Self-Defense Mindset: How Prepared Are You?

by Tommy Grant

We ask you to analyze whether you’re really prepared to use deadly force in a self-defense situation.

Are you prepared to use deadly force in self-defense? Most armed citizens would reply in the affirmative, but I wonder if the average citizen has really worked out in his or her mind how an act of killing another, whether justified or not, will change their life.

I came to grips with this issue in my early 20s when I first put a gun on my hip and started in the field of law enforcement. Thankfully, I was never forced to pull the trigger on a human being, although I did shoot up a ’76 Ford Pinto once (but that’s a story for another time).

What allowed me the luxury to have made that decision at an early age was the knowledge that if I did have to do the deed (assuming it was on-duty and justified) I’d have a law enforcement agency covering my six. And regarding the justified part: During my initial training in use of deadly force when I was a police recruit, I received what I felt was some pretty good training as how to make sure the use of force was justified.

We spend a considerable time in the academy understanding the concept of Ability-Opportunity-Jeopardy, and we also studied many of the USSC and appellate court decisions regarding both use of deadly force, but also lesser degrees of force. I’m happy to report that I can count on one hand the number of complaints that were filed against me during my police career, and those were all unfounded.

About 10 years into my police career, I decided to leave full-time and start teaching the private citizen how to use firearms for self-defense. At that time, I also made myself the promise I wouldn’t teach people how to kill, unless I also taught them when and when not they could legally use deadly force in self-defense. Twenty thousand people later, I’m proud to claim none of my students were ever prosecuted or sued after an act of self-defense. A couple years ago, I retired from teaching after developing a curriculum for my school and teaching those instructors how to do what I had been doing.

Fast-forward to present day and my current position as president of the Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network Inc. I’m also proud as heck to report that none of our members have been prosecuted for murder or manslaughter after using deadly force in self-defense, and only a couple have opted for a low-level misdemeanor plea bargain instead of taking the risk of a jury trial.

What’s the common denominator in all this? It’s documented training in the use of deadly force in self-defense. In the first two instances, the lectures I both received and gave were documented both with handout material and, of course, the instructor’s willingness to go to court and testify as to what was taught. In the latter, the Network provides over 10 hours of educational material (videos and a book) to each person who signs up. Of course, we’re willing to also help that member fight the legal fight, if needed.

Seek out online lectures and programs that teach use of deadly force in self-defense. When you’re viewing these lectures, document having seen them. If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.

Lastly, there are in-person training courses in the use of deadly force. The good news is that the courses will likely be taught by an expert in the law and that expert will be available to come to court in your defense, if needed.

Now, getting back to the lead-in question: Are you prepared to use deadly force in self-defense?

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2023 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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