Thursday, March 26, 2015

Concealed Carry/Home Defense: Verbal Warnings

Several years ago I took a basic handgun course with a friend of mine. They didn’t want to go alone so I went with them. Half way through the class I politely excused myself and stayed out until the course was finished. When my friend asked why I didn’t come back I told them I couldn’t stay in a class that was being taught in such a way. The instructor taught with a lot of stories. I don’t have a big problem with that, I tell several stories whenever I teach. But the stories seemed untrue. Maybe it was just the way he told them. Between that and some content that I did not agree with, I couldn’t stay in the room without saying something. I didn’t think it was my place nor did I want to embarrass anyone so I had to leave. There is one thing that this instructor said that I think is prevalent in the concealed carry community. That is that if you pull your weapon, you’d better use it. Statistics say reality is different. Less than 1% of self-defense situations where a gun is pulled, end in an exchange of gunfire or fatality. Often the introduction of a gun into the situation resolves the situation.
But if you draw your weapon and can see you do not have to shoot right now, you should have some verbal commands. Using these commands may still end in you shooting, but often it will defuse the situation or at least cover you in court. If witnesses hear you trying to resolve without pressing the trigger then this is all the better if you end up in court. You gave the perp a chance to withdraw or surrender.
Every situation is different because you may not have time to give a verbal warning. But remember that once you have shot, as many as are needed, give a verbal command to the perp who is down. The attacker may not be completely stopped. Giving commands will continue to help you in a legal situation.
When you train, use these commands so that they will come easy when a real world situation arises. Use a short, sharp first command such as “Stop!” or “Halt!” Law enforcement would probably use “Police” or “Sheriff’s Office” but as a civilian something short and easy to remember should be trained. I recommend a follow-up command to be “Drop your weapon!” This covers everything from a stick to a baseball bat, a knife to a gun. The word “weapon” covers anything that can be used as a weapon.

If you see compliance I would recommend “Hands! Show me your hands!” If there is no compliance something like “Don’t make me shoot you!” would be a plea to not do anything stupid or threatening because you don’t want to shoot anyone. This is good for the witnesses and psychology for the perpetrator. It tells the witnesses that you don’t really want to shoot, and it tells the attacker that if they don’t comply they will get shot. If a shooting does occur, the words, “Don’t make me,” give the strong impression that you as a shooter had no other choice and the bad guy forced you to press the trigger due to his overt actions. The perp forced you to fire by ignoring your command, advancing and threatening you.
I would strongly recommend using a verbal command in defending your home at night. You should also be using a flashlight and having 100% target recognition at night in your home. With verbal commands you may experience this:
” Stop! Drop the weapon! Don’t make me shoot you!” and hearing the words, “Dad, it’s me! Don’t shoot.” Anytime there is uncertainty a verbal warning might be in order.
Not every situation will give you time to provide an audible warning, and a challenge should only be used when the opportunity arises. Just like giving the recommended warning above, the mere fact you did so also bodes well under investigator scrutiny. By issuing a verbal challenge, you tried to minimize the risk to the suspect. Anything that helps you on scene and during your court defense is certainly worth considering.

As was said before, even if you begin to give the warning and have to shoot, complete your statements and repeat them. For example, “Stop, drop the weapon -BANG, BANG- Don’t make me -BANG- shoot you again.” Then repeat the statement even if the suspect goes down. In most circumstances pistol calibers do not kill outright unless you target the electrical system of the body (brain or spine) and your bad guy could still be alive on the ground after being shot. Continue repeating the warning to also let everyone know that even on the ground he can still be a threat, and if you have to make follow up shots, you are again justifying your actions on scene and later in court. Just because a suspect is down, does not mean the threat is over and you can still be hurt or killed by someone who is on the ground and injured.

Whether you borrow my challenge or come up with one of your own, make sure it is clear, simple to say and understand and train it!

Semper Paratus
Check 6