Self-defense is a fundamental right that we all possess. We have the right to protect ourselves and the people we love from harm. For gun owners, this right comes with a responsibility to ensure that your weapon is used in accordance with the law. Self-defense shootings can be a traumatic and life-changing experience. Unfortunately, when a firearm is used in self-defense, the owner may face legal consequences.

One of these consequences is the temporary confiscation of the firearm. How do you get your firearm back if it’s been confiscated after a shooting? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Many factors come into play, including the state where the shooting occurred and the circumstances surrounding the incident. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to know what steps to take to get your firearm back. Here, we will walk you through the process of getting your firearm back after a self-defense shooting.

Be Prepared to Show Self-Defense

The police will not return your firearm if they believe that you acted recklessly or outside of the boundaries of self-defense. Therefore, it is crucial to be prepared to demonstrate that you acted in self-defense. You should provide any relevant evidence such as security footage or eyewitness accounts that support your claim. It is important to note that the burden of proof falls on you, the defendant.

Contact an Attorney

Before taking any steps to retrieve your firearm, it is essential that you contact an attorney. A competent attorney who specializes in firearm law can guide you through the process and help you to avoid making any mistakes that could potentially put your legal case in jeopardy. As soon as possible after the incident, reach out to an attorney who can represent you and your legal rights.

Contact Law Enforcement

Once you have contacted an attorney, your next step is to reach out to the law enforcement agency that seized your firearm. Be polite and respectful when speaking to law enforcement. Keep in mind, the officer who confiscated your firearm is just doing their job. They are not your enemy. Explain the situation to them and ask what steps are necessary for the return of your firearm.

Wait for the Investigation to be Completed

Most law enforcement agencies have a protocol that must be followed before a firearm can be released. This protocol includes an investigation into the incident to determine if a crime was committed. This investigation may take time, depending on the complexity of the case, and can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. During this time, it is important to be patient and not contact law enforcement too frequently, as this could be seen as harassment.

Be Prepared to Provide Documentation

Once the investigation is complete, and law enforcement determines that a crime was not committed, they will likely release your firearm. However, before they do, they will request that you provide documentation that proves your ownership of the firearm. This documentation may include a bill of sale, registration papers, or other similar documents. It is important to prepare these documents in advance, so you can provide them promptly and ensure the process moves smoothly.

Pick up Your Firearm in a Timely Manner

Once you have provided the necessary documentation, law enforcement should release your firearm to you. It is important to pick up your firearm as soon as possible, as the longer you wait, the more storage and administration fees will likely accumulate. Additionally, it is important to check your firearm thoroughly to ensure that it has not been damaged while in storage.

The process of getting a firearm back after a self-defense shooting can be a long and complicated one. However, by following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can ensure that you are doing everything correctly to get your firearm back. Remember, it is essential to remain patient and respectful throughout the process and to seek out the guidance of an experienced attorney. We hope this post has helped you to navigate this challenging situation with confidence and clarity. Stay safe.


If the police confiscate your firearm, please remain calm. I’ll discuss how to get it back without going to jail.

There are a lot of moving parts in a situation like this, and I will open up by reminding everyone I do not offer legal advice — here or anywhere else.

The bedrock of your strategy is twofold. First, you need to be certain you know which specific agency confiscated the firearm, and ideally which specific officer initiated the chain of custody. Second, you need to already have your firearm documented. By that I mean images that will prove it’s yours. A quick picture with the serial number visible next to your driver’s license or concealed carry permit will work.

If you’re too concerned about privacy to do that, you need to make sure you have your serial numbers and descriptions of all your firearms recorded to make your case to the confiscating agency. Or to any agency in the event the firearms are stolen or lost.

But you will likely not be getting the firearm back if the firearm in question is confiscated during an arrest after you committed what turns out to be a crime. If, however, it turns out the firearm was confiscated unjustly or should otherwise be returned to you, contact someone at the agency that took your firearm who is not the officer who took possession of the gun. And you will very, very politely ask how to go about getting back.

Next Steps to Obtaining Your Firearm

And if that doesn’t work, your next step will be to attain the services of an attorney. And I know that as an innocent person you shouldn’t have to do that. But, unfortunately, as with everything else self-defense related, what you and I wish were true isn’t what’s important here. What’s important is you are trying to reclaim what is rightfully yours. It might look suspiciously similar to trying to force agents of the confiscating agency to admit they were wrong. That never goes over well, especially if the complainant presents anything that could be misinterpreted as an attitude.

It’s imperative that you remain polite and you stress that no one was acting in anything but good faith. You’re more than happy to work through the process of retrieving property that was confiscated out of an abundance of caution by well-meaning civil servants. You will be nothing but sunshine and good vibes. And this is where that attorney I mentioned comes in.

To paraphrase that [Patrick] Swayze character from the ‘80s cornball classic Roadhouse, you’re going to want to be nice … until it’s time to not be nice. And then, no one but your attorney is allowed to be not nice. You as the private citizen from who property was seized must, and I repeat must, remain at least outwardly understanding and patient. Getting worked up not only doesn’t do any good, it will invariably tip the odds against you ever seeing your firearm again.

Remember This

Firearms are confiscated as evidence following a self-defense incident. And what police agencies are looking to determine is whether or not that self-defense incident was a crime and who committed said crime. So they’ll probably be hanging onto your gun longer than you want them to — and in my case, that would be longer than a couple of hours — but they will probably be hanging onto that gun longer than you want them to. And there’s a sequence of things you must do to get it back. And it includes being polite and being understanding.

I’m a big fan of having a backup gun which is the exact same make and model of the gun you might be carrying every day. Because if your gun gets confiscated, you want to have another one you can put in your holster and defend yourself.