007 at 11:08 PM. Reason: per topic
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Old September 5, 2007, 08:45 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by invssgt
Long guns, when available, showed up in a number of shootings. They were not always wielded by winners. Ranges varied from spitting distance to about 50 yards. Close events were often preceded by physical contact. The first good hits were usually landed by the winners, although bad luck and only moderate shooting skills occasionally dictated that there were no winners at all. Much the same can be said for 'determination'; it either carried the day or kept someone in the fight until their luck ran out.
Interesting! (And from the real world, too) Is it correct to conclude that a majority of civilian gunfights happen indoors? It appears this way.

Whenever a gunfight begins indoors, the range seems to be between contact distance and 7 1/2 yards - with the closer distances predominating. The statement; 'The first good hits were usually landed by the winners, although bad luck and only moderate shooting skills occasionally dictated that there were no winners at all.' is a truism that may be applied to a great many violent, gun encounters.

I’ll agree that you need to be fast; and, contrary to what I’ve been taught about handguns all my life, there might actually be an advantage to beginning to fire as soon as the barrel is pointed and level, and before your sights are perfectly lined up. ‘Throwing one downrange’, as they say!

Inside 7 1/2 yards I see no advantage in attempting to acquire cover. It appears to me that, at such close range, your best cover is a, ‘line of flying lead’. Consequently, I would be willing to let one or two go before the sight picture is fully acquired. I’ve practiced this a little; in the future I’m going to practice it more. (This behavior agrees with comments repeated in, ‘Force Science News’ about how violent criminals manage to successfully use handguns without a great deal of training.)

One of the really interesting observations in the above comments is the fact that when outdoors, civilians tended to begin firing from distances no greater than 30-40 yards! Again, the engagement distance is very close! Where long guns were involved, this demonstrated need to get in close isn’t really indicative of an experienced, ‘rifleman's mentality’. An experienced rifleman will tend to standoff and work from cover, but, not these guys. They really do seem to need to, 'have at' each other!

Once again, an angry, largely undisciplined, personal motivation seems to predominate. In a sense, this motivation is just as: belligerent, anti-social, and up close and personal as what is demonstrated in the indoor events.

'Undisciplined' is a word that stays in mind. Whether inside or out, I have to suspect that intense personal anger, as well as a lack of training – or, at least, weapon familiarity – encourages engagement at these very short distances. What's more, one form or another of, belligerent, ‘ego confrontation’ always seems to be a factor.

‘You have to be, 'good'; the other guy only has to be lucky.’ Yeah, this comment says, ‘reams’ about the necessity to tighten up on your own mental attitude and the acute necessity to focus before events kickoff. In one brief remark: Getting caught, ‘flat-footed’ is the biggest mistake. You really do need to be able to see it coming!

Thanks! Good post. I actually learned something.





PS: Did you notice this footer in the Force Science Report -

Force Science Electronic Newsletter
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Old September 6, 2007, 12:26 PM   #17
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Quote:
"Based on what I have seen, the single most important skill to develop as a civilian is the ability to hit the target quickly. "

+5! At these ranges the ability to draw and hit as fast as possible is absolutely critical.
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Old September 10, 2007, 06:39 AM   #18
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Over the years, I've learned that the people who win gunfights and armed combat are those who have FORETHOUGHT. In other words, those who plan ahead for different situations which may occur will win. These people know that if Joe Dirtbag shows up and kicks in the door to their home that they will implement a prescribed plan of action. They also plan to be more effective with their firearms. If I have a guy come towards my house with a knife in hand, I'll draw down on him with a pistol. If I see him coming at me with a handgun, I'll use either my shotgun or a rifle to thwart his actions. These same people also very frequently practice their shooting techniques with the firearms that they will be using in times of danger. So, forethought, practice and, when possible, tactical training will see you through most times of trouble.
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Old September 14, 2007, 05:16 PM   #19
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I'm not concearned about how accurate a shot I am at 25 yds. When I go to the range I practice at 21-25 feet. I live in the inner city, and I doubt that if I had to draw down on someone (God forbid) it would be at 25 yards. I practice shooting w/open sights before sight picture is acquired, with sight picture acquired, and with TLR-2 Laser before and after sight picture acquired. If someone broke into my home, approached me in a parking lot, etc. I wouldn't be defending myself or my family at that distance either. Practicing at that distance is fun and has its benefits. I just don't think its practical for my situation.
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Old September 24, 2007, 11:38 AM   #20
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Thanks all for your inputs.
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Old September 24, 2007, 08:46 PM   #21
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"Based on what I have seen, the single most important skill to develop as a civilian is the ability to hit the target quickly"

I personally think avoidance, followed by the nike defense are #'s 1 and 2

Feel free to chime in with how I am a hopeless coward afraid to get shot to heck to bolster my manhood

Seriously...situational awareness is key

When that fails, you need the skills to "make some space" and often times you will not have the luxury of drawing your weapon. Those that advocate chamber empty may find it difficult to chamber a round while delivering a palm strike with their weak hand.

Stats are fun...but be careful or you will notice most altercations are over when a weapon is produced which could lead you to surmise that a rubber gun will work just fine

The real world is neither the square range...nor the OK corral

You need to be able to deploy your weapon in all sorts of unorthodox positions

And you need to have a plan for those situations where you do not have time to "go fer yer gun"
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Old October 2, 2007, 05:14 PM   #22
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"the nike defense are #'s 1 and 2"

1)At 3 to 7 yards you seldom have time to run away.

2)You need to be able to deploy your weapon in all sorts of unorthodox positions

Yes, that's good advice
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Old October 2, 2007, 06:52 PM   #23
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I'll chime in, usually I stay out of these things but...

Most civilian shootings also involve people who know each other. Two friends, a relative, a brother in law, etc. This is why...

Quote:
70% happen in the home
Home invasions, break-ins while folks are in the house, etc. are fairly rare. Most of the time it's your Uncle Festus who gets drunk at the family get together and starts an argument, when you go to throw him out he refuses and wants to fight. The guy what used to go out with your sister and shows up to have it out with her and her new beau, etc. Most can be avoided without gunplay.

The following are four incidents that happened within a mile of my house over the last 8 months. 3 within 2 blocks.

A man borrowed $300. dollars from a co-worker so that he could buy a gun to defend himself from his brother in law. The man than did not repay the co-worker on the appointed date. A few weeks went by and the co-worker complained and groused that he needed the money please pay me back at least some he said. The fella said I'll meet you at your place. At 8 pm on a Friday night he showed up and met the co-worker on the stairs of his apartment. He walked up to his friend who he owed money to, called his name pulled the gun he had bought with borrowed money from his pocket and shot him 3 times in the chest at handshake distance. The man died and the shooter fled the state. Not found yet though folks know his name, where he worked and lived.

At a local bar/restaurant two men on the crowed patio pulled their guns and got to shooting at each other, a dispute over a woman. The fight started at handshake distance and went running till one escaped the patio, about 10 yards. One shooter was hit once and drove himself to a hospitol. The other was hit in the leg. Two bystanders were killed including an 18 year old there with his family celebrating his birthday. Both shooters are faceing trial.

A group of youth from outside my neighborhood were visiting a friend and got into an argument were one of the local guys mother's car was damaged. The young man, 15 yrs. old, who lives a block and a half from me, than called some of his friends from across the bay to come over with their gun. They did. He met them. He did a drive by at 11am on a Sat. morning on the street where he lives shooting one of the visiting youth in the hand and thigh distance about 15 yards. The cops arrested him at his kitchen table about an hour later where his mother was berating him and he was crying. He's in Juve.

A fella in his 30s walked into the corner store which is run by my neighbors. He waited till the 16 year old son was alone minding the store. He was carrying a paper bag. He walked up to the counter pulled the gun told the kid to hand over the money. My friend said no. He hit him over the head with a revolver. He hit him a couple of times my friend opened the register and the thief took 60.00 bucks. He hit my friend again and knocked him down. Standing over him he pointed the gun at him and pulled the trigger. Misfire. "God don't want you dead today" he told my friend and left running. I nicknamed him "HardHead".

Only one of these was actually a gunfight. But for the most part no seperate statistics are kept on gunfights. They are listed as shootings and statistics are sometimes kept on them, sometimes not. Reports are not always accurate.

Often when folks anticipate gunplay and come up with scenarios in their minds, preplanning so to speak, it is actually for the least likely scenarios. A woman being shot by a boyfriend, husband or an ex is way more likely than an attack by a total stranger, for example.

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Old October 5, 2007, 02:17 PM   #24
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in regards to SD shootings.

im just curious if the ranges are typically closer with LEO because they're are pro-active....its basically their job to "get involved".

unlike a civilian than may be forced to defend themselves,who would typically be trying to remove themselves from the situation.
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Old October 5, 2007, 02:41 PM   #25
James K
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Join Date: March 17, 1999
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"...when outdoors, civilians tended to begin firing from distances no greater than 30-40 yards!"

30-40 yards! Even drive-bys are closer than that. I find it hard to visualize a case of self defense at 40 yards, simply because at that distance it would be hard in most cases to determine that a threat exists. Unless the shooter knows his opponent, and knows there is immediate danger, I can't see how he could justifiably fire. Maybe it is just my old eyes, but I can't tell the difference between a pistol and a cell phone at 40 yards, and I don't think the cops would like me to blow away folks who are chatting on their phones (although I admit I have sometimes considered it).

I suppose someone can offer another view, but gunfight ranges, in my limited experience, seldom exceed 10 yards, and 3-4 feet would be right for 80% of them. There are exceptions - the Texas Tower killer, for example. But those are not the norm and I don't know of any police department that trains its patrol officers at those ranges. Snipers certainly work at those ranges, but I am not sure that is a gunfight and I don't know of a "civilian" gunfight at over a hundred yards.

Incidentally, I knew one of the two men who got into a gunfight (over a woman) and shot each other. The one I knew had a .45 auto, the other had a .44 Magnum. The man shot with the .45 died instantly from one shot; the man I knew was hit once with a .44 slug and died two days later. I don't know any other details, but the range was about five feet, across a bar-room table. One report said the woman ordered another beer.

Jim
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