Someone claimed "Unarmed = non lethal"... how true is this claim?

Someone claimed "Unarmed = non lethal"... how true is this claim?

This is a discussion on Someone claimed "Unarmed = non lethal"... how true is this claim? within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I certainly don't consider an unarmed person to be "none lethal"... especially when you know what kinds of force the human body can deliver in ...

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Thread: Someone claimed "Unarmed = non lethal"... how true is this claim?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array CR2008's Avatar
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    Someone claimed "Unarmed = non lethal"... how true is this claim?

    I certainly don't consider an unarmed person to be "none lethal"... especially when you know what kinds of force the human body can deliver in a punch, chock etc. There was a show on discovery channel, showing how much force and damage the human body takes from hits to the face, neck, chest, abdomen etc... there are cases where people have dead from internal bleeding, and some have been chocked to death after a lose of consciousness. To me, within close proximity, the human body is certainly lethal without question, even more so when the perpetrator is stronger, or there are multiple perpetrators.

    I read this post here, and it got me thinking about how threatening an unarmed person is: http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulle...-carrying.html

    This case sounds very similar, caught on camera a permit holder shooting and killing someone who was unarmed, but was about to strike him in the face with a trash can lid. No charges were filed against him.

    LiveLeak.com - Fatal Shooting At Gas Station.


    So, if you were in a situation, were the perpetrator was unarmed, why would the use of deadly force not be an option, especially if the perp got SEVERAL LOUD warnings to stay back and there was no mode of escape?

    How do you know that the person is not on drugs, and wont KO you only to either chock you to death, or use your own weapon to finish you off?

    IMHO, it does not matter if the victim was in his mid 20s or if it was a 60 year old grand mother, to me, the person is justified using their firearm if they felt their life was in danger... but obviously an unarmed attacker has to be closer than an armed attacker (has gun) and there general is no mode of escape (some states have a "stand your ground law" and some have a 'duty to retreat' law like MD, NY,NJ etc).

    IMHO, if I can't get out of a situation like that, I certainly won't try to 'fist fight' for fear that the attacker might KO me and chock me to death or using my own weapon against me (if you are KOed, and they rifled through your waist for cash, then YES, they could find you are armed and use your own weapon to finish you off.)

    I can understand someone using pepper spray or a taser under such situations though, but if those things were not present, I can't understand why using a firearm were "unjustifiable."

    There are lots of people dead today from hand to hand combat, I use to volunteer down at shock trauma Baltimore, and saw people with sever head injures causing by strong blows.... their faces were swollen, then there are lacerations, and possible bleeding in the brain... A fist is lethal, especially stronger perp or multiple perps.


  2. #2
    Senior Member Array dcb188's Avatar
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    Good question, as usual with your scenarios.
    The guy with the trash can lid was armed, with the lid, an item used or could be used as a dangerous weapon even though not a dangerous weapon per se like a knife or gun.
    For an unarmed suspect, we had better be really careful what we do and how we do it because of disparity of force.
    For instance, an unarmed man comes at you, wants a fistfight, you cannot just shoot him. Maybe he would be able to kill you, maybe he is armed, but right now when you shoot, you don't know any of that. Neither do we have to wait until we are dead ourselves. There is a fine line somewhere and it depends on the fact scenario presented. There are a couple of major rules and regs about it but they do not cover every conceivable scenario. Plus although self defense is mostly the same everywhere, your state may differ from others.
    On the other hand, we cannot assume that an unarmed man knows the martial arts that can kill, either. We cannot say oh officer I shot him because I have heard that guys who know these arts can be deadly. You do not know this unarmed guy, so we cannot project what he may or may not do or what he is capable of.
    We have to go beyond possibilities and guesswork. And it is not just if we feel our life in danger. We need a reasonable fear that we are about to experience death or severe bodily injury.
    My general rule of thumb would be to never draw and fire unless you HAD to do it to save your life or the life of another. But even then, there are plenty of gray areas.
    There are so many scenarios. Suppose you knew that a certain guy did have extensive training in the deadly martial arts and this particular guy is the one who says hey I am going to kill you and you know he can and will and he goes into a stance etc then that is a lot different from a guy who says hey let's fight and you say well I thought he might possibly know that martial arts stuff and so did not want to take any chances.
    The various scenarios are what we must focus on. The general rules cover it but not all of it.

    Reading that archived post, it seems clear to me that we cannot avoid a normal fistfight by shooting someone.
    In that specific archived post you gave us the link to, it is clear to me that the guy with the gun would have been charged had he pulled his gun out and fired, when the other guy was delivering a punch. That is disparity of force.
    A fist vs a gun?
    A stick vs a gun?
    A baseball bat vs a gun?
    A knife vs a gun?
    Now what you have is increasing force being used against you, and so the correctness of using your gun becomes greater and greater. If you have knowledge that something else is operating, though, like the guy swings at you but puts his hand on a knife and it is still in a sheath and he opens it and now has it in his hand, his chances of continuing to live have just plummetted.
    What force is necessary to repel my attacker? Use just that force necessary, and no more. If you use more, YOU become the aggressor and thereby lose the right of self-defense because you exceeded the lawful bounds of self-defense. Self defense is not unlimited.
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  3. #3
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    How do you know that the person is not on drugs, and wont KO you only to either chock you to death, or use your own weapon to finish you off?
    You dont.

    If you use your firearm against an unarmed person, in Arkansas you must satisfy two requirements. Each state is different.

    First, you must fear for your life.
    Second, if you can escape in complete saftey, you must do so.

    If you shoot, you must be able to articulate to a jury why you did, and must prove that you did everything in your power to escape.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Array CR2008's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcb188 View Post
    A fist vs a gun?
    If you use more, YOU become the aggressor and thereby lose the right of self-defense because you exceeded the lawful bounds of self-defense.
    So a 60 year old grand mother is approached in the parking lot by an unarmed serial rapists who has targeted her, she asks the man 'what do you want' and the man offers no response, she warns him to get back and he says nothing.... she presents her firearm and tells him again TO GET BACK or she will shoot... this serial rapist is pumped on on what ever poison his favors....


    Are you saying that this woman has to wait till she gets beaten first before she can open fire?


    OR, what if the victim was a young man in his 20s, and his apartment gets broken into, he sees an unarmed man coming up the steps, so he runs and locks himself in his room and calls 911, he warns the unarmed home burglar that he has a gun, the unarmed man is kicking down his door.... he enters.... what should the victim do? Wait until his face is beaten in and he his chocking on his own blood?

    I don't understand what you are saying here... I understand the victim has the right to use as enough force to STOP the attacker... so should the victim wait for this unarmed attacker give them a beat down first?

    That sounds like a serious risk to me.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array CR2008's Avatar
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    So it's a "duty to escape" state?

    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    If you shoot, you must be able to articulate to a jury why you did, and must prove that you did everything in your power to escape.
    Does Florida have the same thing? From what I understand, you can stand your ground, just as in GA in the defence of your life (not property though, unlike in Texas.)

  6. #6
    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    If you are carrying a weapon there is one very important thing to keep in mind, "There is at least one gun present at any fight you get involved in."

    I don't like to get in fights.

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  7. #7
    Senior Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by CR2008 View Post
    Does Florida have the same thing? From what I understand, you can stand your ground, just as in GA in the defence of your life (not property though, unlike in Texas.)
    I dont know about Florida.

    Arkansas does not yet have the "stand your ground" provision.
    Some day perhaps...
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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    Distinguished Member Array sniper58's Avatar
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    I didn't read dcb's statements to imply or suggest a 60-year old couldn't shoot in self defense. Physical stature of the aggressor does play into the disparity of force scenario as fists, feet and muscle can and have been factored into the equation. Your scenario of lethal force defending against a home invasion is covered in most states (BG's intent is manifested by the unlawful entry into an occupied dwelling). In your original scenario, however, anything picked up can be used as a weapon. Best advice is to try avoidance whenever possible and stop the threat when it's unavoidable.
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  9. #9
    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    Georgia has no duty to retreat, so you don't have to try to escape, although I personally believe it would be wise.

    For your particular state the use of deadly force is pretty straight forward.
    Quote Originally Posted by GA Statute
    O.C.G.A. § 16-3-21
    Use of force in defense of self or others; evidence of belief that force was necessary in murder or manslaughter prosecution


    (a) A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person against such other's imminent use of unlawful force; however, except as provided in Code Section 16-3-23, a person is justified in using force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
    A forcible felony is described as
    Quote Originally Posted by forcible felony
    (e) As used in this Code section, the term "forcible felony" means any felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any person and further includes, without limitation, murder; felony murder; burglary; robbery; armed robbery; kidnapping; hijacking of an aircraft or motor vehicle; aggravated stalking; rape; aggravated child molestation; aggravated sexual battery; arson in the first degree; the manufacturing, transporting, distribution, or possession of explosives with intent to kill, injure, or intimidate individuals or destroy a public building; terroristic threats; or acts of treason or insurrection.
    So, it does not appear as forcible felony would be applicable, so we get back to the reasonable person standard...i.e.
    only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person
    The statutes then go on to say that as a defense to prosecution you can call expert witnesses to testify as to state of mind, and you could probably put some people on the stand to cite examples of times when one punch killed somebody. If they were on drugs it amplifies things because the attacker could do anything.

    What it really comes down to is you should get out of the way if possible, and if you have to use deadly force than you will have to prove that you were in fear of great bodily harm, or death...This is where disparity of force comes in. An elderly woman or handicapped person can prove disparity of force much easier than a 20-30 something in good shape.

    As far as for me personally, in TX, if I am justified in using ANY force, I am justified in drawing my weapon. The Threat of Deadly Force in TX is only 'force'. Armed, or Unarmed, doesn't matter. If he keeps on coming after I have displayed a threat of Deadly Force, than I have to assume he believes he has the ability to harm me even with a weapon pointed COM. If he thinks he can still hurt me and advances upon me with those intentions, then I am justified in using deadly force. Thems the breaks.
    We're in TX, it's different here.
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  10. #10
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    I'm in FL...I'm in my 6th decade...I've had some serious operations...I can hold my own (or sound like it)...my mind knows what my body can no longer do...
    Come at me while I'm pumping gas in an aggressive manner...you'll get a quick, loud warning...keep coming (I'm assuming that I started nothing)...I will use force to prevent the presumed fatal threat...your intention to beat me or take my gun and shoot me isn't going to happen...FL would allow me to defend myself in such a situation.
    I will react quickly and violently...you will have left me with no choice...
    Every situation is different...one will have to make potentially deadly decisions in just a few seconds...Good Luck!

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  11. #11
    Senior Member Array dcb188's Avatar
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    You know, CR2008, even in your 60 year old scenario the guy still has not done anything, has not advanced, said anything, and of course the disparity of force comes from her physical capabilities and age etc. In your exact scenario she is approached. She gives verbal warnings to get back. But the guy does not COME CLOSER nor does he say anything. In my opinion, if she whips out the gun and fires, it was premature. NOT to say that waiting and getting hurt would be the right time either. If he takes a step or two more toward her and ignores her commands, bye bye bad guy. But in your scenario he approaches, evidently stops, does not say anything. Not enough (yet) but it will be in a few seconds if he moves towards her. Timing is important also, re self defense, as you saw from other scenarios on these forums where things were done too soon or too late.
    You do what you MUST do WHEN you must do it. Not before, not after.
    And these scenarios are tough, no doubt about it.
    And you are becoming a scenario expert very quickly. You post great ones.
    Your second attacker, unless your state has a Castle Doctrine, him breaking down the door may or may not be enough. YET. I did not say you have to wait and get beaten, just don't jump the gun. Pun intended. There is certainly a point where you must fire, but let that point come to you. Rushing it could get you in trouble in a lot of jurisdictions. When you MUST do it, then DO it, but do not do it too soon or it opens you up to questions, at the very least.
    Keep in mind that anyone can draw a gun and shoot, and of course you can say well I thought, I thought, but maybe you thought too soon.
    My personal opinion is this: In any shooting, I want to be sure that I can say with honesty, hey, I had no choice because of A B C. People will second guess you as it is. The cleaner the shooting the better for you. Not that we think of what people will say, but we should care about whether what we are doing right now is within the law or not. Sometimes it is not within the law to act too soon.
    Much of this is not necessarily the law in my state or your state, it is what I would do, example, the guy breaking down the door, I would still wait and see one second or so to see if this and that is about to happen or not. Just very briefly, and I will tell you why. You think you know what is actually happening, but sometimes you just don't know the truth of the matter as it happens right before you. It could be a case of it is not what is seems. E.g. not far fetched at all to have a young kid coming home drunk, cannot get in, breaks down the door to his own house, but it is your house. Do you really want a dead young man in your house now after you find out what really occurred? Not likely to happen but these things do happen.
    Nighttime. Person coming thru door. Young kid, 18 or 20, drunk from a party. You shoot, he dies. Wrong house, just opened your back door and put his keys on the kitchen table and went to his room, but it is your house by mistake. Your back door is unlocked. Your cars are in the garage, you are asleep, all lights off, police get call from neighbor re b & E. The neighbor gets the houses mixed up so the police go to YOUR house by mistake, in the backdoor nice and quiet like, flashlights on, then blam. Do you think these things have never happened?
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Array dcb188's Avatar
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    Now when I once posted a fictitious scenario about a guy going into a bank and he sees a situation, the other poster said it was "ludicrous" so I expect some folks to say the above post examples are not real. But they will have to show me that these things COULD NOT HAPPEN in real life. So instead of merely saying they are ludicrous, the burden is on you to say, hey, that could never happen and here is why. And if you think it could never happen, more bizarre things than the above HAVE happened.
    What someone called ludicrous was my statement that it could happen this way. A guy goes into a bank, a GG, armed, sees a bearded guy in old jeans holding a guy in a slacks and shirt at gunpoint, the young guy's briefcase at his feet. The guy walking in figures oh, bank robbery, boom.
    The undercover cop who just foiled the robbery is dead. I thought, I thought, I thought. So it was deemed ludicrous by one person, and yet he did not explain how this COULD never happen. He had never heard of it happening, therefore it could not have happened and could never happened. This is fallacious reasoning, to say that because you have never heard of this in real life, it could not ever come true.
    The raw truth is that anything can happen and any scenario we can possibly think of probably has happened, some place and somewhere.
    So just because we do not have firsthand knowledge of these scenarios does not mean we dismiss them as nonsense.
    I could get more blunt to sum up and say this is serious stuff. Someone may die. You had better know wt. you are doing. It is too late later on. Talking is one thing. These scenarios are very very scary.
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  13. #13
    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    The answer here is called disparity of force.

    To employ lethal force in self defense against an attacker (or attackers), said attackers must satisfy three criteria, namely Ability, Opportunity, and Jeopardy.

    Ability is the actual manner of inflicting death or serious bodily harm against you. If the bad guy has a knife or a gun, this is pretty clear.

    Opportunity to use that ability against you must be present. A gun has Opportunity in line of sight. A knife might represent Opportunity from seven or more yards away if the attacker is unimpeded, but might not have Opportunity at one foot if there is a strong window or other barrier between you.

    Jeopardy (also labeled as Intent) is the clear indication that the attacker intends to use his Ability and Opportunity against you. Every time you ae at the range, you are surrounded by people with the Ability and Opportunity to do you serious harm. You don't shoot them in self defense because they are not putting you in Jeopardy or indicating any sort of Intent to shoot you.

    So, disparity of force is a legal term that identifies lethal threat Ability when no deadly weapon is involved. There is no hard and fast list of disparity of force indicators, but tons of case law exists in most states to make some generalizations.
    • Numbers: Numerous unarmed attackers. Three-to-one or worse, you would probably be justified in responding to the threat with a gun. At 2:1 you could have a big legal hassle on your hands depending on the jurisdiction.
    • Disability: The 60-yo granny, the guy in the wheelchair, or the regular guy who becomes disabled in the course of a fistfight. If fisticuffs result in you ending up on the ground, helpless, while some meathead tries to stomp your head into the ground with his steel-toed boots, you have now ended up in a disparity of force position that probably justifies lethal force response.
    • Females: Many courts would find justification in an armed female shooting an unarmed male attacker. This is a specific case of...
    • Size, Strength, Skill: The hardest one in general to argue, but a one-on-one fight against an attacker with tremendous size, strength, or (if you can articulate how you know this) bare-hand fighting skill could be a defensible lethal force situation.

    Finally, as to Florida, they do have a stand-your-ground law. You are not required to retreat from any place you have a legal right to be. Before you shoot you still need to meet the AOJ criteria, and that includes being able to articulate a sufficient disparity of force if your attacker is not armed with a deadly weapon.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Array Free American's Avatar
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    I am 6'3" and 260 lbs. I bench 315. I would fully expect that if I were an attacker on a man of average size he would not only consider me dangerous but he would be fully justified in shooting me. This is actually the main reason I STOPPED going to bars when I was younger, the drunks always wanted to prove something by trying to fight me...and I was tired of fighting (nothing suck more than having to leave before the band you payed to see plays.)

    So I completely disagree that unarmed is non-lethal
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    It depends how many beef and bean burritos I had before the encounter
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