Partly because I'm reading Massad Ayoob's new book, Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense, partly because of this post by ToddG, and partly because of the stupid overflowing in the news lately, the woeful lack of knowledge most people have regarding Use Of Force issues has been on my mind.
Let's take the example of "furtive movement" shootings in which it turns out that the shootee was unarmed and the shooter was merely reacting to a movement they interpreted as going for a pistol. To somebody who doesn't know anything about how guns work "He didn't even have a gun!" is somehow entirely dispositive of the matter.
Now, I am not notably fast, in fact I am downright sluggish, but even I can draw a pistol from concealment and hit a wide-open target right in front of me in less than two seconds, and the bulk of that time is spent in fishing the gun out from underneath the cover garment. Basic human reaction time is about half a second. Scribble some numbers on the back of an envelope and figure how much time that leaves somebody to react once my gun is actually visible.
This is why the totality of the circumstances is considered in cases like that: Would a reasonable person, knowing what the shooter knew at the time, have done the same thing? I know how long it takes to draw a gun. I know how long it takes me to draw a gun. I know I am under no obligation to let the other person shoot me before I commence defending myself.
Now, ideally, these are the sort of things that get presented to juries, but the general public only knows what they heard in the initial news report, which is all too often the most sensational angle that was presented in order to get the most eyeballs for the car dealerships and aluminum siding companies that pay for your news. So the jury comes out and acquits somebody for what the general public has been told is the cold-blooded murder of an unarmed person.
Anyhow, this was rambling. I've still got a mad-on at the media I need to work out. More later.