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RF’s said it a hundred times if he’s said it once. Use your gun, call your lawyer. And prepare to open your wallet. Successfully defending yourself against an attack is the the whole point of carrying a gun. What people don’t always consider is that you could then have to defend yourself in court.

We’re talking here about civil liability. The shoot has been deemed self defense and you’re no longer in jeopardy of being criminally charged. But you’re not out of the woods. We’ve all read the stories of victims’ families that sue the shooter because “poor little Joey” – who had just kicked in your door carrying a gun – was really such a good boy. He just fell in with the wrong crowd. And you really had no reason to kill him. You should have just shot him in the leg!

Or you’re filling your tank when a guy pulls a gun and demands your keys. You put him down with two shots center of mass. Only one of those shots goes through him and hits another customer.

There are, of course, ways to insure yourself against the staggering legal bills and potential judgements that can result from a self defense situation. Most people have homeowners coverage. Many have an umbrella policy, too. NRA endorsed companies, and other insurers provide self-defense liability insurance specifically designed for this.

Are you insured against the kind of liability that can result from a self-defense situation? How much coverage do you have? Do you carry insurance in addition to a homeowners and umbrella policy? Have you even thought about it?

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  1. Insurance is a great idea. My only adverse comment is your quote “You should have just shot him in the leg?” – is shooting them in the leg so bad? It would stop them and still keep them alive.

    • Yes…because the leg is such a large target, and the adrenaline does absolutely nothing to shooting ability. Ignore conventional wisdom to eliminate the threat and instead try to piss him off.

    • “Insurance is a great idea. My only adverse comment is your quote “You should have just shot him in the leg?””

      I don’t read that as advice.

      Just what some lawyer would claim to collect on a civil suite.

      Of course nobody in a self defence situation would aim to shoot an attacker in the leg.

      Now explain that in a court which requires some proof.

      That would be just one of any number of claims against you, silly or not.

      • My point was – why not shot in the leg. Why aim to kill, rather than wound so the person can have justice (through a court)? As for the comment about Adrenaline – that seems to indicate that gun owners when in the heat of action cannot make rational decisions.

        • You aim to stop a threat, not kill. Unless you know a shot to the leg will stop the threat, you aim for center mass, as that provides the biggest target. You may only get one pull of the trigger and wasting it on a leg shot is irrational.

          And if you believe that adrenaline and calm judgment are incompatible, you are most likely right. But if that bothers you, you have to take every police officer, EMT and firefighter off the street. You set an awfully high standard of conduct for someone whose life is in immediate danger.

        • If you want to stop the threat you aim at the spot with the most margin for error. If someone is charging at you and you shoot for the middle of their chest, you’re probably ok to be off a foot to the left or right and a couple feet up or down. This is why you shoot for the chest. If your adrenaline is flowing, your aim might not be perfect and shooting for a thinner target (the leg) 1. doesn’t give you as much margin for error and 2. might not stop the threat. And yeah, I’m worried about the attackers justice through the court system. “I was just trying to feed my family by violently attacking that man and he had the nerve to shoot me”

          • @ScottA

            you’re probably ok to be off a foot to the left or right and a couple feet up or down.

            A couple of feet?

            Measuring myself from the center of my chest (center of my pecs, arms to my side) if you were off left or right by one foot you miss me by ~4″. If you were off by two feet up (towards my face) you’d miss me by ~6″ and if you were off by two feet down (towards my feet) you’d miss me by ~1″ assuming you shot between my legs, so lets call that a hit.

            Hope your aim is better than that 🙂

        • @Mike

          If you have the time to make the decision to shoot for the leg then it could be argued that you were not in imminent fear of your life or the lives of others.

          You do not shoot to wound. You do not shoot to kill. You shoot to stop the threat.

          Also, someone hopped up on drugs (be that meth, or plan old adrenaline) may not care if you shoot them in the leg… leading you to have to shoot them in more vital areas of the body.

          EDIT: Also, smaller target, try to hit the average sized leg with a handgun when under stress. In trying you might get yourself or others killed.

    • I knew a person who died from a shot to the leg. The femoral artery bleeds out fast. Shooting someone in the leg can be just as fatal as shooting someone in the chest or head.

      Also, injuring someone can be more expensive than killing him, depending on how much therapy and treatment they need, lost income due to disability, pain and suffering, loss of consortion and whatever else the victim wants to tack on. (Although no one is thinking about this during a SD shooting — I hope.)

  2. Is this a real question? Or do we have another tr0ll around? Once you make the decision to pull a gun, you have made the decision that the only option you have available to you is lethal force. I can see by shooting a person in the leg, and only wounding them, you getting in trouble for NOT having tried a less than lethal method to do the job.

    Bottom line, pull a gun and you are using lethal force. If that doesn’t suit you, carry a stun gun instead.

    • Yes it was a real question. Not a troll, unless your definition includes someone who may not agree with you all the time. Sorry this is America and I have consitutional rights – you love the 2nd, I love the first.

  3. Thank you. This subject is of utmost importance to plan for in modern America. Ideally, after a person buys their first gun, such an insurance plan should be purchase #2. I doubt a friend who has 30 guns, many of them discretely and strategically hidden around his home, has such an insurance plan to protect himself after a potential home self defense shooting. Another friend of mine will probably arrogantly and naively laugh at the need for such a plan believing in the fairness and justice of the Courts. I’ll still mention it to both of them.

  4. From CHLPP’s website:

    “CHLPP does not provide coverage for related civil lawsuit legal expenses.”

    Read: They only cover criminal legal fees.

  5. I’m not an insurance expert yet it does appear that the linked plans CHL and USCCA are both designed for the Criminal Defense and not the Civil Defense lawsuit. CHL is for CC handgun owners. USCCA confuses me in that it is not a regular insurance plan yet the members are the beneficiaries etc. The NRA plan does provide coverage for Criminal and Civil Defense.

      • You’re welcome. I’m grateful that you have brought up and written about such an important topic. It really is incredible how so many gun owners put so much money and time into buying guns, ammo, accessories, training, etc for SD/HD and yet do nothing to plan for the potential follow-up legal consequences.

    • @Aharon

      For the “insurance” side (that is the part that protects you from civil liability) of the USCCA plan is not insurance like your homeowners insurance. With homeowners insurance you are named as the insured – you own the policy. Consequently, people can go after that money because legally, it’s an asset you own. If you are involved in a SDS and the VCA or VCA’s family go after you in civil court then they will go after your insurance company, likely maxing out whatever benefits you have. Of course homeowners will likely only cover you if the SDS occurs at your home.

      The USCCA plan get around the insurance issue by making USCCA the insured – they own the policy. Anyone looking would not see this “policy” as an asset to you. The theory is that by not you named as the insured, your not exposing yourself to bigger liability.

      • Adam – have you done any research into the risk of not having the policy in your name (USCCA’s Defense Shield)? I wonder would prevent them from ‘dropping’ you if an issue should arise. That being said I’m a USCCA supporter (except for Tim’s ridiculous emails).

  6. I don’t like it. Homeowners insurance? Great. But what’s a jury going to think if they’re told that the shooter was insured against the event of shooting someone? A sharp lawyer might be able to persuade them that it pushes against the boundary between ‘preparation’ and ‘premeditation’.

    • I don’t buy that argument. Does you having car insurance (mandated by law in most states, no less) mean that if you rear-end someone you meant to do it? Does having homeowners insurance mean that you meant for your house to burn down?

  7. Adam, I agree with your last post completely. I will however also raise a question for TTAG at large now. If it is discovered that you had an insurance policy, what is to stop the lawyers from persuading the jury to award damages because “it’s not hurting the shooter, but the insurance company”? The stick it “The Man” bit, I know of a lot of nurses and doctors even that are told from day one in school not to get an insurance policy for this very thing. I have seen juries do that for auto claims as well. Just something else to think about.

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