Posts Part I and Part II broke out the circumstances and tasks of the incidents of this month’s (July 2018) Armed Citizen® column. Today let’s discuss the implications of the circumstances and tasks for those who own firearms for personal protection.
The most common task (all six incidents) accomplished was:
- Retrieve the firearm from storage.
There were no incidents this month in which the firearm was carried on the person’s body. This is a subjective call on the part of editors as to which of the plethora of Defensive Gun Uses to include in a monthly column. However, only 6 percent of the adult population has a license or permit to carry a weapon outside the home, according to John Lott’s Crime Prevention Research Center. It’s also commonly acknowledged that among those who have a license or permit to carry, actually carrying on the person is sporadic, at best. Accordingly, it is not surprising that the majority, perhaps vast majority, of Defensive Gun Uses do not occur in public places.
One implication of this fact is that a certain amount of emphasis should be placed on retrieving a firearm from its actual storage location, be it home or vehicle, and then putting it into operation. This is especially true if the firearm is kept in some sort of safe, whether it is large or small. If an autoloader is stored with the chamber empty, the need to be able to place the weapon into a fully fireable condition is also implied. Avoiding Negligent Discharges in the process is desirable.
The most common task then leads to the next most common tasks (five incidents), which were:
- Move safely from place to place at Ready.
- Engage from Ready
Moving safely with a loaded firearm in hand is a task and skill not often practiced by those who own firearms. Trigger finger discipline is at a premium in such a situation. A common situation is for one occupant of the home to be engaged in a struggle with an intruder while another occupant goes to obtain a firearm, as seen in this month’s Gaffney incident. Having a Negligent Discharge while moving into a position where a friendly is downrange could be a disaster. In that incident, two different defenders went through the Retrieve and Move tasks.
The Albuquerque incident contained a combination of obtaining the firearm from storage in a vehicle, moving to the home, moving through the home, and then engaging an intruder within the home.
Two tasks tied for next most common (4 of 6).
- Hold at gunpoint until the POlice arrive
In four cases, the defender Challenged the criminal. In one case, the Challenge was sufficient to gain control of the situation. In the other three, shooting was subsequently required. People don’t really want to shoot someone they don’t have to. Verbalization is another task seldom practiced by gunowners. Reluctance to use Deadly Force is a good indicator that the defender isn’t a psychopath. Morally, there is nothing wrong with that. We just have to understand there is a line in the sand that has to be established. The line in the sand may not just be a physical boundary but may be a situational one, as well. The longer a boundary isn’t enforced, the harder it becomes to enforce.
Ideally, if a Challenge is issued, it should be done from a Ready position that does not involve pointing the gun at the criminal. The popular notion that gunpointing results in a faster shot, when necessary, is a misconception. There is no measurable time advantage in gunpointing at the criminal as opposed to a ready position near but not on the criminal’s body. For both legal and tactical reasons, gunpointing directly at a criminal is inadvisable.
Holding a criminal at gunpoint is also a tactic fraught with hazard. While it is common in DGUs, defenders should consider the downsides of such a tactic. It’s probably better to get the criminal to leave.
In three cases, physical contact was made between the criminal and the defender. However, none were knockdown, drag out struggles. In one case, upon unlocking the front door, an armed homeowner was shoved against the wall as the criminals barged in and a vertical struggle ensued. In another, the defender struck the criminal with his pistol in an attempt to gain compliance, which was unsuccessful. In the third, the defender was struck with a ‘blunt object,’ most likely a hammer, as he entered his home. After regaining his senses, he retrieved a pistol and subsequently engaged the criminals while moving from place to place at the Ready.
One case (Gaffney) involved shooting the criminal in the head during the vertical struggle with another defender. Friendlies and non-threats are frequently downrange during DGUs. Citizens who are armed need to be aware of what their capabilities are ahead of time as well as being aware of their fields of fire and penetration hazards in the moment.
The tasks and skills involved in personal protection aren’t always what we imagine them to be. Understanding the circumstance and the tasks required to solve them is the first step toward having a Positive Outcome.