Firearms are lethal devices, which is why owning a firearm is a serious undertaking. The presence of a firearm makes any incidence of violence into a potentially lethal encounter, whether inside our residences or places of business and especially in public spaces.
As people who are committed to being responsible firearms-owners, we have to understand when we are lawfully permitted to employ firearms.
The FBI says the use of lethal force by its special agents may be necessary when that action is connected to the defense of oneself, and sometimes others, where there is a reasonable belief of imminent danger of death or serious physical injury.1
The use of the FBI policy as a baseline for citizens using firearms in self-defense is to adopt a doctrine that can be referenced and explained in a court of law. We have to be prepared to be arrested and charged when we use our guns, especially if discharging our firearms causes damage to property or injury or death to people.
Establishing the reasonable belief of imminent danger requires us to explain and prove that the threats we engage have the ability, the opportunity, and the intent to cause us serious bodily injury or death. Understand that our response to a threat has to be equal to the threat; unless the danger of being the victim of an attack is death, the loss or disuse of a body part, or sexual assault (rape), lethal force may not be justified.
We have to be prepared to limit our violence. A jury may determine that it is irresponsible or unreasonable for us to use lethal force if there is a way to limit our exposure to danger in some other manner. We are obligated to limit our use of force to the minimum level required to neutralize a threat.
When we employ our firearm we need to contact the appropriate law enforcement agency without delay! Even if the presentation of a firearm is enough to stop the threat, and no shots have been fired, a firearm has been used and that needs to be documented. Call 9-1-1 as soon as you are able to.
- Use of lethal force as described by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) regarding the use of such force by its special agents. “
https://www.fbi.gov/about/faqs/what-is-the-fbis-policy-on-the-use-of-deadly-force-by-its-special-agents. Accessed 12 May 2020.