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Thread: Shooting when someone appears unarmed...

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    I was going to post in the Vermont thread, but decided to start a new one instead. The thread that sparked my thoughts was this one.

    I have been to one of the largest firearms self-defense schools in the country. I have spent time with a good friend who is in charge of training for a large metro police force. I have participated on firearms forums for a long time.

    That said... my thinking has always been that in a potentially or actually violent confrontation, if you have a gun drawn and a person continues to attack, threaten or otherwise close with you... it's likely a good idea to shoot.

    The logic goes... any normal unarmed person, when seeing a gun pointed at them, is going to stop what they're doing. The fact that they are faced with deadly force and continue to attack means 1) they are armed and intend to kill you 2) they are so mentally unbalanced that they are a significant threat, armed or not 3) they intend to try to take your gun from you (and use it on you).

    So, that's my thinking on the subject... it's the training that police in a major metro area receive... it's the training that a large national self-defense school delivers - and yet, time and again I see people critical of others because they didn't "duke it out," run away, use "other means of defense," etc before shooting under those circumstances. Why?

    If you were on a jury, would you consider the circumstances described as justifying use of deadly force or not?

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    That's what OC spray is for. If they continue to advance after that, then you use deadly force.

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    MetalChris wrote:
    That's what OC spray is for. If they continue to advance after that, then you use deadly force.
    I don't see a practical use for OC spray. If an attacker is close enough for OC spray to be effective, isn't he already too close?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tueller_Drill

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    asforme wrote:
    I don't see a practical use for OC spray. If an attacker is close enough for OC spray to be effective, isn't he already too close?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tueller_Drill
    Off the top of my head, of three incidents involving citizens shooting apparently unarmed people, two of them occurred because the shooter pulled their gun prematurely. I betcha if the dude here had the option of OC spray things might have turned out differently, same thing here, and there was an incident in AZ where a dude is in prison for shooting an unarmedguy that was coming at him.

    I know there are variables in all situations and sometimes certain circumstances can render OC useless, but I think it's a good idea to have some on hand.

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    I'm pretty much with the OP on this. I'm not going to draw unless I am in fear of death or great bodily harm. At that point it is up to the aggressor rather to be deterred by my act of self-defense, ie drawing a firearm, or to continue the aggression in which case he is getting shot. This isn't like the movies and standoffs are not typical reality. Once violence starts everything tends to happen very quickly and is over just as suddenly. I doubt there are going to be very many situations for the average person where there is time to deploy OC, realize that it isn't working, and then deploy a firearm, unless the initial situation is not yet one where drawing a firearm is appropriate in the first place.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    These are the kinds ofquestions that keep defense lawyers in business. No matter how clear-cut the circumstances, there will always be people who want the guy to go free and those who want him fried on the 6-o-clock news, for a variety of personal, political, and societal reasons.

    First question; are you justified in drawing on an assailant who has not displayed a weapon? The answer in most RTC states is "yes"; Texas for example equates a threat of deadly force with the use of force other than deadly force, and force can be used to combat force. That is the gun's great power, and it's reflected in this law; a gun is a force equalizer. A 250-pound guy versus a 125-pound girl is usually going to win in barehanded fighting. The woman therefore needs a gun in order to end or with the fight, but if pulling and pointing it is aggravated assault because legally it was an overreaction, the gun is useless.

    Second question; are you justified in shooting an assailant who has not displayed a weapon? Again, the answer in most RTC states is "yes", but with more restrictions. Some states require evidence that you tried to retreat. States with "stand-your-ground" or "castle doctrine" laws say that you don't have to retreat in certain cases such as in your home, or from any place you may legally be. However, the standard for use of deadly force isuniversallystricter. If a guy takes steps toward you and you perceive a threat of force that will be carried out if you do not act, you can draw, but you must generally perceive a threat to your life to fire. It's hard to prove you feared for your life when he was unarmed, you were, and 98% of encounters end with drawing and presenting a gun, while only 2% require firing it.

    However, a previous post was dead-on; if an assailant keeps advancing even when faced with the threat of deadly force, it provides strong evidence that your life is in danger because one or more of the following is true:

    - The assailantplans totake you with him no matter how many times he's shot

    - The assailant plans to disarm you and use your weapon against you.

    - The assailant is not in a sane, lucid state and thus cannot be expected to act predictably or exercise restraint.

    I agree thatpepper spray causes less legal trouble in such situations, but it has a significant drawback; it doesn't physically incapacitate. It works mainly through pain, and a meth-head or speedballer won't give two flying flips that he's been sprayed. In addition, because it has been known to cause death due to allergic reaction, overdose or secondary effects, use of pepper spray qualifies in some states as use of deadly force. If deadly force is deadly force, I want the tool that will most efficiently apply it. Nobody's immune to bullets, and though a meth-head might be able to power through the pain of a shot that isn't immediately fatal, a shot to the heart, head or spine will put him down whether he felt it or not, and a shot that breaks bone will disable him in other physiological ways.

    So, carry a gun, and if you are confronted by an assailant that threatens your life or health,and won't back down when drawn on, fire, and keep firing till he hits the ground. Your defense is that you were in fear for your life, and force other than deadly force did not affect your assailant, so you had to use deadly force to end the threat to your life. Every state in the Union has self-defense justifications up to and including killing an attacker who threatens your life.

    If you find yourselffacing a fight you know you will badly lose, and you didn't provoke or start it, then draw, aim, and if that doesn't immediately send thethreat in the other direction, fire until the threat stops.

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    deepdiver wrote:
    I'm pretty much with the OP on this. I'm not going to draw unless I am in fear of death or great bodily harm.
    Actually, I'm in an interesting situation. I have problems with the connective tissues in my body (Marfan), which means I'm a bit more sensitive to being roughed up or damaged internally.

    Couple that with the fact that I can't run (bad knee problems, related to the above), getting into a physical confrontation can be particularly harmful to me.
    Why open carry? Because 1911 > 911.

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    bobernet wrote:
    I was going to post in the Vermont thread, but decided to start a new one instead. The thread that sparked my thoughts was this one.

    I have been to one of the largest firearms self-defense schools in the country. I have spent time with a good friend who is in charge of training for a large metro police force. I have participated on firearms forums for a long time.

    That said... my thinking has always been that in a potentially or actually violent confrontation, if you have a gun drawn and a person continues to attack, threaten or otherwise close with you... it's likely a good idea to shoot.

    The logic goes... any normal unarmed person, when seeing a gun pointed at them, is going to stop what they're doing. The fact that they are faced with deadly force and continue to attack means 1) they are armed and intend to kill you 2) they are so mentally unbalanced that they are a significant threat, armed or not 3) they intend to try to take your gun from you (and use it on you).

    So, that's my thinking on the subject... it's the training that police in a major metro area receive... it's the training that a large national self-defense school delivers - and yet, time and again I see people critical of others because they didn't "duke it out," run away, use "other means of defense," etc before shooting under those circumstances. Why?

    If you were on a jury, would you consider the circumstances described as justifying use of deadly force or not?
    Common law is very clear, and virtually every state statutory law is so based: use of deadly force, of threatening it, has the sole defense of imminent fear of death or grievous bodily harm. A woman, an elderly man, a handicapped person, etc will be seen to have greater latitude against an unarmed aggressor who will not back down. You have the duty to retreat, except where Castle Doctrine is extent, before its use. This is the law. The trial will be one of facts, i.e., a 6 foot 3 22 year old high on PCP goes after a 78 year old man. The man blows him away. Reasonable man: not guilty. This one probably doesn't even go to trial. He could not retreat, had reasonable fear, therefore was justified. Fill in the blanks for aggressor and defender and the line gets finer.
    "For any man who sheds his blood with me this day shall be my brother...And gentlemen now abed shall think themselves accursed, they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks who fought with us on Crispin's day." Henry V

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    Gunslinger wrote:
    bobernet wrote:
    I was going to post in the Vermont thread, but decided to start a new one instead. The thread that sparked my thoughts was this one.

    I have been to one of the largest firearms self-defense schools in the country. I have spent time with a good friend who is in charge of training for a large metro police force. I have participated on firearms forums for a long time.

    That said... my thinking has always been that in a potentially or actually violent confrontation, if you have a gun drawn and a person continues to attack, threaten or otherwise close with you... it's likely a good idea to shoot.

    The logic goes... any normal unarmed person, when seeing a gun pointed at them, is going to stop what they're doing. The fact that they are faced with deadly force and continue to attack means 1) they are armed and intend to kill you 2) they are so mentally unbalanced that they are a significant threat, armed or not 3) they intend to try to take your gun from you (and use it on you).

    So, that's my thinking on the subject... it's the training that police in a major metro area receive... it's the training that a large national self-defense school delivers - and yet, time and again I see people critical of others because they didn't "duke it out," run away, use "other means of defense," etc before shooting under those circumstances. Why?

    If you were on a jury, would you consider the circumstances described as justifying use of deadly force or not?
    Common law is very clear, and virtually every state statutory law is so based: use of deadly force, of threatening it, has the sole defense of imminent fear of death or grievous bodily harm. A woman, an elderly man, a handicapped person, etc will be seen to have greater latitude against an unarmed aggressor who will not back down. You have the duty to retreat, except where Castle Doctrine is extent, before its use. This is the law. The trial will be one of facts, i.e., a 6 foot 3 22 year old high on PCP goes after a 78 year old man. The man blows him away. Reasonable man: not guilty. This one probably doesn't even go to trial. He could not retreat, had reasonable fear, therefore was justified. Fill in the blanks for aggressor and defender and the line gets finer.
    "You have the duty to retreat". Not in Virginia.. we have no duty to retreat if we have a legal right to be where we are and/or we did not initiate or precipitate the encounter. Here the measure of the use of deadly force is the perception of death or serious bodily harm. Does one perceive that they are about to suffer such harm or worse?

    As for serious or grievous bodliy harm, I recently watched an interview with a Los Angeles attorney well versed in such cases who was asked this very question. He answered that cuts, broken bones, concussions, and similar injuries are sufficient to satisfy this criteria. Once again, we are in the area of the perception of serious harm or death and what would the prudent man do in a similar situation.

    Never an easy answer to this most important series of questions.

    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    America First!

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    There is an advanced Concealed Carry course at one of the gun ranges around here. Someone who took it told me that they did a drill with laser guns where they had to make the decision to shoot or not to shoot. The person acting as the BG walked slowly toward the GG with his hands behind his back. After yelling several times to stop, show hands, what do you want, leave me alone ect... the BG just kept walking. According to the instructor, at that point you are justified to shoot because in VA you have no duty to retreat, and you cannot tell if the person has a weapon or not.

    Don't know if I agree with this instructor, but that is what he is teaching.

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    asforme wrote:
    There is an advanced Concealed Carry course at one of the gun ranges around here. Someone who took it told me that they did a drill with laser guns where they had to make the decision to shoot or not to shoot. The person acting as the BG walked slowly toward the GG with his hands behind his back. After yelling several times to stop, show hands, what do you want, leave me alone ect... the BG just kept walking. According to the instructor, at that point you are justified to shoot because in VA you have no duty to retreat, and you cannot tell if the person has a weapon or not.

    Don't know if I agree with this instructor, but that is what he is teaching.
    As someone has pointed out, once things turn ugly, events can occur too fast to take the time to question your own actions or those of your attacker. Yelling for someone to stop or halt several times or engaging them in even the simplest conversation could also be a mistake for two reasons. 1) The time it takes to do this. 2) It sends the message to your assailant that you have not fully reached the mental state where you are prepared to fire your weapon.

    There are no easy answers in any of this. Generally a posture and demeanor of someone who is perfectly willing to open fire if necessary is your best presentation to an attacker.

    The fact that someone advances on you when you have pulled your weapon is probably enough to satisfy the three major criteria for the use of dealy force (proximity, intent, means/ability).

    I wish I knew all of the answers to these scenarios. Would make life a little easier should I ever have to use my weapon.

    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    America First!

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    The way I see it, my firearm is a last resort for my own self defense. It is what I will use when Ifeel my life is threatened if I have to, whether the bad guy is armed or not. Life isn't fair. I didn't pick this fight. I will survive.

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    bobernet wrote:
    I was going to post in the Vermont thread, but decided to start a new one instead. The thread that sparked my thoughts was this one.

    I have been to one of the largest firearms self-defense schools in the country. I have spent time with a good friend who is in charge of training for a large metro police force. I have participated on firearms forums for a long time.

    That said... my thinking has always been that in a potentially or actually violent confrontation, if you have a gun drawn and a person continues to attack, threaten or otherwise close with you... it's likely a good idea to shoot.

    The logic goes... any normal unarmed person, when seeing a gun pointed at them, is going to stop what they're doing. The fact that they are faced with deadly force and continue to attack means 1) they are armed and intend to kill you 2) they are so mentally unbalanced that they are a significant threat, armed or not 3) they intend to try to take your gun from you (and use it on you).

    So, that's my thinking on the subject... it's the training that police in a major metro area receive... it's the training that a large national self-defense school delivers - and yet, time and again I see people critical of others because they didn't "duke it out," run away, use "other means of defense," etc before shooting under those circumstances. Why?

    If you were on a jury, would you consider the circumstances described as justifying use of deadly force or not.
    Personally, I would have no problem shooting an unarmed person. If I have reason to be in fear for me life, I would shoot that individual who is threatening me. Of course, every circumstance is different. It would be dumb to shoot an 85 year old grandmother because, really, there's not alot she could do. But if it is a 6'8" male standing tall at 325lbs, it would be a much easier decision. Bottom line, there is no absolute answer, every situation is different. General rule: only use deadly force as a last resort, and you need to be able to articulate to a jury WHY you were in fear of your life from an unarmed person.



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    SouthernBoy wrote:
    Gunslinger wrote:
    bobernet wrote:
    I was going to post in the Vermont thread, but decided to start a new one instead. The thread that sparked my thoughts was this one.

    I have been to one of the largest firearms self-defense schools in the country. I have spent time with a good friend who is in charge of training for a large metro police force. I have participated on firearms forums for a long time.

    That said... my thinking has always been that in a potentially or actually violent confrontation, if you have a gun drawn and a person continues to attack, threaten or otherwise close with you... it's likely a good idea to shoot.

    The logic goes... any normal unarmed person, when seeing a gun pointed at them, is going to stop what they're doing. The fact that they are faced with deadly force and continue to attack means 1) they are armed and intend to kill you 2) they are so mentally unbalanced that they are a significant threat, armed or not 3) they intend to try to take your gun from you (and use it on you).

    So, that's my thinking on the subject... it's the training that police in a major metro area receive... it's the training that a large national self-defense school delivers - and yet, time and again I see people critical of others because they didn't "duke it out," run away, use "other means of defense," etc before shooting under those circumstances. Why?

    If you were on a jury, would you consider the circumstances described as justifying use of deadly force or not?
    Common law is very clear, and virtually every state statutory law is so based: use of deadly force, of threatening it, has the sole defense of imminent fear of death or grievous bodily harm. A woman, an elderly man, a handicapped person, etc will be seen to have greater latitude against an unarmed aggressor who will not back down. You have the duty to retreat, except where Castle Doctrine is extent, before its use. This is the law. The trial will be one of facts, i.e., a 6 foot 3 22 year old high on PCP goes after a 78 year old man. The man blows him away. Reasonable man: not guilty. This one probably doesn't even go to trial. He could not retreat, had reasonable fear, therefore was justified. Fill in the blanks for aggressor and defender and the line gets finer.
    "You have the duty to retreat". Not in Virginia.. we have no duty to retreat if we have a legal right to be where we are and/or we did not initiate or precipitate the encounter. Here the measure of the use of deadly force is the perception of death or serious bodily harm. Does one perceive that they are about to suffer such harm or worse?

    As for serious or grievous bodliy harm, I recently watched an interview with a Los Angeles attorney well versed in such cases who was asked this very question. He answered that cuts, broken bones, concussions, and similar injuries are sufficient to satisfy this criteria. Once again, we are in the area of the perception of serious harm or death and what would the prudent man do in a similar situation.

    Never an easy answer to this most important series of questions.
    I lived in VA and am very aware of their laws on duty to retreat. My posting was in general terms, via statutory law, and specific via common law. States vary as to their 'duty' and castle laws. Perception = fear; different term, same meaning. A good CC class will go over state laws in this regard. Of course, one is not needed for prior military in VA, but still an excellent idea.
    "For any man who sheds his blood with me this day shall be my brother...And gentlemen now abed shall think themselves accursed, they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks who fought with us on Crispin's day." Henry V

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    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    Gunslinger wrote:
    SouthernBoy wrote:
    Gunslinger wrote:
    bobernet wrote:
    I was going to post in the Vermont thread, but decided to start a new one instead. The thread that sparked my thoughts was this one.

    I have been to one of the largest firearms self-defense schools in the country. I have spent time with a good friend who is in charge of training for a large metro police force. I have participated on firearms forums for a long time.

    That said... my thinking has always been that in a potentially or actually violent confrontation, if you have a gun drawn and a person continues to attack, threaten or otherwise close with you... it's likely a good idea to shoot.

    The logic goes... any normal unarmed person, when seeing a gun pointed at them, is going to stop what they're doing. The fact that they are faced with deadly force and continue to attack means 1) they are armed and intend to kill you 2) they are so mentally unbalanced that they are a significant threat, armed or not 3) they intend to try to take your gun from you (and use it on you).

    So, that's my thinking on the subject... it's the training that police in a major metro area receive... it's the training that a large national self-defense school delivers - and yet, time and again I see people critical of others because they didn't "duke it out," run away, use "other means of defense," etc before shooting under those circumstances. Why?

    If you were on a jury, would you consider the circumstances described as justifying use of deadly force or not?
    Common law is very clear, and virtually every state statutory law is so based: use of deadly force, of threatening it, has the sole defense of imminent fear of death or grievous bodily harm. A woman, an elderly man, a handicapped person, etc will be seen to have greater latitude against an unarmed aggressor who will not back down. You have the duty to retreat, except where Castle Doctrine is extent, before its use. This is the law. The trial will be one of facts, i.e., a 6 foot 3 22 year old high on PCP goes after a 78 year old man. The man blows him away. Reasonable man: not guilty. This one probably doesn't even go to trial. He could not retreat, had reasonable fear, therefore was justified. Fill in the blanks for aggressor and defender and the line gets finer.
    "You have the duty to retreat". Not in Virginia.. we have no duty to retreat if we have a legal right to be where we are and/or we did not initiate or precipitate the encounter. Here the measure of the use of deadly force is the perception of death or serious bodily harm. Does one perceive that they are about to suffer such harm or worse?

    As for serious or grievous bodliy harm, I recently watched an interview with a Los Angeles attorney well versed in such cases who was asked this very question. He answered that cuts, broken bones, concussions, and similar injuries are sufficient to satisfy this criteria. Once again, we are in the area of the perception of serious harm or death and what would the prudent man do in a similar situation.

    Never an easy answer to this most important series of questions.
    I lived in VA and am very aware of their laws on duty to retreat. My posting was in general terms, via statutory law, and specific via common law. States vary as to their 'duty' and castle laws. Perception = fear; different term, same meaning. A good CC class will go over state laws in this regard. Of course, one is not needed for prior military in VA, but still an excellent idea.
    Yes sir and I believe this particular topic, whenever it raises its head, is a most important one indeed. On the one hand, one has to weigh whether or not the threat justifies deadly force and along with this is the immencely important time factor. A victim more than likely will just not have the time to go through a litany of violent and extreme considerations before taking some kind of action. State laws have tighten this are so much that many times, the victim becomes the victim twice over.

    I like the the fact that Virginia puts the onus on the assailant to a degree by recognizing the victim's perception factor.

    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    America First!

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    bobernet wrote:
    The logic goes... any normal unarmed person, when seeing a gun pointed at them, is going to stop what they're doing. The fact that they are faced with deadly force and continue to attack means 1) they are armed and intend to kill you 2) they are so mentally unbalanced that they are a significant threat, armed or not 3) they intend to try to take your gun from you (and use it on you).
    Well, you left out #4

    The BG is trying to get close enough to use biological weapons on you.
    He better be leading off with his current health card that he isn't
    carrying a deadly desease, or I assume he is.

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    I took Paul Castle's course and can say that a pistol punch works pretty well to deter the Bad Guy. Frankly, getting smacked with a barrel hurts like hell and if that isn't a deterrent, you're either facing a hardcore druggie or you are well and good into zombie territory.


    Though at times it can be hard to distinguish between the two.

    The fuzzy area that civvies get into is if someone is actively trying to take your firearm. I'm not sure that's been covered anywhere.

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    Hands are deadly weapons if the perp knows martial arts. I took karate for 6 years and i can easily kill with my hands quickly if i ever had to.

    Just because a person may not have a physical weapon does not mean your life is at risk.

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