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Old March 26, 2002, 03:22 PM   #1
The Plainsman
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Can you really pull the trigger?

Several weeks ago, I posted a thread on the "General Discussion" forum, entitled "I shot a man". The "shooting" occurred during a firearms simulation training session at my local Sheriff's Office. Even though I was using wax bullets and I knew that nobody would be hurt, it still took some soul-searching on my part to pull the trigger on the BG.

Afterward, one of the instructors was doing a de-briefing for us students and we started a discussion of whether any of us could actually pull the trigger in a real-life situation. About half of us had succeeded in dropping the BG and the other half got shot by the BG.

The instructor recommended a book, "On Killing" by Dr. Dave Grossman, PhD., who is also a retired LtCol. Army Ranger. I have since read the book and highly recommend it to any of my brother and sister TFL'ers who have ever wondered about the thought processes of killing someone, regardless of the justification or circumstances. It's scary. Unless you've actually had the experience, you can only speculate about your personal reaction, but this book will help you figure it out.

Good read.
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Old March 26, 2002, 03:25 PM   #2
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Yep
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Old March 26, 2002, 03:48 PM   #3
Spectre
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I can't say that I understand having any doubts whatsoever about the ability to defend oneself, family, or country. I construe this as doing one's duty. I was baffled to find a few in my Infantry training who wondered aloud if they could "actually shoot someone". I rather wanted to break out the clue bat. They V O L U N T E E R E D to join the infantry. The infantry's mission is to break things and kill people. If they couldn't do the job, they shouldn't have joined. Likewise, if any doubt is present as to one's willingness to pull the trigger when lethal force is called for in the civilian arena, that person has no business carrying any dedicated lethal defensive tool.
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Old March 26, 2002, 04:39 PM   #4
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You can't afford yourself the luxury of soul-searching when the chips are down. It is a life-or-death situation. You should have made the decision to shoot in self defense before the need arises.

Read this if you've got the time: http://www.tsra.com/LEOdir5.htm
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Old March 26, 2002, 05:36 PM   #5
boris_01
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First off I've never shot anyone. Could I? I would hope so. But don't know definitely. I've had this disscussion several times and always some gungho blow hard says "If you point a gun at somebody, you better be ready to use it." And they continue to brag about how they would not hessitate if the situation arose. Truth is, you do not know how you will respond until you do respond. You do not definitely know that you will shoot someone until you pull the trigger. Even if you have pulled it before on someone. Each time is different. Perhaps the time you did before scarred you psychologically and would hamper your reaction.
Spectre, being in the infantry could definitly help with you reaction. Being pumped and trained. Mentally, physically and skillfully. Not to mention that being in the infantry in a situation where you most likely will be expecting a fight will prep you and affect you mentally the favor of you pulling the trigger. Unlike in a street defense situation where it probably will surprise you. And in a street defense situation you have to also deal with the legality of everything passing through your mind. ( Does this constitute the use of deadly force? And will the law see it that way?) And even not being sure if I could actually shoot someone. Yes the second ammendment says that I CAN own and carry a lethal defensive tool. ( Gun) And my Concealed Carry permit says so too.
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Old March 26, 2002, 05:44 PM   #6
Spectre
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Though said of something else, also applicable here:

Let every man (Old English, substitute person, human, etc) be convinced in his own mind.

I don't want to sound like a blowhard or a Jedi knight, but your attitude will make all the difference in a life and death struggle. Be certain you can do what you need to do, or any weapon you carry is a major hindrance instead of help to you, and innocents around you. If you have any doubts about whether you can pull that trigger (not which situation warrants it; that is open to interpretation), do not carry a firearm, for other's sake, if not your own.

Incidentally, in a CCW situation, I will not point a firearm at anyone I am not in the process of shooting. If I do not feel shooting is called for, I will not have "presented". Producing a firearm without a firm intention to use it is merely asking for an escalation.
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Old March 26, 2002, 06:04 PM   #7
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If I have to draw a weapon on someone, then they have already crossed the line between my life or theirs, and though I have no fear of dying, I'd rather it be the bad guy than me that takes the big dirt nap.

So, in answer to your question, YES.
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Old March 26, 2002, 06:55 PM   #8
Jeff White
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Besides On Killing I'd recommend LTC Grossman's presentation The Bulletproof Mind. It's geared for peace officers, but it's applicable to anyone who would put themselves in a self defense or defense of others situation. It was the best 8 hours I've spent in a long time.

If you can't get to the presentation, a two hour condensed version is available on audio tape.

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Old March 26, 2002, 07:20 PM   #9
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Unfortunately, I would answer in the afirmitive,haveing done so inthe military, and in three encounters in the law enforcement job.If one has not conviniced him or her self they can, then they have no buissness carrying a firearm.when the chips are down as another poster said its to late to decide,But make no mistake and let no one tell you different,if you can not it does not make you a coward or worse.It is some thing I whish I never had to have done, and for you how have not I truly whish you never have to
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Old March 26, 2002, 09:59 PM   #10
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Here is my point for all of those who say that you must know or must be confindent or must believe that you can pull the trigger or else you don't need to be carrying a firearm. You cannot know 100% that you can pull the trigger until you 100% HAVE pulled the trigger. Sure I feel that I COULD, WOULD and WILL. But I don't 100% know that until I PULL the trigger. I'm not Miss Cleo. I cannot predict the future. Only when I pull the trigger and hear BOOM! Will I know for 100% sure that I could. Does not mean I doubt myself. I'm as confident as the next guy. I'm just honest.
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Old March 26, 2002, 10:35 PM   #11
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Yes

Had that question answered during my time in the corps. If it comes to me actually pointing a weapon at someone to protect someone (myself included) I will be firing at them.
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Old March 27, 2002, 03:44 AM   #12
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I used to wonder if I could. Sort of a "Everyone's got a Mama, everyone's got a friend" mentality. Most people have this kind of respect for life. It's normal, it's healthy, it's a good thing.

However, there are people out there that do not value human life as we do. For whatever reason, they can pull the trigger without hesitation. They are predators, and to them, we are sheep living under the hazy illusion that everyone lives by the golden rule. They use our very respect for life against us.

Well I've got a Mama, too. And if ever one of these losers decides to prey on me or mine, I will pull the trigger. I bring my Mama flowers, not the other way around.

When with sheep, be sheep. When in the presence of wolves, be a wolf in sheep's clothing. It's the only way.
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Old March 27, 2002, 08:02 AM   #13
Daniel
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Yes.

If I am attacked without provocation. The attacker has forfeited his life; by trying to take mine.

Whether, dropping the hammer/striker. Releasing the bowstring. Thrusting/slashing the knife. My mind is prepared, and I am prepared.
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Old March 27, 2002, 08:04 AM   #14
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Every one is decided to pull the trigger if there is no more way out to save his soul. Intention to kill or squezing the trigger against someone is a crime per se no matter what is the reason behind. Everyone should know that more rational CCW holder would never think to shoot or kill someone. That would be just be a chain reaction in a particular events.
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Old March 27, 2002, 08:22 AM   #15
ATeaM
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"If I am attacked without provocation. The attacker has forfeited his life; by trying to take mine."

Attacked without provocation doesn't mean you have the right to kill your attacker. At least in a court of law.


Yes, I would shoot someone if it was my only option where there is no compromise. If you speculate you would hesitate in a life or death situation then you shouldn't own a gun.
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Old March 27, 2002, 09:22 AM   #16
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Adrenaline. The very word conjures up images of razor-sharp timing, lightning speed, and superhuman ability.

Support your local suprarenal chapter.
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Old March 27, 2002, 09:22 AM   #17
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Seems like this is a pretty popular question and much on everyone's mind. My attitude is simple. I hate violence. I hate it so much I am willing to kill anyone who trys to use it against me.

If you want some good information on preparing yourself for the moment when you may have to use lethal force, I would recommend that you read Jeff Cooper's "Principles of Personal Defense". You can order a copy from Barnes and Noble.
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Old March 27, 2002, 11:05 AM   #18
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Rickmeister....

Adrenaline may actually mean some other things that aren't conducive to all-round good decision-making or performance - stuff like tunnel vision, diminished fine motor skills, diminished hearing or vice versa. That's when the training part kicks in. All of the "old-hand" shooters with whom I've talked or read, say that your training (and all the things you did in advance to prepare) is what makes it all happen when the SHTF.

I appreciate all the comments here from all sources. I reckon what it tells us, is that we need to constantly be preparing in one form or another, for that fateful day when we are called upon to "poop or get off the pot", so to speak - kind of puttin' our money where our mouth is.

Aim small; miss small
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Old March 27, 2002, 03:29 PM   #19
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NO guarantee

Training is the key...but the experience of taking a life doesn't guarantee that you can do it again. If you don't have the resolve, then sometimes, training may not be enough if you're conflicted. Seen it happen before.
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Old March 28, 2002, 10:10 PM   #20
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Training as motivation...

During departmental training utilizing Simunition rounds (wax bullets) my partner and I were "sent" on a call to a D.V. in progress. Upon arrival at the scene we had a wife who had beaten up on her husband. CA state law says the primary or most significant agressor will be arrested for D.V. so as I am hooking up the wife for imaginary ride to jail and my partner is supposed to be covering me the husband gets upset that we are taking his wife to jail and refuses to let us take her. In the blink of an eye he pulled a gun and shot me in the shoulder and arm. My partner returned fire dropping the husband. In debrief I was ruled dead and my partner received the third degree for not controlling the husband while I was hooking up the wife. But you know, while I was lying on the floor of the scenario room after I had been "killed" by the wax bullets I so incredulous that I had been shot that I simply couldn't accept it as having happened. It sucked. Granted it was all training. And both I and my partner learned a lot from it. But I never, never want to be the guy on the ground again, ruled dead by a scenario referee of the Medical Examiner for that matter. So if it comes down to it, I am pulling the trigger, and I am going home that night, simple as that!
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Old March 29, 2002, 03:09 PM   #21
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Yes.

You make the decision long before presented with the problem. This works for most moral issues. Black and white issues that is.

When I was growing up my folks taught me to never use drugs. I decided not to use drugs. When offered drugs I turned them down. I didn't have to think about it because the decision had already been made.

I have made a committment to be faithfull to my wife. So if ever tempted, I don't have to stop and think about it. The decision has already been made.

This doesn't tend to work for the small things in life, like "should I have another cookie?" But for those major things that we should all expect to face, make your decision now.

Pulling the trigger is one of those decisions. If you are not sure that you can do it. Don't carry. I don't buy into the argument that you never know 100% until you do it. For some things you decide, commit, and that is it.
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Old March 29, 2002, 04:10 PM   #22
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I hope I never need to know. All I can say is that I've defended myself and others aggressively when required to, but never yet in a life-threatening situation.

This is one of the best and most thoughtful threads I've ever read. Thanks to all.
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Old March 29, 2002, 04:20 PM   #23
Texas2NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boris
First off I've never shot anyone. Could I?
Quote:
Even if you have pulled it before on someone. Each time is different.
So, never having pulled the trigger, you are still able to pontificate for a whole paragraph on the effects of doing so, not once, but multiple times.

Quote:
And even not being sure if I could actually shoot someone.
If you are not prepared to use that weapon in time of need, you are just another victim with a gun.

This is not an issue with shades of gray. It is cut & dry, Black & white. If you carry a gun, be prepared to use it. If you can't get it straight in your mind, don't carry.
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Old March 29, 2002, 07:49 PM   #24
leadbutt
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Gentlemen we all seem to agree,but boris it still comes down to either knowning you can or cann't, Like most combat Vets will tell you,the first time was a reaponce to auto pilot training,mostly you don't see them face to face.I was that scared Newbie in 68 until the first patrol across the wire, when I went into law enforcement I knew it was a face to face ,reality, you can not second quess your self and that sound like what your doing,you have to have the mind set,or gut check that carrys you from day to day knowning if all else fails I'm going home the way i left it.
That is another reason to practice like you mean it.
Sierra1, you just recieved the best training you well ever have,you were mad couldn't believe it,in real time you would have fought back,take this with you for you know now you can.
please excuse the rambling on and the spelling.I have been an LEO for 29 years now,not counting two tours in Nam ,have seen a lot of fine people die because they hesitated
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Old March 29, 2002, 09:17 PM   #25
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Sorry lead. But I'm not second guessing myself. I being totally honest. I'm pretty much as confident as everyone else who has posted. I'm 99.99% sure that I would/could pull the trigger. But until the trigger is pulled and the gun goes pop, there is that .01% that it might not happen. I'm sure that no one on this board is psychic or has been blessed with the gift of prophesy. Too many things could be the variable in the equation. You can prepare yourself as much as you can. But listen to what I'm saying here.......Nothing is ever definite, 100% for sure. With the exception of the word of God. I'm 99.99% sure that my truck will make it down to the corner store, but until it pulls into the parking lot there is that .01% that it will not make it. I'm a eternal skeptic about a lot of the posts here. I hang out at gunstores and a local range. And I know that there is a lot more BS that goes around than actual experience. And from my experience as a dog trainer, the dogs that bark louder and the most are the dogs who are least likely to actually bite. In a military combat situation it is different than a street defense situation. In a military combat situation you know and are alert and expect to defend yourself. There is someone out there who intends to kill you. In a street defense situation you are most likely going to be caught off guard. You will have your mind on something else and in a split second you will have to assess the situation and what action to take. Does this situation warrant or constitute the use of deadly force? Is it safe to others and or is anybody in the line of fire? Will the law see it my way? And if you are a Christian, will God see it my way? Is there another way out of the situation? I'm not second guessing myself. I'm just wondering will these things impede my actions. Will they go through my mind? HONESTLY I don't know. I've never been in the situation. You can condition yourself as much as possible for the fact that it could happen, but to totally believe that you WILL WITHOUT A DOUBT,100% pull the trigger in ANY situation, is to give yourself a false sense of security. Sure I agree. Train and condition yourself for the chance of the situation. 99.99% is really good odds that you will pull the trigger.
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