Must You Give a Verbal Challenge?

I keep saying this: Self-defense incidents are dynamic and each one is unique. So, if you hear a trainer tell you that you must “always” do something or you must “never” do something, raise the BS flag.

Some people will tell you that you must always issue a verbal challenge during a self-defense incident. I disagree. Sometimes you may not have time to do so. Sometimes it may not be to your tactical advantage to do so. If you have the legal right to use deadly force, you have the legal right to use deadly force. Your verbal challenge does not give you any greater right to use that level of force.

That challenge may help you in court or it may hurt you in court. If you choose the wrong words, a witness may interpret your verbal challenge as a threat and could tell police you were the aggressor.

My suggestion for a verbal challenge is something simple like, “Stop! Get back!,” as this clearly states your intentions without sounding like you are making a threat. Remember, the point of using deadly force is to stop your attacker. It is never your intention to kill your attacker. If your attacker dies as a result of your reaction to his attack, that is unfortunate, but you needed to stop that attack to protect yourself or another innocent person.

Don’t Say “Kill”                            

As mentioned above, the goal of using deadly force is to stop the imminent deadly threat you are facing. The goal is not to kill anyone. Therefore, if you choose to offer a verbal challenge, do not threaten to “kill” your attacker. Never say, “Stop or I’ll kill you.” Those words could be used against you, but, more importantly, that is not your intent. Your intent is to stop the threat. You may need to shoot someone to stop that threat. But you didn’t want them dead. You wanted them to stop.

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