When Is Deadly Force Justified in Home Defense?


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“Can I use lethal force to defend myself?” or “When is deadly force justified?” are questions Rob Pincus is often asked. Rob encourages everyone to know the laws in their jurisdiction regarding owning firearms, having them in the home and carrying them in public. But at the moment when faced with a lethal threat, the pertinent questions are, “Should I use lethal force to defend myself? Or should I try to escape the threat?”

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15 Responses to “When Is Deadly Force Justified in Home Defense?”
  1. John Richards

    I can’t necessarily disagree. However, leaving the, although temporary safety, of your home is possible, you could walk into an accomplice. Certainly make the call and get your family safe. He may walk in, but he will be carried out.

  2. Mark Theroux

    I always like your material. I felt the title didn’t match the content. “Justified” is more of a legal topic, whereas “could and should” is more about training and ethics. Just my 2 cents. Keep up the great work.


  3. Kerryd

    From a legal risk aspect I have to agree just because the laws are so tilted in favor of the criminal. From my view as a peace loving homeowner, I absolutely abhor the idea of letting any thug into my home, my safe space to do with as they will until law officers arrive. At which time they can barricade themselves inside of MY home! Makes no sense…

  4. Art

    i also respectfully disagree with you Rob. everyones situation is different. for instance my back yard has a 10 foot fence around it. even if you could get out and try and run a way, you are exposing yourself and family to unknowns. the police response time is also not very good, and they have no responsibility legally to protect you. there is only one person with that responsibility and that is yourself. i personally have been threatened not only recently with my life but numerous occasions in the past, i live in a bad neighborhood. right now there are more needle freak drug dealers then not on the street and i do not seem to get any response from the police. they just poisoned my 2 dogs. i will not run i will defend myself by what ever actions might be necessary. hey, that is just me and i certainly believe anyone should make their own decisions in such a grave matter. i also believe that you and your legal team could not or would not advocate lethal force, especially if you were helping pay for their defense. i will stand and fight in an area i know the best. this is my castle and i will not run, i will protect myself the best way i can, but that is just me and i am old and grouchy. if anyone even the police break into my home they will be meet with lethal force. no knock search warrants should have never been used and should be stopped immediately. there have been double digit deaths by police serving no knocks at the wrong address. when will we get back to constitutional rights in this country? this is not the america i was taught in school.

  5. Andre Guionnaud istoliiii

    If you come into my house uninvited my family is endangered. If you are not armed I will ask you to leave. My pistol will have been cocked and aimed at your center mass the whole time. If. You continue towards me and my family I will shoot.

  6. Brian

    Rob has more knowledge in self defense than I could ever amass in three lifetimes. I fully understand and appreciate Rob’s point of view that we ‘should’ avoid the necessity of using a firearm if there are alternatives. The aftermath of ‘use of force’ cannot be taken lightly or ignored.

    Many of us chose to use a firearm as a tool to legally, morally and justly defend our families, our selves or our homes. We train, we educate ourselves and we plan in the hopes that the use of force will never be necessary. I pray that you and I will live our lives free from violence. HOWEVER, I intend to use all of that careful preparation if and when my family or I is faced with that threat. I will not hide, cower or flee in the face of evil. Even if I could successfully avoid harm tonight……. my neighbors might not be so lucky tomorrow.

  7. Bob

    Let see…someones beating at my door with an axe…kinda like Jack Nicholson in The Shining…and you’re saying I should call the police…and take my family out the back door maybe into the dark? or into another room rather than stop the attack as soon as the thug enters…NNNNO!

    Hey, it’s your scenario bud not mine. This is the exact kind of nonsense that gives thugs the idea that they can commit the crimes they commit. I don’t care for your advice…if you’re on the phone with 911 its being recorded. That’s potential evidence. If the axe man is on the floor with his weapon just inside your home and they find no signs of life after you’ve stopped his attack it would be pretty obvious to most jurors that you were in fear of your life.

    Lets throw in another what if o.k. What if the axe man also has a gun – uses the axe to get into the house and finds you and your family in the back room? Now you have a gunfight and your family is in the midst of it all.

    Nope…the attacker stops in his tracks crossing the threshold. Then an attorney and “Law Enforcement” get called.

    If sheeple are more worried about civil suits and potentially serving time for defending themselves or their loved ones then…DON’T DEFEND…sit on the couch or in a closet and hope! The chances are the axe man is on some serious drugs, really pissed off about something he’s not willing to discuss or wants to do something really bad…or maybe he’s just hungry and wants to make a sandwich…pretty ridiculous ha…oh and don’t get things twisted, I wouldn’t just shoot someone for trying to quietly steal a tv…but a perp with an axe? Tell it like it is and quit hiding behind insurance policies good peoples lives could be at stake! No I don’t think I’ll be joining, I carry responsibly and I responsibly carry. Response is in there right…

  8. Jeff

    exiting outside IF ITS SAFE & CLEAR or going behind 2 doors is not running away, Those are opportunities for the police to do their job & you to do yours, husband , father, Its wisdom from a number of perspectives. Lets see if your teachable. Example: I’m home alone, 2 1/2 weeks prior, 4 houses in my neighborhood were broken in to, one the occupants were home and beaten. i hear someone grab the front door handle and start jerking on it i’m afraid at this point I grab my 357 and quickly run up the stairs positioning my self at the top with the pocket door pulled almost closed, revolver aimed at door, (no wireless phones back then) the door opens with a slam against the adjacent wall, and i’m yelling i have a gun and what ever else, the man, came in with a body push on the door, baseball bat in hand, heard me seen me and gun and froze, peed, and said Jimmy(my older brother)told me “I could trade bats with him. the front door sticks just push on it” (he was suppose to come that am 30 mins after my bother had to leave, door would be left unlocked). By taking a tactical position at the top of the stairs, i was able to clarify the situation, give self time to respond, retreat, into another, 2 locked rooms if needed. with that, i’m all for standing my ground, but if there’s a mental, physical, legal, tactical, advantage then i want to be open to those choices.
    “chose your battles wisely” shows true courage, remember your brain is always your best weapon. stay safe my friends.

  9. Wayne Kelpin

    There are entirely too many “cowboys” running around in this country. The last thing I want to do is fire my gun. If I can do anything else to avoid it, I will. The use of my gun is a means of last resort. We get caught up with all the training and practice, all the macho hype, and our self concept of not running or hiding when we can, we just can’t pass on the opportunity to show what we can do or how tough we are. Think “leave” first, think “shoot” last. But then, that assumes that one can think.

  10. skiflyfightdoc

    This is “Doc” Graham in Phoenix. This is one of the very best videos for ANY firearms owner to view, understand, and incorporate into your action plan. “Could” versus “Should” is a CRITICAL distinction than MUST be understood (for everyone involved)!

  11. Charles

    I agree to avoid when possible. But would there be less hassle if I defended my self with a knife or hand axe?

  12. Ray F

    Great video as always. I would much rather retreat from a threat than have to deal with the aftermath of my injuring or killing someone. That being said, I am 72, have heart problems and can’t really run more than a few yards and my wife is disabled and would not be able to retreat or escape. I am in a position of getting her to a safe space, get my weapon out, call 911 and let the chips fall where they may. I will never let anyone get near my precious wife. Fortunately I live in Michigan which, for now, is very friendly to self defense with its Castle Laws and No Duty to Retreat laws.

  13. Samuel

    Dear Rob, I always learn a lot from your videos. Thanks so much for the work you do. I would be grateful if you could address some of the questions that have already been posted in the forum. It seems to me that exiting the home into unknown space outside or allowing the intruder to enter your home and retreating from what may be your best defensive position, in the name of avoiding a shoot (which may be coming anyway) raises many questions. The experience one of the commenters brought about not shooting a kid who had arranged to trade baseball bats is important but I think only teaches the need to be discriminate with your fire, not about the need to retreat, per se. Hope you can respond. Best, Sam


Tags: Castle Doctrine, Firearm laws, Free Videos, home defense, Lethal force, Rob Pincus