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Deadly Force?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by PennsyPlinker, Jul 27, 2007.

  1. PennsyPlinker

    PennsyPlinker Well-Known Member

    I would like to get an idea of what people here think is deadly force. Is it the mere display of a weapon, or is it actually using it? I already know what I think, so that is not an issue. But in one thread going on now, and in others, I see people equating the display of a gun with deadly force. Is this a legal definition, or is it simply something people have "extrapolated" from their own perceptions?
  2. lacoochee

    lacoochee Well-Known Member

    It really depends on your jurisdiction as to whether or not a drawn weapon constitutes deadly force, in Florida it does. So drawing your weapon as a "warning" is strictly verboten here, typically if you are drawing the weapon you should pull the trigger, at least that's the standard. Make sure you call the police first once it is done...or better yet be on with the 911 operator during, shouting stop, please, don't hurt me etc. for the inevitable trial.
  3. LarryS.

    LarryS. Well-Known Member

    I always thought it was the threat of deadly force......up until the bang!:confused:
  4. thexrayboy

    thexrayboy Well-Known Member

    What is considered deadly force can vary by legal jurisdiction. Check your local laws. If in doubt talk to an attorney, specifically one that knows how the local DA thinks as that is who will be determining if you face charges or not for any thing you do. The time to learn about what the law says is before you run afoul of it, not after.
  5. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Well-Known Member

    Texas Law

    Sec. 9.01. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:

    (3) "Deadly force" means force that is intended or known by the actor to cause, or in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing, death or serious bodily injury.
  6. phaed

    phaed Well-Known Member

    i don't see how just presenting a weapon could be considered force of any kind. it can be considered dangerous, though.

    for me personally, i'll never draw my weapon down on someone unless i'm going to shoot them. don't mess around with verbal commands, or chancing that just presenting your weapon will stop an attacker.
  7. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Well-Known Member

    Deadly force is defined as force which the user should know can cause serious bodily injury or death.

    Merely displaying a gun in PA is not deadly force.
  8. Mot45acp

    Mot45acp Well-Known Member

    If someone behaves in a matter where I fear for the lives of my children, I am not going to hope the sight of my CCW scares them off. If I'm scared enough to pull it, then, I'm scared enough to use it. I don't point at something I am not fully prepared to destroy.

    I hope and pray I can live my life without ever taking another (especially in front of kids).
  9. PennsyPlinker

    PennsyPlinker Well-Known Member

    But this is the whole point. If you decide to pull it, then do you have to use it? Is drawing the weapon the point of no return? Say you are being threatened and you are to the point where you decide you need to pull it and use it. As soon as your gun is produced, the bad guy backs down. Do you still shoot him? And did you use deadly force to stop him?

    I realize there is a legal component to this, and I am sure there will be those who squawk about brandishing. But if the confrontation ends with no one being shot, and no one getting a beating, that sounds like a good thing.
  10. Spreadfire Arms

    Spreadfire Arms Well-Known Member

    remember to think of other unconventional means of deadly force, for examplee:

    1. vehicle
    2. impact weapon to head

    i think you get the ida. the basic definition was posted above. the point i am trying to make is not to discount other means of achieving deadly force.
  11. PennsyPlinker

    PennsyPlinker Well-Known Member

    I do understand, and I am not trying to split hairs or anything. I guess I am trying to clarify where the division is between deadly force and the threat of it, and get an idea of what that threat can mean in terms of the outcome of the situation. I appreciate all the responses so far.
  12. sacp81170a

    sacp81170a Well-Known Member

    Let's not get "deadly force" confused with the "threat of deadly force". One exists in reality, the other exists in the mind of the person threatened. For instance, if I pull a loaded gun on you, that's deadly force. If I pull a plastic replica, that's obviously not deadly force, but it creates a credible threat of deadly force in your mind. Lots of things in the law are subjective, that is, they depend on the point of view of the person in the situation and not on an objective view in the "cold light" of hindsight.

    IANAL, but lots of things depend on the mythical "reasonably prudent individual". If a reasonably prudent individual would think of an act as a threat of deadly force, then he or she can act accordingly. The thing you have to remember is that you need to be able to articulate what made you believe there was a threat of deadly force clearly.

    If you threaten deadly force and are not justified, you are in for big trouble. Check the laws in your jurisdiction governing the use of deadly force for more information or better yet, consult a lawyer.
  13. thumbody

    thumbody Well-Known Member

    MY .02
    Drawing = threat of deadly force
    Shooting = Use of deadly force
  14. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus


    Sorry, but what I think has no bearing at all in your state. What your state law says, and what the local interpretations of that law and local practices are, is what matters.

    What constitutes deadly force in Pennsylvania? That's a better question for you to be asking IMHO. There is information out there- like most legal information however, it should be VERIFIED with a person in your local jurisdiction who is in a position to KNOW what both LAW and PRACTICE is in your area.

    That said, there is a current thread on your state firearms owners' forum discussing deadly force. It might be worth your while to read- it's at http://www.pafoa.org/forum/question-answer-40/3553-use-deadly-force.html . One early post includes references to the state statutes and some personal comments- the references might help:

    Chapter 18 sections 505- Use of force to protect your self
    Link- http://members.aol.com/StatutesP8/18PA505.html

    506- Use of force to protect someone else
    Link- http://members.aol.com/StatutesP8/18PA506.html

    507- Use of force to protect property
    Link- http://members.aol.com/StatutesP8/18PA507.html

    In PA we are permited to use deadly force when we are in danger of death or seriouse bodily injury. seriouse bodily injury meaning close to death, loss of limbs, comma, extended hosspital stay type things that are far beyond a broken finger and what not. If such a thing happens in public u must attept to flee before using deadly force if possible, But if it would happen in your home or if you own a buisness and it would happen there you do not have to flee. we are also afforded the right to use deadly force in the act of fighting off a forcable sex crime or kidnaping.

    It can be a touchy issue depending on jurisdiction, you do well to ask about it- but you need to ask people who are in a position to give you good dependable information.


    lpl/nc (IANAL in NC either)
  15. budney

    budney member

    PennsyPlinker, threatening deadly force is not the same as using deadly force. However, generally speaking, the law forbids you to threaten deadly force or to use it, except in very specific circumstances. The rule of thumb is that if you aren't allowed to use it, you also aren't allowed to threaten it.

    That's why discussions of brandishing focus on whether deadly force would be justified. If it wouldn't be, then neither is brandishing, and the brandisher can be charged with aggravated assault or assault with a deadly weapon.

    There are exceptions to this rule of thumb, but they're best left to the lawyers.

  16. karz10

    karz10 Well-Known Member

    Well, here's the way I look at it.

    Just because you draw the weapon doesn't mean you have to 'use' it. But you shouldn't draw the weapon unless you are prepared to use it, think you need to use it, feel you are morally justified to use it, and preferably you also feel your are legally justified to use it.

    I think some people get confused by statements like if you draw it you better use it, because I think what some people mean by that is that you shouldn't draw your weapon unless you are capable and willing to use it, because if you draw your weapon with no intention to ever shoot someone, that's a pretty good way to get killed, because now you've elevated your perceived threat to your attacker, who will now potentially take even more aggressive and dangerous action towards you, either with their own weapons or with yours, so by drawing a weapon you don't intend to use, you're elevating your own risk.

    However, while you should be willing and capable of using any weapon you draw, that doesn't mean you have to use it to its full capacity. For example, where do you draw the line of 'using' it. In some cases you may only need to draw it, sometimes you may have to shoot it, sometimes you might have to empty the magazine, reload and repeat. Saying that you need to 'use' the weapon, i.e. shoot it, every time you draw it, is about as ridiculous as saying if you felt you had to draw the weapon, then you better 'use' everything you had on you, so if that means you have a 15 round magazine in the gun, and two spares, you better shoot all 45 rounds if you feel you 'had' to draw your weapon. There's no rule that says you have to shoot 1 bullet, let alone 45, just because you drew your weapon.

    Doesn't everyone say that you use the weapon to stop the threat, no more, no less, right? Like if you are under attack, you're supposed to take appropriate action (flee, take cover, draw, shoot, or some combination thereof) until the threat is stopped. If that means you have to put 10 rounds in a giant crackhead wearing body armor & armed w/ an ak 47, or 3 rounds in a burglar w/ a handgun and no body armor, 1 round that immobilizes and disarms another attacker, or by presenting the weapon to somoene who posed a previous threat to you and yours, that upon seeing the weapon decides himself to flee, in all of those cases, you 'stopped the threat' right?

    To me, it's a matter of whether you were justified to use deadly force, not whether or not you had to kill someone. If showing the weapon stops the deadly threat, shooting (but not killing) stops the threat, or killing the attacker stops the threat, it seems to me you are supposed to take the minimum amount of action that is necessary to stop the threat. Sometimes things happen so quickly, and you don't know the ultimate consequence of your actions, like one round may or may not stop them, 3 rounds may or may not stop them, depending on their position, your position, what they appear to armed with, how fast they're advancing on you, etc., these are all variables that will determine how fast you have to take action, and decide to stop taking action and reevaluate, w/ the err on the side of caution for you and yours. But at whatever rate you are able to defend yourself and evaluate the then current imposed threat to you, you should take reasonable efforts to stop the threat, and then stop taking action.

    So if you stop the one and only threat, and they are no longer armed or in a position to hurt you, then that's pretty much it, call the cops, hold them there, or get the hell out of there, as the case may be, whether that meant you only had to draw, shoot, or go ballistic, the threat was big enough to you and yours to warrant you begin the process to defend yourself, and the moment there is no longer a threat, you have accomplished your intended goal, regardless of how much 'force' was actually necessary to do so.

    As for the point in which you are morally justified to begin the process to defend yourself, and be prepared to take potentially deadly action, that's between you and your maker. Likewise that point where you're legally justified to do so, is in local, state, fed law, and you and your lawyer's interpretation of it. While you may want to pay attention to laws associated with brandishing, etc., at the end of the day, I think if you know when you're legally allowed to shoot someone, then in *most* cases you'd also be allowed to pull the weapon, but not *have* to shoot.

    Take an extreme example, clear cut, guy has a gun, says he's gonna kill you, points the gun at you, you pull a weapon and for whatever reason (maybe his gun isn't actually loaded and he knows he's up a creek), he runs around the corner before you get a shot off. You were under a deadly threat, you drew the weapon, but didn't have a chance to shoot because the threat ran away. What are you supposed to do, shoot some shots in the air now, or chase him around the corner and try to shoot him while he's fleeing? No, of course not, you stopped the threat without shooting at all. I don't see how any judge or jury could say that's not a reasonable action.

    The question becomes were you justified to use deadly force if you had to based on your laws in that area, not whether you had to actually fire or kill, etc. IMO (I am not a lawyer, and I refuse to use the acronym IANAL for obvious reasons...lol)

  17. PennsyPlinker

    PennsyPlinker Well-Known Member

    Again, thanks for the responses guys. Lee, I know that this is a legal issue that varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and from prosecutor to prosecutor. I am asking for what people here think mainly just to see, well, what people think. I have been in some convoluted threads here, and some very "interesting" thinking has surfaced from time to time. At one point one poster wrote,

    "If you pull your gun on someone who is threatening you, then he can pull his and legally shoot you because you threatened him!"

    I will check out those links.

    Len, I understand what you are writing, and I understand the difference. Again, I am trying to generate some discussion to see what goes on in the minds of some of the people here.

    To all: I did not post this question because I do not have an understanding of the use of deadly force. I posted it to see what the various perceptions are of people here. Everything written here in this thread so far has been good, and I have not seen some of the strange things that are often written in some of the other, more hotly debated threads. Maybe I wasn't provocative enough! :evil:
  18. Engel

    Engel member

    If somebody pulls any weapon on me and I believe they have intent to use it then in my eyes that is deadly force.
  19. Scanr

    Scanr Well-Known Member

    Drawing the firearm does not mean you have to use it. If the attacker sees the firearm and turns and runs, you will have a hard time justifying a shot in the back.
  20. p35

    p35 Well-Known Member

    Well, Washington State will treat threatening someone with a gun as felony Assault 2, without actually firing it. Whether it gets charged that way depends on whether it was self defense or something else, and that's a call that's made on a case by case basis. Don't pull or point a gun unless you have a !@#$ good reason.

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