Biden suggests cops should be trained to shoot-to-wound

Biden suggests cops should be trained to shoot-to-wound
AP Photo/Nati Harnik

And if that standard is good enough for police, of course, why shouldn’t law-abiding gun owners who act in self-defense be held to that same standard?

Joe Biden’s latest bizarre ramblings into a microphone came on Monday, as the president addressed the National Action Network’s Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast. Speaking about criminal justice and policing reforms, Biden made a statement that sure sounds like he believes officers should be re-trained to use their firearms for less-than-lethal force.


A very charitable reading of Biden’s remark would note that he mentioned de-escalation just before he launched into his truly awful advice, so maybe he was talking about using non-lethal devices like Tasers instead of firearms in more situations. It sure sounds, however, like Biden was calling for training police to “shoot-to-wound” or some nonsense like that.

We’ll see if Karine Jean-Pierre issues a “clarification” about Biden’s inanities at some point, but in the meantime, I’m going to take them at face value and note just how gobsmackingly dumb Biden’s idea really is. And since I know anti-gun zealots won’t take my word for it, I’ll let an academic explain why this is idiotic.

Anytime a firearm is discharged, it’s considered deadly force, said David Klinger, professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Shooting to injure or maim someone wouldn’t stop an aggressive subject, Klinger said, and officers are trying to stop the threat to their life, or the life of their partner or a citizen.

“Why would we want to injure or maim people?” he said. “It doesn’t stop them.”

Because of the potential risks, it would be “very difficult” to train officers to shoot to wound instead, Kelly said. If someone’s life is in jeopardy, shooting to maim or injure will have little effect on the actions of the individual who is trying to kill, Klinger added.

Additionally, if an officer aims at anything other than the torso area, the odds that he or she will miss increase greatly, Klinger said. But aiming for the chest means that the type of wounds suspects usually sustain are likely to be fatal, he added.

Officers are trained to shoot with the understanding that one shot may not stop an aggressive subject, Klinger said.

There are only two ways to shut down the human body using deadly force, he said. The first is loss of blood, and the other is a shot to the central nervous system. Police officers are trained to shoot at center mass, in the torso area.

Klinger recalled an incident in 1981 when he was a young officer with the LAPD. The suspect had just stabbed his partner in the chest with a butcher knife, and immediately jumped on top of his partner and held the knife to his throat. Klinger called it a “rookie mistake” when he tried to take the knife away from the suspect.

Even after Klinger shot the suspect and the bullet pierced his left lung, aorta and right lung, the suspect still continued to fight for at least another 30 seconds, Klinger said. It took a total of six officers to subdue him and get him to drop the knife. If the man were armed with a gun instead of a knife, Klinger would have had to keep shooting because “he would have continued to be a threat.”

“Even if an officer shoots [someone] with a lethal firearm, it may not stop a person,” he said. “When there is a threat to life right now, or serious bodily injury, deadly force is the appropriate response.”


Taking self-defense tips from Joe Biden is like taking diet tips from… well, me, at the moment. Whether he’s talking about the use of force against a deadly threat or the best firearm for home defense, you’re best off completely disregarding what he has to say.

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