I read a story over at Police 1 with this headline: “Ga. PD launches ‘Shoot to Incapacitate’ program.1” If you read my last post you know I agree with shooting to incapacitate, stop the threat, or cause a physiological stoppage. However, things are not always what they seem. In this post I’m going to look at a few excerpts regarding this police training and touch on how bad ideas like this may affect all innocent people of good will.
“The course is the first of its kind in Georgia and could well be a first in the nation. It is teaching officers that in some instances where they are authorized to use deadly force, they have the option to aim for the pelvic region, abdomen, legs and arms of a person posing a threat. The idea is that a gunshot to these areas, while still potentially deadly, could stop the threat while increasing the chance that the wounds will not be fatal.2”
Etymology (fancy way of saying origin) of the word incapacitate:
“1660s in general use, “deprive of natural power,” from incapacity3”
When viewing several different definitions online for capacity it seems to me the plain meaning in our context has to do with physical ability. To incapacitate has to do with depriving of capacity or disabling – removing the bad guy’s physical ability to bring his will to bear. In Carl Von Clausewitz’s book On War, he defines war in part as having to do with the will.
“War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.4”
I recall a Catholic priest giving a talk refer to verbal engineering as weasel worded terminology or serpentine semantics. Any shots that fail to incapacitate could (as the article says) – could influence the bad guy to quit – to have a change in his will. Could also means his will may remain the same, permitting him to finish the threat killing innocent(s). I grow weary of seeing words redefined. Stop changing the meaning of words!
It seems to me this new targeting program would more appropriately be titled; shoot to influence. It is my opinion, this type of targeting increases risks to innocent officers and to all innocent citizens in the immediate area of these negligent tactics. Keep it simple and continue calling it; shoot to stop the threat. Those are perfectly good words. There is no reason to change those words!
Back to the article:
“The pelvic area, thighs, legs and arms were green or yellow — indicating desired spots to aim. The chest, upper torso, head and neck were shaded in red — indicating areas to try to avoid.5”
I’ll begin with the good; then I’ll move on to the bad, and the ugly. I do see some circumstances where targeting the pelvic area has some merit. Consider for instance a law enforcement special task force or perhaps a special military unit going after some high value target. The person would be of high value because they possess knowledge critical to mission completion. Say for instance an unjust criminal aggressor representing an imminent threat of great bodily harm or death is a member of a sex trafficking network, or they’ve kidnapped someone, and only they know where the victim(s) are being held. There is a difference between a threat and an assault. A simple way of explaining this is when the unjust criminal aggressor reaches for, puts his hand on, or pulls a firearm as a solution to his problem (you), that’s a threat. When the unjust criminal aggressor points or shoots his firearm at you – that is an assault. During the threat portion of an attack, officers may willingly volunteer to assume the higher risks associated with targeting the pelvic area to capture a high value target in hopes of acquiring the critical information necessary for completion of the mission. Good leaders would be upfront about these facts and considerations.
If that be the case, I’d prefer to deploy a rifle juxtaposed to a pistol. Also I’d want time, distance, and cover (think big tree). When I was a young police officer in the early 1990’s, a friend and Emergency Response Team (ERT) member, explained his thoughts on the Israeli method of targeting the pelvic area, IN ADDITION TO, and after, first targeting center mass, and the head. One could say; working the spinal column, as it were. The gist was the pelvic area was thought to be another way of possibly stopping an unjust aggressor’s forward movement. That may stop the bad guys compression of time, distance, and cover with you or yours. May – being a qualifying term. I placed my friends advice in my mental file cabinet should I ever have trouble stopping a deadly force threat with traditional center mass and head shot solutions.
Now the bad; targeting the legs or arms is bad primarily because it places a higher priority on the life of the unjust criminal aggressor than innocent lives like police or any person of good will. This is due to giving the unjust criminal aggressor the gift of initiative. Giving him opportunity to continue and finish what he’s started. This is a form of gambling with innocent lives. Why? Time is a precious commodity in a deadly force confrontation. Targeting the legs or arms also increases the probability of third party collateral damage due to an increased likelihood of misses and / or pass through. Targeting the legs and arms turns upside down giving priority of life to innocents.
Force Science back in 2006 did a great job explaining why innocents ought not shoot to wound. Below are a few bullet points from their article. I encourage you to read the whole article at the following link6. Anytime you see the word officers mentioned, you may instead substitute innocent person:
- “When you impose a standard of strict necessity, you require officers to do a whole lot of thinking in a situation where the Supreme Court recognizes there’s not a whole lot of time to think in,” …“an officer faced with a suspect running at him with a jagged bottle is expected to think about getting target acquisition on an arm or a leg, while his own life is at risk.” The hesitation it is likely to create will only heighten his risk.7
- “When the risk of failure is death, an officer needs the highest percentage chance of success he can get…8”
- “if your life is threatened you’re going to go for the surer thing first and worry about your assailant’s life being saved second. If a guy is running at me with a blade, the last thing I’m going to be thinking is ‘I’m going to shoot him in the arm.’” Hence, shooting for center mass may become a psychological default9.
- “Successful” shots that don’t persuade an offender to quit leave the officer still in peril. When we know from street experience that even multiple center-mass hits don’t always stop determined, deranged or drugged attackers, “how many officers would be murdered by offenders who get shot in a limb and are still fully capable of shooting back?” Chudwin asks. Indeed, Avery believes that shooting an offender without incapacitating him “may just infuriate him, so he doubles his effort to kill you. There is no dependable correlation between wounding someone and making them stop.10”
Note: Force Science has a correct usage of the word “incapacitating.” Can you look at a person and know with certainty the strength of their will? No – you – cannot! Shooting to wound is a gamble, and the stakes are innocent life or innocent death.
- The experts we consulted agreed that advocates who push a shoot-to-wound agenda appear to understand little about human dynamics, ballistics, tactics, force legalities or the challenges officers face on the street. Chudwin has found that these critics of police practices can often be enlightened if they are invited to experience force decision-making scenarios on a firearms simulator. Avery has a more dramatic, if fanciful, idea. “Put them in a cage with a lion,” he suggests. “Then let’s see if they shoot to wound.11”
Force Science provides outstanding content relating to the dynamics of deadly force encounters and I highly recommend their website @ https://www.forcescience.org/
Now the ugly; lies are ugly. The ugly is the sophistry that shooting in the abdomen, leg, or arm has the power to immediately incapacitate. That – is – a – lie. It has the potential to influence the will, which means it also has the potential to NOT INFLUENCE THE WILL! The truth is incapacitation is about rendering an unjust criminal aggressor paralyzed, unconscious, dying, or dead. This is a hard saying! Many cannot bear to hear such words. Whether you like it or not or believe it or not does not change the reality behind it. As always, the dead part is God’s business. Once that threat is stopped men and women of good will render aid (circumstances permitting) or intervene by summoning life saving assistance in the hopes that the paralyzed, unconscious, or dying status doesn’t end in the dead status. If the unjust man or woman stops at any point by their own free will that is called a psychological stoppage. If the criminal stops – those using just legitimate defense stop.
In conclusion, why should a concealed carry guy or gal who’s just looking to protect themselves or their family care about any of this? Sophistries or lies regardless whether they’re born out of incompetence, ignorance, bad ideology, cowardice, compromise, or even malice will not cease at the feet of law enforcement. These lies will begin to impact all people of good will who rightly and legitimately defend themselves and those they love. At the end of the day who has prosecutor discretion? The county prosecutor who is an elected official. For at least a few years we’ve seen super PACs (Political Action Committees) using large amounts of money to help elect activist progressive prosecutors into States Attorney’s Offices. We see examples of prosecutors showing bias, favor, and false compassion to unjust criminal aggressors. Is it your belief that these types of prosecutors will limit their false compassion for the unjust criminal aggressor only in cases involving innocent police officers? Do you honestly imagine that same activist prosecutor will have a change of heart and then reject their false compassion for the unjust criminal thereby exercising a just discretion because you’re an innocent citizen of good will? If you believe that, you error!
For these reasons there are a number of large cities in our country I will avoid except in rare circumstances. It’s not difficult to do a little vetting to see what kind of prosecutor holds office in counties near where you live – or travel. Did this, that, or the other prosecutor receive support from super PAC’s via advertisements? It’s not difficult to research looking for promises these folks made during their campaign and following. When they begin saying they’ll refuse to prosecute a number of crimes they feel are unfair, that is a big red flag! This isn’t rocket science. You will know them by their fruits. To be forewarned, is to be forearmed.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Saint Paul:
“I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air1”
1https://www.police1.com/police-training/articles/ga-pd-launches-shoot-to-incapacitate-program-82YJIpU2MUoRvuqV/ By Brad Schrade The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
2https://www.police1.com/police-training/articles/ga-pd-launches-shoot-to-incapacitate-program-82YJIpU2MUoRvuqV/ By Brad Schrade The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
4Carl Von Clausewitz – On War
5https://www.police1.com/police-training/articles/ga-pd-launches-shoot-to-incapacitate-program-82YJIpU2MUoRvuqV/ By Brad Schrade The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
7Why Shooting To Wound Doesn’t Make Sense Scientifically, Legally, Or Tactically By Chuck Remsberg
8Why Shooting To Wound Doesn’t Make Sense Scientifically, Legally, Or Tactically By Chuck Remsberg
9Why Shooting To Wound Doesn’t Make Sense Scientifically, Legally, Or Tactically By Chuck Remsberg
10Why Shooting To Wound Doesn’t Make Sense Scientifically, Legally, Or Tactically By Chuck Remsberg
11Why Shooting To Wound Doesn’t Make Sense Scientifically, Legally, Or Tactically By Chuck Remsberg
12Douay Rheims 1 Corinthians chapter 9 verse 26