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Civilian Use of Deadly Force in Self Defense; Use of Threat Continuum in Shoot or Don’t Shoot

Those who carry concealed weapons understand that one day they may have to use that weapon to defend themselves or others. First a note of firearms safety:
All guns are loaded, unless checked and cleared. This check and clearance should be done by you personally even if you see someone else perform the routine. If you are handed a weapon your first order of duty is to check it to see if it is cocked and/or loaded. If unloaded the weapon should remain so until put in use.
Never let the muzzle cover anything that you do not wish to destroy or maim. Other words keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
Do not put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to engage a target.
Be aware of your target and what is beyond it. If you have to engage in defensive fire you are responsible for any innocent party, you may hit.
When leaving you want to make sure there are no barrel obstructions and that your weapon is loaded. Last thing you want to do is become entangled in a life and death struggle to discover you have an unloaded firearm.

Shoot or Don’t Shoot?

The problem with deadly force situations is that you have little time for the contemplation of to engage or not to engage. Your first duty, if possible is to seek cover or concealment. Cover prevents bullet penetration, whereas concealment is just that and bullets can penetrate concealment. The ideal situation is seldom achievable in a real-world deadly force scenario, but something to consider.
Verbal engagement – If possible, try to defuse the event by talking. Again, the ideal, but equally as difficult as cover and concealment to obtain in an engagement.
Six P’s – Another is the six “p’s”; prior planning prevents piss poor performance. This is the mantra of every cop responding to any call. He mentally tries to prepare by going over various scenarios before he is in a situation requiring a response, deadly or otherwise. Survival in a deadly force situation is as much mental as it is physical. If you’re not mentally prepared to survive, you probably won’t. One thing is to make up your mind that you are ‘going to survive’ end of discussion. And as a result of your survival decision you will use deadly force if the situation demands.

Use of Force Continuum

To evaluate defensive events, they have come up with two principles. One is the force continuum. This is what law enforcement uses to assess a confrontational situation.
• Presence and verbal Communication
• Empty hand control
• Impact weapons or chemical agents (Pepper spray or Mace)
• Deadly Force
These can escalate rapidly from presence to deadly force in a heartbeat. Something to be aware of for the private citizen carrying concealed but not really practical.

Threat Continuum

The threat continuum is used as both an investigative tool used during appraisal of deadly force encounters. Be aware of these as this is how your actions will be judged.
• Ability, the attacker must possess the power to kill or inflict crippling injury on the innocent, being you or others.
• Jeopardy, the attacker must be acting in such a manner that a ‘reasonable and prudent person” would believe that the attacker had the intent to kill or maim.
• Opportunity, an attacker must have the means to kill or cripple, i.e. a weapon of some type that would be capable inflicting harm and/or injury that may result in death or maiming of the individual attacked. It is also function of distance, time, barriers and weapons employed.

Firearm Practice & Training in Custom Shooting Ranges

These principles bare consideration, as they will be used to determine a justifiable and defensive engagement or involuntary or voluntary manslaughter. The real consideration here is that all these principles have to be weighed and considered in the milliseconds you have to respond to a deadly force attack. Shooting Range Industries designs and builds custom shooting ranges to help you be comfortable, proficient and ready for anything!

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