NRA American Warrior is committed to telling warriors’ stories the way the warriors themselves want them told. “WarriorWire” is our conduit for the unvarnished, unedited reactions of law enforcement and military personnel to the mainstream media’s spin. This space gives them the opportunity to set the record straight, correct inaccuracies and just plain vent.
“What would you say to someone who thinks cops should only use deadly force when confronted by an assailant with a gun?”
I would invite that person to run into a convenience store where an individual has a knife to the owner’s throat and another is beating a clerk with a baseball bat.
In after-action mode, you have the luxury of considering options to end the confrontation. But choices that are available in the heat of the situation can’t be made at that leisurely pace. Distance is one reason: That guy with the baseball bat can easily kill an officer before he can bring his firearm into play. That’s the whole reason behind the 21-foot rule. And that distance is considered the minimum, too. Closer than that, the likelihood of successfully fending off a determined attack with any sort of weapon goes down dramatically.
Seems like a lot of critics don’t understand the time component, either. If an officer plays for time, there’s nothing that says the guy on the wrong end of the bat won’t receive a fatal blow. It’s another thing the bad guys count on: Because the officer has to care about consequences, and they only care about getting what they want by any means, the officer is at another huge disadvantage.
The point is that it’s not the weapon(s) involved, but rather the situation and intent of the attacker. The hypothetical bat or a knife constitutes deadly force, too, and police officers have tough, split-second decisions to make. To say that they can only use a firearm when confronted with a firearm puts them in a very dangerous position. They must respond as they are trained, and I greatly respect them for that.
Capt. Bob “Lizard” Waltzer was born in Patterson, N.J., and joined the United States Marine Corps in 1962. Between 1966 and 1969, he was in the backseat of F-4 Phantom II for 365 ground support and reconnaissance missions. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1983. A skydiver since 1975 (including stunts for the movie “Navy Seals” ), he is also Honorary “Wings of Blue” #2, coaching at the United States Air Force Academy (1982-1996). He was a Commercial/Instrument/Multi-engine pilot and FAA Master Parachute Rigger. Capt. Waltzer is also an experienced shooter, serving as a USPSA Club Range Master for 15 years. He remains a current USPSA Chief Range Officer.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Rifle Association.