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TTAG reader Bill writes:

“I have a question about a particular tactical scenario. I was reading through the Armed Citizen blog at nra-ila.org, which chronicles news stories of defensive use of firearms. One thing that came up more than a few times was a case of someone “holding” a criminal (i.e. at gunpoint) until police arrived. This strikes me as a bad idea for several reasons . . .

1. It’s not legally justifiable. Suppose the attacker calls your bluff? You can’t shoot him in the back as he runs away (I assume the act of threatening to shoot is not itself illegal but I’m not sure.) Some people may not realize this and could get themselves in legal trouble. Those that know they can’t follow through on it may not be able to bluff convincingly (I’m not sure I could).

2. You’re backing the attacker into a corner. He knows he’ll be arrested if he surrenders. Possibly he has a prior criminal record, or even outstanding warrants for other crimes, and could be looking at serious jail time. The idea of making a desperate charge at you could start looking like the least bad option. I would rather give him the option of fleeing and hope he takes it.

3. What if the police take a while to arrive? Your arms could get really tired. The attacker might notice this and see an opening. It also just seems like it would be an awkward, tense eternity.

Anyway, just wondering what the Armed Intelligentsia thinks about this one.

Thanks,
Bill”

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77 Responses to Question of the Day: Hold a Bad Guy At Gunpoint?

    • I agree. Discharging the firearm unnecessarily probably does not help the cause of responsible gunowners and those who believe in 2A (not to mention wasting ammunition). Also, it appeared that the “detainees” in question had a legal right to be where they were for the purpose of contracted commerce. If our shooter survives his entanglement with the criminal system, he may well find himself the defendant in a civil action.

  1. Your question is entirely circumstantial and there is no one “right” answer. Hopefully, anyone carrying and willing to use a weapon in defense of self and others will read up on state laws governing threat and use of deadly force. And learn how to articulate what happens with the right language to not incriminate themself.

    • Yeah, good luck with that. Even trying to restrain the goblin somehow poses dangerous risks. If they are young, strong and fast, you have a tiger by the tail.

    • Leave the role-playing and argumentation to your attorney – be quiet around the police, as much as possible.

      Your point is still valid though – I’d check with an attorney about what the law says.

      Personally, I’d be OK with letting somebody go. If they committed an arrestable offense, the police are going to want more than just your word for it.

      Don’t even ask them to drop their wallet – you’re not mugging them.

      Chad’s post above is excellent. Don’t escalate. Despite what some of the TTAG posts say, your objective isn’t to roleplay Judge Dredd; it’s to stay alive.

  2. Yeah, that sounds like a bad situation on all levels. If the guy had tried to kill me or a family member with his own weapon however, I would draw on him and wouldn’t let his ass go…I’d be willing to risk the potentially ugly outcome. If he made a move/run for it, I’d ventilate his legs. If he came at me with a weapon, I’d give him one or two where it really counts.

    • Shooting him in the legs has the potential to get you in more trouble than putting one right between his eyes.
      If the threat doesn’t warrant the use of lethal force then you shouldn’t pull the trigger.
      If you DO shoot someone in the legs, you have a fair chance of severing a femoral artery, thus causing a rapid (& messy) bleed out.

      Now a question: Don’t some States allow the use of lethal force to prevent the escape of a fleeing felon under certain circumstances?

  3. The situation in the text and in the video aren’t at all the same. The people which the video describes as being held at gunpoint were landscapers. While some landscapers are better than others, and some of them aren’t really good at using enough fertilizer, as far as I know landscaping is not yet a crime (although I’m told it is heavily regulated in California).

  4. If I am not mistaken (which I am from time to time) that would be the same as kidnapping or illegally detaining a person with threat of potential lethal force. I am sure that it would be something to think about. I believe that if this was a situation that I found myself in I would have (if in a store or something similar) the employees find some kind of restraint and use that to hold them until the police are able to arrive. Otherwise give them the chance to flee or put 3 rounds into the person and just end it. If in a situation like that and I’m alone I would give them the chance to flee and have police go looking for him/her or if in fear for my life as a disabled person I would shot and put 3 rounds into him/her… Or until they stop moving. What “If” are one of the hardest questions to answer and are almost impossible to choose a correct answer until you or I am in the shoe’s of that potential victim…

    • that would be the same as kidnapping

      It might. But in some states, kidnapping would require actually moving the person from one place to another, or forcing him to move, and detaining someone in place would not be kidnapping. State law controls this. State law would even control the issue of what constitutes another place.

      or illegally detaining a person with threat of potential lethal force.

      This too would be a matter of local law, starting with the issue of whether the detention was actually illegal in the first place.

      The real point is that the answers depend on the jurisdiction. As always, know the laws of your jurisdiction. You’re going to be charged with that knowledge anyway, so you might as well actually know.

  5. 1) If a bad guy is approaching you without a visible weapon, draw yours.

    2) If said bad guy continues to approach you and/or produces a weapon, shoot him immediately.

    3) If a bad guy desires to run away, by all means, let him.

    If you’re not a cop, you have no duty to “hold” a bad guy in any way shape or form. If your life is being threatened with lethal force, drop the SOB. If it isn’t, find someplace else to be, let him do the same, and inform those whose job it is to deal with them.

    • Thank you, not my job to be a hero. My gun is for saving my life and my family, if by chance ending a threat will also save your life, I am happy to have been of service. I draw my gun for one reason only, the rest of the time I draw my phone and observe.

    • Don’t think so.

      You do that and the gendarmes will only have you to look at for potential arrest and charges. Many of them don’t give a shit that you’re the good guy, it’s all about their stats and evaluations. The higher you go in the command structure, the worse it is.

      Don’t make yourself the focus or the target, get thee gone.

  6. When we say ‘holding someone at gunpoint’, we’re really talking about pointing a gun at a suspect and threatening to shoot them if they try to leave. In my criminal defense practice, this dances very close to the edge of legally justifiable use of force. Sometimes it dances right over the edge and becomes unlawful imprisonment or aggravated assault.

    As an armed citizen, your goal is to avoid potential threats and to neutralize active deadly threats when avoidance didn’t work. An unarmed and fleeing burglar is no longer a deadly threat (unless he comes back) and you can’t shoot him or threaten to shoot him just for running away. The cops can do that (sometimes) but you can’t.

    Cops are in a much better legal position to do this, because they have legal authority to use deadly force to arrest suspected felons and just about anyone who threatens them with injury. Civilians like us can only use deadly force in very narrow circumstances, when reasonably necessary to protect themselves or others from great bodily injury or death. So here’s the rub: as long as a hypothetical attacker is armed and facing you, you’re in mortal danger and you should be shooting instead of negotiating. But the moment he drops his gun and turns tail, you lose your legal authority to use deadly force.

    You might still have some legal authority to use non-deadly force to detain him, but think tactically: now that you’ve successfully repelled a deadly threat, it’s time to secure your position and call 911. Once you’re out of immediate danger, you don’t want to place yourself back in immediate danger by closing with the perp and engaging in a CQB scuffle.

    That’s the law, and the real world doesn’t always work according to the law. As a practical matter, you have a good chance of *not* being arrested or prosecuted for holding a Tango at gunpoint under many circumstances. If you’re holding a methed-out shitbag under your shotgun muzzle in your underwear, in your living room at 3:00 AM, you’re probably fine. But if you’re frog-marching a captured mugger down Main Street to the police station to turn him in, you’re likely to get arrested (or shot) before the cops figure out what the hell’s going on.

    • Good post, and that’s what I’ve understood…and what about the following scenario?

      A guy comes into your house with a bat (or another potentially lethal weapon), attacks you or someone else…you get the draw on him…he drops his weapon…he tries to run out…you shoot him in the leg to stop him from escaping? Or he gets out the front door, and you follow and shoot in the leg?

      • Again, laws vary by state. In California, I would not advise anyone to shoot an unarmed, fleeing attacker unless that person had just killed or mortally injured someone else and there was not any other possible means of apprehending the suspect.

        Texas has trespassing laws; many other states do not.

        If you are acting in your own home, you will definitely be contacted by police. At that time you’ll either want to be in a situation of a legitimate self – defense shooting (to repel or prevent death or great bodily injury) or to be a good witness.

        • I’d agree, regardless of state. You’ll *never* sucessfully defend shooting someone in the back. And if you (the defender) are male or physically larger than the attacker, you better be in -MORTAL – danger before pulling that trigger.

        • You’ll *never* sucessfully defend shooting someone in the back.

          The police in Anaheim, CA seem to be doing a good job of defending their own when they shoot unarmed suspects in the back repeatedly.

      • The law in my state is I can use lethal force when in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or death. When the threat no longer exists, my justification for using lethal force ends as well.

        I can’t shoot him in the leg, and it’s a bad idea to shoot at all, even warning shots. I have now gone from being the victim to the aggressor and he now has the right to use lethal force against me.

        If I shoot him in the leg and he bleeds out and dies, it is at a minimum manslaughter. Even if not convicted of a crime and his death is somehow deemed accidental, I am now legally responsible to make reparations to his estate. If I ‘only’ cripple or injure him I’m responsible for his medical bills, pain and suffering, emotional trauma etc. to whatever percentage the court assigns. For example, 50% to him for breaking in and attacking, 50% to me for using lethal force when no longer justified perhaps. (More likely 100% my fault as I was not legally justified in any way for ‘wounding him to stop him from escaping’.

    • Chris, I suspect that you didn’t mean to say that the police can shoot an unarmed man who is running away. The police do not have that authority unless the man poses a significant threat. Tennessee v. Garner 471 U.S. 1.

    • But if the BG is caught committing a crime, and you restrict their freedom of movement (by handcuffs gun threats twine whatever) and call the cops, isn’t this a citizens arrest?

      • Excessive force to effect a citizen’s arrest can be an issue as well. As a citizen, you probably won’t have less lethal force options available. We’re you to tase and handcuff the suspect for the police, you might be fine. Then again, your actions may be considered excessive, over zealous, etc.

        Courts, LEO’s, etc. sometimes make stupid arrests and convictions. I’d rather be involved in a slam dunk legitimate case and not take the chance. Remember, you’ll have your day in court, and the BG and / or his family will be there as well.

  7. It sounds like the armed man was a massive idiot. He held, pistol whipped, and fired a warning shot between two men that were allegedly landscapers. That’s going to get you arrested.

    The laws on a citizen’s arrest vary considerably by state to state. If you are justified in shooting, and hit the suspect, even a fleeing criminal will get arrested. There’s much to be said about being a good, descriptive witness.

    I would heavily inclined to release an invader if given the option, because the legal pitfalls are massive. YMMV.

      • Try not to do that often 🙂 repeated exposeure to coffe is bad for keyboard

        In all seriousness though, I could see how this situation could turn way ugly:
        -a cop or passerby could misread the situation, you get shot
        -badguy could challenge you

  8. I’m sorry but if I were to pull my gun on someone who I view as a threat; if they were to raise their hands and surrender I would not shoot them nor would I let them go. If they surrender they can wait there until the cops arrive. I view this is somewhat akin to a store owner who holds a shoplifter or armed robber until police arrive.

    That being said, the liklyhood that a criminal who is posing a threat to me would realize he is about to be shot, somehow indicate that he is “giving up” before being shot is very very low. If I raise that gun on someone it is because I intend to use it.

  9. I’m not a LEO, I have no obligation to bring a UNARMED robber or confused drunk to justice, I would just yell at him to get out of my house or I’ll shoot. He’ll probably be more than happy to oblige. If they don’t, I’d TRY and shoot em if they made one step in my direction, given that that’s not the way to the door for them. Be careful, be tactful, maintain situational awareness.

    If you are going to try and hold them at gun point, I’d definitely make them lay on their stomach with their hands on the back of their head, gonna take them a second to get up, buys me time to prepare to defend myself. If they refuse, I’d better be ready to defend myself, cause only a psycho with a death wish will refuse orders from a guy with a gun pointed at em.

    This all depends of course, there are so many variables and possible situations too.

    Letting them leave (if possible) seems the safer, better option IMO. Just try and take note of what they look like and what they were wearing for when the Cops finally show up.

    • I’m with you. If I draw on them and they freeze, I’ll yell at them to lie down, put their hands on the back of their head. I’ll make sure I’m a good 20 or so feet from them. I will not search them or get within grappling distance. I’ll make sure I’m not between them and the door/exit in case they re-consider their options and decide to make a break for it. Rather having them running away from me than towards me.

      If I’m not already on the phone with 911, I’d call. Clearly tell them the situation and who’s who. Think about lighting and opening window coverings if drawn. Cops are at a disadvantge walking into a situation and making it easier for them to see in if possible would probably be beneficial.

      You can expect when the police to arrive they’re going to tell you to put your weapon down and get on the ground until they sort things out. May want to think about how you’ll do that slowly, in a way the perp can’t get to it, and without making the police think you’re turning/moving in a threatening way.

      • When you here the sirens, IT MIGHT be a good idea to put your gun down and step on it, and leave your foot and weight on it. This way your not holding a gun when the police come in and still make it very difficult for the bad guy to grab your firearm.

  10. From my book, Armed Response:

    Sneaking around the outside of a house at 3 A.M., the criminal sees and hears no signs that his chosen victims are awake. With a padded covering, he uses his elbow to break a basement window. Slipping inside, he makes his way up the stairs, stopping to pick up a small piece of 2×4 along the way. Hearing the glass break and noise downstairs, you gather your family to the master bedroom. Hiding behind concealment, a family member calls 911, while you get your weapon.

    The criminal crosses the hallway towards your bedroom and you realize that he is heading right for you and your family. You instantly blind him with your flashlight and he obeys your order, “DON’T MOVE. DROP THE WEAPON.”

    Now what?

    You have stopped the potential crime and have saved your family and yourself from the harm intended by the criminal — so far. Your subsequent actions will determine how safe you all remain.

    If you had fatally shot the criminal, there would be no worry of impending violence, and your area of concern would shift to the legal ramifications of the shooting. But tonight, he’s alive, scared, angry, and still very much a threat. Put yourself in the shoes of the now-detained criminal. He has just been caught ‘breaking and entering,’ and who knows what other charges could apply. He had a weapon and was looking for, and expecting to find, sleeping victims. If someone breaks into a home knowing that there are people inside, you have to assume there would be no hesitation to commit acts of violence. Sum it up and you have a violent criminal, facing jail time, who is backed into a corner and looking for any way to escape at any cost — a very dangerous predicament for the good guy.

    At this point, your job is to protect your family by creating and maintaining situational dominance over the criminal until the police arrive. While one chapter can’t cover every possible contingency, this plan will outline an effective and accepted procedure for handling a single attacker. If you face multiple criminals, the approach is the same. Start with the one that poses the greatest threat, and keep them together so you can keep your eyes in the same place. If the criminal does not speak English, or pretends not to speak English, you will have to use exaggerated body movements to communicate. Keep your gun hand steady and be careful to keep the gun pointed at the criminal at all times so as to not give him an opportunity to attack.

    The first thing that you have to remember is that while this chapter offers a good procedure, everything does not always go according to plan. The bad guy has his own ideas of how events should unfold, and may not be cooperative. He may lull you into a sense of control and strike when he thinks that you’re not prepared or alert. He may simply refuse to obey you, or he may attack. He may pretend to be submissive or cooperative to get you to drop your guard. Always stay alert and be ready for the unexpected.

    Now, let’s get back to where we left off: The criminal is blinded by your tactical flashlight and you are holding him at gunpoint. His weapon has been dropped and he is awaiting your instructions. Keep your family at a safe distance so you can focus your full attention on the threat at hand.

    To maintain dominance, keep your flashlight in his eyes to keep him blinded. Keep the room lights off; the less ambient light there is, the less he will be able to see. If your flashlight starts to dim due to weakening batteries, you will be forced to turn on the room lights. (This is a great reason to change your flashlight’s batteries regularly even if you have not used it.)

    Before turning on the room lights, you need to gain further situational dominance by putting the attacker in a physical position that will be the most difficult from which to attack.

    Distance is your friend. There is no tactical advantage by being close, only danger. If attacked, you can just as easily shoot him at 20 feet as you can at 5 feet. Up close, he has more advantages than you might realize. At close range, he can disarm you faster than you can pull the trigger. While that might sound hard to fathom, it has been proven true time after time. Action beats reaction. If a move is made to disarm you at close range, you must first perceive the movement, realize that it is an attempt to take your weapon, decide what your reaction will be, and only then fend off the gun grab. The longest part of that process is the perception of the movement and the determination of the threat. The attacker will be able to take the gun from your hands before your mind even perceives the danger.

    Start by informing him in a very loud, deep, commanding voice: “IF YOU MAKE ANY FAST MOVEMENTS, I WILL ASSUME THAT YOU ARE GOING TO ATTACK ME AND I WILL SHOOT YOU.” The next order is “RAISE YOUR HANDS HIGH ABOVE YOUR HEAD.” Again, all of your commands need to be in a loud, deep, commanding voice. If this isn’t your everyday voice, this is another thing you should practice if you want to have it available when you need it. If he starts to move his hands anywhere else except above his head, especially to the back of his head or behind his back, order him again to move them above his head. Continued motion in a direction other than ordered is a sure sign that he is going for a hidden weapon.

    If his weapon or anything else that can be used as a weapon is near his feet, order him to “SLOWLY, KICK YOUR WEAPON (or whatever object is close) TO YOUR LEFT (OR RIGHT) SIDE.” Have it kicked in a direction that will be far from his reach but also not near you. You don’t want to pick the weapon up, as it diverts your attention from the criminal, ties up one hand, and may disturb the criminal’s fingerprints or other forensic evidence. Also, bending over will eliminate your position of dominance and give the criminal a perfect opportunity to attack. You don’t want it at your feet, because you don’t want to trip over it, nor do you want to be looking down to avoid tripping over it when you move. Alternatively, you may order him to “BACK AWAY FROM THE WEAPON” (and away from you and your family).

    Once his hands are in the proper position, the next order should be “SLOWLY, GET ON YOUR KNEES”. Order him to then walk on his knees with his hands high above his head to a place that is large enough for him to lie down and that does not block you from reaching your family, the telephone and the door, and is also not near any potential weapons. From this point on the criminal should never be allowed to stand again. If you need to move him again for any reason, he should do so on his knees or in a stomach crawl.
    Get him on the floor by ordering him to “SLOWLY LIE DOWN ON THE FLOOR.” The final position changes are designed to greatly slow down his ability to get up and attack: “SPREAD YOUR ARMS OUT TO YOUR SIDES AND FACE THE PALMS OF YOUR HANDS UP.” When completed, the next order should be: “TURN YOUR HEAD AWAY FROM ME AND PLACE YOUR FACE FLAT ON THE FLOOR.”

    It is now time to remind him not to move: “IF YOU MAKE ANY FAST MOVEMENTS, I WILL ASSUME THAT YOU ARE GOING TO ATTACK ME AND I WILL SHOOT YOU.”

    If you have to divert your eyes or move to get the phone, have him crawl on his belly in a direction that lets you watch him constantly. Whatever you have to do, never lower your guard or your weapon, and keep your distance. Never try to cuff or tie up the suspect because that would open you up for a disarm or attack. Remember, distance is your friend.

    It is best to have a family member stay on the phone with the police throughout the entire incident to keep them apprised. If the police are still on the line, inform them of the fact that you are now holding the bad guy on the floor at gunpoint. If the call was disconnected already, call the police again and tell them your current situation. (It is important for the police to get an update so that they know that the good guy is the person who is holding the gun.) If there was not time to make a call to the police previously, do so now, while the criminal is in the most awkward physical position possible.

    Any time that you call 911, give your address right away, and give it again to be sure they have it. Not all 911 systems display the address automatically. It is best to give the address first because if you get cut off for any reason, the police will at least know where you are and that you are in danger. Next, give them your name and tell them that you are at home, holding at gunpoint a criminal who just broke into your home. At this time repeat the warning to the criminal: “IF YOU MAKE ANY FAST MOVEMENTS, I WILL ASSUME THAT YOU ARE GOING TO ATTACK ME AND I WILL SHOOT YOU.” Do this again while on the phone with the police in order to get your warning recorded by the police’s phone recording system. If you have to shoot to defend yourself, the tape could go a long way in your defense.

    Describe yourself to the police, including what you are wearing. Describe the criminal and what he is wearing. Be simple, be specific, and make a special effort to speak slowly and clearly. Remember that you will be under tremendous stress and may mumble, slur, or speak so quickly that the police could have trouble understanding. Tell them where you are in the house and how to get there from the main door. If a mature member of your family can meet the police at the door without having to walk near the criminal, have that person open the door for the officer(s) and give them a description of what is happening. The family member needs to inform the officer who you are and what you look like so there is no mistake as to who the criminal is. If you are alone or unable to open the door safely, tell the 911 operator that you “give permission for the officer(s) to break the door in order to enter” because you do not want to take your eyes off the criminal for even a second.

    Once the police are within earshot, advise them that you are the homeowner and the person on the floor broke into your home (with a weapon, if that is the case). Once the police arrive, they are in charge and you must follow the officers’ orders exactly and immediately especially if they tell you to drop the gun. Picture the situation from their perspective: They come into a home and find someone on the floor at gunpoint. Who looks like the one who is threatening the life of another? Make sure the police know who the good guy is.

    A caged animal is the most dangerous kind. The criminal knows he’s going to jail and may feel he has nothing to lose. You may have disarmed the attacker, but that does not render him benign. These procedures will help you maintain control until the police arrive.

    Rabbi
    http://www.armedresponsetraining.com

    • Or just pop him and tell the police an hour later you feared for your life , crying and hugging your children.

      • BAD ADVISE. The state of the art today in forensic science can often tell what position the body was in at the time of impact. If the body position turns out to be different than your “story”, you loose.

        • I’m rarely an English Nazi but sheesh Rab, what you wrote made my head hurt for some reason.

          It’s “advice”, not “advise”. It’s “lose”, not “loose”.

          “BAD ADVICE. Today’s state of the art forensic science can often tell the body position at the time of impact. If the body position turns out to be different than your “story”, you lose.”

          I fixed it for you. 😉 Carry on.

        • And if you solve a problem for the cops and the community do you think they are going to split hairs over details?

    • “IF YOU MAKE ANY FAST MOVEMENTS, I WILL ASSUME THAT YOU ARE GOING TO ATTACK ME AND I WILL SHOOT YOU.”
      Based on my training in the USAF Security Police, I recommend you change that to:
      “IF YOU MAKE ANY MOVEMENTS I DON’T TELL YOU TO, I WILL ASSUME THAT YOU ARE GOING TO ATTACK ME AND I WILL SHOOT YOU.”
      …and do it, if they make any move you did not explicity tell them to make.
      One other point: DO NOT let them talk. If they do, assume the intent is to attack you and act accordingly.

  11. The problem is that Robert doesn’t much explain what the alternative should be.

    “GTFO” is not really a sane option because the bad guy can probably run faster than me in a short distance, I’ve never been a good sprinter.

    So, let him go? Why would he go away if you’re not pointing a gun at him, which means you’re holding him at gun point.

    Really, Robert, what is one to do? You can’t just shoot the guy.

    There are no easy answers and I am perplexed at your frequent suggestions that we should just leave the scene or let people go. It’s not reasonable or rational to let a guy go who has just tried threatening violence. It’s not reasonable or rational to run away from a guy who was temporarily stopped by your brandishing a gun.

    • It actually is reasonable and rational. Think about what you carry a firearm for (assuming you’re not LEO)… Is it to bring people to justice, or is it to protect your gift of life? I hope you know the right answer.

      Of course, I never advocate pulling a firearm until you’re completely ready to pull the trigger… But say the drawing motion does stop the threat… Your life is no longer in danger at that point. And remember what the gun’s purpose is. I think what Robert is saying is if the threat is neutralized, it’s not then your responsibility to see that threat is brought to justice with the business end of YOUR firearm.

      If the threat has been neutralized and then decides to flee… That is just further reducing the immediacy of the threat… Putting you in a better situation.

      • “But say the drawing motion does stop the threat… Your life is no longer in danger at that point. ”

        Oh, I get it now. So you put your gun away again.

        But then he threatens you again. So you pull your gun back out.

        Then the threat is neutralized. So you put the gun in your holster again and say goodbye.

        But now not pointing a gun at him, he decides to threaten again. So you pull your gun back out.

        Then he’s neutralized again. So you put your gun away. So he threatens you again. So you pull out your gun.

        I’m trying to figure out how this is supposed to end without him finally getting the jump on you as you fumble with holstering and unholstering your piece.

        • Did I say to re-holster the firearm? Nope.

          I’m saying if the perp wants to flee… Let him.

          I encourage you to keep my comments in context, and not jump to conclusions that don’t make sense.

        • So you let him flee? And as soon as he’s out of sight he turns around and tries to come at you again from a blind side.

          And while you’re letting him get up off the ground and get ready to run, I suppose you can tell he’s not going to charge at you instead of away from you.

          It’s completely unreasonable. It’s possible that you could read body language and judge that a cretan really does want to run away, but then you’re just letting him go assault someone else. Morally, legally, and ethically, you are allowed (even if not obliged) to hold him if you reasonably can.

          Or else let’s all just continue to pretend that the police are omniscient and omnipotent in identifying and catching criminals.

        • Skyler there can be any number of circumstances that warrant you keeping the sights on target. Totally agree, no reasonable person would dispute that. If your life, or those you must protect (ie. family), re-enters the imminent danger zone the second you take your sights off the target, then of course keep them on.

          But when your life isn’t in danger if allowing the attacker to flee, you’re better off letting it happen. I highly doubt your going to shoot the attacker if they start running (assuming you’re a reasonable person)… If you do, I hope you have deep pockets for legal counsel.

          In reality… You’re more likely to pull your firearm only when it’s time to fire. If you want to take the time to evaluate if the sight of the firearm is going to stop the threat, then that’s a decision you of course can make. At that point, I’ve already made the decision that if I don’t fire, I’m going to die. For me, and what my concealed carry laws state, the firearm isn’t presented unless I’m using it.

        • Now you’ve changed the scenario. If he jumps up and runs away, and he is not a significant threat to you or others, then you can’t shoot. But that doesn’t mean you should put your gun down and invite him to run away.

        • AH HA! Totally agree… I think we misunderstood each other. I was under the impression you were attempting to prevent them from fleeing, with deadly force… But in reality you’re only keeping the threat from recovering to a position that puts your life back in danger. I think anyone would agree with that approach. When I read things like “don’t let them flee” it indicates you’re going to use your firearm if they do flee… Which it seems we both agree is not a good idea.

        • Agreed, the key point being whether they are a significant threat to someone if they do flee, in which case you can shoot them if they try.

  12. Here’s what I tell my students…

    Your firearm is a LAST resort. You’re not a police officer (for those who aren’t), you have no justification or responsibility to bring someone to justice. If you must pull your firearm, you better be damn sure that you, or those you must protect, would have been dead or seriously injured if you didn’t. If you’ve made the right decision… Your attacker is already past the point of return, and so are you. If the threat somehow is neutralized before pulling the trigger, your job then is to put distance between you and the neutralized threat and call L.E.O. Distance can mean allowing the threat to flee.

    Again, you’re not a police officer. By acting like one you’re putting yourself into a troublesome situation. Your job is protect your gift of life.

  13. Detaining is not even an option here in NC. I believe that we are the only state without a law authorizing any type of citizen’s arrest.

  14. as a civilian i have only arrested 1 person. that was in ca and i used a citizens arrest to detain a drunk driver until the police arrived, i was unarmed and basically used my force of personality to detain this person. at that time, about 22 years ago, if you placed a person under citizens arrest and they fled it was a felony charge added to whatever else they were facing. things might be different now and even then i would not have done it except that i was the only person that had a shot at stopping a drunk from getting back into a vehicle that they had just wrecked but not disabled enough to keep them from driving off.

  15. Here is some of what The State o Idaho has to say

    Idaho Statutes
    TITLE 19
    CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
    CHAPTER 6
    ARREST, BY WHOM AND HOW MADE
    19-601. Arrest defined. An arrest is taking a person into custody in a case and in the manner authorized by law. An arrest may be made by a peace officer or by a private person.

    19-604. When private person may arrest. A private person may arrest another:
    1. For a public offense committed or attempted in his presence.
    2. When the person arrested has committed a felony, although not in his presence.
    3. When a felony has been in fact committed, and he has reasonable cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.

    19-606. Person arresting may summon assistance. Any person making an arrest may orally summon as many persons as he deems necessary to aid him therein.

    19-608. Information to person arrested. The person making the arrest must inform the person to be arrested of the intention to arrest him, of the cause of the arrest, and the authority to make it, except when the person to be arrested is actually engaged in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, an offense, or is pursued immediately after its commission, or after an escape.

    19-614. Duty of private person making arrest. A private person who has arrested another for the commission of a public offense must, without unnecessary delay, take the person arrested before a magistrate, or deliver him to a peace officer.

    For me if you have to pull, shoot. if at home or a friends and they turn and run let them go unless they shot or hurt someone. if at a bank or other business use you best judgement. use zip ties or rope or a neck tie whatever to restrain if needed.

  16. I love Texas :

    Sec. 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:(1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and(2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:(A) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or(B) to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property; and(3) he reasonably believes that:(A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or(B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

    • joseph, how do they define “criminal mischaef during the night time” ? it appears that they’re allowing the use of deadly force because it’s night. they must figure that if you have to get out of bed in the middle of the night you deserve to shoot someone. now that i think about it i like that idea myself.

      • This part of the law is based on Exodus 22:2 which says:

        “If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed;

        They didn’t have electricity or tactical flashlights then and many people still don’t have tactical flashlights. Plus if someone has the audacity to break into an inhabited dwelling it was assumed that they meant to do harm to the inhabitants. And if you let them go they could hurt others or come back for you.

    • Also:

      Texas Code of Criminal Procedure
      Art. 14.01. [212] [259] [247] OFFENSE WITHIN VIEW.
      (a) A peace officer or any other person, may, without a warrant,
      arrest an offender when the offense is committed in his presence
      or within his view, if the offense is one classed as a felony or as
      an offense against the public peace.

  17. Criminals are certain the cops aren’t going to execute them. They don’t know that about the armed citizen they’re being held by. Criminals don’t want to get shot. I would wager a criminal in that situation would lie still and pray he doesn’t get shot before the police arrive.

  18. Have you ever thought about having some handcuffs to restrain a criminal when you (or someone else) have been a victim of a major crime?

    At very least having them in your home so if someone breaks in you do not have to “hold” someone at gunpoint. Maybe it is a good idea that you learn to subdue a person even if you are not a cop.

    You do not always have to point a gun at a person and threaten their life if they do not wait for your backup to arrive.

    • jay, it’s very easy to overdue the cuffs and cause injuries to the detainee that could be used to sue you later. and attempting to subdue someone by youself,especially if they’re on drugs could lead to them having your gun.

  19. How many times do we say. If your armed, you DO NOT ESCALATE! You do not go confront others. Observe and report. A call to the police to report unknown persons in the neighbor hood, would and should have been the response. These landscapers were there to do a job and had a right to lawfully be where they were.

    Know the law and use common sense. A little common sense goes a long way!

  20. “Holding” a bad guy at gunpoint is not a defensive move; You are now on the offensive as you have become the larger threat holding a deadly weapon to detain a person. If the DEADLY OR PERMANENT DISFIGUREMENT threat is terminated and he wants to flee, let him. You are safe and that’s what you want. Your very last option of shooting a person is under the above caps possibilities.

  21. If the guy wants to run away, I’ll let him run.

    I don’t relish the idea of holding someone at gunpoint, if for no other reason that when the police arrive the guy on the ground will be doing a damn good impression of a “victim,” and I have no way of knowing if the 911 operator has made it clear to the officer that the guy holding the gun is one of the good guys.

    Assuming the villain has been disarmed, I think I might instruct the guy to remove his wallet, drop it on the floor/ground, and get lost. Once he’s long gone I can holster my weapon and wait. When the police finally arrive said wallet will probably enable them to track the guy down.

  22. Assuming that the bad guy doesnt have a gun, and you have control of the situation, I dont see a problem with holding the intruder at gunpoint until the cops arrive. Ideally this process would occur something like what Rabbi posted above, but if the BG decided to run AWAY from me and/or loved ones, Im not going to shoot him in the back as he is fleeing.

  23. 1) It’s called a “citizen’s arrest”. Ordinary citizens may arrest someone when they witness them committing a felony. (North Carolina apparently does NOT have this provision in their law, but they do permit detention.) In Florida, one is authorized to use deadly force to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felon – which includes burglary. Every law school in the Country teaches that a crime is “in progress” until a criminal reaches a “place of safety”. The business end of your .45ACP is not “a place of safety”. So you have both the authority to effect an arrest and the power to use deadly force.

    2) Maybe “holding someone” means something different to you than it means to me. To me it means the perp is face down on the floor with their legs crossed and their hands behind their neck. I inform them that if they twitch, I will consider myself under attack and empty the magazine into their worthless hide. Not much chance of them making a “desperate charge” from that position.

    3) Again, you seem to think that I’m going to be at constant risk from the perp. I’m not. I can stand holding a gun at my side for quite a long time, but if it’s going to be days until the cops arrive, then as the perp is in the face down position, I tell him I’m going to secure him and that the next thing he’s going to feel is the muzzle of a .45ACP pressed against his spine, that if he twitches, the gun will go off. I then use my other hand to cuff him. Once he’s cuffed, he gets a belt around the ankles, at which point, I can pretty much go eat dinner while waiting for the cops to show up.

  24. It has been quite a few years ago but I had a man break into my home in the middle of the day while I was there and I did hold him at gunpoint for almost 20 minutes while waiting for the police. He used a knife to trip the latch on a bedroom window and I caught him half way inside. He was in a most uncomfortable position and complete disadvantage. Fortunately, for him, he froze in place and dropped his knife. I was too mad to shoot him outright. Mad is no excuse to shoot, if he had scared me it would have been a different case. After what seemed like forever and still no police, I allowed him to back out through the same window and run. Don’t regret it, I don’t want to have to shoot anyone.

    Ran into the same man a couple of years later in a store on the other side of town, he remembered and approached me saying “Thank You for not shooting me” and that he had told everyone he knew that they needed to stay away from my neighborhood, there was a crazy old man over there who might decide to shoot next time.

    • On the other hand, there is the curious case of Tony Arambula.

      He held a goblin in his home at gunpoint.

      When the police arrived, they shot Mr. Arambula and then cuffed him and dragged him out of the house, bleeding and still cuffed.

      The officers were recorded on 911 discussing the best way to “get their stories straight.”

      If there is an unauthorized person in my home (I live alone) I am going to shoot to stop the threat without benefit of a warning.

  25. Buy a set of Peerless handcuffs and go to your local junior college and take the reserve police officer academy. You’ll be POST certified and trained to deal with such situations professionally.

  26. First question to ask in this role play is was anyone in danger of harm? If the answer is no then leave the gun in the holster. The gun you carry is for protection from harm and not to play policeman. If the answer is yes, there was someone in DANGER OF HARM, then the gun comes out of holster and do not just point it at them. Your gun is for protection of yourself , your own personal property or if another person is in danger of being harmed and even then I would wait for the first hit to land before you intervene with your gun. Once again this is a role play question and not a real situation. Personally, if no one is getting killed I would just get a good look at them so you can give that information to a real policeman. By the way a tag number is a good thing to write down so as not to be forgotten.

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