Military and Police

Don’t Rely on Your Taser to Get You Through a Gun Fight

“I do not want to have to try and explain the finer points in use of force escalation and de-escalation to a jury while they are contemplating my possible future in prison.”

Recently, while browsing through Twitter (@downrangewithCW), I saw a post from a decent source advocating using “less lethal” for self-defense. On the face of it, I would normally say that is an option, but not for most civilians.

Firstly, less lethal was designed for law enforcement to be able to use another means to stop dangerous suspects while simultaneously being covered with a deadly force response. LL (less lethal) is a means of trying to stop someone that is not yet an immediate threat to anyone. Less lethal requires the use of a less lethal weapon or system to stop a lethal threat, unlike using something such as OC spray to stop a unarmed attacker.

When this organization tweeted about using less lethal force for civilians, I had to take note. Let’s picture this: you already carry your EDC Self Defense tools. A dependable knife, a firearm, maybe flashlight or extra magazine for the firearm. Maybe you are even one of the trained and prepared types that carries an IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit). You are prepared and ready to protect yourself and your loved ones, and maybe even your fellow citizens should the need arise. OC spray is the only less lethal item I can see a citizen having a use for. Spraying an angry attacker who is unarmed may give you time to escape or seek safety.

When can you use less lethal? When someone is threatening you with a knife? No, that’s a deadly force situation. Maybe a crowbar? Nope — deadly force again. So just when would a civilian be able to use an LL form of defense? Say someone comes up to you and says they are going to bash your face in, is that the time to use LL? No.

I see no value in citizens now having less lethal weapons or options on them. If it is not a deadly force situation, the police should handle it, or you should try to leave. No need to expose yourself or others to the chance of being injured unnecessarily.

Then there is the legal aspect to think about. I can see it now, “Mr. Wagoner, isn’t it true you had the ability to use a less lethal form of defense, in fact, you had it on you but chose to use deadly force instead?” I do not want to have to try and explain the finer points in use of force escalation and de-escalation to a jury while they are contemplating my possible future in prison.

So for my fellow citizens who are thinking of learning to defend themselves: please do not think about ‘less lethal’ for deadly force situations. It will only make it harder for you at the time and later in court.

Chris Wagoner

Chris Wagoner is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army Veteran. He has been in law enforcement the last 35+ years. He specializes in LE Firearms Instruction, and is in charge of a large Police Academy in North Florida. In his spare time Chris is a freelance writer and posts his articles on "Down Range with Chris Wagoner".

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.