View Full Version : CCW on the Streets - When to Use Deadly Force?

Little Wolf
March 20, 2006, 04:02 PM
A question for those of you who CCW in regards to the use of deadly force, and when it is justified (give both your point of justification, as well as your state’s if the two differ).

Obviously, there are certain givens in terms of when one should use deadly force, when it is more or less cut and dry. Those being when your life, or the life of a family member, is clearly in danger with no hope to escape or evade the situation.

Something like an armed assault by an mugger, rapist, murderer, etc.

However, there are certain situations where the line may not be as clearly drawn, mostly this is due to situations dealing with unarmed (or seemingly unarmed) individuals posing aggression.

I am posing the following scenarios for you readers to ponder over. These are very likely to happen, actually much more likely than being confronted by an armed aggressor so it is imperative to know how one might deal with such a potential encounter/situation. When would it be justified to pull your weapon in self defense? I know many of you will have different responses to different scenarios because in some states you can only use force on force, while it is not so cut and dried in other cases. So read the following situations as if they were occurring to you right now, and tell us how you would deal with the threats.

Scenario #1.

For instance, saw you are in a bar, on the street, or in a store, etc. and some individual storms up to you angrily gets in your face, nose to nose, and screams about how he is going to kick your ass if you don't back down, leave, etc. from the bar, store, or other premises etc.

What do you do?

A.) Tell him to stop as you see him storming over to you, and pull your weapon if he fails to comply within a certain number of feet?

B.) Back down, take your belongings/friend/girlfriend and comply with his wishes to leave, etc.

C.) Warn him to get back when he gets in your face, while backing up yourself. If he continues to advance pull your weapon.

D.) Stand your ground, and get ready to engage in a (supposed) fist fight if he decides to assault you.

E.) Some other answer.

Is the individual armed? Knife, gun, beer bottle, etc that he will pull on you at any moment? Maybe he just wants to fight you hand to hand? You can not know, but being unable or able to know in regards to this hostile individual, does it change the way you react?

Scenario #2.

Similar to scenario #1, but instead the individual comes up to you and slugs you in the face (or misses if you evade the blow). What do you do?

A.) Try to return blows/engage in a fist fight?

B.) Pull your weapon?

C.) Back up while warning him to stop, then pull your weapon if he fails to comply.

D.) Try to run away/escape. (D. part 2: say you are with family/significant other, and you can’t just abandon them, what do you do?)

E.) Some other alternative?

Finally, Scenario #3.

A group of individuals approaches you, maybe trying to surround/corner you (would that change your answer or not), while talking nastiness about you. Do you….

A.) Pull your weapon

B.) Tell them to back up and disperse, the pull your weapon if they ask why, or persist in approach?

C.) Try to run (If you are not being cornered/surrounded).

D.) Stand your ground and see what happens.

E.) Some other answer?

I am looking forward to seeing what my fellow TFL’ers would do in such situations/scenarios. Knowing what you should do in given situations before hand will make you more likely to react the correct and proper way without having to act on impulse at the time of the event, and to avoid feeling regret for anything that may happen afterward.

March 20, 2006, 04:08 PM
Find the applicable laws pertaining to the use of deadly force in the criminal statues in whatever state you reside in. That is a responsibility that goes with CCW.

If you don't understand their meaning - go to your County attorney or DA and have them explained to you.


Little Wolf
March 20, 2006, 04:14 PM
I'm not asking what the state laws say, I am asking what would YOU specifically do in those following situations. Ever heard the old saying it's better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6? Sometimes playing it point by point according to a certain state law can be hazardess to your health, esp in an authoritarian state. Self defense is a natural right, so I want to see how people will react when their is the one on the line.

Zak Smith
March 20, 2006, 04:27 PM
A person generally has the right - legally and morally - to use lethal force in self-defense when the assailent has the opportunity, means, and intent to cause death or grave bodily injury. Anyone interested in self-preservation (and preservation of loved ones, etc) needs to be committed to avoidance and de-escalation, even moreso for CCW-ers. Someone yelling insults is not an attack.

Baba Louie
March 20, 2006, 04:54 PM
Use of lethal force is justified ONLY when lethal force is being used (or is about to be used) against you.

Scenario 1: (let me offer this first... I no longer hang out in bars, thus eliminating one possible area of befuddled angst) Retreat while telling him to stop, endure the verbal assault, walk away, etc. Watch his hands, his eyes. But leave when possible.

Scenario 2: retreat all the while telling him to stop. I know that one man can kill another with fist/feet, but no lethal force has yet been used... maybe. How big is he? How young? How strong? Is he stoned or on drugs? Can I (age 51, bad back) still retreat and resist the onslaught?
This may sound stupid or wimpy to some, but if I'm carrying and have to endure some embarrassing bloody nose or rude language in order to get back home (relatively) safe and sound, so be it.

Scenario 3: A gang... this changes things drastically. Something about a difference in force. Not too many 51 yr. old men with bad backs hang out in gangs and surround or cut off your retreat for a friendly chat. I cannot retreat? They are advancing issuing threats? Hmmm. Let me think.

In our CCW class regarding lethal force (LF) we were taught, BG must have Ability (A) to use LF, Opportunity (O) to use LF and must be placing me (or mine) in Jeopardy (J) though his use or imminent use of LF. If A, O & J are present and I cannot retreat, it's going to get real nasty, real quick. At that point, I'm not going to be thinking about the DA's charity in determining if it is justifiable. I'm going to defend myself.

In each scenario, I AM going to notify the police RFN about the person(s) who assaulted me. If they'll do that to me, they'll do it to anyone and might need to discuss their behavior with an LEO as they might be breaking a law or two.


March 20, 2006, 05:55 PM
Baba Louie just about sums it up good: just a few extra comments, though.

(Footnote: no CCW in Ohio in a bar or other establishment serving alcohol)

#1: take the indignation and leave

#3: back up to a wall, . . . (run if necessary), . . . unholster and present toward the face of the biggest and loudest mouth, . . . if that doesn't stop the action, . . . bang, bang!

#2: can be tricky, . . . yeah, take one bloody nose home, . . . but, if I go to the ground and see a foot coming toward me, . . . lead is going toward him/her.

The whole thing swings on the perception of the shooter and his/her ability to convince the LEO, DA, jury that the perception of immediate threat to life and limb was real and imminent.

I have walked away from more fights than I have walked through, . . . a little humiliation ain't no big deal, . . . considering that the bg will most likely in the forseeable future come up against someone who will clean his clock better than I could have.

May God bless,

March 21, 2006, 07:34 AM
Here's my responses which I believe are within the law in my state as best I can determine:

Scenario #1 - Leave or ignore the person depending on the circumstances of whether they have the right to tell me to leave. If they continue, call 911.

Scenario #2 - Hand on gun in holster, clear any clothing that covers my handgun, break the thumb break, back away and tell them to leave you alone, call 911. If the person makes any more aggressive moves toward me I'll draw and defend myself appropriately.

Scenario #3 - Again, same preparedness as scenario #2, tell them to back off and I will move so that they are all in front of me. If I can leave, I will do so. If I can't leave, call 911.

As far as I can tell scenario #2 is the only one in which there has been any level of actual physical threat. In my state the self defense standards involve a "reasonable" perception that one's life is in danger or there is a possibility of grave physical harm. I think it would be hard to sell the idea that a verbal confrontation meets that criteria, or that simple intimidation by a group of thugs does either. They might come close, but no physical violence has yet been demonstrated. That's not the case with #2, therefore I'll be more committed to draw and fire based on their demonstration that they are prepared to use physical violence on me.

The only way I might be "testing" the law is in the area of brandishing. Ideally in scenarios #2 and #3 I'm going to keep my holster side turned away from the threat, and I don't see actually pulling the gun from it's holster in either of those cases, but my gun (in it's holster) will be visible if someone were standing behind me and possibly to my assailant(s) depending on their position. Since there's no open carry in this state it could possibly be considered brandishing to do so, but I see no other way to be prepared to act quickly if the situation escalates. I'll take my chances in court on that one I suppose.

March 21, 2006, 10:03 AM
Scenario 2 is the only one I have a big issue with.

Do you routinely walk up and slug other people in the face? If not, why not?

I don't. For a lot of reasons. But one of them is that there is no way to know whether that slug will KILL them. It is possible. It has happened.

I therefore consider a slug in the face to be use of deadly force. While some may debate that, I also consider it evidence that I can't predict what might happen next (because I couldn't predict the slug). That puts me in fear for my life in any but the most obvious circumstance (small, wheelchair-bound slugger).

If I'm standing there and suddenly I get an out-of-the-blue slug in the face, I better not see ANY evidence that the attack is continuing.

There is a high probability that I will shoot somebody who slugs me in the face. I will NOT pull my gun to intimidate. I will NOT start slugging back. Both of these are ways to escalate from an unknown threat to my life to a definite threat to my life. Both of these can result in my gun being taken from me. Put those together and they are not good.

If it is EASILY possible, that is to say, if I KNOW I can successfully do so, I will retreat.

If I am with somebody I care about who cannot independently retreat, I will shoot.

I think this reaction will cost me $50,000, but I will not end up in jail.

Conversations with my lawyer suggest that there's a very bright line called "laying on of hands". Once that line is crossed, things change dramatically both civilly and criminally.

Al Norris
March 21, 2006, 10:08 AM
This is not so much as a legal question as it is a tactics question.

Moved to T&T.

Baba Louie
March 21, 2006, 10:53 AM
One thing I failed to mention earlier...

When you do CCW, you MUST be AWARE of your surroundings, place, people, avenue(s) of exit, etc.

Constantly on guard. Always looking for a way out of, or a way to avoid trouble. Sometimes, I guess, trouble does "just" happen, but I've been told, you can almost always see it coming, if your "radar" (JDLR... just doesn't look right) is on and tuned up.

This means "people watching", rubber necking, Condition Yellow, whatever you want to call it.

I did a "ride-along" with LVMetroPD years ago and it amazed me how Cops who've been on the street for awhile have developed this sense (JDLR).
The man who taught the CCW class worked with the local Police Depts and emphasized repeatedly to avoid trouble spots, BUT, to also look at the world as tho' YOU are a bad guy looking for a victim... once in awhile, to keep your senses tuned. To play "What If" by yourself...

It is amazing to see 99% of the people around you in Condition "Blithering Idiot" White.

Or maybe it's an "ignoranct, innocence is bliss", good thing, for most people will never have anything horrific happen to them.

All it takes is one happenstance.

(again, I know that you who DO CCW are aware of all this. this is for those who lurk and wonder WHY we're so "Paranoid"... or is it "Prepared"?)

March 21, 2006, 10:56 AM
I'll know it when I see it.

March 21, 2006, 11:15 AM
Scenario #1 Do as commanded and back down is the appropriate desision. The dumb thing to do is tell them to kiss off and get ready to get it on. I hope that I can make the appropriate decision despite the urge to do the dumb thing. Funny how the older and wiser I get the easier it is to make the right decision.

Scenario #2 If his initial punch doesn't get me weak knee'd it's on. Not the correct desision I understand but I won't be able to overcome the anger unless he is a monster in which self preservation will override anger. I hope to be alert enough to keep space between us before the swing happens.

Scenario#3 Draw and retreat while screaming don't rob me, don't hurt me.

March 21, 2006, 11:29 AM
I think these scenarios make a great case for OC spray.

Scenario #1
1. Try to talk him down while retreating.
2. Run away, call 911 (ALWAYS where shoes you can run in!)
3. If he continues, issue a verbal warning followed by full can of OC to face.
4. If OC has no effect go hand to hand, thumbs to eyeballs, knees to groin, teeth to whatever, all while screaming like a cat with its nuts in a vise.
5. If you are still under attack you are in the poop and may want to gain a little distance to draw your pistol. Probably too late for guns at this point I would try to ride it out if possible.

Scenario #2
Same as the first except start at step 2.

Scenario #3
Too scary to contemplate, run very fast toward other people while screaming. Maybe shoot the OC over my shoulder while running as a deterrent.

Personally I am willing to take a few punches to avoid killing someone, even if they are an idiot. I think I would have a good chance of going to jail if I shot an unarmed attacker without first having received a good beating. My luck I would shoot an off duty cop or the Mayor's son who had a little too much to drink.

This is assuming I am alone. If my wife and children were present in all scenarios:

1. OC and pistol would be presented immediately. Wife ordered to collect kids, retreat, and call 911.
2. Verbally warn attacker he will be killed if he advances.
3. If time and distance allows engage with OC at 12 ft until empty.
4. Engage with pistol until threat ceases (Presence of a weapon dictates COM/head or pelvic shots).
5. Move family to safe location and call for an ambulance for the attacker(s).

My reasoning for the change in tactics is that my wife and kids may be the primary targets and I can not risk being disabled if I expect to protect them.

- Chris

March 21, 2006, 12:10 PM
#1 mace him.

#2 still mace him. unless he has a deadly weapon i cannot draw and shoot.

#3 first off don't let them surround me. back away slowly while trying to defuse the situration. failing that, i'm out numbered and faceing serious bodly harm if one lands a good punch and i hit the ground. i draw and if they continue advanceing i shoot the closest one.

March 21, 2006, 02:04 PM

If I cannot leave then I will have to make a judgement call, and I may decide that extreme force is necessary. The only thing I know for sure is that I will leave if at all possible and that I will use stopping force if necessary. I cannot not say when I might deem it necessary, I guess Ill just have to be there.

March 21, 2006, 04:39 PM
For those of you interested in these types of scenarios and the ramifications of such, a good read is Massad Ayoob's "In The Gravest Extreme The Role of The Firearm in Personal Protection". the book offers great insight into things like these. Just a thought.

March 21, 2006, 05:29 PM
First scenario: If some guy is getting all up in my face threatening me, I will not back down to his demands. I will tell him " look I dont want any trouble, so leave me alone". If he swings or makes contact with me, I'm nuckling up and kicking some ass, but not pulling my weapon on an unarmed man.

In the second instance if I am surrounded by people who are about to beat me down, then I will again say " Look I dont want any" I will try to leave. If they wont let me, then I try to haul ass. Drawing my weapon could inspire one or more of them to do the same. If they wont let me run and proceed to beat me, then I will shoot one of them. That should distract them from the task at hand. I will then call the cops. If one brannishes a weapon I will procede to shoot him too. Of course I will be retreating and fast.

March 21, 2006, 05:48 PM
Yes, I know, that's not the answer you want. But it is the truth, nevertheless.

Now, I live in Texas. And I'm a woman who doesn't hang out in bars. But here's my responses:

Scenario 1: I can't even IMAGINE this occurring with me. I don't go into bars, and I don't exactly pull macho threatening behavior from others. However, let's assume that somebody was just utterly out of their minds and actually did this. As a middle-aged lady minding my own business, I would take this as a high-level threat. Still, I wouldn't pull my gun unless I had some indication that it was about to develop into a physical assault. The old nursery rhyme "Sticks and stones..." comes to mind here.

Scenario 2: Same initial response. But here is where things get serious, that's for sure. I am not a martial arts person, I'm a middle aged lady with arthritis. If somebody comes up and assaults me the next thing he will see is my .38 between his eyes and he will hear, exactly one time, "back off". That kind of assault could do some serious damage to me, and I would defend myself. But again, remember, my "disparity of force" ratio is going to be a lot different for me than it might be for you.

Scenario 3: Yes, if I'm surrounded and there's no way out of this, obviously it changes things. If there's an out, I'll take it (see the "sticks and stones" comment above) because who cares what some punk says? Big deal. But to surround me is a very threatening behavior. I would try to calm the situation and get out of it; but for me, this would look WAY too much like a potential rape situation, and I would not hesitate to shoot if that's what it was.

Still, you realize these are extremely skeletal answers. Nobody can say what they would do in a SPECIFIC situation, although yes, we can play "what if" in our minds, and should, to think things through in the context of places we usually go. IOW, "what if" for me involves the corner store, the grocery stores I go to, Petsmart, other retail stores, church, walking the dogs, etc., etc. A group of people coming toward me and calling out nasty things would get a different response if I was walking the dog in my own neighborhood versus if hubster and I were downtown going to a concert versus going to my car after buying a cart-full of groceries.

So while it's an interesting question, and I tried to answer, in truth I don't think there is AN answer to any of the scenarios.


March 22, 2006, 08:55 AM
Scenario #1 B I don't see any cause to shoot someone unarmed..No matter how hard they push...I'd rather fight.

Scenario #2 A Without a doubt fight back!!

Scenario #3 This is pretty much a two anwser question...
If they're trying to corner me / surround me I go with anwser A

If they're just walking towards me talking bad about me and acting like punks I go with anwser D I just keep going about my business being totally aware of what and who's around me.

March 22, 2006, 07:31 PM
Knowledge of the law is key here.

1: If the guy has any authority to ask me to leave, I leave. If not, call for a manager or the cops. There's very little threat here. Pomeranians bark a ton, so does this guy.

2: Weapon is out, ONE verbal warning, and only one. I have enough self defence trainging to know that ONE hit can drop you, and the proceding kicks or punches can kill you.

3: A group is no different than the first *******, they can talk all they want but a verbal threat is very hard to prove in court as a danger to your life (especially when they have multiple witnesses and all you have is yourself). Leave where you are, call the police if you feel significantly threatened.

If nothing these scenarios show the need for a cell phone these days. It's not going to save you, but (in both 1 and 3) I would feel the need to alert the police. In two the phone is to call the police and an ambulance.

March 23, 2006, 05:34 PM
#1 Leave. My pride is not worth someones life.

#2 Leave if able, OC if not, see #1

#3 Leave if able, but multiple attackers does change the issue somewhat, I've seen some pretty bad beatings my indviduals much less a gang. If they are obviously intent on serious bodily harm and there are potential weapons around (sticks pipes things of that nature) then I would probably draw my weapon but would only fire if they continued to close.