Self-Defense Tip: There’s No Such Thing as a “Warning Shot”

I’m no fan of the “If I draw my gun I’m going to shoot” school of armed self-defense. A drawn gun may cause the bad guy or guys to stand down and/or flee the scene. Both eventualities are preferable to drawing blood, if only because shooting someone will be The Mother of All Draws on your life savings, come what may. If there’s time for a momentary pause—and adrenalin can make a fraction of a second seem like an eternity—go ahead and reassess the situation. You know, if it is safe to do so. Do not, however, even think about firing a “warning shot.” For one thing . . .

A warning shot could open the door to a charge of recklessly discharging a firearm. Hey, you didn’t know exactly where you were shooting. And it’s true that a “warning shot” could take out the wrong person. You could also face prosecution for discharging a firearm where you are prohibited from doing so. Bye-bye gun rights.

No really.

Secondly, a warning shot indicates [to a jury] that you weren’t really in life-threatening danger. If you, your loved ones or other innocent life were in such grave danger, why didn’t you shoot the bad guy or bad guys? The perps could even argue that you were the aggressor (a.k.a., a latter day George Zimmerman).

But here’s the thing: if you do fire a warning shot at a bad guy remember this: it wasn’t a warning shot. You faced a credible and immediate threat to life or limb and you missed. It’s as simple as that. If and when the cops ask, you say this: “My life was in danger. I will gladly answer your questions after I speak top my lawyer.”

And that’s it.