In Today’s Liberally Screwed-Up Society What is a Reasonable Self Defense Response?


Elderly Old Man Hands Revolver
In Today's Liberally Screwed-Up Society What is a Reasonable Self Defense Response?
Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-( “Reasonable” Response.

A student asks:

“I’m in my 70s. When I’m the victim of an unprovoked attack by a younger, bigger, stronger person(s) who is using only his fists, elbows, knees, and/or shod feet, how much of a pommeling am I expected to absorb, and for how long, before I employ deadly force in order to stop the attack and thus prevent myself from being injured/murdered?

We have seen several instances where a single blow from a fist to an unprotected head proved fatal, many others where such a blow caused permanent, disabling injury and/or disfigurement.

Of course, ‘injury’ is easy to demonstrate AFTER it has been inflicted. But, the object of legitimate self-defense is to PREVENT such lethal/disabling outcomes. How can I persuasively demonstrate what didn’t happen?”

My comment:

No matter whom you ask, you won’t get a very satisfactory answer to that question, and mine (as follows) won’t be very satisfying either!

We all look for “safety” in “the law.” We ask ourselves, “When I strictly follow the law can I know that I will never be prosecuted?”

In fact, many naive instructors keep reiterating, “Know the law,” as if that were even possible, and as if that represents a guarantee that bad things will never happen to you.

If you were to read every law carefully, along with each ordinance, rule “guideline,” and regulation that could ever possibly apply to you as a gun-owner/carrier, particularly as you travel around the Country, there would not be enough years left in your life to complete the task!

Even then, the task would be largely an exercise in futility, because we no longer have a “nation of laws.” We have a “nation of agendas.”

Some laws, like our immigration laws for example, are openly, deliberately, and contemptuously violated every day, with no consequence! Laws against possession and use of marijuana are openly violated in entire states, with no consequence.

So then, what is “the law” when it can be ignored by state governments? What other “laws” can we all ignore?

I am today seeing officer-involved shootings which are completely justified, by any standard. The shooting then being the subject of civil suits, where cities don’t even put up a fight, as they dole-out untold millions of taxpayer dollars to the “bereaved” families of vicious, violent, (and mercifully dead) criminals but these innocent officers. Officers who acted properly and did correctly the job we pay them to do, are also being viciously prosecuted by politically-active prosecutors, who cynically see an unjust conviction merely as a career stepping-stone.

So, when you’re involved in a self-defense shooting, what will be important?

The factor that will most sway prosecutors is usually the way the event is reported in the papers and other news media.

When the headline is, “Local Gun-Nut Slays Honor Student,” you can bet the system will be under immense pressure to prosecute, while facts of the case shrink to irrelevance!

When the shooting is cross-racial, hang on to your hat! You may find yourself being prosecuted merely to mollify rioters!

When the shooting takes place during an election year, hang on to your hat! A political candidate may push for prosecution merely to court votes from a particular minority.

We saw this exact phenomenon in the Zimmerman Case in FL in 2008!

So, where is “safety?”

There is none, but here are some things I can recommend:

1) Be a good person! Heaven knows none of us are perfect, but good people ever strive towards goodness, decency, and personal honesty. At the same time, be very good at minding your own business!

2) (a) Don’t go to stupid places. (b) Don’t associate with stupid people. (c) Don’t do stupid things. (d) Be in bed by 10.00pm (your own bed!). (e) Have a “normal” appearance. (f) Don’t fail the attitude test!

3) When you go armed, keep weapon(s) discreetly out of sight. Don’t talk about your guns. Don’t “show” your gun(s) to anyone. Don’t brandish your gun except for good cause.

4) When you must shoot, use your sights, press your trigger carefully, and hit with every shot.

5) Stop shooting when the threat(s) is clearly neutralized.

6) Don’t chase suspects!

7) Don’t flee the scene, except as necessary to preserve your own safety

8) Be first to the phone! Report the incident to police as soon as practicable.

9) Know what to say, and what not to say, to police. Know your lines!

10) Get your lawyer involved as quickly as possible

11) Be prepared for an unpleasant aftermath, endless media lies, PTSD, complete disruption of your life. Don’t expect anyone to be sympathetic, nor “understanding.”

12) Like any traumatic event, you’ll never really “get over it,” but as days and weeks pass, you’ll be able to put it in perspective, and move on.

I realize the preceding is inadequate and grossly oversimplified, but it may be helpful.

There are no guarantees!


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr. Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit:

  • 23 thoughts on “In Today’s Liberally Screwed-Up Society What is a Reasonable Self Defense Response?

      1. Tom; In any self defense situation that is cause for you to use your gun, you are shooting to eliminate the threat, that means you shoot to kill and eliminate the threat.

        1. Contrary to the above, NEVER articulate to anyone, especially Law Enforcement, that you shot to KILL! You fire your weapon to “STOP’ an assault, stop a perp or stop a “Threat”.

          If you are ever quoted as saying you “SHOT TO KILL” you can kiss your butt goodbye. The prosecution will tear you a new one and give lawsuits all the ammunition they need.

          This from a former US Gov. Special Agent as well as a Police officer and a Law School student.
          (Did not graduate due to personal reasons).

    1. No matter what Mr. Farnam claims, the USA still is a nation of laws. Be ignorant of self-defense laws at your peril. And this guy claims to want to be your ‘counselor and advisor’? Fugggitttaboudit………..

    2. So far, all of these responses do not address the initial question : “how long, before I employ deadly force in order to stop the attack and thus prevent myself from being injured/murdered?”
      Does the attacker have the ABILITY to harm/kill you ? Bigger,stronger,younger
      Does the attacker have the OPPORTUNITY to harm/kill you ? No route to escape
      Does the attacker place you in JEOPARDY ? Attacker acting in manner to do grievous harm to you
      If the answer is YES you have a reason to defend yourself following “The Reasonable Man Doctrine” (look it up. )
      All credit due to Massad Ayoob and Armed citizen Legal Defense Network

      1. @CPC…The cop in Wichita was across a four lane street in the dark and thought some of the other cops (not himself) were being threatened. Would you receive paid leave ?

    3. Thank you Mr. Farnham! Great advice.
      I would like to add:
      1. Be sure you have a record of the training you received
      2. Be sure you have insurance e.g. USCCA. Your defense will cost you Big money.
      3. Be sure you have an attorney – one you have spoken to before an event.
      4. Be sure you Know what to say and what not to say after an event
      5. Re: #11. Justified or not – you have just ‘killed’ someone – you Will have to deal with it.

    4. Under the circumstances listed, elderly man stomped by youger & large man, there is a defense. Such disparity of force can be a substitute weapon. It is hard to prove and I have read cases where it went surprisingly bad. Women have better luck with the defense.

    5. In our socieity, How does one Avoid “Bad Places and Stupid People”? Seems they are everywhere and in every form, shape, size and color. Its not only a “Right to Carry and Protect yourself” but a necessity of late.

      1. @GS,

        I had the same reaction when I read, “Avoid Bad Places and Stupid People…” But, then tried to give the author the a little poetic licensaing where he probably meant to say, “Be aware of your surroundings, or as we teach, especially older people, orienting, know whose coming and going, and if you see something you don’t like GTFOT… which I guess is similar to ‘avoiding’….;)

    6. Good sound advice. You have to protect yourself and having a gun is just a part of it. Remember, when seconds count, the police are minutes away.

      1. When seconds count when your home is on fire the fire department is minutes away. Sounds just as stupid. And your point is?

        1. Are you just here to piss in everyone’s milkshake?

          Your example is a good reason to own a fire extinguisher.

    7. I suggest carry a revolver. No shell cases left lying about. Then, if at all possible, I`d walk away as if nothing happened. Otherwise, be in serious trouble facing jail and huge expense trying to prove it was a ‘justified’ shooting. Otherwise,I agree w/author. I was accosted when I exited a mall, just a few feet from main entrance.I threw them(4) off guard by an unexpected response.I displayed no weapon,tho I was armed. No one was hurt,just really confused while I walked away.

      1. I carry a revolver for that very reason. No brass left behind and I get to carry a 357. It would be nice to just walk away but today there are cameras on every corner. Leaving the scene may cause you more problems than you expected.
        I’m curious. What did you do to defuse the situation at the mall?

      2. People have fled shooting scenes for the reasons you state, and go to prison because it looks suspicious. The police can be directed in a friendly direction if you state the evidence. I have had clients who have done so. If you flee there is no friendly evidence and flight is always taken as evidence of guilt., there are very few exceptions and they required lengthy court fights. Cartridge cases are not the only evidence. No witneses? No cameras? No credit card receipts tying you to the area? Walk away as if nothing happened? All of my clients who killed in self-defense suffered PTSD.

        Flight is massively stupid advice.

        1. I have noticed over the years that certain jurisdictions (states mostly) almost jREQUIRE you to “retreat”, even from your OWN HOME. “Run next door to the neighbors and call 911” they say. The point I would like to make is that MOST people under attack cannot flee, either because of old age (me), physical impossibility (me), too fat (not me but…), surrounded by thugs, and any of a number of other reasons why it’s about 99% impossible to flee an attack situation. So why do our vaunted legislator EXPECT us to “flee” or “retreat”? The person above at the mall must have had a good strategy for this, I can’t imagine what it was, but congratulations. Most situations like that one are not that survivable without a weapon. As for advanced age, I don’t want me or my wife to have to cut our remaining time short just because of some selfish thug who sees us as an easy target. I prefer to take my chances with “the law” at my stage in life. I figure what advantage does a prosecutor have by railroading me into prison? I hope to never find that out.

        2. i have, sad to say been involved in two shootings.
          and was cleared because i DIDN’T lose my head, mainly due to also being a Combat Marine.
          i am now 77 years old and will just shoot a threat due to my medical problems.
          i have NEVER attacked others except in Combat, and not being able to READ an attackers MIND? plus i NEVER will take a PHYSICAL ASS WHIPPING FROM A YOUNGER PUNK, i mind MY business and DON’T bother other people.
          as the Ole saying goes, I’D RATHER BE JUDGED BY 12, THAN CARRIED BY SIX.

    8. Great write up and well stated opinion! My favorite and what I live by:

      2) (a) Don’t go to stupid places. (b) Don’t associate with stupid people. (c) Don’t do stupid things. (d) Be in bed by 10.00pm (your own bed!). (e) Have a “normal” appearance. (f) Don’t fail the attitude test!

    9. Excellent commentary. I might to the “list”: live in a place where thugs are few and people with good sense abound. It’s nice to live in a conservative city in a conservative county and in a conservative state.

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