Random thoughts on the physical, mental and emotional dynamics of a shooting. Physical. In training, police are taught to keep firing until the aggressor is disabled. You don’t know if he’s disabled until he’s on the ground. With these new weapons, you can get off 10-15 rounds in a couple of seconds and you don’t even know it. When the adrenaline takes over, you just do what your training has told you to do and that is to fire until he’s disabled. During that period you will be totally unable to hear anything else around you or be able to take any other action.
Mental. Once you start shooting, it’s hard to stop. The mind’s ‘brakes’ are shut down. If a Police officer feels his life is being threatened, nothing on this Earth will stop him from firing until the aggressor is down or he can no longer see the target. When either of those take place, you then start to hear what is around you, and get back to the more rational you. This is why, in these cases, the officer’s clip is usually empty when he is interrogated by Internal Affairs. That’s because, almost always, he continued to fire until his ammunition ran out.
Emotional. There is proven medical testing that shows that when police officers are involved in something like a high speed chase, there comes a time when they are so focused on ‘the chase’ that their mind no longer hears the radio in the car, nor do they see anything other than what they are concentrating on, much like a boxer in his corner between rounds, who probably can’t focus on what his cornermen are telling him. The same with a shooting. So, when these officers are questioned, they are truthful when they say they don’t remember anything after a certain point.
Backing up. Let’s go backwards. What makes anyone (outlaw, lawman, citizen, soldier, night watchman) cross that line from not shooting to drawing and firing? There may be two types of situations here: (a) the untrained person, overcome by fear, pulls and fires before he (or she) has time to think; (b) the trained person, acting on what he (or she) has been taught and, with all due calm, draws and fires. The common denominator is fear; even the icy-calm shooter has fear racing through his mind or he would not be going for his holster.