When having this Handgun Scenario discussion I find that some students (thankfully very few), tell me they would draw on the bank robber because he is a felon running away, or some other variation of the citizen’s arrest theme. Others say you cannot draw your gun because it is illegal to shoot someone in the back*… Well both are from erroneous self defense ideas.
First off in Tennessee, (and most other states – but I am can only intelligently discuss my state’s law) under no circumstances can a citizen use a gun as a means to effect and arrest. This means that you have a right to make a citizen’s arrest you are NOT a cop, and if you pull your gun out you’re facing an aggravated assault (felony) charge at the least.
In Tennessee, our laws reflect the idea that a human life (no matter if it is a criminal life or not) is worth more than stuff. You can ONLY use your firearm for self-defense if you have the two conditions below met at the exact moment you use your gun.
The person you are shooting is a presenting an immediate threat upon your life – they have a weapon or ability to kill or seriously injure you (put you in the hospital type injury not black eye/broken nose type).
You honestly believe they are trying to kill you and you are in fear for your life. This doesn’t mean you think they will kill you later, or they said they are going to kill you, but that you are in reasonable fear right now….
Can he kill you?
Sure, he has a gun (but so does every cop you meet, every carry permit holder, soldier, me….)
Do you have a reasonable fear?
You may be afraid, but it’s not reasonable – he is running away….
So if you said you would draw your gun then you need to seriously consider why you are carrying as well as the applicable laws. In this scenario, the armed citizen is breaking the letter, as well as the spirit, of the law.
*This is hypothetical, but I know someone is going to ask about my statement on illegal to shoot someone in the back… The law in my state does not address this so it is not illegal. They only have codified what I said about immediate threat that you reasonably fear. I am sure there is a possibility that someone is a lethal threat to you or an innocent third party but they have their back to you.
Suicide bomber maybe?
Or you fired a double tap and the bad guy was turning. Meaning you did not aim at his back but the round impacted there as the first round spun him?
All I know is that you are legally and morally responsible for every bullet fired and the legally responsible part is based upon the legal code of the state you are in and Tennessee’s code doesn’t specifically mention location of bullet holes just actions and intents of the participants….
I think this kind of what would you do training is invaluable to preparing a person to carry a gun for self defense. If you never work on handgun scenario training you will have to work through the situation when it occurs – this will waste precious seconds and may cause you to do the wrong thing. Please look at the post on OODA loop for more information.