Moral and Ethical Decision Making
From: Dr. Ignatius Piazza
This is a transcript of the live lecture provided at Front Sight. The reason I share it with you now will be quite obvious.
(Warning: This is a very thought provoking transcript and requires you to think of the use of deadly force in ways you may have never previously contemplated.)
Before you start reading this transcript, take a moment to watch a handful of Front Sight students share with you, the impact Front Sight training has made on their lives. Click on: Life Changing Training
Webster’s Dictionary defines Moral as “relating to principles of right and wrong.”
Webster’s Dictionary defines Ethical as “conforming to an accepted standard of conduct.”
In other words, morals are what is right or wrong for you as an individual and ethics are what is considered right or wrong by the collective group of people who you interact with. On issues involving the Use of Deadly Force, we have laws to guide us, but ultimately the standard of conduct is set by the courts and juries through their decisions in criminal and civil trials. Their decisions filter down and impact the policies of the District Attorney’s Office, your local law enforcement agencies, and civil litigation attorneys.
Our own, individual decisions on the Use of Deadly Force may or may not conform to the accepted standard of conduct of the collective group of people we interact with.
When our moral decisions in the Use of Deadly Force and subsequent actions conform with the accepted standards, we have very few problems. When our moral decisions and subsequent actions in the Use of Deadly Force do not conform with the accepted standards, we have big problems in the form of criminal and civil liability.
Front Sight will not attempt to tell you what moral decisions you should make regarding the use of deadly force. That is a personal decision left up to you. We will not cite any specific laws regarding the use of deadly force, because the specific laws vary from state to state. However, we will provide you with information on universally accepted standards of conduct when using deadly force. The information we provide will, as best we can, keep you within the accepted standards of conduct when using deadly force regardless of where you may be. You then, must make your own individual decisions on the Moral Use of Deadly Force and you need to begin making those decisions NOW.
Why now, during this course? Because you may be faced with the decision to use deadly force tonight, when your car breaks down and leaves you stranded on the side of the road— to be approached by three men with evil intent.
It may happen tomorrow morning when you stop in the convenience store to pick up some lunch supplies and two armed men follow you in— to rob the store.
It may happen when you return home and find an armed burglar— in your residence.
It may happen at anytime, and under any circumstance— by chance or design.
Is this paranoid? Paranoia is defined as a mental disorder marked by delusions and irrational suspicions. Is there anything in the scenarios listed above that is irrational or unrealistic? No.
Is it probable? Statistically no, it is not probable, but it could happen with a probability similar to you getting in a serious car accident on the way home tonight.
Statistics don’t matter when YOU are the one-in-one thousand.
The point is that if you are not willing and able to confront the fact that today, might be the day…That today someone— by chance or design— may attempt to take your life or that of another in your immediate area, then how do you expect to make the right decision and act accordingly under the real and debilitating stress of a lethal confrontation?
If you can say to yourself and believe that Today Could Be The Day, that you use your weapon to defend your life or the lives of your loved ones, then you have made the first and possibly the most important of many decisions that you must make in the Moral Use of Deadly Force.
There are some additional reasons why the moral decision to use deadly force must be made-- in your mind-- in advance of any future lethal confrontation.
To the unprepared, the shock of sudden and unprovoked violence has a tendency to paralyze the victim with fear or cause doubt in their mind that violence is being committed against them. They are often unable to react or wish it was not happening. Often the victim will report, “I was so scared I could not move.” “I couldn’t believe that it was happening to me.” “I saw the gun, but couldn’t believe he was after me.”
If you have not made the moral decision to use deadly force in advance, you may not have the time to make the decisions under the shock of sudden and unprovoked violence against you.
The use of deadly force carries the very significant potential for criminal and civil liability.
What level of bodily injury and or humiliation are you willing to accept for yourself or watch occur to another before stopping the action, and if required, stopping it with deadly force?
Are you willing to give up your wallet, your car, your television?
Are you willing to witness another individual, related or unrelated to you, take a beating?
Are you willing to stop a rape in progress?
Would you accept a bloody nose and black eye from a drunken coworker at the office New Year’s party?
Use of deadly force in these circumstances may or may not have criminal liabilities, but each has a civil liability attached. Knowing the potential criminal and the definite civil costs involved, how much bodily injury or humiliation are you willing to accept?
If you have not drawn a mental “line in the sand” that you will not allow anyone to cross, then you may not have the time to make the decision when confronted with these situations.
Understand that you shoot to stop your attacker, not to kill. Even so, it is likely that your actions may kill.
Are you willing to kill another human being? Have you made spiritual peace—in advance—with your moral decision to take another life to save your own life or those around you? If not, then you may again find it difficult to make the decision when time is of the essence.
Violent crime is committed by males and females of all age groups, races, religions, and occupations.
Are you willing to shoot a woman?
What horrific circumstances would require such decisions?
(Statistically you are more likely to be killed by someone you know than by a stranger. Just ask police detectives who their first suspect is in a homicide… #1 is the spouse, then friends, then acquaintances…)
These are terrible decisions to make and we would like to avoid them at all costs.
However, if you do not make the decisions in advance, I guarantee you that you will hesitate to make them later and that hesitation may be the difference between you living or dying.
You will notice that time or the lack of it seems to be the common denominator in the need for you to make your moral decisions in the use of deadly force well in advance.
Here Is Why:
(Lethal Force Scenario played out in classroom. Students raise hands at the precise moment when they would shoot. End result is numerous first time students shoot too fast or wait too long…)
Any doubts as to when and if you are willing to use deadly force will cost you time should you ever need to use deadly force. That extra time in making the Right Decision may adversely affect your survival and the survival of those around you.
It doesn’t matter if you can present your weapon from a concealed holster and fire two center of mass shots in less than 1.5 seconds IF you took too long to make the decision.
On the other hand, if your moral decision to use deadly force is not in line with the universally accepted standards in the use of deadly force, meaning you shot too soon or for reasons that do not conform with the standards of those you interact with, then you will have serious criminal and civil consequences.
In the case of any shooting, your actions may be scrutinized by a police investigation, the District Attorney’s office, the Grand Jury, and in a criminal jury trial. Following the criminal investigation, whether charges are filed or not, whether you are acquitted or convicted, you may face the civil lawsuit filed by the grieving family of the person you shot.
Should you ever find yourself in a lethal confrontation, the decision to use deadly force is going to be yours and yours alone at the time. You will be on your own. Your decisions and subsequent actions will determine whether you live or die. If you live, your decisions will determine whether you face criminal or civil penalties for your actions.
With that said, are you thinking that you should try to avoid a gun fight if there is any way to prevent it?
Good. The best gun fight is the one you avoid!
Take out a $100.00 bill. Let’s make a bet. If I win the bet I get your one hundred dollars. If you win the bet you get to keep your one hundred dollars. Is that a good bet? That is a gun fight. You risk everything and you don’t win anything. You just keep what you have. (Sometimes you don’t get to keep what you have because defending against criminal and civil liability costs you lots of money.)
Now I realize that some of you are thinking, “My gosh! This is more than I bargained for. I came here to improve my skills for weekend recreational shooting, not to contemplate when or if I would ever shoot somebody!”
Let me first validate your awareness that you understand the grave consequences of what we are discussing. And let me then assure you that any trepidation you may have right now is because we are asking you to begin making your decisions in the use of deadly force but we have not given you all the information yet.
Over the next four days, you will learn how to handle your weapon to a level that is greater than the vast majority of people who carry a gun for a living. You will also gain a full understanding of the Universal Standards in the Use of Deadly Force.
With the ability and knowledge you gain from this course you will be fully prepared to make Your Own Moral Decisions in the Use of Deadly Force.
The more training you have, the better and faster you are, the Less Likely you will ever need the skills we teach, and if needed the More Likely you are to make the right decision.
However, the decision process should not stop with this course. I encourage you to discuss this topic with your family, your spiritual advisors, and your legal advisors.
I encourage you to create in your mind “what if” scenarios and determine what your decision will be in advance. The more “what if” scenarios you create, the better prepared you will be should the need arise to use the knowledge and skill you gain from this course.
If you are feeling that maybe you should forget about carrying a gun or using a gun as a means of defense because the responsibility and liability is too great, let me remind you that there is nothing in this world more valuable than your life and the lives of your loved ones.
Any feelings of doubt stem from a lack of certainty on when to use your gun. By the end of the course, you will have the answers as to when it is universally accepted to use deadly force and you will have certainty on the value of carrying and using a gun as a means of self defense.
I leave you with a couple universally accepted rules of gun fighting to ponder:
If it is not worth killing or dying for, it is not worth fighting for.
If you must think about whether or not you should shoot, you probably should not shoot.
It is always better to have a gun and not need it, than need a gun and not have it!
End of Transcript
I hope this transcript has been enlightening for you. At Front Sight we provide more than you expect. During a two day or four day course there is very little down time. You are either in the classroom for thought provoking discussion; or on the range learning and practicing life-saving self defense skills; or in our live-fire tactical training simulators applying everything we are teaching you.
The combination of our seasoned, professional instructional staff delivering our proven, intensified training— on our world class facilities— in a caring and supportive manner results in a life-changing experience for you at Front Sight. I am sure of it. In fact, Front Sight will more than satisfy your expectations or I will pay for your training. You have my personal guarantee.
Watch for Message #7 from me in a couple of days where I share with you Seven Common Misconceptions That Can Get You Killed!
Feel free to share this report with your family and friends. If your family and friends would like To receive their own reports, our brochure, and 90 minute award winning DVD then please direct them to: www.frontsight.com
I look forward to seeing you at Front Sight!
Dr. Ignatius Piazza
P.P.S. If you would like to see the step-by-step experience you can expect in a typical Front Sight Four Day Course— from the time you call our office for a brochure to leaving the facility with your graduation certificate in hand, then click on Front Sight Experience A-Z as it will answer most, if not all your questions and help prepare you for your first course.
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