Many people believe their self-defense wardrobe stops with the purchase of a firearm, carry leather, and perhaps flashlights and pepper spray. Hopefully, you have added high-quality training to your repertoire, so that you are able to properly utilize your tools within a reasonable continuum of force.

Unfortunately, there is one additional expenditure that should be considered: a consultation with a competent criminal defense attorney. If you are going to contemplate carrying a firearm, you have surely realized you may need to use it to defend yourself or your family, but the use of a firearm always involves the police and the attendant risk that the criminal justice system will become involved.

First, although you will hear some firearms instructors or gun advocates urging that you may use deadly force to stop a felony in progress, such as a burglary or the theft of an automobile, even IF state law would support your decisions to utilize deadly force (and the vast majority do not), it is a short-sited and dumb solution. Buy insurance: Insurance will cover the cost of damage to property or the loss of property. The only time deadly force should be employed is to protect yourself or your loved ones from an imminent threat. The paperwork and process alone should be enough to dissuade even the most enthusiastic shooter to use discretion in situations where they are not in physical danger.

Generally speaking, if you believe another person is going to try to maim, rape, or kill you right this very moment, you are legally authorized to use deadly force in self-defense, or to defend a third party. But “generally speaking” does not give you the security of being advised on the particular laws in your jurisdiction.

Deadly force is not always justified: most states require somewhat of a proportioned response – if someone is going to hit you, you are going to have to work very hard to explain why deadly force was the only possible option. Police work through what is referred to as a continuum of force: Usually, First verbal commands, then pepper spray, taser guns, and finally lethal force. Some martial arts enthusiasts are unaware that maneuvers they have learned through their craft constitute the application of deadly force. Most people would be surprised to learn that a baseball bat, a pair of cowboy boots, or other household items may constitute a deadly weapon. Meeting with a seasoned criminal defense attorney, familiar with self-defense training will help you to sort out what your personal continuum of force should be.

One way otherwise law-abiding citizens get themselves in trouble is either by owning a gun that is “cool,” but not legal or by failing to obtain a concealed weapons permit because it seems like too much trouble. Get the permit, and skip the cool guns if you have any question whether they comply with state law. Then educate yourself on the requirements of State Law, and consult with a trained, experienced, defense attorney to make sure you protect not only your family but your future.

I have a particular interest in self-defense cases, believing everyone can and should defend themselves in the face of uninvited aggression. These situations can involve both domestic situations, as well as stranger cases. I have extensive self-defense training myself and have completed training courses at Insights Training Center in Seattle, International Training Inc in Virginia, and Thunder Ranch in Texas. This experience and insight allows me to compellingly argue your case. I am intimately familiar with the issues involved in such cases, and can quickly get the literature and the experts we need to back up a client’s version of events that culminated in their use of force.