Foreman’s Forum – Disparity Of Force

I thought about naming this article “I’m not as good as I once was.”

I am still six-foot and 200 lbs but I am just not the same man, at 68 years old, that I used to be. On top of that, as some of you know, I have been fighting cancer these past eleven months. After taking 24 weeks of chemo and two six-week sessions of two different kinds of radiation, my body just ain’t up to the standards and stamina it was just a short time ago. But, the Lord is on my side, so I am winning this battle!

Back when I was a Deputy Sheriff in Southwest Florida, I physically took on and prevailed with many miscreants that needed to go to jail, without resorting to the use of deadly force. Thank goodness, I am no longer in the business of taking people to jail who do not want to go!

There is a legal self-defense term called “Disparity of Force.” This means, if there is a great deal of difference in strength and stamina between individuals, it is not going to be a fair fight. For example: A muscle bound young man, six-foot tall and weighing in at 200 pounds, has a significant advantage over a 120 pound young woman. Or, an older gentleman who is six-foot tall and also weighs 200 pounds, but is 70 years old, has a huge disadvantage in strength and stamina to defend himself using only my limited physical abilities.

Now we must throw in another set of guidelines, before we rule in favor of the “little guy.” Disparity of force laws are different in some states, but let’s apply the “reasonable person” test for which the courts require the jury to answer the question, “What would a reasonable man do?” What if a 200 lb. man, standing 50 feet away threatened to kill you, a smaller weaker person, using only his bare hands? Can he cause great bodily harm or death standing fifty feet away? Would a reasonable man use deadly force to defend himself or another innocent person? What if you were sitting on a park bench and the same man, still fifty feet away, threatened you with a baseball bat? Would a reasonable man pull a gun and shoot him? Even if we ignore the “Stand Your Ground” law, would a reasonable man shoot him or just walk away? Now if he chases after you, and you cannot get away, that changes everything. Let’s add in the “disparity” factor. Let’s say you are in a wheelchair or use a walker, so you cannot get away from the threat. Now you, the weaker person, would be justified in defending yourself using more force than the attacker is using. A reasonable man would use “deadly force,” such as a firearm if he, the weaker person, is in fear of great bodily harm or death.

What would any “reasonable man” in your position do? Let’s say you and your wife are in the middle of a parking lot. Disparity covers many things, and when you combine them, it multiplies the threat. Superior size of the assailant(s), massive strength, age (20 versus 60 years old), number of assailants (five against one) and skill of the bad guy(s) are all factors.

Back to that parking lot. What are you going to do? My wife is my first concern. Am I going to tell her to run, get help and call 911, or keep her with me? Running away gets her out of the danger zone, and gets help coming. Or, would she be in greater danger being separated from me? I could try and run, but with them only 50 feet away, I wouldn’t get far in my weakened condition. I know trying to fight even one monster could get me killed or crippled. Five of them would only make my demise quicker. I’m left with no choice but to defend myself with my firearm. Isn’t that great how my Glock 9mm makes me equal to someone bigger and stronger than me?

What would you do? Have you thought of how disparity of force applies to your personal defense plans? If not, it’s time to take some training and do some research on the laws of your home state and the other states where you carry a gun for personal defense.

Remember, the BEST fight you will ever be in is the fight you avoided.
By: Paul Foreman