Shoot with Innocents in Background?

Discussion in 'Firearm Related' started by gunsmoker, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    I think this topic, which is surely ON-TOPIC for a gun-carry site like Georgiapacking, needs its own thread.

    The question is what factors do you look at, or should you look at, when deciding to pull the trigger on a bad guy when there's no doubt that he's a deadly threat to your safety (or the safety of other innocent people), BUT, if you take the shot right then and there from where you are, there is some risk that your bullets might also cause harm to innocent persons.

    How do you evaluate this dilemma?

    How much application does Cooper's Rule Four of the basic rules of gun safety apply: "Know your target and what is beyond it."

    This is not a thread for bitching about trigger-happy cops or special rules of civil liability that apply to officers and not private citizens. There's another thread for that in the OFF-TOPIC forum. https://www.georgiapacking.org/thre...ect-6-year-old-dies-from-stray-bullet.273930/

    Let's assume the scenario involves ONLY private citizens who don't have badges or special arrest powers, and that the bad guy is presenting a threat that would clearly (100 % certainty) justify using deadly force against him under any of the justifications for use of force found in Georgia law. The ONLY fly in the ointment is the proximity of bystanders, homes, businesses, vehicles, etc.

    You may not SEE any actual people behind the bad guy, either. But what if there are houses and businesses? Can you assume, and should you assume, that people are inside?
     
  2. RedDawnTheMusical

    RedDawnTheMusical Well-Known Member

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    Well, sometimes I ask myself, "What would Jesus do?" and other times I ask myself, "What would Frank (Sinatra) do?". Hopefully this would be one of the times I went the Sinatra route. I believe that the distance to the target would come into play - if there is sufficient distance that it would require a well aimed shot (which isn't likely to happen under stress and with a potentially moving target), then I would consider not taking the shot at that time. That existence of that distance may also suggest that I have an opportunity to get to cover or retreat in some way. If he's close enough that I know I will hit him and his actions make me pull, then I'll take the shot(s) and put him down.
     

  3. Savannah Dan

    Savannah Dan Cross-drawer

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    I rarely go to the mall, but I went a couple of weeks ago to get a new phone. As I walked around I was looking for a place where I could take a shot at someone if I needed to where there would be a safe backstop. I did not find one. I don’t think that there are many places, at least in the Savannah Mall, where a person could get a shot off without worrying about what/who was beyond the target.
     
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  4. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    C3682E19-76CB-4A7D-996E-2C78BA270BAE.png
    So imagine you’re at the mall, and it’s pretty crowded. Some people within 150 feet in almost every direction. No clear lanes of fire more than a few degrees wide.

    A man and woman are arguing.
    The man is getting loud and angry.

    Then he pulls out a big knife and says, “you have dishonored our family name! Allah demands your blood!”

    He has the knife raised to stab her. Whadda you do?
     
  5. RedDawnTheMusical

    RedDawnTheMusical Well-Known Member

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    If there is no clear shot, I'm not taking a shot. I would be effectively firing into a crowd, making the situation worse. If I have family with me I'll look to secure them and move them away. I carry to protect myself and them - so they are the priority. After that (or if they are not with me), I'll see if I can close the distance to the target to engage him. Hopefully the sight of someone yelling at him and carrying a firearm will be sufficient to cause him to cease the attack. Meanwhile I'll have to keep an eye out for others that are as dumb as I am to engage an armed attacker voluntarily to make sure that they don't shoot me.

    I don't like these scenarios. It isn't that I'm unwilling to assist, it is the chance for the situation to go from bad to worse due to my actions. I'm am not trained for this, I'm not indemnified for my actions by any government entity, and it is very easy for good intentions to become an activating factor in more people getting hurt. The only way I'd look to intervene in such a situation is if 1) I felt convinced that someone was going to die if I didn't and 2) my actions are likely to endanger more people. That is a tough call to make on-the-spot.
     
  6. OldWoreOutMarine

    OldWoreOutMarine Member

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    Good question but why not just adopt the Rules LE goes by. What could go wrong with that train of thought?
     
  7. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    1–What are those rules and where would you find them?

    2– If you, a non-Officer, nailed some bystander with a stray bullet, in the resulting lawsuit you probably would NOT be allowed to bring up the rules for cops, nor their training materials. Apples and oranges.
    You’re an orange.
    Don’t cite apple pie or applesauce recipies.
     
  8. OldWoreOutMarine

    OldWoreOutMarine Member

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    Have been waiting for your reply like a 6 year old waits for Christmas. I was not disappointed either. I love oranges.
    Your Question is still a good one and worthy of discussion but a lot of folks here may not want to engage in a urinating contest with you. As for what I would do in the scenario presented in post #4. I know what I would like to do but I am thinking that unless I was within a close range of the target and had a really good feeling about what would be downrange from my angle of fire I would pass on taking the shot. I would then justify my lack of action by stating that the now dead female should have kept better company.
    Of course using the same rules as a LE in justifying a shooting would never work, but look how much fun we have had talking about it.
     
  9. AtlPhilip

    AtlPhilip Proud GCO member.

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    I do not have the right to take another person's life to save my own unless that person is the one threatening me. And I am responsible for every bullet that leaves my gun.

    Take your knife scenario and enhance it a bit. I am shooting 30-06 hard ball from a rifle. My shot will hit the bad guy (saving her), it will pass through intact, and it will hit a person at the food court (a man). I just decided that the wife's life was more valuable than the man's. That is not my decision to make. And that, or worse, is a possibility every time I pull the trigger.
     
  10. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    How many innocents are in the background? Are the odds near 100% that I can take them all out and leave no witnesses? Is there a backhoe nearby?
     
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  11. DonT

    DonT Active Member

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    That kind of incident (possible bad guy with knife) would have to be right near me, for me to consider taking a shot. Or I'd need to be able to get close, 5 yards or less, for me to consider a shot like that, in a crowded venue. This assumes I'm alone or that loved ones with me have been secured and moved out of the area from the threat. And I would have to be pretty darn sure that what I was seeing enabled a justified use of lethal force in that kind of situation, where we don't know the parties involved. In general, we should all be very reluctant to use force to defend a stranger, because it may not be what we think, and it may not be justified. Assuming it was a clear cut justified use of lethal force to defend a third party, I would ask myself: Am I trained and capable enough to intervene with lethal force successfully? Or is my intervention going to make things worse, ie, get an innocent hurt? Am I better off in using the threat of force (handgun at low ready not pointed at the "bad guy") and loud verbal commands? All things being equal and unknown, I may default to the latter.
     
  12. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    I'm all peed-out. I'll have to drink 2 liters of Coke Zero and wait an hour before I'm ready for a pizzing contest.

    So, I'll sit back and watch.
    Y'all discuss.

    Lurkers, chime in. There's got to be more GeorgiaPacking members who have an opinion about this than just the few who've posted here so far.
     
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  13. RedDawnTheMusical

    RedDawnTheMusical Well-Known Member

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    :-k
     
  14. wee

    wee Member

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    Like many have said, my actions that I hope I would take depends on whom is with me and their safety. However even if I was by myself and with no one in the background to worry about taking a stray bullet I wouldn't take a shot till he actually stabbed her....I guess I have watched way too many prank videos on Youtube and the thought that this was some kind of sick prank would be running around in my mind.

    Brian
     
  15. Wegahe

    Wegahe NRA Instructor

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    More details are needed. How far from the target subject am I. Do I have my highly accurate target pistol with me or my regular carry side arm?

    Most people carry side arms that lack in accuracy at distances of more than 3 to 7 yards. If you can produce a 6'' 20 shot group or less at 25 yards you might be able to pull off a shot and come out with the winning of the day. Firing into a crowd at someone armed only with a knife is a losing situation. Once the mayhem starts and people move out of the way you will have a much better chance at getting the bad guy without causing collateral damage to innocent bystanders. You may or may not save the intended victim's life but you will also not take the life of someone that would have survived without your action.

    Wasting a shot in a safe direction as a distraction may be viable option for getting people out of the way. This assumes there is a safe direction of course. The shot might just start panic movement or ducking of bystanders making a clear shot more likely. This still doesn't mean you will save the victim. Only you may be able to save someone else.

    From the start of this thread it has been set up where you lose with whatever action you take. This is a no win...

    Someone entering a church with a gun randomly shooting people is a different situation. Take cover and take the shot. You can't save anyone if the bad guy shoots you. Protect yourself first. Family, friends and anyone else become secondary. Not an ideal choice but the best option you will have if you really want a chance at saving your family, friends and anyone else.
     
  16. HCountyGuy

    HCountyGuy Active Member

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    I think people worry far too much about over-penetration, thinking it’s far worse than what it is. Most of your reputable JHP self-defense ammo isn’t going to pass through the bad guy(s) unless you’re shooting at contact distances. A lot of energy is used penetrating skin, so a solid center mass shot isn’t going to barrel through one guy into the next.

    This type of situation always has an infinite number of variables. Distance to target, shooter’s competency, bystander intervention, the list goes on.

    If you make the decision that the situation requires your intervention despite potential civil implications, you need it clear what you’re doing as you act.

    Strong verbal commands as you unholster might get the bad actor’s attention and discourage further assholish behavior. It’ll definitely help your case with witnesses who are likely live-streaming the incident to Facebook.

    The sidearm isn’t what lacks accuracy, it’s the user. Your major reputable manufacturers (Glock, Sig Sauer, HK, etc) typically produce handguns capable of a 2-inch grouping at 25 yards from a bench rest, aside from the inevitable lemon.

    Unfortunately the average gun owner is content with their target looking like someone with advanced Parkinson’s had a go at it, and they were only shooting at a distance of 3-5 yards.
     
  17. Wegahe

    Wegahe NRA Instructor

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    Unfortunately in a self defense situation you are not going to have a bench rest to steady the firearm. Also very few carry guns have adjustable sights to dial them in. While you may be able to use your Glock on a bench rest adjusting your aim at a known distance to hit a target this doesn't mean it's dead on accurate. I have had students that could barley get on target with their carry guns but nail the qualifying targets with my target pistol. This includes just about every make of firearm including Glock, Sig and HK. Even off the shelf Colts are not that accurate. It does not have anything to do with being content with the group. Much of the time is has something to do with the gun + technique.
     
  18. HCountyGuy

    HCountyGuy Active Member

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    I’m aware in a defense situation the likelihood of having the ability to bench rest (or something similar) your firearm for extreme accuracy is near zilch. That wasn’t the point.

    The point was the rather misinformed comment about how most people carry sidearms that have accuracy issues beyond 7 yards. Far more often than not it’s the Indian and not the arrow.


    Shooting with a target pistol that has likely had internal polishing and other features (like a light SA trigger I’m guessing) meant to improve its shootability so even a novice can be accurate versus a shooting standard carry firearm is two different ball parks. You have to put the work in to perform with the latter, which most folks these days don’t want to do.
     
  19. Craftsman

    Craftsman Well-Known Member

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    First off, great topic. I have been out of town and just checked GPDO and was impressed to see this thread.

    Now, to answer the original question. I am not a cop, nor do I feel I am suited to that job. I have no qualified immunity nor expectation to protect anyone but myself and my family. I find I amusing that friends and colleagues who do not carry, sometimes proudly, always seem to expect me to protect them if SHTF. Well, that ain't the way my world works. Feel free to move closer, though. Cover and concealment are always useful.

    My first duty is to go home safe. The only people I protect and serve are myself and my family If that means my best survival tactic is to run and hide, then YouTube probably gets a new video of a fat guy running and hiding. The last thing I want to do is pull my gun and shoot somebody. I will do that if it is necessary to save my life or prevent great bodily harm.

    Now we get to the heart of the matter. How I define "necessary". If somebody is shooting the place up, then it is already as bad as it can get and my best chance is to stop them. I'll do my best to miss bystanders, but since they are ACTIVELY TRYING to hit those very same bystanders, I don't think Col Cooper's rules apply during an active gunfight. If somebody is merely threatening deadly violence to another, AND if I deem it safe for me to intervene, I may help, but I am not likely to. Again, it depends a lot on the circumstances. For example, unless there is a weapon out and in use (see above), I would never get involved in a domestic dispute. Same for people of <not my race> fighting. There is too great a chance that a "Good Samaritan" act will have the crowd or participants turn on me. Heck, if I am out somewhere and I see the situation deteroriating, I GTFO before things go bad if I can.

    This sounds cold-hearted, but if someone doesn't want to be a victim of violence, then they have the same rights and choices you and I have to prevent that. I'll even help them get started exercising those rights.
     
  20. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Without knowing what the female did wrong, how do we know it is not a justified honor killing? I mean, she might have dated a Kafir or something. You need to have a little more respect for diversity, gunsmoker.
     
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