10 reasons why police don’t aim for the legs

02/23/15 8:00 AM | by

With all the law enforcement lethal confrontations and use of force incidents that have been in the news over the last few months, I’ve had a lot of people asking me, “why police officers don’t aim for the legs.”

So, by popular demand, here are my top 10 reasons why police don’t “shoot people in the legs,” counting down from number ten:

10. Because this is real life, not Hollywood. Cops can’t shoot guns out of hands or quickly recover by the next TV episode after they’ve been shot themselves.

9. Shooting a person in the leg doesn’t mean they’ll stop being a threat. If the guy or girl has a gun, he or she can still shoot with a bullet in the leg, or in the arm or in the shoulder for that matter.  Heck, a person can even still shoot if he or she has been shot in the chest or the face!

8. It’s extremely hard to shoot accurately under stress. Police are reacting to a threat.  Fear, stress and adrenaline all combined with defensive shooting (vice offensive shooting) can make even the best target shooter a terrible shot.  Deliberately trying to shoot a person in the leg would be more difficult than shooting a threatening person center mass, so…

7. Shooting center mass means the officer has a better chance to hit his or her target. Let’s face it, the torso is the biggest target on the body and aiming at an appendage, like an arm or a leg, doesn’t make much sense when there’s a bigger target, right?

6. Most gunfights are mobile. Trying to hit a moving target—particularly the legs, which move more than any other body part when mobile—has less potential for positive hits in a gunfight.

5. Shooting someone in the leg may still kill that person. Severing a femoral artery can cause a person to bleed out within seconds and, despite what many people may think, shooting someone center mass doesn’t always kill them.

4. Because shooting a “warning shot” is stupid and against the policy of every police department in America.

3. Shooting someone center mass is the most likely way to immediately stop a threat. Police aren’t trained to kill or to injure; they’re trained to stop the threat.

2. Because police are trained to shoot center mass—that’s why.

And the number one reason why police don’t aim for the legs…

1. Because shooting a person in the head every time may be considered excessive force. It would also shock the conscience of the public. Besides, it would be really difficult to do.

In repetition, police don’t shoot to kill; they shoot to stop the threat, and that means shooting center mass until the threat stops.  Under rare circumstances, officers may shoot to the body and then transition to the head, but even then, remember, shooting someone doesn’t mean they’ll die.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.

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