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Gun Myth: Fire a Warning Shot!

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I engage in personal defense conversations all the time.  On occasion somebody will describe a scenario in which danger is not immediate and they want to know what level of action is acceptable.  Inevitably, somebody else will say, “Fire a warning shot!”  Here are a few reasons that this is an absolutely terrible idea.

  1. A warning shot involves a bullet just like any other shot.  And, no matter where that shot is “aimed”, that bullet is eventually going to strike something or somebody, somewhere.  Do you know where the bullet is going to land?  Will it be a mile away in the middle of somebody’s kitchen?  Will it land in the middle of a pasture full of cattle?  Will it find its way to the eastbound lane of a busy highway?  Will it ricochet off a building?  If you fire into the ground will it ricochet and hit a member of your family?  Do you know how hard it’s going to strike its point of impact?  Will it be “ouch” hard or will it be “Incoming!  Take me to the hospital!  I’ve been hit!” hard?
  2. The only time a gun should be fired is when the shooter is aiming at a target that he or she intends to hit.  Firing a gun and missing an attacker who means to do grievous bodily harm is one thing.  But, firing a gun when trying NOT to hit anything or anybody just creates a new layer of liability that nobody wants.  That burden of liability can shift from the attacker to the victim, changing a person from a victim into a defendant in the eyes of the law.
  3. The legality of a “warning shot” is also a concern.  In some states a warning shot might be seen as deadly force in the eyes of the law.  The term “warning shot” in and of itself raises the question as to whether or not the gun needed to be fired at all.  So, if deadly force is applied when it isn’t needed then the person who fired the warning shot could face criminal charges.

Just remember, you own every bullet you fire including the ones that weren’t intended for a target.  So, if you think you might need to fire a warning shot then you probably need to think again…

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