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Thread: Question about pointing pistol at someone

  1. #41
    Site Supporter 98z28's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YVK View Post
    G, you're pointing a firearm towards general direction of an alleged offender. Say, no shooting happens and things end up in a court. Without even going into state-specific legal technicalities whether a mere presence of firearm pointed somewhere into a direction of a bad guy constitutes an offense, it is your word against his if your muzzle covered him or not. You are going to say, yes your honor I had my gun in extended low ready as I was taught by Bill and I never covered him. He is going to say, your honor, I could see that big hole looking right in my eyes.
    Suppose there are eye witnesses. Do you think they'd be capable to definitively state that your muzzle never covered him? Maybe you were aiming at pelvis, you know, like some "experts" say?

    Even accepting a theoretical consideration that extended low has legal advantages, I think the burden of proof will be on you to convince everyone that you were not covering him, and it may become an impossible task. That would be my reason not to take these theoretical legal advantages into consideration.
    I can tell you from experience that the person you are pointing a gun towards can't tell if the muzzle is pointed between his nipples or at the dirt just in front of and slightly to the side of him. A witness sure as hell couldn't tell.

    If you are talking about just displaying a gun without pointing it anywhere near the suspect (so that it would be obvious that it is not pointing right at him), you'll have to go into a specific example of why you might need to do this. In my experience, most people are faster to the first shot starting from the holster than they are starting with a weapon in hand that is hanging down by their side (another common practice in LE that isn't a great choice in most cases).

    I'm not saying there could never be a reason to have your gun out without orienting it toward a potential target. I'm saying that "I just wanted to have my gun in hand so I could use it faster if I had to shoot" isn't a great reason. Starting with your hand on the gun, but leaving the gun in the holster, tends to be faster. It's also a good bit safer if you suddenly find yourself with a problem that needs to be solved with your hands, which is more likely than suddenly finding yourself with a problem that needs to be shot. Again, that's in my experience. YMMV.

    Mitchell,

    You're right. LE officers displaying weapons while acting under the color of law is a little different than the typical permit holder displaying a weapon. It seemed that the OP was asking about SouthNarc's statement. SouthNarc suggested that he had pointed a weapon at someone that might need to be shot, but he had not decided to shoot just yet. The OP rightly pointed out that this runs counter to what is taught by many instructors. This wasn't always the case. Until recently it was common practice to muzzle someone that you might have to shoot, at least for my outfit. I would imagine that SouthNarc's training was similar. Even if it wasn't, it is still somewhat common to make the desicion to shoot, point your weapon at someone, and then suddenly not need to shoot.
    Last edited by 98z28; 03-07-2012 at 02:08 AM.

  2. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by YVK View Post
    G, you're pointing a firearm towards general direction of an alleged offender. Say, no shooting happens and things end up in a court. Without even going into state-specific legal technicalities whether a mere presence of firearm pointed somewhere into a direction of a bad guy constitutes an offense, it is your word against his if your muzzle covered him or not. You are going to say, yes your honor I had my gun in extended low ready as I was taught by Bill and I never covered him. He is going to say, your honor, I could see that big hole looking right in my eyes.
    Suppose there are eye witnesses. Do you think they'd be capable to definitively state that your muzzle never covered him? Maybe you were aiming at pelvis, you know, like some "experts" say?

    Even accepting a theoretical consideration that extended low has legal advantages, I think the burden of proof will be on you to convince everyone that you were not covering him, and it may become an impossible task. That would be my reason not to take these theoretical legal advantages into consideration.

    I think this is a pretty intelligent post.

    The problem with drawing your pistol as a civilian is the true justification and the following burden of proving the justification is within the legal limits of the law. Not the technical wording of the law, but the interpretation of the law.

    I had this long drawn-out discussion about this very subject on another forum, and was pretty amused at the lack of consistency in knowledge of the actual law, as well as the lack of understanding of case/tort laws, coupled with the wild card aspect of interpretation of the laws. Not that I am any kind of expert on any legal issues, my advice has always been to seek professional legal advice (i.e. a defense or prosecution attorney in the local area that has experience in UoF or deadly force trials, etc).

    Even though I understand many individuals believe they “know the law” I have found that most of the time the prosecution of a charge will be based on the LEO’s and the prosecutor’s interpretation of the law. Meaning that depending on how the legal system works in your A/O, the laws may not be enforced technically as they are written in black and white (i.e. it can and normally is a very gray issue).

    Getting to the topic at hand “pointing a firearm at a person” in the state of Texas you can be justified in doing so if you can reasonably prove that you were in fact justified in using deadly force. The key here being that you can reasonably prove, because this is in fact a gray issue. You can also be prosecuted for deadly conduct and terroristic threat in the state of Texas for pointing a firearm at a person, if you cannot reasonably prove that you would have been justified in using deadly force. Now if you read the law “technically” you would probably believe that you are justified in drawing down on someone who is threatening you with bodily harm or death (i.e. a road rage incident with a guy walking up to your car with a baseball bat). However, the individual decides to disengage from the situation and gets back into his car and drives away.

    Now you report the incident to the police because you are a good law abiding citizen. However, the same individual has called the police and stated you pointed a gun at him and he did nothing to you, but you have already admitted to pointing the pistol. There is no witness, no additional callers, and it is his word against yours. What could happen here? It could be a wash, it could be a simple incident report, or it could be that the local LEO decides to charge you with deadly conduct and terroristic threat. It could be a long drawn-out legal process where the only evidence if your admission of pointing a firearm at the individual and that individuals report of being threatened. Needless to say you can see where this is going.

    This is just an example, and does not fit all scenarios. The overall point is that you should seek professional legal advice on these types of specific questions, and should truly understand that even the threat of deadly force (pointing a firearm at someone) can become a just as nasty of a legal problem and you should be fully prepared for such.

    My personal thoughts are that if I have a justified reason to draw my pistol and point it at another individual, I need to either fire it to protect my life or the life of another, or if that individual attempts to disengage I need to detain the individual until LE can respond to the incident. My immediate actions after informing local LE, will be to contact my attorney and keep my mouth shut until my attorney can advice me how to give a statement, etc.

    Sorry for the long post, can't sleep...

  3. #43
    My original question was why would someone choose to point a handgun at a person, rather than keep the muzzle depressed, and I have yet to hear a valid reason why you would want to do so.

    Seems like we now have a thread shift as to whether it makes sense to ever have a firearm in a confirmed, extended ready prior to commencing the shooting sequence? The obvious shooting reason to do so is so we can break the shot in +/- .5 second rather than whatever your draw time is. If the reason not do so is someone may lie about what you did, it is hard to have a discussion, since there is no telling what one needs to do to defend against a lie.

    My belief is the reason to draw to an extended, confirmed ready is the situation legally and morally warrants the use of deadly force, you have made the decision to use deadly force if required, and you believe the shooting advantage of being in an extended ready offsets any disadvantages of displaying a firearm. Happens to me every year -- with grizzly bears and moose.

  4. #44
    My thought on a “low ready” is that it really only serves a purpose when dealing with a CQB or “room clearing” situation where you would want to have the gun ready, but not flagging a possible non-combatant. I would say my thoughts remain the same for being in a retention position, only adding the contact distance or reactionary gap theory to reasons of maintains a gun at retention. The other aspect is having the gun out for long periods of time where fatigue may set in, in which case retention or low ready may be used. However, I don’t see this being something that would be common to an armed citizen.

    I personally feel that if I am dealing with a defensive situation and I have identified what I consider to be a threat of serious bodily harm or death. That I will draw and immediately fire on the posed threat until the threat stops being a threat. I personally do not believe that it is a good idea to draw, get sights on the threat, or be at a retention or low ready position and wait for the threat to cross that “last line in the sand”. I believe that if my gun is coming out, the line in the sand has been crossed and I am going to not threaten the use of deadly force, I am going to use it.

    This is not legal advice; I am not saying this is the right action or thought process to take for an armed citizen. It is purely my own personal beliefs and feelings on the topic, and I fully realize that it does not fit well for all situations or occupation (i.e. LE, MIL, Security, etc). I recommend each individual seek proper legal advice on specific questions, from a qualified legal counselor.

  5. #45
    I can say with certainty that "ready positions" with a handgun as taught doctrinally in law enforcement, have NOT historically emphasized that one shouldn't muzzle someone. The way they have been and are still taught in most academies and within agencies, is that the muzzle is low enough that one can see the hands and waist of a subject. That was the driving theory regardless of whether the preferred position was extended or compressed.

    NOT muzzling someone but still having the gun in hand is a relatively new occurence in LE as is having a defined register position for the trigger finger like hooking the ejection port. These developments have been driven by the number of "oopsie" shootings nationwide particularly with WMLs and various shit hanging off handguns. Bill Rogers and some west coast agencies are the few that having been teaching NOT to muzzle people when at ready for quite some time.

    It's debateable about whether one should or should not point a gun at someone before they initiate the shooting cycle. In a perfect world the muzzle stays off someone literally until a pistol is driving up or to the target and the round breaks. Real life is not that clean and motor skills are driven by decision making that may be changing quarter second by quarter second.

    GJM to answer your specific question ideally we don't point guns at people before we shoot them and our ready positions support not muzzling people AND give us the ability to see and discriminate information about the person we might be shooting in a split second. Also whatever "ready" positon we use allows us to break a fast and accurate shot on a low probability target. So there are three things that a ready position should accomplish.

    I will say that I think Bill's version of extended low ready works great in many cases but doesn't factor in people in close proximity or a confined environment. Having a compressed position that accomplishes the same three things noted above, is probably worthy of incorporating.

    98z28 do we know each other? I just retired recently but was an active LEO here on the coast for 21 years.

  6. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by SouthNarc View Post
    Real life is not that clean and motor skills are driven by decision making that may be changing quarter second by quarter second.

    .
    And THAT sums it up. Theory and doctrine are fine, and necessary. They also must be flexible.

    Some trainers don't buy into this; especially when it goes against their thinking.

    The man who has been in the arena knows that things are rarely; if ever; set-piece and uncomplicated.

    .

  7. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by GJM View Post
    My original question was why would someone choose to point a handgun at a person, rather than keep the muzzle depressed, and I have yet to hear a valid reason why you would want to do so.
    GJM I'll give you a valid reason for doing so. It may not be valid enough for you to want to think about doing it but I'll speak from my opinion based on my experiences.

    If we think about the presentation of a handgun into a problem that's ambiguous and rapidly evolving then we may very well want to consider that the motor skills involved are measured. Now we already have some degree of a measured response by going from a low "ready" position into a shooting cycle. But what if one last handbrake on the use of lethal force was actually muzzling someone before we shot them? One last chance at solving the problem without killing them? Is it dangerous? Most assuredly. Is it less dangerous then squeezing one off? Most assuredly.

    I can say with confidence that muzzling someone has probably kept me from having to shoot someone on more than one occasion. People DO respond to "looking down the muzzle".

    Now I know everbody is gonna' jump in and say "Well I'm not a cop and MY shooting problems are much more clearly defined than a LEO". All I will say to that response is if you think that's true more often than not, then you probably have very little or no experience in practice. My opinion YMMV.

  8. #48
    You know I'm developing this mentally as I interact with everyone in the thread and it's interesting to see where the thinking has gone. Let me ask everyone a question:

    Have we come to a point where we believe that we can't point a gun at someone unless we shoot them? Really?

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by 98z28 View Post
    I haven't seen this question addressed yet, so I'll chime in.

    I will also say that you might be surprised how quickly things can change and what you are capable doing in a short amount of time in a dynamic, dangerous situation. I have made the decision to shoot someone, started pressing the trigger, and wound up not firing a single round. This happened not once, but twice in my short seven years in LE. From talking to other officers, my experience is not unique.
    Not unique - I've had this happen twice in 15 years. Staring down the muzzle caused the suspects to change their actions.

  10. #50
    I'm willing to point a gun at someone who I consider a potentially lethal threat that I can't safely retreat from. I'm willing to point a gun at someone that I discover in my home. That doesn't mean I'm committed to shooting them - or that my finger is anywhere but along the frame in register - but I'm committed to the idea of shooting shooting them at that moment. If I later decide that they no longer pose a potentially lethal threat to me for whatever reason, my muzzle will come off them.

    I've thought about this a bit, and this is where I'm at. I ask my students to carefully consider this. I tell my students to "avoid allowing your muzzle to cover anything that you're unwilling to shoot". Some have an issue with my word choice, but I think it is cognitive dissonance to suggest people don't sometimes get accidentally muzzle swept OR that people don't intentionally have guns pointed at them without ultimately winding up shot.

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