Beretta Blog

Impossible Expectations – Part 3

Posted by Sara Ahrens

on Oct 14, 2013 8:01:00 AM


Impossible Expectations – Part 3

Should law enforcement officers (or armed citizens) be confronted with a situation that requires them to use deadly force, they need to do so without hesitation. There are, however, situations that we may find ourselves unprepared to handle and that may cause societal discomfort. We must be prepared for such situations and, if they do present themselves, recognize that either way it's a bad day. Some believe it is never justified to shoot pregnant women, children or teens, or the elderly...especially if the one shooting is a man (Calm down... I didn't created the perception--I'm just acknowledging it.). Many don't believe that these individuals are capable of posing real threats, but trust me they do (click on hyperlinks below for examples).


Women, Pregnant Women, Children, And the Elderly

Police officers, armed citizens, and civilians rarely consider that they may have to use deadly force against women, pregnant women, children, teens, or the elderly. These circumstances may be rare, but they do occur, and these confrontations are increasing in regularity. Those who are confronted with such threats will make one of two decisions.  Both may have negative consequences.
When faced with a threat by an atypical malevolents, armed individuals have to make split second decisions.  They may opt do nothing. This risks their personal safety, or worse, their lives. For some people, it is just too hard to use deadly force against deadly force assailants. They are pre-programmed to show compassion for these groups of people. And since these situations are rare, they may not have prepared to face such individuals.  Lack of preperation can leave them mentally unprepared.

Photo © Sumners Graphics

A second response is to use deadly force. Hopefully, most armed individuals wish they never have to use deadly force.When this option is employed it can be emotionally difficult. Their emotions can be further impacted by the response of the media and the general population. The expectation to restrain from using deadly force is exasperated by public opinion that men should be capable of overpowering pregnant women, or children. Though this may be true with unarmed assailiants, it is not always true of the ones who are armed. Weapons, especially firearms, place both good people and bad on equal footing.
Those who doubt the danger posed by some women, pregnant women, elderly, and children, should search online. Clearly the violence wrought by children in schools is more prevalent now than it was in the past. Elderly people, who sometimes feel frightened and vulnerable, have been known to use weapons. Women, especially those affiliated with violent felons and gang members, are increasingly carrying and using firearms. There are those who don't believe criminals can fall in certain demographics, but we know they can and do. Likewise, there is a segment of the population that believes that before firing a shot at a violent criminal, the armed individual should fire a warning shot. That's nothing short of crazy and reckless.


Warning Shots

Joe Biden is famous for his suggestion that Americans should fire a warning shot before using deadly force. This recommendation is endorsed by those potential victims who are unwilling to defend themselves through the use of physical or deadly force. They believe that submission is the key to survival. The reality is that perpetrators often size their targets up. They choose potential victims the believe won't fight back. These are not the individuals we want to arm.                                                                                                                                    Photo © Benjamin Vess
dreamstime_xs_6305083Anyone, civilian or police, uncomfortable with using a firearm for self-defense should not carry one. And if they are uncomfortable using guns against  violent intruders, they should leave them locked up. Firing a warning shot communicates to the bad guy that you have a gun (which he or she may want to take), and that you are afraid to use it. There may exist a few success stories where this strategy of avoidance worked but don't be fooled. Don’t let a few success stories validate poor tactics. With almost two decades in law enforcement experience in a high crime area, I can tell you that it is both unreasonable and dangerous to expect a violent criminal to show the same compassion law-abiding citizens would. They’re criminals because they don’t play by the same rules.      
It's interesting to note that the majority of law enforcement agencies do not use warning shots to gain compliance, and in my opinion, neither should armed citizens. It only makes sense that if confronted with a situation which rises to the level of deadly force, that deadly force be used. This is because deadly force is the only force option that will consistently stop deadly force (unless, of course, you miss – which then becomes a warning shot). Sometimes the only ‘warning’ we can give is the time between the trigger break and the point of impact. As far as warning shots, just remember that what goes up must come down (and if your luck is anything like mine…it’s coming down on your head!).


It is uncommon for police departments to authorize warning shots.

                                      Photo By: Sara Ahrens


In deadly force situations, whether it's facing an atypical assailant or choosing to not use a warning shot, the courts have clearly indicated that neither the police, nor the armed citizen is expected self-sacrifice. The truth is, we can only react to what we know at the moment the situation unfolds. It is contrary to case law for juries to use 20/20 hindsight to determine the lawfulness of any use of deadly force. But the fact is that sometimes they do. So before carrying a firearm, both armed citizens and law enforcement officers must determine if they are more comfortable being judged by 12, or buried by six.  It’s a personal choice not to be taken lightly. 

Topics: Concealed Carry, Gun Rights, Self Defense