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When to Use Lethal and Non-Lethal Force

Assaults, attacks, and home intrusions pose serious dangers, especially if the attacker is armed. Victims of these crimes have to make an immediate choice between using lethal or non-lethal force. Depending on the situation, the consequences of extreme force may outweigh the circumstantial danger. Don’t wait to be rattled under the stress of an attack—use the following guidelines to determine how you would respond in the event of a life-threatening attack or invasion.

Non-Lethal Force

Non-lethal force is not likely or intended to cause death or severe bodily harm. When possible, use non-lethal force to incapacitate an attacker or cause an intruder to retreat, particularly if your attacker is unarmed.

  • Purchase a non-lethal weapon to keep in your home or carry with you for personal protection. The following devices are intended to temporarily harm an intruder or attacker without inflicting grave or long-lasting damage:
    • Conductive Energy Device (CED): sends an electroshock, temporarily disrupting muscular function
    • Pepper Spray or Mace:  aerosols that, when sprayed in the eyes, are temporarily blinding
    • Impact Gun: functions like a real gun but fires non-lethal rounds such as plastic or rubber bullets
  • Get adequate training to wield each weapon you possess, no matter its function. While non-lethal weapons are milder alternatives to traditional lethal weapons, each requires familiarity with its proper and effective use to avoid excessive harm to the target or yourself.
  • Consider self-defense or martial arts classes as an alternative to weapons. These classes will equip you to deter attackers with potent, non-lethal methods.

Lethal Force

Lethal force is likely to cause serious injury or death. Deadly force should be applied only when there are no alternative means to prevent immediate danger to yourself or your family.

  • Know the self-defense laws for your city and state. Learn when and where you can and should exercise lethal force in your area.
  • Allow law enforcement officials or armed security officers to handle any potentially deadly situation when they are present. These individuals are trained in the application of force as well as alternative methods to avoid use of force.
  • Obtain all necessary licenses and complete thorough training before purchasing firearms to keep in your home or carry with you. Practice shooting regularly in a certified, safe gun range under supervision.
  • Give serious consideration to your mental state, as well as the mental stability of your family members, before deciding to keep a gun in your home.
  • Always store guns safely to prevent children from accidentally firing them and to keep them from being stolen by intruders. If a gun is improperly stored, it can be used against you. Keep firearms in a gun safe, use a secure gun lock, or disassemble them and keep parts in separate, easily accessible locations.

Keep in mind that there is risk of injury whenever force of any kind is used. Non-lethal force should be used sparingly, and lethal force should be used only in the most extreme situations. Call 9-1-1 first in an emergency, unless immediate danger is unavoidable.

About U.S. Security Associates

U.S. Security Associates (USA) is one of North America's largest security companies, with 160 locally-responsive offices providing premier national security services and global consulting and investigations to customers in a range of industries. Recognized for world class customer service, leading-edge technology, and an enterprise approach to risk management, USA offers optimized security solutions to meet specific customer needs. USA is committed to building quality security and risk management programs that are Safe. Secure. Friendly.® The Securing Knowledge series is part of the extensive and growing library of reference and training tools that contribute to USA's award-winning customer service and benchmark security programs. USA's investment in training and development resources is reflected not only by BEST Awards from the American Society for Training & Development, consistent ranking on the Training magazine Top 125, and technology-driven quality management system, but also by the company's leadership team, security officers, and service excellence on a daily basis.

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