Collateral Damage...

Collateral Damage...

This is a discussion on Collateral Damage... within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; (Ran a search; topics similar to this have been raised, but I don't think this specifically. Apologies if I missed something...) How much collateral damage ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array biasedbulldog's Avatar
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    Collateral Damage...

    (Ran a search; topics similar to this have been raised, but I don't think this specifically. Apologies if I missed something...)

    How much collateral damage would you be "willing" to "cause" in order to take out a threat?

    I was inspired by this thread, where I think one person in seven pages said they wouldn't shoot a pregnant woman...

    Obviously, this is not a clear-cut question. "Well, biasedbulldog, I'd be willing to take out exactly three innocents and wound two..."

    All the same, the question remains, and for those of us who intend to use our CCW's in defense of self and family if necessary, I do think the question is relevant. Highly unlikely -- but so is using your firearm in the first place. Worth thinking about beforehand, IMO.

    A few thoughts in favor of shooting:

    -Any damage, injury, or deaths resulting from a criminal activity are the fault of the criminals -- hence the criminal homicide laws many states have (a death caused, even indirectly or unintentionally, by criminal activity can be considered murder by the criminal). So in an abstract sense, it is certainly not *your* collateral damage, nor are you *causing* it at all.
    -In most circumstances, there's a good chance that a CCW'er will be the only one immediately able to stop the threat and more might die by inaction or hesitation than through "collateral damage."


    All that being true, I still don't believe that I would squeeze a trigger if I would be as likely to kill an innocent as the BG. God forbid I should consider the preservation of my own skin the highest of all possible goods (I am currently single - no wife, no kids... so I will go ahead and say that could certainly change my attitude)... and while it may be reasonable to say the blame is with the criminal, I cannot imagine not feeling ultimately responsible for the destination of a bullet exiting a pistol fired by me.

    More motivation to keep training -- and to work hard in the defensive handgun class I'll be taking next week...
    "War necessarily brings with it some virtues, and great and heroic virtues too. What horrid creatures we men are, that we cannot be virtuous without murdering one another?" -John Adams


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Dal1Celt's Avatar
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    Here in NC you are responsible for your shoots from the moment you pull the trigger until the round has come to a stop. Therefore, I am not one to look for colateral damage, unless there is severe threat of loss of life.
    "Without fear there can be no Courage!"

  3. #3
    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by biasedbulldog View Post
    ...How much collateral damage would you be "willing" to "cause" in order to take out a threat?
    ...
    Absolutely none. In the end, if I had caused collateral injury or death, I will be held accountable and my life as I know it will be over. I may be criminally free, but I will certainly be civilly and financially FUBAR for life.

    ....-Any damage, injury, or deaths resulting from a criminal activity are the fault of the criminals -- hence the criminal homicide laws many states have (a death caused, even indirectly or unintentionally, by criminal activity can be considered murder by the criminal). So in an abstract sense, it is certainly not *your* collateral damage, nor are you *causing* it at all...
    Not entirely. First the responding LEOs will make a decision, then the detectives will make a decision, then the DA, Judge, and finally a Jury. If you should to make it though all that unscathed when your actions caused the BG to direct their attention towards you and in turn hit innocents around and behind you, count yourself very fortunate. The Media and civil lawyers are going to have a field day with you.

    -In most circumstances, there's a good chance that a CCW'er will be the only one immediately able to stop the threat and more might die by inaction or hesitation than through "collateral damage."
    Depends on your attitude on the matter. There is another thread running here about Sheepdog and Honor requirement for CC. Some will jump right in w/o hesitation and to heck with the consequences. Others view the CC as "For me and mine only", more towards careful consideration (hesitation you might say) of the consequences of their involvement.

    All that being true, I still don't believe that I would squeeze a trigger if I would be as likely to kill an innocent as the BG. God forbid I should consider the preservation of my own skin the highest of all possible goods (I am currently single - no wife, no kids... so I will go ahead and say that could certainly change my attitude)... and while it may be reasonable to say the blame is with the criminal, I cannot imagine not feeling ultimately responsible for the destination of a bullet exiting a pistol fired by me.
    You are absolutely responsible for each and every bullet that leaves the muzzle of your weapon, range practice or reality bites SD event, no matter where you are in the USA. And each and every one of those bullets has an attorney attached to it that makes (earn would be a blatant lie) enough money to make Solomon blush

    More motivation to keep training -- and to work hard in the defensive handgun class I'll be taking next week...
    Never stop practicing. Never stop thinking. Never stop learning.

    Join a shooting club - IDPA, ISPC, or others. Take specialized training courses when you have the opportunity.
    Sticks

    Grasseater // Grass~eat~er noun, often attributive \ˈgras-ē-tər\
    A person who is incapable of independent thought; a person who is herd animal-like in behavior; one who cannot distinguish between right and wrong; a foolish person.
    See also Sheep

  4. #4
    Member Array biasedbulldog's Avatar
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    While I agree, I wonder whether I might take more of a chance in an active shooter scenario.... and per the pregnant woman, there are -- extraordinarily unlikely -- scenarios where stopping a threat necessarily implies killing an innocent...
    "War necessarily brings with it some virtues, and great and heroic virtues too. What horrid creatures we men are, that we cannot be virtuous without murdering one another?" -John Adams

  5. #5
    Member Array tamworth's Avatar
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    I've heard arguments against "shooting to wound," "aiming for limbs," and the like and I agree that those are "bad" tactics. This just sort of got my blood boiling a bit.

    I have two young kids, 4 and 1, and the thought of a young'n being denied the riches of life because of a stupid mistake the parents make is just unbearable to me. I'm actively on the job market. I'm making money, but just not enough to provide adequate insurance. Once my boy got really sick, I told my wife it's not his fault we don't have insurance, we're taking him to the hospital, bills or no bills. Praise the Lord, the bills ended up being taken care of by the gov't -- 4 days stay in hosp, VERY expensive treatments -- because of extenuating circumstances, (btw I'm decidedly NOT going to live off gov't health care, I AM getting a good paying job!) but we took him to the emergency room ready to get destroyed by the financial repercussions of the visit. It's not the kid's fault for the situation they've been brought into, they deserve the best treatment and opportunities available, even if we can't afford them if it's very serious, like a need for life-saving hospital treatment (I understood at the time the lack of funding would also affect the quality of life for the whole family, but this was life-threatening, he wouldn't have made it without the hospital's help).

    I digress...
    I would shoot any threat, 'equal opportunity-like.' I do value my life as my family's provider (if not enough in money, then in protection and guidance) and I value my family's life over any other family. But when I think of situations like this, it's not the baby's fault. I have the tendency to over-analyze things, and I pray that my 'instincts' or 'training' will take care of the big decisions for me if I were in this situation.

    I just want to know, does anyone here know what specifics would have to exist for the baby to have a chance after the mother has been stopped/killed? Is this a simple "if you shoot to stop the mother, then the baby will die" case, or could there be hope for the child? Once again, no arm or leg aiming tactics are being condoned, just wondering after the threat is stopped/killed, what are the chances? Does the baby start to suffocate as soon as the mother's blood stops flowing? Are there any reported incidents of a baby being saved from the mother's body after the mother's been killed? Morbid, I know and I apologize, but thanks...

  6. #6
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    I can not answer this question besides saying.

    The amount a damage that I am willing to cause to stop the threat is directly related to how severe the threat is to my family and loved ones as well as others.

    Would you be willing to shoot through one innocent in order to save 3? This is one of those moral dilemma's that is all situation based
    “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein,

  7. #7
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Agreed PGrass.

    I personally would shoot or shoot through my own body if it meant the odds that my kids could (better than 50/50 chance) or would (guaranteed win) survive.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

  8. #8
    Senior Member Array agentmel's Avatar
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    Obviously each situation is different, but morally you are responsible for who you hit. It can never be okay to wound or kill innocent bystanders. Never. The whole "collateral damage" euphemism is something militaries hind behind, not us. I don't think there's a scale of good and bad, where as long as the lives you saved outweigh the lives you accidentally took, you're okay. A couple of thoughts related:

    - Carry hollowpoints to reduce the risk of over-penetration.
    - In an active scenario, move to a position that reduces the chances you will hit someone else. Consider advancing on the BG. I also think most bystanders will scatter whenever the SHTF, giving you clearer lanes of fire.
    - This might be the one scenario where I'd fire a warning shot or pick another target first if there are multiple BGs.

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  9. #9
    Member Array cgraham's Avatar
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    Assuming that several people are doomed by the active shooter (say, a mall or restaurant spree; a threat only to oneself is not considered here), this discussion is comparable to the 'tram problem' that psychologists discuss.

    Suppose that a runaway tram is heading towards a group of five people who will be killed if the tram continues on its present course.

    A) Most people say that it is acceptable to divert the tram to another set of tracks that has only one person on them, so that five deaths are prevented at the cost of only one.

    B) On the other hand, if the alternative is changed from redirecting the tram to pushing a single person in front of the oncoming tram to stop it, most people find this new choice unacceptable.

    In both cases the same number of lives saved is the same, but our brains seem to make the decision differently. Many people seem to put additional value on being able to distance themselves from a difficult decision (B). So it is not surprising that there should be disagreement over whether collateral damage is acceptable in the active shooter scenario, putting the law aside. It is important to recognize that the active shooter scenario is more similar to A than B, because the collateral damage is indirect, not deliberate and physical as it is in B.

    To make things more difficult, there is certitude in the extent of collateral damage in the tram analogy, not in the shooter case. Applying the tram analogy, if several people are going to be shot to death if you don't act, then the risk of collateral damage could seem reasonable if you are reasonably sure you can "make the shot". Suppose you are a steady shot and have a 50% chance of success under the conditions, but you hit an innocent. A second shot also has a 50% success/failure probability under the same conditions. So statistically, you are just as justified in taking a second shot as the first, if a number of people are otherwise doomed. Collectively, the two shots had a 75% chance of striking the active shooter before the first miss. You would be very unlucky to miss a third time, all things being equal. (I chose a 50% success rate because it is easy to conceptualize, not because it is "good enough").


    This is, of course, a cold-blooded analysis that ignores emotional and legal matters. One of the things it shows is that an acceptable number of "collaterals" is not logically definable as long as it is less than the number otherwise doomed. Another factor that plays into the argument is who you are defending, family/friends, or strangers; I'm sure most would take greater risks for their family (that's emotion taking over). However, an independent observer would say the value of their lives is no different from the stranger's).

    I'm not advocating collateral damage, but the risk of it might be logically justifiable in extreme circumstances, especially if the person accidentally shot is otherwise doomed.

    Perhaps food for thought.

    C
    Seeking Knowledge, Hoping for Wisdom

  10. #10
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    The tram option B is unpopular because of the lack of certitude that throwing one innocent under the tram will in fact stop it from hitting the five in its current path. Whereas diverting the train from five to one innocent has more certitude and even a time factor for the one in the new path to get off of the track.

    Your example of each shot's having a 50% success rate means that, a priori, with three shots, one can have an 87.5% certainty of shooting the BG, but a posteriori, having missed twice, the third shot is still just a 50% shot (no pun intended).

    For the record, one of the rules of gun safety is "know your target and what's behind it", and if I can't handle a gun safely, then I should not handle it at all. In these discussions of carry and defensive scenarios, a necessary premise is neutralize the BG without collateral damage. I might not fire a shot, but neither would I fire a warning shot (TV stuff. A BG on adrenaline or whatever else may react very unpredictably).

    Honing my marksmanship makes me better able to respond to more situations. Comments from the pros are more than welcome.
    Americans understood the right of self-preservation as permitting a citizen to repel force by force
    when the intervention of society... may be too late to prevent an injury.
    -Blackstone’s Commentaries 145–146, n. 42 (1803) in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)

  11. #11
    Member Array cgraham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pistology View Post
    The tram option B is unpopular because of the lack of certitude that throwing one innocent under the tram will in fact stop it from hitting the five in its current path. Whereas diverting the train from five to one innocent has more certitude and even a time factor for the one in the new path to get off of the track.
    Not quite, Pistology: Tram option B operates on the premise that the tram WILL be stopped by the person pushed. (The idea that the pusher lacks certitude that his action will work is YOUR embellishment of the scenario]. The one person is no more able to get off the track than the five in this thought experiment. When presented to subjects for psychological studies, these are not permitted outcomes.

    a necessary premise is neutralize the BG without collateral damage
    Much preferable and necessary in most circumstances. In my analysis the situation is sufficiently dire that some risk may be unavoidable to avert a larger catastrophe. I don't pretend a 50% risk is acceptable, it was just an easy probability to explain. C
    Seeking Knowledge, Hoping for Wisdom

  12. #12
    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    I might be wrong but I believe that you are responsible for every round you fire and if you kill or wound an innocent victim while defending yourself you will either be charged criminally or sued by innocent victim or family.The castle doctrine only protects you from being sued by the bad guys,not any innocent people your random shots hit
    "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,"
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  13. #13
    Member Array biasedbulldog's Avatar
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    I absolutely agree with you all, by the way, on not killing an innocent to get to a BG. What I find interesting is that only one person in seven pages of responses from the pregnant woman thread I linked in the OP had any hesitation about shooting the pregnant woman -- even when they referred to a "child" being killed as an unfortunate side effect of the mother's malicious actions. No, I don't want to make this a debate about abortion (please please please **no**)...

    But it does strike an uncanny resemblance to the tram scenario -- where the more indirect the connection of our action to the death of an innocent, the more likely we are to go ahead if it will stop an imminent threat... and, again, this is *not* about abortion per se... it's just interesting to me that people who do believe that an independent and innocent human being is getting killed will still pull the trigger in that scenario. Again, the issue here is not whether you believe that's true, but that people who clearly do think it's true would still shoot... and yet on a more general discussion of "collateral damage" -- harming innocents to stop a bad guy -- it seems that pretty much everyone agrees that it's wrong, or at least legally indefensible.

    I'm sensing some inconsistency?
    "War necessarily brings with it some virtues, and great and heroic virtues too. What horrid creatures we men are, that we cannot be virtuous without murdering one another?" -John Adams

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by biasedbulldog View Post
    How much collateral damage would you be "willing" to "cause" in order to take out a threat?
    I'll answer that with a question: Am I unwilling to defend myself and my family if the least chance exists that a noncombatant will be harmed in the least way? Absolutely not.

    Like PGrass indicates, it'll depend on how dire the situation is as to what I'm prepared to do.

    I, too, believe strongly that, while I will certainly do all that I can to limit the "overspray" of my defensive actions, the damage inflicted is the criminal's doing. I won't compromise the defense necessary merely because a chance exists that some are going to get a bit wet in the process. YMMV.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
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  15. #15
    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    LEO and Government agencies protect their own in the event of "collateral damage".

    I can guarantee you, in our current FUBAR legal system and litigious society, when the investigation is concluded, and it is found that either a round from your weapon hit someone other than the BG, or a determination that another person was shot by the BG as a result of your shooting at (hit or miss) the BG - READ - BG line of fire redirected towards you/radical change in the BG's kill box - you will be hung out to dry both criminally and civilly.

    You may be praised as a hero or savior by those that were there, the media and LEO agencies involved, but that will not stop the legal meat grinder you got dropped into.
    Sticks

    Grasseater // Grass~eat~er noun, often attributive \ˈgras-ē-tər\
    A person who is incapable of independent thought; a person who is herd animal-like in behavior; one who cannot distinguish between right and wrong; a foolish person.
    See also Sheep

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