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Old 08-31-2010, 09:49   #1
shotgunjim12
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I little help with an explanation.

Mas,

First of all thank you for letting all of us be able to ask you these questions. I am a Firearms Instructor in the state of Florida. I train Security Officers, Bail Enforcement Agents and the general public on the Use of Force and Deadly Force. I fully understand both of these subjects greatly but there is one section of the Justification of Deadly Force that just about always confuses my students and I try to explain it to the best of my ability but sometimes it just doesn’t sink home. I was hoping that you may have another way of explaining it so I could pass it on to my students.

In the state of Florida “and many other states” the only time that deadly force can be used is when you believe that your life or the life of another within your immediate area is in jeopardy of death or great injury. There is no other justified explanation for the use of Deadly Force. Only the protection of life, yours or someone in your close vicinity is a valid choice. This is unquestionable yes there are other options such as a fleeing felon or in defense of a forcible felony but these options mainly come into play from Law Enforcement and I really don’t go into extended detail with my clientele. I have always trained people that anytime that you draw, expose or discharge your firearm you are using deadly force. I do understand that there are circumstances where having a firearm in hand prior to being involved in an immediate life threatening situation should be and is an option. This is my problem area. You cannot use deadly force on a suspect to just wound them. Deadly force is used to totally incapacitate or stop the actions of the suspect. By force that could cause their death. This is where people usually get confused or I fail to explain to them properly as an instructor. I usually give a scenario to think about. This is my explanation scenario. Lets say Johnny Crackhead was coming after me with a Samurai Sword and a baseball bat and he was going to kill me. I start to run away from him and as I am running away I aim my gun at him and fire six rounds at him. I intended on killing him I was aiming for his upper chest. Five of the fired rounds completely missed my intended target the sixth round hits him squarely in his kneecap. Immediately as the bullet tears through his knee he drops to the ground dropping both weapons and now is no longer a threat to anyone or myself. The shooting would be cleared as justified. My intentions in this scenario were to possibly cause his death by shooting him in the chest on purpose “get that immediate one stop shot”. Then I give them scenario number two where everything is exactly the same except for my response. My response in this scenario that I give is that I didn’t want to kill him, so instead of shooting him in an area of the body that could cause his death “the upper chest” I shot him in the knee on purpose “shooting him in this area I knew wouldn’t cause his death”. This response still has the same affect and drops Johnny Crackhead to the ground immediately. I explain to my students that in this hypothetical situation I would be charged with a crime because I used Deadly Force “shooting him in the leg” I knew that a gunshot to his kneecap would not cause his death and because I knew it couldn’t cause his death I then used too much or too high of an amount of force. My students make a good argument about maybe just wounding the bad guy as being a more acceptable response than just shoot to kill as I have always been instructed to do. Am I totally screwed up and out of date in my explanations or is there an easier way of explaining to my students. I hope I have explained it enough to allow you to understand my situation if I haven’t please ask away, I should be able to explain it further if needed. Thank you sir I appreciate all your help.
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Old 08-31-2010, 20:18   #2
Mas Ayoob
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Jim, your question really requires an answer of a few thousand words more than I'm allowed here in GATE, but I'll "give it a shot," so to speak...

You're absolutely correct that firing a gun at a human being is an act of deadly force. "Shoot to wound" implies that by your own lights, he didn't need killing, yet you did something to him that could have killed him. (Lots of folks have hemorrhaged to death from leg shots.) That's pretty much the same as admitting that, if he died, you used more force than even you thought was warranted.

"Shoot to kill" implies that your purpose is ending his life and taking him away from those who loved him. It smacks of malice. Malice is a key ingredient in a Murder charge.

This is why we teach "Shoot to stop." Political correctness has nothing to do with it. It goes to the heart of the matter: WHY YOU SHOT THIS MAN. You shot him to STOP him from doing horrible things to you or other people, things that would result in their death or crippling injury. THAT is a LAWFUL purpose. Hence, we shoot to stop.

You can, for example, justify an intentional shot to the pelvis if you can show that you knew most MDs say a broken pelvis will usually cause a man to fall within a step or so. He was charging you with that baseball bat you mentioned, and you knew that if you could inflict a wound that caused him to fall within a step, you could STOP him more effectively than with a bullet through the heart that could leave him up and running and clubbing people to death for more than ten seconds. You weren't "firing to wound," because the pelvic area is filled with large-bore arteries that can cause death by exsanguination very quickly when pierced, for one thing. You were shooting to stop. But, because fewer gunshot wounds to the pelvic area cause death than gunshot wounds to the heart, you obviously weren't shooting to kill, either.

We aim for center chest against a violent offender who is armed with a gun because, as a general rule, it neutralizes his ability to effectively shoot us or others sooner than anything else: given the predictable degradation of our own marksmanship under stress, it gives the highest hit probability. The pelvic shot would take away his mobility to stab or club us with a contact weapon, or take our own gun away with his bare hands and shoot us with it, but would not deny him the ability to fire his own gun effectively once he fell. The purpose, again, was not to kill him OR to merely "wound" him, but to STOP him, and the center chest aim is supported with great strength by a long history of police and armed citizen training.

Jim, I hope you find this of help.

best,
Mas
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Old 09-02-2010, 06:01   #3
shotgunjim12
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Mas,

This is why you are the man, thanks for putting things into terms so I can explain it easier to my students.

Hey are you planning on doing any classes this year in Florida I would love to attend some of your courses. Thanks again
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Old 09-02-2010, 06:06   #4
Mas Ayoob
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You're welcome.

Will be doing a 40-hour class in North Florida next month, check http://massadayoobgroup.com.

best,
Mas
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