The Light And The Handgun

Obviously, You Don’t Want To Shoot At A Target You Can’t See To Identify. But Should The Light Be In The Hand Or On The Gun?

“Blind man with a gun” is the law school exemplar for recklessness. In the darkness of night, with even perfect 20/20 vision, we are all the equivalent of legally blind without artificial illumination. The potential for shooting someone we shouldn’t have shot—the potential for creating negligence, the key ingredient for a manslaughter conviction in criminal court or a wrongful death judgment in civil court—is obvious.

This is why the use of illumination with guns goes back to at least the 19th Century. In the 1880s, historians spoke of lawmen hunting criminals in dark alleys trying to see by the light of a kerosene lantern in one hand, and holding a six-shooter in the other. By the 1930s, FBI had developed a technique of shooting 1-handed while holding a flashlight out sideways at arm’s length, in hopes of tricking your opponent into thinking you were someplace you weren’t if he chose to fire at the glow in the dark.

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