Deliberate Wounding

On his email list on 2/5/10, John Farnam wrote:

Excellent response to a common question from naive students, “Why can’t I just shoot him in the leg?”

… from a colleague:

“Deliberately launching high-velocity missiles, from a firearm, in someone’s direction, necessarily represents a voluntary employment of ‘deadly-force.’ Your sincerely articulated ‘intended outcome,’ for the most part, ceases to be relevant once you press the trigger!

I’m not sure why so many apparently fail to grasp the foregoing, when they simultaneously claim to understand perfectly why they are shooting someone in the first place! When defending yourself with gunfire, it is always because you perceive an imminent, deadly threat to yourself (and/or other innocent parties), and other, lesser options are precluded, ie: unlikely to be efficacious, unavailable, or not practicable.

Any time you shoot someone, you are employing ‘deadly-force,’ because no one can accurately predict the ultimate damage a bullet (any kind of bullet, striking anywhere on the body) will do. You may attempt a shot to an extremity, and you may even be successful, but your bullet may still sever an artery, and, as a direct result, the person may bleed to death in short order, even when that outcome was not your ‘intention.’ Even when death does not result immediately, permanent disablement/impairment/disfigurement surely will. No one ever ‘recovers completely’ from a gunshot wound!

Deadly force is deadly force. Know and understand that you cannot shoot anyone in a ‘non-deadly’ manner!

In defensive shooting, our goal is, of course, to end the criminal’s violent behavior as quickly as possible. To that end, we shoot with sufficient precision and volume to accomplish the goal. After that goal is accomplished, additional shooting is unnecessary, and thus unjustified.

The incontrovertible, inescapable maxim is: Shot placement that is most likely to stop violent, criminal behavior quickly is also most likely to beget fatal wounds. For better or worse, the two outcomes are inseparably linked! Accordingly, purposely attempting to inflict ostensibly non-fatal wounds may well actually prolong the fight, exacerbating risk-exposure yourself, other innocent parties, even the VCA himself.

In addition, attempting to hit arms or legs of an aggressively animated attacker represents a far greater challenge, even for competent marksman, than does aiming for the chest and trunk. Thus, attempting to ‘shoot him in the leg’ is unlikely to be successful to begin with!

You must, at long last, confront the unavoidable fact that employing gunfire in self-defense, no matter your intent, is likely to result in forceful death, or permanent, crippling injury, to the VCA in question. Who cannot
accept, nor deal with, that stark reality, should have naught to do with guns!

Trying, in the face of the foregoing, to convince yourself that ‘shooting him in the leg’ is an appropriate force-response to a lethal, personal attack is delusional in the extreme! It is identical to the self-deceptive concept that a nation can print its way to prosperity, or that death, pain, and suffering, in general, can all be legislated out of existence.

Only cretins and children believe that!

‘Shooting with charity’ is thus an absurd contradiction! Who believe it are destined for a short and unhappy life!”

Comment: Years ago, the false concept of deliberately wounding an attacker with gunfire was actually taught in some circles. No one, with any credibility, teaches it today.


As many times as I’ve tried to state the same point, I’ve never been able to say it so fully and yet plainly. This was simply too good to not pass on.

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