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2010-03-31 / Opinion

Don't rush opinions on shooting

Dear Editor:

Recent well meaning, but uninformed opinions concerning officer use of deadly force really needs to be commented upon. Unfortunately, the public has developed many of these opinions on shooting situations from Hollywood. Gene Autry would fire one unaimed shot from the hip which hit his assailant in the arm, spinning him around and knocking him to the ground helpless.

The reality of actual on-the-street situations is totally different.

There is an important difference between target practice and defensive shooting. The only purpose for a defensive shooting, or shooting an assailant, is to stop the threat of death or great bodily harm to yourself or others. With the stakes so high, unlike target practice, law enforcement and citizens alike are taught to shoot at the "center of mass:", which on an assailant is the torso area.

According to the NRA manual on personal protection with a handgun, which is recognized and used nationally by police departments and defense instructors, "it is possible for highly motivated assailants to receive a mortal injury, yet continue to assail for 30 seconds or more, particularly if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol." The manual further states that "You should continue to fire until the threat (of death or great bodily harm) ceases", i.e. your assailant flees, complies with your commands, or falls down.

Scientific studies have shown that an assailant striding toward you can cover as much as 22 feet per second. Those same studies have shown that officers can fire their handgun at a rate of 4 rounds in that same second. That is why defensive shooting doesn't rely on precision marksmanship. Time does not allow for that luxury. The correct procedure in a defensive encounter is to shoot for the center of mass and to continue firing until the threat stops.

There is no doubt that this investigation needs to be thorough and complete due to the seriousness of the matter. Let's not rush to uninformed and/or misinformed opinions based upon speculation. Let's let the investigative facts speak for themselves when they are presented.
Virgil Strickler
Retired Sheriff of Sanilac County
Handgun Safety Instructor

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