Avatar of Brian Stein

Personal Defense: Should You Fire A “Warning Shot”?

Brian Stein Self DefenseOne of my readers recently told me about a case where a women fired a “warning shot” at a would be attacker who may have had a knife and is now being threatened with arrest by the police.

Apparently, the would be attacker was scared away by the warning shot.

Although the warning shot tactic seems to have worked in this instance, warning shots in general are a very bad idea.

Let’s examine why…

The Myth Of The “Warning Shot”
In Personal Defense

  • First of all, if pointing a gun at a would be attacker isn’t enough of a deterrent to prevent them from attacking you, there’s a good chance that firing a warning shot won’t deter them either. In fact, it my enrage them to the point that it causes them to attack you further.
  • If you attempt to fire a warning shot and your firearm malfunctions, you just gave away your position of advantage and created a huge opening for your attacker to attack you. This would put you even deeper into an already life threatening situation.
  • You are ultimately responsible for all of the rounds that exit your firearm. Projectiles don’t just go into some type of void after you shoot them out of your gun. Eventually they HIT something. You don’t want that something to be another person!

“Should I Shoot To Wound…Or Kill?”

Firing a “wounding shot” is equally strategically and tactically unsound. The chances of you pulling off a wounding shot that will dissuade your attacker from continuing his attack is very slim. It’s very hard even for well trained professional firearms experts to do that under the duress of an adrenaline dump.

What you should do instead, if you fear for your life, is to shoot your attacker “center of mass” (in the heart) to de-animate him by causing an extreme and immediate drop in blood pressure, which will cause him to go unconscious, thereby preventing him from continuing to attack you.

Don’t mess around with warning or wounding shots, doing so could cost you your life.

5 Responses to “Personal Defense: Should You Fire A “Warning Shot”?”

  1. Avatar of david sofi

    I know, never say “never”!
    But in this case it is hard not to say: Never fire a warning shot. Firing a warning shot means the victim hasn’t formed the mindset to kill or be killed, to save an innocent life by killing a predator. It means the victim hasn’t decided this is a life or death situation. And, it violates prime safety rules that say you never fire a shot unless you are willing to destroy what the bullet will strike… and it will strike something!! It seems strange to me that this question keeps on reappearing every few months, every year.

  2. Avatar of ken graves

    It’s all about intent. As the old saying goes, never pull a gun on anyone unless you INTEND to shoot them! Pretty much leaves no room for a warning shot. And if you do intend to shoot them, best not wound them.

  3. Avatar of shawn armstrong

    There is no such thing as a warning shot. The military uses the term, but different laws apply to the military. Even if you’re firing a warning shot, the courts consider the use of a firearm at all, use of lethal force. If you pull your weapon, you’re using deadly force and you better be able to justify just pulling the gun. If you have time to fire a warning shot, most courts will that your life was not in immediate danger.

  4. Avatar of jarrod rodamer

    In a combat / covert situation shoot to kill, always. Never let someone go. Ask SEAL TEAM 6 – NEVER

    In the civilian world shoot to wound. You dont want to kill any one.

    NEVER a warning shot. Unless its an animal (non human).

  5. Avatar of shawn armstrong

    There is no such thing as shoot to wound, doesn’t exist. If you point a weapon at someone, you’re shooting to kill, period.