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Old March 29, 2002, 11:05 PM   #1
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Threat Assessment - When to Use A Gun.

Having read the thread on the issue of Trail/Hiking Gun Incidents, it occurs to me that :-

1. Although we have lots of opportunity to learn gunhandling and generally , skills at using firearms , we do not have any formal training ( especially for the first time gun owner ) on the
very important issue of Threat Assessment.

2. My meaning being , under what scenario is the production and use of a firearm , a reasonable event.

3. In my pending application for a pistol license/ carry & use permit , I was asked by the interviewing officer whether in a fender-bender situation , would I ever see it as appropriate to draw a firearm. The "recommended" answer , I was made to understand is "NO" . Even if the other guy tries to swing at me,
I am obliged to extract myself from the scenario and avoid confrontation.

4. So therefore , your views on this subject will be welcome. It could just save some of us from a lot of grief.

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Old March 29, 2002, 11:27 PM   #2
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All the classes I've been to...all the reading I've done...all the LEO's, Lawyers and Judges I've talked to...lead me to believe that you better KNOW that you were in IMMEDIATE DANGER of DEATH or GRAVE BODILY HARM BEFORE you employ a firearm in self-defense...that applies HERE in Georgia...don't know about some of the more "Liberal" jurisdictions, like Kali or Mass., where retreat may be necessary BEFORE self-defense becomes "Justifiable"...FWIW....mikey357
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Old March 30, 2002, 12:25 AM   #3
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The answer to this is different in every jurisdiction. Even different LEO's and DA's within an area may interpret the law differently.
Even in a state like Florida, which is fairly gun friendly, differentiates being in public and being in your home. In public you have to retreat if you can do so without danger to yourself or others (Like if a woman is being raped, you can try to get her out of their, not just leave. If the criminals use force to stop you, you are justified in using force, if you can both get out without force, you legally must take this option). In your home, Florida has a "Castle law" (your home is your castle) and do not need to retreat from any threat. You sure better be able to show there was a reasonable threat though.
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Old March 30, 2002, 12:32 AM   #4
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I implied, but forgot to say that what constitutes a threat varies also. There are several good books on the subject. In most book stores it is in the sporting section with the gun books. Massab Ayoob, among others, writes about this subject. Find a good book about concealed carry.
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Old March 30, 2002, 12:55 AM   #5
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Pistole,as croyance mentioned above Massad Ayoobs "in the gravest extreme" is the book You should buy and read.tom.
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Old March 30, 2002, 03:25 AM   #6
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The key is:
Immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm to the innocent.

The question posed to you is a trick one. A fender bender, heck a happy meal at MickyD's could turn into a lethal confrontation meeting the above standard if the other guy/gal is mentally disturbed enough.

However, a fist fight is another matter...
Regarding fist fights, a great instructor once said "Learn how to fight or you will go through life getting your fanny kicked!"

Stay safe, and only use deadly force to save life...
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Old March 30, 2002, 07:38 AM   #7
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My research has lead me to believe that there is no standard that can be applied to the use of lethal force. Every jurisdiction seems to be different even in the same general area (State). Generally you must be in fear of your life and have no obvious or immediate alternative method of removing yourself from the situation . The best process I have found is to research past occurrences of deadly force use in your area and see what the local prosecutor has done. The actions taken in the past by the local prosecutor are only ones that count and it will give you a better idea of what to do and expect if you are confronted with a lethal force decision.
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Old March 30, 2002, 12:55 PM   #8
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Old March 31, 2002, 08:12 PM   #9
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Three things must be present to create a life-threatening situation:

1. Ability.
2. Opportunity.
3. Intent.

A person charging you at 7 yards with a bowie knife in hand and screaming "DIE, you heathen, die!" probably should experience the Joy and Wonder(tm) of a well-placed bullet.

A person wielding a baseball bat, screaming "Die, you heathen, die!" but 100 yards away is not a lethal threat. Swap the bat for a scope .308, and he also needs to experience Joy and Wonder.

The problem is that many situations evolve in a blink of an eye, and by the time your brain figures out that you should be aligning the front sight, you might have a blade sticking out your gut.
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Old March 31, 2002, 10:22 PM   #10
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The "ability" and "motivite" of the "attacking" person are left to my insticnt... If my gut starts to panic, that is enough warning for me. If the hair on the back of my neck raises, I will clearly state "Don't come any closer!!!. If this command fails, it will be quickly followed by a panic command of "Stay where you are !!!. If that fails, the final attempt will be another command of "Do Not come any closer !!!!. If the person takes another step in my directions after these panic pleas, my pistol will be drawn and aimed at the person's lower throat/upper chest with my finger on the trigger (not proper form, but MY form).
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Old April 1, 2002, 03:09 AM   #11
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The main points of our course was:

1. If you can exit or de-escalate the situation, do so.

2. Disparity of force, I'm 6'2" and 210 pounds if a 6" 180 pound guy attacks me It's going to be much harder to justify a shoot than if the same man attacked a 5'2" 120# female. This is based on many factors (not just size and sex) including your perception at the time. Say I had back surgery 2 weeks before an incident and had overheard my attacker whom I knew mention that he was a black belt in Karate, that would mitigate matters considerably. It would also make no difference if it turned out he had lied about being a black belt, it was my (a reasonable persons) perception of the event at the time.

3. Means, Opportunity, Intent: Note, that this is also judged from a reasonable persons perception of the events at the time-not facts uncovered later. For example your walking down the street and a stranger draws a gun and says he's going to kill everybody, you shoot him dead. Turns out it's a mentally handicapped person who stole his fathers unloaded pistol and was trying to play cops and robbers. Too bad for him. You might get some bad press, but you reacted as a reasonable person would with the information you had at the time.

4. If reasonable you should give a verbal warning (forgot the supreme court ruling that came from). This also allows you to shift the burden to the attacker. "Stop or I'll shoot" etc..

Above is not legal advice and from "not a lawyer" Just a very brief synopisis of my training on the use of force.
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Old April 1, 2002, 03:15 AM   #12
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With all the talk about prosecution for for good shoots, our last civillian shooting in town was a man who chased two unarmed teenaged burglars out of his store and shot them in the behinds with a shotgun as they fled. He likely violated every rule listed but was never charged or sued. As always YMMV
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Old April 1, 2002, 09:34 AM   #13
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This is similar to a question that I posted a few months ago. The answer to it, of course, doesn't fit comfortably in your pocket.

We are told to avoid using deadly force at any cost. Almost any cost, that is. But at what point do you know you are about to suffer death or serious bodily injury? At what point do you decide you are justified in the use of deadly force?

The "perception" of impending harm is one of the biggest exonerators, as well as one of the biggest cop-outs, of all time. This makes your decision to use your gun all the more complicated. Maybe you can "afford the time", when the chips are down, "to stop and wonder if the jury will see it your way."

So...what do you do?

First, see what the laws of your state have to say. Then, I suggest you mentally put yourself in every situation you may conceivably find yourself in, practicing over and over again the inescapable dilemma that you must face in a serious confrontation, and rehearsing the part in which you find yourself at that moral and political crossroads (with a special thought for the means, opprtunity and intent of the assailant) until there is no doubt in your mind that your action is the right one. The more you practice, the better. The more scenarios you cover, the less likely you will find yourself at odds with yourself. Practice---the old adage says---makes perfect. Good practice.

Check this out for starters: ...a great place for testing your mind in various "what if " situations.

Still, I would advise you to take a defensive shooting course and to ask your trainer a lot of questions. I don't have the credentials, so my advice is opinionated at best. But whatever you do, make sure it makes you a more confident person. There is no sense in taking leave of one's judgment or to fall to indecisiveness in the most critical moment of our lives.

Good Luck.

Last edited by Rickmeister; April 2, 2002 at 08:22 AM.
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Old April 2, 2002, 01:40 AM   #14
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G35, if I had done all of that I'd be dead now and that's a fact!!!
Just a thought the wind.
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Old April 2, 2002, 01:44 AM   #15
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G35, if I had done all of that I'd be dead now and that's a fact!!!

when it's time to shoot, shoot don't talk, Eli Wallach from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!!!!
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Old April 3, 2002, 06:21 PM   #16
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Does this rule out pistol whipping as a viable method of defense?
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Old April 3, 2002, 08:23 PM   #17
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For Texas, the way I see the idea of "threat assessment" and using a gun is divided into two categories. First is protecting my life or that of a loved one or friend. Second, we have certain laws that allow us to protect our property after dark such that lethal force may be used if we feel that is the only way to protect the property. At this point, please understand that I am not saying I want to shoot somebody for stealing sprinkler heads out of my lawn, but the provision is there that allows use of lethal force. A few months back, a kid was shot in the back by a man who was raising prized fighting cocks. Two boys decided to steal several of them and for those of you who know about chicken coups, it is hard to raid one quietly. One boy was killed, the other got away. As I recall, they were highschool student. There was a lot of outrage over the needless death and that the owner of the cocks should be locked away for murder. I don't believe he even went to jail (which is surprising) because as it turns out, he was acting totally and completely within his rights to protect his property. For the kid who lived and the parents of both kids, they learned a valuable lesson that when you engage in a crime against a person or belongings at night, you may very well be truly risking your life.

Like the disparity of force concept, several people interviewed talked about how the cock owner shot the boy in the back and how terrible it was. I have yet to find any US laws that make it illegal to shoot somebody in the back. The horrors and chicken-attitude (sorry for the pun) of shooting in the back are gravely over romanticised with pop western culture. The issue does not come down to where you shot the person, only whether or not you were justified in using lethal force - in the criminal courts anyway. For civil courts, all bets are off.

You know, if some idiot threatens you or is making away with your property (in Texas at night anyway), wife or child and you shoot that person in the back, I personally don't see the error as yours because you were only taken full advantage of a hugely stupid tactical mistake on the part of the bad guy. Just because his back is turned does not mean he is off limits. Let's face it, a lot of animals we hunt end up shot from behind. Nobody thinks twice about that.

I personally don't see a lot of use for the law for my particular situation as I have insurance and so if somebody steals my sprinkler heads, that is an inconvenience I will have to deal with.

I noticed 'disparity of force' was mentioned above. From what I can find out, in some states or jurisdictions, disparity of force is a true legal term that indicates certain parameters. A 100 lb lady can shoot a 200 lb man who is roughing her up a bit because of the disparity of force and that she may not be able to stop the assault any other way. In other places, disparity of force is not a legal issue, but is creatively used in courts anyway.

What is life threatening or grave bodily harm? The first CHL shooting incident in Texas took place one month after it became legal to carry. The shooter shot an unarmed man who had pummelled him with his fists, broke off the assault, and returned apparently to administer additional punishment. The shooter shot the pugilist once in the chest and he died sometime later. You can read more about it here:

The shooter was permanently disabled in one eye after the assault. At the time, local news stations blew the event out of proportion noting that the killing was over a slight traffic altercation. That was simply not true. The guy was shot over doing grave bodily harm to the other guy who showed amazing restraint in not shooting him sooner. And this brings up a good point. Somebody pulls a knife on you and says, "Give me your money." You have all of $9 on you. Should you give it to the guy? Maybe so, maybe not. There is nothing wrong with giving up the money but the fact of the matter is if you are threatened with a weapon under the auspices of a robbery, you are still in an extremely life threatening situation. Say you shot the would be robber and it comes out that you shot the guy over $9. Is that true? No, of course not. You shot him because he threatened your life with a weapon. Robbery became immaterial at the moment he produced that weapon and threatened your life. It wasn't about $9, it was about defending your life. The part about the money was only how you got introduced into the life threatening situation.

I am willing to let things go, but I am not willing to let the lives of me or my family go. If somebody burgles my car at night and it is gone the next morning, then I take the bus and wait for the insurance check. Nobody was threatened. If somebody tries to carjack me, then my life is threatened and I will work any way I can to be victorious. Some things matter, some don't.
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Old April 8, 2002, 09:45 AM   #18
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One needs to consider the change in the behavior of criminals when deciding on
the use of deadly force. My wife worked as a store manager for a consumer
electronics chain in a bad section of town. When she started there, the
criminal activity consisted of shoplifting and 'dash and grab' type things. A
few years later, she was getting duranged young men (probably on drugs) that
were much more violent for the sake of being violent. A couple of these type
and she had enough and quit. Some criminals seem to be violent for violence's
sake, not just to force compliance to get your money or property.

Giving a BG $9, $20, or whatever might easily get you killed if the BG is out
of his/her mind and/or doesn't think you gave him/her enough. It happens
enough that you should assume compliance will not get you out of the situation.

I would be prepared to use deadly force if any BG brandished or claimed to
have a weapon, and he was within striking distance, or for that matter,
attempted to grab me for the purposes of administering a beating.

A jury may look at someone my size and say, 'This guy should be able to handle
any threat without deadly force', but the fact is a man 6 inches shorter and
100 pounds lighter than me could do alot of damage with the proper mix of
motivation and chemicals in the brain. I'll take my chances with the jury.

Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6, the old saying goes.
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Old April 8, 2002, 03:21 PM   #19
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double naught spy

the chicken raiser in san antonio was not justified if the law is read
remembering what we learned in the 3rd or 4th grade which we all have forgotten.

"The use of force other than deadly force to protect the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substanial risk of death or serious Bodily injury".

just before that there is a semi colon ; after each one of the justifications for use of deadly force in the previous justifications there is always a semi-colon and the word (or) or (and) so the thought or law is not finished til we get to the period....

the chicken owner could not have been justified because the kid was running away.. there was no threat of death or serious bodily injury //// and the FORCE STATUTE had not been utilized
by the chicken raiser. Period!!! but there is no understanding of juries in S. Tex.
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