You are trying to take a DUI suspect into custody when he turns suddenly and makes a grab for your gun. The fight is now on. Unfortunately for this bad guy, you have practiced your weapon-retention skills and you regain control of your sidearm.
At this point, you could still try to place the drunk into handcuffs. But whether you realize it or not, this person has just tried to kill you, a police officer.
When the drunk in our scenario went for your gun, his intentions were to take it away from you and kill you.
Yes, I know, later in court the bad guy and his lawyer will come up with all kinds of reasons why he attempted to take your firearm away from you, but on the street, make no mistake, his intentions were to shoot you.
A lot of officers seem to think that we are not justified in drawing our handguns once we have beaten off a gun grab. But think about this for a minute. Was the bad guy trying to take your weapon away from you so he could scare you with it? So he could say, “Ha, Ha, I’ve got your gun”?
Of course not. His intentions in disarming you are not good ones. At this point you are justified in drawing your firearm and ordering the suspect to the ground. If he continues to be a threat to your life, you are justified in using deadly force against him.
The problem is, the fight may still be on. Even if you are able to regain control of your firearm and draw it while giving verbal commands to the suspect, he or she may still be trying to gain control of your gun. In this situation, the suspect may try to pull the gun out of your hand, while you push him back.
All physical encounters with suspects are of a push/pull nature. You don’t go toe to toe with a suspect to try to duke it out with him. He pushes you to try to escape, or you try to push him, or pull him down to the ground to gain control of him It’s always this push/pull action because one of the combatants, either you or the bad guy, is trying to get on top of the other and gain control.
Out of Battery
Let’s go back to our scenario. Let’s say you were able to gain control of your firearm through your weapon-retention skills, but you’re still under attack.
You draw your firearm to answer this deadly threat and give your attacker verbal commands to get on the ground. But he ignores your commands and goes for your gun again.
Realizing that your life is in danger, you pull the trigger on your weapon, expecting it to send a high-velocity projectile into your attacker and end the threat.
Only nothing happens. During the struggle your gun has been taken out of battery. The push/pull struggle for your semi-automatic pistol has moved the slide back just enough that it won’t fire.
It doesn’t take much to push the slide back and take your gun out of battery. If you don’t believe me, take your handgun out to the range and try it for yourself.
Place a round into the chamber. Then, keeping your firearm pointed downrange at all times, pull the slide back just a little bit on the gun and release it. You may have to experiment with it to see how far back the slide needs to go to take it out of battery, but you’ll find that it doesn’t take much movement on most guns.
Putting a semi-auto back into battery is an easy and quick operation when you’re standing on a range. You will find it much harder to accomplish when some dirtbag or drunk is trying to take your gun.