The greatest question of responsibility a CCW holder must consider before deciding what gun to carry is: Are you able to cause of the death of someone else? Those who carry for personal-protection must be mentally prepared for a moment of violent crime, which arrives at the choosing of the bad guy. Before carrying a gun, I encourage everyone to seriously consider the legal, financial, mental, and spiritual aspects of this weighty responsibility. This area probably is the least explored and least understood by most CCW holders. You must consult a lawyer who has expertise in this particular area! This is NOT legal advice. These are things you need to consider.
What constitutes serious threat? The attackers’ size, numbers, proximity, and weapons, including fists, all constitute a potentially dangerous threat. This is called Disparity of Force. There are some great articles out there. Here is just one to give you a good idea: Disparity of Force, by K.L. Jamison, Esq.
Remember you can only shoot as long as the threat is still present. AS SOON as the threat ceases to be a threat, or turns to leave (fleeing), you cannot use deadly force anymore!
A good GENERAL definition of Deadly Force is explained in Armed Response' RESPONSIBLE USE OF LETHAL FORCE DVD: "Citizens may use deadly force in self-defense only when they actually and reasonably believe that doing so is necessary to prevent an imminent, unlawful and otherwise unavoidable threat of death or grave bodily harm to an innocent person." The source of that was taken from Andrew Branca’s book The Law of Self Defense. This out-of-print reference is expected to be back in print soon. Each one of these words has a precise legal meaning, and they must be understood in their legal context.
Remember, as a private citizen we do NOT have the same authority as LEOs! Many things you see or hear are not applicable to the private citizen.
Hollywood has created a myth that if you have a gun, just waving it around will probably make the bad guy stop. This can cause an unstable person to become more violent. In most states the action is illegal, and you could be charged with brandishing a firearm. The movies tell us if brandishing doesn’t work, then maybe a warning shot above his head will do the trick. Or perhaps just wound him by shooting him in the arm or leg. Again, these are dangerous misconceptions. In either case, a prosecutor WILL make the case that you must not have been in serious fear for your life if you felt there was time to scare or simply wound your assailant. The notion that shooting a small, fast moving limb is going to be easier than hitting center of mass is just a bad idea. In the stress of the moment, the best strategy is to hit a large target to quickly eliminate the threat. The attacker’s center of mass is that target. Also remember wounds in extremities may not stop the assailant, especially when the attacker is large, violent or drugged up.
Remember, you are personally liable for every round you fire and where it ends up, including strays, misses, and ricochets. You are also responsible for the safety of any bystanders that are between you and the bad guy… as well as those rounds that hit their intended target! Shooting to wound shows a malicious intent to injure. Shooting to defend oneself is a matter of resorting to a serious method because one had no other choice. If you are using your firearm, you should be taking this action because deadly force was the ONLY thing that could stop the bad guy. You must be able to articulate this in court; this is not just “I felt scared!” When you draw your gun, you must be ready to use it, to the point of deadly force, to insure your safety and escape from a violent situation.
Judicious Use of Deadly Force DVD by Massad F. Ayoob (Warning: Crude language and taking the Lord's Name in vain.)
Armed Response Responsible Use of Lethal Force
Stay safe and God bless,