Many gun experts and enthusiasts agree that if you purchase a gun, you need to be prepared to use it. Focusing on the meaning of that statement can be difficult for some gun owners, especially if you own a gun for hunting or sport, like shooting at the range. Even for those who own a gun purely for protection, you might struggle to cope with the reality of what it would be like to actually use your firearm in self-defense. Not to mention, the potential legal ramifications. Keep reading to learn more about how to use your firearm for self-defense in a legal way, and to learn more about the gun laws, like concealed carry and open carry, that you need to know in your state to make sure that you are in full compliance.
Please keep in mind that we are not legal experts and our advice should not be taken as law. Always consult with an expert if you are worried or confused about the legal ramifications of using a gun for self-defense.
Determine if your gun complies with state law
This might seem obvious, but before you ever choose a gun for self-defense or home protection, you need to ensure that the firearm complies with your state’s concealed carry or open carry gun laws. If you use a gun that is illegal in your state to defend yourself against another person, you are in for some legal trouble. Here are a couple of examples:
- Using a concealed weapon for self-defense when you do not have a concealed-carry permit.
- You have an open carry permit, but you use a gun that is not in compliance with your state open carry law for self-defense.
Understanding self-defense options
Federal law establishes that all United States citizens have the right to own a firearm for self-preservation and defense, if necessary. However, the legalities of how you can use your firearm come down to state law. Legally, using a gun to defend yourself should not be your first move. Self-defense law does not excuse a violent act against another person, just because that person acted first. Like mentioned above, federal law uses the words “if necessary” when describing firearms and self-defense. These two words are critical when it comes down to determining the legality of using a gun for self-defense.
Finding yourself in a situation where you have to protect yourself against another person is stressful and frightening. As a gun owner, it is your responsibility to understand your self-defense options and to mentally equip yourself for acting rationally in a scary scenario, since the law requires you to act reasonably. The law requires two things of you:
1. Retreat if possible
Yes, it’s easier said than done. But before you retaliate, you need to evaluate if you can walk/run away from your attacker. If it’s proven that you had time to retreat but instead chose to inflict force, you could be in legal trouble. If you find yourself trapped, against a wall, or unable to retreat in any other way, then using force is considered legal.
2. Use only enough force to fend off your attacker
When you are in danger, showing your weapon to scare your attacker is usually a sure-fire way to scare them off. However, if you are going to pull out your firearm, you must be prepared to use it. Are you in a position where you fear for your life? Self-defense law evaluates brandishing or using a gun like it would any other use of force. There are two things to keep in mind:
- Does your attacker have a weapon? Using a firearm in self-defense is appropriate in cases where you can prove that your attacker showed a gun or other deadly weapon.
- If your attacker does not have a weapon: Brandishing a gun is considered legal if you can present evidence that the attacker was using force with their body.
At Liberty Home Concealment, we want you and your home to be protected. Our concealment furniture discreetly hides your firearms, so they are on hand whenever you need them most. Contact Liberty Home Concealment to learn more.