When imagining a self-defense situation, people often think that they should fire a warning shot to get a mugger or burglar to back off without having to hurt anybody. But while this sounds nice in theory, warning shots, more often than not, produce problems for you and can lead to serious consequences.
Let’s go over all the reasons why firing a warning shot is a bad idea in any self-defense situation.
When Is a Warning Shot Necessary?
When You Should Pull the Trigger in the First Place
Every responsible gun owner knows that the only reason to pull your trigger is to kill, at least in a self-defense scenario.
Whether you’re using a gun for hunting or for self-defense, every bullet you let loose should be meant to either kill an animal or disable a threat.
In the event of self-defense, disabling the threat means making sure that your attacker can’t get back up again.
This is just common sense. If someone is attacking you and your family, you don’t want to risk just wounding them and giving them an opportunity to hurt you further.
This rule of thumb is ironclad. You should never fire a shot without the intent to end a threat, kill an animal, or hit a target on a gun range.
Thus, warning shots automatically don’t count as responsible shots.
They don’t accomplish anything.
Even if you hope that they will scare an attacker off, they may actually cause the other person to fire their own weapon or attack you out of desperation.
Besides this point, there are other reasons why it’s a bad idea to fire a warning shot.
1. Warning Shots Require You to Take Your Eyes Off the Target
When you aim your weapon at somebody, you’ve hopefully adopted a proper stance and set your eyes on the target.
But if you take the split-second required to aim your weapon elsewhere and hit, say, the floor by an attacker’s feet, you have to take your eyes off your target and move the barrel away.
It may only be about a foot, but even that amount of time could allow someone to rush you and try to wrestle your gun from your hands.
This is definitely something you don’t want to happen as it places your life and the lives of your family members in greater jeopardy.
In a self-defense situation, your eyes should never leave the target and a warning shot requires you to do just that. So, don’t take warning shots!
2. You Can Hit Someone Else By Accident
Even the most experienced marksmen can get jittery and nervous in a self-defense situation.
Spending lots of time on the shooting range to perfect your shot is a world of difference away from someone threatening you in an alley.
If you try to take a warning shot, your hands might be shaky or you might take the shot without clearing your sightline beforehand.
Even if you take all the proper precautions, there’s a risk that you might accidentally injure someone else by not shooting at your attacker.
3. Warning Shots Are Hard to Legally Justify
Even if you’re totally in the right, you might need to go to court to explain why you fired your lethal weapon in a self-defense situation.
This is especially true in certain states, like Massachusetts, where gun laws are a little more rigid than in other states.
A warning shot is extremely hard to justify legally.
In Texas, firing a warning shot is illegal.
You can face jail time or pay fines if you reveal that you intentionally fired your weapon away from your attacker.
It’s a better idea to avoid this possibility and just not take a warning shot to begin with.
All in all, leave the warning shots to TV shows and Hollywood movies. You shouldn't do it in real life.
There are simply too many reasons why warning shots are actually against your best interest, and they may make things more difficult for you later down the road in the event of a court battle.
What are your thoughts on warning shots? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section!