Let’s start off by stating that we really don’t want to kill anybody. Or shoot them. Unless it’s truly life or death. That’s worth stating, because we burn up tons of bandwidth discussing pistols, ammo, training regimens, and then finish off with wide and varied scenarios about what it takes to win a gunfight. So others might be forgiven for thinking that we are a bunch of blood-thirsty killers salivating at the chance. We aren’t. And the comments section to every similar story is covered with blood-thirsty idiots bragging about how they would blow someone away, but that’s not us. We’re better than that. And we better warn others to ignore the blather and focus on reality instead. So, stated.

Okay, let’s then state for the record, again, that warning shots are tactically bad. For many reasons. Since I’m too lazy to Google all the top gun blogs to get a definitive list, we’ll just assume it’s blatantly obvious. I could argue that it’s not obvious, but let’s save that for a minute.

Okay, minute’s up. Every single scary encounter I’ve had (ain’t anecdotal evidence a bitch) has had some portion of mental retardation brought on by alcohol/drugs. In some cases I’m the retarded one, in other cases not. So any reasoning brought forth about tactics can be rendered mute by a combination of Jim Beam and a handful of pills. Which brings us to the previous TTAG story about a Flint, Michigan homeowner who fired a warning shot at a home invader.

Warning shot and/or shots fired, suspect runs away, day is saved. So, was his warning shot tactically bad? We don’t have a lot of details to make a firm decision, but . . .

We know he (good guy) got the drop on the intruder. There was no mention of the intruder being armed, so let’s assume he (bad guy) might have had a gun or knife, but not in his hand at the moment.

So there Mr. Good Guy is, in the hallway, gun out, pointed at a hostile intruder. Warnings are issued, then cue awkward pause . . . Now what? In some states, you can shoot and call it good, but that’s not exactly what we want here. It’d be nice if the SOB would politely crawl back out the window and leave. You’d like to encourage that line of thought, anyway. So why doesn’t he? Drunk, trying to find courage to charge? Waiting to pull his own gun? Too stoned to comprehend what’s happening? Too scared to move, froze up? What?

Let’s assume you (Mr. Good Guy) know your own home and who’s in it. Kids upstairs, brick exterior, etc. Such that you can reasonably put a warning shot into the baseboard (right there, several feet to the side of Bad Guy) and know that no innocents are in the line of fire. A warning shot can be a reasonably effective motivator. It can signal that gun is real, that you’re not afraid to fire it, etc. It can sober the drunk and take away his courage. It can unfreeze the frozen and get him moving in the right direction. It can work. It did work here.

So, then, what can go wrong? The other party can misinterpret the shot as an attack and respond with a counter-attack. A third party can misinterpret the shot and respond similarly. Your night vision and hearing will be temporarily disabled. But a lot of things can go wrong in a gun fight. Suck it up and make a decision. The best person to make a decision about a warning shot is the person standing there, holding a gun, facing the bad guy.

Are warning shots a bad idea? Sometimes. Are warning shots effective? Sometimes. Do we know the difference? Sometimes.

6 Responses to A Warning About Warning Shots

  1. Bullseye, Robert. Once we deploy a handgun as a weapon by pointing it at a human being, we never know what the outcome will be. Outcomes are always unpredictable. Unfortunately, when it comes to shooting at or near a person, the outcome is what matters most. Maybe its the only thing that matters, which is why deployment should be a a matter of grave concern to any responsible, thinking owner.

    Maybe the guy in Fint showed more balls than brains, or maybe it was the other way around. Based on the outcome, he handled the situation well. Nobody died or suffered serious injury, although I'm sure that the bad guy's underwear is a write-off. Next time, it might go the other way. There's no way to know. All we can do is exercise our best judgment.

    • never ever fire a warning shot if you had time to fire a warning shot the DA will say you had time to turn and run away

  2. I just want to know what Ashcroft’s finger is doing on the trigger in the photo above? I am a well trained gun owner, and I was taught (NRA) to NOT grip the trigger unless ready to shoot. It is public miscues like this, from the top law enforcement officer in the nation, that give law abiding, trained gun owners a bad name. I don’t know the context of the photo, but I can only assume it did NOT include shooting the press corps. He has done the Second Amendment more harm than good in that photo.

    Just saying.

    JA

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