Sympathetic Nervous System Fire (SNS Fire)

Sympathetic Fire

What Is SNS Fire?

    This is a reaction to your gun partner's fire. He perceives use of deadly force from a threat and fires; you did not perceive the same as he, but you fire too. In this case, you are correct in firing at the threat because if he had a gun, bludgeon, edge weapon, etc., this could inflict serious bodily harm or death.

    The problem arises, often, when there is more than one threat, under similar conditions, and at least one does not present the slightest movement, has no weapon, and may have his hands raised, demonstrating they are "empty." But you fire at all threats, including the one with hands raised, causing serious bodily injury or death. The problem can still arise with only one threat. You have to have good reason(s) for shooting.

    You now have a serious problem, that can cost you your job if you are a police officer, cause your department to be sued, and you may have civil and criminal charges filed against you whether you are an officer of the law or not.

    The Sympathetic Nervous System Reaction is similar when one has his finger on the trigger, whether in a tense situation or not, and an automobile back fires; or, something startles him; or, someone bumps into him, he flinches and clinches the non-dominant gun hand, the sympathetic response of the nervous system causes the trigger finger to also do likewise--flex, causing the firearm to discharge in the direction the muzzle of the gun is pointed.---That is Sympathetic Reaction/Fire. If innocent bystander(s) is/are present, and the discharged projectile hits one or more persons, you are looking at a law suit with criminal and civil charges being filed. If the projectile hits personal property, you are responsible for damages and maybe more. There will be charges filed against you.

    You fire because you have reason to believe you and/or your partner, or a third-party innocent is about to have (1) deadly force used against you and/or partner, or a (2) third-party innocent. Otherwise you can't shoot.

    Remember the basic rules: Always keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on the threat/target. You still do not fire until you have made the mental articulation to fire because you believe you are threatened with:
  • Serious bodily harm; or,
  • Lethal Force

You Fired Because You Were In Fear of Your Life Being Taken
  • "I Shot To Stay Alive"
  • "I Shot To Keep From Being Killed"

    All this occurs within a split-second. This demands you have thought about SNS Reactive Fire; practice various scenes in your head; practice scenarios safely at the range.

    Be prepared for when you hear gunshots and you are in a situation like this, as you are concentrating on another threat with his hands up. You could automatically, and most probably will, start firing because the sound of your partner's gun fire may serve as a false stimulus, if not prepared for this. Knowing that this can and does happen, will help prevent sympathetic fire.

A Cautionary Note:

Be advised of the following
During An Active Crime Scene/Investigation

  • An increased number of police officers implies increased chances of being killed/shot by one or more of them from Sympathetic Fire.


    • If you are involved in a gun fight; or, an innocent bystander, always have your hands uplifted above your head with nothing in them when the police arrive. If you are the 'good guy' put your weapon away when the police are arriving and move to a safe area, if possible, with your hands empty and uplifted. Otherwise you may become the victim of Sympathetic Fire.

    • In police practice scenarios, the 'good guy,' hostage and innocent by-stander manequins often got shot. Raise 'Them' Hands! The police do not know you from Adam. Let them sort it all out before you start lowering your hands and arms. Don't make sudden movements. Be courteous, be considerate.

  • More guns in a self-defensive situation implies increased chances of being killed or shot from friendly fire.

    • Sympathetic Nervous System Fire
  • If you as a police officer
    "...prevail in a gun fight, there's going to be a criminal investigation, and possibly an indictment."---American Cop, May/June, 2007, page 46.
    The same holds for you, the civilian.

    This demands, if you are a concealed carry or not and still carry a gun, you search out a proper instructor that knows and understands stress physiology and stress fire so that you don't fall prey to being involved in a sympathetic fire situation, costing you your job, your life savings and possibly your freedom.

Sympathetic Nervous System
Reaction Fire
To Avoid This, You Must Be Aware of it
Then Practice Scenarios At the Range Safely.

Get Proper Instruction.

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