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Archive: Self-Defense & Lethal Force

 

If you are looking for legal information on the issues of lethal force and self-defense, please check our Legal Page.

 If you are looking for stories of real women using firearms to protect themselves, please look at True Stories.

 

Do Shots in the Back Imply Excessive Force?         Sometimes shots in the back are justified, but few understand why.

Shots in the back conjure up pictures os someone being shot as they run away, not longer a threat.  This may seem so obvious at first that it can be hard for even knowledgeable gun owners to understand the dynamics of these situations. Even many police officers and prosecutors don't understand them, and thus may over react in the way they treat someone who defended himself or herself with a gun. Virtually all ordinary citizens have no understanding of this, and thus, serving as jurors, may come to the wrong conclusions. ...

 

Alternateves to Lethal Force: A Phaser Set on Stun?     What are they, and what should gunowners know about them?

A friend asked, "I've been carrying a concealed firearm for a couple of years now with my permit, but I think maybe I should carry something for those times when it's a 'harassment' confrontation, and not a lethal situation. I've thought about blackjacks, expanding batons, spray, and Kubotons. I don't want something that's going to be so heavy that it's cumbersome to drag around all the time, but I want something that will be effective. Also, if I have to use it, and I wind up in court, I don't want whatever item it is to make me look like a bad guy for using it (like brass knuckles). Any ideas???" ....  

 

Gun Safety and Self-Defense      You still have to follow the rules, and they will help you never shoot the wrong person.

Most of us find it easy to follow the 3 (or 4) safety rules when we learned when at the range, and in those few other situations where we handle guns regularly, such as putting them away at home, or cleaning them. But when you have a gun for personal defense, whether you carry it on the street or simply have it ready at home, suddenly many situations can arise that are very different from being on the range, or at the table cleaning your gun, situations where you can't depend on habit to help you follow those rules. Nobody suspends the rules of gun safety just because you aren't on the range! ...

 

We Are Not Vigilantes     Defend yourself against this accusation. 

When you carry a gun for protection, you need to be prepared to protect yourself twice, the experts say: once from the person who threatens your safety, and later from the legal system as it tries to determine whether you did "the right thing". I'll add a third: when you carry a gun for protection, you need to be prepared to protect yourself from well-intentioned but clueless people who say, "Why do you want to take the law into your own hands? The world doesn't need vigilantes."  ...   

 

 The 10 Dumbest Things Ever Said About Using Guns for Self-Defense      Now that's an accurate titie, if there ever was one.

10. "One must fire if one has drawn his/her weapon."

9. "Guns just give you a false sense of security."
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The Gray Area... Does Every Bad Guy WIth a Gun Need to be Shot?      Two armed robbery scenarios for you to consider.

There is nothing like a scenario involving an armed robber to bring out the most vitriolic arguments about what is the right thing to do. Whether the situations are hypothetical or real, Monday-morning-quarterback attacks online are particularly common against a person who didn't instantly shoot the perceived threat. Who is right? Here are two examples for you to work out. ... 

 

 Critical Incident Reactions -- What if I Freeze?     Many people fear this. Will it happen to you?

Fear of freezing is incredibly common, but actual freezing is not.  Fascinating studies of what happens to police and others under extreme stress give insight into this issue. ...

 

Why Learn About Guns if Your Aren't Sure You Could Kill Someone?     Women and men differ on this point.

in my experience, men tend to answer this "Yes," buy a gun and then get training. Women tend to get firearms training first, and buy a gun and only then have a firm "Yes" to that willingness question.  It is not a bad question, but is often asked of women way too early, like asking someone in the process of applying to medical school if she is really certain that she could do open heart surgery. Expecting anyone, particularly a woman, to commit to the idea of using lethal force before she has learned a lot about guns and the use of lethal force, is preposterous!  Don't let your desire to never hurt anyone keep you from taking firearms lessons. ...

 

 When Can You Shoot? (Part 1)      The fundamental rules of using lethal force.

When talking about guns for self-protection, one question that is asked time and time again is "When can I shoot, and when can't I?" The question is a deep one, one that can't be answered entirely in anything as short as this article, so it is one that we will come back to again and again. Some people think that question implies that the asker is unreasonably nervous, insecure about using a gun, or indicating an unwillingness to shoot in self-defense. But I disagree. When people ask that question, I think it shows that they understand and respect the fact that being armed is not something to be done casually. They are indicating that they want to use a gun properly, which means developing the critical judgment that must accompany the responsible ownership of a defensive firearm. ...

 

 When Can You Shoot? (Part 2)     Three scenarios to test yourself.

We promised to look at some specific situations, and evaluate them against the criterion of "immediate and unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm". Some situations are clear cut, many have shades of gray. One thing to ask yourself when analyzing a "what if" scenario is what additional information you would need in order to feel comfortable with a "shoot" or "don't shoot" decision. The more you think about these things in advance, the more confident you will become in your ability to make a good decision under stress. ...

 

Use of Force Quiz     How much do you know about using guns for self-protection?

This quiz assumes you are a private citizen (not a police officer or member of the military) who is appropriately licensed to carry firearms and trained in their safe and proper use. Each question has only one best answer. Don't guess -- you should be able to explain each of your responses. Got a pencil? There's no time limit. Here we go...