If you were to shoot someone to stop them from killing you, where would be the most merciful place to shoot?

If the attacker is facing you the most merciful location to hit would be just above the bridge of his nose. If you are trying to make a clean headshot in a situation like that I would classify you as an idiot. The head is small and moves a lot. Under the stress of a fight or flight situation you are likely to miss repeatedly. The SMARTEST place to aim is directly in the center of his chest. You have a much higher probability of actually hitting him that way while still having a good chance of stopping him within the first few hits. If you meant merciful in the context of not actually killing him you should reevaluate whether or not you should be carrying a gun. A gun is deadly no matter where you are trying to shoot someone. There is no such thing as a non-lethal shooting. If you are not willing to kill in self defense do not carry a tool that will do so.


OK...so I absolutely have to shoot shoot someone...no getting out of it, I'm literally compelled to do it and cannot refuse.

So I'd rather shoot someone I don't know well. Perhaps someone I could offer some compensation to or who might be amenable to the idea. Anyone from the Jackass franchise who was still able bodied?

First, I'd choose the most anemic firearm I have...how about a 22cal target rifle, like a martini international, but I'd load it with 22cal short (pistol rounds). These are quite a bit less powerful but are still technically a "firearm" round. Then I'd get my victim to go downrange say 60 yds, making sure they had thigh high leather boots, a heavy denim jacket, jeans and thick undergarments. Being shot is bad enough, but its quite cold where I live! And I'd ask them to keep their full face motor bike helmet on too.

Then I'd tear a phonebook in half and experiment on how many pages it took to take the majority of the energy out of the round, with the rifle sandbagged to make repeatable, accurate shots. Not many, I suspect.

Then I'd get them to bare just their left ass cheek, duct tape the required width of pages onto it and take a shot.

Morally, this is still quite questionable. But I'm sure it would get plenty of attention on YouTube.

Postscript. 26/10/2018

The original question was merged into one with a slightly more serious tone, and damn it, its taken all the fun out of having to shoot someone. I'm not really keen to rewrite the whole thing, but I will briefly suggest that the most merciful place to shoot someone would be in a hospital emergency ward. Or their ass.


This question is a bit confusing, but I'll give it a go.

First part, ‘If I had to shoot someone, who would I shoot?' The only answer that makes any sense to me would be, ‘The person I had to shoot.'

Second part, ‘Where would I shoot them?' Does the questioner mean where as in the persons' location, or where as in what spot on the victims person would I want my projectiles to land? I don't know, so I'll cover both options.

If for some reason it works out that I have to shoot a person,(and I pray it never does) I'm going to shoot this person wherever they happen to be the next time I see them. Tactical situation allowing it of course. Then, since I've received no instructions about the desired results, I'm going to assume that the victim is not supposed to survive, and shoot them twice center mass and once through the head. Tactical situation allowing it, of course.


You don't really need to be merciful in that scenario, you have a right to self preservation and that means if someone is trying to kill you, you have every right to kill them before they can accomplish that goal.

Regardless, assuming you're within 5 meters of the target, you can reasonably disable them with a lower-upper body shot. In general however, it's very difficult to land specific shot positions. Guns aren't as accurate as games tend to show them off, and in a scenario where someone is avidly trying to take your life, you likely won't be concerned with mercy, rather with preventing them from killing you by any means necessary.


This is a nonsensical question.

You must fear death or grave bodily harm to be justified in shooting an attacker. In that case, you are not shooting to be merciful, you are shooting to STOP THE THREAT. Mercy is a luxury enjoyed by those in a superior tactical position, not those who are fighting for their lives.

If you are attacked, and have a firearm to defend yourself, shoot at the center of mass of the attacker, and keep shooting until the threat has been stopped.


Assuming you could do it, I would think it would be to shoot off their little toe. 99% of attackers would probably stop attacking you. The other person's life would barely be affected after they healed.

Good luck.

Incedentally, the chances of being able to shoot an attacker in the big toe are very close to zero, even for an expert marksman. Worrying about being merciful when someone is trying to kill you probably would make you eligible for a Darwin Award.


Honestly there is no great merciful shot. Often people say you should shoot the leg to incapacitate them, however your femoral artery runs through, and id the bullet hits the bone and shatters it, they can die from the shock, or bone shard again piercing the femoral artery. In a situation you have described, you will likely not have time to calmly assess and take careful aim, so aim center mass. If you want a merciful death, a head shot will most likely kill instantly, but it is easy to miss. A chest or center mass shot will knock them down certainly, but always be prepared to follow up with additional shots if necessary.


The most merciful place would be wherever kills them most quickly, like the brain. If you don't intend to kill someone, you shouldn't be using a gun at all in the first place. Guns are designed and intended to function as lethal weapons, and attempting to use them as something else, for example, "shooting to wound" or maim, as people often insist upon, is poor practice for a number of reasons, which I'll get into below.

1. You're trying to use a lethal weapon that should only be used as a last resort for something besides its intended purpose. If you aren't intending to kill them, don't even draw it as you risk escalating the encounter without the resolve to follow through. If non-lethal resistance is your priority look into other options.

2. The majority of shots taken in self-defense situations are missed because your target is moving and you're panicked and full of adrenaline, and that's aiming for center of mass (this is true of police as well). Good luck hitting an even smaller, more rapidly and unpredictably moving target (limbs). If you miss you've done nothing to stop the threat.

3. A missed shot can easily exit your home or at least pass through walls within it and potentially injur or kill an unintended target. This could be a family member, pet, neighbor, bystander; anyone and anything that might be in your line of fire. Taking a less practical shot increases the likelihood of this occuring.

4. Even if you hit them, there is absolutely no guarantee the wound will stop them. People use lethal force because it FORCES the cessation of some physical function necessary for life thereby almost immediately stopping aggressive action. This can be achieved by destroying the CNS, extremely rapid loss of blood, or by destroying the heart or lungs, either of which will quickly starve the brain of oxygen. All of these are things firearms do exceptionally well. What they don't do well is completely immobilize people through physical damage. Despite what you see in video games and movies, shots don't knock people over; falling due to a non-lethal hit is a psychological reaction. A panicked, determined, or drugged person will likely not even realize they've been shot right away, let alone be stopped by it. You'll have to successfully hit multiple joints to meaningfully and reliably impede their movement through mechanical means, and as I've already explained, just hitting one successfully in this situation would be exceptionally difficult. If the situation is such that you have time to carefully take aim at small targets, you're probably not in a dire enough situation to warrant firearm use.

5. You may kill them anyway. Anywhere you can shoot someone that would meaningfully impede their movement is surrounded by arteries that, if sufficiently damaged, will release enough blood to be fatal in a short period of time, and infections of the wounds can also cause death.

So let's review; you're almost certainly not even going to hit your target if you shoot to maim, it increases the chances of collateral damage to bystanders, even if you are lucky enough to score a hit it may not even end the threat, and you may kill them anyway despite using an extremely inferior defense strategy in an attempt to avoid just that. And most importantly, you shouldn't even be using a lethal weapon in the first place if your intent isn't to kill, which you should only intend to do to save yourself or someone else from death or severe bodily injury. In that case, you shouldn't really be concerned about the well-being of the aggressor, as the situation wouldn't exist without their initiation and you must now choose between them and yourself or a loved one, which I would hope is an easy choice.

Tl;dr: don't shoot unless you intend to kill, don't kill unless it's 100% necessary.


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