Q: Is it true that any time a police officer shoots his gun his objective is to kill? Don’t you ever try to just merely wound someone by shooting them in the arm or something?

A: The short answer is, “No.” Police officers are not trying to kill anyone when they are forced to shoot. The long answer is: A police officer is authorized to use deadly force when confronted by an imminent deadly threat, or to prevent or stop a forcible felony. The object is to stop the threat as quickly as possible. Or, in other words, to get the bad guy to stop whatever they are doing to create the dangerous situation. Shooting is a very precise activity. In a stressful situation, with people moving and other variables, putting a bullet that is a fraction of an inch wide into a specific area is virtually impossible. This is why officers are trained to shoot for the torso which is the largest target. Wounding someone in the arm or leg is not realistic and can be a difficult target to hit, and is not likely to stop the violent behavior or danger. So, police officer are trained to shoot to stop the threat. Death is sometimes a byproduct of that, but it is never the goal.

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