From time to time, I hear statements similar to: “I only need a handgun to scare someone off, I don’t need to shoot it.” or more commonly “I only need a small gun to scare someone off.” While it is true that most self defense encounters do not result in shots fired, it is not a guarantee.

A firearm is a tool of lethal force. If a criminal is confronted by a firearm, they will run, or fight back with lethal force. By refusing to pull the trigger, you are bluffing with your life, hoping the criminal will run. If you happen to confront a criminal who doesn’t want to run, the results could be fatal.

This woman carried a firearm, but was unwilling to use it, and paid dearly for it.

A firearm is not a magical defense tool. While many criminals run away at the mere sight of a firearm in the hands of a self defender, not all criminals do. If you draw your firearm, you MUST be willing and capable of pulling the trigger. Furthermore, the tool must be capable of sufficiently ending the threat and the user must have sufficient skills to utilize a handgun as a defensive tool.

1: Don’t carry a firearm that is not capable of ending a threat.

2: Don’t carry a firearm you are not proficient in.

3: Don’t carry a firearm if you are unwilling to pull the trigger.

If you can’t check of all three of those checkboxes, it is generally better to not carry a firearm for self defense and instead comply with an attacker’s demands and hope it is enough.