If you’re training and carrying concealed for self-defense, you likely want to know when you can use deadly force. When during an attack is it acceptable to pull your firearm? USCCA’s director of content Kevin Michalowski and former state prosecutor Tom Grieve discuss what you need to know about the justified use of force.

When Is Deadly Force Justified?

Of course, laws vary by state. Stay up to date on local and federal regulations. In general, though, you need to be facing a deadly threat before you use deadly force. In Wisconsin, one needs to be facing fear of imminent death or great bodily harm before he or she is privileged to use deadly force back.

A reasonable person would need to believe he or she is in immediate danger. What makes a danger immediate? If you see the attacker, if the attacker is making a threat and appears to have the means to act on that threat. It is always possible that a threat becomes deadly. Circumstances change quickly. It is important to be aware of your surroundings.

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Against an Unarmed Attacker

What if your attacker is unarmed? Again, if a reasonable person believes there was an imminent deadly threat, force is justified. This will, of course, be in the eye of the beholder a little bit. Factors such as size, age and training of the attacker vs. the victim will come into play. Tom recommends getting ailments documented by your doctor before an attack happens. A bad back or a bad knee can change the way a jury views the case.

Get the training and education you need to understand local laws and the force continuum.