When looking at deadly force the trend tends to be looking at hardware, and having the best tools for the job, but hardware is not the most important. Training is more important than the gear. But what is more important than either is the proper mindset.
Quite often when talking with new shooters or people that don’t understand the martial mindset I hear people talk about how they are not sure if they could use a firearm to actually shoot someone.
I have put a lot of time into thinking about this, its entirely possible that I have thought more about when, if, and what would cause me to shoot someone than the how, and with what questions.
Mental Trigger Points
If my mental trigger points that would cause me to believe it was time to fight for my life then the gun I have at that time is irrelevant, I am going to use what I have, and if I am somewhere that my firearm is prohibited I am going to fight with whatever I have at hand, be it a stapler, a chair, or my teeth. A gun just makes me more effective and have a better chance of surviving without becoming seriously injured.
I cannot tell you what your trigger points should be, because I am not the one to live with the consequences of your actions. But I can tell you what my thought process is, and encourage you to spend some very serious time thinking the process through.
The first thing I think about is the moral implications. As a religious person I do not want to win my life and lose my soul. I realize that the Bible was not written in English, so what I read is a translation. Some translations say “You should not kill”, others say “Thou shalt not commit murder”. Those are two entirely different meanings. Based upon the context, and looking at other passages in both the New and the Old Testaments, I believe don’t commit murder is a closer translation to the intended meaning.
When I pick up my gun it is because I want to ensure the safety of my family and myself. I pray that I don’t have to ever use it. If attacked my only concern is to protect my family and myself from that attack, I did not choose the situation, and would much rather retreat to safety than stand and fight (if tactically possible). The only person that choose to fight, who decided that someone would be hurt, is the criminal – so I feel it only fair that is SOMEONE has to be hurt, it should be the one that caused the fight.
I love everybody, but I love my family more. I have chosen the stance that if someone is trying to harm my family, I will do my best to stop them using whatever means possible. That is my number one trigger point. Its also pretty much the only reason I would ever actually shoot someone.
Stuff Can be Replaced. Life Cannot
I have made the decision, (which is also happens to be the law in my state) that I won’t shoot somebody over “stuff”. If you want my wallet, or want my car, or my shoes – whatever, I will probably give them to you, but if I feel that your going to harm me no matter what then it is not about the wallet anymore…
It is very clear in our law that in order to be legally justified to use deadly force you have to be in immediate danger from someone with the ability to kill you and you have to believe they are going to kill you. Anything less, and my buddies over at the prison will serve you 3 meals a day and count you 8 times, you will very quickly tire at seeing their ugly faces, so don’t go to jail for being stupid.
Morality and legality are separate, but related topics. If you are going to own a defensive firearm then you have a duty to understand both equally well, and to decide upfront how far you are willing to go to protect yourself and your loved ones.
This is all very personal, and very serious. There is room for interpretation in many situations, and that is why the law contains the concept of reasonableness. I do not expect anyone to agree with me 100%, and I welcome other points of view. However, the decisions I have made in this area work the best for my family, and I expect respect for those decisions.