Why You Shouldn’t Shoot An Assailant After Disarming Him

Our friends over at Funker Tactical are filming another series with Krav Maga expert and bearded badass Ryan Hoover of Fit to Fight.

In this video, Hoover explains why it might not be the best idea to shoot the assailant with his own gun after you’ve disarmed him.

I’m not an expert, but I’m not sure I agree with Hoover’s advice. Generally speaking, I think I would attempt to create distance, rack the slide of the pistol (assuming that’s what it is) or check to see if a round is chambered, point, aim and eliminate the threat. If the firearm malfunctions or fails to shoot, then I’d reassess the situation and prepare once again to go toe-to-toe.

I think I would shoot because I don’t want the assailant coming back at me. I want to make sure it’s completely safe to walk away. I don’t believe in repeat offenders, I believe in dead ones.

Your thoughts?

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 41 comments… add one }
  • Willie-O August 6, 2017, 12:17 pm

    one “right” answer. One person’s reaction might not be practical or even legal for another. For example, if you are much smaller than the perp, are elderly or have a physical impairment or limitation, than you might be justified in the use of deadly force when someone else wouldn’t be. These instructional videos are great sources of information, but should never be viewed as the only option.

  • Willie-O August 6, 2017, 11:56 am

    LOTS of valid comments here. The reality is that every situation is different and each one requires a different response – there is simply no

  • loupgarous February 8, 2017, 11:15 pm

    The course of action you’re recommending, shooting a disarmed assailant, is illegal unless the assailant is taking actions that would make a reasonable person would fear being grievously injured or killed, or fear another would in the same danger.

    If you disarm an assailant and retain his weapon, then unless that assailant makes a new assault in a way that would make a reasonable person would fear being grievously injured or killed, or fear another would in the same danger, you can’t kill him – legally. You could shoot the assailanl to end a second assault made with another weapon (blunt or heavy object, even) or even with unarmed physical force if the reasonable fear of death or grievous bodily hard exists.

    Think of that scene in the beginning of Dirty Harry where a bank robber is lying down, his weapon just within his reach, when Inspector Callahan pulls his .44 Magnum revolver and says “”Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?”

    If the bank robber had made a grab for that shotgun, Harry Callahan could have turned his skull into a planter perfectly legally. But only then, What you can’t do is stand over an assailant who is not placing you or another in reasonable fear of grievous bodily harm or death and shoot him.

    • Hass August 4, 2017, 8:47 am

      Any reasonable person should have every right to think a person that just attacked you with a deadly weapon intended to kill you and therefore should assume that is still their intention after being disarmed. I mean what do you think would happen: guy walks in to gas station, pills a gun and starts shouting at the teller to give him the money, then points it at you. Bs says the same. But you have defensive skills and disarm him…. Now, do you think that A. The guy keeps fighting you with a crazed look in his eyes. Or B. The guy immediately gives up, compliments you for your skills and asks if you’d like to meet up for coffee later?

      I think A. At which point do you risk doing hand to hand combat risking life and limb and the possibility of him getting his gun back? Or do you squeeze that trigger and stop a madman from beating you or clawing an eye out or hell even scratching you an possibly giving you aids or hep c? I’d shoot.

      • Toni November 15, 2017, 9:15 am

        I been thru this a robber came for the third time attack me with with A gun .. I was un armed . I fought for the gun and hit him multiple times after that I chased a truck he came in.. meanwhile other ppl stomped him to death … Why should I be charged with murder

        • Toni November 15, 2017, 9:16 am

          Currently on bond.
          No $ fir lawyer
          Idk ty
          Probono services

  • Anthony August 29, 2016, 3:03 am

    You react how you train. Training for the kill assures that you won’t hesitate to pull the trigger on your assailant once you get the gun from him, your actions become automatic with practice. When the time finally comes to defend your life, you’ll find that you’ve dispatched your attacker without giving it a half-second’s thought. Hesitation is death.

  • Russ March 4, 2015, 5:13 pm

    Realistically, I could imagine myself calmly checking the status of the gun.
    Make, model, pop the mag out & examine it, or check the revolvers cylinder, count bullets, work the slide and clear the chamber.
    Hell, I just beat their ass and took their weapon, it might impress upon them that I know this gun better than they do, and would be willing to slap that mag back in or pull the trigger if they threaten my life again.
    I may just embarrass them further by embossing the logo on their forehead.
    But that’s just me, lol.

  • Matt March 4, 2015, 1:06 pm

    There are several key factors here. One glaring issue that stands out is how are you training? Yes, you say you will tap and rack the slide, and check to see if its loaded etc. Do you really think you have the time to do so? Do you really think that you have trained under the utmost stress that you can in order to make this all work?

    It is pretty simple…many guns are made similar to one another…some are not. Nobody can honestly say that they could manipulate the bad guys gun under that extreme stress etc. You have no idea what he is using until you had enough time to evaluate it (obviously this time would vary from person to person)…I read a lot of people claim they would shoot if he continues to attack…Yeah that is a simple answer and one that many believe would be the case. Fact of the matter is…you honestly would not have that amount of time. Is it truly loaded? Is it a fake? Does it have a safety? Is the safety engaged? It kind of reminds me of that police training video that has been sent around about the average person having to make split second decisions etc. They were put in the shoes of the police and guess what? They all failed…Trust me…I have put people through as much pressure and stress as we can(to keep people safe as possibly while training) even when they know this they still fail at accomplishing the task…

    Just some things to think about…I think Ryan did an excellent job of explaining why…I think it would be a great idea for some to seek this type of training so that they can operate under the highest levels of stress and what that does to a human body. Are you willing to be 100% sure you could operate the bad guy’s gun under these conditions? Otherwise you are dead…Me on the other hand will take Ryan’s advice, and with that, I am going to train.

    • NMK March 4, 2015, 3:37 pm

      Good points, and I agree – mostly. You seriously can’t tap, rack/roll and fire in less than .5 seconds? You must train the way you want to perform. If no shots have been fired like I said, then you can cut out the extra .5 seconds and simply fire if needed. If you are being trained properly with force on force drills with protective equipment and airsoft in multiple training scenarios, you will find it quite fast to return fire after a disarm. IF during the disarm a shot is fired while the slide is held (creating a dead trigger and empty casing in the chamber) then you MUST at least rack the pistol before firing. If someone is being trained beyond the basics properly, these factors are all common issues that need addressing in the training, and be implemented in the force on force drills. Krav is great, but you must still dissect anything “experts” espouse as the “best” way to train. You can not train for every possible scenario, but you can train with principals that will give you the most survivability in a critical situation. All the talk about fake pistols, inoperable pistols, etc, does not negate the fact that you believed yourself to be in life-threatening danger, and are acting accordingly. If it is in-operable or you can not use it because of lack of familiarity, then you have a BRICK in your hand, AND someone you don’t want to give the pistol to who DOES know how to use it – so… now must fight for your life to keep it from them or somehow eject it out of the fight safely. The real threat is lack of training, because if you do not build the real skills ahead of time, it won’t get done in the fight. Practice it the way you want to use it, and fight to win – because YOU are the good guy!

  • NMK March 3, 2015, 5:11 pm

    This video is disturbing. It assumes the following;
    1. There is only ONE assailant (always train for multiple ARMED assailants )
    2. The threat is no longer a deadly threat to you (if they intended to kill you with the weapon to begin with, then you disarm them, you can assume -if they are continuing to resist- they WILL definitely shoot you if they get the weapon back – practice for the worst case scenario)
    3. The threat is completely disarmed (if the threat draws and fires a secondary weapon or pulls out an edged weapon, you wasted valuable time to respond appropriately)
    4. The threat is less skilled at Hand to Hand Combat than you are (don’t count on it if your threat is a repeat felon, gang banger, or on drugs – which would be 75-90% of the attacks of this sort)
    5. The assailant doesn’t know how to load, rack, and operate the pistol he likely stole (assume gun is always loaded and ready to shoot, if not and have a dead trigger – tap, rack/roll, asses, fire!)
    6. The threat is so surprised by the disarm to the point that they are not wrestling to get it back (PRACTICE IT THE WAY YOU WANT TO USE IT means to use the appropriate amount of force for the situation you are in. That means if it not a deadly encounter to begin with, why would you find it necessary to disarm your attacker in the first place? Of course it is deadly, and WHEN your attacker tries to get the firearm back from you, it is no LESS deadly from that moment forward. As soon as you disarm and inflict damage on assailant, assume retention ready position and fire center of mass while attempting to make distance! If your attacker immediately turns and runs the moment you disarm him (and he is not running to get his shot gun) OF COURSE you will let him go! It would be morally and legally wrong to shoot or pursue in that case.
    There is more I would comment on, but I ran out of time.

  • Dusty March 3, 2015, 12:07 am

    They have a rule about shooting an unarmed person, that is not advancing on you, and you are not somehow incapaciated ro other extreme exception- it is called homicide. There are several types of homicide. One is called justified (= self defense.) Execution is called excusable, when performed by the government when carried out lawfully. The others are generally known as murder. Do you want the government to prosecute you for murder or the goblin for attemepted assault/robbery or whatever. Take your pick.

  • Damon March 2, 2015, 5:55 pm

    If someone is foolish enough to point a handgun at me from within disarm distance, I would allow my knees to buckle and drop to the ground while drawing my own firearm, then empty the magazine up through his torso. Upward trajectory reduces risk to bystanders, and when LE arrives, the corpse is still holding a weapon.
    Drawing during the drop does require practice, but we’re all practicing regularly anyway, right? Right?

  • chad March 2, 2015, 4:48 pm

    Treat the assailant with the same respect he is giving you…..

  • Vernon Rosa March 2, 2015, 3:43 pm

    If you are physically capable of taking a firearm away from an assailant, like the instructor in the video (years and years of training, excellent physical condition, etc., etc.) then you shoot the person (who is now unarmed) you are going to have to defend yourself again…in criminal and civil court. Don’t get me wrong. I think all dirtbag home invaders, armed robbers, muggers, et al, deserve what they get from people who refuse to be victimized. That being said, the legal system in most states does not agree with my point of view. I, personally, would not attempt to disarm the dirtbag physically. I’m 65, have a bad shoulder and have had back surgery. I cannot perform Krav Maga. I can, however, pull my own pistol and disarm the SOB with a double tap. That’s my opinion. You are welcome to yours.

  • Bob March 2, 2015, 11:18 am

    The right answer is completely situational. If you have taken an assailant’s visible weapon, you have no way of knowing whether or not he is still armed unless he has been thoroughly searched for weapons. That’s why LEO’s still consider someone like this to be a potentially lethal threat until they are controlled and searched. Another matter is that if an assailant is still trying to physically engage with you, while you have his weapon, your life is in danger.

    One last point. One of the primary safety rules is knowing what is beyond your target before you fire. If possible, you should attempt to isolate an assailant before firing, BUT… don’t get yourself killed getting hung up on this. If you (or someone else) are in grave danger then shoot even if you cannot be 100% sure (and you never will be anyway) that your bullet cannot strike something beyond what you intend.

  • Brian March 2, 2015, 10:02 am

    In another episode Ryan discusses the valid concerns of not knowing the weapon you have just “acquired.” He asks, is it even loaded, is it going to blow up in your hand? As he repeats in this video, rather than throw it where another bad guy might recover it to use against you with the increased difficulty of a second disarm, he uses it as a blunt weapon. You don’t know this weapon. If you’ve done a disarm, was the round in the chamber discharged, a misfire or ???? In a situation this highly escalated there are so many things going on to be sure that you have comprehensive situational awareness of that I think Ryan’s “conservative” approach is very practical. Not all highly trained people would be able to handle dropping the mag, racking it back to unload/confirm unloaded (two hands and eyes fully committed to one task), keep an eye on the bad guy and resume defense if necessary as fast as things can happen.
    I’ve read on other blogs about trained LEO’s in confrontations and they state the average NYPD only hits 15-18% of the rounds fired on target with more rounds on innocent bystanders than the perps. If you’ve ever done anything under an adrenaline surge, you know you absolutely have to be thinking about that 8 year old girl in the background along with everything else that is going on, how adrenaline affects your motor skills, etc. No matter how well you train with firearms, it is nearly impossible to replicate what and adrenaline inducing situation does to you.
    It’s easy to blather on about taking on a bad guy in a blog like a Lone Ranger episode, but Funker Tactical and the guys are among the very best in mentally preparing for a few of the things that can happen, adapting to what does happen and thinking about what to do if everything goes wrong. Thanks for highlighting the work Ryan Hoover and Funker do, as an old man I have gained a lot of strategies from these posts to keep myself from rolling on the ground with a thug if, God Forbid (!) I am faced with a life or death struggle.

    • David B. March 3, 2015, 12:20 pm

      The NYPD requires carry arms to have a trigger pull in excess of 10 lbs.! Glock calls this the New York or NYPD trigger. Of course they can’t hit anything other than bystanders. The City of New York does not want its police shooting anyone no matter what the reason or circumstances. I am retired from a law enforcement agency in Nassau County which is right next to NYC. I have know many city police officers and know the city policies. I wouldn’t take a PD job in NYC today for twice the salary.

  • Jay March 2, 2015, 9:50 am

    Speculation is just speculation! Until you are put in a situation you can go over and train for thousands of different scenarios but none will mimic and or be just like any one of those you trained for! We do have to be prepared to do what ever it takes to defend ourselves and that more than anything else is mental training first then physical. If you’ve never shot another human being you don’t know what I mean by mental training nor the aftermath that comes when one starts second guessing what happened, how it happened and why! You will always have to live with the outcome so you better be prepared mentally!

  • David B. March 2, 2015, 9:23 am

    In any state in the U. S. if an assailant can talk you are probably going to have a very unpleasant legal experience. Dead men tell no tales. I, personally, am not going to end up arrested and spending thousands of dollars in legal fees because someone attacked me. But then, I wouldn’t call the police either. I would just be on my way. If it was in my home, I would just clean up. No bad guy says “Honey, I’m on my way to Market Street to stick someone up,” or I’m on my way to 22 James Street to burgle a house.” No one will look for them, at least not where they died.

  • Delicious Vodka DeBlair March 2, 2015, 5:26 am

    Functionally you are correct, best to leave no living enemies, but legally you are not.

    The only happy solution is to shoot him in the wrists so that it blows both of this wrists into pulp and blow his rotator cuffs out of his shoulders, this will prevent him from readily aiming with either arm or holding a weapon with either hand, or punching.

    So the next time you see him and he comes with a boot knife, shoot out his hip joints.

    • Larry C. March 2, 2015, 8:22 am

      The trouble is that in most states the BG can sue you for his inability to work and you will end up supporting him for the rest of his life. What is needed is a law that prevents anyone from seeking damages when that person gets injured (by any means) while committing or attempting to commit a felony. This is a cause and legislation for which we should all work and endlessly pester our legislative representatives. Litigation attorneys do not like such a proposal.

    • Russ March 5, 2015, 9:04 pm

      I love your dry, slightly morbid sense of humor.
      I wish I had a friend like you.
      You crack me up.

  • Wyatt February 27, 2015, 3:00 pm

    without hesitation.. Eliminate the threat 100%. Using what ever force required.
    Is it better to risk more in hand to hand or less when presented with the enemies weapon??

    • Burt March 2, 2015, 7:20 am

      And what happens if the assailant watches the same videos and disarms you to te-take his weapon? Bet he shoots you!

      • Lui March 2, 2015, 7:32 pm

        Very true. In fact even if for instance you are a conceal carry holder and you are physically attacked by an unarmed attacker. Unless your attacker is 1/3rd your size, you can justify shooting him because the possibility exists he could take control of your gun and kill you, just like the Treyvon Martin case. But if the guy runs away shooting him will probably get you arrested.

  • christian hopkins February 27, 2015, 8:03 am

    I cannot speak for every state but I do know that in my state that if you disarm a person’s weapon wether it be a knife or firearm you have legally removed the threat. Therefore any further action without cause, such as self defence, is then Seen as assault or murder. Because LEGALLY there was no longer a threat. Only way to get away with any further strikes or shooting the assailant is for him to continue assaulting you. That being said the best option is to perform a citizens arrest.

  • Mark N. February 27, 2015, 1:48 am

    If you are holding your assailant’s gun, and he doesn’t have another one and is not trying to attack you, you cannot legally shoot because there is no longer an apprehension of an immediate threat of great bodily injury or death; shooting to terminate the “threat” in such a circumstance is an illegal homicide.If he attacks thinking you won’t shoot, shoot.

  • Alex February 26, 2015, 9:51 pm

    once the subject is disarmed, I would reevaluate to see if they still posed a threat. Then I would make a decision concerning use of force based on the current situation.

    • Captain Bob March 3, 2015, 1:25 pm

      You have given the best (and simple answer). You have a gun to “stop a threat” to your person. If the threat is there you shoot to stop the threat. If no threat, no shoot. This covers the situation of where the former threat again becomes a threat (pulls another weapon or attempts to close the distance to you) but the simple answer is till the same.

      • Russ March 4, 2015, 4:48 pm

        I’m with these guys.
        I might ad; any other weapon would be stripped away by me and used on the assailant

  • SomeArmyDude February 26, 2015, 9:48 pm

    He presents some valid points about weapon familiarity and functionality. You should always be aware of what’s beyond the muzzle as well.

    However, a disarmed opponent isn’t neutrlized opponent. You never know if your attacker has another weapon or is willing to continue fighting after being disarmed. Also, as far as hitting bystanders, if you can’t put rounds into an average sized torso at 10-15 feet then you have no business handling any kind of firearm.

  • Taylor Broderick February 26, 2015, 9:43 pm

    If I was able to disarm my attacker and he was still coherent, I would command him to lay face down. As long as he complies, I would not shoot him. I would hold him at gunpoint while I call th the police and wait for their arrival. If they refuse to listen to my commands, and continues to attempt to attack, they will be disposed of.

    • Leo May 24, 2018, 2:21 pm

      Only tactical and legal solution to implement.

  • Will Drider February 26, 2015, 8:59 pm

    If I have possesion, control and a proper grip of BGs gun and we are still in physical confrontation I would put the muzzel on BG and attempt to fire and stop the threat. If I have BGs gun and he continues to fight he is still a significant threat to life as could get the weapon back, introduce a second weapon or strike a knockout blow. SHOOT!
    If I have possesion of BGs gun and we are seperated, he stops further aggression or attempts to flee: hold fire, discreetly check weapon, increase seperation, tell him to get on the ground. Don’t reengage, don’t chase and DON’T SHOOT. Your no longer100% fustified to use deadly force. Remember there is always the potential for criminal prosecution and/or civil suit.

    • Lui March 2, 2015, 6:51 am

      Absolutely correct. The video suggested you continue to try and take the attacker down with your hands basically, but you forget, now all you have is your hand, one is occupied with holding the firearm. If the guy flees, let him run, if he attacks, shoot, if it doesn’t fire then try and figure it out and shoot again. Fend him off with your free hand or use the gun as a club, if like he said, it doesn’t fire and you not sure why because you aren’t familiar with the gun you should try and shoot first worry about the rest if it doesn’t fire. If you cant make it fire, the drop the mag and try to empty the chamber to eliminate it being used against you. Dropping the mag and ejecting the chambered round is basic

      • Mahatma Muhjesbude September 15, 2015, 1:27 pm

        Lui, If it doesn’t shoot. you won’t have time to figure out why not. Unless maybe you’re a super expert CGB pistol fighter who can do blindingly fast re-charge and mag taps with any gun before he’s on you killing you again and now trying to get it back from you?

  • Winston Myers February 26, 2015, 7:03 pm

    One of the best video clips I have watched on this subject. Perfect answer to the question posed. If you shoot an assailant with their own weapon, how much of an upper hand did they have in an attack? There raises an issue of “brandishing” a weapon in public, whether it’s yours or an assailants. I always say, if I cannot avoid a bad situation and I must draw my weapon, it will be with the full intention of pulling the trigger. If I am unsure, I won’t draw or place others in danger. Additionally, if I did fire and neutralize the threat, the first thing I’m going to to is scan my surroundings looking for my attackers friends. Maybe I need to find cover and call police. It always boils down to proper training and an ability to assess a threat rationally.

    • sam February 27, 2015, 9:35 pm

      Well said

      • Mahatma Muhjesbude September 15, 2015, 1:21 pm

        After most of my now ancient and finally wise life involved in advanced martial arts competition, instruction, and real time street combat applications, to a point where nothing much is a surprise anymore, sometimes the exception escapes the rule. This guy’s ‘opinion’ does not represent the true dynamics of a home invasion type intrusion where as soon as the intruder sets foot in your private residence, it AUTO-FUCKING-MATICALY becomes a life or death justification of deadly force use of any kind you can dispense especially if there are other family members you are protecting, and especially in a Castle Doctrine State.

        If any victim is so fortunate as to have extricated the intruder’s gun from his hands during a life or death struggle and the offender is not instantly fleeing in the opposite direction, SHOOT THE FUCKER IMMEDIATELY! And AGAIN until he is not moving. In such an ‘intimate’ CQB confrontation, just point and shoot at CM. Or twist and jam it in his midsection and pull the trigger. It’s most likely that you’ll not miss.

        Of course, due to the mind numbing stress from the adrenalin dump when the police arrive, you will not say ANYTHING to the police until your lawyer arrives at the police station at which point you’ll ‘seem to recall’ that the gun somehow went off during the struggle in the dark and that’s all you remember at the moment! (if they later inquire as to why the entry wound was in his back, you’ll again say that in the hot and chaotic confusion where i was horrifically and IMMINENTLY in fear of my life i simply can’t recall exactly how that happened during such a wild and vicious fight such close quarters infighting you almost can’t miss if you just point and shoot. And yes, if there is somebody in the next bedroom it’s a lesser of the two evils to take the risk that they might catch a bullet rather than guarantee that they are most likely to be be raped, tortured, and killed bys the psycho if he gets the gun back from you and shoots you! If it doesn’t go off, use it to pistol whip him while you continue to fight for your life.

        The other reasons for not shooting this ‘instructor’ cited are moot, if not downright dangerous to YOU! If there’s a second intruder QUICKLY SHOOT HIM NEXT. What’s the difference in ‘collateral damage’ risk if you used the perp’s gun, or your own?

        I’m sick of all these super hyped up Martial Arts ‘experts’ who for the most part don’t comprehend the ugly dynamics of such a crime. It’s easy for people like him who have developed their hand to hand skills adequately enough to prefer to smash it out with an intruder if they don’t have a weapon, but everybody isn’t ‘trained’ like that. ALWAYS take max potential use of any slight advantages you gain in a life an death situation. You can always ‘explain’ it later. Unless you’re already dead because you hesitated for invalid reasons.

        This is NOT the best perp disarmament training video I’ve seen. I teach and make the best ones I’ve seen/ And this particular technique is an old knockoff of a ‘movie’ version (one i showed to Chuck back in the day while doing security on a production set) which has more flash than pragmatic reliability. There are a couple much better ones that are dummy proof and far more effective.

  • Bill Apfel February 26, 2015, 6:29 pm

    If I create enough space and he follows my commands to get on the floor, I’ll let him live, if he comes at me, he dies.

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