Thursday, January 20, 2011

How do you know when deadly force is justified?

In last part of the CCW class the instructor posed this question.  How do you know when it's justified to use deadly force?  After all, receiving a permit to carry a concealed weapon should mean that if "it" came to "that" you would use the weapon to inflict deadly force.  It's reasonable, immediate, unavoidable danger. Death or serious bodily injury to the innocent - you or someone else.

Deadly force?  What someone is trying to inflict on you which is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury,  you can inflict on them.  Serious bodily injury - death; extreme physical pain; unconsciousness;  protracted and obvious disfigurement; or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ or faculty.

When do you know reasonable fear? When the assailant has the ability - physical power or a weapon, opportunity - close enough to attack, and intent - either verbally or with actions.  What about the unarmed assailant?  Look at disparity of force - male vs. female, multiple assailants, their skills in unarmed combat.

What if the assailant has a knife.  How close is too close?  The mythical number is 21 feet.  This accounts for 1 1/2 seconds for the assailant to reach you, and 1 1/2 seconds for you to pull the weapon and fire a shot.  Why is this mythical?  Just because you fire a shot doesn't mean the assailant will instantly drop.  An assailant may not even realise he's been shot because he's so pumped up on adrenalin, or drugs.  Even if a person is shot in the heart they may have from 8 to 10 seconds before the brain doesn't get the blood it needs and they drop.  That person can do a lot of damage in 8-10 seconds of slashing you. So how close is too close?  It depends on your training ability.

Visualize winning the fight but don't paint yourself into a corner.  Be able to change.  Don't get freaked out if something you did didn't work out.  Visualize 5 shots not one. 

Are you shooting too much gun?  If you can't shoot and quickly bring it back on target then it's too much.  Try something else.  Bigger doesn't always mean better.  Check out the penetration testing and ammo characteristics, especially when going through a layer of denim.

The criminals practice!  For many criminals it's their job.  It's their lifestyle.  They are either victims or victimizing everyday.  They practice shooting, disarming, and keeping fit.  They go to the gym.  They are serious about their training.  You need to be as serious about yours or you will lose.

Lastly, if you are involved in a shooting and you survive the encounter there are two things that are guaranteed.  First, you will go to jail.  It may not be for long, but you will be brought in.  Second, you will be sued by the criminal or his family.  If you are involved in a shooting you need to contact the police first.  Call them.  Tell them who you are, where you are.  Make the statement that you've been involved in a shooting and you had no choice as you thought the person was going to kill you.  Then HANG UP.  Don't stay on the line.  When the cops come don't say anything other than your name and your statement that you had no choice as you thought the person was going to kill you.  And, you want to speak to your attorney.  Don't talk to anyone in the jail cell, they will testify against you in court and lie about what you said.  Don't talk to your neighbors once you get out.  Don't talk about it to anyone other than your spouse, your clergy (make sure they are actual clergy and not associates), or your attorney. 

I pray that I never have to use deadly force but if it is justified and it's him or me that survives, it's going to be me.


  1. The problem becomes worse if you have a gun. For example if I do not have a gun and a man is threatening me I can defend, run, be beaten or even killed. If I have a gun I can not afford to defend using my fists because any loss or even temporary loss of advantage means my opponent gets my gun and since he is really pissed at this point he shoots me. Worse, since we were fighting if he shoots me with my gun he may well get away with it. So if I am threatened with physical force and I have a gun I must use my gun if I choose to defend myself. I really don't have any other choice since not using the gun puts me at risk of my opponent using my gun against me.

    I am not saying this as an arguement for not having a gun but as a counter that I must use it only when facing deadly force. That is because even if my opponent merely want to subdue me and take my wallet the simple fact that I have a deadly weapon means I can neither acquiesce nor defend with my fists. I MUST defend with my gun to PREVENT the conflict from becoming a deadly force attack.

  2. Interesting perspective, thank you.

    If the person says I am going to jump you and beat you if you don't give me your wallet, and you want to believe that they will only hit you with a mild punch to not crack your ribs or cause damage to your organs, and your fall to the ground won't crack your skull and damage your brain forever, then I'd say either hand over your wallet or get into fisticuffs. I'd try to yell or run away, but I would defend with my gun if yelling to scare them off or running away wasn't an option.