Shooting to Wound?

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

One of the “suggestions” that comes out of the anti-gun crowd every once in a while, is the idea of shooting to wound, rather than shooting to kill. In their “thinking,” it’s “unfair” to kill someone, just because they’ve broken into your home or have held you up at gunpoint. Whether or not those criminals would kill you if they had the chance never seems to come up; but then, they always seem to side with the criminals, rather than the victims.

An alternative viewpoint they express, even less frequently, is that we should just fire warning shots to run the bad guys off. The most famous example of this came from the mouth of the president, back when he was the vice-president. He obviously didn’t know that it’s illegal in most jurisdictions to fire warning shots, due to the danger that an unaimed bullet presents to the public at large.

Obviously, this suggestion has come out of ignorance. Anyone who knows how to shoot, also knows that there are good reasons to aim for center mass. Not only is there the normal risk of missing your target; but there’s the added inaccuracy which comes from the adrenalin pumping through your system in such a time. According to what I’ve seen, you lose 80% of your accuracy at that time, meaning that you are much more likely to miss your target. Picking a smaller target, like a hand or arm, so as to avoid killing the perpetrator just increases your chance of missing them altogether.

Looking at that, shooting center mass might not result in a kill shot anyway. If your normal group is 4”, then during a time when you’re having to shoot to protect your life, your group is going to be 20”. That means that even if you do hit them, chances are that you’ll only hit the periphery of that target. So, what is intended as a kill shot will only be a wound anyway.

This is why police departments train officers to take two shots to the body, followed up by a slower, aimed shot to the head. They know that the chances of the officer actually putting that perpetrator on the ground with their first shot are slim, even if they do hit them.

But there’s another thing that plays into this, which few people realize, even gun owners. We’ve all become so accustomed to the Hollywood image of gunfights, where one shot from the hip will hit the person center mass, knock them back ten feet to hit a wall, which they will slide down dead. That might look good in the movies, but it’s not at all realistic. Killing someone with a firearm might be easier than killing them with a pair of brass knuckles; but hitting them is no guarantee that they’ll go down, let alone that they will die.

Perhaps it would help to bring some statistics into the discussion. The anti-gun crowd loves to use statistics to prove their point, even though the statistics they use are intentionally misleading. The statistics I’m using have come from the National Safety Council (NSC), a non-profit organization chartered by Congress and funded by philanthropic giving. They are the nation’s leading advocate for safety, and have tracked safety data for a wide variety of accidents, injuries and means of death for over 100 years.

According to the NSC, of all intentional firearms discharges (other than target practice), only 1 in 89 leads to death. In the case of gun assaults, the incident of death is even lower, with only 1 in 208 people dying. For accidental gun discharges, only 1 in 7,944 leads to death. [1]

In other words, if any of us use a gun in self-defense, there’s only a 1 in 208 chance that the criminal we are defending ourselves from will die. Some will live because we miss; some will live because we only wing them; and some will live because of outstanding medical care. Regardless of the reason, few of them will actually due. With that being the case, why should we even attempt to “shoot to wound?”

The law gives us the right to use deadly force in self-defense and the defense of others. Those laws are very specific and the way the courts judge those laws is even more specific. There’s no getting away with shooting someone who is no longer an imminent threat of life and limb. With that being the case, why should anyone shooting to defend themselves from such a threat even try to use anything less than deadly force, such as shooting to wound, rather than shooting to kill?

Obviously, the people making such statements are unfamiliar with firearms or the realities of having to defend themselves from someone who wishes to do them serious harm. But then, we already know that. Perhaps those people need to learn something about keeping their powder dry and their survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich



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