When Shooting Someone In Self Defense Not Self Defense


As a responsible gun owner, you know that they only time that you would be justified in shooting someone is when you are shooting them in self-defense. But, if you think about it, the judgment about whether something is self-defense isn’t made in the moment. It is made after the fact to determine if someone needs to be punished for shooting someone.

So, how do you determine when a shooting is done in self-defense? Well, unfortunately, there are a multitude of possible scenarios, but, in spite of that, Tom Knighton offers a practical thought to keep in mind on this subject:

I’m going to offer something of a pro-tip. Pro-tip: If you chase them for a quarter of a mile, it’s not self-defense.

It doesn’t matter if he threatened to come back and kill you. It doesn’t matter if he said your shoes looked funny. Nothing matters, because the moment he leaves, the threat is over. If you pursue him and shoot him, it will never look like self-defense. If you chase after him, he turns and points a gun at you, guess who is acting in self-defense? It’s not you.

This is especially true if you’re a convicted felon who isn’t even allowed to legally own a firearm.

Look, I get being angry. I remember chasing someone trying to steal my bicycle (adult version) for a good block. Then I calmed down and stopped because I knew I was going way too far and that I would be the one with an all-expenses-paid trip to the Gray Bar Resort and Casino.

Instead, I called the police and let them know what happened, including my indiscretion.

That’s some pretty straightforward advice, but possibly the saddest part of this advice is that Knighton wrote it specifically because a man was convicted of second degree murder, armed criminal action, and felon in possession of a firearm (he was a convicted felon) because he chased a man for a quarter mile and shot and killed him.


His defense was self-defense, but the court ruled that he didn’t act in self-defense.

Basically, you would be wise to take Knighton’s advice and use your firearm only to defend and never to avenge.



  1. Several years ago the the Las Vegas police were accused of killing unnecessarily and they needed to be investigated. The local new paper did that and i the answers were revealing . Most of the officers answered the claim that, “they were so frightened that they did not remember shooting anyone”
    If you took aim and shot it is now malicious intent and you need to proven it was necessary. If on the other hand you did not take aim you just don’t know how that happened, you have nothing to prove.

  2. As a retired law enforcement officer I was a witness at many self defense trials. One that stuck in my mind was a disabled gentleman in a wheel chair was dumped on the sidewalk and being kicked unmercifully. He drew his concealed weapon, fired one shot that struck the attacker in the groin ranged up into the body cavity and the attacker bled to death. Although the victim had broken ribs and a punctured lung from the assault he was found guilty of manslaughter. When the verdict was read, I was held in contempt of court, and as a result was suspended from duty for one month without pay. The moral of this story is that you can never trust a jury or a judge to return a just verdict. Do what you have to to survive, and no more. Even that may get you convicted, but I would much rather be tried by twelve as carried by six, and if my family is in danger all bets are off. If it is within my power, the threat dies.

  3. I am appalled by some localities doing bad things to people who were defending themselves. If I have to decide on jail or the cemetery, jail wins every time. However, I have not had to make that choice. I hope I never do.

      • That is why I moved to Idaho. The worst thing about Idaho? I did not move here 41 years sooner. I am here until I die.

  4. I know and hear people shooting in self defense as it was either him or family and the innocent person still went to jail for shooting a armed mad with gun pointing at him, so why carry a gun

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