The correct expression when discussing a defensive gun use is “shoot to stop the threat.” That’s what you’re trying to do when when your life or that of a loved one is threatened.
You are not trying to commit homicide, however justifiable that may be in a given situation. Even if you’re aiming at the bad guy’s head or shooting him or her point-blank. You are shooting to stop the threat.
You are trying to make a violent attacker cease and desist. And you’re only doing so when you or other innocent people face an imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm.
If you use the word “kill” in a firearms-related comment on the Internet, to friends with loose lips or, God forbid, to the police after a defensive gun use, you are opening the door to real legal jeopardy.
“So you wanted to kill Mr. Smith?”
“I had to kill him! He was going to kill me!”
No, you had to shoot him. To stop the threat.
“I had to stop the threat.”
“I was afraid for my life.”
There are a few words you can use to help you during a defensive gun use, and after. If you have the time and enough mental focus to yell at an approaching lethal threat, shout “STOP! Don’t make me shoot you!”
Not kill, shoot. If someone hears you shout these words, it will usually go very well for you during the subsequent investigation.
After a defensive gun use, use the words, “My life was in danger” as soon as humanly possible. When calling 911 insert that phrase whenever you can.
“I want to report a shooting at XXXXX. My life was in danger. I’m 5’11”, grey hair, wearing glasses and a blue T-shirt.
“Did you shoot someone sir?”
Either don’t answer or say again, “My life was in danger.”
“Did you shoot someone sir?“
“Please send an ambulance to XXXX as soon as possible. I’ve got to hang up now.”
The longer you stay on the line with the 911 operator, the greater the chance you’ll say something that will be used against you in a court of law.
NOTE: the 911 call recording is admissible evidence even without anyone informing you of your right to remain silent. Above all, remember that your words matter during and especially after a defensive gun use.