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Understanding Self-Defense

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be professional legal advice. Predator Armor does not accept liability for ill-use of its products and does not condone the use of violence unless absolutely necessary for the preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


We also urge our readers to seek out and understand their state laws, as all information in this article is subjective to them.


 

Be honest: how many of you have ever had this thought?


No one can blame you.


If you’re reading this, you probably love freedom - as well as the thought of preserving it for you and your family, at any cost. Which is cool. The thought of being the hero is exciting and invigorating! But as Seneca once said, “Everything that exceeds the bounds of moderation has an unstable foundation” - so let’s not get too trigger-happy just yet.


The best defense is… well, you know the rest.


Okay, we promise that’ll be the only cliche for today.


At Predator Armor, we offer equipment that enables an individual to protect themselves from gunfire.


We offer varying levels of body armor, to meet the potential threat.


Lighter weight kevlar based Level IIIA armor will stop most pistol rounds. Level III and Level III+ armor are designed for stopping rifle rounds. You can read more about the different levels of protection and what might be the best option for you in our other blog articles.


Everyone knows that just stopping a bullet isn’t going to stop the person who fired it. You need to be prepared to address the threat itself, and do so in a way that does not incriminate you.


Easier said than done? You have no idea.


But that’s exactly why we’re here. We want to add our voice in urging our fellow Americans and freedom-loving people everywhere to KNOW YOUR LAWS. Yes, that includes knowing both when and where to shoot.


“Dead men can’t sue”


Have you ever been given this “solution” when discussing how to deal with home intruders? In lieu of a witty, catchy response to this infamous one-liner, we want to make sure it is formally and bluntly addressed:


If “dead men can’t sue” is your guiding philosophy in home-defense, whether or not the attacker was using lethal force, you will be arrested, you will almost certainly go to prison, you will lose every firearm you own, and you will be in financial debt for the rest of your life - from fines, legal fees, or both.


Why? One word: Intent.


Well, that's the short answer anyway. To secure a conviction in Criminal Law, two elements must be present: actus reus and mens rea - the act, and the intent. If you shoot someone with the intention of killing them, regardless of the reason, it will most likely be labeled as a homicide. Yes, I mean no matter the reason. If a gas station clerk is robbed at gunpoint, and the robber runs off, but then the clerk runs out and shoots him as he’s escaping, the clerk will be charged with homicide and more than likely go to prison.


Even if you did not have the intention of killing an intruder, you better be damn convincing of that fact in a court of law, and hope the other side doesn’t have a better lawyer.


Is it fair? Well, that’s up to you to decide. We’re not here to provide a dissertation on the American Justice System and its efficiency (but for the record - no, we think it’s bullshit); we’re simply here to tell you what will happen if you shoot someone, and how to not be a dumbass.


Can a dead man sue? Obviously he cannot, but remember: his family can, and his family will.


So, let’s talk about the solutions, in order of importance.


Solution #1: Avoid Violence


I know I’m going to lose a few people here, and that’s unfortunate. Let me preempt this with a disclaimer - I am NOT saying violence is never the solution. Evil has, and always will exist, which means good men and women must always be ready to meet violence with violence. That is a simple fact of life, and one that our justice system has a difficult time processing.


But, it should never be your Plan A. No soldier worth his or her salt would ever want it to be.


As Desiderius Erasmus famously said, “war is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.” We may get excited at the thought of “killing the bad guy” and “saving the day” but if you ask 99 out of 100 people who have actually been in that situation… you better believe they would never want to do it again - not that they wouldn't do it again if necessary, of course. Using lethal force against another human being is the most extreme of measures, and it will change you as a person should you ever need to use it - and believe me, you do not want to have to deal with the emotional trauma on top of the impending legal and financial nightmares that will likely follow.


It bothers me to see such a polarizing modern-day stigma on this topic. I state that I want to use non-violent means to solve a potentially violent situation and I am instantly looped in with the “defund the police, use a social worker for every situation no matter what” crowd. I then state that I believe lethal force absolutely has a time and place and I am looped in with the “radicalized far-right and probably racist for no apparent reason” crowd. Ugh.


Let me use this moment to say that I am absolutely disgusted with my generation's inability to find middle-ground and moderation in regards to topics that deserve it. No, I’m not talking about the 2nd amendment of course.


But I digress. My point is, believe it or not, even “bad guys” usually don’t just kill without remorse. If you study the psychological standpoints of mass shootings and the horrible people behind them, for example, you’ll find that these individuals have often subjected themselves to immense psychological preparation in order to be mentally capable of taking so many lives. A truly terrifying prospect indeed; but a helpful one for understanding these types of situations and how to deal with them.


If you are in genuine fear for your life, then by all means, do what you have to. But DO NOT discount the possibility of de-escalation, if the possibility is still there. Your adrenaline and fight-or-flight mechanics will introduce some wacky thoughts into your mind, and you must be able to properly discern and address them. I have a number of friends who’ve served with hostage-negotiation teams, and they’re some of my absolute favorite people to sit down and talk about these things. I’ve had these points emphasized to me again and again - the amount of situations that unnecessarily turn violent when violence could have been avoided is staggering.


I mean not to trample “stand your ground” laws or castle doctrine, or paint them in a bad light at all - I think they are essential. I also believe that “duty to retreat” laws, while perhaps well-intended, are ridiculous. I also believe that I am obligated by human nature to seek peaceful measures in resolving situations before resorting to violence. That obligation is not necessarily even to the perpetrator, but myself - to my mental wellness, to my financial future, to my future in general.


Solution #2: Non-Lethal Force


This can get a little tricky, as different states often have different definitions of non-lethal force; however, the generally accepted definition of “non-lethal” is not likely to cause death and/or great bodily harm. For the record, any use of a firearm against an individual will generally be considered lethal force in a court of law, regardless of shot placement or intent.


Again, there is a lot of grey-area here. If you’re trained in hand-to-hand combat or are otherwise resourceful in ways that circumvent the use of lethal force, by all means, we urge you to pursue them. From a legal standpoint, you are significantly more likely to avoid prison time if you respond to a threat with non-lethal force, especially if the situation shows that you had the opportunity to.


That “opportunity” can be identified as self-defense training, being a significantly stronger person than the intruder, and so on. Even if the situation ultimately calls for lethal force, showing that you attempted non-lethal force and/or de-escalation will do wonders, legally speaking.


Solution #3: Shoot to stop the threat.


DO NOT shoot to kill.


DO NOT shoot to kill.


DO NOT shoot to kill.


If you take one thing away from reading, make it this: DO NOT shoot to kill. Your intent is not to kill, but rather to protect your own life or the life of another innocent person.


So you’re past the point of a peaceful solution and/or nonlethal force, and now must utilize lethal force to protect yourself.


Let’s talk through that process, assuming you’re using a firearm.


Weapon and ammunition


I cannot stress this enough - be smart about the firearm you’re using. With regards to the types of firearms that are good for self-defense, to each their own - but shotguns and handguns are by far the most popular. Keep in mind that there is an extraordinarily good chance your firearm will be confiscated, so we would recommend against using your prized $5,000 Beretta. What matters most is reliability and ease-of-use - something you’ve trained with and can count in a home-defense environment. Shorter barrels also work much better indoors, naturally.


Just as important as the firearm is the ammunition being used. Prosecutors will have a field day if you use ammunition that is prone to over-penetration (like FMJ), as this can even be used to denote ill-intent. It’s never a bad idea to use ammunition that is specifically designed for defense, as it is typically geared towards stopping threats without passing through them - because the last thing you want is a round to strike another human being. Also bear in mind that this information is directed towards the low-to-moderately trained masses - that’s not an insult, it’s just what most of us have time for. I see guys use FMJ in self-defense all the time, but it’s usually highly-trained individuals, capable of making calculated shots under pressure with a clear understanding of what is behind the target.


Shot Placement


I will say this once: You are not John Wick. You are not Jason Bourne. Don’t shoot like you are. You should not be aiming for limbs, and unless you are accustomed to shooting on adrenaline, don’t aim for the head either - at least for your initial shots.


Center mass. Center mass. Center mass. You will be much more efficient at stopping threats if you aim for center mass, and will have a much easier legal battle ahead of you. Remember, lawyers will look for ANY reason to prove ill-intent, and center mass is usually the safest legal bet, since it generally implies the intent of stopping the threat.


Of course, if the intruder is wearing body armor themselves, your best bet is to resort to the tried-and-true Mozambique Drill - "two to the body, one to the head.” Do us a favor, though - get some training in too.


Number of shots


This will often be the deciding factor in whether or not you go to prison. You shoot until the threat is stopped, and you do not fire a single shot more. If the intruder dies at this point, that’s okay, so long as it was not your intent to kill them. However, if investigators are able to prove that you fired a shot at the intruder after they were incapacitated, you will go to prison. If it is deemed that the extra shot(s) killed the intruder, you will go to prison for much longer.


The important trick here is to remain as calm and level-headed as possible. Manage your trigger discipline to avoid accidental discharges - and NEVER think you are too good for that rule, as it happens to experienced fighters too. Remain calm as you take your shots, and do not let adrenaline prompt you into just spamming the trigger. Be practical, as much as you reasonably can. Again. train often and you’ll be much better off.


Immediately after shooting


So you’ve stopped the threat, and they are either retreating or on the ground. From here, be cautious - every single action you take, and every word you say will count - so check yourself.

  • First thing’s first - ensure the area is safe. Make sure the intruder doesn't have a friend, make sure he or she is incapable of causing further harm, and secure the area.

  • Call 911, and be sure you’re the first to do it. Police commonly identify the first person who calls as the victim, and you’ll need every edge you can get.

  • Next, put the gun down. If you have a round in the chamber, take it out, and place the gun in a secure location. DO NOT be holding the firearm when the police arrive, as they will understandably have a heightened sense of security when arriving.

  • Prepare your initial response - we’ll talk about this in the next section

  • Wait, and don’t touch anything. Don’t move the intruder, don’t try to hide anything, just wait patiently. “Freeze the scene,” so to speak.

Police Interactions


When the Police show up, do not be surprised if it seems you are treated like the “bad guy” - remember that they are responding to a call involving lethal force, so they’ll be on guard for their own safety. You may be arrested regardless of the situation, and it is critical that you comply.


Provide an initial response - Simplicity is key here. Tell the police that you were forced to defend your life, identify the attacker, and identify any pertinent case elements to the officers (“that person was a witness,” ”that is the attacker’s weapon,” etc.). The goal is to make sure the police understand that you were being attacked with lethal force and took the necessary steps to stop that threat and preserve your life.


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, SHUT UP.


Believe it or not, your Miranda Rights are there to protect you - and most people who incriminate themselves within the first 30 seconds of police arriving do so because they don’t realize one simple fact - that anything they say will, in fact, be used against them in court. If the police request a detailed report, voice your intent to cooperate, but inform them that you would like to provide that report in the presence of your attorney.


You have the right to remain silent, and you better make damn good use of it until your lawyer is present. Be calm, be you - after all, you did nothing wrong.


Knowledge is Power


I’ll never forget the first time these rules and principles were explained to me. It’s easy to think that defending yourself against an intruder should be as simple as shooting them and moving on - but it never is. Every situation is unique, and every situation must be treated that way. More than a few good men and women have gone to prison and/or had their lives financially ruined because they made one seemingly small mistake when defending themselves - as outrageous as that sounds.


So, we plead with you to stay educated. Know your state’s laws, know them well, and never believe that you will be the exception to the rule.


So long as you are adequately prepared, you will have nothing to fear - not an intruder, not a lawyer, and not your safety.






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