Deadly Force Situations: Being Decisive Matters

Sheriff Jim Wilson's Take from the NRA's Shooting Illustrated

I recently saw a post on social media in which a guy explained that you should just reason with a person who has just committed a home invasion by breaking into your house. At first, I thought it was a joke—and I really hope that it was. 

Now, don’t get me wrong; I am all in favor of having discussions about current issues. I’ll even discuss with people who think totally opposite of me if they can take part in a civil conversation. But those conversations are best held when there is no violence or criminal activity occurring. That’s all somewhat different from looking down the barrel of a home invader’s gun and asking about the events of their childhood that caused them to turn to criminal activity. In the past, I have looked down gun barrels, and I have counseled people about their conduct—but never at the same time.

When deadly violence is thrust upon you, you must act and you must act quickly. The level of force that you bring to the situation depends upon that of the criminal(s). Obviously, we should be able to articulate why we thought deadly force was the proper response in a situation. Was the attacker drunk and empty-handed? Was it an angry family member? Were death threats made? Was the aggressor clearly armed with a weapon that could cause serious injury or death?

The answers to these questions will dictate how we respond and with what level of force. All of which should seem pretty obvious. However, the kicker is that you have to make these evaluations in a fraction of a second. That’s the tough part. It helps if you have given the whole thing some thought ahead of time. Ask yourself, “What am I facing and what is the proper response?”

But, above all, you must be prepared to act and act right now when the situation calls for it. Save the philosophizing for the morning down at the coffee shop. There is a time to talk and a time to act—it’s a real mistake to get the two mixed up. In fact, the results can be fatal—for you.

A version of this article appeared in Shooting Illustrated.

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