IDPA - Itching to shoot somebody...?


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meef
February 16, 2006, 01:37 AM
About a month ago there was a thread regarding the advisability of taking a class or classes with one of the nationally recognized firearms training institutes. There was the concern about whether such a course of action might go for or against you if you were involved in a shooting incident. I won't elaborate on it because anyone interested can go look it up.

However, I got to wondering along the same lines about how participating in a shooting sport might affect one in court.

A quarter of a century ago, I shot IPSC for a couple of years and dropped out because it became anything but "practical", with race guns and exotic courses of fire being the norm. I just lost interest.

Recently I have become interested in IDPA, thinking it might be more of what I had been looking for in the first place.

But -- one thing bothers me -- should I ever have the great misfortune to have to use a firearm in self defense, might participation in IDPA be a legal liability?

Scenario:

Assume I justifiably shoot someone. Details not relevant for this discussion's sake.
The prosecutor and/or a civil attorney from the sleazeball firm of Dewey, Cheatem and Howe says:
"The defendant has been training for just this opportunity to shoot someone! Just itching to, as it were. He's got a cowboy mentaility as evidenced by the fact that he participates in a sport where shooting targets meant to simulate humans is the goal."

Going to a reputable school to learn or hone your skills has a degree of respectability that I don't think engaging in something like IDPA carries.

Input?

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R.H. Lee
February 16, 2006, 01:40 AM
I wouldn't worry about it. The fact that you even own a firearm, and {{horrors!}} have a CCW can be morphed into prima facie 'evidence' :rolleyes: that you're a cold blooded psychotic killer just looking for an excuse to go postal.

Lucky
February 16, 2006, 06:44 AM
Input? If you can consider not defending yourself against a threat to your well-being... I am confused. First threat - the person attacking you. After that you may face another threat, a lawyer attacking you. If this is the price society charges you to not be victimized, then that's the price.'

If the trial is fair, as I understand fair to be, then you are not guilty. Right up until the sentence is handed down you are not guilty. If you said nothing at all the whole trial, then I would think there could be no proof of what you were thinking, and thus no proof you had malice.

Or you could admit everything the lawyer said was true. Your sport did simulate shooting humans. You had been training for the situation to shoot someone. Maybe you do have a cowboy mentality, and cite aspects to illustrate this, or ask for clarification of what the question means.

If you have to serve 10 years in jail, it might be better than the high chance of death from losing to an attacker. Furthermore, I've always considered that there may be yet more prices to be paid, social stigma and such, as well as vendettas from the assailant's friends and family.

Bartholomew Roberts
February 16, 2006, 10:22 AM
In the criminal case, the facts and circumstances of the shooting will matter a lot more than whether you competed in IDPA, in determining legal liability.

For example, if you got into a loud verbal altercation with a guy in a bar while drinking and then later that night you shoot him in the parking lot of the same bar - the prosecutor will probably be coming after you - it won't be because you shot IDPA that he comes after you; but he will probably point that out at your criminal trial.

On the other hand, if you shoot somebody after they kicked in your front door at 1am and they were carrying a pistol, the prosecutor is likely not going to give it a second look even if you shoot IDPA religiously, wear a "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" t-shirt and have a perforated silhouette on your front door.

Now in most states (Florida is one exception), you will also get sued in civil court by the person you shot or their family. At this trial they will probably be doing their best to be a nuisance to you so you will settle with them. The most popular way to do this (particularly in home incidents) will be trying to make it look like you accidentally shot him. The reason for this is that they can generally recover more money if it was negligence than if it was intentional (most homeowner's insurance doesn't cover intentional acts). In this case, IDPA is a plus (assuming you are a safe shooter). It shows that you regularly operate in stressful environments with a firearm safely.

However, if it was pretty obvious that you shot him intentionally I would expect them to use everything they could to paint you as a deranged lunatic just waiting to shoot somebody. The fact is that any halfway decent lawyer can do that whether you shoot IDPA or not. The job of a lawyer is to take whatever facts you give him and make the best case he can on those facts. At some point you have to decide for yourself how far you are willing to limit your ability in order not to have any facts that could conceivably be used against you in the hypothetical scenario.

Now stuff that has little benefit (like the silhouette on the front door or the "Kill 'em all" t-shirt), I could see where a prudent person would decide that it was worth giving those up. IDPA? It could be used against you. It could be used for you as well. I don't see any case hinging on whether or not you shoot IDPA.

The final thing I would suggest is that you get into IDPA because it is fun. In my view, IDPA can be good practice; but more often encourages a lot of bad habits. It is a great way to learn to shoot from a variety of practical positions; maybe not such a great way to learn to fight though.

MuzzleBlast
February 16, 2006, 10:35 AM
Assuming the case ever goes to court, you can be assured the sludge for the criminal is going to try to use anything to their advantage ("sludge" is my own word for lawyers who defend criminals or litigate spurious cases). The real key is, will any of the stuff the sludge comes up with to attack you really have any effect on the case. I'm inclined to think that if it was a good shoot, you don't have to worry about being a competitive shooter, using reloads, or anything else that does not directly bear on the shooting incident.

Igloodude
February 16, 2006, 10:37 AM
Input? If you can consider not defending yourself against a threat to your well-being... I am confused. First threat - the person attacking you. After that you may face another threat, a lawyer attacking you. If this is the price society charges you to not be victimized, then that's the price.'

If the trial is fair, as I understand fair to be, then you are not guilty. Right up until the sentence is handed down you are not guilty. If you said nothing at all the whole trial, then I would think there could be no proof of what you were thinking, and thus no proof you had malice.

Or you could admit everything the lawyer said was true. Your sport did simulate shooting humans. You had been training for the situation to shoot someone. Maybe you do have a cowboy mentality, and cite aspects to illustrate this, or ask for clarification of what the question means.

If you have to serve 10 years in jail, it might be better than the high chance of death from losing to an attacker. Furthermore, I've always considered that there may be yet more prices to be paid, social stigma and such, as well as vendettas from the assailant's friends and family.

I don't think his question was "if I get into IDPA, should I continue to carry concealed" but rather "since I'll continue to carry concealed, should I get into IDPA?"

ScottS
February 16, 2006, 10:44 AM
But -- one thing bothers me -- should I ever have the great misfortune to have to use a firearm in self defense, might participation in IDPA be a legal liability?I think only if you tape your hits, or tell the responding officer, "Hey, down zero!"

Soybomb
February 16, 2006, 01:19 PM
Its just another of the huge list of things that people worry about. If you ever shoot anyone theres going to be complications. I don't think classes, training, the round you select, the color of your holster, etc are going to be all that relevant. Your attorney is there to defend you from meaning crap like that and if its not 1 thing it'll be another but it wont be relevant. be glad you had the training to live that day if it makes you a better shooter.

ArmedBear
February 16, 2006, 01:36 PM
I wouldn't worry about it. The fact that you even own a firearm, and {{horrors!}} have a CCW can be morphed into prima facie 'evidence' :rolleyes: that you're a cold blooded psychotic killer just looking for an excuse to go postal.

Which is ironic, really, since most prosecutors ALSO are itching to send murderers, rapists and armed robbers to be raped prison, or even to be killed on death row. Does that mean prosecutors are cold-blooded psychotic killers? Because the only people any of us would ever even imagine shooting would be those in that same group.

And I surely don't look forward to ever having to do that. I just would rather it be a would-be murderer who gets shot, than my wife or me, if that's the choice I have to make.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, commit much of their lives, work hard to get into law school, then to get through and pass the bar, all so they can try to send these people up the river.

sturmruger
February 16, 2006, 01:39 PM
Now days everyone is worried about prosecution. Just use your head, make sure that you are really afraid for your life, and you will be fine.

progunner1957
February 16, 2006, 01:53 PM
Masaad Ayoob addressed this issue in one of his columns in "Combat Handguns" magazine. If the prosecutor is an antigun bigot and has a political agenda (as well as a career) he/she wants to further, he/she will try to make an issue out of every facet of the shooting and anything related to it.

It is up to your defense attorney and the expert witnesses you will put on the stand to dismantle every lie, half-truth and perjorative that the prosecutor will direct against you to make you look like a sadistic, bloodthirsty murderer in the eyes of the jury.

Masaad Ayoob says common tactics of an antigun bigot prosecutor are:
Firearms training = "gunfighting school"
Hollowpoint ammo = "killer bullets"
Handloaded ammo = "killer bullets"
Large caliber handgun = "more killing power than a 'reasonable' caliber"
Hi-capacity magazine = "able to kill more people"
Auto pistol = "able to kill more people - a six shot revolver wasn't good enough"

If the "jury of your peers" (gun-fearing sheeple) hear these kind of statements and your attorney and expert witnesses do not dismantle them with truthful, articulate, unemotional facts - you will most likely spend years in prison and lose everything you own in the civil lawsuit that is sure to follow on the heels of your conviction.

When you choose a school to attend for firearms training, make sure they cover the legal aspects of a shooting and how to deal with them in depth. Ayoob's Lethal Force Institute does this. Ayoob also will assist as an expert witness any graduate of LFI that is involved in a self defense shooting.

Last I read/heard, not one LFI graduate who has been put on trial for a self defense shooting has ever been convicted; Ayoob clearly knows what he is doing.

Moral of the story? Get some professional instruction and do your best to avoid situations where you would be forced to use your firearm.

Remember that 98.5% of the time when an armed citizen draws his/her gun, no shots are fired - the vast majority of predatory thugs turn tail and run at the sight of their "victim's" gun (cowards that they are).

The chances of you having to shoot an attacker are very slim - thugs want to live to rob another day.

Dolomite
February 16, 2006, 02:18 PM
"The defendant has been training for just this opportunity to shoot someone! Just itching to, as it were. He's got a cowboy mentaility as evidenced by the fact that he participates in a sport where shooting targets meant to simulate humans is the goal."

Same argument will be made against a martial art practitioner:

"The defendant has been training for just this opportunity to kick someone! Just itching to, as it were. He's got a Bruce Lee mentaility as evidenced by the fact that he participates in a sport where kicking humans is the goal."

Truth is - the more you train to fight, the fewer fights you'll find yourself in out in the world.

Not because you've turned yourself into some kind of bad-ass that nobody would ever dream of locking gazes with - but because in a confrontation the big question about what you can do and what you think you can do has been answered ahead of time. At that point your brain is free to find alternate ways to avoid what you know is coming up next.

Conversely, the unprepared may be forced to act out in fear: Primarily because they hope to capitalize on the adrenelin dump fear gives us, and secondly, because they feel it's an advantage to make a first move (when actually, that could be a big mistake).

You don't have to be in fear of your life to defend yourself, though you should be able to articulate after the fact, that given the same situation, any reasonable person would be.

BigRobT
February 16, 2006, 02:18 PM
I don't think participating in a "sport" would make anybody any more liable. If anything, I would perceive it as becoming more "professional" or skilled. IF you ever were placed in a situation that you were required to shoot someone, I would be more confident in an IDPA shooter not having any collateral damage. I don't do IDPA, per se, but I DO participate in a Defensive Handgun League here in MN. If anything, it's made me a more proficient shooter. It also addresses the threat/ non-threat scenarios in the league shoots. I feel that more leagues, such as the one I participate in should be around. It's conducted similar to IDPA, but on a more reasonable level. It hones the skills of the everyday average Carry Permit holder.

Ezekiel
February 16, 2006, 02:23 PM
Ayoob also will assist as an expert witness any graduate of LFI that is involved in a self defense shooting.

Such was offered during my LFI training. Ayoob seems to be a good, good guy about this. :)

GEM
February 16, 2006, 04:22 PM
There's evidence in the jury simulation literature that weapons related issues[i]influence[/] decision making if the shot is ambiguous. Could you have retreated? If the shoot is good or really bad, the effects are not significant.

The best solution is that if you do get into such a situation, you have a lawyer that researchs such effects and can counter such with appropriate testimony and objections.

Sistema1927
February 16, 2006, 05:41 PM
Life is too short to allow this type of thinking to suck all of the joy out of it.

RKirby
February 16, 2006, 06:06 PM
AND THE WINNER IS.............

I think only if you tape your hits, or tell the responding officer, "Hey, down zero!"

:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

Standing Wolf
February 16, 2006, 10:57 PM
...should I ever have the great misfortune to have to use a firearm in self defense, might participation in IDPA be a legal liability?

I refuse to live in fear of criminals or assault lawyers.

Robert Hairless
February 17, 2006, 04:55 AM
Such was offered during my LFI training. Ayoob seems to be a good, good guy about this. :)

Massad Ayoob is a good guy generally.

jazurell
February 18, 2006, 10:04 AM
You participate in IDPA to sharpen your skills so that you minimize the chance of collateral damage. Being proficient is a good thing.

Broadhead
February 19, 2006, 09:59 AM
You participate in IDPA to sharpen your skills so that you minimize the chance of collateral damage. Being proficient is a good thing.

I shoot IDPA, and I agree 100%, including damage to me by the attacker in "collateral".

From the initial post: "...how participating in a shooting sport might affect one in court."

That is unpredictable---anything can happen at trial.

GEM
February 19, 2006, 11:43 AM
All this conjecture is really silly. It occurs in a vacuum of knowledge but full of speculation from gun rags and fantasies.

There have been legal journal articles and jury simulation articles on weapons issues and whether martial arts training can influence juries. These analyses suggest they can. So blanket statements that they won't aren't really supported.

The solution is to have a lawyer that understands the issues and researches the issues. Even more important is not to use lethal force in suspect circumstances.

HankB
February 19, 2006, 01:02 PM
Most prosecutor's offices are really busy. They'll only find out about your IDPA background if 1) you tell them; 2) it's clearly a bad shoot, and they're going to pull out all the stops to hang you; or 3) politics intrude, and they're going to pull out all the stops to hang you.

I don't believe IDPA membership/participation is cross-referenced against your driver's license, so it's unlikely to turn up in a casual investigation or a clearly-justified shooting. Where you might have a problem is if they serve a warrant on your house (see "2" or "3" above) and they come across a bunch of shooting trophies or ribbons or something.

Bartholomew Roberts
February 19, 2006, 02:30 PM
There have been legal journal articles and jury simulation articles on weapons issues and whether martial arts training can influence juries. These analyses suggest they can. So blanket statements that they won't aren't really supported.

If you have any references to these studies, I am sure we would all like to read them.

I didn't really understand anyone to make a blanket statement that it could never make a difference; more of a "if you use your right of self-defense prudently to begin with, the facts will already be in your favor and you won't have to worry about whether side issues like this might make a difference".

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