I talk a lot about deadly force, and a concept comes up almost universally. I call this idea the shot in the leg syndrome. The shot in the leg syndrome is expressed by the statement “I would not aim to kill, I would shoot the robber in the leg.” I think I know where this thought comes from. It comes from the fact that I all teach firearms classes to understand the “good guys.” The good guys don’t go around killing, robbing, and raping people. They believe that everyone has redeeming qualities. The good guys don’t want to kill people, they didn’t start the match, and if they had their way, the bad guys would just walk away.
Now, before you get tons of hate mail, let me just say that I understand why people think this, and I wish everyone in the world felt that way. If there were no bad guys, there would be no crime. Then I could put more energy into my primary job of preparing for natural disasters instead of diverting energy to preparing for criminal disasters. While I understand and admire this idea, I want to emphasize that this is not a good way to apply this concept.
There are many reasons why this philosophy is not strong in the field of deadly force. Some of these reasons are legal, some tactical, and some, yes, even moral. I’ll jump to what I hear as the most commonly used reason why knocked-in-the-leg syndrome shouldn’t be used, legally.
A pistol is a lethal weapon. Unlike a baseball bat, a cleaver, or a police baton, there is no less deadly way to use a gun against another human being. The law does not distinguish the difference between shooting a person in the head and shooting a person in the chest. If there is no legally defensible motive and the person dies, it is still murder. You cannot retrieve a bullet once it leaves the barrel. The person who fired the bullet also cannot influence what that bullet does when it enters a person. There is a main artery in the human leg that, if severed, can kill a person as quickly as shooting them in the chest.
Tactical handling of a firearm under deadly force is extremely difficult. Quite a few books and statistics from a lot of historical data show that only about 1/3 of the rounds fired hit the target. This doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, until you look at other stats that show that roughly 90% of shootouts happen within 7 yards and involve fewer than 3 total shots. How realistic is it then that when most people might get lucky to hit your attacker, you’re going to hit one of the smaller areas and one area that’s most likely to move?
Tennessee (and every other state I’ve found that has a defined curriculum for firearms training) specifies shooting at the center of mass with the intent to stop. This implies two concepts. The first is the center of mass, this means aiming your projectile to hit within the largest target area (the chest) as this is the largest area that you have the greatest ability to hit. Additionally, the chest area has the greatest ability to stop your attacker due to it being the location of most of the body’s organs. Intent to stop, it is not aim to kill, nor shoot to injure, either of these is irrelevant, its legal self-defense capacity is focused on the attacker being able to kill him and trying to kill him. If the mere presence of your legally owned firearm causes the attacker to stop, you’ve done your job, if a well-placed round mass in the center convinces the offender to stop, that’s fine, however, if they are needed 3 ½ boxes of bullets to stop a drug-crazed, gang member, neo-Nazi terrorist from killing you, so be it.
This attempt to stop is half of my moral argument. The other reason comes from the simple street sense. I have a few years working in corrections. These years are split between entry-level corrections working in the playgrounds and cages listening to inmates talk about themselves and their crimes, working as a supervisor in maximum-security units, and applying inmate psychological knowledge to maintain the prison. running smoothly. Criminals do what they do because it works for them. If a mugger or rapist tries to convince you to go with him, it’s because it’s always worked for him before.
Trust me, a violent criminal has not decided to start being a violent criminal just because you are there, a criminal starts small and gradually becomes more violent. If a criminal gets away with hurting you, they will hurt someone else. I’m not saying that vigilante justice is okay. I’m not. Nor am I advocating deadly force as punishment for a criminal.
What I am saying is that you are a reasonable person, with an inalienable right to life and liberty, minding your own business, living a peaceful life. You have the right to do what you have to do to be safe, to go home to your family, this criminal attacked you, he tried to hurt you for no reason other than his personal gain, you are not trying to kill him, just making him stop. trying to kill you This is not bad. That’s right, your family needs you; make sure you do what needs to be done to be there for them.