Part 2 of Life-Changing Realities spoke to the mindset changes necessary for those taking personal responsibility for the protection of themselves and those they love. Part 3 deals with more practical—and gritty–issues:
The Mechanisms of Stopping: There are three primary means of stopping a human being:
(1) Neural damage;
(2) Breaking the skeleton;
(3) Exsanguination (reducing blood pressure through bleeding).
There are, however, many other considerations.
(1) Neural Damage: causing trauma to the brain usually causes immediate cessation of hostile action. SWAT marksmen try for a brain stem shot whenever possible. They try to hit a hostage taker exactly where the brain and brain stem meet, at the base of the rear of the skull. If properly placed, a bullet to this junction will cause the potential killer to drop as though a light switch had been flicked off. Even if they have their finger on the trigger of a gun, they will not be able to pull it. The problem is that this area is a very small target. Relatively speaking, the human head is also a small target, particularly if it is moving at all. Notice too that I am talking about a highly trained marksman making the shot with a scoped, highly accurate rifle, almost always with the benefit of a spotter and from a supported position. The ranges for urban sniper shots also tend to be less than 100 yards. Accurately shooting a handgun at the same target, even at close range, is much more demanding. In addition, the target will seldom present the back of his skull to the shooter and stand still long enough for a perfect shot to be made. Marksmen often have to estimate where the nerve junction is while shooting from the front or side or various angles of the same.
(2) Breaking the skeleton: while breaking a femur, or the pelvis, for example, will cause most people to drop to the ground, they may still be capable of pulling a trigger, and if so, have merely been rendered less mobile, not stopped. And again, making such shots with any degree of reliability with a handgun is exceedingly difficult, not only because such targets are rather small in diameter, people move more or less constantly, and the precise location of a major, load-bearing bone in a given person’s leg may be difficult at best to determine. It is also difficult because, compared with rifle ammunition, most popular handgun calibers lack the power to reliably break large bones, particularly with single shots.
(3) Exsanguination: someone shot in an artery, or even the heart, may have up to three minutes of useful consciousness if they are truly determined to kill you regardless of the damage they suffer in the attempt and their likely death. However, if sufficient blood is lost, the resulting drop in blood pressure will inevitably lead to unconsciousness.
Of course, a combination of these three primary effects may be more effective and faster in stopping hostile action.
If by now you’re wondering how people are stopped at all, good for you. You’re paying attention and really thinking. Again, you’ve likely been infected by Hollywood, but what you’re reading is part of the cure.
[article continues on next page]