1_hostage

Reader Wayne H writes,

This question came to me as I watched an episode of  The Walking Dead, Season 3, episode 6 titled “Hounded.” In this episode there is a scene where Glenn and his girlfriend Maggie came across Merle. The next thing you know Merle had a gun to Maggie’s head with his finger on the trigger, the two of them were sitting on the ground and Glenn was standing over them, 10 feet away with a gun in his hand, pointed at Merle. Glenn dropped his weapon and was later beaten and left to die, his girlfriend Maggie was forced to get naked at gunpoint and was almost raped. So this is my question . . .

Some bastard has a handgun to my girlfriend’s, lover’s, sister’s, wife’s or mom’s head. He has his finger on the trigger and I’m standing over them with a handgun/pistol fully loaded with a round in the chamber and no safety, my sights are on his head. What do I do?

If I shoot a person in the head or whatever body part in this situation, would or could they still have reflexes in their body to pull the trigger and shoot and kill my loved one? I and everyone needs to know what to do in this situation. Do you shoot or not shoot? If you shoot, where is the best place to aim to stop all motor functions of the perpetrator?

The ultimate goal in this scenario is to kill the bad guy and have your loved one survive. This is what I would do:

I would shoot the bastard. But before I did, I would try and talk him out of it while I had a gun pointed at his head. I would look at his pistol and see if he had the safety off, a magazine inserted, etc., and then make a decision.

What is the best decision in this case?

Thanks for listening… If you run with this topic on your website and get alot of feedback… Maybe once a month you can have a different but plausible situation and discuss how the common man should deal with it.

I would love an answer on what to do. Do research, contact SWAT teams, whatever. And make a big story on this so people like myself know what to do.

Sorry, I’ve had a few beers. Hope my main point comes across.

146 Responses to Your Wife is Held at Gunpoint: What Do You Do, Jack…What Do You Do?

  1. training. if you aren’t accurate enough to hit the brain at 15 yards almost every single time (and quickly at that), it’s not worth discussing. Missing and hitting the hostage is worse than whatever the criminal does.

    • It’s not making the hit that I would be worried about. I would be worried about his trigger finger which is why I would wait for an opportune time and hopefully it would present itself.

      • My understanding is that if you hit the brain stem, or “T-zone”, then you are destroying the part of the brain that would cause such a twitch. If you only hit the larger hemispheres, then he could easily pull the trigger and possibly even survive.

        I don’t claim that I’ve done tons of research, though. This is from bits that I’ve picked up here and there. If we switch to captive bolt gun executions maybe a study could be done. Damn, that’s morbid even for me.

      • It’s quite interesting, if you look carefully at the picture at the beginning of the post –

        The BG foolishly is offering a HUGE target for you, especially if you are only ten feet away and firing down on him. Disallowing for error due to adrenalin dump, a head shot at that distance would be hard to miss. That said, however, given that there is no certainty of incapacitation, even with a good hit in the face, my choice would be to aim at the cylinder of his revolver. (It appears that he has not cocked the hammer.) A hit there would force the pistol back and away from the hostage, probably (see Mythbusters on this point) cause him to drop the pistol, and/or make the pistol inoperable. YMMV.

        A miss 3 inches in any direction would still result in a potentially effective shot without hitting the hostage. Even a hit to his trigger finger or the back of his hand would probably solve the problem of him shooting the hostage and would give you opportunity for a second shot to complete the job.

        All things considered this is a lot like the “NEVER get into the car if abducted” scenario. If you do, all bets are off. In this case, NEVER drop your weapon and hope for the best – take your best shot since worst case the results will not be worse than if you give in to the BG’s demands and disarm yourself.

        Just my ( moderately) humble opinion.

        • Yeah I hear ya, it’s definitely worth noting that if you give in to the criminal’s demands you may end up getting both you and the hostage killed, versus taking a shot at the criminal which may or may not get the hostage killed but you most likely live and the chances of the hostage living is also increased. There are no guarantees in life but in such a hypothetical situation I figure shooting to stop beats disarming yourself for a most likely homicidal criminal.

        • The picture isn’t directly related to the offered scenario, that photo offers a guy presenting a huge target, and a double-action revolver with a nice long, hard trigger pull, making the shot a much easier one to take all around. (Also some brilliant 80’s sunglasses)

        • In my fantasies, I aim for the trigger finger, specifically the knuckle. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who’s that crazy. And yes, I’m that good a shot.

    • Hitting the brain does not imply an instant stop. There are numerous reports of people getting shot in the head and surviving, and even if the wound is fatal that does not mean that the BG won’t be able to pull the trigger on reflex.

      Anyone who thinks any headshot will instantly stop someone needs to look up Phineas Gage:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phineas_Gage

    • There are lots of non-fatal places one could hit the hostage, but if the BG’s gun is at her head, his shot will be fatal. I agree that one should be able to hit a human head at 15 yards reliably. We practiced with hostage targets under a clock at my gun club. Just realize that this is one of a subset of emergencies you may encounter, and prepare for it.

  2. What would I do? I would shoot the attacker. And I would aim right between the eyes. I cannot see the attacker squeezing their finger reflexively on the trigger after taking a round between the eyes.

    I will premise that choice with the author’s careful scenario where I already have my handgun drawn, a round is in the chamber, the safety is off, I am already pointing the barrel at the attacker’s head, and I am within 10 feet.

    As for negotiating first, nope. The longer you wait, the greater the chances that the attacker shoots their hostage in the head, whether purposefully or accidentally.

    • You’re aiming too high. Aim for the center of the base of the nose. That way the bullet will take out the brain stem resulting in instant death. Hitting the brain stem is the only way I know of to keep them from pulling the trigger afterwards.

      • That is what I was told by a military sniper. Nose shot, if straight on.

        Hope I never face that, but if I am given the circumstances as written, that is the area to which I direct one bullet.

        • Snipers can make that shot work, because they are using a rifle. With a pistol, even assuming perfect placement, the bullet may not penetrate to the needed location with enough energy left over to get the job done.

          A local cop took a nose shot with a .40 pistol when the perp was holding a hostage. The bullet clipped the top jaw-line/teeth, and failed to penetrate. Hostage was released (perp fell down), but perp was NOT incapacitated for any significant length of time. I believe the had to rush him, cuff him, and then they walked him to the ambulance.

          I’ll see if I can find a link to the story; it was quite a while ago, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to find a link.

        • Ding ding…Winner on both of the above posts. Tip/base of nose and ear holes are on brain stem geometric plane.

          If you FAIL TO HIT THE BRAIN STEM and you “just” hit the head, the perp can still reflexively pull the trigger and kill the hostage. Its called Dead Mans shot or something like that. Guy is dead but the hit to the brain (non brain stem hit) causes involuntary muscle contraction including the trigger finger. FYI

          If the perp is telling you to put your gun down, you have much higher odds of bargaining power. Bargain the perps life for your wife’s life. Obviously he cares about his life because he is bargaining with your wifes life. Move slowly closer. Tell him if he kills your wife, you will flat kill him. If he leaves your wife alone, he lives. Attempt to come to some form of “Mexican standoff agreement”. Move closer. Take brainstem shots if you have the ability. Sucky situation all around.

          If youre wife is willing to entertain this situation, have a “go totally limp” signal between the two of you. “Sir, please dont hurt my wife, she will go limp…..”. If she goes limp and falls, better odds the gun comes off her head and you neutralize from there.

          Again the situation sucks.

        • Here are links to the story I referenced, above. Range was estimated to be 8 feet. Gunman was critical after the incident, but survived to be tried, convicted, and imprisoned.

          I would say that most folks don’t know how low their pistol shoots at very close range, and without perfect placement, a pistol shot won’t get the job done.

          Links:

          http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1996/Authorities-Shoot-Kidnapping-Suspect-Who-Held-Gun-to-Girl-s-Head/id-61966f515d8da093021b0dc58f998800

          http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1988&dat=19960130&id=e0ciAAAAIBAJ&sjid=e6wFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2445,2631371

        • DJ9, it looks like he shot too low. The article says the bullet hit “below the nose” right on his upper jaw. For the nose shot to be most effective, the bullet has to enter the nasal cavity to get to the brain stem. Lower powered rounds i.e. most modern pistol rounds, simply don’t have the force to consistently penetrate thick facial bones to reach the brain stem.

          Which begs the question: How confident are you that you can put a bullet into a 1×2 inch opening at 10 feet when your partner’s life is on the line? I would still go for the shot as opposed to surrendering, but it’s not easy.

      • with a pistol you are better aiming for a tear duct – the path to the brain has less bone than a nose shot.

        plus, if you are standing OVER the perp, a nose shot might miss the brain completely.

  3. I would say, “Whether she lives or dies, you’re dead unless you drop the gun. Do you want her dead more than you want to be alive?

    See who calls who’s bluff. But, it’s movie stuff, so I’m just talking out my a$$.

        • I’ma call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin’ niggers, who’ll go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin’, hillbilly boy? I ain’t through with you by a damn sight. I’ma get medieval on your ass.

          -M. Wallace

        • “pair of pliers and a blow torch…”

          And THAT, even though I have worked at a few pawn shops over the years, is why I try to determine if any pawn shop I walk into has it’s own Gimp.

          Asleep or awake.

        • Its funny, my wife and I had this conversation the night we watched that episode.
          Psychology definately came into play.
          I imagine the scenario plays out like this….
          Look the BG straight in the eye and tell him,…
          If you don’t let my wife go, I’m going to shoot you.
          If you shoot my wife, I’m going to blow your dick off.
          If you live long enough to make it to prison, I will personally pay each and every guard there 1000.00 to spread rumors you raped a 5 year old.
          If you make it out of prison alive, I WILL BE WAITING!
          Now Please lower your weapon, step away from my wife and place the weapon on the ground.
          If he is really crazy enough not to drop his weapon at this point, shoot him!

  4. My current eyes and carry piece would make the shot too risky. I would talk while moving closer until I could take the shot. 30 years ago reaction would be instant, in fact he would never have gotten close enough to grab her. His finger is on the trigger but the revolver is not cocked, .357 between the eyes will not allow a DA trigger pull.

  5. Ask yourself “WWTPD?” (what would the police do) and the answer is obvious: Close your eyes and empty your gun in the general direction of the perp and hostage.

    • “General direction”? Hell, if you’re talking NYPD or LAPD, it’s just “general vicinity”. As long as the perp can hear the gunshots, it qualifies as a good shoot for those agencies.

      As for the question in the article, I don’t spend much of time mulling over pretend action movie scenarios. Really, how often does this sort of thing happen in real life?

  6. Look at my wife and say “see why moving to California was a terrible idea?!”

    Really though, I might be screwed. My pistol marksmanship is well below where I want it and my only hope is talking him out of it.
    Unless I’m well practiced by this point lol

  7. If a person is threatening to harm a person in my care rather than me, that means they are trying to influence my actions. This makes the targeted third party an incedental tool with which they would like to influence me. This means that I am the intended target, likely because I am the actual threat to the attacker. Given that he is targeting someone else rather than me, when I am the actual threat to him, I can assume that he is more afraid of me than anyone else, which so happens to give me an edge. Additionally, I must also assume that he will eliminate me as a threat at the most opportune moment, which leaves the person I care for undefended baggage for the “bad guy”. Meaning he can kill, maim, or rape that person at will. Acquiescence to a threat of violence is not playing it safe. Instead, it’s either cowardice or simple illogical thinking that will leave myself and anyone I care for in harms way. Eliminate the threat, and should the person I care for be subsequently injured or killed, that was already a forgone conclusion if I had submitted. If I defeat the threat, than at least I can provide medical aid or comfort in dying to my loved one. Emotional responses to life threatening situations are counterproductive.

    • Well said. I’ve actually had this discussion with my wife. I let her know that if I disarm in such a situation, we’re probably both dead. I have no intention of letting that happen. I also told her that if she goes completely limp, the attacker most likely won’t be able to hold on to her exposing more target area.

    • The winner!

      Excellent analysis!

      v/r

      SamAdams1776 III Oath keeper
      Molon Labe
      No Fort Sumters
      Qui tacet consentit
      Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
      Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.
      Idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset.

  8. I think if you shot at the perp, and missed he still would not shoot the wife (unfortunately for a few of us), if he shot the hostage (wife) what could he then do. The husband would surly shoot him as soon as he shot the wife.
    Of course he could just shoot the husband, then the wife if he wished.
    A lot of different ways this could go down!

  9. i don’t know that i would shoot, but i would never drop my weapon. Not because i’m brave or think i could make the shot, but because i could never cede full control to the bad guy.

    If you look at it from a game theory perspective, there is almost no scenario where surrender on your part is the preferred option. Either the person holding your loved on is or is not willing to take a life. For each case :
    If they are not willing to take a life:
    If you surrender, they still do lord knows what else to you before going on their way
    If you don’t surrender, they likely stand down in the face of certain death

    If they are willing to take a life :
    If you surrender, your loved one and you are almost certainly still both dead, plus who knows who else
    if you don’t surrender, you’ve loved one may die but you probably kill the bad guy and it ends there

    In neither case is laying down your weapon the right choice.

    and for good measure: “hoping they leave me un-killed” is probably never a good strategy. certainly not for anyone with control issues.

  10. Saw the real-life video of almost this exact scenario – you can find it on youtube with a bit of searching. Bank robber in some South American nation holding a female hostage with a cocked revolver to her temple and his finger on the trigger. Police marksman across the street put one in the bridge of the BG’s nose and the BG dropped out of the video frame so fast it almost looked like special effects. Gun fell to the sidewalk, unfired. At 10 feet, I’m not going to miss that triangle defined by outer corner of the eyes & bottom of the nose. The lights WILL go out before the “trigger press” decision is made, much less transmitted to the BG’s index finger.

    • So you have ONLY gotten perfect shots on the range at 10 feet? Congrats, you must be the only one. Have you tried it under extreme, life-threatening stress?

      Its great to have all the confidence in the world in your shooting saying that you are “not going to miss the vital triangle” and the “bad guy’s light will go out instantly,” but what if you do miss and his lights don’t go out?

        • “That’s why I practice the scenario. My limit is 15 feet. Scenario as set up is 10. No, I’m not going to miss.”

          You practice letting a guy hold a loaded gun to your wife’s head?

          No, I know you didn’t mean that.

          What I mean is…HOW do you practice this scenario?

          Choices; which of the below best describes how you practice this “scenario”:

          A small square of cardboard stationary on a stand while you stand still and take your time aiming?

          You run 300 yards near sprint speed so you are out of breath, stand still and take your shot, slow and carefully aimed at a static piece of cardboard?

          You place the cardboard in motion, even just regular oscillating motion, you run 300 yards to get heart rate and respiration up and stand still while trying to hit that tiny little triangle?

          You place the cardboard in motion, you run 300 yards, you have someone standing behind you SCREAMING in your ear, YOU are in motion (to “keep the distance at 10 ft” for example)?

          Just curious? Which one best describes the practice you do that you never miss the Fatal Triangle?

          Me personally, even if I could claim 100% confidence in marksmanship…I’d still worry about terminal failure from a handgun round. The one case mentioned above is relevant, as it Jared Reston’s first gunfight, which involved a total of four head shots from .40 and .45 rounds and only one of the four was fatal at all, much less “instantly fatal.”

          Skulls are remarkable things, really.

        • +1 @JR

          Static paper drills are only good for teaching the fundamentals. Certainly if you can group tightly at ten yards with some rapidity of shooting you’ll probably be OK in a lot of DGUs, but this situation is much tougher.

  11. Hostage shots are very, very dangerous. There is a very high likelihood that the hostage taker is moving or may move when you shoot, and same for the hostage.

    Take a photo-real hostage target to the range and shoot 10 shots from a realistic distance. Almost everyone that I have done that with has had a least one shot on the hostage. Now consider you will be shooting under the most extreme stress that you will have ever been under, at a hostage taker who is under extreme stress and a hostage who is frightened beyond belief. Now consider your ability to hit the hostage taker.

    • I’ve done that with those targets. I find I do a pretty good job of ventilating the BG. Unfortunately, I’ve also wound up with a well-ventilated hostage. . .

    • So move fast, close the distance and take the shot at an un-missable distance. Like with the barrel on his skin. But you must be committed to taking the shot before he gets your gun…

  12. Not a DAMNED bit of thinking involved here. Pop the sumbitch right in the eye socket….that pretty well sums it up. No talking, no trying to do anything except maybe distract him long enough to put a 210 grain 41 Magnum soft point into his brain pan! God help you if you mess with anybody I care about.

  13. God, questions like these are what make gun owners look bad in general. But lets play along. Lets say you want to take the shot. One why would the targets head be that exposed, if you are looking down the barrel of a gun, you are going to make yourself a small as target as possible, probably not going to be resting your head on your hostages shoulder. But lets say our bad guy is a complete idiot and has his entire face exposed. Okay, now you have to hit his central nervous system in a way that ensures complete and immediate shutdown. Most people do not understand how difficult that is. You can’t just hit him in the brain, cause that isn’t even guaranteed to kill him, much less cause instant shutdown. If your bullet doesn’t completely prevent this guy from having neurons go off that can cause a trigger pull, you are gambling. So who here who would take the shot can point to spot exactly where the bullet needs to enter to hit that spot with a straight flight, now his head moves, where is that point? We haven’t even taken in the fact that the bullet isn’t going to fly in some perfectly straight line. When bullets hit flesh nobody knows what is going to truly happen, you might have a decent idea, but some crazy stuff can happen. I have personally witnessed a individual take a AK round to his eye, that round apparently turned almost straight up after hitting the rear of his eye socket, followed the skull, and exited out lower back of his head. He ended up walking himself to the chopper. If you believe that you can guarantee that shot that can instantly incapacitate a person, you haven’t been involved with enough shooting the.

  14. Since this will obviously be a “good person who was turning their life around” I’ll just pull a Bronco Billy and shoot the gun from his/her hands.

  15. I’ve always heard the base of the brain stem is lights-out. If you feel good in that shot, I’d say follow instinct.

    That is if pissing myself, following all their commands, 911 and bug spray don’t work…

  16. I would do what that guy did in that DGU of the day video you posted a month ago (the one at the gas station) bald body to attacker draw from concealment and in one motion lunge to get the muzzle as close to his head as possible and present the firearm firing as soon as the gun was level. No hesitation no time to gather sight picture.

    The scenario presented is false as rarely if ever in real life do we have the long drawn out standoff between the good guy and the bad guy where gg has a firearm drawn and pointed at bg and both are yelling at the other to drop their gun. I feel like reality would differ significantly most likely if you draw a gun on someone who already has a gun pointed at your wife if you don’t immediately shoot them they will kill your wife(or whoever their hostage is).

  17. Here is something I suggest for all who say they would shoot. Try out the “dot-torture” drill from pistol training dot com. (If you click on the picture of the target, you can get a printable PDF in real size – yes 8″ by 11.5″). Try it at 10 feet. Note that the size of the dots is about the size of a nose. Note that most of the strings require drawing and firing so you may need to do this at an outdoor range that allows drawing. So, how do you simulate the stress? One way is to time how long it takes you to finish the whole drill perfectly and then cut the time in half. Set that (half) time as the par on a timer and proceed to do the drill perfectly in half the time. Keep cutting the time in half until you can’t do it perfectly.

    What would I do. I know the same calculations that all the smart commenters above made so I’m not giving up my gun either. I would try to close distance and see if the bad guy gave me a view of his full head by the time I was able to get as close as 5 feet. Obviously, the bad guy is yelling at me to get back. If there was room, I’d try circling to confuse the distance calculation for the bad buy. It’s a bad situation. There is 99% chance at least one person will die. There is some very high chance (in the 90’s) that two will die. At that point, you have to try to make the bad guy one of the two. It sucks no matter what.

  18. Simply put, (attempt) to shoot the BG. I’d rather try and miss/hit my loved one than let the BG (s) kill me and torture/rape/sodomize my loved one at their leisure.

    • +1000. This pretty much sums it all up. The situation sucks, but only fools and movies have gun holders surrendering their weapon to a thug in hopes he’ll have a heart and let their loved one live. Once he has all the power you’re most likely dead.

  19. Spent a few minutes talking to my wife about this one. Her instructions? Take the shot. He cannot be allowed to gain control and maybe harm one of our kids or grandkids. Even if it means she dies with the bad guy.

    Don’t talk, don’t threaten, don’t negotiate.

    • Nah. Reconsult. Talk, negotiate, beg, all while maneuvering for a shot. Always ready for him to switch aim to you-as soon as the muzzle leaves her, fire. As soon as you have maneuvered to a better position, fire. etc.

    • Are you also armed with the knowledge that that “T Zone” applies to rifle caliber terminal ballistics?

      There are many documented “failures” of handgun rounds failing to kill, much less instantly, humans that have been head shot, even at closer range (down to contact range) than in this scenario.

        • Ugh. Caliber wars. .45 fanboys are just too much. Everyone knows .9mm is just as effective at stopping tanks instantly, especially when loaded with 30 caliber magazine clips that enable 420 rounds per second of cop killer bullets to be fired.

          Sheesh.

  20. Assuming someone could get the drop on my wife, I only have to distract them long enough for her to draw her gun. Not every woman is a helpless hostage.

  21. I think at that point I would _try_ to assume the hostage is as good as dead. With that in mind I would either try the shot or try the “only one way you’ll live” line depending on how rational the BG is acting. Dropping my own gun is pretty much off the table.

  22. I’d hope I could take him out with a headshot. I wouldn’t engage in small talk. “Don”t point your gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy”. My wife is pretty tough( taught self-defense) so maybe she’d kick his a## before I shot himLOL

  23. As set up – 10 feet, gun in hand, I assume already pointed at the bad guy’s head. I would take the shot. If you don’t you have set up the classic equivalent of bad guy has taken you somewhere he is comfortable doing whatever he wants to you, and you and the hostage are both unlikely to survive.

  24. If you have calm hands, nerves like steel cables and the psychological capability to bear the guilt if you miss: Shoot! But don`t negotiate and don`t drop your gun because you will be the first to die…

    Afterwards please let me know how I can make this shot with my Ruger LCP!

    @0351: Very good point!
    @Jwm: Good to talk with your wife!

    PS:
    @Tex300BLK : Try to tell the BG: “The scenario presented is false!” Not a good option.

  25. Somebody has to quote John Wayne in Big Jake here:

    ” And now *you* understand. Anything goes wrong, anything at all… your fault, my fault, nobody’s fault… it won’t matter – I’m gonna blow your head off. No matter what else happens, no matter who gets killed I’m gonna blow your head off.”

    Even with my 62 year old eyes and nerves, I’d take the shot. Yes I think that I am that good.

  26. My ex has had a long and enriching life (at my expense) with no children or family beyond cats and a sweet lil pooch to grieve her lose. I’m sure I could find a way to support the dog, even in my bereaved state. Of course I would keep my piece trained on the threat while I retreated into the woods. determining which was the greater threat might be difficult

    • Ah, yes. The ex-wife variation. Perhaps the good guy should tell the perp, “she’s my ex. Why would I care?” It might work, depending on the perp’s experience of the world.

  27. “Your Wife is Held at Gunpoint: What Do You Do, Jack…What Do You Do?”

    Brazil answers your question: You shoot him in the face.

  28. Action beats reaction. If I draw my gun then I probably have a shot. It will take me 1 1/2 to 2 seconds to draw, aim, and fire. It will take 1/2 to 1 second for him to figure out what I am doing then he will need a second or two to get an aimed shot at me.

    When my gun comes out the hostage become a shield and I become the threat. I would expect him to try to take me out. To do this he would instinctively take the gun off of her. Of course there is no reason for my plan to work any better than his.

  29. Tricky shot but giving up your own gun is nonsense. I seem to pull to the left so still learning. Could be bad for the wife. In the movies I never have understood why the hostage takers do not just shoot the good guy standing around talking. Just gotta hope for a dumb bad guy here. Get close and take the shot. No talking.

  30. with a pistol it helps to aim for one of the tear ducts; if you can hit it there isn’t as much bone blocking the brain as there is in some other places.

    Ear hole is also good.

  31. When someone is murdered, police almost always investigate the spouse first. This tells you everything you need to know about marriage. 😉 this post is a trick question, I think.

  32. If its got to this point, I’ve already made some serious errors.

    If they are bargaining that’s good news. They really dont want to shoot, they just want to escape. No way I drop my weapon. I could rely on his likely inexperience and criticize the way he’s holding the gun to confuse him. I could provide options, like back away through a window. I’d get as close as I could hoping he would see me as the bigger threat and turn the gun on me. The only way I feel comfortable taking the shot is if I grabbed my rifle or pistol with hunting rounds. If I grabbed my rifle, there really wont be any debate. If I grabbed the right pistol, I’ll need to buy time to make the shot. Either way id hope to lure him to point the gun at me to provide some margin of error.

  33. Take the shot.

    If you don’t trust your caliber to get the job done, get a different caliber.

    If your wife doesn’t trust you to get the job done, get a different wife.

  34. Time to shoot the Border Collie just like the SWAT teams do. Also shoot all innocent bystanders with your 12 lb trigger Glock pistol. Step on any kitty cats as well.

  35. At ten feet I’m confident I can make the shot. He’s holding a revolver (not cocked, so long trigger pull). I tell him to put the gun down and then I put a bullet in his right eye if he doesn’t. If the perp starts the trigger pull I make the shot. Think it through now, if you are ever in this situation you must act. If you don’t then one or both of you will be dead anyway.

  36. Disarming myself is a lose-lose option. Waiting long probably ain’t gonna help either. Gotta go with the odds – and pray.

  37. If you can get him to listen to what you are saying, shoot him in the middle of a sentence. “If you’ll just let us go, I can promise you “BANG”.

  38. The advice I got was to pre-arrange a code word with your wife. If you say that word, she is to turn her head and drop; she might even slip out of his arms. The gun may end up pointed at nothing in particular, even if she doesn’t slip completely out of his arm. He WILL be distracted enough to never know what hit him.

  39. You had a good question and I read with great interest until your last sentence. If you are drinking do not carry a firearm or try a shot like that! Sober up and take this stuff seriously.

    • Some people do their best thinking after knocking back a few. Don’t play me in trivial pursuit after I have had 4 or 5 mojitos because I will drop a Donna de Varona or Lake Titicaca on you for the win.

  40. I have seen this scenario in the movies also and I have pondered it, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is flawed. Why would a BG hold a gun to your girl’s head and threaten to shoot with you holding a gun on him 10 feet away? There’s two ways it can play out, no matter whether you can make the shot or not. First, like the movie, you put your gun down, he beats you to death and has the girl (positive outcome for him). Second, he winds up killing the girl and you kill him (negative outcome for him). What makes more sense is for him to use the girl as a shield and shoot you. Then he has a guaranteed positive outcome. The way it happens in the movies, he is taking a chance he doesn’t need to take.

    Here’s solution that I thought of: If he hasn’t taken the guaranteed positive outcome above and already shot you, but rather follows the illogical movie scenario, then: You put your gun down and back away. In order to either pick up your gun and/or go beat you to death, he has to let go of the girl. Then you pull your back-up .380 from pocket carry, empty the mag into him and follow up with your tactical folder.

  41. My $0.02 from a woman’s perspective…if my partner takes the shot, I may end up dead. Don’t take the shot? Well, there are lots of things that a bad guy could do to me that are worse than being dead. Just saying.

  42. I didn’t notice this point in the comments above …

    Partly it would depend on what gun the bad guy had. Assuming I thought I could make the shot…

    Is he holding a DAO auto like a Glock, or an uncocked revolver? Or a pistol set for single action, like a cocked 1911 or modern revolver?

    The former is a lot less likely to go off from random muscle twitch, or simple inertia as the hand starts to fall away, than the latter.

  43. The comments leads me to one peripheral conclusion: The advocates of a pistol or of buckshot for in-home defense have overlooked a key variable in weapons selection, the ability to shoot precisely under stress. What would you rather have, worse ears or a dead wife/child? Pop on some modern stereo amplifying electronic ear pro, turn up the volume, pick up your carbine, and go do the job. (Perhaps I sound like an EOTech/Peliotor ad? “What’s good enough to toast Bin Laden in a closed room is good enough to toast the perp holding your kid.”

    • ….and I suppose slugs that don’t throw the wad would do, if your sighting system is first-rate. Brenneke SF’s would do.

  44. Sorry…but I know damn well that if she’s taken at gunpoint, the only option is to take the guy out or talk him down.

    We have actually discussed this…not a keyword so to say…but a mindset. If we give up, they now have an additional weapon. Neither of us want to leave our lives to chance on something like that.

    I’d take the shot. Maybe the T-Zone….maybe the trigger of the gun if he were chicken winging it. Regardless, if that person won’t let my loved one go, I’m going to take the shot. As far as I’m concerned…they’re already dead if I don’t.

  45. With a handgun, you’re not going to be able to make that shot under stress if there’s any appreciable distance, say, more than five feet, between you and the target. And if you just happen to be there with a rifle, laser, and scope, well, then that scenario will never happen, anyway, so it’s moot.

    Best you can hope for is to hold out until the calvary arrives, so there’s no chance for his escape and a hostage negotiator can go to work.

    Failing that, maybe the BG pushes off and tries to make a run for it on his own. Then it’s up to you, God, and windage & elevation as to what happens next.

  46. Discuss this with family members….hostage taking while uncommon is not unheard of.
    If such a scenario were to develop the female hostage could “faint”……this would force
    the assailant to move giving an opportunity for action. No plan is perfect but firing at the
    head of someone SO CLOSE to the head of a hostage is EXTREMELY risky.

  47. 10 FEET away?? I’m pretty sure I could hit something that small at that distance under stress (we used to shoot the upper half of bowling pins at 45 feet in competition) but I’m not sure what the bullet offset from the sighting plane is at that distance.

    • A stationary bowling pin, which doesn’t shoot back at you or at your sweetie, in a competition you’ve specifically trained for over weeks or months, which you showed up for that day expecting to compete in, after a good night’s sleep and healthy breakfast, which stage you were ready to begin, in daylight and clear weather, while wearing competition appropriate clothing and carrying a competition suitable handgun, as opposed to a pocket pistol, and whose entire worst case scenario amounts to not taking home a dinky plastic trophy that day, but instead preparing for the next similar competion and its dinky plastic trophy, as opposed to either your or your sweetie’s head or both exploded into red chunky stew, perhaps by your bullet, and your kids orphaned?

      Yeah, I can see your point. That bowling pin thing is basically the same thing as pulling off a hostage-taker head shot.

      • +1 (and yes I caught the irony, I’m not agreeing with what you literally said).

        Lots of people here imagine themselves taking the hero shot pretty casually and nailing it perfectly. Good luck with that.

      • If you take time to think over all that instead of acting, you might as well hand your gun over right away. If you think there is no stress in competition, you don’t compete. Is the stress the same as life or death? No. But with practice you can make that shot with confidence. If you know you can make that shot, then the level of stress is much lower. I’ve taken training classes where I now know I can make that shot drawing from a holster in a little over a second. I know I can hit the upper half of a bowling pin with my little carry gun at 45 feet, in less than 3 seconds. The stated scenario is starting with the gun in your hand pointing at the bad guy, from 10 feet away.

        Maybe I miss, maybe my wife gets shot. But if I give the bad guy my gun and depend on his “good character”, I’m pretty sure my wife or I or both of us end up dead.

        To the OP’s original question, there is also a tendon in the forearm that if severed, will keep you from pulling the trigger. But it is on the inside of the arm, and a very narrow target.

  48. When I first became a Deputy I was taught to never give up my weapon , I would shoot the perp in the head without having to think once about it ! Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

  49. I do not know how many of you have shot a deer in the head. When you shoot a deer in the head it involuntarily jumps and twitches for quite a while. If you shoot the attacker you are taking quite a risk. It is best to just give him what he wants. Wait for a better opportunity to stop the attacker.

    I would roll the dice by shooting him before I gave up my gun.

  50. From 10 feet away with a pistol already pointed at the hostage takers head… put one just below his nose through his upper lip into the medulla. This will shut off the computer instantly.
    Given the scenario stated and the photo depicting the event I would have no hesitation in shooting.

  51. I’ve talked to my wife about this and told her no matter how much the fall will hurt for her to pull her knees to her chest. Most people would not be prepared for that and it may give me a clear shot.

  52. I’ll take the shot. I would rather live with the consequences than allow a criminal to disarm me and do what he pleases.

  53. I have foreseen this happening and the only conclusion I have drawn is not relinquishing my weapon as it would put both me and her in grater danger.

    If this happens my take is that this becomes a negotiation. You need to asses the individual you are facing and ask yourself does this guy care to get out alive? If so you may negotiate for his life or even allowing him to flee. I would even pay him off if I perceived that he has a drug addict just looking for the next fix.

    If the perp looks like he doesn’t care if ha lives or dies, then I would shoot him as close to the eyes-nose area.

    In thinking about this, I would like to complicate your scenario a bit. What if you are dealing with 2 bad guys? One has your son and the other your wife. This would mean first strike probability of success are greatly reduced. Would you surrender your weapon? I haven’t figure this one out yet.

  54. What do you guys think about shooting the spine through the neck? My friend and I read this article and were proposing a work around for people who doubt at a shot from pistol can reliably penetrate the skull to hit the apricot. We came to the conclusion such a shot is not feasible do to the lack of space between the hostage and hostage-taker and the difficulty to get a good reference of where to shoot. That being said, let’s say you could get a reference of where to shoot, would you shoot?

  55. I would tell him…

    1) I didn’t like the beech anyway and we were in the middle of getting a divorce

    2) He would save me considerable time and money by going ahead and finishing her off for me. However she is the mother of our kids and I do want to keep her around for them.

    3) However, her continued good health and safety is the only thing standing between him and certain death. If he kills her then there is now no more shield standing between him and me shooting him dead.

    4) I am a good guy… I’ll allow him to back away safely and won’t shoot him if he lets her go and takes off.

    5) then explain to my wife afterwards why I said all those mean things about her.

  56. I’d break contact (run away) and call the police. The BG then has to make the choice to keep his hostage or get away.

    I sure as hell am not going to turn myself over to be tortured and killed for nothing in return.

  57. FrontSight teaches exactly this scenerio and during the practice portion, I hit the occular cavity of the bad guy right on and missed the “outline of my wife” on the paper. Much smaller target than the picture above

  58. So I’m a little late to the comment game on this one, but there is one question that I didn’t see posed or answered in the comments above.

    Let’s say the BG’s intentions truly are to shoot the girl and not me bearing down on him. Let’s say I hesitate and don’t take the shot in a timely manner and the BG decides to go ahead and shoot the girl.

    What sort of damage will the BG actually end up doing to himself assuming he shot at that angle with a 357 mag that close to his ear and especially the cylinder gap being that close to his face/neck?

  59. My wife and I have discussed this. I have shown her that with her finger pointed like a gun at my head from behind if I drop and all she has to do is say BANG I can get my head away from her finger gun for at least a second. Reaction time allows this little advantage. We have a sentence she knows. If I say it she will drop on the key word. She is shorter than most men. If she drops it will give me a very short window to shoot. It will be a head shot but I won’t stop there. 3 or 4 more rounds should finish the job. I won’t give up my gun.

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