Deadly Force Shooting Factors


criminal shooting target threat
Deadly Force Shooting Factors

Ft Collins, CO –-( “Shoot, when you have no choice! Don’t, when you have other choices that are reasonably safe. When you have no choice except to shoot, who cares if it’s ‘legal?’ When you don’t need to shoot, who cares if it would have been ‘legal?’” ~ Frieling

The foregoing quotation, from a celebrated lawyer, represents his inevitable answer to the naive question:

“Can/should I shoot someone if they ….?”

When you’re involved in a deadly-force incident, particularly one where guns were present, here are some factors that will lend credibility to your case:

1) You were not the “initial aggressor”.

When it becomes obvious to the jury that you were going about in public, armed with a deadly weapon, presenting yourself as “bait,” looking/hoping for an “opportunity,” an “excuse,” to shoot someone, as did Paul Kersey (played by Charles Bronson) in the original (1974) version of “Death Wish,” don’t expect much sympathy, regardless of other facts in the case.

Prosecutors refer to this attitude as “the malignant mind.” The Latin is “mens rea.”

The “Death Wish” motif may be made into an entertaining film, but neither prosecutors, nor juries, will have any tolerance for it!

Don’t go anywhere with a gun, that you wouldn’t go without a gun!

2) Even when you were not the initial aggressor, when in a public place and faced with someone offering violence and/or wishing to engage in violence, you declined confrontation and instead made a reasonable effort to disengage and separate (assuming it was mostly safe to do so).

In order to qualify as an “innocent party” you must not say, nor do, anything that a reasonable person would interpret as aggravating/challenging the aggressor(s).

The horn on your car is there solely to “prevent accidents” Employing it to “scold” or “punish” other drivers and pedestrians represents a conspicuous misuse, and is thus illegal, no matter who is “at fault.”

Like your car’s horn, using your gun because you’re frightened (assuming your fears are genuine and legitimate), is acceptable.

Using your gun because you’re angry, is not acceptable!

When “sorting motives,” the prosecutor needs to see yours as sensible and respectable!

3) You were “first to the phone” and reported the incident to police as soon as you could.

In the eyes of prosecutors, “flight equals guilt,” always! Guilt also attaches to excessive delay in reporting the incident. Those who flee the scene and try to evade police are always seen as “guilty parties.”

In conclusion:

In most states, citizens of character are now trusted to “go armed.” Legally-armed citizens are not required to be “perfect.” But, we are required to be “reasonable.”

No matter the outcome, investigators, prosecutors, and juries need to interpret your actions as reasonable, and your motives as those of a “good person.”

“Discernment is the son of good judgment, and the father of self-control.” ~ Criss Jami


Defense Training International, Inc

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 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 in-actions.

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:

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James Higginbotham

criminals a lot of times try and unarmed robbery on a innocent person who has a gun, and depending on his size? to yours? also are you a healthy victim? or one with health issues? what’s your age compared to one or two attackers? did he place you in fear of your life? these are questions you need to ask a legal person if you can stand your Ground and defend yourself with your firearm? also is it one attacker or two? plus if you choose to allow the one or two to rob you and they find your gun,… Read more »


i agree and i think in most situations i shoot and rely on tried by 12 vs carried by 6. i look like someone who would be a challenge to fight between my size,age,and looks but in reality my body is pretty damaged and would not last long toe to toe with someone. i just hope im never forced to make the decision to have to shoot anyone but i really hope if i am its not the unarmed attacker scenario. that is the one that would most likely cause hesitation because of fear of being wrong. i hope it… Read more »


the one situation i worry about finding myself in is me being armed and facing an unarmed aggressor. how to decide when to employ deadly force on an unarmed aggressor seems to be the most difficult decision to make. i am looking at either trying to defend myself by less lethal options i may have available and taking a beating or maybe worse. i have no way to know if they will stop after 1 punch or 20. will they beat me to death, unconcious or just slap me around if im unable to win with just my hands or… Read more »

Jim Macklin

Don’t go into “the hood” to buy a Christmas tree, buy it from your local tree lot. If you want to see how the other half live, watch LIVE PD or the 10 O’clock news.
If somebody says “your wife is ugly” just reply she’s fat too.


Excellent, simple, and to the point. Thanks John.

Ron DePiro

We carry to defend against harmful aggression, we insure to defend against harmful aggression.
Kind of ironic.



Quote: “Don’t go anywhere with a gun, that you wouldn’t go without a gun!”

So by this logic:

” I won’t take a gun anyplace i wouldn’t want to be without a gun. ”



That is not a valid correllary. The quote means that if a place is so dangerous that you avoid going there if you are unarmed, then you should not relax your avoidance simply because you are armed.

Your attempt at a liberal rewording of the quote is a failure.


It sounds reasonable, John
But there is a time for shoot, shovel and shut up!

Clark Kent

Only if you are interested in spending lots of time in prison….

Jim Macklin

After the society breaks down and the police no longer exist and there are no trash pickups, including dead animals on the roads it would be a civic duty to bury the dead squirrels that were no longer edible. Only fresh road-kill is possibly safe to eat.
Keep in mind that animals that get hit by cars are often sick with everything from worms to rabies, so use your shovel to handle the carcass.