When to use your weapon...

Discussion in 'Self Defense Tactics & Weapons' started by hogger129, Feb 21, 2010.

  1. Let me point out that I am an attorney only in Virginia, and I don't know spit about the law where you live. Get a local attorney to explain this one.

    But as to Virginia, making any reference to a firearm in connection with an intent to make someone else do or not do anything is called "brandishing a firearm". Brandishing doesn't require that the gun be pulled out, the essence of the crime is the connection between the weapon and the intent to coerce or intimidate.

    So that person who showed off his gun a couple of times to dissuade someone else from causing trouble could have spent a couple of years in the county jail if that had happened in Virginia.

    Police are required to coerce and intimidate as part of their job function. They have to execute search warrants on unwilling "hosts", and have to prevent dangerous felons from escaping after apprehension. Unless you're a cop, you don't have to do that. Not your job, and pretty risky from a legal perspective.

    There are two situations in which the use of deadly force is excusable. And in each case, for the average person, it's a binary choice: pull the gun and shoot to kill or leave the gun alone. If the situation does not require that you kill someone, leave the gun alone, don't think about it, don't make any gesture or reference toward it, and do not touch it (especially in the presence of a police officer).

    The two situations in which the use of deadly force is excusable are called, "self-defense/defense of others", and "stopping a serious felony". The "serious" felonies are those that involve an inherent risk of serious bodily injury to people: rape, robbery, murder, burglary, and arson. That's the whole list, don't be making up new "serious felonies". You might be right, but that list is the traditional formulation. The reason you can shoot an intruder in your house in the night time is because he's committing burglary. During daylight hours, he's a trespasser. Most states do not authorize the use of deadly force to protect "mere property", and trespass is an offense involving property. The common law definition of "burglary" includes the phrase, "during the night-time."; that's because people aren't out in the fields at night, they're in their beds, sleeping and defenseless. Thus a burglar is presumed to be willing to kill the occupants of the house. A trespasser is not presumed to be willing to kill (though you can defend yourself if the trespasser turns into an assailant).

    Here's the traditional definition of the self defense doctrine; print it off and memorize it, after having checked with a local attorney to make sure it's correct where you live: "If you reasonably believe, based on an objective body of fact, that you or an innocent third party is faced with an imminent threat of serious bodily injury, then you may use that force which is reasonably necessary, including the use of deadly force, to stop the attack." You have to be "reasonable"; there has to be "objective" fact giving rise to your reasonable belief; the threat must be "imminent" - not five minutes from now, not five minutes ago, right now; and it has to involve "serious bodily injury". You don't have to be right in your belief, just reasonable. The fact has to be the sort that anyone observing would have seen the same thing you did. The threat has to be immediate. Any third party you are protecting has to be "innocent" with respect to the attack - you can't protect a thief or someone who started the fight with deadly force (including yourself).

    If you're in that situation, pull out your gun and shoot to kill - but keep in mind that it is possible to be wrong and that you can change your mind and put the gun back without shooting. You do not have the luxury of quelling threats that have not materialized by pulling your gun out or even showing it off. But when the threat does materialize, don't hesitate. It's an either-or kind of thing.

    When you're in court defending yourself on a charge arising out of your use of a gun, you want to be able to prove each and every aspect of that definition to the satisfaction of every person on the jury. The fact that you shot, and perhaps killed someone is going to be obvious to everyone there, so don't dance around that issue. Be straightforward and tell them exactly what happened and why it was absolutely necessary for you to pull that trigger. You want to live in such a way that you can face that jury and say, "They're absolutely right, I shot that guy, and I'd do it again under the same circumstances, and any sensible person would have done the same thing I did, and here's why..."

    Things like your use of lightened trigger pull, an action job, enhanced sights and lasers, and hollow point bullets are only a threat if you're worried about someone saying that you were willing to kill and you meant to kill. When that happens, you want to be able to say, "Yeah, so? I carry a gun specifically for that purpose, you're absolutely right that I'm willing to kill someone who tries to kill me and my family. That's why I'm ready to defend myself. I carry the gun specifically for the purpose of shooting the bad guy, and hopefully killing him, before he can do serious bodily injury to me or another innocent third party." Willingness to kill should not be an issue. The fact that you shot someone is going to be the eight-hundred pound gorilla in the room - that's going to have to be a "so what?" kind of thing.

    So the lesson is, don't touch it, don't make reference to it, don't show it off, and above all, don't pull it out, unless and until you really need to kill someone. And when that happens, don't try to intimidate someone like they do on the movies, having the gun does not make you the boss, it doesn't make the bad guy run away, and it doesn't make him lie still. It makes him drop for cover, pull out his own gun and start shooting in your direction. You can always change your mind before pulling the trigger, but the willingness to kill has to be there. Otherwise, carrying the gun only makes you into a nice target.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2010
  2. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    I was under the impression that kidnapping would be on that list, too. Is that correct?

  3. pinecone70

    pinecone70 Active Member

    Jul 30, 2008
    Minnesota Gal!
    I remember a post somewhere about a woman shooting a man in the back after he stole her purse. That seems like a good example of what I would not do. It just isn't worth the legal ramifications to defend a mere piece of property (I carry my wallet in my inside jacket pocket, BTW). If somebody really had to have that purse, they can take it. If they tried to kill me for it, that's another story.

    When to use my weapon...At the range, as often as possible to practice, and God forbid the day ever arrives that I have to use it to protect my life.
  4. UncleFudd

    UncleFudd Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    Phoenix, Az
    User, my sincere thanks for a superb (IMHO) lesson for us all. I do not disagree but do have some possible different views based upon your legal premise.

    Hogger, I have had one experience many years ago that I was able to survive. It changed me in ways, forever and it caused me to take an entirely new look at "self defense" what the law says and what it means to me, or "how do I apply the law to me and my loved ones".

    As a result and in furthering my education in order to better prepare myself and to pass this information to my students, I have visited with nearly 60 people who have had to use their guns and survived. (not brandishing) actually shooting and or being shot at as in my own case.
    In answer to your question as directly as possible, I do not believe you will have to "think" about your response. When or if it occurs it will happen so fast and everything be so bad, you will automatically do that which is necessary at the time just to survive and if you have a weapon at your disposal you will use it only to the extent that you have trained yourself to do, nothing more or less. Primarily because the brain will be functioning on auto-pilot using only that which it has reference to use.

    In nearly every situation during my discussions with others (remember these are common folks just like you and I) who are forced to use any force necessary to stop their threat. In these situations, it is a gun of some type, including shotguns, rifles and pistols, they turned to in their time of need and succeeded.

    after interviewing or visiting with these survivors I have some very interesting, no BS, results from their experiences and my follow-up melding of the necessary actions.
    One thing that stands out in every situation no matter how heinous the event, what they faced or what had already happened during their attack, the good people NEVER, not one time, did more than was absolutely necessary to stop the threat. In other words, they did not keep shooting beyond that which was necessary to put the bad guy down or to have stopped him from his original intent.

    In nearly every case where there was time to think, the good guys hesitated and in some situations it nearly cost their lives and did cause serious, grievous injury. What that means is we need to have made the decision well in advance that we WILL shoot and if necessary and as a result, kill. You will not have the time to decide that when you are being beaten or stabbed or shot, and there is significant proof that providing you have made the decision before hand and are prepared and ready and willing to do whatever is necessary, you will not hesitate or at least you will hesitate for less time increasing your chance of survival. Remember, your attacker is the only one who knows what comes next, to a point.

    at least in the beginning of the attack, they are acting, and we are having to react. We must therefore do everything in our power to reduce this reaction time and removing any and all hesitation is paramount to survival.

    User, you repeatedly make the comment, "then shoot to kill" and I disagree with you only to this extent. In every course I teach that question "do you shoot to kill" is asked. My answer is and will remain, " if you have no choice but to use your firearm to defend yourself and loved ones, the absolute and unequivocal goal is to stop the threat. If in so doing the attacker dies as a result of your having shot him to stop him, it is a result, not your intent".
    I have never harbored an intent to shoot or to kill anyone in my life. I have prepared myself for more years than I can count, to do whatever is necessary to STOP any threat perpetuated against me. I will do everything on my power to keep from having to use force of any kind against anyone. I will even run from you or if necessary beg of you to leave me alone. But if you persist and nothing else will work and you have the ability (a weapon) and have shown intent (threatened me or tried in some manner to harm me) and you are unavoidable, ( you are in my space and I can no longer get away) I will shoot you. I will shoot you until you stop or go away or I am able to egress the area also stopping the threat. If you die as a result, I am sorry, but you gave me no choice. It was at that time, my life or yours. I am an intelligent, educated person and what I saw as a threat by you convinced me that in an instant if I did nothing to stop you, your next action could or would have killed me or caused me or my loved ones death or grave bodily harm.
    But I do and will not shoot to kill, only to stop the threat.

    In my opinion campingjosh and thegunclinger have it right. Someone must manifest all three modes in order for you to even pull the gun let alone begin to shoot. And if you are able or justified to pull it you are justified to pull the trigger and should be prepared to do so. If not, do not in any way let the other guy know you are armed.

    I have said many times in other posts that we all have an obligation to understand how taking another life will affect us after. Thegunclinger is right on the money. It will change you forever and it is common knowledge that it has changed some to the extent they have lost families, become drug or alcohol abusers, lost their jobs or worse. I have explained to my students that it is necessary to have a good bankruptcy attorney as well as your best criminal defense attorney available to you on call. (I provide a list of the most effective, active and successful criminal defense attorneys in my area. It has their names, and business phones and periodically I contact each of these attorneys to be sure they know I am giving out their names and also to be certain they are still practicing and still approve of my including them on my list to my students). It is also necessary to have wonderful, strong family support, your religion and to know a good psychiatrist as well. I also had a friend that was closer than my own brother and we had been together since boot camp back in the early 60s who proved to be the best and the most important element of my survival at the time. This guy would let me call him any time of day or night and many times he would call me or come by to see me just to have a beer and shoot the bull.

    If you have to take a life, you will eventually call upon every one of them to help you to deal with the aftermath of your deeds. Even then and with the very best of everything working in your favor, it is sometimes not enough and some have eaten their own gun barrel as a consequence. Believe it. I am not insinuating that any of you might do so but I am saying it has happened and not just once in a while, it happens to some extent EVERY TIME that good people are forced to take a life. So I am only suggesting that you make a study and read about this phenomena to be better prepared.

    There is a reason why our government uses horrible names and other means to dehumanize those we fight wars against. It is so that we can come home and leave the battlefield behind. It is the same reason that police departments have peer groups within their agencies so they can come right to the scene of an officer involved shooting. They have these people to be with the officers immediately and I might add, they also have some of these people to go and be with the officers family members immediately as well.

    Hogger and others, Please do yourself a favor, study what happens to us after a shooting just as much as you do on how to prepare to shoot and when to shoot etc.

    It will be some of the best and most important time you will ever spend in your quest to understand self defense and to have the whole package available if and when you need it.

  5. Argus

    Argus New Member

    Feb 27, 2010
    UF: Do you have any references you'd recommend to help prepare for that which I hope never happens.
  6. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    I'm currently reading In the Gravest Extreme: The Role of the Firearm in Personal Protection by Massad Ayoob. It focuses a lot on this stuff.

    Uncle Fudd will have other good options, too, but this is an excellent starting point.
  7. Agentwil

    Agentwil New Member

    Feb 9, 2010
    I would recommend anything by Col Dave Grossman. His website is http://www.killology.com, his books, "On Combat" and "On Killing" are the best written on the subject. I don't recommend Massad Ayoob because he is a self proclaimed expert with no education or experience to back up his claims.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010
  8. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    I disagree with this. He has both education and experience, and his book explains both.
  9. Agentwil

    Agentwil New Member

    Feb 9, 2010
    We can agree to disagree.
  10. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Fine with me. :) I tend to learn the most from people with whom I do not agree.
  11. ofitg

    ofitg Active Member

    Feb 25, 2010
    I once heard a CCW instructor recount some of his personal experiences after he was compelled to use deadly force. He was completely justified in using deadly force, so there were no criminal charges, but he paid about $30k (this was back in the 1990's) in legal fees defending himself against civil suits initiated by the bad guy's family (not to mention the threats, vandalism and other forms of harrassment).
    It's not something you would want to go through. Deadly force is a last resort.... and then you could be in for the biggest hassle of your life.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010
  12. mncarpenter

    mncarpenter Member

    Nov 14, 2009
    This question has been discussed,to death, pun intended,on many forums and in many formats. Defense training should help, your body and brain will tell you more. I've never been in a situation where I have felt another human was going to kill me,although I have been around people who were capable of it and may have wanted to. I have been in situations where I thought I was about to die,and probably should have, and for some unknown reason , come out still breathing. I will never forget the body reaction I've had, and amazingly , the clarity of thought. I think User has it right, and what he says has been the thinking I've based my own decision on. I won't threaten you with a gun. When it comes out I'm pulling the trigger. Here is why-my normal reaction to a threatening situation is not to pull a gun, but get the hell away,whether that means fighting, running, or a combination of both. If I can't get away, or fight off a threat, then I will do what it takes to stop it. I have screwed up knees from years of lugging beef, and standing/working on concrete as a carpenter, furniture/cabinet maker. I'm 6'2 270,and 53 yrs old. I can't run very fast or far. I could break your neck if I can get hold of you, but that's kinda iffy, cuz I ain't too fast. Hence the carry permit, because like others, I don't intend to be your victim, or allow an innocent person or a member of my family be a victim.
  13. wpage

    wpage Active Member

    Aug 25, 2009
    No CCW...
    However when its time. Its time and we know it...
  14. guns4life

    guns4life New Member

    Oct 6, 2009
    south carolina
    so if its daylight and a burglar is breaking into your house you must assume that he is only wanting your property and not your life so you cant protect yourself using deadly force YOU GOTTA BE KIDDIN ME !!!!!!!! thank God that south carolina has a castle doctrine which means that you have no duty to retreat in your own home if he breaks in in sc hes dead meat bought and paid for end of story
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2010
  15. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    User's point wasn't that you cannot protect yourself in your home in the daytime. His point was that when daylight allows, you must assess if the intruder is actually a threat to your life or only a threat to your jewelry box. If the intruder is armed, then by all means defend yourself and your family.

    Try not to think of it in terms of "I'm not allowed to kill intruders during the day." Instead, use this system: It is allowable to kill and intruder who is threatening serious bodily injury; at night, all intruders are assumed to be threatening serious bodily injury.
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
Self Defense Tactics & Weapons Concealed weapon thoughts Aug 10, 2016
Self Defense Tactics & Weapons SD Carry Weapon. Jul 17, 2014
Self Defense Tactics & Weapons My weapons caliber are good to home defense? Jul 7, 2014
Self Defense Tactics & Weapons Tactical Flashlight as Defensive Weapon.. Nov 26, 2013
Self Defense Tactics & Weapons Need advice-Please see reply by beanpole under self defense tactics & weapons Jan 5, 2013