About Steven Harris

Steve Harris is an experienced attorney (member of Florida Bar, 1979) who has represented federal agents and local LEOs in duty related matters. He has written and lectured about officer involved shootings, self-defense, and use of force law, including "Stand Your Ground." Steve has been a seasoned and active competitive handgun shooter for over 20 years.

MADE IN THE USA : THE TEK-LOK™ (U.S. PATENT 6,145,169, NOVEMBER 14, 2000)

                  

It’s true. The well-known holster and magazine pouch attachment device shown above was designed by two knife guys.  If you are into knives, you likely recognize the names Tim Wegner and Robert (Bob) Terzuola.  If you ever spent serious time at a national knife show (BLADE, Knifemakers Guild) you might have met and even chatted up one or both. It is indeed the very same Tim Wegner who is a co-founder of this very well-known maker of carry, duty, and competition holsters and accessories  —

        

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“LESS-LETHAL” : EDC FOR THE ARMED?

TakeawaySimple answer: Yes, less-lethal (impact, aerosol chemical, conducted energy) should be considered as a possible EDC adjunct to being armed. If you choose to carry less-lethal, get initial and periodic refresher training from a professional credentialed for the particular type/brand less-lethal weapon. Be prepared to articulate what you chose to carry (likely OC) and why. Update your knowledge base at least yearly for usage studies and legal developments, and to consider any product improvement.  If you choose not to carry less-lethal, be prepared to articulate why not. Whichever way you go, expect that somebody, maybe someone whose opinion matters, will second guess you. Continue reading

A SHORT ESSAY : WINNING IS EVERYTHING . . . AND THE ONLY THING

From “No Second Place Winner” (© 1965), by William H. (“Bill”) Jordan (p.101):

“There is no second place winner in a gunfight!  That sage remark is of unrivaled importance to an enforcement officer. Nothing he can buy from a life insurance firm takes the place of his ability to shoot fast and accurately. Storebought insurance will make his wife a rich widow, but it will be someone else who helps her spend the settlement. Not too attractive a proposition from the masculine point of view. The kind of life insurance he can buy with competent gun handling ability is obviously much more practical.”    [You can read/download Jordan’s book, HERE].

MSW posts urging weapon reliability and “get out and train” (whether specialized classes with the been there done everything hardcore trainers, shooting drills on the clock on your own, physical conditioning, and yes, competing) really speak to one thing, winning a life threatening encounter.  I wanted to write a post to put out my long-held lament on the subject.  It strikes me often: I see streets named after and plaques honoring LEOs killed by the gunfire of evildoers.  (I was casually acquainted with several of the deceased LEOs, and a bit more with a couple).  But I never see what would inspire and make me feel much better —  a street named after an LEO who WON a gunfight.  So here it is, to be filed under the CAN element (mindset) of my paradigm on deadly force. Continue reading

MODERN SERVICE WEAPONS — IN RETROSPECT

It’s coming up on two years since I uploaded my first MSW post.  The process seemed a bit confusing, but the post went up after some help from Tim.  It’s now a cakewalk.  (The post was about shooting and lead “poisoning” hazards, HERE.  If you haven’t read it, please do. It could use some more FB likes. 🙂 I even obtained permission from a well-known artist/chemist to include one of his nifty cartoons).  There are now almost 700 MSW posts; more than 40 are mine. Continue reading

CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE NON-SWORN : HOLDING SOMEONE “AT GUNPOINT”

              Executive summary:  Usually a bad idea, often a very bad idea.

[This is a follow on to prior posts, THREATENING DEADLY FORCE : MUSINGS ON “BRANDISHING” AND “WARNING” SHOTS, and “CASTLE” DEFENSE: WHAT CAN–MAY–SHOULD–MUST YOU DO]

“Can/should I hold someone at gunpoint?” A common question when the topic of guns and defensive use of deadly force is discussed.  The questioner’s “gunpoint” hypothetical usually poses a home invasion, robbery attempt of the questioner, or “in progress” interdiction of someone committing a property crime, or a violent crime against the questioner or another person. The question is another one to which I respond with my smart aleck lawyer’s answer:  “I don’t know, can/should you?”  It lends itself to analysis similar to what I discussed in prior MSW posts on the use of deadly force —  my paradigm:

CAN / MAY / SHOULD / MUST

For the purpose of this post, holding someone “at gunpoint” is not necessarily muzzling the threatened person(s), openly holding an exposed firearm in any specific “ready” position, or a mode of “display” permitted or prohibited by a state “brandishing” statute.  I use the phrase here to mean the display of a firearm coupled with the express or implied threat that a failure to obey commands will result in the use of deadly force, that is, the gunpointer WILL shoot.  (If unprivileged, usually considered a serious felony, such as an armed assault or assault with/by deadly weapon).  Consider the following for your analysis of the SHOULD element of the paradigm. Continue reading

MADE IN THE USA : THE SAM® SPLINT

 

Whether flat or rolled, they take up little space, and weigh almost nothing. Proven highly useful in everyday civilian aid, search and rescue, military, sports, and back country applications.  From the sammedical website: “Built from a thin core of aluminum alloy and sandwiched between two layers of closed-cell foam, the SAM Splint can be bent into any of three simple curves, becoming extremely strong and supportive for any fractured or injured limb.”   And yes, there is a guy named Sam — he’s an MD, and the company’s founder and CEO. Continue reading

RENDERING AID TO POLICE : YEA OR NAY?

    

       

Recent stories where the non-sworn (usually referred to as a “citizen” or “civilian”) successfully assisted a police officer caused me to write this post.  One “all’s well that ends well” scenario involved a man who took shots when he witnessed an in-progress armed robbery and believed a responding officer was in danger of being ambushed. The officer took cover and the robber was captured later.  (See here and here). Another, a more common scenario, involved bystanders who helped subdue a subject who might have overpowered the officer.  (See here).  Similar stories and videos on topic pop up on TV news reports and officer interest websites from time to time. (See examples, here and here).  As an MSW reader, you likely already know that being a “hero” aiding police is, like policing itself, dangerous business.  Thus it is no surprise; not every “hero” comes through unscathed.  (See here).  Also not surprising; simply having a cup of java in public with an officer is not risk-free.  (See here).  Finally, would it not just plain suck to aid an officer .  .  . and then someone else gets the credit? (See here). Continue reading

THE POLICE MARKSMAN —- CURRENT ISSUE : LEO, GET SOME!

What’s not to like, free and on line.

  a legacy of advancing tactical excellence in law enforcement training. Our mission is to arm law enforcement with the tools and knowledge to survive and win real-world encounters. We maintain a laser focus on delivering cutting edge articles on tactics, firearms and officer safety to law enforcement of all ranks nationwide. We achieve this through our roster of leading topic experts and our long-standing reputation of integrity and commitment to law enforcement.”

Current Issue

Officer Down” column (last article link below in list) — a must read comprehensive analysis of an OIS, with a buffet of food for thought.   This one has particularly important lessons for traffic stops and other encounters where repeated challenges are issued to a non-compliant. In one case where a non-compliant subject was holding a weapon, a federal appeals court said: “We accept for the present purposes that, once past Sergeant Carr, Montoute never turned to face him again, and Montoute never actually pointed the sawed-off shotgun at anyone. But there was nothing to prevent him from doing either, or both, in a split second.   At least where orders to drop the weapon have gone unheeded, an officer is not required to wait until an armed and dangerous felon has drawn a bead on the officer or others before using deadly force.” The case, Mountoute v. Carr, is here.

Kyle Dinkheller, EOW 1/12/1998:  The dashboard video is here.  Watch it and then read the column.  As Rod Serling would say, submitted for your approval:  Repetition makes good practice, but in the real world, use it at your own risk.

PM_JanFeb2014_Cover.indd

Disclosure:  PM once (IIRC, in a prior century) sent me a box of 45 Auto +P Federal® Premium 230 HST, for free.  I have most of the box left.

Stay safe,  whether in or out of uniform.

THREATENING DEADLY FORCE : MUSINGS ON “BRANDISHING” AND “WARNING” SHOTS

I “learned” the following while browsing the internet:

  • In order to scare off a home intruder and alert neighbors to summon the police, one should go out to a balcony and fire a double-barreled shotgun into the air.  WRONG: Likely tactical error abandoning a safer ensconced defensive position, misuse of limited ammunition supply, endangers others, and probably an unlawful discharge. Continue reading

PHOTO OF THE DAY: MEDICAL KIT ADDITIONS

[I was looking to make this one of the “Made In The USA” posts, but it turned out the two items I reference here are not.  They are nevertheless worthy of consideration as additions to your comprehensive home/tactical medical kits.  My prior MSW post pictures of tactically-oriented medical items I stock at home and carry are here and here].

I recently added two kit items as a result of my never-ending quest to be fully prepared to play first responder on myself and to provide others (who might attend to me or need items for their own use) medical kit items I have determined are easy to use and effective. They are: MEDIHONEY®  (gel, paste, and dressings; New Zealand by way of Canada) by Derma Sciences, Inc., and the four-inch version of the OLAES Modular Bandage (China by way of South Carolina) by Tactical Medical Solutions:

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“IMMUNITY” FROM CIVIL SUIT AFTER LAWFUL USE OF DEFENSIVE FORCE : FACT OR FICTION?

Critics of “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) laws often claim such laws improperly grant the user of defensive force “immunity” from a civil lawsuit for damages.  They sometimes also argue that the “immunity” is better than that given to LEOs.  Neither has yet been shown to be fact.  I doubt either will ever be the general rule. In fact, a state’s “immunity” provision may actually have no relationship to its SYG law.

State “immunity” statutes relating to the use of force are of recent origin and thus, are not yet widely-interpreted by court decisions.  The unanswered questions of interpretation can be rather complicated, but they do not present novel legal concepts. To separate fact from fiction, I “poked around” (a Georgia term for research)  some state statutes. States with statutory provisions which bar civil recovery for damages against a user of reasonable or lawful force include (in no particular order): Georgia, New Hampshire, Michigan, Idaho, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado, Maryland, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Texas, Mississippi, Kansas, New Jersey, Iowa, and Missouri.

Fact is, a state “immunity” law related to use of force may: Continue reading

SUPREME COURT RULES ON ATF FORM 4473 : WHO IS THE “ACTUAL TRANSFEREE/BUYER”

In a prior MSW post I noted that the Supreme Court had agreed to hear what most refer to as a “straw” purchase criminal appeal (Abramski v. United States), see  — LEGAL NEWS FLASH: Supreme Court to Wade Into “Straw” Purchase Morass.”  [For detailed history and discussion of the case, from Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute, go here.   You can listen to the argument before the Justices (here) or read a transcript here.  An 18-minute audio containing an informative explanation of the case (from The Federalist Society) is here.

As is often the case, oral argument provided little insight into the disposition which would earn the agreement of a majority of the Justices.  Speculation on the decision is no longer necessary — the Court ruled on Monday, June 16.  It held that a “misrepresentation” on Form 4473 is a crime (as if a “straw” purchase), even when the “true buyer” could have lawfully purchased a firearm.   The rationale of the Court’s holding moved away from applying a criminal statute by its words (the preferred mode of analysis) to divining the statute by its and related provisions “structure, history, and purpose.”

The case is not a Second Amendment case.  The majority’s thinking is not without arguable merit: If you are buying a gun “on behalf of” or as “an agent for” another, that person is the “actual transferee/buyer” for the purposes of the federal law under which the Form 4473 was promulgated.  The “guy at the counter” is not.  [Note: A March 2014 lower appellate court opinion (in an unrelated case) ruled similarly, holding that: “Under Form 4473, a person is not the “actual buyer” if the person acquires a firearm for another, even if the person actually pays for the firearm. Rather, the “actual buyer” is the person the firearm ultimately is for”].

Here are the “lessons learned” to take from the drama that is Abramski: Continue reading

SOME PERSPECTIVE ON SHOT COUNT & PLACEMENT, RELOADS, REENGAGEMENT

A tactically appropriate, legally acceptable deadly force response doesn’t necessarily “look right.”  Imagine a courtroom (an LEO is being sued under Federal law for “excessive force,” or a non-sworn alleging self-defense is being prosecuted for murder or manslaughter), where you hear some or all of this: “Members of the jury.  You heard from several eyewitnesses in this case.  They uniformly told you they observed the defendant shoot the victim X times  .  . look around as if to see if anyone was watching, and then duck behind a wall .  .  . stash the partially empty pistol magazine .  .  . put a fresh one into the pistol  .   .   .  and reengage the wounded and flailing victim with Y additional shot(s) to the (body part) .”   A bit concerned that even with the extensive explanation of experts, the above would seem excessive (shot count), unreasonable (reloading, reengaging), and/or sinister (scanning, taking cover) to a judge or jury?  Even when the shooting is unquestionably “good”?  I am. Continue reading

MADE IN THE USA : MEMORIAL DAY 2014

[Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial]

Monday, May 26, 2014.

From the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website (here):

The origins of special services to honor those who die in war can be found in antiquity. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago that could be applied today to the 1.1 million Americans who have died in the nation’s wars: “Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”      .   .    .

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

On behalf of Hilton, Tim, and all of the MSW contributing authors, I ask that you please take a minute pause today to quietly say “thank you” to the families of those who died in service to the people of this great nation.

No brother in battle left behind. No veteran or casualty of battle forgotten.

Be safe, today and always.