Deadly Conduct and Attempted Murder

Those are the charges in two incidents where Negative Outcomes resulted from gunfire. Both situations occurred when people thought they were making good decisions about employing a firearm for Personal Protection but the legal system doesn’t agree. Unfortunately, both incidents are material for the updated and expanded Second Edition of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make that will be published later this year.

Mom charged [with Deadly Conduct] after shooting her 5-year-old son while trying to target loose dog, H[ouston]PD says

A mother [who was riding a bike down the street] has been charged after accidentally shooting her 5-year-old son [who was also riding his bike down the street] while trying to shoot a dog that was running across the street in north Houston, according to Houston police.

FBI agent charged [with Attempted Murder and other crimes] in off-duty shooting of man on subway

Valdivia shot and wounded the man from a distance of roughly 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) after repeatedly telling the man to back up, county prosecutor Robert Hill said in court.

The man had approached Valdivia on a train, sat across from him and asked the agent for money, Hill said. The man muttered expletives and began to walk away when the agent said he didn’t have any money to give, the prosecutor added.

‘Watch your mouth,’ the agent told the man, according to Hill.

After the man turned and approached him again, Valdivia pulled a gun from a holster and shot him, the prosecutor said. Another passenger was in the agent’s line of fire, about 15 feet (4.6 meters) away, [which resulted in an additional charge of Reckless Endangerment] but wasn’t harmed, Hill added.

Note that getting the last word in, e.g., “Watch your mouth,” is not the way to Break Contact. Breaking Contact (Part I) The moment a criminal, or in this case undesirable, breaks contact, let it go. If possible, increase your distance by going in the opposite direction. Moving away from an adversary is a good skill to practice, probably far more useful in everyday life than practicing shooting on the move.

Guns are not general purpose tools for Personal Protection. They are special purpose tools that are useful only in a very limited set of circumstances. The legal system did not believe either of these incidents fell within that set of circumstances. Probably both persons charged will end up pleading to lesser offenses. Whether those will be felonies or not remains to be seen.

The mother’s relationship with her son is unlikely to ever be the same and she may lose her right to own a firearm forever. The FBI Agent’s once promising career is over, even if he is acquitted on all the charges, which is unlikely. At best, he can hope to keep his job as an FBI Agent, if he wins acquittal. The chances he will ever advance or get a good assignment again are minuscule.

Minuscule – very small

If you carry a gun, carry pepper spray, PERIOD. Lacking a non-lethal force option implies that all you are willing and capable of doing to defend yourself and your loved ones is to kill someone. That’s not a rational decision.

Whether it was necessary to do anything in the dog incident at all is questionable but using pepper spray as a defensive tool would have had less consequences. Also try to avoid or deal with having irrational fears about dogs.

The important thing in viewing these stories is not to harsh on the persons involved because that’s easy but non-productive. Rather, try to learn something from their misfortunes.

  • Do you consistently carry a non-lethal force option?
  • Have you practiced with your NL force option using an inert version?
Practicing with an emptied inert unit
  • If you have irrational fears, have you confronted them and programmed yourself with a rational response to the trigger?
  • Have you mentally and physically practiced breaking contact?

Gaining knowledge from others’ experiences is one of the useful legs of Will Rogers’ learning triad.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

3 responses

  1. Dennis Wilson

    I agree that making any comment back to people on public transportation is a lousy idea. I rode it to work for 20 years and saw more than my share of fights, etc.

    I am wondering about the effectiveness of Pepper spray in this world of masks. It would seem to me that add a pair of sunglasses and one has created a very good defense against pepper spray. Canes would seem to be an answer but in a crowded bus they seem to suffer from the same problems as a long gun, to easy to fowl the access and they require a lot of room. Yawara sticks don’t create the needed distance for good breaking contact.

    The idea I came up with was from the roman legion. I got a good, big backpack and made sure it had a couple of books and a hoodie rolled up in it. I also carried a hiking pole fully retracted. The intent of the system was to treat the backpack like a scutum and the hiking pole like a gladius, meaning I could poke and push with little risk, add a bike helmet and I felt pretty safe. I never had to use the system, although I did get some appraisal looks from some savvy looking street guys once. I guess old is new again.

    1. Paul Sullivan

      When we were trained with pepper spray the target was the center of the forehead. A purposeful direct deployment to the eyes was forbidden. You’d be surprised how effective pepper spray can be even when the eyes are covered by large glasses. A perfect reason for the forehead target.

    2. Nathan Gambino

      Pepper spray absolutely does not care about your sunglasses and masks. Any decent brand will fume and go right through/around them.

      In fact, the biggest problem with the hot sauce is dealing with the bit that you the defender will get too.

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