Advice about self-defense, while usually given with good intentions, sometimes comes from people who are uninformed or who have not thought situations through to their logical conclusions.
Just Shoot Him in the Arm or Leg
In the annals of bad advice, this recommendation seems most common when the advice is given by people who are inexperienced with firearms or are simply uncomfortable with the idea of anyone defending themselves with lethal force. There are a surprising number of people who hope and believe the threat will simply go away with minimal encouragement – and in fact, it might. There are many methods of avoiding and de-escalating an event so that nobody gets hurt. But once someone decides to use violence against you, you might have to do far more than talk to them to save your life.
So, Why Kill When You Can Just Wound?
Well, for starters, you are not trying to kill. As I stressed in Part 2, you are making the threat go away. You or another innocent person is at immediate risk of serious bodily injury or death, and you are now making that threat stop as quickly and efficiently as you can. This might result in the death of the aggressor, but that isn’t what you are hoping for. You just want them to stop. It’s not a good time to be thinking about your attacker’s future well-being…you should be thinking about survival. And consider for a second what the phrase “just wound” implies. What happens if a kneecap is shot? A shoulder or elbow? Permanent damage, possibly crippling damage, will result, and it’s also quite possible that the resultant shock and blood loss will kill the bad guy anyway. This is why the law views shooting someone in the leg the same way it views shooting them center-mass; it’s using deadly force. They won’t look on you more kindly for trying to just cripple him instead.
Good Luck Hitting Your Target
How many of you reading this have shot while on the move, or at a target that was moving? It looks very cool in television shows as people lean out of speeding cars and pick off the bad guys (or the bad guys take out a few good ones) but in reality it is stupidly hard to hit moving things. I know because I have done many drills where I or the target was on the move, and I even took a course that put me in a speeding and swerving car, shooting out of the window. Twenty-eight rounds later, I had hit only five of my targets. Nobody was shooting back, and I wasn’t flooded with adrenaline. (Well, okay, maybe a little bit of adrenaline, but only a fun amount.) The point is, it isn’t easy. Statistics vary, but most of the time it’s estimated that about 80 percent of shots fired by police during gunfights miss the target. They are under stress, and most likely both they and their intended target are moving. Why would you want to make that percentage even worse? Trying to aim at a flailing arm or a leg is far harder than shooting at the center of the chest or the pelvic girdle. And when you miss, your bullet has to go somewhere else – more chance of injuring someone innocent.
Stopping Power is Reduced
Someone whose heart is destroyed by a bullet can still function and fight for fifteen seconds or more, particularly if they are on certain drugs. Watch your clock for a full fifteen seconds. It’s a long time. A lot of bad stuff can happen to you in fifteen seconds. A wound to the arm or leg might take hours to incapacitate your attacker. I won’t ask you to watch your clock for hours; I assume you get the point.
When you are fighting for your life, take every advantage you can. Don’t play the arm or leg game…it could get you killed..