Personal Defense Tip: Never Shoot to Kill in a Personal Defense Situation

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firearms pistol training range personal defense
Pfc. Melanye Martinez [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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 a homicide, however justifiable that may be in a given situation. Even if you’re aiming at the bad guy’s head or shooting at him or her point-blank. You are shooting to stop the threat.

You are trying to make a violent attacker cease and desist. To stop attacking you. 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, serious legal jeopardy.

“So you wanted to kill Mr. Badude?”

“I had to kill him! He was going to kill me!”

No, you didn’t. You feared for your live and had to shoot him. To stop the threat.

“I was afraid for my life. I just wanted to stop the threat.”

Avoid using the “K word” at all costs. Say as little to the responding officers as possible until you talk to an attorney.

“I’m really shaken up officer. I’ll cooperate fully as soon as my attorney arrives.” Then…shut up. Period.

There are a few words you can use to help during a defensive gun use, and after. If you have the time and presence of mind to yell at an approaching lethal threat, shout “STOP! Don’t make me shoot you!”

Not kill, shoot. If someone hears you shout those words, it will usually go well for you during the subsequent investigation.

Police crime scene
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

After a defensive gun use, use the words, “My life was in danger” as soon as humanly possible when calling 911.

“I want to report a shooting at XXXXX. My life was in danger. I’m 5’11”, brown hair, wearing glasses and a blue T-shirt.

“Did you shoot someone sir?”

Say it again, “My life was in danger. He attacked me.”

Did you shoot someone sir?

“Please send an ambulance to XXXX as soon as possible.”

Then…hang up, no matter what else the operator may say. The longer you stay on the line with 911, the greater the chance you’ll say something (it’s all being recorded) that will be used against you in a court of law.

Yes, your 911 call recording is admissible evidence even without anyone informing you of your right to remain silent. You won’t be read your rights until police arrive. And you should say as little as humanly possible whether they do that or not.

Again…”I’m really shaken up officer. I’ll cooperate fully as soon as my attorney arrives.”

Above all, remember that every word you speak really matters during and especially after a defensive gun use. Choose them wisely and, when in doubt, say absolutely nothing until your attorney arrives. Got it?



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  1. Obviously, it goes without saying that you call an attorney or your insurance carrier if you have carry insurance.

    But what if you don’t? Let’s say that I have to use my firearm, which I produce from the center console of my car, to protect myself.

    How does one find an attorney proficient in firearm-defense cases in the heat of the moment?

    Captain Obvious wishes to add: “You should either have carry insurance OR research and have a couple of attorneys’ names at hand.” But I could be traveling out of my local area when the unfortunate event occurs and not be familiar with attorneys in that area.

    Please discuss.

    • If no carry insurance, there are options to find a lawyer…

      1. Call ‘Washington Gun Law’ 24 hour emergency line at (425)765-0487. They can help you get an attorney even though you may not be in their state of practice (Washington).

      2. Call ‘Grieve Law’ (262) 786-7100, they can help you get an attorney even though you may not be in their state of practice (Wisconsin).

      3. And as much as people don’t like them, Call the NRA and they will help you get an attorney.

      4. The Bar association will help you find a lawyer.

      5. Contact GOA or SAF, they can help find you an attorney.

      But once again, and it can not be stressed enough, a good carry insurance is the best option to be prepared before hand.

      • .40,

        Good info. Thank you. Add one more: if you can, save enough for that retainer most attorneys will require.

        Easier said than done. We have been through some difficult $$$ times due to family health issues.

      • I got crap from possum for trying to get everyone to carry insurance. I’m not sure why exactly but I said I have USCCA and will carry them as protection. Are they the best out there? I don’t know, fortunately I haven’t had to use their services. One time I said this is protection from a DA going after my assets. I misspoke. It is protection from a DA stopping me from providing for my family.

        • muck…Uh that’s pretty naive. Never mind your DA boogyman when Your insurance company will drop you like a hot rock if your feet are not well within the law.

          I made it perfectly clear about evidence and innocence that naturally all LE will scrutinize…

          “If you survive the ordeal which is primary the evidence showing you are innocent should be no question obvious,”

    • I am fortunate that I can afford USCCA insurance, their highest level of coverage. I keep a card with their around-the-clock 800 # in my wallet. It is nation-wide coverage. Without that, I am not sure what I would do.

      • We buy coverage from them also.

        What would I do if I didn’t have, or couldn’t find, that card? Probably say something like “I would like to speak with an attorney before I make a statement.” And then ask to use the yellow pages (if they still have them) or DDG for a local attorney. Worst case, ask if I could speak with a public defender under client privilege, if there’s one on call.

        None of that has been vetted by a lawyer or other professional as to what to do; it’s just what I came up with, thinking about it.

        • “What would I do if I didn’t have, or couldn’t find, that card?”

          that’s why you have a backup person that does know who to call…if you don’t have the USCCA number you call your backup person (even if you need to leave a message), tell them where you are, don’t say anything to them about what happened but just you are in custody or at police station for interview or still on scene and you need USCCA and they call USCCA for you. Have it worked out before hand with them so there is no conversation about it. Just them needing to call USCCA for you explains enough right then, they can get details later in private. They will give USCCA your name and membership number, explain they are calling on your behalf.

        • No one of Consequence:
          I realize that I’ve come to this conversation ten days late, but better late than never. My comment is this:
          Right now, before you do anything else, take out your cell phone and PROGRAM the USCCA (or other carrier/lawyer) emergency phone number. Then, if you were ever to become involved in a shooting incident (God forbid) and had to call the authorities on that cell phone, the next step will be calling that already-programmed other number.
          And, I know that’s painfully obvious, but how many guys do you suppose have never thought of it?

    • Everyone should have concealed carry insurance if they carry a gun.

      Do not get USCCA brand carry insurance!
      They are the only company that refuse to pay a platinum member for their defense and the member was convicted.
      Please note the member had run up $150,000 in legal bills before trial

      • “Please note the member had run up $150,000 in legal bills before trial”

        FWIW, all “insurance” acts the same – reimburse your expenses. That means your expenses will be questioned, and reimbursement determined after the fact.

        “Pre-paid legal services” are a different thing altogether. Such could be considered establishing a retainer on a monthly plan.

        Know what you are buying.

    • We all should probably stop calling it “carry insurance”. Sure, it ACTS like insurance. But it’s not insurance.

      No, I don’t know what to call it, other than “my cc membership”; or (in my case), my USCCA membership. Or “my CC legal services membership”. Maybe somebody else has a better suggestion.

      • USCCA is insurance. Call it that. And, once you’re charged with a crime, they can drop you. Once convicted, even if you take a no-jail misdemeanor plea bargain just to stay out of jail, they must, by law, drop you, and they have the right to go after you for every penny they paid to support you. Read your contract.

        Get a real lawyer on retainer. Your real lawyer can help you find a local lawyer if you’re traveling. Yes, you might spend a few days in jail but you might do that in any case.

    • Fair enough ChoseDeath…but I still need to provide for my family. We can change it by getting out and educating voters.

      • @Muck. I hear you brother. I do what I can, when I can. But rarely do I encounter people who are open to a new perspective. Thankfully where I live, 90% of people are on our side, so I just give them data to back up our arguments. Hope you have a great day and health and happiness to you and your family!

  2. Catering in any way to a violent perp who has you between a rock and a hard spot will get you Killed or worse make you wish you were Dead. If you survive the ordeal which is primary the evidence showing you are innocent should be no question obvious, if it is not then you may need more than one lawyer.

    • That’s pretty naive when you consider some DA’s aren’t interested in the truth but are interested in conviction rates.

      • muck…Pretty Naive? I’ll follow your worry and when the shtf I’ll put what some DA may do or not do ahead of my safety and well being and my family’s safety and well being…Not and Hell Not.

        • Who said I wouldn’t do what I needed to do to protect my family or myself? What I’m saying is I don’t have the deep pockets of the state and can’t afford to pay for representation on my own. That’s what insurance is for. You’re arguing with me over semantics.

        • And if you think some bastard Soros DA won’t come after you with everything they have bolstered by some of the mind numbingly stupid jurors in some jurisdictions you’re the naive one.

      • The DAs are more interested in advancing their political careers. They don’t care how many innocents are trampled by their actions.

  3. Don’t shoot to kill.
    Don’t shoot to wound.
    Shoot to survive.

    If at all possible, shoot and shovel or scoot, then shut up.

    In a nation in which fewer than half of all homicides are cleared by the arrest of an alleged perpetrator, and these solved cases are usually no brainers in which there is a close relationship between victim and offender, just removing yourself from the crime scene maximizes your chances of not being maliciously prosecuted for a defensive shooting.

    • Remember when asked by law enforcement. It’s called neutralizing the threat. Standard answer given by law enforcement. If they die, they made to choice.

    • The State doesn’t have to assist the federal government in any enforcement actions… Just ask ICE…The USSC has already ruled such..

  4. The correct expression when discussing a defensive gun use is “shoot to stop the threat.”

    Absolutely. Here’s how I was trained to call 911 in a theoretical DGU:

    “My name is [Name]. I am calling you from [Address]. I am [provide your physical attributes and clothing]. I was attacked and feared for my life. In the course of events, I defended myself and shot my attacker to stop the threat against me. Please send Deputies and an ambulance to my location. If my attacker survives, I want to press charges.” [Hang up]

    That’s it. When LE arrives, provide only basic information and state you will gladly cooperate with the investigation after consulting with your attorney. If a LEO tries to trick you into talking by saying something like, “Do you think something you did requires an attorney?” simply remain silent. After all, LEOs are typically trained to wait for their own legal counsel as well.

    • I don’t know about the “. If my attacker survives, I want to press charges.” How about I’m going to give aid to my attacker? Or just hang up I guess. Also ” In the course of events, ” sounds scripted. I’m not knocking it Haz just asking questions.

      • “How about I’m going to give aid to my attacker?”

        No! Never do that. I mean, if they are alive and not passed out maybe you can toss them a towel and tell them to apply pressure… if you want to do so but you have no such obligation.

        But do not touch them or get close to them. If you do and they died it can be claimed that you did something to make it worse to hasten their demise. It does not look good when people see the aftermath (after the fact) and testify they saw you at the body doing ‘something’, or the police roll up and see you over the body doing ‘something’ and the bad guy expires. Even if it can be proven later in court you did nothing wrong and was trying to help them, its still going to make things complicated for you and is more likely to lead to an indictment by a grand jury.

        • To 40 cal booger,
          That is completely wrong advice.
          Go to
          On that site attorney Andrew Branca explains that you very much want the person you shot to survive.
          Any charges then will be manslaughter with a 10 to 20 year sentence rather than merger with a possible life sentence.

          He also explains that district attorneys attach great importance to your applying first aid to the person you shot.
          This can be the difference with the charges are filed or not.

        • Yes, stay away from the criminal who just tried to kill you. While you are giving first aid, the attacker pulls a knife out of his pocket (yes, most criminals carry one these days since they are so cheap) and stabs you in the neck or in both eyballs. Or he is a very smart criminal and has a small backup gun or Derringer, puts it against your head, and lights out. Or he grabs your gun or the one he dropped when you shot him. If he thinks he’s dying he may just want to take you with him. What, you think he suddenly came to Jesus after you shot him? Even EMS people these days sometimes get attacked by thugs they are trying to save (especially if they are on drugs). Or the attacker’s hidden accomplice(s) appear and kick you in the head until you are dead – this happens A LOT in public since they travel in packs. It can also happen in your home if you aren’t certain it is clear of accomplices (e.g. the others were in your garage stealing your tools when you shot the guy in your living room.) Your responsibility is to make sure you and family or friends are safe and AWAY from the threat – get away ASAP, call 911, and take cover until the police arrive. DO NOT render first aid to someone who just tried to kill you, putting you within their grasp. Heck, they can just choke you to death with an arm around your neck. And stop worrying during an incident about what some leftist district attorney or idiot jurors will think about you not giving first aid. First aid is for the cops to administer after they shoot someone, then move/secure the criminal’s gun, cuff them (so they don’t get stabbed), and then thoroughly search them (and they often have backup standing by while doing so). Stay AWAY from the threat or you may wind up dead.

  5. Small Town Cops Raid Newspaper and Reporters’ Homes. (note: think about what happened in the auto key card case, and some second amendment cases. constitutional rights, especially the 1st and 2nd and 4th, are under attack nationwide.)

    • Not only that, the 98 year old owner of the paper had died after all of the stress of the raid on her home. A true shit storm is brewing. All because the the cafeteria owner (who has admitted that she was convicted of dui (a public record) and that she thereafter drove on a suspended license claims (likely with no evidence at all) that someone must have “stolen her identity” to obtain “confidential records.” However, it is also true that she is in the middle of a divorce, and the likely source was her soon to be ex.

  6. A shame they go so hard after people that are forced to defend themselves while letting criminals go unchecked all over the place.

  7. All I can think of is the scene from Shooter.

    “Most boys shoot to kill, he’d shoot to wound. Wait ’til his friends come to help, kill them too. Turn one target into four. Men, women, children… killed ’em by the hundreds. The other side wanted him, bad. Finally narrowed his hide down to an abandoned six story building, they quit the subtle tactics. They called in an artillery strike, leveled a square block, brought the building down on his ass…”

    So… don’t shoot to kill, don’t answer questions without an attorney and don’t stay in abandoned six story buildings for too long. Got it.

  8. From my own personal experience in several incidents:

    1. Contrary to 911 advocates – you have no obligation to stay on the phone with 911 after you call them.

    2. Contrary to 911 advocates – you have no obligation to answer questions of the 911 operator.

    3. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS OF THE 911 OPERATOR. You need to remember – the 911 call is actually part of the investigation and anything you say on that call or anything recorded during that call can be used as evidence. The investigation actually began when you called 911, not when the police rolled up. 911’s script is designed to keep you on the phone by keeping you engaged with the operator.

    4. Although the article here lays it out as to what to say and its ok, but do not under any circumstances say that you shot someone as its an admission so don’t blurt out something like “I didn’t have any choice and I had to shoot”. A better way to do this is like this and not to mention a shooting at all (unless its you who got shot):

    (on call to 911) “I was attacked, feared for my life and had to defend myself.” – give name and location and your personal description – then “Please send both police and an ambulance to this location” – and that’s it, 911 is going to start asking questions, repeat what you just said then hang up and do not stay on the phone with them and if they call back do not answer.

    TIP: Some of you may or may not have noticed that on some cell phones when you call 911 that your phone prohibits you from calling out or receiving calls to/from anyone else for a certain amount of time so that your phone will be available for only 911 – I’d recommend you find a way to disable this because as soon as you hang up on 911 you need to be calling your defense/carry-insurance and get them on this right then.

    (when police arrive) follow all their instructions and provide your identification if asked, request medical attention if necessary. Then say “I will cooperate 100 percent but first I need my attorney” (then go silent and do not say another word other than to ask for basic necessities such as water or bathroom – wait for your attorney). Some people say you should point out any evidence – nahhhh, although it can help it can also hinder or harm you to do so. I would not recommend you do the police job for them beyond pointing out the location of any bad guy weapon if he/she had one.

    5. Do not talk to anyone else, especially while on the phone with 911 or while police are there and especially not to others around who may have seen what happened. For example, your on the phone with 911 or others are around and a bystander asks “is he dead?” do not answer them with “I sure hope so.”

    • That’s a lot to remember when under extreme stress. All very good points, if you can keep your head whilst in such a jam. I’m somewhat less-than-confident that I’d be able to perform so well based on my reaction to past critical emergencies. My wife says I tend to jabber when I’m nervous. If she noticed that, I have to be super-aware to keep the trap closed.

      Maybe I should just KISS — 1) shut up, B) call an attorney, and III) shut up.

      • Never ask a question that you don’t already know the answer to.
        Never answer a question with other than a yes or a no, and then STFU.

      • “My wife says I tend to jabber when I’m nervous. ”

        Most people do after such a traumatic event. It has to do with the ‘flight-or-fight’ response.

        What you are describing is pretty normal for a person who is affected by the flight or fight response, AKA ‘stress response’, and is in fear.

        The ‘stress response’ can make you not think clearly during and for a bit after the event is over, its the effect of all the adrenaline flooding the body and the brain putting the body in over drive and then the massive release of cortisol. There are lots of effects, and it affects people differently.

        After the amygdala sends a ‘fight or flight’ (‘stress response’) distress signal, the hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system by sending signals through the autonomic nerves to the adrenal glands. These glands respond by pumping the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) into the bloodstream. This hormone response also triggers the release of large amounts of cortisol. As this happens the sympathetic nervous system takes over and suppresses the parasympathetic nervous system. The persons body may even move on its own without them telling it to and they may not even be aware of it unless they keep track of their body state consciously. The parasympathetic nervous system is what helps a person determine their body state and think more clearly by calming the person down, but this system is suppressed by the sympathetic nervous system during the ‘stress response’.

        When the threat passes, at some point after the cortisol levels fall and as they fall the parasympathetic nervous system dampens the sympathetic nervous system response and you begin to think more clearly.

        This is why a defender needs to just sit down after a defense shooting/gun use and belly breath. This is going to help those cortisol levels fall and your parasympathetic nervous system dampen the sympathetic nervous system response and calm you down more quickly so when the cops roll up you are not wandering around and don’t blurt out stupid stuff without even realizing you are doing it. Training can also help you overcome this effect quickly and put you in control, but even then you should still just sit down and belly breath.

        In a person with a correctly functioning sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system the calm down happens pretty quickly, for some people its almost like a switch and seems almost instant. It varies though, and some people it takes longer. Training/practice helps, the routine procedural trained/practiced response helps you through it and acts as your guide in your mind and response. But even then some people it still takes longer and it overwhelms them so they keep doing things like, for example, jabbering on or walking around and the most dangerous part is still having the gun in your hand when the cops roll up because in the haze of the stress response you didn’t re-holster

        Anyway, this is one of those reasons you should just shut up and not talk to the cops other than to give them your ID and tell them you will cooperate after you talk to your lawyer.

        • The ‘stress response’ can make people say and do things they may not remember doing. For example; When I engaged those two guys that tried to abduct/rape/kill my wife…after it was over and she was safe and they weren’t, I partially hummed and partially sang very lowly the Beatles ‘Hard Day’s Night’ for a short while waiting for police to arrive. I know this because my wife told me I did it, but I wasn’t aware of it and did not remember doing that. It was one effect of the ‘stress response’.

    • This is one of the best replies that I have seen so far.
      “(on call to 911) “I was attacked, feared for my life and had to defend myself.” – give name and location and your personal description – then “Please send both police and an ambulance to this location”
      Thanks .40

    • Re “ Some of you may or may not have noticed that on some cell phones when you call 911 that your phone prohibits you from calling out or receiving calls to/from anyone else for a certain amount of time so that your phone will be available for only 911 – I’d recommend you find a way to disable this because as soon as you hang up on 911 you need to be calling your defense/carry-insurance and get them on this right then.”

      How do we figure out if our phone does this ahead of time without calling 911? Is there a list of phones that do this? How to disable it?

  9. Am I required to call 911 if involved in a self-defense shooting?

    What about leaving the scene? I wouldn’t really feel safe sticking around.

    (I know I will look up the answers, but it’s good for discussion.)

    • Massad Ayoob — Five-Point Checklist for After A Self Defense Shooting

      “However, over the years of being an expert witness (since 1979), Massad has changed his mind about the “never talk to police stance.” Yes, he used to give that advice, but no longer. Again and again, he saw the person who would not talk to the police being viewed as the perpetrator. Police were seeing the guy with the smoking gun as the perpetrator, and the guy laying horizontally on the ground as the victim. They don’t have a crystal ball issued to them at the academy to tell them who is the good guy and who is the bad guy, and they are people just like the rest of us. There are some critical things to establish at the scene.” —

      • Ayoob is correct and incorrect.

        He is correct that police tend to see the defender as the perpetrator sometimes because the defender will not talk to them.

        But he is incorrect in trying to put the police forward as the primary problem to your legal defense in assuming the defender never talks to them.

        You will have a chance to talk to the police, you even tell them you will just as soon as you can get with your lawyer. But talking to them on scene or without a lawyer is a very bad idea.

        Establishing ‘critical things’ at the scene is the job of police, not you. Now, is it ok to say anything to police about what happened? Not really, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt you if the situation is very clear but the problem is its not always clear and if you happen to say something that some way re-enforces an incorrect assumption on part of police its going to cause you some problems. Its like going to the casino, the smart person knows that in the end the house always wins if you keep playing because the odds are that if you keep playing you are going to start loosing so if you win you take your winnings and go home and don’t keep playing. That’s what you want to do here … the longer you play the police game of answering their questions there on scene the more likely you are to lose when the exactness wording of the law is bought into play and you have no way to judge when that will happen, so you win by not playing. So let the police do things like tell you “only a guilty person doesn’t tell us what happened” or “Help us out. tell us what happened.” – remember this – THIS POLICE ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS IN THIS NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES THEY TELL YOU THEY ARE TRYING TO HELP YOU (or what ever else they may say). Your job is not to investigate, that’s the job of police. Your job is to make sure you are not penalized for valid legal defense and the best way to do that is for you to remain silent and control through your lawyer when you will talk to police.

        Its a very bad mistake to talk to police without a lawyer or when they roll up, no matter how they might view you. You are not going to avoid a ride to the police station – it may not be under arrest, but detain it is and you are in police custody (well, most times anyway, but sometimes, rarely, its so clear that they simply ask you to come by with your lawyer). But anyway, you are traumatized and may be still suffering from the stress response (even if you don’t think you are traumatized – believe me, you are) and you may not even be aware of what you are saying to police and if you say something the wrong way it can cause you lots of problems … so practice this over and over again… “I will cooperate 100 percent but first I need my attorney”

        Ayoob is also incorrect in that he is assuming the defender is refusing to talk to police and that’s the reason they may view them as the perpetrator. I can understand that, whats hes trying to say, but its not as cut-n-dried as that. This was a valid legal self defense, you have rights so use them. You are not refusing to talk to them but rather telling then you will when you can get with your lawyer. so once again… “I will cooperate 100 percent but first I need my attorney”

        practice saying it over and over and over until it clicks. This way you tell police that you are not refusing to talk to them but rather you are invoking your rights also. If the police have a problem with that, that’s their problem and not yours.

    • “Am I required to call 911 if involved in a self-defense shooting? … What about leaving the scene? I wouldn’t really feel safe sticking around.”

      Well, the actual requirement is that police be notified, 911 is an easier way to do that. But you can call police directly in lieu of 911.

      Yes, you can leave the scene if you do not feel safe staying there. In this case you need to mention that to 911 and tell them where you are going to be. You (added to the other in my other post above) tell them “I fear for my safety and need to leave this area. I will be at (give location where you will be)” – note: This may mean, in case you do not yet have a location to go, that you remain on the phone with 911 a little more until you reach safety then tell them where you are and hang up – but what ever you do, do not start answering questions from 911.

      • And thanks again, .40 cal.

        I was surprised by Ayoob’s contentions in that article that I found while searching the subject. I seem to recall one of your UTube links of Ayoob’s video with the prominent title “DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE.”

    • Legal there called Consciousness of Guilt- such as moving evidence to support your version of events, leaving the scene not due to safety, etc. You WILL be considered a suspect/guilty if you do not call 911, and they will consider it an admission of guilt. This is from a lawyer’s advice (Andrew Branca video) and personal knowledge when someone attacked me, my wife and daughter and my wife (now ex-wife) convinced me of not calling 911. But then, do as you see fit.

  10. Everyone in this discussion assumes that the person you shot is either dead or unconscious. What if that person is conscious and talking to the police when they arrive? Does the first person to talk to the police win the credibility struggle? It has been advised that if you have to draw your gun to stop an assault and the attacker leaves and no shots are fired, you should still call 911, because the first one to call will win the credibility struggle and you could be charged with brandishing a gun for no good reason.

    • No, we aren’t assuming that the bad guy shot is either dead or unconscious. But the thing is you train/practice/plan for the worse, hope for the best, and get what you get. We already know these things, or the reality is:

      1. That less then 5% of defenders will actually pull the trigger. This is because in most situations the act of brandishing the defensive firearm is enough to stop the threat (e.g. they run off, or just stop). But we also know its not a guarantee that brandishing will do the trick. But brandishing to stop the threat is also a defensive gun use even if the defender did not need to fire.

      2. That less than 2% of the bad guys shot actually die. Now, we’d like to think that its because of these well aimed shots, and red dots, and training, and all sorts of skill involved as to why the bad guy did not die. But the truth is that a defensive gun use situation can be very sudden, swift, chaotic, and stressful and that less then 3% of defenders actually use their sights (including red dots) for well placed shots in such a situation, and most aim instinctively in such a situation. Some shots may miss, but you still need to land shots in the bad guy (if they didn’t get a clue from brandishing and persist in their attack) to stop them so you keep firing until the threat is stopped.

      3. No one can predict at what point the threat will actually stop. Is brandishing enough, is one shot enough, is three shots enough or is a whole 15 or 30 round magazine enough? There are hundreds of cases annually where defenders have had to fire an entire 15 or 30 round magazine and then reload, multiple 15 or 30 round magazines or reload that shot gun numerous times, because there was a very persistent bad guy or more than one bad guy and sometimes four or more bad guys.

      4. Part of DGU and stopping the threat is also keeping the threat from advancing on you, keeping the threat from getting hold of you, keeping the threat from entering your defensive space, keeping the threat away from you or others.

      5. In less than 1% of cases is the situation such that the intended victim is able to flee safely and avoid serious injury. Anti-gun would have you think that you can barricade yourself in a room in your home and call 911, and you will be safe – yet in over 90% of cases a home invader is able to breach that locked/barricaded door and seriously injure the victims and be gone before police arrive. Anti-gun would have you think that DGU is rare, but yet the facts say it happens several thousands of times daily across the country. Anti-gun would have you think that being in a populated well lit area is a protective defense strategy, and although it does sometimes have a certain deterrent effect its a fact that its not enough because almost 90% of violent robbery attacks take place in populated areas well lit or not because street level bad guys know that a populated area is full of potential targets with things bad guys want. If it were as simple as brightly lit populated areas with security cameras then why do gangs of bad guys attack people pumping gas at convenience stores in broad day light in front of numerous witnesses and security cameras and why do ~40% of violent sexual assaults happen in populated public places and why do over 38,000 students in schools annually get violently attacked in the hallways and classrooms? Anti-gun would have you believe that ‘gun free zones’ are protective yet the fact is that proportionally more violent crime happens in gun free zones today than outside gun free zones in large cities, and over 94% of mass shootings take place in gun free zones – the true fact is that criminals are attracted to ‘gun free zone’ areas because its less likely they will encounter any meaningful opposition as they are basically by law guaranteed defenseless prey. Biden praised the young man that physically disarmed the Asian club shooter, then called for a ban on ‘assault weapons’ implying that ‘sure, ya can just physically disarm and shooter’ – yet the fact is that taking on an armed assailant with hand-to-hand defense is less than 8% likely to be successful and had that Asian club shooter not been a very elderly man its very unlikely that the young man who disarmed him would have lived through his attempt to disarm him. Anti-gun would have you believe that ‘gun free zones’ on college campuses keeps people safe, but in reality 93% of violent crime that happens on college campuses uses hands as the weapon (and has been that way for over 80 years) and in over 50% of cases (with hands) the victim was drunk and in 50% of cases the perpetrator was drunk. Anti-gun would have you think that non-firearm methods work all the time – but the fact is they don’t, for example, in 2022 37% of female targeted rape victims armed with a firearm and employing DGU escaped serious harm and rape while over 80% of female targeted rape victims armed with pepper spray or stun guns and employing it were still seriously harmed and raped.

      And the list goes on and on and on….but in short, overall, no one can predict when or where defense will be needed and if the bad guy or victim will die or not, …so train/practice/plan for the worse, hope for the best, and get what you get – so you give your self the best all around chance and that’s a firearm.

      But in all of this, you the defender using valid legal defense at the time, are initially subjected to the same scrutiny as a criminal and your only defense is that you did everything according to the letter of the law that was written by people who most times haven’t a clue. But sometimes you get lucky and live in a state where there was some actual thought that went into writing that law such as stand-your-ground and castle-doctrine because they understand or understood at some point that defense is not a by-the-numbers-check-list thing.

      But lets say you brandish that firearm and the bad guy runs off. But what if you thought “well, that’s it, I won’t bother to call 911 because hes gone.” That’s a big mistake and it isn’t a big mistake – it depends on what state in which you live, if there is a protective presumption of innocence for a defender written into law and its applied in all cases because if there isn’t when you call 911 the police are going to, most times, arrest you on some charge for simply defending your self or family. For example, we saw with the bodega incident in New York that even with video evidence that a man simply defending himself was treated as and jailed as if a common murderer. States that have these anti-gun governments and laws simply want you to die, they don’t want you to be able to defend yourself – and in 100% of cases in the last 20 years in those anti-gun states where there was valid legal defense the defender was treated as if a murderer.

      But in all of it, all DGU, there is one thing that is necessary and that is the defender must win the race to 911 and here is why…

  11. Never say you feared for your life. That will be used against you. Say you were faced with an imminent, real and credible threat of great bodily injury or death. There is no emotion in that statement.

  12. Worked in a state prison, was taught “I aimed to stop the action” was we say after a shoot. The phrase had been used many times with good results, and why not? It’s true. You shoot for many reasons but stopping the action presents it in a truthful way without drawing undue attention to your motive. Lots of emotions are involved, but that simple phrase is the important part.

  13. Telling newbs “don’t shoot to kill” is just stupid. There are enough “shoot to wound” people running around thinking they’re clever already. This article could have been six words. “Don’t say anything, call a lawyer.”

    The USCCA wallet card has very simple post-incident instructions:

    * Call 911
    * Explain: I was attacked, feared for my life, and had to defend myself.
    * Request: Please send both police and an ambulance to [location].
    * Call USCCA
    * When police arrive:
    * Comply – follow all instructions
    * Medical – request medical attention if necessary
    * Silence – “I will cooperate but first I need my attorney.”
    * Do not speak further without your lawyer.

    That being said, I’m on the search for better coverage. USCCA has changed their insurer several times and I’m told the current company is highly risk-averse. I don’t know if I was misinformed, but I was under the impression USCCA would cover you even for an incident in a so-called “gun free zone” — yes I know you can’t “insure a crime” but I believe the wording was that you’re covered if you aren’t convicted. In any case, that is definitely no longer covered. Plus, despite a bunch of money, they spam the hell out of me.

    • The author didn’t suggest shoot to wound; he suggested shoot to stop the threat. If you’re advocating shoot to kill, you should read the article again and a bunch of other articles on the topic. Shoot to kill is legally wrong, morally wrong, Christianity wrong. Using appropriate force to defend your life or the lives of your loved ones, sometimes that might mean deadly force, is acceptable in all cases. Think of it like Jesus teaching about lusting after your neighbor’s wife. Intent matters. Even if you get away with it legally, living with yourself, whether or not religion matters to you, will be difficult unless you know you shot to stop a threat, not with the goal specifically to kill. And even if you can convince yourself, what about when you get to the pearly gates? Are you sure then? Intent matters. You didn’t choose the fight and the outcome may not be on you, regardless of the outcome, unless, of course, you had intent, regardless of reason, to create the outcome. Intent matters.

  14. KISS
    After you defended yourself, immediately makes space between you and the perp if possible, watch for a defensive reaction that requires defending yourself against another lethal threat.

    Call 911, some PD’s will NOT accept it any other way. Explain what you did, as above, in short sentences and do NOT jabber on – that tape can be introduced in court, along with your long winded responses to this online – as posted here.

    Hint: What you post in these columns will be dredged up to display in court. Ask the last three guys shot dead by the FBI.

    In in public, the scene is calming down, perp is quiet, place gun away from your immediate grip before the police arrive, too many show up with Red Light Fever looking to gun down an armed perp. Do not touch or handle the perps gun, kick it away. Do not be armed on contact.

    If you thought Ayoob was being cautious about talking to cops, these days its far worse being SEEN by cops armed arriving at the scene. They have been militarized, they have shot first to ask questions later, and they will go home at end of shift no matter what.

    Under no circumstances other than an immediate threat to your life can you abandon a wounded human or dead body. Flatly illegal and when not, consequential to prosecution.

    Once the police arrive expect to be handcuffed, the weapon will be seized as evidence. Now, in a lot of rural or small town jurisdictions, the responding officer may see someone he’s been looking for or previously arrested, at which point officer discretion can factor in, in larger areas – inside the ring road of a metro – don’t count on it. Ring Road metros are liberal territory at present, consider moving.

    Most of the expository BS posted about what if and then what comes from people who aren’t LEO, never fired in self defense, and seem to have issues creating an online persona because they don’t have one in real life. Such is the firearms hobby. Their chatter runs off the Subject Matter Experts who currently avoid online conversation because, frankly, they don’t shut up enough to hear what someone else is saying.

    Read ten times as much as you post and remember, First Rule of Fight Club.

  15. Great post, mostly. The goal must certainly, and every conversation you ever have with anyone, anywhere, online or in person, must reflect, if you must discuss the topic at all (and perhaps you should just not discuss it but here I am, discussing), that you would, if necessary, or did, if it became a real-life necessity, try to stop a threat while you were in fear of your life or great bodily harm, or the lives or bodies of others. And why would it be different? No one should want to kill someone, even a bad guy.

    My #2 bucket list item in life is to never kill another man. #1 is to protect my family. But if I can do #1 while keeping #2, that would be the goal. If I had to shoot, I shoot to stop the threat. No more, no less.

    Sadly, I know some people who feel as strongly as I do about never killing another, ran into bad guys who were just extremely determined or the drugs the bad guy was on just enabled them to continue to be a threat and, there have been times, that the only time the bad guy stopped was when the wounds were mortal. I hope I never have that and you should hope the same. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to know you killed another human being. How do you live with that?

    One big error, though, in the article: “Don’t make me shoot you,” in some states, perhaps even most states, is brandishing – even if your gun is still holstered and your hands are off of it. Threatening the use of a gun is in the definition of brandishing in many states, whether or not you draw it. Presumably, they would have to prove you actually had one but perhaps they don’t even need that.

    In any case, in my state it is certainly brandishing, and in many other states as well, though there is a new law in my state, going into effect in one month from today, that will now allow you to draw your gun without shooting to stop a threat. Hopefully all states will eventually do that. But, for today, it’s brandishing.

    Many people have been convicted of brandishing when they pulled their gun but did not use it against a threat where they would have gotten off scott-free had they just shot and killed the bad guy. Point is, don’t brandish. When the threat is such that you can only protect lives with a gun, draw your gun and protect the lives. Otherwise, leave it holstered and don’t talk about it. Check laws in your state and/or with your own attorney.

    • “I can’t imagine how hard it would be to know you killed another human being. How do you live with that?”

      It doesn’t matter the reason you kill someone, they are dead. If a gun owner cannot “live with” causing a death through self-defense, that gun owner should not provide themselves with any tool that could render another human dead.

      Dead makes no distinction between malice and self-defense.

      • You’re right that living with killing another human would be hard, justified or not. That was, actually, my point. Killing another human being will be hard to live with. Before taking that on, make sure there’s no other choice. Given the choice of living with the death of my family or the death of not my family, neither being a good option, I have to decide which I will live with.

        There are those anti-gun people in the nation whose claim is that they despise violence of all forms and would accept the violence against themselves or their families rather than living with committing an act of violence themselves. That’s definitely a choice that any person must make for themselves. I am not suggesting accepting violence against one’s self or one’s family. I am suggesting that living with intent to kill is something that one might regret later, on terms of law, morals, religion, personal ethics. Living with undesirable outcomes against a violent attacker while doing what is necessary to protect your life or the lives of others would be difficult as well but, at least for me I think, less difficult to live with.

        The author of this article, I believe, is correct on the legal front so I think that’s very important to remember. I think that the moral, religious, ethics, questions, even if a defender won on the legal question, is something to consider as well. These considerations should be well considered before you ever put your hands on a gun for the purpose of self-defense or defensive carry.

        • “I am suggesting that living with intent to kill is something that one might regret later, on terms of law, morals, religion, personal ethics.”

          Yes, indeed.

          People have asked me which gun they should buy. I always reply, “First question is, ‘Are you prepared to take a human life, and all the consequences’?” Second question is, ‘Are you prepared to take the life of a family member, should one attack you with deadly force’?”

          I Never get an answer.


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