By Kellene Bishop
As a Utah Concealed Firearms Permit Instructor, it’s no wonder that I am asked frequently “when is it exactly permissible to defend yourself with a firearm?” Many believe that the circumstances of defending yourself are actually rare. Personally, I don’t believe that 2.5 million crimes being stopped every year with a firearm constitutes a “rare” circumstance, but I will address this issue as clearly as I can. Bottom line is, under the correct circumstances, the answer is YES, you can defend yourself with a firearm, legally, lawfully, and morally.
I will attempt to answer this question bluntly in this article, however, keep in mind that state laws vary, so please check with your state. I’ll do my best to speak in more universal terms as assured by the Constitution of the United States.
- You have the right to defend yourself if you feel your life is in jeopardy or you are under threat of serious bodily injury. Based on my most recent research, this standard is applicable in every state in the U.S. This does not mean that you have to wait until you’ve been punched, shot at, told that you’re going to be killed, or any other such aspect. If you are in the midst of a threatening encounter in which either of these two qualifiers are present, you have the right to permanently stop your attacker. The foundation is that you must feel an imminent danger upon your life or the threat of serious bodily injury. If you’ve received a death threat, no, you cannot be proactive and put the antagonist out of his misery. Defending yourself must be “reactive” in such an instance. However, with the truth of the situation, law enforcement will typically see such as “self-defense”.
- The next issue is not cut and dry in all states in the U.S., although it is generally acceptable. You are permitted to defend the life of someone else who is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. That’s right. If you come across someone who is being threatened at knife point, you are permitted to take action with your firearm to defend such a situation. Although I would strongly advise you to be 100% certain of your environment prior to doing so
- I haven’t found a state yet that prohibits this (although there are plenty of shameful countries which do), but in the U.S. you are permitted to defend your habitation—plain and simple. If someone forcibly or with deception enters your home uninvited, you have the right to encourage them to leave the premises immediately, even by permanently stopping them.
- Lastly, the U.S. Constitution entitles Americans to defend their property. While this does not mean that you can kill someone over something as temporary as piece of property, you are permitted in most states to attempt to stop a felony robbery from taking place. (Even outside your home.) With proper concealed permits, you are allowed to approach a felon in a fully armed state. If your attempts to stop the felon were to escalate to the point in which your life or body was threatened, then you could legally use a firearm to stop such danger
In all such instances, defending yourself must be a reactive result, never a proactive one. The only offensive actions you can take part in is to be competent and proficient with your firearm, have it handy, and have it ready to go in an emergency. This is how you become truly prepared. Unexpected events need not be tragic ones, if you’ve properly rehearsed your response.
Ultimately, your right to protect yourself is inherent in the U.S. Constitution; however, it also behooves you to become very familiar with the laws in your area in order that you might fully be protected.
Note that the author of this article is NOT an attorney, nor does she play one on T.V.
Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved. You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.
Filed under: concealed carry permit, firearm education, firearms / guns, police, second amendment | Tagged: cfp, concealed firearm permit, constitution, firearm, law enforcement, self defense, utah ccw, utah cfp |