Semper Firearms Training








Stop Means Stop!
The Importance of Issuing Strong Commands

by John Glatthar
July 2020

In every range training class we teach, there is a scenario-based drill in which the student (you) will quickly raise your gun from the "low ready" position and fire as fast as you can at an imaginary, charging attacker (a paper target). The hypothetical scenarios we employ are common situations, such as:

  • You are at a gas station, fueling your vehicle

  • You are alone at an outdoor ATM while conducting a withdrawal

  • You are heading to your vehicle in an outdoor parking lot with shopping bags

  • You are walking to your vehicle in a poorly-lit parking garage

  • It could be nearly any place, at any time! Use your imagination

One part of the drill requires that, before you fire the first shot at the oncoming attacker, you yell out the command of  "STOP" as loudly as you can. Scream it! 


Another part of the drill is what you focus on when shooting. We teach it in all of our shooting classes.


The importance of issuing clear, strong, unambiguous commands is essential. Not just before the stranger gets too close for comfort (usually 21 feet*), but for the aftermath, especially if there are witnesses to the event.


Why? Imagine this: Let's say that you shot an attacker with your handgun. Later, you find yourself as a defendant in a court of law, for it is not 100% clear as to whether you had "reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm," the necessary elements for homicide to be justified in Nevada.  You are the defendant. A witness is called to testify as to what he or she saw during the shooting event. It might go like this:

Attorney: "Witness, what did you see?  

Witness: " I saw her raise her gun and shoot the guy."


Or it might go like this:


Attorney: "Witness, what did you see?  

Witness: " I heard her yell "stop" and then I saw her raise her gun and shoot the guy."

If you were a member of the jury listening to this testimony, which recollection would sound more convincing and persuasive to you that the defendant was truly acting in non-malicious, self defense? 


Now, to be clear, not every one who approaches you has bad intentions. Is it a person who genuinely needs help, and just needs a few bucks at the moment?  You don't know!


Is it an aggressive, but non-violent panhandler who is rude and persistently pressing you for a handout? You don't know!


Is the approaching stranger a dangerous predator who aims to mug you, hurt you, or abduct you? You don't know!


Life is not without risk. You must assess risk, and you have no obligation to give anything to a stranger. Except for the IRS - a subject for another time, maybe.


Use firm, unambiguous commands. If that means throwing out some harsh language interspersed with "f-bombs," that may be what works. Such language is not proper for use in polite company, but you are not interacting with polite company now. You must speak to him in way he will misunderstand. I have had many "prim and proper" ladies at the range who simply could not bring themselves to do this. On the other hand,  I have seen some who had the appearance and demeanor of the proverbial "church lady" who could curse like "a pirate with a thesaurus." Impressive and startling. That's what we're looking for here. Startle the approaching stranger with a warning he'll understand! 


If you politely ask "Can I help you? What do you need?" you may be encouraging him to get closer to you. Distance is your friend - use it wisely and watch his hands and his eyes. 


If you say something like "please go away" you are being ever so polite and basically requesting him to leave.


Now, if you yell out "I've got nothing for you! Back off! Get the F away from me!" you are taking control and making it crystal clear to him that you want no further interaction with him, that you are juiced up, on guard, and that you will not be an easy, passive victim. Bad guys typically look for "easy" victims.


Is it prudent to draw or exhibit your gun in a public place, if he does not go away as ordered? There are too many variables to say yes or no. Something you should consider are the key words found in what many call the "brandishing law" in Nevada. It is important to note that the word "brandishing" does not appear in that statute. It addresses the act of drawing or exhibiting any deadly weapon in a rude, angry, or threatening manner not in necessary self defense, in the presence of two or more persons. A brandishing charge cannot proceed based on a "he said/she said" complaint. It takes two or more persons to file the report.  


Will drawing your gun in public be considered "necessary?" It might!  Before you carry a gun, read that law, study it, and remember it. Also remember that you cannot be charged with using "verbal judo" i.e. strong commands as part of a good self defense strategy. Maintain good situational awareness at all times and take a good firearms course from an experienced instructor


Engage in awareness, avoidance, then evade or escape. Fight as a last resort.


* See the 21-foot Tueller Drill

At Semper Firearms Training we encourage you to buy a good firearm, get trained in how to use it, and continue your firearms training as part of a defensive lifestyle.

Please be sure to watch these two important videos and to send the links on to a friend:

Images courtesy of Oleg Volk

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Semper Firearms Training
9732 Pyramid Hwy #409
Sparks, NV 89441
9 am to 7 pm Seven Days a Week
We are a training school, not a retail store

Images courtesy of Oleg Volk