Half a century of teaching judicious use of deadly force has taught me that the single most misunderstood element may well be Disparity of Force. This is the principle that allows the innocent defender to shoot an unarmed man if the latter’s assault is so violent – and the criminal has so great a physical advantage – that the assault is likely to result in death or great bodily harm if it is not stopped.

Disparity of force can take the form of an attacker with significantly greater size and strength, multiple opponents, an assailant with known or obviously recognizable high skill in unarmed combat, or the able-bodied attacking the handicapped.  In some cases it may also be male attacking female, or youthful criminal attacking elderly victim. Position of disadvantage is another example: you may be just as strong as your attacker, but he is bashing your head against a brick wall and you can’t stop him any other way.

In 43 years as an expert witness for the courts in such matters, I’ve been shocked at how many attorneys I’ve met who got through three years of law school and passed a bar exam without realizing there was such a thing as disparity of force. Just in the past thirteen months we’ve seen two nationally high-profile murder cases, the Rittenhouse case in Kenosha and the Reeves case in Tampa, where prosecutors loudly alleged that it couldn’t be self-defense to shoot an unarmed man. Note that both those cases resulted in acquittals. Brilliant gun savvy attorney Mark Knapp, aided by my friend and colleague Bob Smith as expert witness, absolutely nails the issue here.


  1. Lotta similarities in the Chabuk case to that of Gerald Ung in Philly. The assault in the Ung case was caught by a street camera of the local Fox affiliate. However, the primary aggressor was politically connected. Mr. Ung was acquitted.

    The way the law schools seem to be run these days, the lack of use of force law training isn’t surprising. Not only is there little money in it, the sentiment seems to be that those who aren’t agents of the state shouldn’t be armed.

  2. Different subject- I just saw that there is a new movie out: “2nd Chance” about Richard Davis. Has anyone seen it? Is it an accurate depiction of events or is it an anti-gun hit piece?

    • @ Mark – I have not seen this movie. I did read some reviews of it. It certainly does seem to have, as a goal, to trash the reputation of Richard Davis. The only thing that I know about Mr. Davis is:

      1) As a young man, he was in the pizza business and was wounded in a criminal attack when some thugs tried an armed robbery on him as he was delivering some pizzas. He foiled their attack by defending himself with a handgun, then escaping in his car. He drove himself to the hospital for treatment.
      2) This attack inspired him to create a type of bullet resistant vest. He then launched a successful business selling these vests to police and military forces.
      3) He has also sponsored a number of target shooting events and is a supporter of 2nd Amendment rights.

      The director of the referenced movie is Ramin Bahrani. He is a fairly young director who grew up in the Winston-Salem, NC area. This area has a reputation of being a Blue zone in NC. The county, where Winston-Salem is located, voted 56% to 42% for Biden in 2020. NC, as a whole, voted about 50% to 49% for Trump.

      In looking at some of this directors other movies (99 Homes, The White Tiger, etc.), he seems to like to tell stories where poor, underprivileged people fight back against “The System”. Pretty standard left-wing fare. Given his background and previous works, I would evaluate him as a typical “Left-Wing” ideology director.

      The left has a history of using movies as propaganda pieces to push their ideology and to attack people who they perceive as “Right-Wing”. For example, Leftist director Michael Moore did “Bowling for Columbine” which was a hit piece targeting Charlton Heston.

      Perhaps Ramin Bahrani would like to move from being a small-time, independent director into being a big-time Hollywood Director. Producing a hit piece against someone like Richard Davis would advance his left-wing credits and gain him some admirers in Hollywood.

      In other words, the “Shot Callers” in Hollywood may be the true “Target Audience” for this movie!

  3. Wow. Reading that linked piece … what a line of crap that prosecutor was feeding.

    Whatcom County’s Chief Prosecutor for 44 years, Dave McEachran, had stated at trial that Chabuk had an absolute duty to announce that he had a gun.

    IANAL, but I believe that’s false in 50/50 States in the Union.

    He also implied that Chabuk provoked the pursuit by videotaping Kiener and his friends …

    If that’s the case, then any dirty cop being videotaped has an absolute right to beat the s#!t out of any citizen with a camera phone pointed their direction.

    … and that Chabuk had a duty to retreat.

    Also false in (IIRC) 43/50 States in the Union, including Washington State. Regardless, it sounds like Chabuk was retreating the entire time.

    Had Kamuran loudly announced, “Stop! I have a gun and I will shoot you!” he might have stopped the forward motion of his two pursuers without the necessity of firing a shot.

    Possibly, or as the article continues, it may have escalated the situation. Indeed, Chabuk’s girlfriend yelled out that “He has a gun!”, which was undisputed by either side. That not only didn’t halt the attack, it seems to have escalated it. It’s reasonable to assume that if the attackers know there’s a defensive firearm present and don’t halt their attack, the firearm is a new target.

    As the saying goes, in a violent encounter, it’s no longer “my gun” OR “your gun”; it’s “THE gun.”

    But what really struck me about that last bit: “Stop! I have a gun and I will shoot you!” is quite a mouthful. How long would it take you to yell that clearly enough to be understood? Two, maybe three seconds? More?

    Recall your “Tueller” scenario. How much ground can an attacker cover in two seconds, again?

    Someone should re-run that test with two aggressor targets, to see how long it takes to react, clear the holster, put two aimed rounds on target ‘A’, change targets and put two aimed rounds on target ‘B’. For best results, the targets should be at least 20-30 degrees separated (or ~3-5 feet apart @ 7 yards) — as if one was attempting to flank the defender, since a pair of coordinated attackers wouldn’t be “stacked” or immediately side-by-side.

    I’m guessing it will take significantly longer than the 1.5-2 seconds in the original Tueller finding, and two aggressors acting in concert can cover a LOT more than 21 feet in the time it takes to put both down.

    But it is amazing how many lawyers finish law school and pass the bar with zero apparent knowledge of use-of-force law. Or civil liberties. Or the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    • Your scenario is validated by the FACT that the lead thug in this attack had taken THREE HITS before any response consistent with being hit was evident. Not to mention his ugly pal also advancing in the face of active firing.
      Glad the bench trial went so well. In Whatcom County I would hold about even up odds that a jury would be “fair and impartial” enough to acquit in a case like this. That county is getting a lot more like King/Snohomish/Pierce.

  4. “In 43 years as an expert witness …, I’ve been shocked at how many attorneys I’ve met who got through three years of law school and passed a bar exam _without realizing_ there was such a thing as disparity of force.”

    It’s well known that most law schools give little to know time to self-defense law, and therefore many, many lawyers know little to nothing about it. Just as the vast majority of physicians (taking into account all specialties) do not know much about breast reconstruction after mastectomy.

    “Just in the past thirteen months we’ve seen two nationally high-profile murder cases, the Rittenhouse case in Kenosha and the Reeves case in Tampa, where prosecutors loudly alleged that it couldn’t be self-defense to shoot an unarmed man.”

    We’re talking about a prosecutor in a criminal case who as access to a staff, and access to the judge who intern has law clerks who do legal research. Can this indeed be attributed to to the prosecutor’s incompetence? Is it not more likely that:

    1) The prosecutor is knowingly abusing his power to destroy a victim without regard for his innocence?

    2) The prosecutor is knowingly abusing his power to try to legislate his political preferences via precedent-creation?

    And regardless whether we are talking about incompetence or corruption, do you think maybe there is a need for an organization to provide a clearinghouse of information about prosecutors who do this, which can be used against them should they one day try to run for political office (e.g. to be re-elected as a district attorney) — as a deterrent against trying to destroy innocent people by telling lies in court?

  5. Mas, I recall hearing once something to the effect that high alcoholic intoxication tends confer blame for injuries from a fight. I wonder what would happen to a sober individual regarding prosecution if challenged, as has happened, outside a row of bars among a group of very large, team-drinking adult male strangers. One of the strangers says to the sober individual “I think you suck!” The individual asks “What?” The drunk again says louder “I think you suck.” The individual says “You do?” and rewards the uncharitable and vocally belligerent fellow, however self-satisfied, with a punch to the jaw, knocking out two molars. The punched-out stranger-critic falls to the sidewalk, but survives, later giving a very high alcohol blood test in a hospital emergency room. The sober individual escapes wannabe arm holds tried from behind and beats feet. Is the alcoholic state of the physically injured man not prejudicial to a claim by him of being attacked without provocation? In some situations the following of the Christian commandment to an individual to “turn the other cheek” to an insult-cum-challenge-to-fight surely can become excessive self-sacrifice without prompt, aggressive action. “When in doubt, don’t” can become “Oops, too late, ow!” De-escalation is fine, and I have often practiced it, but some situations just call for acting in the moment, and asking questions later.

    • Steve, “You suck” doesn’t call for blows. The “fighting words” thing isn’t taken in today’s courts the way it might have been in the 19th Century.

      • Thank you for that explanation, sir. Looks like the sober individual was just born too late. Too bad innocent people are expected to put up with such insulting vulgarity from dangerously impaired folks, though. Thugs should have to pay instantly for such bad manners, IMHO.

  6. Let’s see. So a lot of lawyers don’t know about disparity of force.

    Most journalists don’t know anything about firearms, even though firearms are in the news EVERY DAY.

    Centuries ago, Protestants wanted everyone to know how to read so they could read the Bible for themselves. How did that work out?

    I heard that the reason there are Catholic schools is because the public schools used to be too Protestant.

    People carry small computers, which they call “phones,” with them. These small computers are connected to a vast database of the world’s knowledge.

    People are more stupid than ever. Well, maybe not ever, but they are more stupid than they used to be. Smart machines, stupid people.

    I would guess that about half the American people are ignorant about history, politics, economics, philosophy and religion. This makes them susceptible to believing lies in these areas of knowledge.

    If one-third to one-half of the human race is stuck on stupid, that might explain why other nations cannot imitate the good things about America. They continue to be dysfunctional. It also might explain why one-third to one-half of the American people think America is mostly bad, EVEN WHEN IMMIGRANTS CONSTANTLY CROSS OUR BORDERS IN ORDER TO GET TO LIVE IN THIS TERRIBLE PLACE. Also, how many Americans live in other countries, AND renounce their citizenship?

    If George Harrison wrote the lyrics to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” then he wrote this line; “With every mistake, we must surely be learning.” No George, we, the human race, are not learning from our mistakes. Or, many of us are not learning. Some of us do learn. I hope those of us who do learn can help each other, and separate ourselves from the dingbats.

    You can’t soar with eagles when you work with turkeys.

    I’ve made mistakes, and used bad judgment in life, but the city-slicker liberals make me look like a genius by comparison.

    • Larry, let alone there is no such thing as an “unarmed” whole stupidly belligerent, cowardly drunken football team loaded with wannabe bullies who could care less about the welfare of anybody they feel like trying to push around, especially in a careless alcoholic stupor. But maybe I have just watched too many cartoons in my youth where a virtuous Popeye punches out correctively an arrogant and abusive bigger Bluto.

      • Strategic Steve,

        “Huck-uck-uck-uck. Well, blow me down!”

        I found a channel (Me-TV) where I get to watch old Popeye cartoons on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Lots of fun.

  7. I suspect that there are a lot of people in prison after a legitimate self-defense incident because the defense attorney and/or judge didn’t know the law.

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