Showing posts with label Gun Control. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gun Control. Show all posts

Monday, October 20, 2014

Firearms, Self-Defense, and the Law: Information for Writers Plotting a Gun Scene


Image found publicly on Facebook
Your heroine is in a spot she could never -
would never - imagine finding herself. Sure, when she bought her gun  it was with the thought that it was for self-protection - but it was a distant thought, one that didn't comport real conviction. Now here she was loading her ten precious silver bullets into her magazine, sliding it into place, ready to take out the werewolf pacing outside her bedroom door.

In your fictional work, laws don't just go away. You will need to research the area in which your heroine lives and have her come to some decisions about her own conduct. In Janet Evanoviche's Stephanie Plum series, Plum disobeys the law by carrying a concealed gun - that she has no intention of shooting or even brandishing. Plum relies on the fact that she has dumb-luck (and a hunky police investigator boyfriend) on her side to keep out of jail.

What choices will your heroine make? 

Legal or Illegal? How does your heroine get a gun in her hand?
 * If she is buying a gun she must  fill out BATF form 4473. 
    This form includes information about the buyer, the serial
    number, and a description of the firearm. (Not applicable to
    private sales - obviously, if your heroine is getting it from 
    Crud Murphy in the back alley, she won't be filling out a form)
 * There are legal reasons why your heroine may not be able to
    follow the straight and narrow. It is illegal for her to buy a gun if 
    she :
     ^ Was convicted of domestic violence
     ^ Has ever had a court ordered restraint
     ^ Was a United States Citizens then renounced their
     ^ Was discharged from the armed forces dishonorably
     ^ Is addicted to a controlled substance
     ^ Is illegally in the U.S.
     ^ Is fugitive from the law
     ^ Was convicted of or under indictment for a crime that carries
        over a year in jail.

Legally possessing and legally transporting a gun are two different things.

Federal law prohibits guns in federal buildings such as
   post offices, some military installations, some public lands.
* The area your heroine lives will determine if she can open carry,
   conceal carry, whether she can only have her gun in her home or
   if she can have it in her yard/on her property.
* Gun safety laws are important to how you lay out your plot line.
   If your heroine's jurisdiction requires her to have a gun lock - can
   she get access to it in time? Especially under high-stress 
   circumstances? Remember that violent acts usually happen close 
   and quick. Did she prepare for that by having her bedroom set up
   like a safe room with steel doors? Does she decide to ignore the
   law and keep the gun under her pillow? You might just have her
   shoot the serial killer and have her butt dragged to jail. Isn't that 
   an interesting twist?

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The Use of Deadly Force in Self Defense

The "Reasonable Man" Standard - What would a reasonable man (or heroine) do in a given situation. This is the standard that is placed before a jury. What seems reasonable to a person in the heat of the moment - with tunnel vision and other physiological and psychological factors running amok - may not seem so reasonable to those 12 who are rendering a verdict.

Reasonable Force -  The amount of force your heroine uses to defend herself can't exceed what is called for to get out of the situation. If the heroine hit the guy on the noggin with her fry pan, she can't pull out her gun and shoot the unconscious villain in the head to have it over with. While she may feel it's a reasonable response after all the heartache he's caused her, the courts would disagree.

Use of Deadly Force 
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- In order to lawfully use deadly force. Your heroine must be the innocent victim of an imminent attack that threatens her life or the lives of those around her (her children for example). The threat has to be deadly and not about property. Sometimes other responses are requires by law - living outside of D.C. I would be required to attempt a retreat prior to using force, for example.

Brandishing - Is when your heroine displays her firearm in a threatening or aggressive manner; this action is illegal for the most part. Let's assume for a minute that your heroine is confronted by her crazy ex who hisses in her ear, "I'm coming after you. I'll toy with you then kill you and laugh as I burn your body." YIPES! Your heroine cannot pull out her gun and point it at him and say, "I'll be waiting." 1) that's brandishing and 2) that's provoking which means that if he does come after her, she is not an innocent party. So if anyone heard that exchange, she's in deep doo-doo if his body is splayed across her kitchen floor.

Castle Doctrine - "a man's home is his castle" and he has every right to defend it. This is the law in many jurisdictions such as Texas. In your home you are not required to retreat from an attacker. Also, in some places this law protects you wherever you are staying such as a hotel or friend's house.

Cessation of Threat - Your heroine is entitled to use deadly force against the attacker as long as she is still being threatened. If the zombie fled, surrendered, or collapsed in a pile of entrails, lethal force must stop.

So Your Heroine Shot the Bad Guy, Now What?

* In all jurisdictions if a shooting results in injury or death it will be
   investigated by the police.
* Anything your heroine says can be used against her
* She has the right to be quiet - though she may not have the right
   mental state to exercise her right. But sometimes less is more
   until she talks to her attorney. Yes, she is going to need one.
* If your heroine knew the person or quarreled with the person
   even if she was protecting herself - she may have acted illegally.
   (though many will say they'd rather be tried by 12 then carried by
   6) your heroine needs to think about that in advance and take
   precautions. In the trial was her only precaution to buy a gun and
   take one-on-one classes in quick draw? Uh-oh. Putting in a
   security system, getting a dog, putting up lights, filing for a 
   restraining order all of the OTHER steps she took to harden her 
   surrounding against attack will go in her favor.
* Your heroine is not going to get a pat on the back and a 
   handkerchief handed to her. She will probably be arrested, 
   booked, fingerprinted, and photographed. She will be put in a
   cell where she will wait until charges are dropped or bail posted. 
   This could take several days.
* The police may take the heroine's gun and any other gun in the 
   house since she is a suspect in a homicide (or if the villain lives
   she will have committed assault with a deadly weapon). And if
   the villain lives, his side of the story might be vastly different
   than your heroine's. (ballistic forensics LINK)
* They will probably fire her guns for ballistic impressions if they 
   are trying to make a case against her.

* An area where a shooting took place may (probably will be)
   treated as a crime scene. As the police run through their normal
   evidence collection (crime scene 101 information), they will
   cordon off the area and only the police will have access. This can
   go on for days or even weeks. Does your heroine have someplace
   else to stay?

* If your heroine carries in a state that requires a gun permit, she
   may have that permit suspended. Uh-oh. She killed the villain 
   and now his brothers are after her in retribution. Now what 
   choices is she going to make? 

* Criminal Trial - is possible

* Civil Suit is almost inevitable - as the family steps forward and
   tries to sue your heroine for killing their sweet baby. Just the
   legal bills will be thousands. (Check state law.)

I hope everything turns out great for your heroine and she gets to live happily ever after. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

As always, this is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right. I am presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way am I advocating any position or personal decision.
Information for this blog article comes from NRA Guide to the Basics of Personal Protection in the Home, (2000) National Rifle Association of America

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dynamic Handguns and Shooting in a Structure: Information for Writers Prt 1 - Plotting Gems

graphic found on Facebook
This blog article is based on my experience at an all-day dynamic gun training class that I took at 
Nottoway Wildlife Association, LINK  called "Personal Protection in the Home," following NRA curriculum. 

These are the same folks who taught me about rifles in this article: BLOG LINK

You are writing a kick ass heroine. Woot! And while everyone loves a beautiful, smart, effective heroine, and I have one as the main character in my Lynx series, it also adds dimension and reality if she struggles a little bit. One of my writing coaches told me that if things are going well for your heroine, you're writing it wrong. Your girl should be constantly struggling.

Well if I were a template for a heroine in a dynamic gun situation, believe me there was a whole lot of struggling going on. 

Before your heroine even brings a gun into her home she:

* Understands that using a gun or any lethal weapon
   is a tool of last resort - though your heroine doesn't believe this
   standard applies during a zombie apocalypse.

* Understands that gun laws and her decision making is
   based on locality; she should know her laws and have made her
   decisions in advance. How your plot advances depends on the
   reality of those laws.

The focus of this first blog in the three-part Dynamic Handgun series is take-away plotting gems that I picked up through hands on practice and lecture.

Found on Facebook

Things I learned: Or, Why your heroine can't go out and buy a gun today, and blow away the bad guy who jumps out of her closet with a machete in his hands tomorrow.

* Firing on a range and
Indoor Shooting Range at Sarasota, Florida, US...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
   (moving/situational) firing
   are vastly different.
* Firing on the fly without
   lining up the sites and
   having time to
   check stance, breathing, etc.
   will definitely effect your
   heroine's ability to hit the
   mark dead center. 
   Her goal is merely center-
   mass. As a range shooter, I
   hit bulls' eyes. That day? 
   Eh, not so much.

* I am a dancer/MA fighter; you'd think that I had control over my
   body. When my focus was on the "bad guy" also known as the
   little piece of paper in front of me, my coordination was off. Way
   Watch this video that was taken on the archery range.

   Here you can see the technique while focused on a single task.
   My right elbow is down and back. Then I was asked to perform a
   memory task and a speech task with the second shot. Even
   moving with plenty of time and deliberation, you can see my
   practiced body mechanics shift; my right elbow went above
   my head. The point here being - your heroine must practice
   situational, all components put together, tactics if you are going to
   write her a successful outcome. Doing it first time on-the-fly
   just won't fly with your readers who know anything about tactical

   * Past injuries can effect your character's ability to move fluidly
   into certain dynamic poses. For example, as I tried to follow the
   instructions to go down on my right knee, I felt like and old rusted
   gate. My ACL (central knee ligament) is made from a cadaver
   ligament after a fight that did not end in my favor. Who knew this
   would impact anything? In MA practice and dancing, I simply
   don't make that move. For me everything was very crunchy
   granola, and I lost my balance on the way down. So think about
   your character's past injuries and how they could effect her
   present-time shooting scenarios. Did something happen in the past
   that could trip her up now? Remember, nothing should come easy
   for her

   Brian Coates, whom you will see in the ThrillWriting 
   inset video at the bottom of this article, is a U.S. Marine Corp.
   veteran. He moved into place and dropped to his knee smoothly.
   (I'd say gracefully, but I think that would paint the wrong 

   Video Quick Study (3:46) Shooting on the move

   Practice makes perfect. Practice on this specific move - not just a 
   generally fit/sportive heroine. While being an active person might 
   make the learning curve quicker, there will still be a learning

* In my mind, switching to non-dominant hand shooting was no
   big deal. When I was actually asked to perform the task, I had to
   stop and look at my gun and figure out how to change my
   fingering, my left finger on the trigger felt really odd and pulling
   the trigger with my left index finger felt even odder. Did your
   heroine sustain an injury to her dominant arm/hand
   necessitating a switch? It's not going to be as easy or effective as 
   it is in the movies unless she trained this action.

English: Naval Station Everett, Wash (Jan. 29,...
) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Eyesight matters. I know
   you're thinking, no duh. But
   what if your heroine wears
   glasses or contacts? Does
   she have time to grab her
   glasses and her gun? 

   What if there is low light/no
   light? Did she practice 
   aiming with her eyes 
   closed? Does she have 
   a light attached to her gun? 
   A laser?

   Consider not  just eyesight
   but visual dexterity. 
   How quickly can your
   heroine spot and decipher a 
   potential threat especially 
   in an adrenaline impacted 
   situation? This is a trained
   response. Maybe not 
   necessarily combat training
   but some discrimination training

   Did her past job/conditioning make certain eye patterns difficult? 
   Let me give you and example: 
   One of our tasks was to not aim the gun with sights but merely to
   look at the center of the target and pull the trigger. My paper had 
   bullet holes neatly placed all the way around the outside of the
   target circle not a single shot made it to the inside. 

Image found publicly on Facebook
I feel his pain

   When my instructors talked to me about focus, I realized that I 
   could not perform this task because I have done neuro-plasticity 
   training that required me to look at a center point and focus on
   the periphery. Something I will now train to overcome. Gamers
   might have this kind of reaction and certain sports. 

Image copied from Facebook

* While revolvers are predictably reliable, automatics fail. My gun
   needed oil, so it failed quite a bit. (Lesson learned.)
   ` Stove pipe - when a bullet sticks straight up in the chamber
   ` Two bullets in the chamber
     Video Quick Study (10:37) malfunctions and clearing
     instructions notice he says to practice at home with snap caps.
     Your heroine must practice to be effective.

graphic found on Facebook

* They ran a drill that demonstrated a knife wielding villain can get
   to and injure your heroine before she could get a shot off (with
   the gun already in her hands). This might be good news for a 
   heroine who attempts to flee a gun scene. It might be bad news to
   your heroine if she is all that's standing between the bad guy and 
   the future of the world as we know it.

* Being shot is not as effective as one might be lead to believe by
   watching video games, movies and the like.
   ^ It is typically not bloody or even visible. If you need a bloody
     crime scene try a knife. (Homicide Scenes Blog Link, Blood
     Spatter Blog Link)
   ^ The person does not blow backwards as if there was a bomb.
     They collapse if the bullet was well placed like a shot to the
   ^ Often the person who is experiencing adrenaline will not even
     realize they've been shot ( read about that under scar story at
     bottom of this interview Blog Link)
   ^ Multiple, well-placed shots must occur in order to down your
   ^ It will take several seconds for the impact of those shots to take
     effect. In those seconds the villain is still functioning and can
     still harm your heroine.
   ^ Your villain's physical response will be effected by drugs or
      alcohol use. (Illegal Drugs 101 - choosing a drug for your
      villain Blog Link)
     - was he wearing a bullet-proof vest and merely stunned?
     - is he faking the collapse so that he can get your heroine to
       lower her guard?
     - Have your heroine cover the guy with her gun, stay vigilant,
       and wait for the police. She shouldn't go up and frisk him - he
       may grab her, take her down, and take her weapon --or maybe
       that's what you want to happen next. Or maybe she's in a
       remote area with no hope of help. Now she has to make some
       darned hard choices.

* Knowing that an attack happens quickly, and your character
   needs to get her bullets in even more quickly, I shot my entire 
   extended cartridge (16 count) of bullets as fast as I could with 
   some semblance of hitting central mass. I knew I was being taped 
   and therefore could time it. 10 seconds and I was empty. I was 
   fortunate that I didn't have any malfunctions while firing those 

Brian Coates demonstrating a behind barrier strategy discussed in
Prt 2 of Dynamic Handguns. Fiona Quinn emptying her mag.

You were not a very benevolent author and decided that your heroine would not be attacked by one but several assailants all at once. What's your girl to do to save her skin?
* She should engage the most hazardous threat first. 
   Things which might inform her assessment include:
   ^ How close are the attackers to her and which is closest
   ^ What kinds of weapon are they wielding? 
   ^ How fast are the attackers coming at her?
      We know that the police with all of their training only have a
       20% impact rate. And we know that you can survive and act
       after being hit by a bullet. Since the guy with the machete is
       barreling towards her, she might chance the bullet hit to stop 
       the machete-swinger.
* How many bullets does she have? If your girl is unloading on
   thing-one, then thing-two ran round the corner, she's left with
   a not particularly useful empty gun
   Another strategy would be to try to put a
   bullet in each of the ogres and then assess. Was she successful?
   Yes? Call the police and wait. They're still attacking? Shoot
   another round into each and so forth.
* Remember, even the best of the best get tunnel vision and train
   strategies to prevent this from happening. While she has the ogre
   in her sights his troll partner could be sneaking up behind her and
   she'd never know he was swinging his club - lights out. 

Some of my articles you might want to review along with this information -

About guns:
Found on Facebook
Bullet Tutorial
Choosing a Handgun
Shotguns and Rifles
Shooter Simulation 
       (tunnel vision)
Carrying Concealed (interview)

About forethought/preparation:
Home Invasion - Hard v. Soft Target
Home Invasion - Setting Up a Safe Room & Creating an Escape Route

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

This article was informed by the NRA Guide to the Basics of Personal Protection in the Home (2000)
As always, this is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right. I am presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way am I advocating any position or personal decision.
Related articles

Monday, May 13, 2013

Self Defense - Electric Weapons: Stun Guns v. Tasers - Information for Writers

Tasers? yep..
Tasers? yep.. (Photo credit: number657)

DISCLAIMER - This is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right. I am presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way am I advocating any position or personal decision.

In the beginning there was a Taser and a stun gun. And while they come from the same family of electric self defense weapons they are not at all alike.
Many writers will use the terms interchangeably.

Who would carry and electric self defense weapon?
This weapon can fit with any character over the age of 18.

Is it even legal to carry this type of weapon?
For the most part the answer is yes. Though check your characters' state codes. This link takes you to a state by state review of applicable laws.

So what is the difference between the two weapons?

The Stun Gun 

A Stun Gun making an electrical arc between it...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
*A stun gun is a brute force weapon. You must make personal contact with
  your assailant.
* Though the prongs DO NOT need to make direct skin contact.
* The contact that is required is LONG 2-3 seconds
   to be precise. While this doesn't sound too bad.
   Think about the last time you were waiting for your
    microwave to ding. I know! 
   Now imagine those 2-3 seconds while someone is
   stabbing you or even punching you. 

*  2 seconds can cause muscle spasms and a state
    of shock lasting up to fifteen minutes - enough to
    get away. 5 seconds is best.
* The current will not transfer to you even if you are
   grabbing at each other
* Water is not a problem even if you are standing in water.

                                                      How does it work?

On the packaging, the manufacturer will indicate the voltage. It is not the voltage though that makes the difference it is the pulse rate frequency.

Yes, the more volts the better, but the pulse rate determines the gun's power to put an attacker down. You see, it's the frequency rate that disrupts the neural pathways in the body - and believe it or not it's a sugar thing. As the electricity pulses the muscles, they produce lactic acid and consume the glucose causing the loss of muscle control (like a Type1Diabetic seizure). Your character should look for at least 100k volts to ensure enough pulse power to be effective.

The Taser 
English: Police issue X26 TASER
English: Police issue X26 TASER (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*A Taser is a distance weapon.

*You can use this weapon from fifteen feet (5 meters)

* The Taser works by shooting out tiny metal probes that embed
   in the flesh. These probes are attached to wires that connect to
   the Taser unit.


* It works by interrupting the communication between the muscles
  and the brain, effectively attacking the central nervous system.
  This interruption continues as long as the electricity is

Unlike Stephanie Plum in the Janet Evanovich novels, electrical weaponry no longer depends on batteries but is plugged into the wall to charge overnight like a phone.

Also, if you are looking for plot twists - some of the stun guns have a probe in the bottom that attaches to the lanyard around the wrist. If the attacker tries to take the weapon, as it is pulled away from the victim, the pin releases and the weapon is no longer operational. But some do not have this safety.

Electric weapons are effective on sub-creatures including Vampire, Werewolves, and Zombies - but do not have an effect on phantoms or ghosts.

Perhaps your heroine wants to be clever and arm herself with a camouflaged electric weapon - try these on and see if they serve:

       Cell Phone Stun Gun (1:48)

English: Electro-shock Stun Gun like a celphon...
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      Lipstick Stun Gun (1:49) 

Electric weapon
Electric weapon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tampon Taser (3:47) No, I'm not kidding
Telescopic stun baton (3:33) similar to asp    

Advanced M26 TASER Stun Pistol - The United St...
Advanced M26 TASER Stun Pistol - The United States military version of commercial TASERs for non-lethal detainment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Video - Taser v. Knife (1:05)
The Taser Explained (7:05) Shows an experiment where a man was able to overcome the Taser showing
                                           that it is not fail safe.
Female review and demonstration of flashlight/stun gun (3:42)
Why a stun gun isn't fabo. (8:19) Excellent descriptions and explanations.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

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