3 Things You Need to Do Before Using Deadly Force

A man carrying a gun inside a church building – To harm or to protect? (Photo: U.S. LawShield)

Looking for a Fight?

You’re going about your typical day, running a few errands. But suddenly, you are thrust into the middle of a violent encounter. You carry a firearm legally for your protection; you’re one of the “good guys.” If you’re forced to use your firearm in self-defense, there shouldn’t be any issues afterward, right? There’s no possible way anyone could think this was your fault, is there? Unfortunately, the aftermath of the incident is often worse than the actual incident itself. 

Proactive Mindset

If you choose to carry a gun, the first thing you should understand is that using the gun in an actual self-defense situation is still a negative outcome. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use a firearm to protect your life or your loved ones if forced to; it is simply a reminder that you should take every possible opportunity to avoid or disengage from a potentially violent encounter. Remember that using the firearm is a last resort when no other option remains. Of course, many states have Stand Your Ground laws, meaning you may not be legally obligated to retreat, but avoiding violence is always your best option.

Avoiding an Incident

The easiest way to avoid many potentially violent incidents (and to avoid accusations of looking for trouble) is to refuse to be drawn into altercations for any reason. Whether you encounter someone being rude in public, engaging in generally socially unacceptable behavior, driving poorly in traffic, or any number of potential scenarios doesn’t matter; you do not need to respond or correct their behavior for them. If someone is doing something illegal but otherwise unharmful to you, call the police. Unless there is a direct threat of violence to you, you don’t need to do anything. What may be a simple exchange of words from your perspective could be a deadly insult worth killing over to someone else, and there’s no way to be sure who you’re dealing with until after the fact.

I Didn’t Go Looking for Trouble, but Trouble Found Me Anyway 

Sometimes, being selected by a person intent on victimizing someone is unavoidable. If you find yourself in this type of situation, there are still some things you want to do to make it abundantly clear that whatever level of force you are compelled to employ is reasonable, given the situation. 

1. If you are able to at least attempt retreat without putting yourself at further risk of harm, do so. Worst-case scenario, you are not able to escape successfully, but the evidence shows that you tried to. Best-case scenario, you remove yourself from the situation without harm. 

2. Have an understanding of what legally constitutes “serious bodily injury” or “great bodily harm” (depending on your state of residence) and of disparity of force. In the eyes of a jury, the physical responses available to a woman facing an unarmed male attacker are often significantly different from those available to, say, a male athlete with a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu. In the first scenario, there is an apparent disparity of force; in the other, without extenuating circumstances like multiple attackers or other severe disadvantages, it’s less clear and a response with deadly force may not be reasonable.

3. There are three things that generally need to be present before it is appropriate for you to use a gun in self-defense, and they are all dependent on not having done anything that would preclude your use of force or deadly force. (1) You believe the attacker has the physical ability, either through the use of a weapon or a mismatch of physical attributes or circumstances, to cause you death or great bodily harm. (2) You have to believe that they are capable of bringing this ability to bear on you in the moment (often referred to legally as “imminence” or “immediacy”). (3) And most importantly, your attacker must be acting in a way that you believe your life is in jeopardy. All of these beliefs must be reasonable.  If any of these requirements are not fully satisfied, using a gun would be an inappropriate response. Whether or not you ultimately fire a round, if you utilize your gun and your attacker ceases their attack and tries to escape, LET THEM. 

I Had to Use My Gun—Now What?

If you have planned ahead, you have access to a service like U.S. LawShield. If that is the case and you are a U.S. LawShield member, you should call 911 to alert them of the situation and immediately call the emergency number on the back of your member card. You’ll speak to an attorney in a matter of seconds, and they’ll walk you through everything you need from there. 

If, however, you’re not a U.S. LawShield member, you still need to call 911. But trying to get an attorney on the line will likely prove difficult if you want advice before police arrive on the scene. Either way, get to safety, call 911, and cooperate with law enforcement instructions while invoking your legal rights. 

For more information on how to protect yourself, join U.S. LawShield today!

About the author: U.S. LawShield Our organization traces its roots to 2009, when a group of pioneering lawyers became fed up with the hostility and abuse in the legal system directed towards responsible gun owners. They saw innocent people suffering the terrible consequences of someone else’s choice to commit crime. And to make matters worse, those people were tied up in the legal system, struggling to defend themselves. Innocent people were experiencing financial duress, bankruptcy—or worst of all, going to jail.The Second Amendment states “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” And yet, every day, our founders saw innocent, responsible gun owners experiencing mistreatment in the legal system—as if they were the ones that had done something wrong. To fight these injustices, our founders chose to stand up for the rights of the American people and become a champion for good and the voice of justice. That’s when the idea for our company was born: the first concealed weapon legal defense program to truly provide Legal Defense for Self-Defense.Our business was born in Texas and continues today from our headquarters in Houston, Texas. For many years, we provided our program to law-abiding residents of Texas and was known as Texas LawShield®. Demand for services existed well-beyond the state of Texas and our team expanded to other states. Along the way, we took on the name U.S. LawShield®.Today, we are serving members in the majority of states. While we are honored that our focus and mission have really resonated with so many people – literally attracting hundreds of thousands across the country, we will never forget what brought us together, why we exist to serve members and we will always stay close to our Texas roots. It is said the people of Texas have some unique customs and traditions like independence, self-reliance, a can-do spirit, and a big heart (caring for one another). We work to convey this in all we do for our members.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Paul May 9, 2021, 3:04 pm

    I am curious as to why you do not accept membership from New York residents.

  • Jim May 7, 2021, 3:48 pm

    Hi I was trying to read an article on reloading powder part but could get it to center it on my page. That seems to happen with a lot of articles.

  • JB May 7, 2021, 1:46 pm

    These rules saved me from a certain night in jail or worse. Fortunately I did not have to shoot the guy, but the steps of


    Use of pepper spray

    Deploy firearm

    A CCTV camera captured the event, clearing me on the scene.

    Eyewitnesses lied, but the TV camera footage told the truth.

  • Somebody else May 7, 2021, 9:19 am

    In reading this and knowing the twisted values of America today a prosecuting atty. could make the case that having a service like U.S. Law Shield is evidence of prior intent to harm. Do you really want to fight a justified incident on your own when insanity is the norm in the courts? 4 things needed: gun, ammo, training, insurance. Don’t leave out any one..

  • Godfrey Washington May 7, 2021, 8:23 am

    Nope don’t have to do any of this.

    You want to be a mugger or go off your meds because you’re angry or sad, then you accept the consequences.

    I carry for my safety NOT yours.

  • Dr. Strangelove May 7, 2021, 7:36 am

    I like CCW Safe.

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