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Letters to The editor


About Gunversation






Use of Force

The only thing more important than shot placement is

knowing when to shoot.

by Adam Celaya


A lot of time is spent talking about which weapon or ammo will best suit your particular needs for each facet of personal defense. One topic that is rarely discussed though is how these lethal tools should be employed. Just what are the guidelines?

Years ago I took my first use of force training while I was at the Maricopa County Detention Academy. At the time I thought that what they were teaching me was just watered down ‘jailer’ training, far different from actual police training. A few years later I found out how wrong I was when I had the opportunity to attend the firearms certification course required for all peace officers in Arizona before they may carry a weapon. As I sat in that class I was shocked to find that it was almost identical to the course I took for unarmed use of force back in the academy. Many people who have taken the instruction required to obtain their concealed weapons permit also have the same belief that I held then. Guess what? When I took the CCW course, it was not only the same material, but the same two cops taught it! In fact the only difference between lawful force for police and civilians is that peace officers are not given the option of fleeing the scene to avoid confrontation.

Lawful use of deadly force has nothing to do with shoot ‘em up, spray & pray tactics. It is a last ditch option when no other course of action is available.

Regular police training emphasizes less on SWAT tactics and more on judgmental use of force. So when gun writers lambaste cops by saying that many are less proficient with their sidearm than the average IPSC shooter, they are doing a great disservice to the law enforcement community. Police are trained to know when to use force in a discretionary manner. Anyone who buys into the belief that police should be able to shoot like the Terminator needs to spend more time as a ride along and less time at Blockbuster video. Lawful use of deadly force has nothing to do with shoot ‘em up, spray & pray tactics. It is a last ditch option when no other course of action is available.

Here, two shots have caused the attacker to break off and back pedal away from the victim. Shoot to stop means shoot until they stop doing whatever bad thing they were doing.  However, this attacker is still well within the minimum safe distance of for an edged weapon (21feet.)  At this range, holding a knife he needs to be leaving or laying down. Put some distance between yourself and this attacker

The governing logic behind all use of force is simple, "You may use only that amount of force necessary to overcome the threat." Police apply this logic best by stair stepping their levels of force. If you have ever wondered why modern police carry more weapons than Batman, here’s an example; Two police go to arrest a transient. First they verbally command him to comply, he resists. Next they grab him and begin to use Akido holds to administer pain compliance, but he pulls a knife from his belt. One officer pulls his sidearm and covers his partner who responds to the threat with a blast of OC pepper. More verbal commands are given, "Put down the knife and surrender!" The subject still refuses and threatens the two officers who (in some departments) respond by firing two darts from a hand held Tazer. Still resisting, and impervious to the barrage of non-lethal devices used on him, the transient charges one of the officers. Officer number one responds with a single shot that stops the attacker.

Sellier & Bellot 9mm 115 gr FMJ Ammo - 50-Rd Box

Sellier & Bellot 9mm 115 gr FMJ Ammo - 50-Rd Box

Sellier and Bellot ammunition from the Czech Republic. Boxer primed, fully reloadable, very clean. Caliber 9mm, bullet type FMJ ( Full Metal Jacket) bullet weight 115 grain, muzzle velocity 1280fps, muzzle energy 423 Ft. Lbs. 50 rounds per box.


An extra magazine or speedloader is always nice in a protracted gunfight, but the entire philosophy of civilian defensive shooting is to extricate yourself from the threat as quickly as possible.  The tradeoff of an extra magazine in favor of an OC canister makes more sense in terms of bulk/non-lethal alternative.

In each of these steps, the officers responded to each threat increase by raising the level of force slightly in response. While most real world police shootings do not have this many steps, this scenario is common and in almost all cases the officers are quickly cleared. Because they took such extensive pains to avoid shooting the perpetrator, it would be very unlikely for them to be convicted of criminal wrong-doing.  Also, they could have shut down the situation at any time had the transient yielded. 

One of the aspects of modern defense is the ‘shoot to stop’ doctrine. It is not uncommon for people to believe that the proper intent in a lethal encounter is to shoot to kill. In our litigious world just uttering that phrase following a shooting is enough to guarantee that you will become the next David Goetz, sued for your entire future.

H&K .308 G3 Steel 20-RD Magazine - Made in Germany

H&K .308 G3 Steel 20-RD Magazine - Made in Germany

Factory H&K German magazines for the Model 91 or G-3 .308 rifle, 20-round. Steel 20-Rd, used, in excellent condition. High capacity magazines are NOT legal in all areas, not legal in CA, MD, MA, HI, and NJ.



Use of your handgun as an impact weapon not only raises weapons retention concerns, but may damage some guns. The author’s father once destroyed an early alloy frame revolver by using it to repeatedly strike an unarmed attacker. Since then he carried a Colt 1911.

To intentionally kill an attacker actually violates the use of force code, Only that amount of force necessary... Yes, it’s a bizarre world we live in, designed by lawyers and built by judges!

In modern force methodology, you shoot to stop the bad guy from doing whatever he is doing. Upon compliance you stop firing, his death is a coincidental factor of your response. We don’t care if the offender goes away mad, just so long as he goes away. If this can be done with the mere sight of a .50 cal Desert Eagle with suppresser and Tac light, then all the better for you!

Chances are, you will find that [in your state] you are not even legally permitted to use your weapon to stop the commission of a felony unless there exists reasonable fear of death

There will be those that argue that deadly force has its own doctrine above and beyond normal levels of force because most state statutes specify that imminent danger to yourself or another must be present in order to respond with deadly force. But these requirements fall within the bounds of ‘only that amount of force...’ The simplest way to understand deadly force is that it can only be used in response to deadly force. Think of it like a chess game where only a pawn can attack a pawn, bishops can only attack bishops. You must have a reasonable fear for your life or that of another before you can administer deadly force. The threshold for reasonable fear may vary from person to person. I might lack legal justification for shooting a 6’, 180 lb man who attacks me with fists. Because I’m healthy, have no physical impairments, and have both the professional training and experience to respond to the threat, I would be less likely to be able to convince a grand jury that I had serious fear of death. By contrast, if that same man attacked my 5'3" wife then his death would likely be ruled as justified because she is shorter, weaker, and has no defensive training. In her case it would be prudent to assume that she would be overcome by almost any male attacker.

Xenon Tactical One Cell Light Includes Lithium Battery

Xenon Tactical One Cell Light Includes Lithium Battery

Police style tactical light with spot to flood focusable beam complete with lithium battery and tail push button switch. Light is rated 2538 candle power, compare to Surefire rated at 65 Lumens, higher number of Lumens, the brighter the light is. This light is the brightest light available, brighter then Surefire, lights can be mounted on your shotgun. The pressure switch for this light recessed so it can be carried in a pocket with out worry of it turning on. It is 3.5 inches long, dimensions: switch cap 7/8 inch, body tube 3/4-inch and the bell is 1-inch. The replacement lamp for the flashlight is LOW-617.


Because of their lack of upper body strength, women have a higher reasonable fear of harm from a single unarmed attacker than a healthy male would. This could lower their threshold for responding with deadly force.


A good example of reasonable fear was a burglary that occurred out in the county several years ago. The homeowner heard several men moving around at the end of his hallway by the living room. When he moved to the other end of the hallway with gun in hand they heard him. In the darkness he heard one of the criminals tell another "Let’s ---- him up!" At this point, against multiple attackers and in total darkness, he had a reasonable fear of imminent danger. They had agreed to harm him. He fired into the darkness hitting two of the three. Of the two who had escaped, one was caught later in the emergency room. His defense was that they had not been armed, hence the homeowner had no right to fire on them. The police disagreed and found the man’s actions reasonable.

The use of deadly force to protect property is illegal. A reasonable fear for a human life must exist. In this photo the mere sight of a weapon is used to scare away a car thief. Were there children in the car, then use of deadly force would likely be justified.

So the next time that you hear someone tell you that most cops shoot poorly, try and keep in mind that no one pays them to kill people. The first rule to surviving a gun fight is to avoid it completely. But for those times that you are given no alternative, use of force must be done with the utmost in discretionary judgment. Because when the time comes you will be acting on instinct and adrenaline, it is best to incorporate alternative steps into your training 

regime. Practice verbally challenging targets, carry a secondary non-lethal weapon, and work out emergency procedures on the range in advance. Most of all, take the time to learn the use of force statutes for your state by visiting the public law library in your county. Chances are you will find that you are not even legally permitted to use your weapon to stop the commission of a felony unless there exists reasonable fear of death. On the flip side, most states statutorily permit the use of deadly force to stop rape, kidnapping, or arson of an occupied structure.          APC

Fobus Paddle Holster Fits Glock 26/27

Fobus Paddle Holster Fits Glock 26/27

Fobus has made a name for itself in the tactical market designing a concealment holster without springs and snaps. Constructed of high density polymer using laser designed precision fitted molds which results in a lightweight contoured holster which securely holds your firearm. This holster is the number one choice for law enforcement and military personnel. All Fobus holster come with a Manufacturer's Lifetime Guarantee. Contact Fobus at 215-355-2621.