Vigilance, Not Vigilantes

The fact that the King County Sheriff’s office and other Washington State law enforcement agencies are being forced to eliminate officers has raised the issue of whether we citizens may have to defend ourselves from violent predators. Is Sheriff Sue Rahr’s recent suggestion that citizens should protect themselves some new kind of vigilantism that may deprive others of Constitutional due process?

Let us start with the premise that no one should ever threaten to give another person a lead enema. State Sen. Tim Sheldon’s colorful advice to his Mason County constituents is ill-advised. It is illegal to shoot fleeing criminals unless it is readily apparent that the individual has perpetrated certain violent offenses that present clear danger to the community. Common sense dictates that any violent encounter is better handled by an individual trained to evaluate the legal and tactical considerations involved with stopping a fleeing felon.

By getting trained professionally, you will learn that when you are legally justified in holding a perpetrator at gun point you should aim at the center of body mass or the front of the pelvis- not the backside! A predator can traverse 21 feet with a knife or other contact weapon before you will have time to react and effectively stop your attacker.

By aiming at the pelvis you can shatter the pelvic bones and stop the attacker’s forward momentum while also directing the shot downward so that your shot will not hit someone beyond your assailant. The psychological intimidation of a pistol aimed at the groin is another advantage of maintaining such a “low ready” stance. Try to remain behind cover if possible and never approach a person that you are holding at gunpoint. Many violent predators train constantly and they probably know more tricks than you do.

You should not ever present a weapon unless you are imminently threatened by someone presenting deadly force. Should you shoot to kill or just to wound? The right answer is that neither option is correct. You should shoot to STOP deadly violence.

Shooting to wound an armed assailant is for Hollywood cowboys. Stopping a perpetrator usually means aiming for the center of body mass; i.e.; the middle of the chest. Head shots are reserved for suicide bombers and hostage-takers. Or an assailant wearing body armor.

It is impossible to predict how many shots will be sufficient to prevent the assailant returning fire. Even well-placed shots may not stop the threat! The number of shots is determined by how many rounds must be fired to neutralize a continuing threat.

Despite well-placed shots, you may need to reload in order to keep shooting until the threat is stopped. You should carry additional magazines where they are accessible. Warning shots are foolish and inadvisable.

Do not be misled by talk that emboldens illegal and ignorant vigilantism. Citizens can contribute much toward good government by reminding politicians that they work for us. If we tolerate the crazy talk that was coming out of Mason County, however, people will soon be trying to give enemas to professional politicians. Nobody wants that.

The Law Office of Mark Knapp is offering legal seminars on these and related issues at no charge for groups of ten or more. Send an e-mail to for more information.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: