In response to RF’s post regarding a recently deceased soccer referee, Phil Nelsen, disagreed about the necessity of a DGU in similar circumstances and wrote the following on our Facebook page:

“A ‘simple’ punch can be fatal” is misguided logic. The use of deadly force (in every state and under the model penal code) is based on a criterion of “reasonableness”. The reasonably prudent man standard asks the question was the harm LIKELY to cause death or serious bodily injury, not COULD it have. Anything could cause death. Punches to the face are EXTREMELY unlikely to cause serious injury or death, therefore are EXTREMELY unlikely to support a DGU . . .

If you disagree with the above, ask yourself how many fist fights you’ve ever seen or heard of, then ask yourself how many people died from those fights. We’re talking one in a million. You don’t use a firearm to prevent something that has a one in a million probability of killing you. That, by definition, is unreasonable. As such, it is outside the boundaries of justified self-defense.

124 Responses to A ‘Simple Punch’ Can Be Complicated

    • Exactly. Taking that position is only possible if you have a reasonable expectation that once punched the situation will not deteriorate for you – such as getting curb-stomped or kicked viciously, if you go down.

      Pulling a firearm is meant to be an immediate trump to that possibility by being a deterrent first, and a terminal last resort.

      • And then you have poor sods like Zimmerman, who was experiencing all the joys of being on the receiving end of a ground and pound when ol Treyvon found and subsequently went for Zimmerman’s gun… now here is a situation where, if incapacitated, he has every expectation of facing lethal force, either through continued beating and stomping or from the barrel of his own gun.

    • Yes. A guy I knew in grade school is in prison for manslaughter because he punched someone in a fight outside a bar. It wasn’t the punch that did it, it was the impact with the curb.

      A broken nose, which can result in permanent disfigurement, counts as serious bodily injury in my book.

    • tell that to a woman, after she’s been punched… she may or may not be entitled to free sex.

    • + effing million

      The punch and skull vs. ground after the fall can cause serious damage. It’s not just death but SEVERE disability. 1 in a million?? Don’t think it’s that low. I ask the Facebook poster to come visit a rehabilitation hospital for traumatic brain injury. A REALLY good number with disabilities from “just a lunch”

      It could’ve been a DGU

  1. Not in Indiana. Being knocked unconscious is considered “severe bodily harm”, the threat of which is enough reason to resort to deadly force. Not to mention, much more likely to result from a single punch.

  2. Too many variables to set a firm rule. Two 18 yo high school athletes get into a dust up at a game with each other and no, a gun isn’t reasonable. One of those 18 yo athletes tries to punch a 65 yo man in the head after a fender bender and yes, I can see the use of a gun being reasonable.

  3. The brat definitely went in on the teacher first. The brat was also threatening her verbally and with body language. The teacher was composed until she went in on her. I think she had the right to shove her away.

    • IMO, they are both in the wrong. The teacher went way past any opportunity to diffuse the situation. She showed a lack of understanding the social position the child was in – not to excuse the child’s behavior at all, but she placed the girl into a situation she could not back off from and save face.

      There are any number of ways to handle this, but first and for most would be not to embarrass yourself or the child in front of peers. She should have moved the situation into a more private setting, or taken it directly to a higher and neutral authority, thus allowing both parties to extract their personal stakes from the exchange.

      • Your analysis is reasonable, but it’s a shame that anyone should care whether the child loses face.

        In a reasonable world, the teacher would simply give the child its property back and tell her she is no longer welcome in the school and the principal would back her up. Why we insist that everyone needs to be educated is beyond me.

        I also don’t think that brat was going to go to a “more private place.”

        • 100% correct. I know it makes me sound like a geezer but when I was a kid I never would have had the nerve to even talk back to a teacher, let alone swear and get into physical stuff. Of course my dad being my school principal may have had something to do with that.

      • And now that school has one less thug, when she gets expelled. Hopefully, the teacher also goes after her for assault.

        I’m not seeing a down side.

      • If the teacher has the right to confiscate the phone and makeup and the only thing that the brat makes clear she will accept to “diffuse the situation” is have her stuff given back after throwing a fit suitable for suspension/expulsion, what can the teacher do to diffuse the situation? Give her everything she wants? Give up her credibility as the head of the classroom? Procedurally she could have called security, and then they’d have fought with the brat, and since they are likely wearing some kind of little LE costume it would all be “ok” and we wouldn’t be talking about it. Same result though.

    • bullshit, the teacher was the one which started it by confiscating the students property without a warrant. Fucking boomers, the most entitled generation on earth, from this video demonstrating they think they’re entitled to other peoples property to their refusal to address social security.

      • 1). Teachers do not need warrants to confiscate students’ property if the teacher says the property as being used is interfering with the school’s educational mission.

        2). My plan for addressing social security is to use it all up before you qualify for it.

      • As the School’s accepted authority on the scene, the Teacher was well within authority to confiscate the cellphone and makeup. Grow up and quit behaving like a baby, you idiot.

    • So which one is the student and which one is the teacher? Is the teacher wearing the blue shirt? Does the student have her back to us most of the time?

  4. I think he is generally right, with the caveats that:

    1. People vary, if you are a frail 80lb old person and a 230lb boxer is coming after you it may be more reasonable to fear a punch as a potentially deadly/severe injury threat.

    2. The intent of the attackers can influence reasonableness. The guy at the bar throwing a punch at you probably doesn’t want to kill you, but if there is a reasonable basis to believe the person does want to kill you with their bare hands that first punch can be considered the beginning of a deadly attack.

    Just like people should be able to use a gun when they need to, we should not encourage unreasonable use.

  5. I’ve been in one fight in my life. In the seventh grade. I lost. If I’m potentially fighting for my life (as the FBI uniform crime stats show, many people die each year to fists and feet) I don’t want to rely on my fighting abilities to save me.

    • im right there with you boss.
      im not exactly the most intimidating guy, but if diplomacy fails, my fists arent exactly up to par….
      which is why i carry.
      THEN AGAIN, if i let the situation get that far while i have a gun, im partially to blame (if applicable)

  6. I have long said, “If you are not prepared to get your ass kicked without pulling out your firearm, you shouldn’t be carrying one.” There, of course, is a difference between losing a fight and being able to control your ego and putting yourself and your loved ones in a dangerous situation (to include an unattended firearm on a defenseless body).

    • “If you are not prepared to get your ass kicked without pulling out your firearm, you shouldn’t be carrying one.”

      Explain this please? I don’t get into fights, period, so I should be willing to accept an ass kicking versus defending myself in a superior manner? Bringing a weapon to bear to prevent the ass kicking from occurring at all?

      I’m not willing to accept an ass-kicking because some guy thought I was eye-balling his wife when I was eyeballing my girlfriend behind her. Screw that nonsense.

      • Chris, that’s why we should ALWAYS have an intermediate force alternative, like pepper spray. In Alabama, pulling a gun to prevent a fistfight b/tw me and an unarmed man of like stature is a class A misdemeanor,”Menacing”(max $2000.00 fine and one year in jail). In many states it’s a felony. Pulling a gun in that situation is a response of what law books call “bare fear”, which will NOT be held reasonable in court.

        • Don’t “should” on me and I won’t “should” on you.

          Why is it always that the good guy must be reasonable? The epitome of unreasonable is an unwarranted attack. Why must we be constrained by reasonableness when attacked? We have no idea of the attacker’s abilities, intent, frame of mind, etc. When the initial attack incapacitates us, we don’t know if the attacker will walk away or chop off our head with a machete. This bogus “reasonable” standard relies on a certain level of mindreading/future prediction and that expectation is itself unreasonable.

        • If you have a less lethal alternative you just give the prosecutor another tool to use against you if it turns into a scenario where you are compelled to use deadly force.

          “Why didn’t you just spray him with the pepper spray again?”

          Also, after the criminal trial will come the civil suit. All of thug-life’s relatives (who are looking forward to a windfall) are going to be there saying what a nice guy he was, and how you shot him when you could have just maced him.

          A police officer needs those tools, because they are confronted by a variety of situations, and they are always going to get the benefit of the doubt with regard to their decision making. You are not going to get the benefit of the doubt. They will use the “he didn’t have to shoot him” argument against you.

    • I disagree, CA. I see what you’re saying, and I almost agree, but I’ve got OI type 3 (brittle bones, moderately severe), and I’m absolutely not prepared to “get my ass kicked.”

      Realistically, if somebody hits me just the right way, they could shatter my cheekbones or break my neck. In my situation, any kind of fight is a fight for my life, and I won’t risk purposely putting myself on the losing end of that fight because I’m not ready to get my ass kicked.

    • Now that is complete nonsense. You have no idea what an assailant is thinking or what their intentions are.

      How do you propose to maintain positive control of your firearm in the midst of getting your behind kicked?

      What if your assailant sees it, and decides to take it from you and use it on you? If you have been overpowered, how do you resist?

  7. Punches to the face/head can and do break eye sockets, cheek bones, noses, teeth, lips, eyes, temples, bust ear drums, split skin to the bone etc.

    Anyone claiming those aren’t serious injuries is full of it.

    That said a punch doesn’t ‘normally’ kill people and that is the test for DGU. Multiple punches and size of the attacker vs size of the victim can also change it from a simple fist fight to DGU.

    A 6’6″ 300 lb attacker vs a 5′ 100 lb person one could reasonably assume that would be a DGU for the 5′ person.

    • If its just about who has the biggest set, your retreat, complete with an apology if necessary to retreat, will defuse the situation and everyone goes home happy and unharmed. Let the other guy have the biggest set, who cares. When you are not allowed to retreat as your primary objective, a quick and decisive response is necessary to eliminate the threat, as you are faced with an enemy intent on doing you harm…

      As for the fool who thinks you should be ready to take an ass whoppin’ if you CC, yea, that’s the smart approach since your gun may be used against you after your ass whoppin’. Good luck with that.

  8. I believe Masad Ayoob would say, its justifiable with the disparity of force which was in existence.

    • I don’t think of it in terms of parity in strength, sometimes posed as “respond with equal force”.

      If you have reason to believe they could and would kill you and you can’t get out of the situation any other way then you are justified in using lethal force. How they could kill you or why they would kill you isn’t really a factor in that equation.

    • If you are armed and someone wants to have a fistfight with you should you accept a beating rather than stop the fight with your gun? Why? What sense does that make? Just for instance, what if he knocks you down with the first punch, realizes you’re packing, takes your weapon and shoots you. Does anyone else care at that point that you were the “reasonable” person in that incident and it got you killed with your own gun? Not to mention this miscreant is now running around the neighborhood with your pistol.

  9. A single well placed blow to the face could stimulate the vasovagal response, which causes the heart to slow down and blood pressure to drop. In a healthy adult you might be knocked unconscious (this is the “glass jaw” people talk about in boxing). Someone with underlying cardiovascular issues might be in a much worse condition afterwards. Just saying.

    • Excellent point. I had this very thing happen to me. It involved not a fight, but a fall. Carrying a mattress down some front porch (concrete) stairs, I caught my foot on a carpet that was rolled up at the foot of the handrail – north/south as opposed to east/west. Parallel to the handrail, IOW. I fell headfirst down to the (concrete) sidewalk, shattered my right wrist breaking my fall, and hit my head (no concussion, as it turned out). I stood up, my wrist at a crazy angle – and fell, board straight, onto my face. My blood pressure dropped nearly totally in an instant.

      So yeah, you are correct.

  10. If you’re carrying in public (not that I have that option) then the bar is much higher, I would think, as you most likely have options to escape an unarmed threat, or not let it escalate in the first place.

    If I’m woken up in the middle of the night and someone approaches me in my house, I’m not going to ask if he only plans to punch me or if he truly does have a knife or other weapon in his pocket, coat, etc. He’ll get the standard “Stop or I’ll shoot” at which point any further steps towards me result in a small reduction in my ammo supply.

    • That depends on where you live. Many states do not require you to retreat, and no moral society would.

      There is also no need for the threat against you to be deadly, it need only be that you reasonably perceive a risk of grave bodily injury. A fist to the face is a risk of grave bodily injury. And you don’t need to have actually been hit, you only need to perceive a risk of getting hit.

      Some jurisdictions my disagree.

      • It is why so many DGU’s just arent reported.

        But hey, stopping a 6’2″ 300+ burglar, a guy with a ball bat, 3 youths with tire irons, 4 gang banger wannabes with knives, and 4 bald headed white hood types from following up on their threats, by a simple display, well the burglar did get a snoot full of .44 mag in his face, and everyone walked away isnt justified, hmmmmmm?

  11. The odds of needing a gun ever are probably less than one in a million where I live. But odds aren’t the only thing to compute. The cost of having one vs. not having one. You need to weigh the odds by the costs. The cost of not having one when you need it is, shall we say, infinite. The cost of having one when you don’t need it is what? Some paperwork, a few hundred dollars, some practice, and one more drop in the ocean of your responsibilities?

    -D

  12. Shit, these days getting shot isn’t even likely to kill you, so is it reasonable to use a gun on someone threatening to shoot you?

  13. The generally accepted definition is for a DGU is:

    Immanent threat of:
    1) Sexual Assault
    2) Great bodily harm
    3) Death

    This clearly does not fall under 1. Great bodily harm. Broken jaw, concussion, broken skull, broken teeth are all examples that are great bodily harm. Death is rare.

    So it could be argued, yes it could be a DGU. Reasonableness is the key though. Is a simple punch to the face “reasonable?” If I am standing in line at a store and someone punches me in the face, is it not reasonable to defend myself? Why is that punch to the face “reasonable?”

    The threat has announced itself, and has come to to be. Could this be a shoot/no shoot scenario? Yes. The question is should a law abiding citizen who is not the instigator be a punching bag?

    What classifies a “simple” punch to a “non-simple” punch? Was George Zimmerman being “simple punched?” If yes, then his use of a firearm was incorrect and he is guilty. If it was not a “simple punch” but an immanent threat of great bodily harm or death, then he is innocent.

    A DGU scenario is not a one-size fits all. The problem is we have to make split decisions that could last a lifetime with consequences (either good or bad). We can learn from each situation to get better.

    • Bounce your head off the concrete a few times and tell us afterward. Saw a guy get his head bounced like that in a bar fight, 4 times his head got bounced, never walked again! Doesnt talk real good either what with his being in a wheel chair the rest of his life!

    • Right. A person punching another in the face is a crime. An argument is just an argument until some throws the first punch. Then, the puncher has committed assault.
      Even if you want to get physical with some idiot you want definitely want him to initiate the first blow. Then when you beat him silly it’s self defense.
      It seems reasonable therefore that if someone come after you with intent of punching you out, using a gun, whether you just show it or actually have to use it (cause the guy just keep coming and won’t back off) fits the criteria of protecting one’s person from bodily harm.

      Of course, depending on the state, it always a toss up if/when it goes to court.

  14. Thanks for bringing my comment up for more discussion TTAG. I normally agree with what you guys post, I simply disagree with the notion that because a punch “can” kill you, it warrants a DGU. For those who are interested in more specifics on their individual state’s justifiable homicide criteria, the best place to look is at your state’s jury instructions for justifiable homicide
    To clarify a few points. I am an attorney (for whatever that’s worth). I have worked as a prosecutor and an expert witness, and I run a firearm training company that operates in 15 states each month. I wouldn’t have chimed in if I didn’t have reason to support my comment. Obviously opinions can vary on this issue.

    • Thanks Phil, impressive credentials and all, but I have enough people trying to tell me what to do everyday. I’m a grown-a$$ man and all that.

      • There’s a difference between telling you what to do and giving advice that might keep your “grown-a$$” out of jail. Unless the advice is redundant because you’re an attorney trained and experienced in the subject.

        • Thanks unknown, but most of us have taken the legal portion of the Concealed Weapons Training, needed in most states to carry. I’m aware of what it takes to keep my grown-a$$ out of jail. Fear mongering by an attorney is what I call it. He is like a Dentist telling me to brush my teeth 4 times a day. Twice will do it.

    • There are other issues to consider, I’d think. Ages of victim and attacker, physical sizes, disabilities, etc.

      If some thug started punching my frail old father in the face he’s a lot more likely to die or suffer debilitating permanent injuries from that than I would be.

      So what is your solution to that? Should he simply let himself get beaten even though he really can’t fight back? Or should he employ an equalizer to deter or stop the aggressor?

      • Are you asking me to write a legal treatise on self defense laws regarding every potential variable? I left one comment on their Facebook page, the comments on this article do a great deal to illustrate why those in the gun industry are stereotyped.
        My point was simple. Generally speaking a punch in the face does not justify shooting someone. To argue otherwise is insane, we’d be talking about millions of punches per year. I never said that if the attacker was exposed to gamma radiation or bench presses 4,000 pounds you can’t shoot them.
        The answers to your questions have been clearly established in each state’s common laws. All you have to do is look them up.

        • Shooting the Hulk wouldn’t do any damn good anyway.

          But thanks, concern troll!

        • “An armed society is a polite society.” – Robert Heinlein.

          If he wants to punch you in the face (or anywhere), but he knows you are carrying, the chances are he will reconsider. I’s the presence of the weapon that makes all men (persons) equal. Until that presence is established some people will feel that they can do exactly as they please, including beating you or someone else until they get tired of hurting their fists, then walk away while you bleed all over the sidewalk and contemplate your ER bill and recovery period. Sorry, I’m probably going to try to de-escalate the situation by at minimum revealing my sidearm. If he is insistent on proceeding from there I can reasonably expect that he wants to do me serious physical harm and I will probably shoot until he is down and not posing any further threat, or I’m empty, whichever comes first.

        • So I should give someone the chance to scar my face, knock out my teeth, damage my vision, etc. because I probably won’t die from it? No thank you. I’ve seen people who get in fist fights and I like my face the way it is.

          I’d rather take my chances with a jury than shop for a plastic surgeon.

        • Sounds like a couple of lawyers who like to pontificate on Facebook. If we disagree, we are slapped with the “WE ARE LAWYERS” thing. Sorry, that doesn’t necessarily impress some of us.

    • Since the story didn’t give much in the way of why his daughter thought he should stop other than threats and it did not comment on any prior issues between the ref and the kid who punched him, it is hard for me to make a judgement call. In this case as the kid was wearing a uniform and couldn’t have been carrying a weapon, it is unlikely that I would feel threatened for my life if he attacked me.

      With that said, if someone approached me as to assault me without provocation and without me knowing why, I will pull my gun first and ask questions either after he stops approaching or after he is on the ground. Who is to say that he doesn’t have a weapon concealed somewhere on him? As someone who carries concealed, I make it a point to avoid a situation in which I would need to use a weapon or defend myself. If I am thrown directly into without a method of avoiding it, you can bet your ass, I will use it. It is there for my protection, not for looks.

    • As a prosecurtor and an expert witness, in your experience, what percentage of physical altercations are limited to a single punch? And do you think it would have been reasonable for a victim who was just punched to assume that more punches were likely to follow if that single punch did not cause a debilitating injury on its own?

  15. Thanks for bringing my comment up for more discussion TTAG. I normally agree with what you guys post, I simply disagree with the notion that because a punch “can” kill you, it warrants a DGU. For those who are interested in more specifics on their individual state’s justifiable homicide criteria, the best place to look is at your state’s jury instructions for justifiable homicide
    To clarify a few points. I am an attorney (for whatever that’s worth). I have worked as a prosecutor and an expert witness, and I run a firearm training company that operates in 15 states each month. I wouldn’t have chimed in if I didn’t have reason to support my comment. Obviously opinions can vary on this issue.

    • Thanks for visiting here, Phil. I fundamentally agree that not every punch would legally justify drawing a gun. There are circumstances that will modify the need.

      I still strongly disagree with the way your additional comments trivialize and downplay the damage punches to the head can cause.

    • Just to clarify, Phil, when we say DGU it does not necessarily require the pulling of a trigger. Pulling a gun and holding it pointed at the ground constitutes a DGU. If that defuses the situation it is a successful DGU.

  16. I remember one of the, if not the first self-defense by a concealed carry permit holder in Texas. I remember because the shooter was from Washington State and had recently moved to Texas where they just got a concealed carry law, I think 1994 or 1995. (Yeah despite all the bragging about gun rights by Texans they came late to the game and still don’t have open carry I understand.)

    Anyway the guy got in a traffic altercation and was basically trapped in traffic. The antagonist who was something like 300 pounds came up to his car and started beating the victim. The victim shot him.

    It was a big deal in the press at the time. They were saying that “See this is what happens when people have guns.” Yeah, someone gets to protect themselves from being killed or beaten senseless.

    I don’t know where you get your one in a million stat Dan but I know you have never been in many fights, probably none to say something like that. A person can be seriously injured for life or killed at a rate much greater than one in a million. I have seen people knocked unconscious with just one punch. If you think that is nothing well look into what brain damage can mean long term. If the self-defense law concealed carry law wasn’t for a case like this, what was it for?

    BTW, they didn’t press charges against the Washington man.

    • In Texas, you don’t need imminent threat of death to justify DGU. Preventing [felony] theft of your [or even your neighor’s] garbage cans is sufficient justification.

      When it comes to gun laws and the strange gap between carry laws and justification criteria, Texas takes the cake – or quesadilla.

      • YES! SOMEONE ELSE KNOWS ABOUT THIS!!!
        i swear, i get so irritated by all the anti texas bullshit i see here. i have to ask why we are belittling a state that is fighting on the side of gun rights???

        ANYWAYS, yeah i dont think i would open carry even if it did pass. im a bean pole and that gun would just be obnoxious to carry openly.

  17. How about the fact that ANY fistfight I am in has at least one firearm involved, mine. If I am knocked unconscious, what happens to my now uncontrolled and unsecured weapon, assuming that I am still alive to care and the guy doesnt finish me off as I lay there unable to defend myself. Nowadays every other idiot you meet is some hyper aggressive MMA wanna be. Fortunately the standard is the threat of death or serious bodily harm, not a verified lethal intent. I would rather defend myself from the “threat of serious bodily harm” by drawing my weapon and not having to fire it, than waiting until I am in a position where I have no choice but to take a life. Obviously the first attempt should be to diffuse and or escape the situation, as our parents always said,”use your words.” But as diplomacy fails and the situation escalates so should our response. If it escalates to lethal force do you want your weapon in its holster or in your hand? There can be very little doubt as to intent if the other guy continues to advance on a drawn weapon. Just my reasonable person point of view. Thank you.

  18. interesting to read everyone’s opinions but every single owner needs to constantly review their state’s laws. i can comment and i can do this that and the other and someone in a state with very restrictive laws could think this is pertinent to their state and wind up doing 20 years whereas in my state the event doesn’t even merit news coverage.

    • Good point about the “constantly”. Here in NH we had a stand-your-ground law passed at the end of the previous term, but repealed by the new, Democrat-controlled, legislature. Apparently they were concerned about the felon population [part of their voting base] being reduced.

  19. Punches in the face do cause severe bodily injury.

    Personally, I have been in a few fights in my younger days. Fights are dangerous and stupid. People DO get hurt and could possibly be killed. If in a position where a physical confrontation doesn’t look avoidable your best best is to probably draw your weapon and try to back out. Do your best to withdraw and if someone is stupid enough to keep coming, it’s hard to tell what they would do to you, so torch them.

  20. I am not that familiar with the hypothetic “model penal code” that exists through the imaginations of progressives. I am aware of actual laws and jury instructions in my state (California), and the understanding of self-defense that is held in the Catholic tradition (which I know), and in either case the principle is not what could have happened, but what you reasonably believed, even if wrong. The reasonable standard here is not whether the harm is likely to have caused death, the reasonable standard here is whether, in the same shoes as the defendant, a reasonable man would reasonably believe there to be an imminent threat of death/rape/robbery/felonious action (taken as meaning violent by the courts).

    Also, I believe the assertions of one is a million are completely fake and made up. A punch to the head is very dangerous. Concussions and even death are a real danger, not a rare danger. Not to mention that, even a punch to the face, if hard, can be deadly. And if you are knocked down, any blow to the back of the head is extremely dangerous. Even if not immediately fatal, one can get internal bleeding.

    Also, the law doesn’t restrict deadly force to cases of threat to life. It includes, e.g., robbery or rape, or any atrocious act. In California that includes protection of real property and livelihood. Under Catholic moral teaching, that includes bodily integrity (protection against serious injury) and even protecting personal property if its loss would cause considerable harm to livelihood.

    Obviously there are punches and there are punches. Attacked by someone who is very puny? Chances are they cannot hit that hard with their fists. Attacked by a big muscular man? Yes, there is a very real threat there. Remember that 85% of the people who are shot live, and that 95% of those shot that make it to a hospital live. Therefore, you are more likely to survive being shot than to die. Therefore, therefore what? The person shooting you is trying to harm you. The person punching you is trying to harm you. I don’t care if you are “more likely” to live. If the attack is serious, then you certainly are under threat of bodily injury if not death.

  21. If someone punches me once, how do I know he won’t do it twice? Maybe five times, or 100? Should I wait until I’m dead to make sure it’s not deadly force? Sorry, I am not going to start a fight, if you do, I will respond with all the force that is available to me, including a 9mm round.

    As for the girl. I would think a couple of years in the Army might give her a new perspective on life.

    • Lol yeah and if someone pokes you with a finger, how do you know they’re not going to drop a grenade down your pants next?

      Some of you people are really clueless and I hope you never face a self-defense situation. Not just because I don’t want anyone to (true) but because you’re so outside the realm of reality and law that you will find yourself arrested or dead. Escalate a situation like the above and you WILL be judged by 12, and be convicted. If you think deadly force is the response a “reasonable layman” would take to a punch, you should not have access to firearms outside the home.

      • As Skyler asks, are we supposed to allow ourselves and perhaps other family members to be physically abused as long as we have “hope” that the bad guy will suddenly be a nice guy and stop? WTF?

        Your comment is the biggest steaming pile of bovine scat I’ve seen in a long time. Exactly what effing moral code do you ascribe to that requires people to submit to physical abuse and pain rather than risk harm to their attacker?

        Seriously, try activating a few more neural synapses before passing judgment against people who prefer to remain unmolested.

      • “…but because you’re so outside the realm of reality and law that you will find yourself arrested or dead.”

        False.

        Many states are a lot more liberal (not in the political sense) in what is allowed for DGU. In my state (WA), if someone attempts to commit felony assault against me… period… I am justified to use deadly force as it is reasonable to assume that I am in imminent danger of bodily harm. If someone takes an unprovoked swing at my face, it is reasonable to assume that more will follow.

    • The army doesn’t need brats. We don’t have conscription, we have a highly trained and motivated military. Please don’t foist people like this on our military.

  22. I am of the mind that it isn’t the punch itself that is the most damaging part of an altercation. There are other things to consider, many of which have already been stated (head hitting sidewalk, etc). How about getting knocked to the ground and having your carry weapon exposed? Could that it and of itself escalate the aggressiveness of the attacker? Maybe he now fears for his life because, even if he doesn’t attempt, successfully or not, to disarm you he may take his attack steps further to ensure you do not retaliate.

    Also to the point that most punches don’t result in death, I’d argue that most DGUs don’t either.

  23. Is it likely that a punch to my face will kill me? Not so much. Is it likely that the guy who puched me will keep punching me until I’m dead or suffer serious debilitating injury? I’m not going to just stand there and find out.

  24. There aren’t a whole lot of altercations involving a punch that are limited to just that one punch. It is reasonable to assume that if someone attempts to punch you, that it is likely that he/she will attempt to punch you multiple times. And while it is not likely that a single punch could cause death or severe bodily harm, it is reasonable to assume that multiple punches to the head are likely to cause severe bodily harm. By this chain of logical and reasonable assumptions, producing a firearm in response to a punch thrown at your head would be reasonable in order to dissuade your attacker from what would likely be an attempt to cause you great bodily harm.

  25. This is the simplest article I’ve seen on TTAG. A person defending themselves from an unprovoked aggressor should not be beholden to said aggressor. The fact is if someone punches me and I go down, I could easily die, especially if I hit the back of my head on the way down. That’s not my choice, I didn’t make that possibility be present, the attacker did.

  26. If a file lands on my desk in Texas reading “Defendant shot victim after victim punched Defendant one time” you are getting indicted for murder. Now, I might make a plea offer that takes size, age, strength disparities into account, but you don’t get to shoot someone who is not using or threatening deadly force. One punch is not deadly force. I know this is likely not a very popular opinion, but oh well… The “he could kill me just by hitting me” slope is more slippery than “trust us, we are just trying to outlaw assault rifles…”

    To reiterate what was said elsewhere, read your state’s Penal Code!!!

    • Exactly. This post has been a good reminder of why I rarely post comments on these forums.
      The facts of the case were that a single minor punched an adult 1 time in the presence of roughly 100 other adults, during a soccer game. TTAG made the assertion that the adult “should” have used a gun because that single punch “could” have killed the adult. I simply disagree with that premise based on my experience. If anyone can find me a case where a court has upheld a self defense shooting based on those facts (minor, public place, one punch, no weapon, no prior history, etc) I’ll send them $50 in the mail.

      Now back to making a living.

      • People here seem to have a hard time separating “the way things should be” and “the way thing are”.

        Self-defense cases are losers and most people outside the legal profession do not get that. Generally speaking, when you cop to the act but not the crime the burden of proof is often on you (varies by state).

        People have been convicted when the attacker did have a weapon, or was in the home, or other circumstances not present here. . . Or when the defender did not have a gun and met brute force w/ brute force and prevailed w/ the attacker being dead or seriously injured.

      • I love it. First you do the “I’m a Lawyer” thing on Facebook. Then you dangle $50 in front of us unwashed masses. Sorry, but you can keep your cash offers. A few of us out here see becoming a lawyer as taking the low road in life.

        • Hey Joke. I’m not sure what you got going in your personal life but you’ve obviously got some issue with lawyers. I’m not your daddy or your therapist, so I don’t care what those issues are.
          We are discussing the legal standard for using deadly force. Both myself and the other poster have worked (or are currently working) as prosecutors. We have called juries, researched these issues, and spent countless hours debating them in front of judges. HOW IS THAT EXPERIENCE NOT RELEVANT TO THIS DISCUSSION? I didn’t create this stupid post, TTAG did based off a comment I left on Facebook. I’m not trying to impress anyone, all I’m trying to do is make it clear that shooting a high school kid because he punches someone once during a sporting event is idiotic. Go ahead and do whatever you want. When you’re sitting in jail and you second mortgage your house to pay an attorney’s retainer you can discuss your attorney issues with him.

        • Still not impressed. No personal issues here above any other lawyer hater. I’ve just been around enough in my professional life to see that the facade lawyers have built for themselves professionally is simply that, a facade. At least it’s a McMansion.

    • “In Texas if a person is present in any place where they have a right to be, they have no duty to retreat and have the right to use force, including deadly force, if they reasonably believe that it is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to themselves or to prevent the commission of murder, aggravated kidnapping, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery or aggravated robbery.” (emphasis added)

      Note that deadly force by the attacker is not a prerequisite.

      If the shooting occurs after a single or multiple punches but with no threat of further attack, then it is not justified. If there is still a threat of attack, what justification is there for charges. Other than “because I can”, “it will be good for my political career”, and “I have absolute immunity.”

      Incidentally, under Texas law, threatening to shoot is considered force, not deadly force. This is justified to prevent the unlawful use of force [and not just deadly force] against oneself or a third party.

      • Not trying to be “that guy,” but that summary is not entirely accurate… There is no substitute for reading the law. Read sections 9.31 and 9.32 of the Texas Penal Code.

        • So, per 9.42, I can use deadly force to prevent criminal mischief during the nighttime [e.g., painting graffiti on my property], absent an effective alternative, but not to prevent “criminal mischief” on my nose. I love the Law.

        • Texas Penal Code
          § 9.31. Self-Defense
          (a) Except as provided in Subsection (b), a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force. The actor’s belief that the force was immediately necessary as described by this subsection is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:
          (1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the force was used:
          (A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;
          (B) unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor’s habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or
          (C) was committing or attempting to commit aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery;
          (2) did not provoke the person against whom the force was used; and
          (3) was not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic at the time the force was used.
          (b) The use of force against another is not justified:
          (1) in response to verbal provocation alone;
          (2) to resist an arrest or search that the actor knows is being made by a peace officer, or by a person acting in a peace officer’s presence and at his direction, even though the arrest or search is unlawful, unless the resistance is justified under Subsection (c);
          (3) if the actor consented to the exact force used or attempted by the other;
          (4) if the actor provoked the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force, unless:
          (A) the actor abandons the encounter, or clearly communicates to the other his intent to do so reasonably believing he cannot safely abandon the encounter; and
          (B) the other nevertheless continues or attempts to use unlawful force against the actor; or
          (5) if the actor sought an explanation from or discussion with the other person concerning the actor’s differences with the other person while the actor was:
          (A) carrying a weapon in violation of Section 46.02; or
          (B) possessing or transporting a weapon in violation of Section 46.05.
          (c) The use of force to resist an arrest or search is justified:
          (1) if, before the actor offers any resistance, the peace officer (or person acting at his direction) uses or attempts to use greater force than necessary to make the arrest or search; and
          (2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the peace officer’s (or other person’s) use or attempted use of greater force than necessary.
          (d) The use of deadly force is not justified under this subchapter except as provided in Sections 9.32, 9.33, and 9.34.
          (e) A person who has a right to be present at the location where the force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the force is used is not required to retreat before using force as described by this section.
          (f) For purposes of Subsection (a), in determining whether an actor described by Subsection (e) reasonably believed that the use of force was necessary, a finder of fact may not consider whether the actor failed to retreat.

        • § 9.32. Deadly Force in Defense of Person
          (a) A person is justified in using deadly force against another:
          (1) if the actor would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.31; and
          (2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:
          (A) to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force; or
          (B) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.
          (b) The actor’s belief under Subsection (a)(2) that the deadly force was immediately necessary as described by that subdivision is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:
          (1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the deadly force was used:
          (A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;
          (B) unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor’s habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or
          (C) was committing or attempting to commit an offense described by Subsection (a)(2)(B);
          (2) did not provoke the person against whom the force was used; and
          (3) was not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic at the time the force was used.
          (c) A person who has a right to be present at the location where the deadly force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the deadly force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the deadly force is used is not required to retreat before using deadly force as described by this section.
          (d) For purposes of Subsection (a)(2), in determining whether an actor described by Subsection (c) reasonably believed that the use of deadly force was necessary, a finder of fact may not consider whether the actor failed to retreat.

    • I think it’s more of “I’ve just been punched, I am dazed and confused and there is no way of knowing what is going to happen next short of reading my attacker’s mind and why should a victim have that burden rather than the attacker” instead of a “that one single punch could have just killed me”

      If this wasn’t the case, why do we have cases where “He rushed me, I feared for my life” with zero body contact is considered acceptable? Why should we give the benefit of the doubt to an attacker rather than a victim?

      Having personally experienced being kicked repeatedly while already knocked to the floor, on multiple occasions, I’m not so sure about the whole “one punch” defense.

  27. I’m in good shape. Even so at 5’9 I stand little chance against a 6’3 man in a “fair” fight.

    Remember, it isn’t the “simple punch” that you are fighting against but the repeated punches, kicks and beatings that these punks dish out.

    Ask the same question about how many people die or are seriously injured from a beating/blunt force, and you will find the defense justified.

    Then all you need to do is prove you reasonably believed you would be subject to a beating: ie- the person wouldn’t stop after a couple punches. Again, that’s not hard to make reasonable.

  28. Lets talk about what will happen right or wrong aside. You use a gun on an unarmed person (singular) outside of your home and you are in a world of hurt. Chances are very high that you will be charged with some type of felony – even if the person lives. More than likely, even if you prevail in court you will be broke from legal fees after your hung jury/not guilty verdict is read.

    You use a gun in a straight fist fight – no weapons present, one attacker, not in your home, not going for your gun . . . and I would hate to be your lawyer. Even if the guy is bigger than you and has/had violent tendencies. Even if you are female: yes I went there. Prisons are full of male and females who claimed self defense (whether it was so or not). This is where having a less-than lethal option can help. Also, try to get away. The Castle Doctrine does not apply outside your castle. If you are taking multiple strikes from an aggressor who is following you – then things change a bit.

    No one is saying you cannot fight back – just do not use the gun. Not everybody thinks like you all here. Philosophically your reasons can make all the sense in the world, and a jury could reject them because most jurors lack sense.

    • Try to come toward me in Wis with my gun drawn & a clear warning & see what happens. Don’t let the bradys fight your fights. You don’t have to risk your life by getting your gun taken because of a POS criminal. I read that 14 percent of cops that were shooting victims were shot with their own gun that was taken from them. Think about it, Randy

      • I am not saying you are wrong or right morally speaking. I am saying you have two lawyers telling you that you do it and you are going to prison. Are you challenging the prison part or the moral part? Your case will go to trial – not even a maybe on that. There is a very good chance you will be convicted. You will most likely be broke from the legal fees. From a purely statistical point of view – you might have better chance of just running after shooting and hope there were no witnesses. Again, depends on the circumstances.

        • Wow David! TWO whole lawyers speak on the Internet and I’m supposed to soak up the knowledge like a sponge? Sorry David, I might have fallen off the turnip truck, but it wasn’t yesterday.

  29. And a 240 pound highschool football engaging in their favorite off-the-field pastime and raping someone 2/5 of his weight is unlikely to cause death, so by the preceding logic DGU is inappropriate. I beg to differ.

    An unprovoked attack may be met with the force needed to stop it, and if that’s brandish, then shoot the sky and finally shoot the thug, so be it.

    A world in which pugnacious hooligans are afraid to indulge their whims is a good world.

  30. My grandfather’s hands were registered deadly weapons. He joined the Marine Corps after Pearl Harbor and spent WW2 as a drill instructor. Later he was sent to Japan where he became a Judo expert before the start of the Korean war, which he managed to fight in. I don’t know if they still make martial arts experts “register” their hands that way, but I wouldn’t feel safe in a fight with someone where I knew they could snap my neck like a twig.

    Not all fist fights are created equal. One punch is unlikely to kill you, but who says you’ll only get punched once? George Zimmerman is a classic example. He was getting his head beat in by a wannabe thug and did not know when it would end. His only problem is that it is not clear whether he started it or not.

    To add more food for thought, I am disabled. Paraplegic, as a result of a car accident many years ago. What do I do in a fight? Do I have a duty to retreat? To let people beat on me after taking my chair? I can fight but if they take the chair I can’t do much but try to protect my face or bring them down on the pavement with me.

    I think the main thing you need to remember when it comes to DGU is that you need to be able to articulate why you used your weapon and then defend that position from critique. For me it would not be very difficult, for others it is more of a challenge. Personally I think if someone who is obviously much more physically capable than you is coming at you with violent intent, you are justified in shooting them. Nobody should have to take a potentially lethal beating they don’t deserve for fear of their future liberty.

  31. Here is my insight. I will happily take the two attorneys at their word that many prosecutors will charge the victim in the self defense scenario of this discussion. And I will happily take them at their word that the victim will be a defendant in a trial and that their defense could very well bankrupt them.

    It seems to me it all boils down to two thing and both are the responsibility of the defense attorney. The defense attorney has to impress upon the jury that:
    (1) The jury’s responsibility is to deliver justice based on the facts of the case, not to convict or acquit based on laws (which are often immoral or applied immorally).
    (2) Any attack is extremely dangerous; the defendant has no way of knowing how “gentle” the attacker will be; and the defendant had maybe one second to try and determine an optimal response.

    That last point is extremely important — so important in fact that the court is supposed to instruct the jury to look at the case through the eyes of the defendant who only had a fraction of a second to respond.

    What appears “reasonable” in a courtroom when a jurist has hours to evaluate the case is totally different from what is “reasonable” when you only have a second to evaluate a situation. I would hope that this would have an immense impact even on an irrational jury.

  32. In the case of the video, a classroom is not a democracy, has certain rules and within the regs the teacher is the absolute authority.

    The spoiled, piggish sub-human needs to get her GED in a school with bars on the windows and no ‘phones even outside the classroom.

  33. Why is it always that the good guy must be reasonable? The epitome of unreasonable is an unwarranted attack. Why must we be constrained by reasonableness when attacked?

    Ultimately, reason and ethics are what distinguish the ‘good guys’ from the bad. It’s not that our causes are more just: Many of the world’s worst villains have claimed to defend a noble cause. It’s not that we defend our views with bravery or that we defend justice: History shows us myriad examples of brave, misguided fools who brought disaster through their deeds. In the end, the only way to tell history’s heroes from its villains are the tests of reason and ethics.

    Based on that, when can we say that lethal force is both reasonable and ethical? Every man will have his own answer to that question, answers that become vitally important if lethal force is actually used. If someone had sound reasons to fear their life was in danger, a lethal response might be easily justified. If they cannot demonstrate sound reasons for their response, lethal force may prove difficult to justify.

  34. THAT girl is gonna be the queen of someones double wide trailer one day…mark my words.

    As to the punch being reasonable cause for a DGU…consider this somewhat exaggerated example: Chuck Norris is about to punch you in the face, and you’re a 65 year old 5 foot tall woman with arthritis…

    Circumstances dictate tactics. What might be reasonable in one situation isn’t always reasonable in another. Suspect size, condition, age, training…same for the victim. Are there multiple suspects, or does the victim have helpers? Is it one on one?

    So…yes, being punched in the face can be cause for a DGU. To say or believe otherwise is asinine.

  35. They may not support a DGU in the legal/clinical sense, but any person whose seen a physical confrontation (no weapons other than body) knows that one of the participants can, quite easily, end up dead either by design or accident.

  36. While “one punch” caused deaths happen infrequently, “one punch” knockouts are pretty common. Once you are unconcious, the perpetrator can kill you or maim you as they wish.

    There is no doubt in my mind that a punch can easily be a deadly threat.

  37. i watched this video in disgust that the parents did not pass along to their
    child the infinite wisdom to be a civil human being.

  38. I don’t know what the law says, but I have trouble understanding why I should be willing to risk being beaten to save the life of the aggressor.

  39. If you think a punch to the head is not dangerous, you’ve never had an orbital fracture. I now have titanium mesh holding my eye socket together. If I’m hit in that eye again, it could cause my eyeball to rupture, as the titanium mesh will not give way like the cartilage that eye socket originally consisted of. I will now readily shoot someone before I’ll take a “simple punch”.

  40. Although in theory I agree with his general premise that not every punch justifies pulling a gun. Getting into your opponent has to be x size or show x intent Etc etc is ridiculous. I’ll use myself as an example, I’m 5’10” about 205 white guy who dresses nicely. Think button down tie and slacks during the week and polo jeans/ khaki shorts after work. I don’t look particularly capable or dangerous, but I’ve been training in Krav Maga and Muay Thai in a hardcore gym with multiple pro fighters for nearly a decade. I could easily put your average person in the hospital or worse inside of a minute. My point being you never know and looks can be deceiving. Not every person who takes the martial arts seriously wears a tap out shirt. Asking someone to make distinctions of intent AFTER being being punched is ludicrous.

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