Learning about the legitimate use of lethal force.

Learning about the legitimate use of lethal force.

Last week’s discussion about armed intervention by a concealed carrier drew a lot of commentary, and for that I’m thankful. It’s important that topics like this are discussed ahead of time, before an incident unfolds.

I worded the article very carefully to elicit one thing: a careful consideration, by each of us, of what we would do when faced with that kind of situation. I’ll admit, though, at being rather surprised that a good number of comments reduced the options to a) pull out a gun or b) walk away and do nothing. Of course those aren’t the only things that could be done, and almost no one considered the alternatives that might have been more appropriate.

Understanding the legalities surrounding the use of deadly force is, in my mind, a critical component of a self-defense skill set. It’s also the most difficult to learn, as there are very few people teaching this information and there are a lot of nuances to consider. (The one thing I’ve learned from observing the legal system over many years is that there is rarely such a thing as black-and-white!)

With nuance comes the possibility of misunderstanding, and the shooting community has no end of that. Thankfully we all now understand — or at least I hope we all understand — that the old advice of shooting someone outside of your front door then dragging the body inside to make it look like legitimate self defense is wrong. It’s right up there with “fill your hollowpoint bullets with mercury to make them more deadly” on the nonsense scale (which I haven’t heard in ages, so I guess we are making progress!)

We all need better education in this area, but where can the average person learn about the legalities and consequences of lethal force? For many years I’ve suggested that people take Massad Ayoob’s MAG-20 class, which is two days of study about these topics. This isn’t a shooting class; it’s a class devoted to learning about the laws of self defense and how those laws are applied through the courts. It might sound a bit dry, but Mas does a good job of presenting it in an engaging way.

My wife and I took this class back in 1995, and to this day I consider it one of the best self defense investments we’ve made. Mas teaches at various places around the country, but even if he’s not coming to your hometown it’s worth the effort to attend. Yes, even if you need to hop on a plane and get a hotel room to do so.

-=[ Grant ]=-

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On December 16, 2013