Monday, May 14, 2012

Shootin' to Kill...

We packed up all the 4H shooting gear Saturday afternoon and as I headed back to my horseless carriage parked by the fifty-yard rifle and pistol range, my curiosity got the better of me.  I saw a young couple practicing downrange with a handgun about fifteen feet from their target.  The young fellow was teaching his gal how to drop to one knee and shoot the "leg" of the cardboard bad guy.

They were friendly folks and I never really met a stranger, so as we chatted... he explained that his gal wasn't too sure about using a gun to kill someone unless it was absolutely necessary, so he was helpin' her learn how to shoot the legs of the bad guy to wound, rather than kill, the two-legged, cardboard varmint.

This is actually a concern I've spoken with many folks about over the years through informal conversation as an NRA and Ohio CCW instructor, and even years ago as a police officer.  Some folks want to carry a gun to "scare" the two-legged varmints while others only want to wound them... 'cause they aren't sure they want to actually kill anyone... even someone threatening serious physical harm or death.

Now I've explained this many times over the years and I'd just like to be clear... guns and firearms ain't for scarin' or woundin'... they're for killin'.  Yeah... yeah... I know... you weren't trying to kill the idiot who attacked you... you were just in fear for your life, fired in self-defense... to stop him from takin' your life... we aren't supposed to shoot to kill, were only supposed to shoot to stop the action of the aggressor threatening our life.

Ohio Revise Code Section 2923.11(A) “Deadly weapon” means any instrument, device, or thing capable of inflicting death, and designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or possessed, carried, or used as a weapon.

Now... I'm not an attorney... but in Ohio, like many states, a firearm is defined by law as a deadly weapon while in other states, case precedents by the courts have determined it to be a deadly weapon.  Any use of a firearm, hence a deadly weapon, is the use of deadly force whether it is used to scare someone, wound them, or kill them... and if you fire a shot in the air to scare someone... a prosecutor will very well argue that you used deadly force against someone else... you're just a dang poor marksman.  Oh... and remember... that shot fired in the air... those things eventually come down, ya know.

This is why, as an instructor, when it comes to personal or home defense... I advise that if you're not mentally prepared or willing to take a life... you're probably better off using a less-than-lethal option or calling 911 than to show or brandish a gun that you won't actually fire in self-defense... because if you point a gun at an intruder and you're not willing to pull the trigger... who knows, the intruder might be willing to pull the trigger after he takes it away from you.

Also, the reason most folks train to shoot center of mass with possibly a follow up to head is it increases the chances of hitting your threat, hitting a vital area, and stopping them... and is also the most likely way to result in killin' your threat.  Trying to hit a moving knee or leg using a handgun from any distance is probably an almost impossible, if not just lucky, proposition when under attack and under stress.

When I carry or keep a firearm for self-defense... it is used just for that purpose... to defend myself or my family from anyone or anything that wants to kill or seriously harm us.  I realize that by law, my firearm is a deadly weapon and when used for self-defense it can only be deployed to counter a threat of death or serious bodily harm... not because someone's dog took a dump in the yard or vandalized my truck.

Please make no mistake... if and when I'm shootin' a firearm in self-defense... I'm shootin' to stop the immediate threat of death or serious bodily harm... which means I'm using a deadly weapon...

...which means without the political correctedness (and by Ohio law)...

I'm... Shootin' to Kill...

PS:  We've got some designer jeans... pre-washed... pre-holed... and cheap!

UPDATE: To clarify... the old jeans in the photos are my daughter's and the photos were taken for illustrative purposes... the actual "legs" target I saw being used by other folks on the range Saturday was made out of cardboard...


  1. I teach shoot center mass and shoot until the threat stops. You point out many of the same things I run into here, and your thoughts are sound in my opinion.

  2. @Keads... I think we are on the same page... that is what I teach too... and I don't teach knee-cap shootin'... lol

    Dann in Ohio

  3. That's what I have been taught too. Most instructors use the PC language Keads uses, but the message is clear.

  4. @agirl...I use the PC language as an instructor too... we shoot to stop the action of our aggressor... but I also emphasize to students that when a gun is used... the likely outcome in stopping the aggressor is their demise... and legally... in Ohio... if you use a gun... the law views you as threatening or attempting to kill another person regardless of how it was used... the only question is whether or not it was justifiable/defensible... as self-defense...

    Dann in Ohio

  5. Shoot to stop the aggressor and prevent further threat. This is done by shooting repeatedly into center mass of the aggressor until said agressor is motionless on the ground, thus preventing further agression...

    Who said you have to shoot to 'kill'?

  6. @Anonymous... We are in complete agreement... I don't think anyone says you should "shoot to kill"... but part of the point is that under Ohio law...

    A gun, by law is deadly force... therefore it's use is presumed to be for killing or attempting to kill... so the law is saying you're shootin' to kill... whether or not you shoot at the center of mass or the leg or the big toe...

    The legal question is whether or not it is justifiable or defensible... and the practical question you answered correctly, in my opinion... shoot at center of mass...

    As I said in the post, "Please make no mistake... if and when I'm shootin' a firearm in self-defense... I'm shootin' to stop the immediate threat of death or serious bodily harm..."

    Dann in Ohio

  7. Under Texas CHL law, you do NOT "shoot to kill", you shoot to stop. Armed bad guy kicks your door in, you put five (or more) in center of mass, all good. Same situation, you put one in center of forehead, you will be facing a very possible trial for intent to kill.
    On the leg shots: if you hit the femoral artery, he will bleed out before help can arrive so you've killed him anyway; if he survives odds are high he will sue you from his wheelchair in court (and win); blowing out one or both of his knees will not stop him from returning fire and maybe killing you or someone else in the room with you (your kids, maybe?).

    Texas Jack 1940

  8. @Anonymous/Texas Jack... I'm glad Ohio has its Castle Doctrine law in place... 'cause if an armed bad guy kicks in our door and threatens the lives me or mine... we can shoot him in any part of his body we want to... but I'm started with center mass...

    Dann in Ohio

  9. Came here from the Lady Tam's place, and glad I did. Relevant to the subject of shooting to kill, this might be of interest--it's a link to a League of Ordinary Gentlemen post, whichsuggests that police in Germany fire warning shots.

    The comments are amusing. Reading them has been proven in laboratory testing to reduce testosterone levels in healthy adult males. Those guys are less manly than that ti#y-baby on the cover of this week's Time magazine.

  10. Of course, if anyone busts down the door to my house, I plan on shooting to STOP. Nothing more. Just stop. 'Cuz nuttin stops like three or four hollow points in the left ventricle. Yep, officer, he's stopped. Well...sorta. Still twitching, but more or less stopped.

    And while I understand the BS rules and regulations that require PC language (don't want to offend anyone, least of all the poor misunderstood soul who's not really breaking into your house, they're just kicking down the door to what they thought was THEIR house, right?), it still pisses me off to have to hear it.

  11. I'd offer up a pair of my jeans, but they'd be a bigger target :-)

    Awesome post! I hope when you and the wife and daughter head out this way scouting schools and visit you'll let me take you shooting as well.

  12. I do have one devils advocate comment:
    What if this was how they got the significant other out to the range to practice? And carry? What if, seeing how hard it is to hit a leg at range, they realize that won't work (meanwhile, they've been practicing on a real small target) and switch to center mass? If it gets them started shooting and carrying, I'm not sure the details much matter.

  13. @Ed and Jackie...That may be a way to get another person out and to carry... but I'd personally see if there was another way to introduce them to shooting and self-defense... because I still feel if they're intent is to scare or wound and they're not ready for the possibility of actually taking a life in stopping an attacker... they probably shouldn't be carrying a gun... but there are always alternative views...

    Dann in Ohio

  14. When I have to shoot an attacker, I shoot to stop the attack. If the person decides to die as a result of their injuries, that is all on the attacker.

  15. To hit the thigh at range is as difficult as hitting the head at range--not as easy to hit as the center of mass, but doable. In self defense, we observe the principal of "proportionality": if someone slaps you in the face, you should hit him back, but not shoot him in the head. An unarmed assailant, or a person with a knife standing 15 feet away, or a mentally ill person who is a potential threat, but is not attacking, are all cases where aiming for the thighs or buttocks would make sense. When people train only for black-or-white situations of extreme danger or no danger, they are often surprised to find themselves in situations of moderate danger where they overreact and kill someone unnecessarily. It happens ALL THE TIME. Shooting for the knees is stupid and pointless, but shooting for the thighs or shoulders makes a lot of sense in situations of moderate threat where the adversary is not armed with a gun.

    All of the previous comments in this post assume a highly dangerous adversary, but life is not always black-and-white. It makes sense to train for all situations, not only life-threatening situations.

    If every self-defense situation were against someone with a gun, the previous comments would all make perfect sense, but situations are not always so clear cut. People get shot all the time in situations of mistaken identity, heated arguments, knee-jerk reactions, etc. If you have trained and prepared for a full range of possible situations, you will be better prepared not just to take action, but to take the APPROPRIATE action based on the situation.

    Also, if you consider yourself an excellent marksman, you can demonstrate your marksmanship in situations of moderate danger by shooting first to maim (thighs and shoulders), and then for center of mass, and finally for the head if needed. It takes more skill to put one bullet in an assailant's leg than five bullets in his chest.

    Aiming for the legs also reduces the likelihood of collateral damage. Stray bullets can kill too. Police in Chicago recently shot and killed a man armed with a bat, but they also accidentally killed his neighbor with a stray bullet.

    Here is a simple mental checklist: Unarmed (or armed with a stick) but dangerous? Shoot for the legs. Armed with a gun? Shoot for the center of mass. Also, if someone is at close range, attacking with a knife or a bat, then your own safety is the most important thing. But from a distance, against someone without a gun, shooting for the legs demonstrates more skill, more talent, more intellect, and more confidence.

    "When I am calm, cool, and collected, I am in control."

    P.S. I liked the designer jeans comment at the end of the post. "Pre-holed" lol. That's the style these days.