Rubber bullets?

Ok, since I have a blog now, I’m going to do a better job keeping track of some of the crazy/unusual questions that I hear in class.  And don’t confuse this blog with “do I shoot to kill?”  I wrote a whole blog on that already.

I’ll start by explaining how the conversation actually went (let me know where I went wrong) and then I’ll tell you what I REALLY wanted to say.  My memory sucks, but here’s how I’ve remembered it:

  • Toward the end of our Level 1 CO – CHP class, a younger gentleman, likely in his 20s, says “I was assuming that you were going to talk about using rubber bullets in my gun since I don’t think I could ever kill anyone…”
  • Me: “Umm… you were considering rubber bullets?  As a less-than-lethal option?”
  • Him: “Yeah, I just don’t think I could ever kill anyone.”
  • Me: “I’m a fan of less-than-lethal options.  Don’t let me or anyone else try to talk you into doing something that puts you out of your moral comfort zone.”
  • Him: “Most people will just stop and run away when you shoot them with rubber bullets.”
  • [here’s where I had to swallow hard before saying much]  Me: “What if the rubber bullets DON’T stop the threat?”
  • Him: “Hmm… well, I guess I’m not sure.  But I’m pretty sure they’ll work.”
  • He’s relying on “pretty sure” to save his life.  Nice.  Me: “Well then, again, I don’t want to step on any toes morally.  Personally, I’ve never considered that as an option for me, but if that’s where you’re at, I’m ok with that.”
  • Him: “Ok, thanks.”

Clearly, this was not a question at all, but a please-validate-me discussion.  Here are some things that ran through my head at light speed:

  • Wow, did he just ask about rubber bullets?  I’m not sure I’ve ever been asked that before.  And I mean ever.
  • Where does one even buy rubber bullets?  Does Cheaper Than Dirt sell them?  They sell Pakistani gas masks from 1943, so probably.  I’d try them first – they have everything.  (note: I’m still not sure, but I did find this)
  • But wow, if cheap Winchester 9mm Luger is going for $0.50 a round, how much are these things gonna be?
  • Do rubber bullets penetrate winter jackets?  Or is that something you only use when it’s warm out?  Or maybe you can only defend yourself 6 months a year?  What if you lived in Alaska?
  • Wait, why is he asking me this?  Is there another question here that I should be answering, like “is killing legal?”
  • How in the world did he end up at this place in life where he’s asking his CHP instructor about how to not kill someone?  I’ve been asked plenty about how TO kill someone, another question that isn’t really a question and one that I never answer and wouldn’t even if I could… but I’ve never really been asked how not to kill someone.  At least like this.
  • Now that I think about it, rubber bullets are probably controlled by Federal Law.  I’ll have to check on that.  (update: I still have no idea)
  • Wait, isn’t that still assault with a deadly weapon?  Or worse?  How much would they sue you for if you shot them with rubber bullets?  If a woman can get $5M for spilling coffee on herself, wow…
  • About the only time I can think of where someone would prefer rubber bullets would be during riot control, and only if you’re law enforcement.  Society tends to frown on mowing down 50 fine young adults, even if they are drunk and killing pedestrians/motorists (Reginald Denny, anyone?).
  • If deadly force is authorized, why would you mess around with rubber bullets?  And if deadly force is NOT authorized, why would you be shooting anyone with anything anyway?  Ugh.
  • Tactically, what if the bad guy is armed?  And now you just shot him with a rubber bullet?  Yeah, maybe he’ll just see the error of his ways and join the church choir on the way home.  Maybe.
  • What if you shoot someone with rubber bullets and he still dies?  What did you possibly gain?

I just added “don’t get shot with rubber bullets” to my to-do list. It’s right after “don’t get shot,” so maybe that’s redundant.

So that’s pretty much how it went.  I’m not a big fan of rubber bullets, but I didn’t want to have a huge morality conversation in a Level 1 class… but looking back, maybe that’s the best time to have exactly that conversation.  Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of my “firearms and morality” soapbox: the Bible says “thou shalt not MURDER,” not “kill.”  Killing is absolutely acceptable under SOME circumstances.  Murder is not.  King David was God’s chosen to lead his people – and he killed all sorts of people.  He was a true hero and God loved him… right up until he murdered a man so that he could make a move on his wife.

So – where did I screw up?

Carry on, Colorado!


6 comments on “Rubber bullets?

  1. Kalaryn says:

    It sounds like this guy really needs to analyze his own moral issues and probably not carry at all until he actually either comes to terms with it or not and base his choice to carry accordingly.

    I don’t think any of us really wants to shoot to kill but if my life were in danger I have no problems taking the stance to defend myself. I know in my CCW class, someone asked if they could just to shoot to injure instead of shoot to kill. The instructors response was that if you are in a position just to shoot to injure then more than likely your life isn’t in a life threatening situation. I figure about the same thing with rubber bullets and you make a good point about what if it doesn’t stop the threat. The thing some might not take into consideration when having to stop a threat is that threat’s adrenaline might be so high that several rounds shot at them might not stop them so I can’t imagine going up against the same threat with rubber bullets.

    You said it best though: “If deadly force is authorized, why would you mess around with rubber bullets? And if deadly force is NOT authorized, why would you be shooting anyone with anything anyway? Ugh.”

  2. Thanks! Nicely said. But remember – it’s also not about shooting to kill, either. It’s about stopping the attack and getting home to our family safely.

    But I think you hit the nail on the head. Carry on, Kalaryn!

  3. Pat Riot says:

    “Where did I screw up?” I don’t think you screwed up at all; from your description, it’s quite likely that that young man wasn’t ready to hear the full-on truth.

    However, I wholeheartedly agree with your hindsight observation: if someone doesn’t hear the full-on truth of what might be required in an intro/level 1 class, that might be the last opportunity they get, if they don’t take any further classes or immerse themselves in a blog like yours or

    • Thanks! Yeah unfortunately, only a small percentage continues with further learning, so you’re right. And that’s really my biggest challenge in Level 1 classes – shutting up! I feel a solid weight on my shoulders to pass along EVERYTHING (even though that’s completely unrealistic) since I’ll only see a fraction of the class again after that day. But that’s part of growing as an instructor (I like to think of it as “growing” and not so much as “learning to live with it”).

      At any rate, thanks. 🙂

  4. Ron Lamb says:

    I’m betting that being tased would be as unpleasant as being hit with a rubber bullet. In either case It would leave 99% of us begging “Please don’t do that again”! A few years ago on the fire dept, I was involved in an incident where a rather large guy was high on drugs. The cop….yes there was only 1 cop there…was forced to use his taser on him. The jolt did put him down, but as soon as the electricity cycled through, he was right back up swinging at us. That cop tased him 3 times when his battery charge died. After all 3 charges, he was still full of fight. We had to dog pile on him, and the 5 of us still had our hands full. I can’t imagine a rubber bullet would be any more affective than a taser.

    • Ron – good points. And none of us wants to test your theory! But I’ll be honest – I don’t lay awake at night worried about the normal, rational people in this world. It’s the rest of them that are responsible for nearly 100% (rounding up slightly) of the violence in our society. Sometimes that’s a temporary condition, other times it’s a chemically-induced state of perpetuity.

      But I’m with you 100% – tasers rubber bullets tend to work very well against the normal, rational people, and not nearly as well against the “others.”

      You have some crazy stories. You need your own blog! (and I’m glad you’re ok)

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