We often talk of defending ourselves in various ways and with many different weapons. Close to where I live is a walk-through shoot where the customer can take a live weapon through an obstacle course type building. I'd absolutely love to go through just to see how I would react in a break-in or defense simulation. Short of that, my family and I have trained repeatedly with squirt guns in clearing and defending our house.
In reality, though, we don't really have a good idea as to how we'd react in a situation where we're attacked or our lives are threatened, so unless we're actually in that situation, we'll never know. We talk and guess about it all the time, but in a real live attack, in an SHTF situation, the whole body, mental and physical, can be seriously threatened which means it's entirely possible that we just stand frozen with a gun pointed at someone. We could also go the other route and completely unload the magazine into them. So, we could theorize, and we can, and should, train as much as we're able to so that we're as prepared as possible. But how do you train your mind?
How much force should be used when defending your family?
The United States Military and Law Enforcement Agencies across the United States have policies/rules that guide their use of force in any given situation. These policies are called by different names; Escalation of Force, Use of Force Ladder, Deadly Force Ladder, Deadly Force Continuum, Use of Force Continuum, etc., and they all appear interchangeable. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) prefers to call them "The Use-Of-Force Continuum", but despite the different titles they all provide guidelines regarding how much force can be used against a person, which also can be used as guideposts much like the EOF (Escalation of Force). (Just a special note here: The Deadly Force Continuum, or Escalation of Force, is used in some part with our Military's Rules of Engagement. So you can see that these guidelines are used by all types of organizations that deal with potential threats.).
Disclaimer: Before going any further, please make note that each state and country has laws regarding the use of weapons and deadly force. This article only pertains to a time when there is a direct absence of the Rule of Law. As mentioned before, these are simply guidelines that are set up to dictate how much force we use and when. This article does not replace local, city, state, country, or global (?) laws.
The concept of the Deadly Force Continuum and how to apply it to ourselves is pretty simple to understand. Each one of us can set one up for ourselves and/or our households. They can be tailored for each individual household, each individual, and varied situations we may find ourselves in. They can be used to help us decide when to take things to the next level. As an example, I've included one of my "ladders" (I call mine a Deadly Force Ladder because my daughter learned it as such in the Navy) I use in certain situations.
Deadly Force Ladder (Personal)
Again, this is my personal DFL. I live in a state that allows personal defense and recognizes the Stand Your Ground and Castle Law.
You may want to create your own Deadly Force Ladder.
For a time when the Rule of Law is gone, everyone might want to make their own, tailored to their specific needs. Why? So that if you reach level 3, level 4, or end up going all the way through your highest level, you can mentally justify each action with little to no guilt. You can remind yourself if you absolutely have to physically hurt someone that you gave them every chance to get away; that, short of running away yourself (which IS a viable option that is not shameful or wrong), you did everything you could to prevent using deadly force.
As level 1 indicates, an intruder or danger is noticed. At this level, you can either make your presence known or try to get away unnoticed. Both have pros and cons. I'm usually in a position where I would have to make my presence known, and to be totally honest I'd already have a weapon in my hand anyway. Usually just seeing an indication of someone or a presence in the area would cause an intruder to move along to find an easier target. Turning on a porch light, even just a house light, or clearing your throat in some cases, can alert someone to your presence. If they're stubborn, or incapable of seeing/noticing you, Level 2, a verbal shout out to 'go away' should send them running.