Friday, August 2, 2013

THE MYTH OF THE "JUSTIFIED SHOOTING"

I'm writing this just a few weeks after the conclusion of the George Zimmerman trial. Without going into the merits of the case itself I would like to use it as a great example of one of those myths that I see pop up on a regular basis. That myth is the idea that as long as you have a good shooting, where you are justified in what you did, there is nothing to worry about. This will most often come up in discussions about firearm modifications, but I've seen it presented with things like ammunition selection, tactics and assorted other issues.

So what is the issue? It is generally phrased something like "As long as my shooting was legally justified it doesn't matter if I ____________." And in a perfect world it probably shouldn't matter. However, we live in a less than perfect world and so it can matter. Let's do a common one, trigger modification. Someone buys an after-market trigger that is specifically designed to imitate the Glock target setup. Why do they buy an aftermarket part? Because Glock Inc. is on record as saying that particular combination of trigger and connector is for recreational use and is not designed to be used for self defense, and thus they will only sell it as a one-for-one replacement part to those who already have the target assembly. I won't debate the wisdom (or lack) of Glock with this marketing decision, but like it or not Glock Inc. has made that decision and you have ignored it and put the target assembly in your gun.

How does this work out in court? Let's say you have been in a shooting. You have won. It seems clear that you are the good guy and he was the bad guy. But, for whatever reason, be it politics, an anti-gun agenda, public pressure, or whatever else, you find yourself charged with a criminal act. Your trigger pull weight won't matter, right? WRONG! Anything that can be used to make you look unfavorable to the jury will be used. "But wait" you say. "Nobody has ever been convicted because of a trigger modification!" While that is debatable it is also irrelevant. Convictions rarely hinge on a single item or issue. Juries look at the whole picture, and you can bet the prosecution will talk about how you modified your trigger. In fact, you actually did something to the gun the factory specifically recommends against and that virtually every LE organization that issues the gun prohibits as being unsafe. Does that send you to jail? No, but it is one more bit of information the jury considers when thinking about you.

Sure, I know and you know that it really doesn't matter that much. But it doesn't have to matter much as it is just one straw on the load the prosecutor is putting on the camels back, hoping it will break for the jury. Noted writer Mas Ayoob discusses this at length in many of his works. Whether you like Mas or not recognize one very important fact. He probably has more time in courtrooms testifying about firearms and shootings than any other person in the country, so when he talks it is worth paying attention.

Forget the jury conviction issue for a moment. I argue against much of this stuff on a purely monetary basis. If you make a modification to your gun there is a chance it will be an issue. If there is a chance it will be an issue the attorney has to prepare to deal with that issue. If the attorney has to prepare he will have an expert witness look at the issue. All of that adds to the bill. As an example I'm aware of a case where the fact that the good guy was using an ankle holster came up. Not a big deal in the overall scheme of things, but by the time the expert has researched ankle holsters, prepped the attorney, and the attorney had readied himself it added about $3000 to the defendant's bill. If you end up in a civil case after the criminal trial these things can be even more important.

The purpose of this article is not to promote or discourage you from doing whatever it is you think you need to do. The purpose is to suggest you think about what you do and realize that it can matter even if your shooting is justifed. Some modifications or selections are good. They are easy to defend. The prosecution wants to talk about why you loaded your gun with "extra deadly expanding hollowpoint bullets". It is easy to defend that by saying "I selected the type of ammunition my local police department has chosen as the best for defending our officers, the Golden Saber 9mm 124-grain round." It is not so easy to explain why your gun was loaded with "Superdeadly Rhinothumper Thunderzap rounds advertised as having 3 times the killing power of normal ammunition!" It is easy to defend converting the trigger on your revolver to operate double-action only. That was a common and accepted modification done by many LE agencies for safety purposes. It is not so easy to defend modifying the trigger into a configuration specifically prohibited by the factory, or by most LE organizations.

Our selection process can be good or bad. The trick is always going to be figuring out if the good outweighs the bad. If you absolutely cannot fire a gun adequately without making a modification then make that modification. Just realize that you are going to have to be able to explain why you needed that modification and why you couldn't use the standard gun just like thousands of others have managed to use it. There can be legitimate reasons for pinning a grip safety, or removing a magazine safety, or using a target gun. Be ready to explain the reasons and understand they can add lots of expense to your defense. You can use that old Mossberg "Persuader" shotgun sitting in the closet. You are probably better off using the Deluxe Duck Hunter or the Model 500. But will your Glock really work any better with a "Punisher" slide cover plate instead of the original plain black, or even a replacement with the American flag? Will putting skull and crossbones grips on your 1911 make it more accurate? Does covering your AR with little skulls increase the usability?

As I said before, those things shouldn't matter. But the jury is not going to be a bunch of wise old gunners like us. Instead, as so aptly described by Frank Ettin:
"Remember, if you’re on trial, Suzy Soccermom and her friends are going to be deciding if the shooting was justified. So Suzy Soccermom now asks herself, as she sits on your jury deciding whether to believe your story about what happened when you shot that nice gang member, why the gun wasn’t lethal enough the way it came from the factory to satisfy you.....
....There are many factors that can affect how a jury will view you and your testimony -- factors that can help dispose the jury favorably toward you, or unfavorably toward you. Those factors can include how you dress (showing up in urban camo with your face painted is definitely a very bad idea), how you cut your hair, your tone of voice and demeanor when testifying, etc. ...
....No one factor by itself is determinative. If you are on trial, you try to do as many things as possible to make the jury like you. The factors are cumulative, and you try to control as much as you can."

So remember, being a Thinking Gunfighter doesn't end with the shooting itself. In fact the shooting is just the start of what may be a long and grueling process. Think about it ahead of time and try to minimize the loss of resources. Just because YOU think it is a justified shooting doesn't mean you won't end up in court. And once you end up in court ANYTHING can impact the outcome. Going back to the Zimmerman trial as an example we all know that a bag of Skittles and a jar of tea had no bearing on anything related to the actual event. But the Skittles and tea became one of the defining issues of the case. If that can happen think about what might happen with the image YOU present through your choice of equipment, tactics, language, and so on.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Forum You Might Like

Hi Folks. JD from AI&P Tactical and the author of the "Myths About the Shotgun" post here on this blog has started a new forum I am helping with and I thought it might interest some of you. We are really trying to avoid some of the nonsense and lack of professionalism that goes on at some forums and instead focus on good advice given by folks who know what they are talking about and/or are serious about firearms, tactics, training, etc. So please, come by the forum, look us over, and if you'd like to join in we would be glad to have you.

http://www.combat-shotgun.com/

If you know of a good forum you think would be of interest to others this is a good spot to post a brief description or discussion.

Thanks.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SELF DEFENSE MYTHS: FIGHTING WITHOUT THE GUN

My friend Eric Stafford ("Arik") gave me permission to re-post this from the Geshmache Yid! forum at http://geshmacheyid.forumotion.com/. I thought it a good fit for the site because I recently was involved in a discussion with a CCW holder who seemed totally oblivious to the idea that we need to prepare for threats that might not rise to the level of using deadly force. Equally important, we might not always have the chance or the ability to get to a firearm. So with that, let's keep in mind that the Thinking Gunfighter thinks about more than just the gunfight, and prepares for "the fight" whatever it might be and whatever it might need.

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I posted this a long time ago on the fighting arts discussion forums:
This is just from my personal experiences and observations, so it is possible that some may disagree with me on some of these things bit I have come across many Myths in the real of self defense especially involving martial artists.

Myth #1: "Bad guys don't train"
Reality: What is a "bad guy?" To me it is anyone who is standing in front of you wishing you to do you harm first of all, and that can be someone who is either trained or untrained. Who is to say that a person wanting to rob/rape or murder you is not a trained boxer, wrestler or Karateka? Working in the Dept. of Corrections, one would be surprised at how many inmates who come through the gates who were ex military, ex-boxers, Karate black belts, ex wrestlers, and so on. Now obviously, they must have done something "bad" to get into prison, yet some are also trained fighters. One must never assume that the "bad guys" don't train.


Myth#2 " Most muggers and other criminals are generally not in good shape and therefore, wouldn't be much of a challenge against a trained Martial Artist"
Reality: I hear this lame line a lot. People often get criminals mixed up with the hot head who thinks you just stole his parking space mixed up. Sure, both may be an adversary at some point in your life. However, Criminals, by their very lifestyle tend to be in better shape than the average joe and in some cases more than the average martial artist. If you have ever visited a prison yard, chances are you will see huge inmates pumping massive amounts of Iron, they are bench pressing more than the average karate student will ever hope to and have ripped muscles and have the ability to probably pull your arms out of your sockets. If you have ever driven by a basketball court in the ghetto and saw some of the thugs who hang around playing basketball while not selling their dope, you will notice some pretty impressive physiques on quite a few of them.


Myth #3 "Self defense situations are usually over with quickly, therefore you don't need to concern yourself with conditioning and endurance much"
Reality: Self defense is more than just punching someone in the mouth. When I think of self defense or better yet, self protection, I often think of not only a would be mugger, but maybe the idea that you may have to drag or carry an unconscious family member out of a burning house, run away from a potential threat, Even pushing your car to the side of the road to avoid getting it rammed and yes, in some cases, if you have to fight and the fight goes the distance. I agree that most SD situations may be over quickly, although in the case of stamina/endurance, it for is is along the lines of "better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it."


Myth#4 "It is unlikely that a Martial Artist would have to worry about getting into a fight with another martial artist, since we generally do not get into street fights."
Reality: Hogwash! Martial Artists are human beings, and being such suffer from and are affected by the same emotions as non-MA's such as envy, greed, wrath, etc. therefore, there is no way to come to the conclusion that MA's are less likely to get into a fight or lose there temper than anyone else.
Myth#5 " Any training is better than no training."
Reality: That's only true if you are getting good, quality training. Poor and ineffective training can actually do you more harm than good by giving you a false sense of security and having you armed with shoddy techniques that can make a physical situation go from bad to worse.


Myth#6: BJJ, boxing, Judo, MT, and (fill in the blank) are not real effective and were invented for sport, therefore haven't much value in unarmed combat.
Reality: All these "sports" were designed with combat in mind. Let a Judo practitioner use one of his "sport" throws on you on a solid ground and see if it feels real or not. BJJ was designed as a street fighting art. the whole reason for the point system was to reinforce good habits in attaining better positioning during an actual fight, with top and back mount being highest since in a ground fight, those are two of the strongest positions to be in.
Boxing was one of the fighting styles taught to the ancient Greek soldier as well as Wrestling and Pankration. While they may not have as many "deadly moves," Both are quite functional.


Myth#7: "(fill in the blank) style wouldn't be effective because you don't see people using (fill in the blank) style in Pride or UFC"
Reality: While MMA is definitely a good test of overall fighting skill, it has in some ways distorted some people perceptions about " effectiveness" Yes, it has helped open people's eyes to the effectiveness of grappling and has shown to be a good test of skill, the thing to remember is that these fighters are modern day gladiators really. They sometimes spend 8 hours a day, 7 days a week training. People like to take styles that the MMA fighters take in an attempt to be "more effective" without realizing that it is not the style itself that makes some of these fighters, but the level of fitness and amount of training. While in some ways, MMA has definitely shown the advantages of some styles like Muay Thai and BJJ, It doesn't, by default mean all other styles would be ineffective in a self defense situation.


Myth#8 "(fill in the blank) % of fights go to the ground"
Reality: If I hear this one more time.....There is no scientific data to support what percent of street fights go where. Period.


Myth#9 "(fill in the blank) style beats (fill in the blank style i.e. Stand up versus ground) XYZ% of the time.
Reality: See answer to myth #8


Myth#10 "The ground is a bad place to be in a street fight anyway, so training to fight on the ground would be a waste of time."
Reality: The fact that in a lot of cases it is a bad place to be is the exact reason one should train it in the event that they find themselves there. There are also situations where it may be a better place to be such as if you are a trained ground fighter and your adversary is obviously better stand up fighter than you and it is a one on one weaponless fight with no chance of you running away.


Myth#11 " Size doesn't matter."
Reality: Everything matters! His skill, your skill his strength and yours, his mindset experience or lack thereof, if either of you are intoxicated, etc..
Even if you are much more skilled than your opponent, if he outweighs you by 100 lbs of solid muscle, it force you to change your strategy. What techniques work on someone your size or smaller may well not work on someone who is a great deal larger than you. Also a 275 lbs power lifter may lack technique, but may not need much of it if he manages to seperate your head from your body or pick you up and throw you against a wall or body slam you into the pavement.


Myth#12: Martial artist have a great advantage over a "street fighter."
Reality: the term "street fighter" is a generic term That covers too broad of a spectrum for that to hold much truth. While some so-called street fighters may be nothing more than hot-headed punks who have trouble backing down and lack real skill, there are others who have spent years growing up in the roughest areas of town, have done time in state prisons and know from first hand experience how to fight with knives, guns and bare hands. They may never have stepped into a dojo, but they have learned from fighting for their lives in the mean streets and the prison cells, they are great at using improvised weapons, using violence to get what they want and are used to hitting and getting hit, something not all MA's are used to. Such an individual can be a terrifying opponent in the street. While being a trained boxer or MT fighter may definitely give you an advantage, one must not be to over confident when confronted with any opponent.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

A NOTE ON POSTS AND RESPONSES

This is a moderated blog. That means before anything is published I have to review it and approve it. I’ve recently had to reject a number of responses to posts. I haven’t rejected them because I’m unwilling to accept diverse viewpoints. I have rejected them because they were rude and insulting without adding anything of value to the discussion.

As an example, if you want to discuss C1 versus C3, please do so. But comments like “If you are going to carry C3 you might as well stay home in the basement with the other scared little girls” or “Anyone who carries C1 is a mall ninja and a danger to everyone around them” won’t make it to the light of day, at least not here. I don’t mind getting down and dirty in a fight as many folks on various forums can testify, but this isn’t the place for that.

Let’s focus on issues and discuss facts. Comments like “The guy who wrote that post is a doofus FUDD who would shoot unarmed suspects if he thought nobody was watching” don’t contribute much. Feel free to offer posts that discuss why a particular belief seems wrong, or why you disagree with a comment and so on, but to borrow from an old Saturday Night Live sketch “Jane, you ignorant slut” just won’t fly here.

Thanks for your cooperation and your understanding.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Self Defense Findings

The following comes to us courtesy of Claude Werner, Director of Firearms Training LLC. It is an analysis of five years of incidents reported in the NRA "Armed Citizen" column. Lots of things here to think about, and many thanks to Claude for allowing me to post it here.
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Here's my analysis of what armed self-defense for the Private Citizen, not LEO, looks like. You decide what suits your needs best to solve this type of problem.
Private citizens reload in approximately 1/2 of one percent of shooting incidents (3/482).
If the defender fires any shots, most likely it will be 2 rounds.
The shooting distance in the vast majority of cases was slightly in excess of arm's length.
At this distances, even .22s and .25s are highly immediately lethal.
A revolver, even J-frame, is perfectly capable of dealing with almost all of the incidents. The ones which were beyond the capabilities of a five shot revolver would be best deal with by a shotgun, anyway.
For those who do not practice, a revolver is far preferable to the autoloader because of the revolver's simpler manual of arms. Eighty per cent of gunshot wounds are self-inflicted. Guns are handled many times more than they are shot and so safe gunhandling qualities are much more important characteristics than its ability to be shot accurately and reloaded quickly. Revolvers are much less likely than autoloaders to AD in the hands of novices.
The perceived need for massive quantities of ammo, reloading, and precision shooting at distance is largely a figbar of people's imaginations. There is simply no evidence to support the contention that any of those conditions occur during armed confrontation involving the Private Citizen.
The Armed Citizen - A Five Year Analysis
Executive Summary
For the period 1997 – 2001, reports of 482 incidents were examined. All involved the use of firearms by private citizens in self defense or defense of others. No law enforcement related incidents were included.
The majority of incidents (52%) took place in the home. Next most common locale (32%) was in a business. Incidents took place in public places in 9% of reports and 7% occurred in or around vehicles. The most common initial crimes were armed robbery (32%), home invasion (30%), and burglary (18%).
Overall, shots were fired by the defender in 72% of incidents. The average and median number of shots fired was 2. When more than 2 shots were fired, it generally appeared that the defender’s initial response was to fire until empty.
Handguns were used in 78% of incidents while long guns were used in 13%; in the balance the type of firearm was not reported. The most common size of handgun was the .35 caliber family (.38, .357, 9mm) at 61%, with most .38s apparently being of the 5 shot variety. Mouseguns (.380s and below) were at 23%, and .40 caliber and up at 15%.
The range of most incidents appears to be short but in excess of touching distance. It appears that most defenders will make the shoot decision shortly before the criminal comes within arm's length. Defenders frequently communicate with their attackers before shooting.
The firearm was carried on the body of the defender in only 20% of incidents. In 80% of cases, the firearm was obtained from a place of storage, frequently in another room.
Reloading was required in only 3 incidents. One of those involved killing an escaped lion with a .32 caliber revolver, which was eventually successful after 13 shots.
Multiple conspirators were involved in 36% of the incidents. However, there are no apparent cases of drivers or lookouts acting as reinforcements for the criminal actor(s) once shooting starts. Immediate flight is the most common response for drivers and lookouts at the sound of gunfire.
The largest group of violent criminal actors was 7, who committed serial home invasions in Rochester NY. An alert and prepared homeowner dispatched them (2 killed and 1 seriously wounded) with a shotgun when they broke in his door.
Incidents rarely occurred in reaction time (i.e., ¼ second increments). Most commonly, criminals acted in a shark-like fashion, slowly circling and alerting their intended victims. The defender(s) then had time to access even weapons that were stored in other rooms and bring them to bear.
The most common responses of criminals upon being shot were to flee immediately or expire. With few exceptions, criminals ceased their advances immediately upon being shot. Even mouseguns displayed a significant degree of immediate lethality (30% immediate one shot kills) when employed at close range. Many criminal actors vocally expressed their fear of being shot when the defender displayed a weapon. Upon the criminals' flight, the "victims" frequently chased and captured or shot the criminals and held them for the authorities.
Analysis by Claude Werner

Monday, June 13, 2011

A READER'S INCIDENT

This was originally posted as a comment to the "DANGERS OF INTERVENTION" post. As it wasn't so much an intervention incident as a "this happened to me" incident I thought it deserved its own post. What can we learn from this incident? How did the author do? What would you have done differently, if anything? Part of the Thinking Gunfighter philosophy is learning from the experiences of others. The author at this time has preferred to remain anonymous.
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In the last three years, thanks to about 80 hrs of combat handgun, carbine, and shotgun, I have walked away unscathed from an attempted carjacking where I exited quickly and got behind the engine block as it's all that stops a bullet, as well as an attempted robbery by getting inside their loop (look up OODA LOOP)and having them reacting to me, which is a clearly critical part of preventing/winning a gun fight.

I had just exited a convenience store in a NC city at 10 PM on a 30 degree night and a small guy, with a curiously clear voice, asked me if I had a few extra bucks. I had the hair on the back of my neck rising as well as a screaming in my head that this was not a panhandler but rather a deadly situation. I did not yet know why and never had this feeling before. What happened, IMO, is that my subconscious had picked up a 2nd bad guy coming quietly behind me. When the smaller guy in front of me got about 10 feet away as his pace exceeded mine despite my having my hand on by gun under my coat and issuing stern and loud commands to back-off or we were going to have a big problem, I saw his eyes divert to my left for just a moment. A quick look revealed a guy about 3" taller than my 6'2" frame and 75 pounds heavier approaching from about 20 feet away.

Bringing my eyes back to the smaller guy in front of me he was putting one, and only one, hand in his right jacket pocket. At that point my weapon was aimed immediately right at his chest, time became non-existent, and I had tunnel vision begin as I screamed, "Show me your &^%$ hands". I had learned in a class with a Federal trainer that one hand only goes into a coat to come out with car keys, a knife, or a gun. As we were not near any car but mine and he had just changed to demanding money, it almost assuredly was a gun. Had my hand seen a weapon emerging I had already angled him to have empty stores behind him and I had determined I would break the trigger that I had 1/2 pressure on.

There was no question in my mind. If he came out with a gun I was shooting right in his chest until he fell. I can only say that I know now I can drop the hammer because I am going home to my wife and kids and will do what I have to. I probably could have shot, but I would have needed a good attorney and a lot of money to have done so. Cops I know who I have described the situation to have said I could have been shot through the coat and should have shot. Well, they have their legal fees paid for and I don't for shooting, "Father of the year", as the media will say. Plus, it would have been made a racial incident. I called the Federal Agent the next day and he said to never report such things. If I ever have to shoot someone, which I prefer not to, they are going to bring up any previous involvement and a DA who wants to prosecute is going to claim I am trigger happy. Their job, if they prosecute, is not to find the truth, but to put me in jail for a long time.

I cannot stress enough to those guys carrying a gun out there with a CCW/CHP that if you have not taken at least one 10 hour combat handgun class from a very, very qualified LEI, or former LEO, YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO. You have no idea because, "In a crisis situation you default to your lowest level of training competence". And if you have no training you have no real idea of how, in split seconds, to formulate a game plan. You are reacting to your assailant and will likely be the loser. You will not be practicing a different type of shooting nor will you be screaming, as I did, in the event of witnesses. I have read discussions where the guy who was not the aggressor yelled, "Back off or I'll blow your &^%$ brains out". That's a great thing for a Grand Jury to hear. There's a way for a civilian to likely stay out of jail. If you have taken no classes and not practiced what you have learned, then you don't know them.

If anyone is offended by my words then good. Maybe it will give you pause to get some training from qualified (not everyone really is) training for in both my situations I would have been guessing as opposed to assessing the situation and going into a combat mindset to win. Just a non-LEO citizen's experience on how I went from being the mark to THEIR THREAT, at which point they decided to go find another mark.

Train often, train hard, and carry always, as you are not smart enough to know when evil decides you are an easy score. BTW, I know half-a dozen guys who carry most of the time. My experience has fallen on ears that tell me what they would do to the guys who dared tried to do that to them. Talk is cheap. Tough talk is stupid talk.

signed,
Training hard in NC

P.S. I got behind the engine block in the carjacking attempt as I pulled into a spot against a wall and they pinned me in at the rear. I know now to always back into a spot as they will pass you buy when they see that you are aware of their actions.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Issue of Intervention

There is much talk both on the internet and in real life about the duty or obligation that comes with carrying a concealed firearm Many times we hear people say things like "If I'm ever where an armed robbery is going down I'll get my gun out and shoot the bad guy dead" or something similar. Is this a good idea? Should our default position be "I'll be a good witness" or should it be "I will stop evil acts at any cost" or something in between? Why do we carry a gun? For some it is protection for themselves and their loved ones. For others it extends to property, other people, and so on. Writer, researcher, and retired police officer Evan Marshall graciously allowed me to re-print one of his commentaries on intervention. Some important things to think about here, presented by a man who truly has been there and done that.
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THE DANGERS OF INTERVENTION
There has been a lot of space devoted in the Stopping Power Message Board http://www.stoppingpower.net/ and other message boards to the presentation of hypothetical situations and a request for solutions. The problem with such imaginary situations is that there is none of the untidiness and ambiguity that exists in the real world.
Please understand that I’m not ridiculing those who present such situations or those who attempt to solve them. I consider those who post on this board as friends I haven’t met yet. As your friend I feel a moral responsibility to share my observations based on my actual experiences in real incidents. I don’t want to see good guys and gals get their selves in a jam by jumping into situations that are unclear and fraught with danger.
Let me be perfectly frank. Those who think that intervention will bring fame, honors, glory, etc., are delusional. I once prevented the rape of a woman by butt stroking her attacker with a shotgun while he was in the act of penetrating her. Weeks later she made an excessive force complaint against me. She thought I should have been more restrained in my behavior! On another occasion, my partner and I chased a holdup man into a store where he took a woman hostage. He then threatened to kill her (he had just shot two people in a bank and we believed him!). My partner shot the bad guys three times. One of those bullets slightly grazed the woman’s finger and she sued us for endangering her!
If the rescued individual doesn’t make life miserable for you in the courts, they just might kill you. I’m aware of four instances where officers responded to a domestic violence situation and when the wife realized the breadwinner was going to jail she assaulted and killed her would-be rescuers.
My Tac Unit partner and I backed up a precinct unit on a domestic assault arrest. As the husband was being handcuffed the wife disappeared down the hallway. I motioned to my partner and we followed her down the hall with guns drawn. We found her in the bedroom loading a Winchester .30-.30 lever action rifle. We quickly disarmed and cuffed her. As we brought her into the living room a precinct sergeant ordered us to let her go. When we refused to do so, he attempted to remove her from our custody. When told him that if he didn’t back off we would arrest him, he left to complain to our supervisors.
If ingratitude isn’t enough we need to understand that things are almost never what they seem. What appears to be a car jacking may be the attempt by a father to recover a child from a noncustodial mother. Our intervention may not only be ill advised but we may be acting in violation of a court order. The fact that we are unaware of a court order will not save the day.
Even if the situation is exactly as it appears and you’re even in accordance with the law, you need to understand one simple fact-the law is what the local prosecutor says it is. Do you really want to spend 7 years in jail waiting for an appeal to be heard and your conviction overturned?
I once got sued for in excess of $100,000 for handcuffing a suspect. The city settled out of court even though my actions were totally legal. Anybody who read about this settlement in the paper would assume I was guilty of inappropriate behavior or some illegality. The city paid the settlement and provided legal counsel. Had I been acting as a private citizen I would have subjected my family to decades of poverty in order to pay the judgment and attorney fees.
Situations that involve significant injury or death are frightenly expensive. My partners and I were sued for $17.5 million dollars in the fatal shooting of a holdup man. The legal fees alone would have run into seven figures. We were accused of being blood thirsty, trigger-happy racist cops. The media conveniently forgot we had intervened in the severe beating and robbery of an elderly woman.
All that being said and experienced, I continued to intervene. However, people should be reminded I was a cop-it was my job. I spent 20 years going in harms way for total strangers. Would I do that today? Probably not. I no longer have the deep pockets of the City of Detroit behind me. Sound callous? Well, would you be willing to jeopardize everything you own and your family’s security for a total stranger? Would you be willing to lose your home, your cars, and your retirement to play Knight of the Round Table?
Apparently some people are certainly willing to fantasize about intervening in a hypothetical situation. Some may consider this harmless musing, but I find it troubling. Tactical planning involves assessing all the potential problems carefully and realistically looking at the cost of such intervention. Role-playing or gaming looks at it through rose colored glasses and ignores the cold hard reality of a person’s involvement in a deadly force event.
I carry a gun to protect myself and the people I love from the Monsters that roam the earth. When I’m away from those that mean everything to me, I carry so I can return to them. Are there circumstances where I would intervene to help a stranger? Yes, but such intervention would be on my terms at my pace. I am not going to jump into a situation with gun drawn.
Rather I would seek cover and carefully evaluate the totality of the circumstance. When I was convinced I knew what is really going on I would respond with the minimum amount of force necessary whether that required drawing my cell phone or my pistol. If all we have is a pistol we have severely limited options. I carry three pistols, oc, cell phone, and a flashlight, and I am a PPCT Defensive Tactics Instructor. I am willing and trained to respond with the appropriate level of force even if that is “only” a command voice. I understand the force continuum and know what the appropriate level force is in a given situation. Ignorance of such critical parameters can have horrific consequences.
Those who think the mere display of a weapon will stop hostilities are na├»ve in the extreme. The same people we will be confronting know what an appropriate level of force is and when we make outlandish or unjustified threats we’ll show our true colors. These people can tell when we’re serious and we will quickly find ourselves disarmed and in real trouble.
Again, we need to avoid rushing in where Angels fear to tread. Remember the most endangered species is good guys and gals. Go with God.
Evan
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