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Old July 2, 2020, 12:19 PM   #1
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How close is "too close" ?

Charlie Askins described the "belly gun"-"you press it against your opponents belly and pull the trigger". Allowing that he lived and worked in a much looser legal environment and in our day self defense confrontations are not refereed, are there any reasons to try to avoid a contact belly shot, indeed a contact shot of any kind ?
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Old July 2, 2020, 12:35 PM   #2
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Inside 21 feet is too close.
A video "Surviving Edged Weapons" has segment showing what I'm saying.
3 min. worth watching, its dated but still relevant.

I hope to stop an attack before its at contact distance.
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"Wouldn't want to / Nobody volunteer to" get shot by _____ is not indicative of quickly incapacitating.
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Old July 2, 2020, 12:57 PM   #3
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Of course you want to avoid contact but in a true defensive fight for your life there's no distance to close to use lethal force.
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Old July 2, 2020, 01:34 PM   #4
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Beginning with the usual disclaimer that "I am not a lawyer," I'm going to go out on a limb and say that distance is not the key factor. The law in most (perhaps all) states for the lawful use of lethal/deadly force is that you most be in fear of imminent (which basically means "immediate") death or serious bodily injury. The gotcha is that whether or not the fear that caused you to shoot the goblin will be judged by a jury as to whether or not it was reasonable for you to have been that afraid.

Extreme example: a street punk in on the opposite side of a major street, yelling at you. Even if he says "I'm going to kill you," would it be reasonable for you to be so afraid that you pull out a gun and shoot him? Questions that would need to be answered: Was he alone, or part of a gang? Did he display a weapon? If so, was it a gun, or anything that could have reached you from across the street? Did he start to cross the street to approach you? If he was just standing on the sidewalk on his side of the street, running his mouth, you probably would have difficulty convincing a jury that there was a legitimate reason to be in fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury.

Now let's put the punk on the same side of the street, but at the far end of the block. Yes, he said he's going to kill you, but did he have the means to do so? If he's 50 yards away, even if he has a knife, he's probably not an "imminent" threat. Especially if he's just running his mouth and not trying to approach you.

Close the distance to 25 yards, not 50. Getting closer, but he's still just running his mouth, and he isn't trying to approach you. He hasn't displayed a gun, so he's still not an "imminent" threat. The legal "reasonable man" test would probably still decide that you had no legitimate reason to shoot the punk.

21 feet has been mentioned. Where did that come from? It comes from the Tueller Drill, and is named after Dennis Tueller, the police officer who devised it. Before invoking the so-called "21 foot rule" (which is NOT a rule, and is not enshrined in any statute of which I am aware), it's important to understand the background. I've written this before, but I guess it bears repeating.

Dennis Tueller (now retired) was, at the time, the training officer for his department. He observed that, with time, street cops develop a sort of sixth sense regarding when a subject becomes an immediate threat. He was looking for a way to jump-start that awareness in rookies. What he wanted was to develop a guideline to alert the cops as to when a subject might be an immediate threat.

So he began by timing several officers in how long it took them, from a signal, to draw their duty weapon from their duty holster and fire a shot. IIRC, the average time was 1.5 seconds. So he concluded that a reasonable guideline would be that any potentially armed subject within 1.5 seconds should be regarded with heightened awareness.

But what did 1.5 seconds represent? The next step was to have several officers, armed with a rubber knife, start at the signal from various distances and see if they could reach the officer and stab him in the chest within 1.5 seconds -- in other words, could the attacker stab the cop before the cop could shoot?

The critical distance turned out to be 21 feet. On average, assailants starting from 21 feet away were able to beat (or at least equal) the time it took the average officer to draw and fire.

So the 21-foot "rule" was NOT that anyone within 21 feet was a free target of opportunity. The lesson was that a subject within 21 feet should be regarded with caution, that the officer should recognize that he was now behind the curve, and that the officer should do something to decrease the potential danger. That might be drawing his/her duty weapon, it might be drawing a taser, or it might be backing up a few steps to increase the distance. It was NOT "21 feet! Fire at will!"

Unfortunately, either a lot of trainers don't understand this and are teaching it wrong, or a lot of trainers do understand this but they suck at presenting it in a way that people can understand.

Also, it bears remembering that when Tueller developed the drill, retention holsters were not as sophisticated as they are today. A year or two ago (after he had retired), Tueller told an interviewer that it takes longer to draw from modern duty holsters, so the 21-foot distance is no longer valid. He said it should be greater, but he didn't offer an opinion as to what the revised distance should be.

Where was I? The original question was:

Allowing that he lived and worked in a much looser legal environment and in our day self defense confrontations are not refereed, are there any reasons to try to avoid a contact belly shot, indeed a contact shot of any kind ?
My answer is "Yes." If you have allowed a [potential] threat to get close enough for a contact shot, in most situations I would suggest that you have failed in situational awareness and gotten yourself seriously behind the curve in the OODA loop. I don't think you need to allow a threat to reach contact distance before you can justify feeling in fear for your life, but the totality of the circumstances must be considered. For someone to be a threat, they must have motive, means, and opportunity. If you believe that those three things exist when the punk is 22.37 feet away, then you are legally justified in shooting. But that doesn't mean you won't be arrested and charged, and have to convince a jury of WHY you felt so endangered when the punk was 22.37 feet away that you found it necessary to shoot him.
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Old July 2, 2020, 04:07 PM   #5
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How close is "too close" ?

As a person that functions in a society, sometimes people are close to me. For me this is typically in a store (aisles, lines, doorways, etc). I try to be as situationally aware as possible and the goal would be to identify the threat and start engaging before they are on top of you. That said there are a number of examples of both officers and civilians ending up in contact distances. It is a possibility.

Obviously someone that close to you can punch you, stab you, shoot you, etc. There are typically more ways for someone to hurt you within an arm’s distance than farther away. There’s also the possibility of a struggle centering around your firearm in those cases. To me it’s pretty obvious why I would choose to avoid it. I’m not sure it’s always possible to avoid it.

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Old July 2, 2020, 07:18 PM   #6
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If you are about to be killed by a criminal predator regardless of their distance from you, there is no such thing as them being "too close" when it comes to protecting your life. No matter how observant and savvy you are, these situations can happen and you worry about the other stuff if you get prosecuted.
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Old July 2, 2020, 09:25 PM   #7
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Depends.... Semi auto's don't do well with contact shots.
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Old July 3, 2020, 08:52 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by SIGSHR View Post
Charlie Askins described the "belly gun"-"you press it against your opponents belly and pull the trigger". Allowing that he lived and worked in a much looser legal environment and in our day self defense confrontations are not refereed, are there any reasons to try to avoid a contact belly shot, indeed a contact shot of any kind ?

Way too close, aka a “Ruby shot”. More distance = safety for you.
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Old July 3, 2020, 02:28 PM   #9
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To expand upon what Nanuk mentioned...
Many semi auto pistols will be taken out of battery and fail to fire if the muzzle is pressed into something/someone
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