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The Use of Deadly Force

The Fight Or Flight Response

“Reasonable” Use of Deadly Force

The Levels of Awareness

The OODA Loop

Disparity Of Force

Closing Distance In An Attack

Front Sight, Squeeze, Follow Through

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The “Reasonable” Use Of Deadly Force
The “Reasonable” Use Of Deadly Force

Self-defense plea.
Recognize right up front, that no matter what his motivations really were when he pulled the trigger, when he is facing the police, every scum bucket has claimed it was "self-defense." In fact, there was one precedent setting case in California, where an armed robber claimed "it was self-defense" when the person he was attempting to rob, pulled a gun to fight back and the robber shot him. Now, maybe in whatever alternative reality he lives in, stabbing someone fifteen time for insulting him is "self-defense,” but that definition doesn't hold water with the police, much less the courts.

Unfortunately, both sides claiming it was self-defense make up about 99% of the cases the Police see. And, it isn't just one side misrepresenting the truth, it's usually both. That old cliche about "taking two to fight" is true. Which means, in that same 99%, both sides were actively fighting and are now not only blaming the other, but protesting their “innocence.”

Therefore, even in the "cleanest shooting" it's going to be an uphill battle trying to prove to the Police and the courts that your actions were justified, and that your claims of self-defense are not just another case of someone trying to wiggle out of the repercussions of committing a murder. This battle is going to be even harder if you were doing something stupid, illegal, borderline illegal, inflammatory, provocative, or participatory. In other words, if you were part of the problem. A problem that resulted in a body hitting the floor.

As a rule of thumb, the standard is, what would a “reasonable” person do under the same circumstances? You CANNOT provoke a fight, and then use deadly force to end it. If such were the case, the streets would be littered with bodies. Under the law in most jurisdictions, you may only respond to force with equal force. In other words, you CANNOT shoot someone for calling you names, or even slapping, or punching you, UNLESS there is a clear and present demonstration of DISPARITY OF FORCE, and all the prerequisites of ABILITY, OPPORTUNITY, and INTENT, are in place and you feel your life is in IMMEDIATE and IMMINENT danger.

This is why you had better do your homework and discover exactly how narrow of a spectrum it is, that allows you to use deadly force, and then make sure that your actions fall within those parameters. Immediate, means "at this very second." There is literally nothing more dangerous to you and your family than NOT understanding what is meant by "immediate" or "imminent.” This idea cuts through ALL emotions, fears, thoughts and suspicions, and defines when you are, in the eyes of the law, justified to use lethal force.

In many jurisdictions, if he isn't trying to kill you right now, you aren't justified in using lethal force. It doesn't matter if he is standing there screaming and threatening to kill you, or if has said that he is going to come back and get you or, in many States, has just pointed a gun at you, demanded your wallet and is now running away. Those may not be considered "immediate threat of death or grave bodily injury." Because he isn't trying to kill you at that exact moment.

Not understanding the meaning of this term will put you in prison for homicide, or murder. At the very least it will endanger everything you own to litigation... And, odds are, you will lose if you pressed the trigger at the wrong time.

In theory, someone standing across the room waving a knife threatening to kill you, does not constitute an immediate threat, which means that you cannot legally shoot him. On the other hand, when he starts moving toward you, then you are in immediate and imminent danger of death, or bodily harm. The reason is, that a knife is a close range weapon and by rushing at you, he is now capable of harming you. Granted, his brandishing the weapon in a threatening manner is, in and of itself a crime, but is it enough to warrant shooting him?

Now that is theory, in reality, this is somewhat of a grey area. Not only does it depend on whose lawyer is better, but also the laws of the particular State (or County, or Country), what the existing legal precedents may be, and what the current local interpretation may be. In one court you might be acquitted for shooting him while he is drawing a gun, whereas, in another you will be convicted if you shoot before he has fired the first shot.

In the best of times it is a very, very slippery slope. Unfortunately, a situation that has spun so far out of control that deadly force was used, is very seldom, the best of times.

Two citizens in dispute.
You may look at a potential attacker and say, "What a dirtbag." You may even go so far as to rationalize that, "He deserves whatever he gets" for attacking you. Not to be the bearer of bad tidings, but according to the Constitution he's got the same rights that you do. This brings us to the heart of the matter. It isn't you (a heroic and innocent taxpaying citizen) and a dirtbag (a lifelong criminal whose execution would benefit society). In the eyes of the law it is "two citizens in dispute." And that is to say that nobody "deserves" anything without due process of the law.

People misbehave and do stupid and illegal things. That is an indisputable fact. Now the question before the court is which citizen was most out of line, you or him?

Don't think that the fact that you are a clean cut civilian, or a woman, will automatically indicate your innocence. The Police are accustomed to seeing nice, white middle class people trying to score drugs from street corner drug dealers, and such deals often go wrong. Even if you are unfamiliar with the rising statistics of crimes (especially violent ones) committed by women, it doesn't mean that the Police are.

What all of this means, is that if you find yourself in such a situation, your actions will be seriously scrutinized for any misconduct or excess. And if there is any, then you will be treated like a criminal. More importantly, you will have broken the same laws, and perpetrated upon him, the same wrongs he was trying to do to you.

Moreover, if you choose to carry a knife, you need to know that such a weapon is considered a "thug's weapon" in many cultures. And if you do use a knife on someone, then you had damn well better make sure that the wound patterns match your claim of "self-defense." Unfortunately, most training in stick and knife arts don't take either issue into consideration. They are in fact, training you to kill with LITTLE, or NO provocation, and the result is, you WILL end up in prison for homicide, or murder.

The bottom line is that you cannot use lethal force on another person unless you yourself, are in the same degree of danger.

 Putting that in plain English, if he punches you, you can't pull a knife and carve him up, claiming it was “self-defense,” ASSUMING THAT NO “DISPARITY OF FORCE” EXISTED.  You have not defended yourself from the immediate threat of death, or grave bodily injury, since you've used a weapon to win a fight.

He was not attacking you with the same level of physical force that you responded with. By pulling your weapon when there is no real danger to your person, you've escalated the situation. And that makes YOU the aggressor.

But wait, there's more...

On the other hand, if you are genuinely in fear for your life, if the aggressor has demonstrated the willingness and the means to end your life, or the lives of loved ones, then you MUST do what you believe to be prudent at THAT moment. It is, what you have trained for, and hoped would never happen.

The Police, the court system, and the jury are, and always will be, nothing but armchair quarterbacks. They get to dissect your split second, life or death decision over days, weeks and months. They were not there. They have no idea what really happened, or what it was like for you. If you have acted in good faith, and with the true belief that you were defending innocent life, your God, and your Attorney will see to it that your judgement is both fair and just.

Your actions will have consequences... Take solace in the fact that you will be alive to face them.

Defining the word, "fight"

In the strictest definition, the word 'fight' means; "A violent struggle involving the exchange of physical blows or the use of weapons". Although that definition may  cover the act of self-defense, it also carries connotation's of  circumstances which do NOT constitute self-defense.

The context in which it is used throughout our Courses, is as a substitute for, or in reference to, the words, 'self-defense'.  However, you should never use the word in describing an act of self-defense, since it can be interpreted to mean something other than what you intended.

Fighting and self-defense have two completely different meanings in the eyes of  the law. Self-defense  is legal, fighting is not...

Nothing presented on this website is offered as legal advice, nor should it be construed as such. It is however, offered to acquaint you with the more important factors that are involved in the use of deadly force, and why you need to consult with your Attorney and a Certified Instructor, for both advice and training on this issue BEFORE you find yourself in an encounter, much less court.  Ignorance of the law, especially when it comes to using lethal force, is not a defense... Anywhere... Ever.

The following dissertation pertains to encounters outside the home. Defending your home against uninvited intruders is another issue altogether. Our classes cover the difference in detail, including the Castle Doctrine, but no “reasonable” person could possibly conclude that an uninvited intruder just stopped by for “coffee and cake” in a home invasion scenario.

It is important to realize that when it comes to robbery, car-jacking, or aggravated assault, it can be, and often is, a life and death issue, and it can happen in the blink of an eye. If you have not made an informed decision before finding yourself in such a situation, then the odds are seriously against you being able to do it in the middle of a crisis. And by extension, the odds are against you being the one who will survive.

© 2012 • R.F. DeMott

Intelligent Rules for CONCEALED Carry

Your concealed handgun is for protection of innocent LIFE only.

Engage with a firearm only to save a life from the wrongful and life-threatening criminal actions of another.

Know exactly when you can use your gun.

A criminal adversary must have, or reasonably appear to have:

Ability to inflict serious bodily

injury (he is armed or reasonably

appears to be armed with a deadly

weapon; you face multiple unarmed

attackers; an unarmed attacker has

an obvious, substantial advantage in

physical ability and/or skill -

‘disparity of force’);

Opportunity to inflict serious

bodily harm (he is physically

positioned to immediately

harm you), and;

Intent (hostile actions and/or

words) that indicates he means to do

you serious or fatal physical harm,

and you can reasonably expect him to

act on those threats.

When all three of these "attack potential" elements are in place simultaneously, then you are facing a reasonably perceived deadly threat that may justify an appropriate deadly force response. You MUST feel your life is in imminent, and immediate danger.

Avoidance should always be your first line of defense...

Just because you’re armed doesn’t necessarily mean you must confront a bad guy at gunpoint. Develop your situational awareness skills so you can be alert to detect and avoid trouble altogether. Keep in mind that if you successfully evade a potential confrontation, the single negative consequence involved might be your bruised ego, which should heal with mature rationalization. But, if you force a confrontation, you risk the possibility of you, or a family member being killed or suffering lifelong crippling and/or disfiguring physical injury, criminal liability and/or financial ruin from a civil lawsuit. Flee if you can, fight only as a last resort, but if you are left with no other options but to engage, fight to win (if you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck). For a multitude of reasons, discretion will always be the better part of valor, unless, and until, a deadly force defense is your only viable option.


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