Legitimate Self-Defense and Drawing from the Drop

As a general rule it’s not a good idea to attempt to draw on a drawn gun, especially at point-blank range, contact range, and all the more when an unjust aggressor is already pointing his firearm at you. In this blog post I’ll take a look at some of what it depends upon.  I’ll dig down a bit on the question of when it may make sense to attempt to draw on a drawn gun or from what’s been called drawing from the drop (meaning the bad guy is pointing his firearm at you), and you remain under his observation or peripheral vision.

Where no good opportunity exists and a criminal demands my wallet, or my car, by brandishing or pointing a firearm at me or mine, I’m going to comply and hand those things over. I’m going to be a good witness. If I decide to use legitimate defense it will be due to the imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death, not because of a loss of a material good. Part of that decision process will include remaining watchful for a window of opportunity or one of the other circumstances listed below.

If a bad guy has a readiness, close distance, and the will to unjustly murder an innocent any sudden reaches for a concealed weapon will likely result in you experiencing great bodily harm, or death. Let’s take a look at an instance where I do not believe the bad guy had a readiness which had much to do with his expectations:

Extras – Sometimes Unjust Aggressors Get Surprised

Here is the link to a more thorough video breakdown of the incident listed above!

If an unjust criminal aggressor gives us the gift of underestimation, we ought to be grateful for that gift. We ought to exploit and take advantage of any errors or vulnerabilities to stop the unjust imminent deadly force threat! Sandbagging (taking the lowest seat – humbling oneself) facilitates an adversary’s belief that they will receive no resistance what-so-ever. That belief sometimes opens a window of opportunity! This is not a sporting event with rules, referee’s, nor paramedics standing by. These are grave matters of life and death! If an imminent threat of great bodily harm or death finds me then the last thing I want is a fair fight. I want to stack winning principles my way.

In general the closer you are to an unjust ambush criminal predator the higher the probability that a gunfight with him results in your death. The closer you are the more important it is to seize initiative and decisively win the fight. At contact range (inside 1 yard) you either comply, immobilize his weapon or him (draw and end the fight), or create distance. At this distance it’s just too easy for the bad guy to simply raise his firearm and let your head fill the backdrop of his slide, or muzzle.  If you’re able to immobilize your adversary’s weapon or pin him against something facing away from you, do so. Think in terms of a brief immobilization, only long enough to draw and solve your deadly threat problem? Deadly force encounters are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving. Expect a moment of immobilization to be brief (like cover; which is also temporary when someone flanks or gets behind you).

Professional training teaches students to achieve sight alignment and then sight picture. For those using a red dot on their weapon system like an RMR (Ruggedized Miniature Reflex), the sight alignment is built in and one only needs sight picture.

What about point-blank range?  Point-blank range is roughly 1-3 yards.  This is the distance where if he has the will to dig in and fight we ought to expect to take damage (meaning we will be shot; probably repeatedly).  As we increase the distance beyond point blank range then it depends upon our adversary’s skill level.  Most street level bad guys do not have professional firearms training so shooting one handed without sight alignment means as distances increase there is an increased probability of missing their target.  If a bad guy holds his firearm with a proper two handed grip – that’s a clue you’re going to need a lot more distance (providing your skill levels can accommodate) or quick access to cover which means you get small behind that cover (as his target) while he remains large (as your target).

I can’t know anyone’s will by merely looking at them. Posturing is not the same thing as a person’s will. Likewise, sandbagging doesn’t mean a person doesn’t have the will to end me or mine. The will gets proven out in the combat.

Some might question if action beats reaction (and it does) then why not engage the deadly force threat? The principle of action beating reaction involves a very short window of time. Yes, action beats reaction though it is measured in fractions of a second. From studying deadly force confrontations when a person is expecting an action I’ve observed a reaction time as low as four tenths of a second. When a person is surprised we may see seven tenths of a second, and often we see a reaction of flight among bad actors to save oneself and get out of Dodge City. Initiative is critical in deadly force confrontations. But initiative must be balanced with opportunity. Innocents ought to remain watchful for the best timing to launch a counter defense (to strike) with surprise, speed, and violence of action!

When might I choose to draw on a drawn gun? 

#1  If the unjust criminal aggressor goes active!  Meaning the bad guy begins actively shooting, stabbing, or clubbing me, mine, or innocents. This is first in order because the time of deciding has ended and now a new clock has started ticking.  If you ignore his deadly attack and just hope he’ll have mercy on you, very soon you will no longer be able to stop his attack.  People can, do, and have lived after being shot or stabbed multiple times.  Does that mean you’re going to live?  There are no guarantees! However, failing to focus on stopping the threat increases the probability that he will end you.  Don’t look for mercy from an unjust criminal aggressor dealing out deadly blows. The only question you must now decide is; if you only have 19 seconds left on this earth what are you going to do with that time?  Stop the threat!  How?  Immediately and in as much as you can simultaneously move, draw, present, and shoot; repeatedly until the threat is eliminated or he shows clear and convincing signs of full surrender.  How do I define eliminating a threat? By driving the threat bearer down into incapacitation or a physiological stoppage.  Incapacitation means he’s paralyzed, unconscious, dying, or dead.  This is about removing the unjust aggressor’s will. The dying and dead part ultimately is God’s business not mine.  If the unjust criminal aggressor voluntarily decides to stop, which is called a psychological stoppage at any point prior to the physiological stoppage then I would stop!  Full stop as fast as is humanly possible.  

#2 If I believe the unjust criminal aggressor is about to go active! Circumstances go from sketchy to terrifying all within milliseconds to just a second or two. As you are reading or perceiving the developing situation you may not be able in that moment to fully understand nor articulate why and how you just knew a failure to act decisively means probable great bodily harm or death. In Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear there is an example of a woman who reported she knew if she didn’t escape she would be murdered. Later she was able to go back through the events and do the thinking and as she recalled step by step the bad guy’s actions she realized when he shut the window and turned up the stereo those were signs he was preparing to cover any screams as he went to the kitchen to obtain a knife. She later understood and could articulate how she just knew she would be murdered if she did not escape.

There are other legal factors that will later be challenged on the legal battlefield. Five factors include innocence, imminence, proportionality, avoidance, and reasonableness (both objective and subjective). A high number of unjust aggressors don’t worry so much about legal, civil, and social battlefields. They don’t worry about moral battlefields. They focus on the physical battlefield. The time for preparing for all of these other battlefields is beforehand. Do the thinking (and practice) beforehand so that in the moment you have developed a trained response knowing where all the lines are on the moral, legal, civil, and social battlefields. When a fight cannot be avoided you need to focus on winning the physical battlefield.

Some people refer to this kind of belief as following your gut.  In law enforcement sometimes we’d mention a kind of sixth sensei, intuition, or instinct where an officer might have a bad feeling about someone or some developing situation. Those who work, live, and kind of soak in exceedingly dangerous areas often develop an ability to perceive or read people and situations very quickly. Part of that might include non-verbal cues in facial or body language, positioning, and timing which add up to signs that we’d read sometimes faster than we might be able to fully understand or articulate.

I’ve written before in this Blog about my trust in my Guardian Angel. Catholics who have studied their Faith or listened to sound preaching will immediately get this. Catholics believe in the existence and activity of angels both good and fallen. Angels are messengers. If you’re Catholic and you haven’t ever heard this a bare bones beginning is the Catechism of the Catholic Church; #325-#354. I’m not going to dig down on explaining this. For my part, I believe.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter how or why you believe this person is about to go active because the context is an unjust aggressor is presenting an imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death via that firearm he’s reaching for, pulled, brandished, or pointed. Once that kind of threat exists, if I believe this guy is about to go active I’m not required to gamble even one tenth of one percent with my life or the life of someone I purport to love. That leads into the next reason.

#3 If the unjust criminal aggressor gives me a blind spot!  

If the unjust aggressor temporarily becomes distracted and while the threat is active and ongoing, he turns his back towards me giving me a blind spot OR ANY OTHER VULNERABILITY that might be exploited. Some would say: Unfair!  Unfair!  A great working definition for the word tactics is to gain an advantage in positioning, timing, and / or over the will of our adversary.  So what kind of advantage do you imagine we’re talking about?  If you guessed an “unfair advantage” you’d be correct.  This is why I sometimes write or coach that as part of legitimate defense one must be willing to do that next right hard and seemingly “dirty” thing.  Seemingly is a qualifying term.  It seems dirty because it’s unfair.  It’s not dirty! If you’re an innocent person of goodwill, gaining an unfair advantage to legitimately defend your life or the life of someone you purport to love is good, right, and just. This ain’t no game!  This is not a sport! This is a matter of life or death.  Common sense seems to be in short supply these days. It is common sense that an unjust criminal aggressor using the threat of death to gain his immoral, unethical, and illegal will (meaning his desires) has no moral, ethical, or legal rights to do so!

I have to make a distinction here.  What this does not mean is revenge or vengeance.  If an unjust criminal takes my wallet immediately, turns and begins running from the crime scene I’m going to be a good witness.  If once the threat is inactive or no longer ongoing I take up a sound two handed shooting grip and stance, and begin shooting down the road in the interest of revenge then I’m going to have a moral problem with God and a legal problem with the state. 

It is quite another thing to take advantage of a vulnerability, a poor tactic, or a bungleii, in positioning or timing (readiness) when their will to continue the deadly threat remains undeterred.  All that is required to stop this series of tragic events is a change in their will – a clear and convincing sign of full reversal of their deadly force threat!   If an unjust aggressor gives me his back or any other vulnerability this is a reason I might choose to exploit that vulnerability.  Do not wait until your adversary is quite ready or better positioned.  Where an unjust criminal aggressor presents an active and ongoing imminent deadly force threat (ie; he’s not fleeing the scene), innocent people of goodwill are not burdened with gambling with their own or they’re loved one’s life. 

#4 If this is a kidnapping type event!  

If an unjust criminal aggressor says; Get in the car!  Walk towards the trees! Move to the back room! Drive! The second crime scene is often a place of torture, rape, and death. With this circumstance I may look for a natural transition or I may attempt to create a transition by temporarily turning my body in such a way to give me a degree of surreptitious drawing. Transitions are inherently dangerous for everyone involved. If you learn to recognize natural transitions these are little windows of opportunity. Transitions are places where Mr. Murphy sometimes shows up and creates havoc (Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong it will go wrong).  I might drop something and bend at the waist to pick it up to give me a chance at a surreptitious draw.  I might turn my body in such a way as to give myself the best chance for a surreptitious draw. I might fake a heart attack for the same reason. Whether the unjust criminal aggressor has buy in (meaning you acquire some degree of surprise) or not, once you go for your weapon system then it’s speed, and violence of action until the threat is eliminated or you enter eternity. Just like the unjust criminal aggressors of this world every man (or woman) has to decide what they do with the time that they’ve been given?

In conclusion, there are times where we may have to draw on a drawn gun or even worse from the drop. As it relates to tactics, strategy, and logistics, do the thinking beforehand.

i Sixth sense: a power of perception like but not one of the five senses : a special ability to perceive or comprehend : a keen intuitive power

ii Bungle: to do, make, perform, or handle clumsily or badly : MISHANDLE, BOTCH