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I was thinking earlier (I know...I probably shouldn't do that :biggrin2: ) about our philosophy on self-defense. It seems that most of us feel that our weapons are a last resort, something we deploy only after we've exhausted other options for dealing with the situation (OC, empty-hand, etc.).

Is this really the way we ought to approach the situation? Let me explain where I'm going with this and y'all tell me what you think.

Let's assume that we are involved in a situation where we are in danger of suffering from serious injury or death. This could be because we have been "ambushed" by someone waiting for a victim to come along. It could also be because we failed to properly handle the "interview" stage of the confrontation (or they guy just isn't going to back down despite our best efforts) and now the perp has succeeded in closing range and is now close enough to do us harm. Either way, we are dealing with a situation in which we have been chosen as the victim of a violent crime (robbery, rape, kidnapping, etc.) These situations do NOT include bar-fights or other "stupid" situations where we are mutual-combatants.

So here's the question: In a situation like the examples I gave, should we try to run all the way up the "force continuum" (I hate that term) from least dangerous to most dangerous, or should we immediately respond with the most effective tools at our disposal?

My thinking is that in a situation where we (or someone we're protecting) are in danger of being seriously injured or killed; we should respond immediately with overwhelming force. For example, let's say I've been approached by someone using one of the common ruses/techniques to get close ("hey buddy, you have the time, etc.). I do all the stuff I'm supposed to do: verbal-tactics, defensive posture, etc. and he continues to approach. At this point, he's demonstrated that he has illegal intentions.

My response at this point would be to immediately access my firearm. Depending on the exact situation and preceding events, I might only obtain my firing grip (showing him that I'm armed and giving him one last chance to disengage); I might go ahead and draw. Either way, I'm not going to waste time with "less-lethal" methods when I've got a articulable threat to my safety/life. I am proficient in empty-hand fighting and defensive/offensive knife use. However, I see these skills only as ways to either buy me time to access my most effective weapon--my firearm, or as methods that I can use if for some reason I was unarmed or unable to access my firearm. Regardless, I'm going to employ the methods that will allow me to neutralize the threat in the most efficient manner possible.

Hopefully some of my rambling made sense.

Any thoughts?
 

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I'm going to agree with you on this one. If the guy is close enough and has shown the intent to do damage, I'm probably not going to mess with several of the "less lethal" methods at my disposal if I don't think I have time to employ them and still get the gun if needed.
 

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I agree also - from a logical standpoint it appears to be the right answer. Personally, I have only my wits of debatable value, some OC, a knife that would get me sliced up like bacon, and my sidearm.

Overwhelming force, until they stop.
 

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Good post, Matt :hand10:

Could carrying a knife or OC spray as a "less lethal" alternative actually prove to be a liability in court...

"Mr. Team American, you had access to other means of persuasion when Mr. Thugwitt allegedly tried to rob you at knifepoint...why didn't you try one of those instead of pulling your Colt pistol and prematurely ending his life?"

It is something to think about...:blink:
 

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I am 55 , not in great physical shape , and have some infirmities
which will only worsen over time.

If threatened with bodily harm , my first course of action will be
to prevent it from happening , no matter the cost.

To quote one of my favorites ----

"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on.
I don't do these things to other people and I expect the same from them."


John Bernard Books (The Shootist)
 

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We were taught to always be ready to go one step ahead in the force structure (or whatever they called it, I really can't remember now..) Basically, if they're talking, talk, but be ready to be aggressive. If they're being aggressive, be ready to use compliance techniques. If they're being physical, use non-lethal, but be ready to use lethal force.
 

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A1C Lickey said:
We were taught to always be ready to go one step ahead in the force structure (or whatever they called it, I really can't remember now..) Basically, if they're talking, talk, but be ready to be aggressive. If they're being aggressive, be ready to use compliance techniques. If they're being physical, use non-lethal, but be ready to use lethal force.
Same here. the force response gets steep fast if someone has a deadly weapon & is in close proximity.
 

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Team American said:
Could carrying a knife or OC spray as a "less lethal" alternative actually prove to be a liability in court...

"Mr. Team American, you had access to other means of persuasion when Mr. Thugwitt allegedly tried to rob you at knifepoint...why didn't you try one of those instead of pulling your Colt pistol and prematurely ending his life?"

It is something to think about...:blink:
:scratchchin: Good question, Sir.....<stall for time...> Hmmm...

I should probably defer to some more experienced hands here, but here goes. Could this argument not be made that you did not flee? You did not use a cane as a club? I don't know where the line is drawn, but legally it's fear of my bodily safety, so the 21 foot rule is definitely in play here. My knife is for chores (cutting rope, screws, etc.) I'm not trained in the art of "knifework", and it stays in my pocket unless needed for chores (no clip). The OC is for dogs, etc. I think sidearm use perfectly justifiable here from my perspective.

What I am uncomfortable about is the legal issue - can and has this be used in courts? I would assume yes? If so - successfully?
 

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Come June 1 that will not be a problem for me. I have no duty to retreat and I by law have the right to use lethal force to a threat or perceived threat. Of course that does not mean that I will automatically shoot someone who makes a remark that is threatening, but it does mean that less than lethal force does not need to be my first response.

In a situation where less than lethal force is available and obviously all that is required (with the emphasis on obviously) if I used lethal force I would be in big trouble. Obviously? A 75 year old man comes at me screaming and swinging his cane. The use of lethal force would not be justified. If he requires a cane I should be able to side step him. If I am backed into a corner and have no way of escape? Use of force might be justified, but shooting for COM would probably not be a good idea. At that point unless I am in lots worse shape than I am now I should be able to take care of the situation without resorting to use of a firearm.
 

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kenpotex said:
I was thinking earlier (I know...I probably shouldn't do that :biggrin2: ) about our philosophy on self-defense. It seems that most of us feel that our weapons are a last resort, something we deploy only after we've exhausted other options for dealing with the situation (OC, empty-hand, etc.)...Let's assume that we are involved in a situation where we are in danger of suffering from serious injury or death...Either way, we are dealing with a situation in which we have been chosen as the victim of a violent crime (robbery, rape, kidnapping, etc.)...So here's the question: In a situation like the examples I gave, should we try to run all the way up the "force continuum" (I hate that term) from least dangerous to most dangerous, or should we immediately respond with the most effective tools at our disposal?...My thinking is that in a situation where we (or someone we're protecting) are in danger of being seriously injured or killed; we should respond immediately with overwhelming force...
I'm certainly one of those who thinks of lethal force as a last resort. I don't think the scenarios you described violate that concept, though. Sometimes, the situation escalates so quickly that a less-than-lethal option isn't available or appropriate. Still, we have to quickly and accurately analyze what's happening in a given situation and consider the less-than-lethal options available to us before drawing, and depending on where we live, we may have a duty to retreat if at all possible and we may have to match the force being used against us (or risk having our lives ruined for immediately using overwhelming/unnecessary force). In your scenarios, you've already done that analysis (or determined that you can't us less-than-lethal options) before you get to the point of drawing, by concluding that you are in a life-threatening situation where lethal force would be appropriate.

You go to the appropriate tool for the situation, which may be evading, persuasion, OC, open hands, or a pistol, staying mindful of what the law says you must do. To save yourself, you may have to violate the law. I don't think it means you have to take OC to a gunfight. Was that coherent?
 

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When confronted with non-lethal force, respond in kind. When confronted with what you perceive to be, and what any normal person would conceive to be, lethal force, respond in kind.

If it gets to contact distance, strike first and then go for your gun if needed. The last thing a bg is going to expect is a voracious first action by you. He has picked you as a victim for whatever reason and feels he has an advantage. Action beats reaction every time. Strike first, strike hard, be ruthless. Once the bg is on the defense, you are in control. Answer his actions from a vantage point of being on the offense.
 

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''Thinking time'' is almost certainly going to be in short supply - so we have to decide, FAST what it is we will do.

Bottom line I think is, if the threat is immediately perceived as presenting great danger then probably the gun has to come out - we cannot always enjoy the time luxury of grading a threat into non-lethal - less-than-lethal - and lethal, and then fishing for what might be the appropriate tool to match that - things go down too fast.

We either have to defend aggressively or find a way to get the heck out of Dodge if not already attempted. I also am far from fit compared with 20 years ago and more - I would have to depend on ''tools'' other than a hands-on approach mostly.

Whether we can retrospectively explain our choice of firearm's use will depend obviously on whether we made our assessment correctly - that is down to the split decision needed when faced with severe threat. This all shows yet again just how important alertness has to be - to give us more options and time to make a best judgement call.
 

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Same as Rock and GLOCK, my knife is for chores and although it has a clip I don't like others knowing that I have one. And anyone in close proximity with any deadly weapon has just forced me to draw and most likely fire. Not many other possibilities for me. No training in knife combat or hand-to-hand, thats why I'll carry when I turn 21 and get my CHL. Plus it would be justifiable and he/she has just put me and any family members at risk to grave bodily harm or death.
 

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Another Kenpo guy from Springfield, MO that's into guns. What do you know. :biggrin2:

Anyway, I agree with the general majority. One should use the amount of force that you feel necessary to defend yourself. Even if the court doesn't end up seeing it your way, it's still better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

The only problem I see with the guy walking up to you asking for the time, and seeming very suspicious, is that even if you feel 100% at the time that he's up to something, and he keeps walking towards you even after you've told him the time or that you don't have a watch, and if you end up drawing on him... What if he is just a weirdo or mentally unstable? What if he doesn't have bad intentions? What if he ignores the gun and just keeps walking? If you draw, you've got to be prepared to shoot... Not that you shouldn't draw, just throwing a bone of sorts.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
dr cmg said:
In a situation where less than lethal force is available and obviously all that is required (with the emphasis on obviously) if I used lethal force I would be in big trouble.
Very true, I wasn't trying to convey the impression that immediate use of deadly force is the answer to all situations.

Tom357 said:
Sometimes, the situation escalates so quickly that a less-than-lethal option isn't available or appropriate.
Well put, that's what I was getting at. I think that many people have trouble wrapping their mind around the idea that, depending on the situation, they may have to use deadly force as the first option.

In my initial post I used the term "force continuum" and also mentioned that I really don't like that term. My reasoning here is that when we use a term like "continuum," there is an inferrance that we have to follow a set progression. For example, here's a basic idea of what a "continuum" model might look like.

1.Verbal tactics -> 2."soft" empty-hand (pain compliance, control/restraint techniques) -> 3. Control device (OC/taser) -> 4. "hard" empty-hand (striking to vital targets) -> 5. Impact-weapons -> Deadly Force (edged weapons and firearms).

The problem with this type of model is that some people get locked in to the idea, sometimes even subconsciously, that they have to follow the "steps" from A-Z without skipping anything in between. The problems with this line of thought are obvious. Given the dynamics of a violent assault, you probably won't have time to run all the way up the ladder. If you try, more than likely, you'll get caught before you reach the point where you use the proper level of force to handle the situation.

Instead of a ladder, stair-step, or whatever; I think a better analogy would be that of a tool-box or grab-bag containing all your use-of-force options from which you could select the option that best suits the situation. It might mean that you go from verbal tactics straight to the use of a firearm but if that is what's called for by the situation then you've done it right.

Sloth said:
What if he is just a weirdo or mentally unstable? What if he doesn't have bad intentions? What if he ignores the gun and just keeps walking? If you draw, you've got to be prepared to shoot...
There's no way to know his mental/emotional state. The fact that he has continued to advance despite repeated verbal commands and a drawn firearm is a pretty defensible indicator that he does not have good intentions.

If we have to defend ourselves, the investigation is going to be based on the totality of circumstances. In other words, my actions based on my perception of the events and whether my actions and perceptions were consistent with those of a reasonable person. I think most reasonable people would agree that someone willing to advance on an armed individual who has already warned them off definately poses a threat.
 

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I would agree that the "toolbox" is the best analogy. Personally, after verbal confrontation, I would present OC, and warn him/her not to advance- one step: POOF!, and go from there. In immediate "up close-n-personal" conflict, anything goes.

A knife will never be seen, legally, as less-than-lethal. In fact, if you had the time to choose what you access, and you selected a knife, you could conceivably be charged with "assault with intent to maim", as you had a firearm that most "reasonable persons" would agree would stop hostility more rapidly and decisively(vs the blade which will never leave a survivor looking "presentable" in court). Obviously, this would not apply to being tackled, and you draw your Leek/Clinch Pic/TDI to get them off you and buy space and time.
 

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kenpotex said:
...Well put, that's what I was getting at. I think that many people have trouble wrapping their mind around the idea that, depending on the situation, they may have to use deadly force as the first option....
But is it really your first option? In your scenarios, you have suspicions and are aware of a developing situation. I submit that you are going through a variety of options as the situation develops, even if only over the span of a few seconds. You may not choose any of them, but you consider them. Can I evade? No. Can I warn them off? No. Are they armed? Yes. Are they closing? Yes....How fast do we analyze our ever-changing environment when we are in yellow? It doesn't take long to work through that decision tree, and with practice becomes an extension of preparedness.
 

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I think, as a human, I don't want to ever take a human life. It is innate in most of us (psychopaths excluded).

I also think that when a situation happens we have a split second to call it one way or the other. I think the real question might be how much do you trust your instincts and snap decision making.

Personally I have horrible instincts (the spidey sense) but when confronted with real information/evidence I make good decisions (I can't read a person just by looking at them - if they do something I generally do exactly what I should do in response)
 

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I think the problem with perceived danger is it is different for everybody. There are many factors such as age, health, sex (M-F) training just to name a few. The standard is "your life or the life of your family members must be at risk" in my opinion the only true way to know that is to let the BG act first yet I also would not want it to go that far. If a 200 pound guy was coming at a 100 pound woman in a dark parking lot she is at risk. If a 200 pound guy was coming at another 200 guy in a dark parking lot there is only a possible risk. If I am a black belt I have a different level of life threatening danger then someone that is not. In the end we have to account for our actions and death is the last action I would want to have to live with if I am not 100% sure it was the right action.
 

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Team American said:
Good post, Matt :hand10:

Could carrying a knife or OC spray as a "less lethal" alternative actually prove to be a liability in court...

"Mr. Team American, you had access to other means of persuasion when Mr. Thugwitt allegedly tried to rob you at knifepoint...why didn't you try one of those instead of pulling your Colt pistol and prematurely ending his life?"

It is something to think about...:blink:

My reply for that line of questioning would be: "Because I thought the other options would be ineffective at stopping the threat and using one of those options might have put me in greater danger of not being able to defend myself." Without hesitation. It's all about using effective force to stop a threat, but that effective force must be the least necessary. Decision making skills are tested here.

Same thing for "Why didn't you retreat? He was only 30 feet away." "I thought that by turning my back on my assailant, I would be exposing my back, thus placing myself in greater danger than if I would have been facing my assailant."

Remember the "force continuum" model used in law enforcement is not a ladder, it is an elevator. You can go up or down as you choose.

You don't get there and say, Hi, I am Officer Freakshow10mm from the Widget Police Department, the reason I am here is I received a call that you put a gun to a woman's head. I am going to ask you to stop that. Punch him because he didn't drop the weapon, then spray him with OC, then draw your sidearm and then shoot him. That is a ladder and is routinely defeated in cases regarding the use of force.

The way the continuum goes for the above is you get on scene, pull your gun and decide to shoot or not. Me, I'd shoot.

Also remember that being a police officer gives you no more or less protection against the use of force than an ordinary citizen. They are held to the same standards of the use of force as we are. They are bound by the same laws as we are. No one is above the law.
 
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