3 Effects of Shooting An Attacker

Effects of a gunshot wound

What Are The Three Effects Of An Attacker Being Shot?


If you’ve ever watching surveillance videos of robbers trying to knock off a store or attack people on the street – there’s a similar running theme. If they’re not incapacitated outright by the bullet, they generally flee. That’s not a guarantee. And that’s not even something you should bet your bottom dollar on – but what are the three intended effects of a successful shot on an attacker?


  1. Psychological
  2. Physiological
  3. Incapacitation


Psychological Effects Of Gunshot Wounds


fight or flight

Because firearms have been around for quite awhile – and are depicted often in movies and television shows – we’ve been able to study the psychological effects of gunshot wounds. A large part of the psychological impact of being shot is the immediate knowledge of mortality.


We can all be shot and killed. Ideally, most of us would prefer to not be shot. But we wander around with lots of preconceived notions about what that means and how we believe we’ll react.


From studying videos and reading scientific peer-reviewed literature on the topic, it appears the autonomic nervous system plays an important role in deciding “fight or flight”. Some people, when shot, will continue to fight long after their body has taken one or more severe wounds. Most will attempt to flee, hide, or run for cover.



When a criminal is jumping into the fray, most head in with the intention of gain. Robbing a store? They want money and possessions. Breaking into a house? Usually the same intent. Very few criminals set out with the strict intention of killing and maiming others. It does happen. It’s not something to ever discount when dealing with an armed attacker.


More importantly, once a criminal is shot, he makes an instantaneous decision as to whether he’s going to fight his way to safety or victory. And once that decision has been made – you want to have a firearm capable of making that choice a lot more dangerous.


Physiological Effect of Gunshot Wounds

survival after gun shot

The body needs to function precisely in order to survive. Bullets create wound channels. It’s possible to have bullets pass through a body without severing any major arteries, damaging organs, or stopping function. The physiological effect on the human body is generally a rush of adrenaline as the autonomic functions of “fight or flight” kick in. But these don’t generally last for a long time. After the adrenaline wears off, the attacker will immediately feel the effects of protracted blood loss, nerve damage, and swelling/inflammation of his tissues as they scramble to keep him alive.


So, in the short term – that means he has the ability to fight on, at least in a limited sense, for a lot longer than you, the defender, would like.




last effects of ballistic trauma

This is the ideal conclusion of any self-defense shooting. The attacker initiates, you defend with lethal force, and your bullets strike him in any number of ways where he is physically unable to continue fighting. The goal is never death – it’s cessation of the threat. And most gun fights end with one or more parties being injured – not dead. Thus, that is why concealed carriers are encouraged to shoot “center mass”. This area provides the most critical center of easy targets that – when hit – stop the attacker in his tracks.

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James England is a former United States Marine Signals Intelligence Operator and defense contractor with over two tours spread over the Al Anbar province and two more operating across Helmand and Baghdis. He is presently a writer focused on Western foreign policy and maintains an avid interest in firearms. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, he presently resides in New Hampshire – the “Live Free or Die” state. He is finishing up his first novel, “American Hubris”, which is set to hit shelves in Fall of 2015.


  • I have to argue the English merits of your bullet points.

    * Psychological
    * Physiological
    * Incapacitation

    “Incapacitation” is a verb when used with an object. When used by itself it is a noun. However, nouns cannot be effects and your prior two entries are not nouns. As “incapacitation” is associated with both prior terms identified; as you can be “Psychologically incapacitated” and/or “Physiologically incapacitated”, it’s specific call out is not appropriate. As such, your list should include two effects, not three – because if nothing else, a noun cannot be an effect, a verb is an effect.


    None of those nouns are examples of an effect; they’re nouns.

    Dead (to die)
    Injured (to be injured)
    Frightened (to be frightened)

    Those are effects; they’re verbs.

    That is all. Carry on.

  • Jeff

    Aren’t those effects on an attacker the same effects that being shot has on a defender? And they’re effects of being shot, not of shooting.