Most serious shooters today have Jeff Cooper’s weapons safety rules engrained into their minds. These rules are simple to learn, cover nearly every training and real life situation, and have stood the test of time. When properly implemented they can nearly ensure the safe operation of any given weapons system.
America has largely evolved into a populous urban and suburban landscape. If a deadly force situation occurs it is likely going to take place in this setting. This means that being “sure of your target and what’s beyond it” should be of as much importance to the shooter as stopping the threat. The military maybe able to factor in “collateral damage” but you, the private citizen/LEO, will be held accountable to a high standard for any defensive action with a firearm.
After surviving a deadly force encounter, nothing would be worse than learning that your actions caused a life changing accident. No one wants to live with that kind of guilt or go through the slaughterhouse of civil court, where you’ve already lost even if you ultimately win (attorney fees and court costs = losing in my book). As a cop, I’ve seen the aftermath of dozens of shootings that terrified, wounded, and sometimes even killed people who just happened to be nearby or live in the area. The careless criminals who wreak this kind of havoc are rarely held properly accountable in our current (failing) system of justice.
Recently, a man in TN successfully defended his life during a robbery attempt in an apartment complex by a violent felon. Unfortunately, one of his rounds missed the target and went into an apartment with multiple children inside. Thankfully, no one in the apartment was injured and the threat was successfully stopped. I am in no way trying to “Monday morning quarterback” this situation as anyone who has been there knows how fast and chaotic these types of incidents are. Regardless, the incident is a stark lesson and warning to anyone that lawfully carries a gun for duty or protection as the results could have easily been tragic.