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  • Lethal Force

    Why should there be a difference between the situations in which a law enforcement officer and a citizen are permitted to use lethal force?

    For the sake of argument, we'll assume that by "private citizen," I'm referring to someone who has passed background checks and gone through a "rigorous" weapon training program, and carries his/her weapon in full compliance with the law (concealed carry permit, registration, etc).
    A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

    "$250,000 a year won't get me to Central Park West."

  • #2
    Re: Lethal Force

    Thats easy.

    A citizen is permitted to use deadly force in direct defense of human life and, depending on who you ask and what state you live in, sometimes in direct defense of property.

    If deadly force is permitted and/or required for any reason beyond those two, a LEO carries out that duty, and not an ordinary citizen. If you don't believe there ARE any reasons beyond those two, then there is no need for a distinction between LEOs and citizens. If you do think there are other reasons, then you have a distinction.

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    • #3
      Re: Lethal Force

      Law Enforcement Should use Lethal force as a Last resort to Protect the Life of a person in immediate threat of death..eh? So if a regular person were to take another persons life while protecting another from death..whats the issue? The issue may come into light that the regular person cannot be a good judge as to what is Life threatening and what is not... If average Joe goes to punch some dude in the head and another "thinks " that the person is threatened with death..well.. that's an issue.
      Law enforcement should only escalate force as needed to the situation. That's why they/we etc get all the TOYS...Mace/ASP/Taser/PR/Slap etc...then the gun. Like in the San Fran Shooting we had the other day...my first question was Why the heck did the guy have his gun out in the first place? In a crowd like that it should have been locked down in the holster until such a threat appeared..
      |TG|ARMA Pathfinder
      ..now where did I put my keys?

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      • #4
        Re: Lethal Force

        Originally posted by peardog View Post
        Law enforcement should only escalate force as needed to the situation.
        Right, but LEOs often use force, justifiably, to affect an arrest. That's our job. If we can't do it, and can't use the force necessary to do it, then why even hit the street? LEOs are given a position of trust by society that DOES permit them to use force in situations where Joe the Plumber could not...
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        • #5
          Re: Lethal Force

          Originally posted by Kerostasis View Post
          If deadly force is permitted and/or required for any reason beyond those two, a LEO carries out that duty, and not an ordinary citizen. If you don't believe there ARE any reasons beyond those two, then there is no need for a distinction between LEOs and citizens. If you do think there are other reasons, then you have a distinction.
          Do you believe there is any justification for lethal force beyond those two points?
          A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

          "$250,000 a year won't get me to Central Park West."

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          • #6
            Re: Lethal Force

            Yes, but the exact number and type of those situations is a little fuzzy. I can think of two off hand -- effecting an arrest, and carrying out an execution. Not that lethal force is highly efficient at arresting people, since the goal of an arrest is to take them alive, but it helps to at least have the option available when enforcing arrest warrants against people who otherwise would not submit peacefully.

            Then there's also military force, but that's another classification altogether. That kind of lethal force isn't carried out by LEOs.

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            • #7
              Re: Lethal Force

              If someone doesn't submit peacefully, why would one use lethal force?

              Seems that it's simply a back door to the first scenario of "defending human life." IE, the suspect reacts to an arrest attempt by pulling a gun, or pulling a knife and charging.
              A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

              "$250,000 a year won't get me to Central Park West."

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              • #8
                Re: Lethal Force

                An officer uses a weapon to extract compliance in a potentially-deadly scenario. A citizen can't walk up to a suspicious guy, draw their sidearm, and do the same thing.

                Citizens can defend themselves reactively (to a situation that has already developed). Officers can employ their weapons proactively (to prevent a possible situation from escalating).

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                • #9
                  Re: Lethal Force

                  Originally posted by xTYBALTx View Post
                  If someone doesn't submit peacefully, why would one use lethal force?

                  Seems that it's simply a back door to the first scenario of "defending human life." IE, the suspect reacts to an arrest attempt by pulling a gun, or pulling a knife and charging.
                  Because I won't wait for a suspect to threaten human life. If I think he's dangerous, I'll threaten him using deadly force from the get go. Do you not think cops should serve an arrest warrant with their guns drawn? They have no idea what's inside a house. Could be a peacefully sleeping family, or it could be a gang of thugs loading their illegal machine guns. All the cops know is that they have a warrant for a guy that lives there for manufacturing/delivering a controlled substance, over 400KG. Would YOU want to stroll in there with your pistol holstered?
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                  • #10
                    Re: Lethal Force

                    I'm confused Cing.

                    First you say that "If I think he's dangerous, I'll threaten him using deadly force from the get go." This makes it seem like you're shooting him if he appears dangerous.

                    But then, you say, "Do you not think cops should serve an arrest warrant with their guns drawn?" This now makes it seem like you simply want the arresting officers to be prepared to shoot should such need arise.

                    To be clear, when I earlier referred to deploying or using lethal force, what I meant was the former: Shooting. Drawing a weapon may "threaten" lethal force, certainly, but technically merely carrying a weapon in plain view also "threatens" lethal force. What I'm discussing is shooting people, not threatening to shoot people.
                    A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

                    "$250,000 a year won't get me to Central Park West."

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                    • #11
                      Re: Lethal Force

                      Originally posted by xTYBALTx View Post
                      I'm confused Cing.
                      Sorry, this is a semantics issue that is particularly nasty. Some will say that merely pointing a gun at someone is deadly force. You are forcing someone to do something or die.

                      Others will say that deadly force is when you pull the trigger and actually injure someone with a weapon that will kill.

                      Merely carrying a weapon in plain view is not deadly force, as nobody has been threatened with it. I carry a weapon in plain view every single day, but I assure you I do not use, or threaten to use, deadly force every day.
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                      • #12
                        Re: Lethal Force

                        Well to remove the semantics issue from the discussion, let's just say that for our purposes here, deadly force means:

                        "Discharging a firearm in a manner which is known to have a significant chance of resulting in death."

                        So, with that definition, is there any time that an LEO should be able to use deadly force and a citizen would not?
                        A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

                        "$250,000 a year won't get me to Central Park West."

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                        • #13
                          Re: Lethal Force

                          I had been thinking of Cing's definition I guess, so with that more narrow definition I can amend my answer slightly: There are very few situations where a LEO would be justified in using deadly force but a citizen would not (legal executions being the only one that comes to mind), however LEOs are given much more latitude to enter situations that might reasonably lead to the need for deadly force in the near future, where a citizen ought to just back away.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Lethal Force

                            Because an LEO can use deadly force to effect an arrest, be careful what you declare illegal. Every time you make something against the law, you are declaring that killing people who do those things is ok. (Because they might resist you arresting them for it.)

                            I don't see why a citizen can't make such an arrest, though, if he follows all the legally-required procedures.
                            Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

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                            • #15
                              Re: Lethal Force

                              Originally posted by ScratchMonkey View Post
                              Because an LEO can use deadly force to effect an arrest, be careful what you declare illegal. Every time you make something against the law, you are declaring that killing people who do those things is ok. (Because they might resist you arresting them for it.)
                              Resisting arrest is not a capital offense by itself. Resisting arrest by shooting at the officers is more likely to get you shot, but shooting at anyone for any reason carries a chance of being shot back. And at that point it no longer makes sense to claim that the police are killing them for whatever minor original offense they may have been involved in -- the police are shooting in self defense.

                              Granted, there's been a few tragic cases (like the BART thread also active today) where people were shot while resisting arrest non-violently, but those are thankfully rare.

                              I don't see why a citizen can't make such an arrest, though, if he follows all the legally-required procedures.
                              In point of fact citizens can make arrests in most places, but I doubt very many citizens actually know all the legally-required procedures. And watching crooks being read their Miranda rights on TV isn't a very helpful guide for that.

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