While almost everyone that carries a firearm for self-defense spends nearly all of their training time practicing putting rounds down range, that’s not what statistics tell us is the most likely scenario armed defenders find themselves in. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be practicing your draw, aim, and trigger control, I’m only saying that the vast majority of armed defensive encounters actually end without firing a shot. So, if you are an armed defender, it only makes sense to train, not only for the worst case scenario, but also for the most likely scenario. That scenario is, that when you draw your firearm and point it at a suspect or attacker, they will stop attacking and either comply or flee. Here are a few tips on how to handle the most likely outcome of you having to draw your weapon in defense.
- Always gain verbal control, immediately demand that they disarm and drop any weapon or potential weapon that they are carrying. At this point, non-compliance is going to be rare, but deadly force would be justified in those cases.
- Command them in short easily understood commands to turn away from you and raise their hands above their head. Do not negotiate or get caught up in a conversation, let them know that you fear for your life and you will error on the side of your safety and not theirs, then continue to order their compliance.
- Demand that they take a few steps forward, away from any weapon that they would have dropped. Remain control during this process by ordering each step and their stopping.
- Order them down on their knees, to stretch their arms out to the sides and turn their palms up, and to cross their ankles. Let them know that any movement will be interpreted as an attempt to draw a weapon and you will use deadly force.
- Order them to turn their head away from the side the weapon is on, retrieve it if possible.
- Call the authorities or have another bystander make the call, and make sure to assess further threats in the environment while waiting for the police to arrive. Do not make physical contact to search or restrain them.
The other result of drawing your weapon defensively is that the suspect or attacker could flee. If they are not visibly armed you have no legal ground to shoot them, if they are armed with a firearm you are still in danger as they could only be creating distance and taking cover, not fleeing the area. In that case, you would have to make a split-second decision that may be difficult to legally defend. Remember, if you training this with a partner, double check each other’s weapons to make sure they are clear for safety.
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