top of page

The Bad Guy Gets a Vote

Quite often, we’ll watch an “action movie” or TV show that inevitably has the obligatory shoot-out between the good guy and bad guy. If holding true to form, there are usually one or two shots fired and the bad guy immediately succumbs and stops all further aggressive actions. While this all looks good on screen, it is far from the truth. Generally, whatever the bad guy is doing before he’s shot he’ll continue doing after he’s shot. The human body is just not impressed with handgun ammunition.

There have been many studies, experiments and documentation done regarding the effectiveness of handgun ammunition on the human body. However, there is no valid, scientific analysis of actual shooting results in existence, or being pursued to date. There are some well-publicized, so-called analyses of shooting incidents being promoted, however, that are greatly flawed[1]. Having this in mind, watch the following video:

If we conform to the theory that multiple torso hits with reliable hollow-point ammunition will dissuade further action by the bad guy, then by all accounts, the antagonist in this video should have been stopped in the first volley fired by the officer. Instead, he not only got back to his feet, but aggressively, and successfully, attacked another officer and attempted to take his gun. He was then stopped by a second volley of shots by another officer.

I have said for years that the human body is tremendously resilient and can take more punishment than we believe and still function. Here is another example:

Corporal Mark Coates was shot and killed after stopping a car for weaving in traffic on I-95 near the Georgia border.

During the traffic stop the subject began to struggle with Corporal Coates and they both fell to the ground. The man fired a .22 caliber handgun into Corporal Coates' chest, but the round was stopped by his vest.

Corporal Coates was able to force the man off him and return fire, striking him five times in the chest with his .357 caliber revolver. As he retreated for cover and to radio for backup, the man fired another shot. The round struck Trooper Coates in the left armpit and traveled into his heart.

The man survived the incident and was sentenced to life in prison.[2]

You would think that five rounds of .357 magnum hollow-point in the torso would get the job done. I have watched the dashboard video of the Trooper Coates shooting dozens of times and I have used it in training. When people see this, they are amazed the killer survived.

I have heard for years that the .45 ACP is a ‘man killer’ or ‘fight stopper’. Yet, more people in this country have probably been killed by .22 rimfires than all other calibers combined.[3] In my career - both on the law enforcement and on the EMS side – I can count on one hand the number of times someone was shot and killed with something other than a .22.

So, what makes the difference? The first thing that comes to mind is bullet placement. If a bullet doesn’t hit something vital, there is only a slim chance of an immediate stop. Certainly if there is a CNS (Central Nervous System) hit, you will almost always get immediate flaccid paralysis and a cessation of further actions. But, there are two dogs in the fight and both get a say as to when the fight is over.

Besides drugs, alcohol and just being a plain bad ass, you have to consider the ‘chemical cocktail’ which is introduced when we are put under extreme stress. Epinephrine (adrenaline), along with norepinephrine, estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, dopamine and serotonin all combine to turn a ‘Walter Mitty’ into a Superman who seems impervious to just about everything.

So, what does all this mean? It means there are no absolutes. There is no handgun that will knock anyone off their feet. A bullet simply cannot knock a man down. If it had the energy to do so, then equal energy would be applied against the shooter and he too would be knocked down. This is simple physics, as the amount of energy deposited in the body by a bullet is approximately equivalent to being hit with a baseball. Tissue damage is the only physical link to incapacitation within the desired time frame – which is instantaneous.[4]

Do you carry a gun for personal protection? If so, what is your plan if you don’t achieve that ‘magic one-shot stop’? All that moving and finding cover, etc. you read about once in a magazine or saw on a YouTube video now begins to make sense, huh?

Even if you make solid hits on your assailant, there is no guarantee he will stop his assault on you. Remember, the bad guy gets a vote.



The Director's Desk

bottom of page