Never Say Never



A concerned reader recently sent us a note about when you should or should not draw your firearm. I’ll paraphrase it here: Many articles by attorneys and others say never draw unless to fire or you would be charged with brandishing. Then the True Stories Column always gives examples where it (drawing) prevented or stopped a crime and no charges were filed. This is really confusing to me.

Well, here is the deal: You don’t have to fire your pistol every time you draw it. In my tactical pistol shooting classes I actually teach people NOT to fire every time they draw their pistol because that could instill the habit of firing even if the situation doesn’t call for it. What if the bad guy suddenly gave up and thrust his hands high into the air and you, using your verbal skills to turn bystanders into witnesses, now have witnesses watching you shoot a man with his hands in the air? What if the bad guy turned tail and ran at the first sight of your gun?

In both situations, the imminent threat has disappeared and you no longer have the right to shoot. But in both situations the imminent threat could reappear very quickly, so you had better have your gun out and be ready.

The difference between brandishing and drawing your weapon in the face of the threat is your ability to articulate that threat you saw was real. If there was no threat and you pull your gun, well, that is brandishing. If there was a threat and you pulled your gun and the threat instantly disappeared, then you have no right to open fire. But you did have the right to pull your weapon.

This is another reason why you need to be the first person to dial 911 after you pull out your gun. If the bad guy runs around the corner and dials 911 and says, “Some guy just pulled a gun on me!” and gives your description, who do you think the police are going to be looking for? What attitude do you think the police will have when they find you?

On the other hand, what if you are the complaining witness and you tell police, “I was threatened by a man in a white shirt and blue jeans. He ran away when I drew my pistol.” That looks much better for you, doesn’t it?

When police get there, you had better be able to clearly tell them what prompted you to pull your gun. If you cannot, you may be cited for brandishing.

97 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. This just happened in Minneapolis.The CCW holder interrupted a robber where the store clerk had his skull bashed in but the assailents ran at the sight of a civilian with a gun .He probably saved the clerks life.

  2. if the situation warrants drawing your weapon it should be that there is sufficient cause to dscharge it
    I speak from experience.I have recorded experiences that in a confrontal situation some perps have either lost judgement or perspective about your intentions,either from psychological disorders or chemical imbalance derived from chemical abuses from
    drug abuse.if the brandishment is not sufficient casuse to difuse the confrontation the thahk your lucky stars the bullets are in your hands not his
    in one situation on record not only was the gun drawn but three warning shots were discharged into the air over the head of the perp and he continued to attack.give your readers support if they stand their ground but advise them to turn and run if they can.
    it shouldbe drawn andshould be discharged as a last resort always.if you are forced to shoot make sure it is fatal.then their is only one side left to present evidence.point being that if you draw your weapon and the site of it does not deter aggression then by al means escape if you can if not,stand your ground and defend your life with all means necessary.
    thanks for your good work.

    1. Do not fire warning shots. You can be cited for public endangerment and God forbid but you might injure an innocent bystander. If you have toi shoot, make it center mass and be aware of anyone in harms way.

    2. Please, never, ever fire warning shots in the air! Those slugs come down with a lot of force. Enough to kill or seriously injure. Warning shots are a waste of ammo. DON’T
      DO IT!!!

      1. Where I come from, it is against the law to fire shots in the air.

      2. Firing warning shots are highly discouraged at concealed carry classes. At least at the one I attended with an active law enforcement officer as the instructor. The bullets that leave your weapon belong to you. if they strike someone accidentally you are liable. Be aware of your surroundings and people in the area. This is why law enforcement doesn’t fire warning shots and in some cases resists the urge to bring down a fleeing assailant because of the chance of injuring an innocent bystander. I personally would never fire a warning shot.

      3. Aloha
        Safest place to put a warning shot is someplace in the attackers body.

    3. Terry I disagree with your comments. You should NEVER fire warning shots. You are responsible for every bullet that leaves your gun and you don’t know where they will come down – possibly on an innocent bystander. I like to say that every bullet has a lawyer attached to it.

      The second statement that you made: “Make sure it is fatal…” Should be avoided as well. We are not shooting to kill some one (that would make us murderers) We only shoot to stop the threat. The unfortunate truth is that in doing so the result may be ending the bad guys life. Semantics I know – I for one don’t ever want to have someone testify in a court that “he always said he would kill the bad guy that crossed him.

      my 2 cents..


      1. Dead men tell no tales… If you think a guy who forced you to pull your weapon, and you shoot and injure him is going to tell the truth, you’re nuts. If you have to pull your weapon, Shoot to kill. Its best that he won’t be able to LIE.

      2. there are exceptions to every rule. Warning shots can be fired safely and effectively in curtain cases. My actual story summed up: A man attacked me through my car window while on a non-populated county road near my home. I exited the vehicle to confront him and protect not just myself, but my wife. I drew my weapon. He didn’t seem to think I was serious, mouthing on and on. While at gun point he started stepping closer. I fired ONE warning shot. It made him a believer. He quickly left. I didn’t have to shoot anyone. Now, why a warning shot? I elected to not kill him in front of his wife and child. One on One, just me and him? I see a totally different decision. So, never say never. I would not scar a child for a fathers ignorance.

      3. I’m confused. I never said to fire warning shots and in fact was vehement in discouraging it. I also never posted to shoot to kill. I would be opposed to doing that purposely, however all instructors recommend firing at the largest body mass to insure a hit. That could very well kill an assailant. Please re-read my comments and you’ll see I never recommended firing warning shots or killing an assailant.

    4. Escape if you can? I don’t agree at all, leave them to become repeat offenders and eventually kill someone? Not me

      1. We are not law enforcement. Cops have the right to pursue criminals, even to shoot a fleeing felon under certain very strict circumstances. We do not. As others have stated, once the threat is neutralized, we as private citizens no longer have the legal right to use deadly force. You don’t have to like it, but you’d better understand it. As for the blow-hard comments by some, such statements can wind up being used against you in court. If modern life has taught us anything, it is that every word that goes out on email, websites, Twitter, Facebook, etc. is out there forever. Be smart…


    6. Never fire a warning shot. If you must fire, fire at your threat, center mass, or head, or groin. If he dies, well, that is just too bad. But never fire warning shots, or shots to wound. That will get you killed.

    7. It is a weapon, not a signaling device. No warning shots!

    8. Recalling advice given in this publication and Modern Combat & Survival turning and running is very dangerous. One, you can’t outrun a bullet, two, if your like me, you cannot outrun a 4 year old let alone a young criminal, three running ignites a primal hunting and pursue response in the predator. If it’s me and my life is at risk, I’ll be shooting, center mass, God help me, and let the chips lie where they may.

    9. You never want to ‘fire warning shots’ and you never want to ‘shoot to kill’. These actions will get you into trouble and endanger everybody around you – not just the criminal, but your friends, innocent children, and especially yourself!

      Firing warning shots is just a fancy way of saying, ‘I negligently shot bullets into the air where they can fall down and kill kids instead of dealing with an emergency’. Once you start firing bullets errantly, you can no longer claim to be in a self-defense situation. In a situation where your life is in danger, why are you casually shooting bullets into the air? or shooting at a target a mile away? and not shooting at the guy threatening your life? Once you’re discharging gunshots into the air, you are guaranteed to NOT hit the criminal, but more likely to hit children or innocent people far away.

      Never claim you’re ‘shooting to kill’. What are you, a murderer?

      You’re shooting to stop a threat. If you shoot the guy, he falls down, gives up, surrenders, crawls away, and you walk up to him and calmly plug him in the head (“I shot to kill!”), you’re a murderer. Simply put, you’re trying to protect your life. If you go around with the intent to kill people, that suddenly makes it much harder to defend your position later on that you were justified in your self-defense shooting. Specifically, you weren’t actually performing a self-defense shooting; by your own admission, you were out to kill a dude.

      This is terrible advice. Don’t do these things.

  3. When I first received my CCL I wondered about when and how to react.

    I took a day and visited a tactical simulation site. Wow it opened my eyes very quickly. First step was to get a feel for the equipment using a typical electronic target range. Then came the guided scenarios. First up Face on confrontation. Bad guy with gun approaches threatening, he draws gun threatening your life. Draw and fire. Bad guy down.

    Next situation. You are standing behind a friend who is selling raffle tickets. Guy approaches, leans over table says he wants the money. His shirt opens and he has a gun in his waste band. You see it you shout “GUN” He reaches for it. You draw, Guy turns and runs away.

    My guide said 98% of the first timers shoot the fleeing robber in the back.

    I have become a frequent visitor to this training facility. I encourage others to explore such resources in their training regimen.

    I have not read any articles about these new facilities. Perhaps a review would be valuable for our members.

    1. Would you tell us which training facility? There are not that many that present those scenarios.

      1. First Strike is the name of the simulated training system in our area. It is located in Tangent, Oregon and operated by CNS Firearms of Albany, Oregon. Although two dimensional projection is used, the scenarios are realistic and guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumped up, an added benefit to this kind of training.

      2. I went to Threat Dynamics in Tigard OR. Since then I have learned about First Strike and a new one opening in Salem OR. An internet search of local shooting ranges may help. Another resource would be your local police department. They have likely heard about or used nearby facilities. Not all are open to the public, but some are and asking about them may help you and others gain access to this training resource.

  4. these are actual cases on record.
    another point that makes us aware of the possibility of confrontation is that always you should be aware of your surroundings and know possible escape routes should you be confronted in hazardous situation.Escape is always the best option and being aware might keep the situation from happing in the firstplace

    1. Why should anyone be expected to flee from someone who is breaking the law and threatening their life. If on is armed, there is no reason to retreat. That should be the job of the perpetrator. No, don’t shoot him in the back, but back them down, don’t back down yourself. You have been trained. Use that training to be unafraid and confident. Practice will make this easier…. more the better

  5. The one thing I would add is draw your gun and be prepared to fire…Do not draw your gun to scare somebody into running away..they might not run. Two human psychological reflexes in danger..fight or flight…the only time you draw your gun is if you are threatened but don’t wait until the last moment and if you have to draw your gun in public, you should/need to call 911 or similar to report it. If the guy (thug) threatened you he will threaten others perceived weaker until correction of thought/actions occur.

  6. I wouldn’t give that much forethought to the perpetrator. If they run, it’s over absolutely no reason to get police involved… just leave, chalk it up to experience. 9 out of 10 times police are not your advocate when you are carrying a pistol… legally. It is very hard for them to let you go on your way unmolested with your gun because they feel threatened ALWAYS by even a legal law abiding citizen.

    1. Wrong! Always, ALWAYS call the police after any incident that involves a firearm, whether of not shots are even fired. In approximately 50% of cases, the bad guys WILL call the cops and tell a very different story (and likely giving the police your description and/or car’s license number). And if you have not called, how do you think that will look?

      In my carry permit classes I go into great detail on HOW to call and WHAT to say (and more importantly, what NOT to say). Always call.

  7. I have been in this situation and was arrested for Aggravated Assault. No charges were filed after I hired an attorney and explained exactly what happened. At the time, the supposed victim called the police and I didn’t so, I got charged. Not a fun position to be in.

    So, if you do draw, be sure to call 911 immediately, otherwise, more than likely, you get a special trip to local jail.

    1. And call 911 right away. The first caller usually gets classified as the victim.

      As you said, not a good position to be in.

  8. Gentlemen & Ladies: Here is a true story that happened to me last summer. I was working late at my office when somebody started beating at the front door to my office. At first I thought it was somebody breaking in and I had my shoulder harness on carrying a Glock 19. I threw on a flannel shirt but did not have time to button it and looked outside and saw a woman in her 50′s standing there so I opened the door. I asked if I could help her. She was apparently abusively upset over the fact that her bamboo was dying alongside the property line and accused me of spraying poison on her bamboo. I told her that I would be with her in a moment, closed the door and buttoned up my flannel shirt. Mind you the bamboo has been dying for well over a year and I had not seen or heard from this neighbor in years. I asked her to show me what she was talking about. We walked around the building and she continued her ranting and raving and it appeared to be escalating. She got up in my face and then spat on my shoes. I am assuming she was trying to invoke a confrontation of sorts. Over the years I have learned that it is difficult if not impossible to reason with a drunken person. So I advised her to leave my property and
    don’t ever come back onto my property otherwise I would call the police. She left and I went back inside my office and continued to work for about 20 minutes. It so happens nature called and I had to go to the bathroom and wearing suspenders I had to take off my shoulder harness and hang it on the door. I had no sooner sat down on the toilet and somebody again was knocking violently on my front door. At first I wasn’t going to answer it fearing it was the drunken neighbor next door and I would have to call the police. I pulled up my pants and walked to the door and looked through the peep hole. There were two policeman outside my door and they asked me to step outside. My building lot partially sits in the City and the majority of the lot sits in the County. And it is in the county that I pay taxes and the county police have jurisdiction. The City police frisked me down and asked me if knew why they were there. I had no idea at the time and what was to transpire next. They said they got a call that a person at my address was brandishing a fire arm. They ask if I legally owned any firearms and I advised them I did. They frisk me down and found no weapons because my shoulder harness and Glock were hanging on my bathroom door. I then proceeded to advise them that they had no jurisdiction because my building and the majority of my lot resides in the County. So they called the county police and what happened next was a big wakeup call for me. Two squad cars from the county arrived at my place of business and the sergeant ran my drivers license. The whole mood of the situation changed when I heard over the squawk box that I have a license to carry concealed. I was immediately thrown against the side of my building and frisked down again. The sergeant asked me if I had brandished a firearm at which time I said I had not. He asked if I had any guns and I told him I had one in my automobile and several in my safe. He retrieved my 25 cal. Beretta from my automobile, ran the numbers on it to see if I owned it legally and then proceeded to take it over to my next door neighbor’s house to see if she could identify the weapon. Apparently she had told the police that I had a chrome gun of sorts and I had drawn down on her. Needless to say the Beretta didn’t match the neighbors description and I did not own any chrome plated guns. However, that wasn’t good enough for the county sergeant. He further went on to say that the neighbor had witnesses indicating that I had drawn down on her and I knew that was erroneous as well as the description of the firearm. I maintained my innocence and the sergeant said he was going to turn it over to the prosecuting attorney. The sergeant kept maintaining I was lying and he even said “you can tell me if you drew down on the woman”. The county police would not let me put my Beretta back into my car and in fact followed me into the office to watch me put my Beretta back into my safe.

    I truly believe that the inebriated woman must have seen my shoulder harness and glock when I first opened the door and subsequently when I told her to exit my property she decided to teach me a lesson. Fortunately by luck I had taken off my shoulder harness and Glock to go to the bathroom. And since I had no weapon on my person when the police arrived and patted me down, the police had nothing to hang their hat on including the neighbor’s bogus description of the weapon that I supposedly brandished. And although the police indicated that they were turning the matter over to the prosecuting attorney for disposition, it was just a scare tactic to try to make me admit to a crime I did not commit.

    I really believe I would have been sitting in jail that night had I had my shoulder harness and Glock on my person when the police arrived.

    I learned a valuable lesson from this experience. Things are not always what they appear to be and if somebody is at my door I make sure my shirt is completely concealing my weapon before I open the door. The law is definitely against the concealed carry holder when it comes to brandishing a firearm. And if you get yourself into a position where a person knows you have a firearm on you, it makes it even easier for someone to make a brandishing claim against you
    whether you brandish it or not. Be careful and stay safe.

    1. I had a similar experience in a walmart parking lot. My kid had run off out of sight and when we got to the car he got a spanking. This woman blockex my car from leaving while she called the police. She claimed I was beating my kid (let me be clear. Not even close to being true). As soon as they ran my info and found I was a ccw their attitudes got hostile. I didn’t have my weapon on me that time thankfully. My favorite part was the lead cop saying he had 4 witnesses and ask if he needed to get the security camera footage. I said damn straight he did because it will show him 4 people lied to the police. He said they’d turn it over to the prosecutor and I said fine but I want that security camera footage ssecured then and there because that was MY witness. Never heard back from the prosecutor.

  9. Remember to watch for open lanes for “Shoot Throughs” so you dont hit the mom carring a child or the crowd *behind* the perp.
    You may need to take a different angle.
    Drop to knee or step to side. Better to take an extra sec or 2 than hit an innocent. 4 me anyway. Better yet always maintain sit’n awarness and avoid if possible.

    1. Unless you’re a NYC cop. There, everyone is fare game.

  10. A lot of good comments here today. after reading them, I am of the conclusion that you can not practice, drill, and be alert enough. Never ever forget that once you decide to carry a loaded firearm on your person into public, you have a grave serious responsibility. The drills, the shoot or no shoot scenarios are critical to get your physic mind prepared for that moment when your adrenalin is peaked, and a real live critical dynamic indecent is happing at that moment. To shoot warning shots is very poor advice, for lots of reasons, innocent bystanders, when the bullets come down they still can be lethal, and you have not stopped a threat. a drug thug will only be encouraged to return fire and more than likely wont shoot to warn. train, train and train some more.

  11. All in all, this ccw is a scary/serious business, and is not for everyone. I have lived with fire arms for over 50 years it still gives me cause to wonder! I can still hear my mother singing her favorite Johnny Cash song: “Don’t take your guns to town son, leave your guns at home Jim, Don’t take your guns to town”!

  12. know when to draw your weapon and when not to, as well as when to fire at your assailant or assailants or not, is sometimes
    a tricky proposition. Just know, that if you do draw and fire in defense against an active target engaged in an assault on you or someone else, your actions will be closely scrutinized by a myriad of Monday morning armchair quarterbacks, in the aftermath. Their conclusions, could result in extreamly adverse consequences for you depending on their personal views of CCW or their private agendas regarding Gun Control Measures. But, whatever the outcome, you will still be alive to face the music. And that, my friend trumps being carried by six family members at your own funeral. So, follow your instinks or intuition and do whatever the situation requires so that you survive the incident. Do not allow yourself to fear subsequent ramifications of taking armed action. Just follow your training, remain calm and let the chips fall where they may. Keep the Faith.

    1. Better to be judged by 12 than
      carried by 6.

  13. This exact thing happened to me. A man went to attack me on my property after breaking into my gauged community and trespassing into my yard, I brandished from behind my window when he was less than a foot from me after several requests that he leaves the property. He called the police first and they believed his story. I was charged, tried, and convicted. I appealed, got a reversal and subsequently received immunity from prosecution under the Florida Stand Your Ground law, 776.013. This was a four year nightmare which I may have prevented had I called the police first!

  14. sometimes making someone aware you are armed without drawing can be a deterrent also… …I was pumping gas one time when a fellow approached me and demanded I put gas in his vehicle….I said no and he took a step toward me….whereas I stepped back ‘ put may hand on the butt of my pistol….upon seeing I was armed he turned and left

    1. Same thing happemd to me except the perp asked if I had change for a $20. Then another perp started to approach me from out of the dark. At that time I reached into my coat as if to draw a weapon, I verbally threatened to take action. They both stopped in their tracks, I turned got in my car and left. Point in fact just the threat of taken action was enough to thart the situation. And yes I was most thankful they were not armed.

  15. I was told by a NRA instructor that every shot you fire will undergo a forensic examination costing upwards of $250,000.00 for each round and the shooter will be responsible for the cost. She recommended carrying a 5 shot revolver with a empty chamber so that if the perp got the gun away from you the first shot would go click. Any thoughts on the above two comments?

    1. Never heard anything quite that dumb before, why not the 1st three, you only need one and you still have a spare

    2. I’ve been a firearm instructor for almost 40 years, and a carry permit instructor for a good portion of that, and one thing I have learned is that there are no guarantees. One my students fired three shots (all hits, by the way) and killed a gang-banger who was pointing a revolver directly at him, and there was a short preliminary hearing, after which no charges were filed and his costs were minimal (less than $500 in attorney’s fees).

      As for carrying a revolver with an empty chamber, there is no sane reason to do so. Besides, if a perp grabs your gun, what prevents him from pulling the trigger twice, just as you would have to do? Stupid.

  16. Here in the state of Pennsylvania we can open carry if we so desire! I prefer to do this at times if I know that I will be in a high risk area of travel. Tactical training on my part came from a stint with Brinks Armoured Car as a driver and employee. Also the State Police offer a training course called Act 235 which gives you a weeks’ worth of class room time on the legal responsibilities…federal, state and civil prosecution actions you can expect to have to deal with if you run into the unfortunate situation of having to defend yourself! Then you fire 2000 rounds of ammo through your weapon for familiarization!
    The only thing that you can be thankful for if you do kill the bad guy(human being, in the eyes of the law.) is that you are alive! The fact is you may be tied up for years of criminal and civil prosecutions,if found guilty of negligence. To say nothing of the crushing cost to you. In my humble opinion, all the shooting and killings you see on the TV and read about in the newspaper would be lessened if everyone that purchased a weapon legally would be required to take some sort classroom training I’ve mentioned above.

    1. You forget this thing called the Constitution? I didn’t read anything about classes…more restrictions, NOT !

    2. Hello,
      Yes, everyone should get training to familiarize themsevelves with their weapon!! Unfortunately there have been places that tried to mandate this at huge expense as a way to reduce the number of people who got weapons for self defense. Since these classes cost, what to some is a large part of their budget, there really isn’t a good solution!!

    3. you sir are so full of poop. You, like you yourself stated, are a security guard. A very untrained one as well. 2000 rnds huh? In a week huh? just to point out 2 obvious lies in your story.

  17. Warning shots are for TV and the movies. If you are justified in drawing your weapon, be prepared to use it and always go for center mass. Anything else is stupid and reckless.

  18. All of the above scenerios and examples required or probably required split second decisions for action or non-sactions. Practice of various situations does help you react correctly if the situation arises but it is no guarantee that you will make the right decision. Be alert! Be vigilant! Be careful when carring a weapon! Another thing, if guns arn’t needed to protect our person then why do the police, federal agents, secret service and may others carry them! The pres. has them all around him all the time!

  19. I carry a Glock 26 9MM for my preferred carry weapon. The mag is loaded but I keep the tube empty. I can rack it quick enough and it is a safety feature for me in case the bad guy is able to grab my weapon. In all the years I have carried I thank God I have never had to draw my gun.I am very carfull about where I am and who is around me. My children and grandchildren have never seeny my weapon and to this day, they do not know that I carry. It’s a personal thing to me and I elect to carry to save my life or a family members life in a terrible situation. Otherwise, I am going the opposite direction. I carry 24/7 and have no desire for anyone to know.I practice at the outdoor range weekly and have for many years. Just use your head, don’t let everyone know that you carry. Let Law Enforcement do their job. They have a hard enough time tring to put the bad guys behind bars. There is no reason for anyone to know.Just you. Maybe your wife or husband or sig other. My wife carrys also. 5 shot S/W 38 special belly gun. Stay Safe…….

  20. Any time you don’t have to use your gun to defend yourself or someone else is always best. But be careful you don’t find yourself witha brandishing charge to deal with. CCW is a great responsibility.

  21. I had a security guard wave a night stick in my face in a gated community. I pulled my concealed piece to protect my family. He was drunk on the job and stepped way out of line. My neighbor, who is a cop, witnessed the exchange. I called the police, the officers who responded told me i acted appropriately.

  22. I dont understand why the guys in blue have a problem with personal weapons period. The whole dynamic changes when they find out you are armed. I may not always carry a fire arm, but I always carry a knife. A fixed blade “huntin knife”. Here in AR it is legal to carry a knife, but the cops most usually consider it to be a weapon. I’m a country boy. Carried a knife since 3rd grade and have yet in 44 yrs used it as a weapon. Around here they will shoot you if you have a knife. They will say you “lunged” at them and had a wild look in your eye. Carry a pistol and they all show up if you get pulled over. Whats wrong with these people?

    1. I live in TN and have approached several policemen and women. When I asked their attitude about my carrying either concealed or open carry, they advised that I always have my permit with me. Common sense would require that I not “brandish” or threaten with the weapon. Generally, when approached by an officer I offer both my drivers license AND my carry license. This confirms to the officer my willingness to cooperate. Blessings and Merry Christmas.

  23. To stop the threat- if that means pulling and they give up, then the threat is stopped. Otherwise, I see manslaughter charges in many of your futures.

  24. When do I do what? -That’s a very difficult question. Here are three real life scenarios that I personally ran into, that I’m not sure can be “trained for”, but hopefully may help others to think about their actions.
    1) While on a business trip in another state, I rented a motel room in an area I would not normally stay in, but the local college had some events going on and the town’s lodgings were nearly booked full. While opening the door to my room with travel bags in tow, a man came around the corner and asked if I needed help, to which I responded no thanks, I do this all the time. He then said; “Maybe I’ll just help myself to your wallet”. At this point I dropped everything, drew my revolver and put a laser dot on his chest. He turned and ran away.
    2) On another business trip, and in a quite decent motel, I was awakened about 2:00 A.M. by some guy beating on the door and swearing loudly. I grabbed my gun, took cover aiming at the door (also with a tactical flashlight at the ready) and said nothing. I was hoping someone else would call the police, but that didn’t happen. The guy finally left with whatever his problem was, and I called in a complaint.
    3) I stopped at a small strip mall in our town to pick up an item. I was just getting into my truck when a guy came around the corner shaking his hands wildly, screaming and swearing. I got in closed and locked the door and had my hand ready to draw. The guy went past and into the same store I had just left. I watched while calling the police, and explained what was happening and gave a description of the man. The dispatcher then explained the individual suffered from Tourette’s Syndrome and was harmless, and this happened frequently with this man having uncontrolled outbursts.

  25. Ever hear the phrase “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6″?
    I have a CCP (along with my wife) and actually hate the inconveniences of carrying a gun around, let alone the idea if having to use it against someone.
    But,,,, It’s a dangerous world out there, today, and I assure you that I value MY LIFE a lot more than that of some criminal out to take it from me. This is not a show and tell type of situation we are talking about. If a perpetrator gets to see my gun it will be the last thing he ever sees.

  26. You people aren’t very bright are you…. Bullets falling back to earth can injure but NOT, I repeat NOT KILL. Do real research before spouting off myths and lies.

    1. Mitchell, it happened here 4th of July
      To a six year old boy.

    2. It is impolite to comment on others “brightness” in the first place but downright embarrassing when you don’t have all the information. Here is some more info for you, still certainly not all the information.
      A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 80% of celebratory (fired into the air) gunfire-related injuries are to the head, feet, and shoulders.[4] In Puerto Rico, about two people die and about 25 more are injured each year from celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve, the CDC says.[5] Between the years 1985 and 1992, doctors at the King/Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, treated some 118 people for random falling-bullet injuries. Thirty-eight of them died.[6] Kuwaitis celebrating in 1991 at the end of the Gulf War by firing weapons into the air caused 20 deaths from falling bullets.[6]

    3. Sir, falling bullets have killed people when they have hit them in the head. Unfortunately it is often a child. Firing warning shots, which are often not fired straight up, but at a trajectory which can kill easily, is a stupid thing to do. If you are justified in shooting, shoot at the threat. If not, don’t dhoot. Do your own research, before making infounded statements. Chief Boring

    4. Mitchel, people can and are killed everyday by bullets falling back to earth. You must get your info from the same place the environmentalist wackos get there’s from

    5. Bullets fired straight up and falling fairly straight down hit terminal velocity(speed generated by gravity reduced by friction of air) is not sufficient to kill or seriously injure.
      BUT when idiots or others fire warning shots or shots in ‘celebration’, they do not fire straight up. When the arc of the falling bullet intersects with a human, the bullet can and probably will be moving at a speed much greater than terminal velocity which can kill / injure.

    6. Hello,
      Every object falling to earth from any altitude reachs terminal velocity. If I remember correctly this is over 126MPH. Striking a childs softer skull might well result in death. Striking an adults harder head (NO pun intended) might not but at that speed would definitely not be pleasant. To paraphrase someone else “every bullet should come with the following warning, firing may well require a lawyer in order to deal with the consequences”!!

    7. Mitchell, You are the obvious idiot. A bullet falling to earth can and Has on many occasions killed. You had best do your research before calling it a myth or BS.

    8. your correct, you aren’t very bright. They can, do, and have killed. One injury I documented myself was of (an unknown fragment) at the time, hit a mother of 3 young children in the top of the head. Well, wait, your right after all, that didn’t kill her. It caused irreversible brain damage from which she died 4 yrs later. Hmm, how smart are you now?

    9. Mythbusters had an episode on bullets coming back down when shot up in the air. If shot almost straight up, it will slow to a stop and tumble back down, maximum velocity of about 120 mph. If shot at much of an angle away from vertical, the bullet will follow the arc, keep spinning, and will come down ballistic – max velocity much higher and much more dangerous.

    10. You were apparently watching “Mythbusters” when they declared that a bullet falling back to earth could NOT kill & declared it “busted”. Oh – then they had to revisit that one because of all the documented emergency room cases that had “dead” people from bullets fired into the air and returning to earth and striking them on the head. Seems that they then changed their decleration to “plausible”.

  27. One key point is “total situational awareness”. Rarely is there just two people in the middle of nowhere. If the situation warrants and you draw your weapon you’ve got to keep your assailant in the center while expanding your view. Tunnel vision can lead to tragedy.

    While staying on target you have got to process all that is happening in the immediate area. Where are innocent (or not so innocent) bystanders/witnesses? Think about where your round will go should you miss.

    Cray supercomputers have nothing on the human brain when it comes to the processing of information. Adrenaline will kick your brain in to overdrive. Fight or flight thoughts will be be competing with your armed status.

    GIGO applies here just as it does in the computer room. Garbage in, garbage out. If you allow yourself to lose total situational awareness you aren’t giving that great computer of yours all the data needed.

  28. Never shoot to wound. Wounded people can still kill you. Center mass. Center mass. Head. Stop the threat.
    Double tap to center mass. Threat still coming? One to the nose.. Or eyeball.
    NEVER shoot to wound. Drill it drill it
    Two to center mass…?

    1. I was always trained to fire 2 warning shots into the perp’s center mass. If those warning shots don’t stop the threat, then 1 to the head is the appropriate follow up response. The reason to shoot isn’t to kill, but it should be intended to stop the threat.

      1. That’s the way my team was taught also.

  29. BTW of all days on the 4th of July someone near me shot in the air to celebrate and a 6 yo boy was killed when the bullet came down and entered his head directly on top. Took a few minutes for the dad to understand what happened.
    NEVER, NEVER shoot into the air.
    If you must shoot at the bad guys feet.

  30. I always wondered about the bullet falling back to the ground from a shot fired into the air. So I did some research. It seems the Army determined that a bullet would reach a terminal velocity of about 280 feet per second (about 200 mph) if dropped from a high altitude. Using a ballistic calculator, I entered in a 230 grain .45 cal bullet travelling at 280 fps and it said the bullet would impact with a force of 40 foot pounds. That would be a little less than one tenth the force of a fired 230 grain bullet travelling at about 900 fps. (A 115 grain 9mm bullet would have half the energy, or 20 foot pounds of energy).
    Sadly, this is where my research ended, because I was not able to find out how much force would be needed to penetrate a human skull with this bullet. However, I’m quite sure I would not like to be on the receiving end of any bullet fired into the air.
    No shooting in the air for me.

  31. A few years ago, I took the hunter safety course with my wife and daughter here in NY. In the course the instructor advised us to carry with the muzzle up the majority of the time. I challenged that thought then and still challenge that thought today. If the gun does go off in an unintended manor, then you have no control of where the bullet will land. At least muzzle down will give the bullet a short path to first strike. I agree, no warning shot.

    As for NY, I used to live in the land of the somewhat free. I now want out of NY very badly.

  32. This happened in Michigan early in 2012. A CPL holder deployed his firearm to de-escalate a situation in which he was confronted by a knife-wielding aggressor. He forced the bad guy to back down, allowing him to make his escape without ever pulling the trigger. No charges against the victim.

  33. If you are serious about learning how to defend yourself read on -
    If you think going to the range and squeezing a few rounds off at a static target will prepare you for a real gun fight – well – not even close.

    Double tap center mass? Right
    One to the head? Right
    We call this “Controlled” Pairs.

    Go to the range – Draw, at 20ft, put 2
    center mass and one to head in less than 3sec then come see me. That is our “average” IDPA shooter.
    After you have practiced this with maybe 5-10,000 rds you will start to get a feel for it.

    Not to mention the stressors you will come under that will affect your gun handling and accuracy – how much do you practice shooting weak hand only, moving left, right, fwd, back, kneeling, prone, from cover, UNDER STRESS like a “real” gunfight.

    Some of the best training civilians can get for real combat is IDPA. Int’l Defensive Pistol Assocn. Check it out on the web Matchs usually held at gun clubs(see and visitors usually free. People who shoot this, like me, shoot about 500-1,000rds/mo in practice and shoot real life type shooting scenarios under time stress with non-threats, movement, etc ie combat/tactical pistol training. Tactical Priorities decisions, Room Clearing, Non Threat/No Shoot Decisions, moving targets with Non-threats in front etc. Way more than what avg police shoot.

    Mostly you are trained/learn to shoot from *cover*(much different from just standing on the range shooting at a wall). It will help you a LOT in preparing for that unfortunate day when you do have to defend yourself. It will also improve your gun handling safety.

    Find the nearest gun club that does this and go watch a match. People from all walks of life and they will be glad to help you. It will be an eye opener.
    Think – 6 shots/second Center Mass.

  34. In Michigan at least, unless someone is illegally entering your dwelling or is in the actual act of attacking: it’s a “bad idea” to either display or draw and fire your weapon at people. The distinction is that we may not present even the “threat” of deadly force unless confronted with a person committing a dangerous illegal act. Warning shots are out of the question in most cases. (Although I did that kind of thing once under circumstances which are seldom seen.)
    Recent Situation 1: I was followed by a young man who had broken from a group of homeless people. He followed me for 3 blocks. It was daytime and on a city street but his intention (obvious at the time) was to grab my shopping bag which had a famous logo on it. I never considered drawing my gun (got my first concealed carry permit in 1968). Instead, when we got to an intersection and had to stop for the traffic signal – I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911. That’s all it took to send this fellow off in another direction.
    Situation 2: I was about to the end of an alley when a man broke from a small group of loiterers next to a liquor store and approached me as if to ask for money. Without a word, I put out my hand in a “stop” signal, veered away and kept on going . My abrupt rejection of his approach convinced him I was confident and should not be messed with.
    Essential point here: Is that “your personal space” is yours to defend but the FIRST lines of defense are really non-violent but DEFINITELY SIGNAL you are NOT victimizable. There is no “right” to encroach on anyone’s personal space. Maintain adequate space so that you can react tactically in several ways.
    Having command of deadly force is not a matter of being “macho” or any other kind of aggressive attitude. You are a defender and nothing more – you must think like this and be competent at it or some bad things will happen to you or someone else.

  35. If you don’t have the reasoning skills to know when to shoot / not to shoot, when to draw / not to draw you shouldn’t be carrying.

    Is this not common sense?

  36. My instructor was a retired LEO and his advice was: is it happening? If the perp turns and runs it is no longer happening. If the perp holsters his weapon it is no longer happening. Just saying.

  37. Listen to yourselves! Somehow we have let our legal system pick fly poop out of pepper and we just let them get away with it, or worse, come up with ways to cope with the insanity. We must change the thought process of this country! Bad and goofy people need to be shot and that is the end of it. The legal system is not your friend. A friend is someone who does not require an explanation, they understand. Someone who is not a friend will never understand, no matter your reason, because they do not want to understand. The USCCA is a wonderful idea, Tim I congratulate you! I would like to suggest that in addition to teaching and informing gun people; your company, like it or not, has placed itself on one side of a political line. Therefore, we and your company have an obligation to reform how America thinks about guns and defending yourself. We must not allow gun owners to be abused as people have written about in this blog. We must go after anyone who does not support the actual meaning of the 2nd Amendment. I know I am dreaming, but wouldn’t it be a wonderful life if all of us were allowed to enforce our own dignity and not be required to give a reason. Bad people do bad things, good people shoot them in the front, back, head or anyplace else required to stop them from doing bad things. Apparently an armed society is not a polite society, it is a society to which those of us who are armed have to constantly justify all of our actions to a legal system who does not understand to just leave us alone!

  38. Thank you for the article and the great comments. I have a co-worker who is determined to change my mindset on the very subject. His prior military training and muscle memory is that you never pull a weapon unless you shoot. His relies on his awareness to avoid any potential need to use a weapon. Pull it out you better pull the trigger.

    My mindset (despite my less intensive military training) is that there are life and death situations that could be diffused by presenting a weapon and the willingness to use it. Sure, that by introducing a weapon will escalate the situation and compel an aggressor to respond more aggressively, but my thinking is that by not shooting when I pull out a weapon is not brandishing if I can legally defend myself (or others) being threatened; thus preventing a crime.

    We are still debating.

  39. What i don’t understand is why police have something to say to you if you have a weapon on you at your home or business location? You have every right to open carry a weapon in your own property. So if you want you can open the door to anybody with a Glock on your waistband. It is not called brandishing.

  40. In writing this, I am referring to the laws which pertain to my state. I am a survivor of two shooting incidents, both as a law enforcement officer. The only time I was ever allowed to draw and use my weapon was in self-defense or in defense of another’s life. I was always required to be aware of my backstop, and held accountable for the path of each round fired. Apartment walls, occupied dwellings, glass, and the like do not stop bullets. And one must be constantly aware of this. If I were to state, I had to “shoot to kill,” this would constitute a premeditation factor, and show that my intent was not to defend life, but to kill, which is illegal in this state. Law enforcement, and anyone else who uses a firearm is held to the same standards: 1) You are in fear of your life or the life of another person. 2) You shoot to stop the threat, and once the suspect is no longer a threat, you must cease fire. The way the statute reads in this state, the mere placing your hand on the butt of your weapon could be construed or interpreted as brandishing; as it states, brandishing is the exhibit or display of a firearm in a threatening manner. Warning shots, is in my opinion, a Liberal’s idea of what you should do/have done according to them. This has little basis in reality, the same as one of their favorite sayings, “why didn’t you just shoot him in the leg?” You have to make a split-second decision, and usually fire at a moving target. Reality has little to do with the precision Hollywood trick shots in which Liberals base their opinion on firearms handling. You aim for center of mass, and only if highly skilled, head shots, because these are the area(s) most likely to stop the threat in the least amount of time possible. Also, be mentally prepared beforehand; and be aware that you may face a lawsuit from the suspect or suspect’s family members even if you were 100% justified.

  41. Don’t fire warning shots, it’s one lessround you’d have in case you need to defend yourself

  42. Much also depends on local laws. In Reno a few years ago a man whos house had been broken into on previous occasion caught a man robbing his home. He chased him a mile before stopping him with a bullet. Shocking to some, but laws on the books from the late 19th century stated you could persue a criminal caught in the act up to 20 miles. Why, 20 miles was what was considered the distance a good horse could run. The criminal was caught and sentenced but nothing ill came on the one who pursued him. Check local laws.

  43. Mitchel, you need to watch what you say. Because you are the one who is wrong. I Don’t know who you get your info from. There has been more than one life lost from bullets being shot into the air. So don’t call people liars or anything else unless you know facts to back it up.

  44. I am not going to pull my gun unless i feel threated and if i pull it and the threat complys to my voice comands then i don’t have to fire,but if he advances to me and doesn’t listen then and only then will i fire.there will be no warning shot given bullet to the head,or chest.boom!!

  45. Many good comments here. Training, situational awareness, common sense, all excellent advice. Also VERY IMPORTANT, you must know the laws of your State relating to the use of deadly force, if you are to avoid serious legal consequences. In my state of NJ, unless you are standing at the door of your home, there is the requirement to RETREAT if possible before you may fire your weapon in self defense. Being in fear for your life or to protect the life of another person, and warning the perpetrator to back off, may be insufficient grounds to use deadly force when confronted in any area other than your home, as you also have the requirement to retreat or back away, before using lethal force is considered justified. And firing warning shots is absolutely prohibited. You may stand your ground only if it’s at the door of your home. This is the reality that exists for the few individuals that manage to qualify for handgun Carry Permits in the State of NJ.

  46. Very good information. I always take your advice seriously and share that information with my family and friends. Thank You !

  47. In Delaware a State Trooper fired at a woman driver who tried to run him down. The state Attorney General asked him IF he shot to kill and he replied “YES” The attorney then advised him of his wrong answer by saying, “NO , YOU SHOT TO LIVE”, he advised the trooper that he shot so he could go home to his family that night.

  48. Always fire warning shots into the air first – always – preferably with a shotgun. Vice President Biden has your back. ; )

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