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Thread: Non-lethal weapons?

  1. #1
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    Non-lethal weapons?

    I don't go anywhere without my trusty 1911, but I got to thinking, what do you do if somebody walks up and starts punching you, or threatens to do so? They aren't a deadly threat, and ARS 13-411 allows for use of deadly force to prevent aggravated assault, defined in ARS 13-1204 subsection A paragraphs 1 and 2 as "the person commits assault as prescribed by section 13-1203 under any of the following circumstances: 1. If the person causes serious physical injury to another. 2. If the person uses a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument."

    It's pretty cut and dry if they have a weapon, but the argument could go either way if they are just looking to hit you. You'd have to be able to argue that they presented a serious threat to cause serious physical injury.

    ARS 13-421 allows defensive display of a firearm "to the extent a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the use or attempted use of unlawful physical force or deadly physical force."

    ARS 13-404: Except as provided in subsection B of this section, a person is justified in threatening or using physical force against another when and to the extent a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful physical force. (subsection B says you can't use force against a verbal threat or to resist lawful arrest, note that this doesn't say deadly force, just physical force.)

    I'm wondering where things like tasers, collapsible batons and OC spray fit in legally. Would they be covered by 13-404 (assuming the asp is used properly and not on their head)? Or would you be better off to kill an attacker, legally speaking?

    Ideally I'd just use the force to choke them or throw them down, but my midichlorian count is too low

    I was taught in some LE training in another state that you want to stay one step above an assailant, but not two or more steps above, ie they pull a knife, you pull a gun. They want to punch, you pull a baton, OC, taser, etc. The idea is to use minimal force to neutralize a threat but still stay in charge.

    But most of us aren't on-duty cops, so would that idea still be valid or do you have to employ equal force to a threat when not acting in the name of .gov?

    Discuss.

  2. #2
    Regular Member GF's Avatar
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    That's a good question and that has sometimes crossed my mind. But my thing I were to be openly carrying my firearm and it is obvious, the idea of the subject trying to go for my weapon is something that would go through my mind immediately and that is when I would feel that my life was in danger. But I would try my best to keep that person away from it, and I don't think that I would want to shoot because in my opinion, it would be hard to prove that in court and shooting an unarmed man is not going to look good for you. I hope I am making sense lol. Carrying a TASER or baton is a good idea, but that is just too much to carry on top of carrying a firearm IMO. I would say OC is sufficient.
    Last edited by GF; 08-07-2010 at 12:41 AM.

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    Unless they are actively reaching for your sidearm, lethal force is not justified in just a simple fist fight. However, if you are getting the crap kicked out of you and realize one or two more punches and you'll be out; you have every right to draw your weapon, and if necessary shoot if they do not cease. The main thing you need to worry about when in a fight in public is that you have a weapon and you need to always be aware where it is, and where his/her hands are. Keep your firearm away at all times and if on the ground, roll onto it to prevent it from being taken. If you happen to have a Taser, Asp or OC then definetly use those before you resort to lethal force. In most cases OC will stop them cold, or stop them long enough for you to gain control. If they are high on something then you need to be a lot more careful as things like OC, and Tasers will sometimes be ineffective.

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    Regular Member brokenbarrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C.P.D-#877 View Post
    Unless they are actively reaching for your sidearm, lethal force is not justified in just a simple fist fight. However, if you are getting the crap kicked out of you and realize one or two more punches and you'll be out; you have every right to draw your weapon, and if necessary shoot if they do not cease. The main thing you need to worry about when in a fight in public is that you have a weapon and you need to always be aware where it is, and where his/her hands are. Keep your firearm away at all times and if on the ground, roll onto it to prevent it from being taken. If you happen to have a Taser, Asp or OC then definetly use those before you resort to lethal force. In most cases OC will stop them cold, or stop them long enough for you to gain control. If they are high on something then you need to be a lot more careful as things like OC, and Tasers will sometimes be ineffective.
    if yur of small stature you fear great bodily harm or death if not he reached for my gun,prove he didnt!

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    If someone is threatening to hit you or is hitting you but is not displaying (or reaching) for a weapon, you don't use a gun on them. I wouldn't recommend pulling it either if they are close enough to knock it out of your hands. I do recommend at least carrying a small knife and OC spray in addition to a pistol. Both are excellent at creating distance. OC spray is non-deadly and will give you a few seconds to re-create distance. A knife is a deadly weapon but is extremely useful if they make a grab for your gun. Should they grab at your gun, you can draw the knife and slash at them (don't stab). If you don't have those items, then what you do have is an old fashioned street fight. If they take a swing at you, try to block them, push them away, hit them back, shove them into the ground or an object, etc. If you must fist fight you fight dirty. A kick in the groin, poke in the eye, etc. This is a situation that does not require the use of a firearm although defensive display can be useful if done properly.

  6. #6
    Regular Member mFonz77's Avatar
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    First off: IANAL. Repeat: IANAL.

    I believe brokenbarrel is on the right track however. The state has the burden of proof to prove your life was not in danger when deadly force is used. That said, you'd better be darned sure.

    Whoever said the thing about the LEO telling him to stay "one step above" I believe is, technically, mistaken. Police can do this; civilians cannot. We can only match force with equal force. That said, no one gets free hits, but it's going to be a judgement call. I'm not going to draw down on someone who punches me, but defensive display (verbally, most likely) would be in order here. While I own a baton I don't carry it very much ("tacticool" impulse buy -- guilty) and I carry a knife primarily as a tool. If someone starts punching me I'm going to think "flee" before I think "fight."

    IANAL.

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    There have been plenty of people killed by a single punch.

    As far as I'm concerned, a fistfight is something I'm not getting into. If I can't deescalate it, I'm running away. If I can't run away, I'm going to a defensive display. If the defensive display doesn't work, I'm shooting.

    Non-lethal defense seems like a good idea and in a more perfect world it probably is. In this world though, I'd rather not have a prosecutor second guessing me on my choice of defensive tool if I had something like OC on me but decided it wasn't going to be enough and end up shooting.

    Just my opinion.
    Last edited by JesseL; 08-09-2010 at 11:40 AM.

  8. #8
    Regular Member acmariner99's Avatar
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    Defensive display justified

    If someone were to approach me and showed intent to hurt me -- saying I'm gonna fight you and raises a fist I would initiate a defensive display then withdraw if able and call for backup. But since I OC in arizona I don't think anyone would be dumb enough to pick a fight with me openly carrying a firearm. But I have been wrong before. I want to end a fight as quickly as possible or preferably avoid one to begin with. Once blows start falling I will do whatever is nedded to stop a threat as someone knocking me around like that would put me in a position to be reasonably afraid for my life.

  9. #9
    Regular Member AZkopper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DustoneGT View Post
    ...It's pretty cut and dry if they have a weapon, but the argument could go either way if they are just looking to hit you. You'd have to be able to argue that they presented a serious threat to cause serious physical injury.
    If they have a weapon (club, knife, gun, etc, and arguably even a taser) then it is an aggrivated assault and you have a green light for deadly force to defend yourself. If they do not have a weapon, then the burden of proof switches to you, to prove you were in danger of great bodily harm. Now, many things factor in to that: size of attacker, level of damage he's already done to you, number of attackers, and even sex (big man against a woman). If you are shooting an unarmed attacker, you had better be in fear of your life or great bodily harm, and be able to articulate it well enouugh that 12 jurors will agree (or at least that the county attorney thinks that 12 will agree, and refuse to file charges).

    Quote Originally Posted by DustoneGT View Post
    I'm wondering where things like tasers, collapsible batons and OC spray fit in legally. Would they be covered by 13-404 (assuming the asp is used properly and not on their head)? Or would you be better off to kill an attacker, legally speaking?
    Less than lethal weapons ('dangerous instruments' in ARS talk) can be deadly force or not, depending on how used (a baton to the head or neck will be deadly force, for example). Again, using a baton on an unarmed aggressor is not a good idea, as you will probably be charged with aggrivated assault. I don't know how Tasers and OC fit in for non LEO's and common street fights, and I'm too lazy to look it up now. I'd hazard an opinion that OC or Tasers, used to terminate an assault against you, as long as you didn't use it as an 'advantage' to then counter attack, would be no problem.

    I will say that if you carry less than lethal and lethal, and you end up shooting a guy, you will be in civil court, with his lawyer will argue that you 'wanted to shoot' his client, because you 'could have' used other means. Civil court only requires 50%+1 for a judgement against you.


    Quote Originally Posted by DustoneGT View Post
    I was taught in some LE training in another state that you want to stay one step above an assailant, but not two or more steps above, ie they pull a knife, you pull a gun. They want to punch, you pull a baton, OC, taser, etc. The idea is to use minimal force to neutralize a threat but still stay in charge.
    False. At least in AZ, there is no 'force continueum'. You can use any less lethal or lethal force (as appropriate). You do not have to use hands on, before going to OC, before going to a baton. Confronted with a weapon, lethal force is authorized. Confronted with non-lethal, take your pick of your favorite less lethal.


    Quote Originally Posted by DustoneGT View Post
    But most of us aren't on-duty cops, so would that idea still be valid or do you have to employ equal force to a threat when not acting in the name of .gov?
    People generally have two options: lethal or non leathal force. Lethal force is justified to prevent a burglary of an occupied dwelling, unlawful entry in to an occupied vehicle, arson of an occupied structure, sexual assault, or aggrivated assault (weapon/serious injury). Non lethal force (grabbing, punching, kicking, etc) is legal to defend against non-lethal force used againt you, or to prevent a theft or trespass.
    Last edited by AZkopper; 08-09-2010 at 03:18 PM.

  10. #10
    Regular Member Sonora Rebel's Avatar
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    Never pick a fight with an old man... he'll prob'ly just kill you. I will defend the gun... and in defending the gun... I'll use it.

  11. #11
    Regular Member mFonz77's Avatar
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    If someone is going for your gun a "reasonable person" would presume the person is going to use said gun on you...

    This is one reason I am glad the AZCDL got Defensive Display passed last year...used judiciously it has the potential to de-escalate a lot of these hypotheticals.

  12. #12
    Regular Member Phoenix David's Avatar
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    IMO and IANAL

    But would it be reasonable that said bud guy was beating on you to obtain your firearm to kill you with it?

    Also I wonder with less than lethal if that doesn't open you open when you are carry something LTL and the lawyer comes up with the notion that you did not employ the LTL in the proper manner and you now have some liability.
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