One of the chapters in my upcoming book deals with the legalities of shooting someone in self defense, and in it I make the point that there are perhaps situations where you could, legally, shoot someone – but might not need to do so. I think it’s an important distinction.
Many of my students ask when they’re allowed to use deadly force, and while knowing the legalities of what you can and can’t do is vital** I believe it’s also important to focus on the idea of need. Our self defense laws are set up to allow us to use lethal force when the circumstances are so dire (the likelihood of our own death or crippling injury) that it’s necessary. In other words, when we really need to use lethal force is usually when the law allow us to do so. There may be situations, however, when we’re legally allowed to shoot but we really don’t need to.
Focusing solely on the criteria under which you’re allowed to shoot someone, I think, is misguided; from a training standpoint I believe that it’s important to focus on recognizing those situations where you need to, when there is no other course of action that you can take in complete safety which will ensure your survival in that instant. Those are the situations where the law is most likely going to be on your side.
-=[ Grant ]=-
** – the best place to get that kind of legal training is still MAG-20 from Massad Ayoob. Joining the Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network is also a great way to learn about the legalities of self defense, through their video series on the topic. It’s sent free to all registered members and is updated regularly.
- Posted by Grant Cunningham
- On August 5, 2013