It’s 3:00am and you hear your window break and footsteps on your main floor. Since your child lives in the basement you don’t have the option of locking your bedroom door and getting behind cover with your gun until the police arrive.
Instead you have to go and confront the intruder to protect your family. As you get to the bottom of the stairs you see the intruder in another room about 20 feet away. You yell “Don’t move,” and instead of obeying your command or turning around and fleeing the house, the intruder runs right at you.
At this point you know you’re allowed to shoot because the guy’s in your home and he’s coming at you, but how many rounds can you shoot without getting in trouble or having some prosecutor trying to paint you as an evil gun nut?
Well… thankfully, the answer is very simple.
The number of rounds doesn’t matter when you’re shooting in a self-defense situation, because we shoot to stop our threat. If you shoot seven rounds at the guy running at you, and you see him keel over and lay there incapacitated, then it took seven rounds to stop him.
However, if it takes 15 rounds to stop the guy then by all means shoot 15 rounds. If you shoot all 15 rounds and he’s still coming up the stairs after you then reload and continue shooting until he’s not trying to take your life anymore.
There are so many variables in the number of rounds it takes to bring a person down. How big are they? Where is your shot placement? Are they on any type of drugs? When I was in the police academy years ago, we went over a home invasion case where it took the homeowner more than 20 rounds to kill the person because they were on PCP.
Please remember though, once you’ve stopped the threat you need to stop shooting.
If you kill a home invader and walk up to him and put one in the head for good measure it’s not going to look very good for you in our court system. Also, let’s say you shot the person seven times and he’s down on the ground not moving, however he’s alive and breathing. At this point he’s no longer a threat to you so you can stand there with your gun on him until the police arrive but please don’t follow the often joked about advice, “the best witness is a dead witness.”
In a self-defense shooting it makes no difference whether the guy lives or dies. What matters is that you shot as many rounds as you needed to stop that person from killing you. One final thing. When it comes to the number of rounds, you’ll have no idea how many you shot anyway. When you’ve had the adrenaline dump you won’t know if you’ve shot five rounds or nine. Oftentimes I hear people say that you need to count the number of rounds you shot so that you know when to reload, especially if you’re carrying a 5-shot snubby. That advice is nonsense. Nobody is going to count their rounds in a life and death situation, so just make sure you shoot until you’ve stopped the bad guy from coming after you and your family.