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The Consequences of Using your Firearm for Self Protection


I want to talk about ending a life. Can you do it? Are you ready to make that decision? Are you ready to pull the trigger?

Every time I check my hadngun before I carry it, the thought goes through my head that I might have to use the weapon in self defense and potentially end a life.

I have two guidelines I rely on when it comes to self defense. I don’t remember where my guidelines came from. I have heard them repeated often in one form or another for a long time now, but ever since I owned my first gun these two points have been my guidelines when it comes to self defense. They are:

  • Never draw a gun unless you intend to shoot.

  • Never shoot unless you intend to kill.

I am not an expert, but I think these are two very important guidelines for anyone with a conceal carry permit.

If you have to draw your weapon then it should only be in a situation where you are ready and willing to shoot and shoot to kill. If you are not to the point in an altercation where you are so scared for your life that you are willing to use a lethal response then you weapon should stay in your holster.

This is something that I believe a lot of people who have their conceal carry permits do not realize or understand. I am afraid that a lot of people, especially those who are new to the gun culture, do not have a complete understanding of this concept.

The simple fact is that, if you draw your weapon to scare or wound, then you don’t need to be drawing your weapon; or, if you draw your weapon, it should only be to pull the trigger and put three rounds into the bad guy. End of story. If you carry a weapon and think that you can use it to scare a bad guy away or wound them but not kill them, you are, in my opinion, fooling yourself and it will most likely get you or someone you care about hurt or killed.

I hope I am wrong, but I am afraid that there is a segment of the conceal carry culture that has not really considered the implications of just carrying a weapon or the implications of using their weapon in self defense and the full repercussions of a lethal or even a non-lethal outcome.

If you shoot someone, there will be legal, psychological and possibly physical consequences.


We can practice at the range weekly, but we need to also be just as mentally ready to respond to a threat as we are physically ready. If we are not ready to pull the trigger, put two to the chest and one to the head and accept the consequences of that action then we are not ready to carry a concealed weapon.

Everyone who is part of what they call the “Gun Culture” needs to do more to mentally prepare people to carry a concealed weapon and to educate permit holders of the implications and consequences involved. I think we all would benefit from more information, education and dialog about this topic.

There are quite a few ranges and companies that offer real-life scenario classes that run conceal carry permit holders through the wringer with scenarios that show them how you will really respond to a threat versus how you are supposed to respond.

I have not been through any of these classes. I hope I get a chance to some day. I think that they would be very beneficial.

So... are you ready to draw you weapon and kill the mugger who just shoved a pistol in your spouse’s face demanded that you give him your wallet? Is that life worth the $48 you are carrying? What are the chances of them shooting your spouse if you draw your pistol? Will the mugger shoot you anyway if you hand over your wallet instead of drawing your gun?

Can you live with the fact that you killed someone?

Have you even thought about it?

Are you ready?


You can follow Jason on Twitter @thejasonparks

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.


Really informative things are provided here, I really happy to read this post.
Posted @ Tuesday, June 11, 2013 6:37 AM by write an essay
I agree with you to a point, but I find it irresponsible to oversimplify the rules like that. 
If you look at statistics, many (it seems MOST) situations where a handgun was used for self-defense, no shots were fired. 
I would append to your rules: 
1. Never draw unless you feel STRONGLY that you have legal grounds to shoot and can't escape. 
2. If your assailant flees when they see you draw, LET THEM FLEE! This goes right back to the consequences of lethal force: If they leave, you don't have to be responsible for their death. 
3. If you DO shoot, yes, shoot to kill. 
That's true, but is that 1000% true? What if it's a misguided kid having a really bad day...or a minor who stole a gun? 
If you can tag him in the legs/shoulder and he lives to see another day, he just might have a chance at reform.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 12, 2013 3:53 PM by Jon
Big question in my mind is if in back of convenience store and robber sticks up clerk and does not pay attention to me and I do nothing but draw my weapon "just in case" and he up and shoots clerk and runs out, can I live with that? Can clerk's family. We've had a couple of cases where clerk/owner shot for no known reason.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 12, 2013 4:10 PM by John from Texas
Hey Jethro,  
It's wringer, not ringer.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 12, 2013 4:46 PM by Jed
We don't know who "Jethro" is, but thanks for catching it.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 12, 2013 4:53 PM by matteo recanatini
Jon's comment is well-meaning, but fatally (literally) flawed. 
Shooting to wound is something out of the old Lone Ranger TV series. You aim your first shots at center mass for two reasons: first, shots into the torso have the highest probability of delivering effective (i.e., stopping) wounds; second, it's the easiest thing to hit in the split-second you have. 
Incidentally, additional apologies to the Lone Ranger, but silver makes terrible bullets.
Posted @ Thursday, June 13, 2013 12:09 AM by Bill Cawthon
Jon, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. You have some very good points and I should have addressed brandishing that scares away potential threats. I am not advocating that you use lethal action every time. 
However, in your #3 point you are going to open yourself up to a lot of scrutiny and possible litigation by shooting someone in the arm or leg. Should you do it or not? I have no idea but you seem to have it thought out and that is what other people need to do as well. 
I agree that there are grey areas. My whole point of this post was to get people thinking about these things.  
Thanks again to you and the others who read and commented. I hope you keep reading our posts and thinking about this. 
Best regards, 
Jason Parks
Posted @ Thursday, June 13, 2013 4:06 PM by Jason Parks
In future you might address the aspect of who a CHL holder is legally bound to protect. In Texas it is the license holder and his/her family (includes more than wife and children) and no one else. Not sure if enough for article but wonder if people think about it much.
Posted @ Thursday, June 13, 2013 11:00 PM by John from Texas
Here in California, you could still be held liable legally AND be charged criminally if you use a CCW in a public setting. The parameters include:  
1. Your or others around you must be in *immediate* fear for your life. That means if someone is waving a knife or even gun around but hasn't fired or hurt anyone, that alone is not reason enough to shoot to kill.  
2. Even if that IS the case, you may still be charged with reckless endangerment and other charges if you are found to fired at a perpetrator and putting others around (in the background) in danger. NEVER FIRE A 'WARNING' SHOT because it indicates to the police that you were not immediately threatened and you had time to take evasive action. IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHOOT, SHOOT TO KILL, END OF STORY. Anything else can end up in a felony charge. 
3. If you do fire at the perp and wound him, you could still be subject to myriads of civil suits, even if he is charged and found guilty! This is crazy but true. As to wounding him so he can have a 'second chance' to reform - believe me, they've all had MANY chances to reform and haven't. Chances are excellent that they've already murdered other people. They will NO mercy for you.  
4. If you fire and kill him, his family can still bring civil suits against you.. And they will, because most likely they are lowlife losers looking for a payday even when they know their relative is a bad guy. In fact, that almost guarantees they will self-justify. 
5. In the event of disabling or killing a perp, you have to strictly follow the law of not 'contaminating' the crime scene by stepping back, putting your weapon down at your feet and calling 911. When the police respond, you step away from the gun sideways, go to your knees and intertwine your hands behind your head until they tell you to sit or stand. Anything else can be considered interference and you may be charged with a felony even if it was a legitimate shooting.  
Bottom line: if you can avoid shooting by hiding or running, you should take that course of action, even if you know that others could be hurt or killed as a result. Sounds cowardly and stupid, but there you go. Otherwise, you'll make a fine hero... in prison.  
If you DO have to shoot, don't think about mercy and wounding because it WILL come back to bite you. If someone is doing something bad enough to truly threaten your life, that's what a weapon is for. Kill that person and let god sort out the details with the police.  
Posted @ Sunday, June 16, 2013 11:22 PM by MP Crosson
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