Why not just shoot the gun out of their hand?

There are arguments that can be made that betray someone’s complete ignorance on matters tactical.

Longtime shooters have heard them all, and they almost always cause a chuckle and an eye roll.

Former Vice President Joe Biden parroted one of the more common misconceptions just the other day, when he suggested that police should be trained to shoot someone who is “unarmed” with a knife — yep, unarmed with a knife — in the leg as opposed to center mass.

Everyone with even a shred of tactical training just rolled their eyes, again.

It’s not the first time the good Veep has shared his vast tactical expertise with America.

The last time he advocated shooting two warning shots out the back door with a shotgun if the bad guys come.

The fact that he’s surrounded by a heavily armed Secret Service detail 24-7 didn’t enter into the conversation.

Just fire two rounds outside the door, he said, and the bad guys will skedaddle.


Anyway, back to his latest ramble …

Police are taught to shoot center mass to stop a threat, which can include unarmed dudes with knives.

They’re not trained to shoot to kill. They’re trained to stop the threat, and the easiest way to stop a threat is to shoot center mass. Why? Because it’s the biggest target — the easiest to hit.

Unfortunately, most police officers are not true pistoleers. Their training is rudimentary at best, and held far too infrequently to do any good. If they want to get better, they have to train on their own, at their own expense.

Therefore, asking a young officer who’s mainlining pure adrenaline, whose shooting arm feels like a big piece of licorice, to make a leg shot while someone’s charging him with a knife is a great way to get a cop stabbed.

Also, the good Veep must be a believer in the magic bullet theory— the one-shot-stop myth.

Their are far too many bad hombres out there who could shrug off a single leg wound an bury their knife into the officer up to the hilt.

Human beings can absorb a lot of punishment. There’s no guarantee one shot — especially delivered to a leg — will stop the threat.

Can the Veep not understand this? Does he like hearing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes?

I’ve fielded a lot of training questions over the years, most often from well-meaning souls. Shooting someone in the arm or leg was a common topic, as was disarming them with a single bullet.

“I can’t shoot a gun out of someone’s hand,” I’d say. “I’m not the Lone Ranger.”


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

1 Comment

  1. I’ve been around firearms and shooting since 1983. My dad introduced me to hunting at a very early age and by age 16, I was using my own rifle — it was a Winchester bolt-action .243. When I reached 21, I bought my first handgun. It was a Taurus 92 — clone to the Beretta 92. Since that purchase, I have been doing a lot of research, learning and training on firearms for self-defense (including tactics, law related material, mental awareness, ballistics … etc). In my current personal arsenal, I own a Kimber Ultra Carry CDP ii (45ACP), a Colt Combat Elite (45ACP), a Mossberg 590 Tactical (12 ga) and an Oympic Arms Plinker Plus Flat Top AR15 (5.56 NATO).
    Everything I’ve ever read. heard and seen has me believing that a responsibly armed citizen should always aim for center mass.
    I have also been telling people about “Stress-Fire”. Anyone can put a round into a paper target without too much difficulty. Heck, even some trick shots are possible on gun range. There isn’t much at stake there.
    However, when one or more people are trying to kill you (Cooper Condition Red), your stress levels are nearly incomprehensible. If anyone is able to shoot a weapon out of someone’s hand, or shoot them in the leg, it is indeed pure luck.
    In short, aim center mass and stop the threat.

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