Written by Greg Ellifritz
Click the link below and watch the short cruiser video of a police gunfight. In the video, Shertz, Texas police officer Richard Kunz is attacked while making a traffic stop. The offender fired 30 rounds out of an AK-47 and then fired 14 more with a 9mm handgun before he was stopped by Kunz’ bullets.
Now, place yourself in the role of this officer. Would you shoot back??? OF COURSE YOU WOULD!
Look at his backstop. If he misses or the bullets travel through the bad guy he will hit a busy highway full of oncoming traffic. Not good. Would you shoot back now? I’m betting your answer didn’t change.
Some of you may have been trained well enough to consider your backstop in a combative situation. That’s good. But I’m going to ask you, in this case, does it really matter?
My guess is that any one of you will be dumping bullets in that guy’s direction as fast as you can until he stopped shooting. I would too. I’d feel really bad if I missed and hit someone else, but ultimately, I’m still going to keep firing. What is my alternative? Not to shoot because there are some cars coming and get shot myself? Retreat into the path of another vehicle on the road and get run over? Nope, sometimes you have to take the shot and deal with the consequences.
I’ve been in some training classes where we have done elaborate range training drills trying to maneuver under fire to get to a location where we could shoot with a safe backstop. I’ve always thought there is a limited value to such drills. Realize that safe backstops are great, but as you maneuver, you are still taking rounds! How long do you want to delay and take the chance of being hit while you find your safe backstop? Do you realize that bullets don’t always take a straight path through bodies? Sometimes they bounce around and come out where you least expect them to. It would really suck to take five seconds (and three bullets) to move into a position where I could hit a refrigerator after my through-and-through shot only to have my bullet skip off the bad guy’s skull and hit someone else anyway!
One other thing that most people fail to consider in situations like this is the question of the attacker’s backstop. Where are HIS bullets going? You can bet that he doesn’t care! The longer you let him take shots, the more innocent people will be killed. It ultimately comes down to one issue, do I trust myself to take the shot and take the chance of missing or do I let him spray rounds with lots of guaranteed misses? Which would cause the most harm?
This case is a prime example. The bad guy fired 44 rounds (most with a high powered rifle) and missed with them all. The officer fired 16 rounds and missed with 13. If the officer would have refrained from returning fire, in all likelihood the bad guy would have shot even more, increasing the chance that an innocent would be hit, not decreasing it. None of the officer’s 13 misses hit any person or car.
I’m not telling anyone to ignore the backstop. If you can move to a position with a safer backstop without risk to yourself, then by all means DO IT! But sometimes you just have to take the shot.