Self defense shootings, how do you know if you could pull the trigger


March 5, 2003, 10:02 PM
Just got done reading a story on Glock talk about a SD shooting. Scared me. How can you be sure that you could actually pull the trigger of your gun to shoot your attacker. How would you keep from freezing up?

Just a concern of mine.


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March 5, 2003, 10:09 PM
That's a good question I've never had to face because I've never frozen up when faced with danger or opportunity. But I know some people do.

I imagine MA training would break a person of that tendency because they'll get smacked around painfully if they don't act to defend themselves by warding off blows, etc.

If you don't sense imminent danger in an SD situation, it's probably not time to shoot anyway.

Hope the rest of the responses flesh out better answers to your question.

March 5, 2003, 10:09 PM
Please dont flame me...
My first response is if you are asking yourself this question, why are you carrying? I am not sure if this is the right response. I am now very interested in seeing how others respond to this question.

March 5, 2003, 10:20 PM
This is a good question and one i've thought about often. I mean if you have to point a weapon at somebody you probably don't have much time to think about whats next. Either way its going to affect you for the rest of your life.

One thing i think helps is going through some form of cooper's color coding. Being aware and ratcheting up your response level from yellow to red gives you a little bit of time to prepare for the next decision. Normal people running to the grocery store, etc. can't go from "i've got to be sure not to forget the avocados" to "kill him" instantly. I think if you practice situational awareness, you have answered any moral qualms you might have about killing another in self defense ahead of time and are aware that it can happen to you right now then you're on your way to developing the proper mindset.

March 5, 2003, 10:22 PM
Easy, the voices in my head would compel me to fire. :neener:

March 5, 2003, 10:30 PM
I've always thought that it would be no problem. I'm more concerned about my mom and dad. They're getting their CHLs this summer if all goes well.

why are you carrying

I'm not. Yet. If I were only 21.


March 5, 2003, 10:43 PM
That is a question you really cannot answer unless you have done it.

I haven't.

I have made the decisions that anyone who carries has to consider. Which is...would you. I would. Will I? Hopefully I will not have to find out. But the moral issues have been wrestled through. The question then becomes... what would actually happen if the adrenaline kicks in, the hearing fades, vision goes funny, and the heart races.

March 5, 2003, 11:37 PM
How does a soldier going into combat know that he will function? Not run and hide when the time comes to fight? He doesn't! But training, thought, and, yes, even prayer ought to help make the right decision at the right time. Good shooting;)

March 6, 2003, 12:16 AM
How can you be sure that you could actually pull the trigger of your gun to shoot your attacker

I know i can pull the trigger, because


Let the flaming begin

March 6, 2003, 12:18 AM
when the adrenaline hits people generally fall back on their training, muscle memory often takes over and you find yourself with an empty gun and a corpse at your feet before you realize what happened. if you haven't trained menatlly and physically it could go either way, you'll either run, freeze or shoot.

Bob Locke
March 6, 2003, 12:22 AM
I think that the "Fight or Flight" reaction would take over on most of us, and if the latter wasn't an option then whatever happened next would be almost solely on instinct as much as anything else.

Lots of people do better under heavy stress than in plain old everyday life. I know I tend to be that way.

Am I 100% certain that I could/would pull the trigger? If my life or the lives of my family members were at stake, I am very confident that I would.

March 6, 2003, 12:22 AM
Actually, you can know before the fact. Training. You will react the way you have or are trained.

Funny thing is I just had an instance of this tonight, kind of shocked me.

I spent 15 years in full contact karate, spent 4.5 years getting my black belt and 10 years teaching, quit about 5 years ago. Very aggressive style, we were taught to aggressively attack when attacked.

I was standing in the livingroom about 9pm, walking through, stopped to see what was on TV for a minute. My son had gone to church with some friends, unknown to me, my wife had left the front door unlocked for him. He came rushing in (he's 10 and rushes everywhere), as soon as I heard the door handle start working I turned and was about to attack whoever was coming through the door. Instantaneous attack mode.

The interesting and telling point about this is that even after that many years I reacted the way I had been trained. Thank God I've never had to defend myself with deadly force and I hope I never will but I have no doubt whatsoever that if armed, I would pull the trigger and if unarmed I would still attack.

The key though is training.

edited to add: Part of the training though is to identify your attacker and be sure that it is a legitimate attack, thus no danger to innocents.

March 6, 2003, 12:22 AM
You know, I was in a situation once several years ago where I was an armed guard outside an establishment. A person at point A fired upon a person at point B. I was in A prime.

Thank goodness for 2 things:
1) Crappy shooting with a Saturday Night Special .25
2) Second Chance T-shirt

I was carrying a .38 snubby and a monodock baton. The pistol was on my hip, the stick on a cross-draw across my back.

I was trained with the baton.

I wasn't trained with the pistol.

I drew the baton, and completely forgot the gun was there.

A broken wristed assailant later, I went inside, gave them back my pay (they paid in advance each night), the vest, and the snubby (the baton was mine) and walked out. I have never carried a piece since. And now that I live in the PRK I will probably never get the chance even if I felt I were ready; which I am not.

I reacted to the way I was trained. If I had pulled that gun, I would have killed that guy, and probably gone to jail for a long time for various reasons.

Nowadays, I have no problem hurting bad people. Good people, innocent people have nothing to fear from me. Even animals are pretty much safe (I've never hunted except as the scout, and have only killed farm animals with great reservation). But when that "you are going to die" bell goes off in my head (which, because of extremely poor career choices early in my life happened more often than I care to admit), I react by just doing, not by thinking.

That being said, I sure wish I knew more. The vast amount of self-defense knowledge I don't have is mind-boggling. I am amazed at my own ignorance. For that reason alone, I am glad I am in a much calmer and less dangerous profession now.

Fortunately my training enabled me to overcome the natural tendency for decent people to balk at physical violence

I have never been much of a decent person. I try though. Not as hard as maybe I should, but I do try...:)

March 6, 2003, 12:24 AM
The thought that if I do not act my family may be killed will be enough for me. I would do anything to protect them, and I am sure that a scumbag will never come before any of them.


March 6, 2003, 12:25 AM
If you don't have some well thought out "situational triggers" and you carry, you'd better sit down and think about what situations EXACTLY you would shoot under.

Like illuminatus will not rise to the will default to your level of training. Who said that originally? Can't remember...

Jeff Cooper has said that his color system is as much a psychological trick to force yourself to function as it is a tool for situational awareness. When do you go "red."

When exactly? I know what would trigger me...what about you?

Mike Irwin
March 6, 2003, 12:29 AM
If I didn't think that I could pull the trigger if I needed to, I simply wouldn't be carrying a gun in the first place.

March 6, 2003, 12:41 AM
I suppose intensive training can make it easier to know.
I don't believe you ever know for sure until it is too late. Some who look like they will be perfectly prepared soldiers and police officers can't fire, when push comes to shove.
I asked myself the same thing before applying for a concealed carry permit. I thought about the morals and ethics and what I was prepared to go through to protect myself (dealing with legal system).
I thought the answer was yes.
When I thought I might need to defend myself, I have put my hand near my gun.
When I really thought it was inevitable, I had the gun out, safety off. Contrary to all my training, I was ready to fire one handed. Weird, as I always fire with both hands at the range.
So I guess the answer was yes after all.

March 6, 2003, 01:01 AM
Once again, THR's timing is uncanny.

I got a call today from a guy who wanted to help in our state's CCW effort. He doesn't own a handgun, but got all fired up after going to a bowhunter rally last weekend where Ted Nugent was speaking. I can understand how even "the Nuge" can get bowhunters fired up about guns. ;)

Anyway, he wanted to know what's going on, why the bill is being held up, and then went on to ask a ton of questions about when and where he could legally shoot someone.

After politely asking him to put his brain into "pause" mode, I explained the realities of what I've been taught about SD shootings: "disparity of force" (shooter is 6'8", 320 lbs and "victim" is 5'9" 150 lbs), over-zealous DA's, civil suits, location-location-location (as in rural vs. big city).

But the BIG question is the mental preparedness beforehand, something that all serious self-defense gun owners should or have gone through. Are you really prepared to do the worst? That's a tough issue to deal with, but it's the first one to deal with before even buying a gun for self-defense.

I've been in some rough spots before where I thought somebody was going to have to be hurt, cut, or maybe dead. Thank God I haven't had to "go all the way," and God willing, I won't have to.

March 6, 2003, 01:03 AM
I don't think you know anything until the smoke clears.

Hopfully you are still standing.

March 6, 2003, 02:03 AM
It's never been a problem.

March 6, 2003, 02:18 AM

I think that is the most honest question I have ever seen asked and answered on a gun board!

First: You have to answer the question to your satisfaction of if your faith allows you to do so in a pinch? If so, proceed to step two, if not don't carry because it's not an option for you at this point.

Second: Do you have the ability, time, and desire to become familiar enough with the weapon to where it gives you no pause to think or become worried about what to do with it. Confidence in yourself and in your weapon and in the two of you together is of the utmost importance!

Third: You need to have the ability to honestly pick your battles wisely! You need to know before hand under what conditions you would shoot a human, I don't mean you need to know every scenario. The only reason I have for shooting another human being is if my life is in infinite danger, or my families, and I have no option left to save our lives. Are you at a point in your life you can pick your battles wisely? Mature enough? Can you reasonably control your emotion and temper? Can you look for the best way out of an bad situation and find it? (you can receive training on these things too)

Forth: If your answers lend themselves to carrying a hundgun, then proceed to training!

I think the fact you are here asking this question is a sign of maturity and speaks well for you!

Remember this (don't flame me guys, lol), you can be pro gun and pro 2cd Ammendment without carrying a firearm! I venture to say 99% of the members of this forum have never had to kill another human to save their lives, outside of war. There is no shame in not carrying a handgun, it is for some people and not for others!


March 6, 2003, 02:58 AM
I also wouldn't carry if I thought I couldn't pull the trigger.

In situations of a serious note I've been blessed with being able to keep my wits, my cool, and function. I have survived a few instances.

In assisting with CCW students this question is asked. Yes, we have had a few that changed their mind, did not continue. We have also had to NOT allow someone to continue.

Mindset, training. Lotsa luck thrown in for good measure.

I wanted to survive, still do.

March 6, 2003, 02:59 AM
I'll echo the above sentiments, that it's training, training, and training.

some of it's mental. going over situations in your head. what has to happen before I shoot someone? what do I have to do to get there? what will I do during the event? what about afterwards?

some of it's physical. taking classes and workshops on tactical firearm use. practicing your reaction time and draw. practicing with a non-lethal gun (water gun, paintball gun, simunitions) against real people who are "attacking" you.

but in the end, you need to train how you want to fight. because no matter what: you will fight like you train.

March 6, 2003, 03:09 AM
All excellent posts, but I think like Marshall, myself.

Yes, I'm ready to protect myself and my family and friends. No problem. No hesitation. Readiness state of mind.

My state of mind is such that God Forbid I should ever have to make a life or death decision for somebody else's life, my soul will be clean and I might feel good enough about things to actually ever sleep again in my life. Not to mention the authorities being satisfied.

This is an increasingly evil world we're living in. I'll not be a helpless sheeple.

March 6, 2003, 03:56 AM

Funniest thing - On the several ocassions I've found myself pointing a handgun at someone, I invariably resort to one hand as well (I also practice 2-handed at the range)! This is not so bad at night when I'm using a flashlight but I do this during the day, too. Darned if I understand it!


Double Naught Spy
March 6, 2003, 08:08 AM
How do you know you could pull the trigger in self defense? One of the best ways is through regular training such that when the time comes, if ever, you are not so much operating at a conscious level on what you should or should not be doing. In other words, the training should kick it.

Hey, if it doesn't, then you get to be that part of the population that is selected against. Bumer.

March 6, 2003, 08:43 AM
I'm confident in my ability to meet force with an appropriate level. My skool (public edumacation) years tought me a lot. As the biggest guy around, everybody wanted to take a pot shot... and they did. I learned to use my size (and the attackers attack) to my advantage (ala Aikido I suppose, no training in that though) and in most cases was able to neutralize the threat post haste.

Only had a couple of cases where I had to 'pull the trigger' and actually initiate force, one was a guy attacking me with a steel lab chair ;-) punch to face...idiot on floor unconscious..problem solved.

I'm comfortable with my ability to handle confrontation without going overboard..:scrutiny:

Hey, if it doesn't, then you get to be that part of the population that is selected against. Bumer

Gene police! Outta the pool!

March 6, 2003, 09:56 AM
I think it is, in reality, an easy question. Do you control your actions or not? Now the real question is will you allow the bad guy too much time because you’re reluctant to kill another human? Maybe I’m just mean SOB but I have zero qualms about doing physical damage to an assailant, I’d suggest you come to the same decision. I don’t agree with people saying training is what takes you through something (although its value couldn’t be underestimated). What gets you through is mental toughness. Some people are mentally “soft” and training can help that, in which case training is what helped get them through, but its a persons mental toughness to do what has to be done when the chips are down that carries the day. Every time.

March 6, 2003, 10:16 AM
its a persons mental toughness to do what has to be done when the chips are down that carries the day. Every time.

Excellent point, I'm sure there are many cases of people who defend themselves without having *any* training at all.. or if you like have learned at the school of hard knocks..

El Tejon
March 6, 2003, 10:17 AM
nsf, training programs the default settings of the unconscious mind. Performing the indicated response under stress, pain and confusion is the goal.

Hurting a fellow human being is not something that comes without consequence. A very tiny fraction of the population are natural fighters. And they are not the doughy guys wearing cammies hanging out in the gun store. They may give no thought to their actions, but they rest of us fall back to religion, philosophy, and training.

March 6, 2003, 10:28 AM
What does the law say about the application of deadly force where you live?

If your not sure about the law or your own personal convictions concerning using deadly force on another human being, don't carry.

During firearms training one of my instructors asked this question to the students, from the looks on some peoples faces they never had considered having to shoot another person. The implacations are far reaching from a personal & civil standpoint.


March 6, 2003, 11:05 AM
My most honest answer is I do not know for sure if I could pull the trigger defending myself alone. I would probably try to do whatever could get me out of the situation without hurting anyone or getting hurt too badly myself.

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that if anyone entered my home when my wife and kids were upstairs, the person better come in a blazin' 'cause I have no doubt that's how I'll enter the situation. Bad or not, no one else has the keys to my house except my family and our oldest kid is 6. When the bad guy becomes illuminated, if I don't recognize him, he's going to get shot a couple times. End of story.

March 6, 2003, 11:06 AM
Besides the conviction to pull the trigger I think you have to be mentally prepared in other ways. They guy in the post over on Glocktalk also spoke of being aware of his surroundings. He had the piece of mind to look into the windows of the cars around him to see what was going on behind him, and in doing so, he saw the threat coming. If any of you haven't read that thread over there you should. Its very thought provoking.

Here's the link to the thread over at GlockTalk

March 6, 2003, 11:16 AM
The first time, I froze, and got badly hurt as a result. I was armed, but not very well trained at that time, and hadn't thought through the implications and consequences of using a firearm in self-defence. I guess my instinctive reaction was "This can't be happening to me!" The next time, it was a different story... I was aware of the consequences of NOT reacting, and was very, very prepared to use my weapon if I had to. I'd also received a whole lot more training! Nothing like getting shot or stabbed to concentrate the mind... :D

I've had to produce a firearm more times than I can remember - although I haven't used it nearly as many times. Admittedly, most of these encounters were in another country, in a civil unrest environment where danger was everywhere, and where a normal, right-thinking person would not have been in the first place! I didn't have that option. However, the last few encounters were in this country, and I didn't have to fire a shot in any of them - simply being prepared, producing the weapon, and being very obviously prepared to use it, deterred further violence.Jeff Cooper has said that his color system is as much a psychological trick to force yourself to function as it is a tool for situational awareness.Thumper, you're absolutely right. The "color code" is actually invaluable if you keep it in the forefront of your mind, and use it as an escalation/de-escalation tool. As Clint Smith told us at Thunder Ranch, "Yellow means you might have to shoot someone today. Orange means you might have to shoot THAT man RIGHT NOW!"

March 6, 2003, 11:16 AM

I don't believe you can ever know for sure. Veterans of numerous shootings have just frozen one day and been unable to act. Highly trained professionals have frozen or thrown their training out the window. So one can never be certain.

However, I do believe that there are a lot of things that one can do that will minimize the chance of not being able to act in SD.

1. Be willing - are you willing to shoot someone in SD - not just on an intellectual level - but on a gut/spiritual level are you willing to do whatever it takes to survive and protect your family. Know yourself. While as stated no one can "be" certain - make certain that you "feel" certain. Asking oneself the question you have asked is part of knowing oneself and feeling certain.

2. Train real world as much as possible - when you shoot mentally attempt to put yourself in the mindset of if I fail I die and/or my family dies - even the most realistic of training senarios can be next to worthless if one approaches it as "fun" or "cool" instead of with a life or death mindset. So when you train, train with mental and emotional intensity and focus. Sell yourself as much as possible on the belief that if I fail - I and/or my family dies.

3. Be aware - as well stated above - you need to be able to not only recognize a potential threat, but also be mentally in a place such that you are not mentally or emotionally unprepared or unarmed for the possibilty of violence or the need to use violence in SD.

If you do the above, you stack the odds as much as you can if your favor.

And remember the advice you get here is free, so take it for what it is worth.

March 6, 2003, 12:22 PM
there are a few things to imprint upon your mind when contemplating this question.

first of all, we all likely agree that we TALK about "pulling the trigger", or "stopping the threat". but this is a euphanism for "killing a threat" to ourself, our families, or a complete stranger.
i pull the trigger lots of times when i'm at the range. i can pull a trigger, no problemo. the key is the ability to stop looking at the attacker as a person deserving of compassion. you must always see them as a threat and never think otherwise. it was a predator that threatened someones life.

March 6, 2003, 01:36 PM
To paraphrase what others here have said;

In an emergency you will not rise to the occasion, you will defer to your level of training. Train yourself not only with your weapon but to use all your senses to avoid dangerous situations. Your most valuable defensive tool is your brain.

That being said, pray that you don't get put in the position of having to shoot someone. I did. Taking a life is not something you will ever forget and it does not leave you with a good feeling. It involves a great deal of emotional upheaval and repeated reappraisal of your actions. My situation was unavoidable (attacked with an axe by a burglar) but ugly and frightening. Human bodies contain an awful lot of blood and it's not like TV, where people are hit and fall down quietly. It was noisy and smelled bad. You WILL be taken into custody, handcuffed, and treated like a murderer until the legal issues are worked out.

Sorry, I didn't mean to hijack the thread.

OK, now all of you tough, hardcore guys out there can fire up the flame and roast me for being all sensitive and all. I bet no flames come from guys who have had to pull the trigger on someone.


March 6, 2003, 01:38 PM
Ayoob - somebody wrote a book called "The Gravest Extreme" in which he writes about situations like the one you inquire about. He puts them in contexts such as intuder in your home vs. some punk-*** kid on the street. These situations are VERY different. I don't to be attacked, but I don't want to be the bunk-mate of some felon named bubba either as a guest of the state of MA.

I'll take an SD training class sometime - I am new to handguns and want to be a better shot first. I'm thinking about a SIGARMS class in NH.

March 6, 2003, 02:25 PM
NapAttack, Double Naughht Spy, El Tejon and Spoonman have all got it right. Training is what owrks for LEO, soldiers and civilians.

It has been proven that training equals action. No training, no action. When the adrenaline dumps you will have many physiological and pschological changes going on. It has been shown that if you train a certain way over and over that that will be how you react. Your subconsious will take over ignoring "rational" thought and all the other changes and grabbing a "file folder" from your training regimens. That is why training for many different situations is so important.

I have never been in a lethal force encounter. Odds are I never will, I will do everything in my power to avoid such an encounter. But through my training I have had the opportunity to actually point a gun at some one and pull the trigger. It was a less than lethal round (12ga bean bag) but it will mess with your head.

I did it, I did not hesitate. I think I can do that when the chips are down. (But I don't know for sure)

March 6, 2003, 03:49 PM
If a parent, after looking at the face of their sleeping child does not know with absolute certainty that they are capable of horrific violence to preserve their child, then they are not human.

You will understand what it is to be willing to do anything.

March 6, 2003, 04:01 PM do you know if you could pull the trigger

You won't know until you're at that point, but you can prepare by training.

March 6, 2003, 07:13 PM
If a parent, after looking at the face of their sleeping child does not know with absolute certainty that they are capable of horrific violence to preserve their child, then they are not human.

I know how you feel. I have been a Father for a whopping 11 days now. My daughter is so beautiful and special to me, I would not hesitate to do anything to keep her safe from harm. My driving is better, my temper is more controlled; I want to be a better role model (and she can't even move on her own yet!).

I pray that I never get involved in such a situation, because, even if justified, my wife and daughter could still lose me to the judiciary system. I would pull the trigger, but only if darn sure I had no other choice.

March 6, 2003, 08:44 PM
I've only been in one really bad (read physically threatening) situation, and I realized that I do not freeze up. As a matter of fact, the only thing that kept me from maiming the guy was my girlfriend yelling at me to drive away. I do have a bit of a temper, but I keep it under tight control until I or someone I'm with is directly threatened. At that point...look out, BG. Now that I carry I keep my temper under even greater control, but judging from my experience, I would not have a problem pulling the trigger.

March 6, 2003, 08:49 PM
I hear you buddy.

My son is 15 months old next week and I tell you - it just gets better and better. Wife is staying home to take care of him and I hate going to work every day because of what I am missing.

As for not wanting to have a situation because you might go to prison (worst case) - I really do not worry about that. Not that it could not happen, but I have decided not to risk lives for fear of an unjust outcome. If someone breaks in, there will be no warning as none is required by CA law - you have the legal presumption that your life is in danger if your home is broken into.

Just remember "I was in fear for my life and the lives of my family".

Yeah - you may get some agressive DA trying to make a name, but a working man with a baby to protect gunning down a goblin in his own home is pretty hard to spin. If they decide to play that way, then it does not matter - if I lose my house, my job, whatever - my family is alive. Look at the play the poor guys in NYC are getting on O'Reily. All they can get them on is that their guns were unlicenced and thats not an issue here.

I am sorry, but if you break in, any margin I give you is to your advantage, not mine.

Men are wired to fight and protect and commit violence - civilized men just know when it is appropriate. (not saying you don't - just conveying my philosophy).

Standing Wolf
March 6, 2003, 09:23 PM
1. It's my life.

2. It's my property.

3. Both my life and property are worth defending.

March 6, 2003, 09:52 PM
spoonman: wow. I'm glad you're still around to convey that wisdom, too. I don't envy you for what you had to do, but I do thank you that you did what was necessary and can help others out, too.

March 6, 2003, 10:27 PM
I asked myself the same thing when I bought the first handgun I ever owned. It was a Glock 26 I bought it the week I turned 21 but I knew before hand I was mentaly as well as physicaly prepared to pull the trigger. I feel this to be perhaps the most important question a gun owner or would be gun owner should consider.

I also feel if the answer is no to said question then don't buy a gun. Its situations such as this that lead to a gun owner having his/her gun used against them. Granted its rare but it happens. I have never felt threated enough to draw my gun but I've had my hand on it several times. My point being I want to be absoulutely sure of whats happening before that gun comes out.,and I know how to recognize it as a dangerous/life threatening decision. Its only in your best interests to know the same.

I hope I never need to shoot another human being but if I need to I'am prepared and thats the important thing. In the end no one here or else where can answer this question but you. Good luck with whatever you decide.

March 6, 2003, 10:38 PM
I just read the account on glocktalk (here (

I must say .... wow. I really hope I never have to do that, but I hope to God I'm capable when it happens.

March 6, 2003, 10:50 PM
Someone's books I read, years ago in the late 80's, taught me something. He was a counter-terrorist by trade and wrote extensively about terrorists, their methods, and how to deal with them. In case your wondering, his pen name is Gale Rivers.

His books taught me that when someone is threatening you, or they've done something that has created the need to take extreme measures against them, that basically it was their decision to put themselves in that position in the first place. And consequently, it divorces you of being the one who has to decide whether or not you are doing something wrong by acting with extreme prejudice and blowing their *** away (to put it bluntly). They, not you, must take the responsibility for getting themselves killed or badly injured as it is their choice to be there, doing whatever is it that makes it necessary for someone else to need to shoot them.

As a result, I don't want to kill someone needlessly--who knows, they might reform and be a great benefit to others someday. But I will not hesitate if I see that I don't have a chance to take another decision. And if I really need to put the man down, I am going to put him down hard.

March 6, 2003, 10:52 PM
How would you keep from freezing up?

I survived two violent confrontations in my life. If I would have been armed I wouldn't have been so scared.

March 6, 2003, 11:06 PM
Couple years ago, coming home late from my bouncer gig, parked and got outa my car, encountered a shady-looking thug looking in cars. He saw me coming, got ahead of me, walking, I lost sight of him, came around a corner and guess what? He was standing there looking at me from less than 10 feet. He asked me if I was following him, I said NO, I was walking to my apartment. He disagreed with me, said that people who followed him got killed and then reached into his jacket. Obvious psycho. I raised the SP-101 .357 that I had pulled as soon as I had first seen this guy and aimed for COM. I was scared sh*tless, knees knocking, but oddly enough my hand didnt move a fraction of an inch, finger was on the trigger, ready to breathe on it and go BANG! Told him very quietly to pull his hand out, if I see anything else but his hand I would kill him. Straight up, no bull, no second thoughts, his choice completely to live or die. He pulled his hand out REAL slow, thankfully empty, walked away some distance, turned back to me and said he'd make sure to come back and kill me. Then he ran away like he was literally on fire. I hustled to my apartment and scared the h*ll outa my sleeping wife as I dropped the phone a buncha times calling the police. I didnt want to kill this bozo. I have carried for years, legally and illegally, and this was the first time I had had to point a gun at another person. Dont want to have to do it again. I was so very close to ending this guy I know that if needed to kill... I can do it. Without hesitation. Dont want to... but yea, I can do it.

Michael in Sandy, OR

March 7, 2003, 12:25 PM
You have to know yourself and know what you'll tolerate. One of the best examples I can recall is J. B. Books' immortal, "I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to others and I require the same of them."

In an emergency situation, there is no time to decide what your particular philosophy is going to be. Just my two sense.

March 7, 2003, 12:29 PM
by that philosophy, would being called a 'doody head' necessicate that you draw your weapon?

remember, whats our training supposed to instill in us? that our firearms are our LAST RESORT. we try diplomacy if possible, we try escaping iff possible. when all other efforts fail and a life (ours or someone elses) is in danger, then we move to the last possible option.

March 7, 2003, 01:24 PM
by that philosophy, would being called a 'doody head' necessicate that you draw your weapon?


March 7, 2003, 01:34 PM
I knew a guy in the PRK who had a CCW. He carried a revolver and he always had a blank in the first chamber. He figured if the blank didn't scare them away he was O.K. to fire away. Now there are pros and cons to this. If someone had a gun on me, I sure would rather have a real round from the get go. However, in a dark house situation, this seemed like a good idea.

There was an instance when I lived in the PRK where an idiot with a .357 shot their 3 year old in the dark because they thought there was a prowler in the house. Can you imagine living with that?

Guy B. Meredith
March 8, 2003, 12:44 AM
I am a total safety nazi. I do not keep a loaded gun. I do NOT point a gun at anything I would not want to destroy, even if the gun is empty (which it is unless on the range). I even cannot in my imagination break safety rules--if I am envisioning handling a revolver, I do so in a direction where no one is threatened.

If I point a gun at someone they need killing as they have created a situation so extreme that they have caused me to violate my conditioning. They will be shot if mine are in danger. The only question is whether I will be calm enough for a good head shot or will need to be satisfied with a body hit.

4 eyed six shooter
March 8, 2003, 02:10 AM
The best answer I can give is because I'm a survivor. I will do whatever it takes to go home at night or to protect my family. I have been in several situations where I was sure that I was going to have to shoot someone. I know that the people looking down the barrel of my pistol could see in my eyes that I was ready and willing to pull the trigger (several of them told me so after the cuffs went on). I thank God that I never had to drop someone, but would do it in a heart beat if I had to. I've seen too many people shot or knifed and it's not a pretty sight. What many people don't realize is that many of the bangers, armed robbers etc. would shoot you without batting an eye. To them you are like a roach to step on. Many of these people have been to prison and learn to smell fear. If they see you as being at all weak they will move on you. Training and mental conditioning are your best friends. If you find it necessary to put someone at gunpoint, don't hesitate to shoot if you must, but don't shoot unless you have to. Let them see in your face and eyes that you will drop them and then go have a big bloody steak afterwards. Training and conditioning will give you the edge that you need. Learn to shoot your firearm well and know your firearm like the face of your lover.
Having confidence in your weapon and your shooting abilities will give you the advantage, and knowing in your mind that you are far better than them will make a major differance in the outcome.
One story that always makes me laugh when I think of it is the trainee that was with me on his second patrol. We had agreed in advance that if we were to chase more than one suspect that he would stick with me. We contacted a couple of very large biker types who took off on foot. They split up and the rookie took after the second one instead of sticking with me. He chased him into the middle of a large field when the biker suddenly stopped and turned on him asking him what he was going to do. The new officer pulled his glock, and with the gun shaking said "I'm brand new at this and I have a very shakey trigger finger" The biker just turned around, put his hands on his head and went to his knees.
The rookie was very lucky he got away with that one.
Be safe and stay in condition yellow when out in public. By doing so you may have the chance to extract yourself from a bad situation before it esclates. John K

March 8, 2003, 07:41 PM
I've twice held men at gunpoint in my home and twice chose to hold my fire. Thank you, Lord, for not having to shoot a man.

Both times I was ready and knew that I could. Perhaps they sensed it too, because both times they backed down as I dropped the safety.

I've always said that if you don't deep inside know that you can defend yourself, you probably ought not introduce a gun into a butt-kicking.

I recommend Ayoob's In The Gravest Extreme" to help understand the problem and prepare to respond. Decide beforehand, as your hesitation could get you killed.

March 8, 2003, 08:29 PM
No one does until it is done, I believe that I will be able to defend myself ,as a CCW holder on the street it has to be a direct life threat, and My Momma's son is coming home.

In the home when I hear the bumps in the night I check to locate the wife and the two daughters before I sweep the house!!!

On the range I treat the targets as BGs in that ANY shot not on target has just struck another (innocent) person.

from fighting fires and other lifethreatening situations I feel that I will have no problem going into action. it will be a "clean" shoot, or there wont be any shooting.

I like everyone here Prays that I do NOT have to pull the trigger or even the gun. But my loving wife and Two Beautiful Daughters
are worth coming home to everyday, and worth defending to the last drop of BOTH of our's blood.

March 8, 2003, 10:04 PM
The bottom line is, you don't. You never will, for sure, until you actually have to. Hopefully, you never will, ever.

I'm fairly certain I could, because I had the hammer halfway back on a double-action trigger pull, when I was finally able to convince the bad guy he really didn't want to stick that hunting knife into my partner. The scary part was, I didn't even realize I'd begun the trigger-pull until my partner had disarmed him and thrown him up against a wall-locker. :what:

March 9, 2003, 04:09 AM
OK, now all of you tough, hardcore guys out there can fire up the flame and roast me for being all sensitive and all. I bet no flames come from guys who have had to pull the trigger on someone.

I think someone would have to be a pretty dedicated fool to not see that even the most just shoot can leave a person with questions and emotions.

Even if you do not feel "guilt", there are plenty of other emotions to go around.

The BG is a human and even though I believe that his death is his decision, I would still feel quite somber when I stopped to consider why he decided to go down that road.

My wife and I were chased and cornered once - I had my BHP clone with me. Drew it - thankfully did not have to fire it because it was a piece of junk :)

David Scott
March 9, 2003, 11:15 AM
Some things can't be simulated completely. You can train with human-simulating targets all you want, but you can never duplicate the actual mental conditions of an armed confrontation. While you're training, your mind is always thinking it's just an exercise.

Still, you fight like you train, to some extent. Some folks may freeze when it comes to the crunch. Others may shoot everything in sight, or wet their pants, or fall on their knees and beg for divine guidance. But I'll bet that this sort of thing happens more when the person in question just bought a gun and tucked it away, never training, or trained only by standing still and shooting at big black dots on paper.

Training with as much realism as possible helps you build ingrained responses and muscle memory. That keeps you in control, and it builds confidence. Once you've made the commitment to defend yourself, you should train regularly to build those response patterns. The gun is only one tool in the set; your mind and body are also important tools.

Personally, my training in the military and in civilian life have reinforced my commitment to bring a controlled lethal response to a threat against myself or my loved ones. I have had to point a gun at another human twice in my life. Both times, the aggressor ran off, but looking back on those incidents I know I was ready to fire if they continued to threaten. I don't want to kill anyone, but if that is the price of my own safety, so be it. The principle is "never start a fight, always finish one". If the two people mentioned above had gotten honest jobs instead of taking the easy, criminal way, they never would have found themselves looking down the barrel of my gun.

March 9, 2003, 08:20 PM
I wonder about that all the time about myself alone. I can handle myself fairly well, so I might wonder if I could just disarm him without firing a shot. I hope it never comes to that and if it does, I hope I don't waste time wondering about possibilities such as this, but I couldn't say for sure until I'm faced with the problem. If my wife is with me, there's no question. I'm so overprotective of her, I'm positive there'd be no hesitation at all.

The Plainsman
March 9, 2003, 10:37 PM
Way back when, on TFL, I started a similar thread, so I went back and looked at it. I took the liberty of copying some of it for this post -

I shot a man last night....
I had a very interesting experience last night. It's one that some of you may consider "old hat" - you've been there and done that. But for me, it was an eye opener.

My wife and I are attending a "Citizens Academy" conducted by our local county Sheriff's Office. We meet one night a week for 13 weeks and we go through an abbreviated version of all phases of the deputies' training and their various duties. Last night was the "Use of Force" segment, which included FS - Firearms Simulation.

I was equiped with body armor, helmet w/face shield, and a genuine S&W 5906 modified to fire a 9mm wax projectile at 350 fps. I was then put in an area with various types of cover and a scenario which included real live people. I was a deputy who had just pulled up at a scene with an armed man threatening suicide and unknown additional individuals in a house. I had no idea what the subject's weapon(s) were. The subject was threatening to stab me with a screwdriver, and then pulled out a revolver.

To make a long story (but very short event) much shorter, I wound up shooting the subject. The amazing thing to me, was my thought processes involved in deciding whether to shoot and when. Even though I knew nobody was going to be hurt, I was still very reluctant to pull the trigger and risk "killing" the subject. It was spooky. The instructors later assured me I had done the right thing. I hit my target - double tap.

When my wife did it, she just couldn't bring herself to pull the trigger and she got shot by the bad guy.

Afterward, one of the instructors was doing a de-briefing for us students and we started a discussion of whether any of us could actually pull the trigger in a real-life situation. About half of us had succeeded in dropping the BG and the other half got shot by the BG.

The instructor recommended a book, "On Killing" by Dr. Dave Grossman, PhD., who is also a retired LtCol. Army Ranger. I have since read the book and highly recommend it to any of my brother and sister TFL'ers who have ever wondered about the thought processes of killing someone, regardless of the justification or circumstances. It's scary. Unless you've actually had the experience, you can only speculate about your personal reaction, but this book will help you figure it out.

I've been in the military. I've owned and used all sorts of firearms thoughout my life. I've hunted all sorts of game. I have several HD guns positioned around my home. I think I'm prepared to use them to defend my family and myself. But bottomline, I've never been in a real life or death "kill or be killed" situation.

Although I still intend to keep myself and my home armed, my wife and I are doing some serious "re-thinking" of what we'll do, when and how, in the event we're ever faced with a similar real-life situation. Maybe I'm kidding myself, but I can't help but think that I wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger if the BG was standing in my bedroom doorway in the middle of the night.

Bottom line - as several people have already stated - train, train, train. If all else fails, in this type of situation, you're going to fall back on your training, whatever it is.

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