One often hears impassioned, emotional (and ill-informed) comment from bystanders or family members after someone has been shot in the commission of a crime. Whether by their intended victim or by police, the complaint is often heard that "They shouldn't have shot to kill! They should have shot him in the leg, so they didn't hurt him too much!"
Of course, no-one in his or her right mind shoots to kill. One shoots to stop, which is a very different consideration. It may cause injuries sufficiently serious to kill the target, but that's not our primary intention. We want to stop the bad guy from continuing his attack/assault/whatever. That's almost the only legitimate reason for any civilian to fire on another human being.
However, there are always those who tell us we should aim for some allegedly non-vital part of the body, like the leg. Yesterday, via an e-mail list of which I'm a member, I received a link to a video clip showing an Iranian policeman trying to wound a knife-armed bank robber by shooting him in the leg. The shot proves almost immediately fatal due to massive blood loss, because it punctures the femoral artery. It proves conclusively that shooting someone in the leg can, indeed, inflict a lethal injury.
Furthermore, you'll notice the bad guy was still walking around almost unhampered until blood loss took effect. Clearly, no bones were broken. If the femoral artery hadn't been hit, the wound wouldn't have done much to slow him down.
That said, if you want to see it, click here to be taken to its Web page. Don't say I didn't warn you!
Note, too, how bystanders crowd around, filming the action on their cellphones but not helping the policeman in any way. When the criminal goes down, they gather around, forming a thick throng that would surely prevent any ambulance or other assistance from reaching the injured man.
Take this lesson away from that video. You need to know how to use a tourniquet, and be able to apply it in 20-30 seconds if it's to be effective on such an injury. Any longer and blood loss will lead to permanent brain damage, if not death. You certainly won't have time to get to your car to collect a tourniquet. If you go shooting, keep a tourniquet in your range bag - and make sure you know how to use it! It might also be worth considering carrying one in your car, or your handbag. Under the circumstances shown in this video, it might have saved a life.
(I might add that in the first chapter of my latest book, 'Brings The Lightning', one of the characters is shot in the upper leg/groin area, and bleeds to death within a minute or so. I've had e-mails from readers protesting that's not possible, and it wouldn't have happened in the real world. I'm here to tell you, on the basis of my own experience - yes, it would! I've seen it more than once in military combat and civil unrest. This video provides graphic proof of just how fast you can die from massive blood loss.)