5 Myths of Self Defense Shootings


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Skribs
January 11, 2013, 12:39 PM
I've been reading a lot of articles lately, and especially comments, in which I see some really stupid assertations by the antis in regards to what is needed for self defense and what we gun owners consider self defense to be "barbaric". I think I've got it narrowed down to 5 myths...

Myth #1: Gun Owners are Vigilantes.

This myth comes in several parts: 1) the job of the police is to protect the people, not the job of the people to protect themselves, and 2) anyone who carries a weapon for the sake of self defense is looking for an excuse to kill (a common critique of SYG laws). The first part of this myth follows the "only cops and soldiers should have guns" line of thinking, and the second part of the myth serves to demonize gun owners.

As to the first part, the Supreme Court has rules that the police are not responsible for your safety, mainly to prevent lawsuits against police departments in case they are unsuccessful in their job. Considering response times, most dangerous situations will be over before the police arrive. Therefore, the only person wholly responsible for my safety is me. I am not taking the job away from the police or trying to do their job for them...I am simply trying to preserve my life and liberty. There is also the suggestion that your average gun owner is going to shoot himself in the foot, but a cop will be able to make that shot on a robber with a human shield with pinpoint accuracy. New York news stories would suggest otherwise...

The second half is even more chilling, the idea that gun owners will tote weapons into public hoping for an excuse to use them "in self defense". They believe that we use loopholes in the law to bring about dangerous situations so we can get away with killing. The idea is ludicrous if you understand our legal system: someone who picks a fight and then kills that person is usually found guilty. Everyone claims "self defense" after commiting homicide, even if it was premeditated...that doesn't mean we're abusing loopholes in the law. The courts will find if it really was self defense, or if it was unjustified.

Myth #2: You Don't Need ______ For Self Defense.

Generally this refers to rifles ("you don't need that much power") or "high-capacity clips" ("you don't need 30 rounds to stop an attacker"). This myth is basically used to justify gun control laws by saying that if you're concerned about self defense, you should be fine after this ban goes through.

The problem with this myth is that what is needed in one situation may not be enough in another. There are stories of people surviving 30mm shots from military weapons, taking 5 shots to the face from a revolver ("shot placement" didn't even help)...and that's when bullets hit one target. When faced with multiple attackers, and considering the average hit rate under stress...I don't want someone else telling me what I will or will not need in order to defend myself.

Myth #3: Killing is Always Wrong

There are some who believe violence against others is always wrong. If you are threatened, your goal should be to do whatever you need to in order to survive without sinking to the level of your attacker; which could mean complying or running away. It is a pacifist approach that is designed to make us look like we're barbarians full of machismo.

I will agree that murder is always wrong, and killing should never be the goal. However, I am willing to respond to an active threat on the lives of myself or my loved ones with lethal force if necessary. I would rather live with those actions than live with inaction and guilt of what I could have stopped...or not live at all. There is a common saying that gun control is the idea that a woman who is found dead in an alley is morally superior to a woman explaining to the cop why there are several bullet holes in her would-be attacker's body.

Myth #4: "Just Shoot the Leg"

This is mostly seen in comments in news articles, "you don't need to kill him, just shoot the leg." The idea is that there are less lethal options to killing, so you should go for those instead of taking lethal force. It suggests that killing in self defense is wrong, because you have other options available (and usually alludes to the use of a tazer or pepper spray).

There are several problems at play here. The idea of shooting someone in the leg to "wound" instead of "kill" ignores the goal of self defense shootings: you shoot to stop the threat. You do so by hitting an area likely to cause a physiological stop. The leg is a bad idea compared to the chest because A) it is a harder target to hit and B) it is less likely to stop the target quickly. You are also very likely to kill someone with a shot to the leg or arm; there are major arteries there that can kill you pretty quick (not quick enough for self defense) if severed. And yet people survive shots to the chest and head, sometimes with pretty big weapons (i.e. a 30mm military round).

The other part of this myth is that pepper spray or a tazer would be better, both morally and tactically. It supposes that these devices work 100% of the time, with no training. Well, when less lethal (not non-lethal) options are pursued by police, it is done with armed backup. I've seen people shrug off tazers (I've shrugged them off), and they require a precise hit at close range if they even are effective. Pepper spray is merely an irritant. I'd rather rely on a tool better suited for the job, especially without backup.

Myth #5: "Use a Man's Weapon!"

I see this every once in a while. "Anyone can use a gun, that's why I use a _____, it requires more skill." And these people blame us for machismo...

Essentially, the idea is that if you are a "real man" you'll use your fists, or a knife, or a bludgeoning weapon instead of a firearm, because it requires "real skill" to use. Well, pardon me, but if I am fighting for my life, I want it to be as easily as possible to survive. I don't want to worry about the challenge of that. Challenge is better suited to sports and video games.

If the bad guy has a gun, I don't want to bring a knife to a gunfight. If the bad guy does not have a gun, I'd rather have the better tool.

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Midnight Oil
January 11, 2013, 12:47 PM
it seems no matter what the anti argument is, it always seems to be in favor of the criminal. no matter how much i try to skew my perspective while reading these "alternatives" it still ultimately reads as, "hey, the bad guy is more important than you (the law abiding citizen)."

nice breakdowns of the anti's arguments! i think you summed up everything.

edit: I would like to also add that, i genuinely feel, that most of jane/joe public's perception is informed through movies and tv. they see people like jackie chan disarming an armed individual and coming out on top. Action stars, hogtied, taking on 10 bad guys armed w/ AK's. people think that when you shoot a shotgun, everything in front of you gets demolished. When bad guys are reloading, they're incredibly bad at it, giving you time to wrestle them into submission. a misinformed public has no real knowledge to fall back upon in order to come to the conclusions they do. as a result, we end up seeming illogical to them.

-v-
January 11, 2013, 01:09 PM
I'd add to that impression from video games informing public perception. I was flabber-gasted when one of my friends said that buckshot is harmless beyond 25 yards...

Midnight Oil
January 11, 2013, 01:13 PM
^^^^

:rolleyes: gotta love the gamers...

Skribs
January 11, 2013, 01:23 PM
After seeing some pictures of buckshot shot out of slug guns, I am convinced that all shotguns in video games are slug guns.

M-Cameron
January 11, 2013, 03:32 PM
I'd add to that impression from video games informing public perception. I was flabber-gasted when one of my friends said that buckshot is harmless beyond 25 yards...



http://www.everydaynodaysoff.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/How-A-Shotgun-Works-In-Video-Games.png

Skribs
January 11, 2013, 04:32 PM
Very good point in your edit, midnight oil. You are right, and there are a lot of pages out there on why movies are bad for technical knowledge (although the same could be said about other technical things...Tim Allen was talking about some spy movie where someone steals a car, and was saying "he just goes in and hotwires it...that WOULD NOT WORK with the model car he was stealing").

Things that are usually mentioned in movie/gun myth threads are how long assault rifles can go on full auto, how loud a suppressed gun actually is, how good someone who "hates guns" will actually be with a gun, and so on. Effects like Stormtrooper School of Marksmanship are usually brought up as well.

However, I was hoping to keep this thread more related to how antis view responsible gun owners, and not myths for guns in general.

OptimusPrime
January 11, 2013, 09:09 PM
Skribs, good post and good breakdown. I just had a conversation with an anti yesterday and his comments were just astounding. I went right down the script, refuting every single thing he said. "They should ban assault weapons..." "Define assault weapon please..." And so on. The guy really knew nothing and if he was actually listening he could have learned something. Maybe he was, I'll check with him on Monday.
I think I will use Oil's argument and ask why is my friend defending the criminal?
The point is that their script is not being updated and they are still fighting with ignorance.

SouthernBoy
January 11, 2013, 11:31 PM
Myth #4: "Just Shoot the Leg"

This is mostly seen in comments in news articles, "you don't need to kill him, just shoot the leg." The idea is that there are less lethal options to killing, so you should go for those instead of taking lethal force. It suggests that killing in self defense is wrong, because you have other options available (and usually alludes to the use of a tazer or pepper spray).

There are several problems at play here. The idea of shooting someone in the leg to "wound" instead of "kill" ignores the goal of self defense shootings: you shoot to stop the threat. You do so by hitting an area likely to cause a physiological stop. The leg is a bad idea compared to the chest because A) it is a harder target to hit and B) it is less likely to stop the target quickly. You are also very likely to kill someone with a shot to the leg or arm; there are major arteries there that can kill you pretty quick (not quick enough for self defense) if severed. And yet people survive shots to the chest and head, sometimes with pretty big weapons (i.e. a 30mm military round).

Deliberately shooting your assailant in the leg has some very real negative connotations if you go to trial, criminal or civil. It will be shown to the jury by the prosecutor or the complainant's attorney that you really didn't believe that you were in imminent fear of serious bodily harm or worse and that you questioned whether or not you really had the right to use deadly force. In other words, you were not confident in your actions.

Aside from the fact that legs and arms are hard targets to hit in an extreme encounter.

Carter
January 11, 2013, 11:47 PM
I was flabber-gasted when one of my friends said that buckshot is harmless beyond 25 yards...

I'll be honest. I used to think buckshot was horribly inaccurate and worthless past 25 yards....then I had to qualify with it at 50 yards and I realized how effective it really was. Made me love the shotgun even more.

I saw a CNN video where they were comparing two mass shootings and armed response. The positive one was with an armed off duty officer. The negative one was the concealed carrier at the Giffords shooting. They made said he almost killed someone and cut the original video to only include where he was saying he'd of shot the person (when he was actually referring to the mass shooter, not the person he grabbed with his gun still in his holster).

So I'd say another myth is ordinary citizens will kill innocent people and make the situation worse.

Skribs
January 12, 2013, 12:14 AM
Well that kinda goes to the vigilante bit, that civilians are untrained but police are. In NY, there was a semi-recent shooting where the cops did more damage to bystanders than the shooter (the shooter killed his primary target, but during the shootout with the cops, the cops did the greater collateral damage).

Also, most shootings where the civilian has been ineffective at stopping, it's because their tactics were terrible. They generally yelled "DROP IT!" instead of just firing, so the shooter turned to them and shot them before they could act on their threat.

Carter
January 12, 2013, 12:22 AM
They generally yelled "DROP IT!" instead of just firing, so the shooter turned to them and shot them before they could act on their threat.

Police are trained to do that as well. Its just you're supposed to be drawing at the same time and not wait around all day for compliance.

My general understanding is civilians don't shoot when police would. Of course, if we had a big department behind us that said whatever we did was fine because of best intentions or what have you we might shoot more, but I doubt it.

Skribs
January 12, 2013, 12:32 AM
Yes, but there's a difference between being threatened by one man with a pistol and being threatened by a dozen men with body armor, rifles, and a uniform that suggests training.

climbnjump
January 12, 2013, 12:35 AM
Aside from the fact that legs and arms are hard targets to hit in an extreme encounter.

And then there is the little fact that the femoral artery runs down the upper leg. So remember to miss that...

Carter
January 12, 2013, 12:41 AM
Their trained to do it alone as well. The point of the order is it shows you tried to give them a chance to stop, even if your pulling the trigger as your finishing the word. Any witnesses that may have heard would be helpful. However, I don't really seeing myself yelling stop in most situations. Point is though, some civilians train that way and are taught that way. As long as there isn't a lag between stop and drawing/shooting I don't see a problem with it necessarily. Just do it simultaneously.


I just wish the whole police are trained and civilians are not mentality would go away. Its ridiculous. Working in "public safety" I can honestly say my personal practice and training far exceeds any work related training. However, I know if I ever use my firearm the media will look at me as a "trained" individual due to profession, and I don't see it as really benefitting the average carrier in that circumstance.

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