Shooting to Wound

Whenever you hear about a fatal police shooting, you’re almost guaranteed to see a commentator wonder aloud why police aren’t trained to “shoot to wound.” The simple answer is that it’s because the police aren’t idiots. “Shoot to wound” is a terrible idea that also happens to be incredibly unsafe.

To begin with, a gun is considered a deadly weapon for a reason. Merely firing a gun constitutes the discharge of deadly force, and the discharge of deadly force is only legal if the person discharging it reasonably believes that his or her life (or that of another innocent individual) is in mortal danger.

Now, if you believe yourself to be in mortal danger, would you fire at someone’s foot, or hand, or knee? Of course not. Why? Because shots to those areas do not prevent an assailant from shooting back at you. Instead, you would shoot at center mass, and in the event that those shots failed to neutralize the threat, you would aim for the head and the individual’s central nervous system. The notion of “shooting to wound” flies in the face of only shooting to neutralize a mortal threat. If you believe a threat can be neutralized without the use of deadly force, then you just lost your legal justification for discharging deadly force — in this case, firing a gun.

Furthermore, shooting at a moving appendage like an arm or leg is incredibly difficult, thereby increasing the likelihood of a stray round that could injure an innocent bystander. Bullets that hit those body parts are also more likely to over penetrate, rather than stopping inside the intended target’s body. This doesn’t mean that you should necessarily shoot to kill. You are not justified in killing a person who has been clearly neutralized and no longer poses a threat. Your goal in discharging a deadly weapon is not to end a life. Your goal is to neutralize a mortal threat.

Never discharge your weapon unless you believe your life or that of another innocent person is in imminent mortal danger. And then, if you choose to shoot, shoot to neutralize the threat. Be safe, vigilant and God Bless. PHD

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