It seems like it is often lost among the administrative, media, and management people, why security, law enforcement officers, and public safety personnel carry weapons. I hear it and see it too often in the deployment of security guards and in the actions of management that weapons are carried by security personnel for ‘intimidation’ purposes. They say, “arm them with assault rifles as a deterrent.’
We carry weapons primarily for self-defense. Varied weapons are carried for different situations requiring different levels of force. In the case of law enforcers, we carry weapons when on duty to defend ourselves from an attack or to overcome resistance in effecting an arrest. Use of force policies and the force matrix are there to guide us in the proper use of weapons, from impact weapons and chemical weapons that are considered intermediate force to firearms which are lethal force weapons.
It seems there are people who think that a guard or a police officer carries a weapon primarily to provide protection for them from evil doers, much like bodyguards do. They also think that their security guard should be armed with a shotgun or rifle in order to appear intimidating, even if it’s not an appropriate force option for the environment. The consideration of its application in certain settings is just completely thrown out the window. The serious liability and consequence of its use in certain conditions are forgotten.
I would like to remind many of us to take seriously the choice of weapons we carry, the weapons we have our guards or policemen carry. Consider if these weapons are appropriate for the environment we expect to operate in and the type of threat we would face. Also of major consideration is the amount of training we expect to provide for them to be competent with its use in the event they need to be deployed to either protect themselves or the life or limb of another person. Also understand which and how each of these weapons would be used in the force matrix for different situations, such as in the taking into custody of an unarmed resistive subject or combative subject.
Have you drawn your lethal force weapon at a suspect in the process of arresting him only to realize that he was unarmed? Even if the suspect has indicated resistance and began to flee before you chased him and used physical force to take him down you should realize that you have an unsecured lethal force weapon on hand. Suppose you have chosen to arm your security guard with a shotgun while working in a department store and you have a suspect who has committed petty theft, now you have an ‘over-armed’ man with no other force option but to engage a resistive suspect with physical force in order to take him into custody. Ideal scenario? No. Because now the guard has introduced a lethal force option to the suspect – his unsecured rifle swinging around freely. This lethal (deadly) force weapon now may be used against the guard or anyone in the area. You have unwittingly escalated a less lethal situation to a lethal and deadly situation. You just have turned a fistfight into a gunfight.
We “draw down” on a possible suspect with a firearm, just in case that person is armed with a lethal force weapon, such as a concealed firearm or edged weapon, in order to prepare for defense against a lethal attack. Not to intimidate the suspect, but to be prepared. You don’t discharge a round in the air when the suspect flees, either. That is not what the firearm is for, to give warning. That is why you have a voice, for you to give a verbal warning. And, that warning to the fleeing suspect is not “Stop, or I will shoot!” but “Stop, you are under arrest.” “Stop, or I will shoot,” is given when you see the suspect about to attack you with a lethal weapon or that you perceive as a lethal threat to your life.
Again, weapons are carried by security personnel, law enforcers, and civilians for self-defense. It’s the military that carries weapons for attacking, to do battle with a known enemy, etc.
And that, my friends is my two cents worth of opinion based on my training and experience.