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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

George Zimmerman and the "Low Ready" Solution

This is off-topic for me; it has nothing to do with HR.  It does have to do with a passionate belief of mine: that people have the right to protect themselves and their loved ones from harm. The exercise of that right, I believe, should include the measured and rational use of guns. In exercising this right I have received Conceal and Carry training and permits in two states.

Believing as I do in the Conceal and Carry program, the Treyvon Martin case in Florida has grieved me considerably.  It highlighted to the nation, and to the delight of gun control advocates, the exceptionally rare occasion of a permit holder being involved in an unwise use of their weapon.  Permit holders are the most law abiding of citizens and almost never engage in an unjustified shooting. You could argue all day over whether the Martin shooting was or wasn't justified; people who go on about this all-day have no good information and just add their own prejudices about race and guns to the noise. That is not significant to my point.

What is significant is that George Zimmerman apparently did not follow Conceal and Carry protocol in the moments leading up to the shooting. Use of the "low ready" protocol might have prevented this loss of life.

For those of you who have not been through one of these programs, here is a quick primer.  There are typically three positions for your weapon:

  • holstered
  • low-ready
  • ready
The holstered position is obvious: in your holster and concealed, safety on, hands off the weapon.  The ready position is also fairly obvious: weapon un-holstered, both hands on the weapon, safety off, finger on the trigger with the gun pointed at the threat. This is used only in response to an immediate and identified threat.

The low ready position is the transition point between the other two and the opportunity to prevent problems.  It is weapon un-holstered, both hands on the grip in firing position, weapon in front of you and  pointed down to the ground at about a 45 degree angle, safety off but trigger finger on the side of the barrel.

This position is extremely important.  It allows the potential shooter to assess the tactical and legal situation in front of them. 

  • Is the threat identifiable to a high degree of certainty?
  • Is there anyone behind the target who could be hit by a missed shot?
  • Is the threat immediate?
Low ready provides both the potential shooter and the threat the opportunity the make good decisions.  It provides the threat with visual information that the potential shooter is armed.  It also provides the potential shooter with an opportunity to verbally warn the threat not to advance toward them further. It arguably protects the potential shooter against a charge of Assault with a Deadly Weapon, because the weapon is never pointed at the potential threat. 

In most cases, low ready presentation causes the threat to retreat and any bystanders the opportunity to move to safety.

So now let's plug this information into the Zimmerman/Martin shooting.  First of all, the police dispatcher told Zimmerman not to follow Martin.  It is always a good idea to accept police instructions and Zimmerman, according to what I saw of the trial, did not.  Then once out of the car Zimmerman did not pull his weapon until engaged in a fight.  At some point in the altercation it is reasonable to assume that pulling the weapon into low-ready would have afforded Martin, armed only with an Arizona Tea and bag of skittles, the opportunity to retreat.

This is what permit holders are supposed to do: avoid a threat, but then warn the threat ahead of eminent danger with low-ready presentation, then retreat to safety, or discharge their weapon, depending upon the actions of the threat.  That Zimmerman failed to follow this protocol may have led to Martin's death: we weren't there so we don't know for sure.  But in case you are ever in such a situation, or in case you just think all permit holders have John Wayne delusions of masculinity, maybe this information will prove to be useful.

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