“If I pull the gun I don’t pull it to scare ’em.” That’s Army vet and motorcyclist Don Hunter’s proud pronouncement to the Oklahoma TV news crew re: the fact that he shot a man attempting to rob him. At the end of the report, Hunter reiterates his pre-planned armed self-defense strategy. “I don’t shoot to wound ’em. I shoot to kill ’em.” Oy vey. Let’s go over this again . . .

Legally speaking, you NEVER shoot to kill ANYONE. If you make that admission to a 911 operator, responding cops, the media leeches and/or your neighbors, you have just admitted to intentional homicide. casebriefs.com tells us that here are two types of intentional homicide: manslaughter and murder.

Murder is the commission of homicide with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought denotes purpose and intent, as opposed to accident and mischance. It may be express or implied.

Manslaughter is intentional homicide committed without malice. Proof of provocation or extreme emotional disturbance reduces intentional homicide from murder to manslaughter.

If a prosecutor gets a hard-on for you, if the circumstances of your defensive gun use (DGU) are less than clear-cut or political concerns inspire them to charge you with murder, they need to prove “malice aforethought.” They have to show you wanted to murder the victim. Even better, you planned on murdering them – even if you didn’t personally know the victim before he or she or they showed up.

If you go on record saying “I don’t shoot to wound ’em. I shoot to kill ’em” you have made the prosecutor’s job a lot easier. The prosecutor may eventually walk down the charge from murder to manslaughter, but that still sucks. Ideally, you don’t want to be charged with anything. So it’s best not to say anything that will cast doubt on your assertion that “My (or other innocent) life was in danger. I didn’t have a choice.”

Simply put, you shoot to stop the threat. The fact that the perforated person or persons died as a result of your ballistic defense is a deeply regrettable, entirely unintentional side-effect. “I just wanted to stop him.” Not kill. Stop. Shooting to stop the threat is 100 percent self-defense.

Words are not magic talismans. No matter what you say or don’t say to the police or prosecutors after an entirely lawful DGU you can still face horrendous legal and financial fallout. To increase the odds of walking away from a DGU with minimal personal damage you need to follow the advice of an old British aphorism: “when you’re in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging.”

67 Responses to Guns for Beginners: Do Not Shoot to Kill [VIDEO]

      • And snipers (referring to police, not military off American soil) ARE shooting to stop the threat. The region of the body chosen by the sniper is: an area that is visible, can be hit when the shot is taken, and is most likely to stop the threat and minimize the chance of SBI or death to any innocent party involved.

        Once again, always shoot to “Stop the threat,” or else what RF said will become your reality. After the shooting, “shut up.” Don’t do an interview with your local media reported. Don’t talk to your neighbors and buddies about the shooting. DO talk to your attorney and follow their advice.

  1. One of the problems with the law, if it truly is a defensive shooting… Why does it matter if one or one hundred bullets were used?

    • If you hit him with a few rounds from a semi-automatic, I believe you when you claim you employed lethal force only to stop the threat and not to kill. If you hit him with one hundred rounds, I do not, because sometime before the hundredth round you deliberately fired into him he must have been stopped, and you continued to reload and shoot after the threat had ceased.

    • “Orwell was inspired to invent Newspeak by the constructed language Basic English, which he promoted from 1942 to 1944 before emphatically rejecting it in his essay “Politics and the English Language.”[1] In this paper he deplores the bad English of his day, citing dying metaphors, pretentious diction or rhetoric, and meaningless words, which he saw as encouraging unclear thought and reasoning.” -From Wikipedia

      When you must use vague code-words to describe logical actions in keeping with natural and god-given liberties, or face criminal charges, you are already looking at a sliver of daylight from the bottom of a mile deep hole. The uncomfortable question is will winning an election fix this, or is high-fps lead housekeeping the only realistic option?

      • Cloud is right. If as a cop or a non-cop you have to use weasel words to describe the legal removal of a parasite, you’re up to your neck in crap already.

    • Sarcasm noted and appreciated. But I learned decades ago working in the State Department of Corrections; “I aimed to stop the action.” And stick to it no matter how the question is phrased or twisted. Saying I aimed to kill was a sure way to join the dark side. Muy pronto!

      • When I was a state- and NRA-certified Police Firearms Instructor I consistently taught my students that they never “shoot to kill,” or even “shoot to wound;” only to “shoot to stop.” But if that action causes the death of the perpetrator, so be it!

    • Just another reason to carry a 22 magnum , you couldn’t possibly be trying to kill someone with a little 22 now could you ? If you carry a .45 caliber and are lucky enough to hit your target , police are more likely to think you meant to kill . If you carry a 22 magnum , like a PMR 30 , not only can you hit what you’re aiming at ( head ) but law enforcement are more likely to believe you when you , ( holding head in hands ) exclaim , I didn’t want to kill them . ( note them ) , with 30 + 1 in your hand , multiple assailants are likely to be on the carpet .

      • That’s wrong though. A 22 is less likely to stop him, causing you to have to shoot him more times, or in more critical places. You’re actually more likely to kill someone using a 22 than you are a 45.the 45 is more likely to stop them in the first round or two without hitting them in the more serious places.

        I digress, they are actually both equally likely to kill, but the 45 is more likely to stop first.

        • This is an excellent sub-thread.
          Personally, I carry a pocket .380 purely for the convenience of lugging a 16 oz gun rather than a 30 oz gun.
          We all understand the trade-offs; so no point in re-hashing them here.
          If I never have to use my gun in self-defense all the issues – excepting convenience – are moot.
          If I EVER have to use my gun in self-defense the issue I’m most concerned about is the prosecutor’s eagerness to persecute me.

          I can plan for this. “No, I did not have any intention of killing him. I deliberately chose a .380 because it’s just powerful enough to demonstrate my determination to defend myself without doing any more damage than might suffice to stop the threat.”

          I don’t have to worry about any snarky arguments about my decision to carry a “Dirty Harry”.

  2. That’s a really oversimplified analysis of the law re “homicide” ; it completely leaves out “justifiable homicide” (which is also “intentional”), for one thing, and more basically, it cites the “common-law” definitions of murder and manslaughter, which are no longer used in that form in any jurisdiction that I know of. Simply put, the laws on homicide, justifiable and otherwise, vary significantly from state to state. Nevertheless, the basic advice I think is good, no need to make more trouble for yourself than you have to with unnecessary pronouncements.

    • Also, most state’s homicide statute’s (including mine in CO) have an affirmative defense built in for self defense.

      • And in some, it may not even be an “affirmative” defense (Defendant must raise the issue and offer evidence to prove it), but simply a “defense” (Defendant merely has to produce enough evidence to raise the issue, at which point the prosecution must prove that it was not self-defense)

  3. Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the thread – oops
    Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the threat
    Shoot to stop the threat

    Homework done!

    • You should NOT say that you “Shot to stop the threat” to anyone because you MUST keep your mouth shut except to politely ask for your attorney. How can TTAG readers still not understand this simple rule to protect themselves?

      • This is good advise if you don’t come across as trying to cover something up . May look a little fishy if I was investigating .
        Just repeat ( while profusely sobbing ) I didn’t want to kill anybody , I didn’t want to kill anybody .Sob , sob , sob , sniff , sniff , sniff . Do your best to appear broken .
        Truth is , I probably would be shaking and crying after I shot and killed someone and I really don’t want to kill anyone , so I would be convincing at this even though I train very regularly to put an attacker down for the count .

      • Wrong you do five things after a dgu.

        call 911
        Tell police you were in fear for your life and shot to stop the threat
        Tell police about witnesses
        Tell police where applicable evidence may be
        Request your attorney

        Law of self defense.com has an excellent video debunking the say nothing approach

        • Naz ,
          You holster it , if that’s where it was before you pulled the trigger . If you are unsure of the attackers ability to still harm you , keep the firearm pointed at them and scan for additional assailants and when the police arrive , holster it and raise your hands while identifying yourself as the victim . The police will arrive not knowing who the bad guy is . Try to stay focused on what has happened so you can give a proper description and say only that you did not want to harm anyone , this should be the truth .

  4. I’m with Mr. Fargo on this. He’s not talking about HOW you shoot someone but what you SAY about it if you shoot someone.
    Of course, one of the most effective ways to stop a person who is a threat is through CNS shutdown, either by direct CNS interruption, or by secondary interruption though significant circulatory degradation. Both of which, y’know, just might lead to the abrupt death of the threat. I know that, you know that, Mr. Fargo knows that and Mr. Hunter knows that – just don’t say it (to the wrong people, and most people are the wrong people). At least Mr. Hunter knows how to shoot at someone (none of that silly “scare em” or “wound em” stuff) but his verbal legal-minded ROE needs a little bit of work.

    I believe George Zimmerman didn’t say anything like this, and we all saw how that went. Don’t give “them” any more rope than what they may bring on their own.

    • REALPOLITIK

      : a system of politics based on a country’s situation and its needs rather than on ideas about what is morally right and wrong

      Enough said? Politics rather than Logic tends to apply in these situations. Basically, If a prosecutor’s gunning for you, your toast.

    • The ex-prosecutor who taught the SD law class I took at NRA HQ said carrying those kinds of cards is a bad idea. A prosecutor can say having your defense all prepared in writing indicates you were hoping to get in a situation where you could shoot someone. I know that doesn’t sound logical, but it’s the way some prosecutors think. Memorize the card, then leave it at home. Besides, you shouldn’t be saying anything except your name and address until your lawyer gets there.

  5. Oh puh-leeeze. The guy was cut by a knife THEN he shot at the perps. His statement is perfectly valid. Take the whole thing out of context why don’t you.

  6. “Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

    I would only add, then STFU as a private citizen without immunity, and call your lawyer.

  7. If YOUR attorney is worth his salt, anything you say prior to rights advisement won’t be allowed as evidence against you.

    • I wouldn’t necessarily count on that. To start with, Miranda only applies to “custodial interrogation”, i.e. you have to be “in custody” and under questioning by the cops. TV interviews aren’t covered. Nor are voluntary statements. Nor are a lot of other things.

  8. Not only has Mr. Hunter’s comment likely to earn himself a tour of the jail & court system, but wouldn’t it also open the door to a lawsuit from the “victim”?
    I.E. would Castle/SYG laws protect him from civil liability if manslaughter charges are filed, successfully or otherwise? Or even if they aren’t, could a judge consider his statement of intent reason enough to allow a civil lawsuit to go forward, regardless of Castle/SYG?

    • SYG only removes the duty to retreat. CD only extends SYG to your home. Neither affects lethal force justification itself, criminally or civilly.

      Now, your state’s specific laws may well provide for civil immunity in a lawful use or threat of lethal force. However, that’s a separate issue from SYG or CD. Two important final points:

      First, where provided, that immunitybis not absolute. That is, it doesn’t relieve you of responsibility to act reasonably. It does not grant you license to act recklessly. So don’t go chasing your assailant inva crosstown rolling shootout.

      Second, that immunity, such as it is, technically tends to apply only to injury and deaths you may cause. Property damage may not be covered. There are other legal defensed available to protect you from loss should your assailant sue you for property damages, but this part of the law may not be it.

      As always, consult your own qualified legal professional pertaining to your own state and circumstances.

  9. First part of sentence is correct, If I pull a pistol I am using it, I have believed and lived by that for years! How I use that ready to go firearm is another story, First thought is why? figured bodily harm was at stake usually mine! now it is in the other guys ball park whether he escalates or not, if they continue then you are shooting to stop and or kill! so you say I shot to wound, then you come under Maiming laws,

    • Many times the mere brandishing of a gun will stop a perp and send them running. So you’re going to shoot them in the back?

      • No brandishing. If he recognizes the gun and reacts quickly enough to have his back turned before I finish pulling the trigger, he may get away with it. But, my intent is to fire, already decided before the gun ever appears, no reaction time to be considered. I doubt anyone can alter his entire plan of action from rape and murder to oshit lemme outta here, followed by a 180 degree turn, before I get off several shots.

  10. Based on everything that I could find, no charges filed on Mr. Hunter..

    “Hunter, a pastor, was packing for an upcoming church trip early Monday morning when a stranger walked up to his home and asked for money.”

    “Hunter had to get 10 staples at the hospital after suffering two slashes to his forearm.”

    http://www.koco.com/news/moore-resident-scares-off-wouldbe-robbers/35399688

    http://kfor.com/2015/09/21/man-recovering-after-being-attacked-by-two-suspects-with-a-knife-in-his-garage-in-moore/

    • In some jurisdictions, RF’s concerns are just not as applicable as in others. Still, as a pastor he should perhaps understand the meaning of the commandment, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God”… 😉

    • He let them get WAY too close, he was lucky. My intent would have been for their bodies to be found half in and half out of my garage.

    • We may be too old to fight, but we’re not too old to shoot. And there are some legal benefits to being an old guy. A BG who hurts me gets more time under the MA elder crime law, which will be quite a shock to the bum when he wakes up from his coma.

  11. I’d say it’s more important to know your audience. I’m certain that this man will avoid prosecution. It’s Oklahoma boys, and he was assaulted. See what it says right under his face there? For y’all not in Oklahoma, or for those that are just intellectually endowed, it’s probably a lot more important to err on the side of caution.

  12. If your use of deadly force is justified, it makes no difference whatsoever whether your intent was to kill, wound, stop a threat, etc. The mere use of deadly force establishes an intent to kill. You can’t employ deadly force and try to beat a murder or attempted murder rap by arguing you weren’t trying to kill. The article demonstrates a poor understanding of the use of deadly force for self-defense.

    Knowing when the law allows the use of deadly force is much more important than knowing what to say after you shoot somebody.

  13. I hate weasel words. The best way to stop a threat is to kill the bastard. Unlike bad horror movies, the dead don’t come back to life. If somebody threatens to take your life, they deserve to have theirs taken. I know politicians and liberal activists think otherwise, but…

  14. No double standards. The cops “double tap” to make sure you are dead. They don’t want you telling the truth. Why else would they shoot ALL of their bullets?
    Put the DC politicians on Obamacare and SS.Thanks for your support and vote.Pass the word. mrpresident2016.com

  15. “I don’t shoot to wound ’em. I shoot to kill ’em.”
    A few Combat Vietnam Veterans I know have said that.
    However, in Oceania, it is best to state that you were merely neutralizing the threat and were destroying the perp to save him.
    I am fighting for peace in Amerika and there will be no fighting in the war room.

  16. when you say ” i didnt shoot to kill” that gives the impression that you would be fine with non-lethal weaponry. that type of thinking and speaking is what we lead to a non-lethal takeover on firearms, i think anyways. which will leave us at the mercy of the same types of hostility we would face if we were completely disarmed.

    • If and when someone invents a less-than-lethal defensive weapon with competitive economics and effectiveness as a firearm then we can deal with the problem you cite.

      We already have such a problem – in some degree – from pepper-spray, stun-guns, tasers, and smaller-calibre handguns. The issue hasn’t – to my knowledge – come up in a trial or debate.

      ‘You could have left the house with a can of pepper-spray . . . .32-calibre handgun and used it effectively against this attacker. You chose a 10 mm; which proved lethal with a single shot.’

      In decades to come it’s quite likely that some chemical, electronic, . . . based weapon will become competitive with an adequate calibre handgun. Great. We will deal with it at that time.

  17. “I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”

    Shoot to defend.

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