Fist Fight2

When Is It Okay To Draw Your Gun During A Fight?


An often occurring question that crosses every concealed carrier’s mind is: when is the right time to draw?  As we learn and become aware of the growing firearms community, we see some of the shocking and unbelievable circumstances that can sometimes occur doing routine things in life – like going to the grocery store.

Today for example, I came across a video on my Facebook news feed of a fight breaking out in the middle of a Costco in my own home town.  The fight was brutal, sudden, and escalated quickly; as dangerous situations can often do.  All I could think of while watching the video was – what if one of them where armed with a weapon?

There were kids around, what if one of them got caught in the fray and injured?

Is It Justified To Break Up An Altercation By Drawing Your Gun?

Would you – as a concealed carrier – get involved in the altercation and try and break up the fight?  My opinion on the matter is rather simple.  Where I’d like to do the right thing and break up the fight, I also don’t wish to give either one of these adults access to my firearm should the unthinkable happen.

Also, I don’t view this situation as being extreme enough to warrant drawing my firearm on either of the fighting adults.  My life isn’t currently in danger.  And there are bystanders gathering around that I have to consider before I draw my firearm in the first place.

Conclusion:  No, at this point I wouldn’t draw my firearm nor would I put myself in the middle of the fight.  However I would call the police and ensure the situation didn’t escalate further.


What If You’re Involved In A Physical Altercation?

There is always the existing question of when to draw if you are involved in a similar altercation.  Take the same mentioned situation for example.  You’re being harassed by a fellow patron at a store.  They are obviously being aggressive and unwilling to be calm and collected about the matter.  The altercation turns physical and at this point you have to consider when and how you should draw your firearm.  Do you wait until you fear for your life or do you draw the line sooner than that?

Everyone is different.  We all have different skill levels when it comes to firearms handling.  If you’re confidant in your abilities in hand-to-hand combat, then your biggest concern should be not hurting the other adult too badly.  And even then, your primary concern should always be putting distance between you and an attacker.

If you’re not so confidant in your abilities and are being subjected to a physical assault, then your main concern should also be putting some distance between you and the perpetrator so as not to give them access to your firearm.

Once that distance is achieved, and they persist, then it is up to you if you feel your life is threatened and require the use of your firearm.  However, you’re also responsible for how you use that firearm.  Just like a recent example in Spokane, Washington, a guy intervened in an altercation only to get sucked into one.  Once there, he was beat up pretty bad.  After the attacker went to leave, the victim took out his gun and shot the attacker in the back.  That’s how a physical altercation goes from justifiable self-defense to straight up manslaughter.

Getting some distance between you and the attacker is paramount.  Not only can space give you room to draw – if need be – it can also act as a chance to de-escalate the situation.

In conclusion, don’t get involved in other people’s fights while you’re carrying concealed.  Call the police.  If you do get sucked into a physical altercation, fight to get distance from your attacker.  If he advances after that, then decisions have to be made as to whether you draw your concealed carry pistol or not.

Categories: Beginners Guide, General
About Daniel | View all posts by Daniel

Shellshocked is a 13 year Active Duty Army Veteran with a broad experience and knowledge of all things firearms and ammunition related. A resident of Ohio, an Open Carry State…

Shellshocked is a 13 year Active Duty Army Veteran with a broad experience and knowledge of all things firearms and ammunition related. A resident of Ohio, an Open Carry State, but prefers to remain among the ranks of the Concealed Nation. Although you will occasionally find him Open Carrying his FN 5.7 in a BlackHawk! Kydex retention paddle holster. His every day carry is a Beretta Storm PX4 Compact 15+1 in a StealthGearUSA ventilated Kydex IWB Holster. Spare Magazine, flashlight, and knife always on hand.

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  • syrenstomb .

    Given the first example, no I wouldn’t draw. I would be on the phone if I thought it was going anywhere. On the other point if I were the one the ignorance was directed toward, well it is Costco. There will be a 5 pack of melee weapons within arms reach that I can use to “defuse” the aggressor with if need be. And someone should teach the girl in your photo how to make a fist before she hurts herself.

    • Massolo

      She fights that way so she won’t break a nail.

  • Massolo

    If someone were to attack me, I’d defend myself with as mush overwhelming force as I could and try to get away as fast as I could. I’m old and have no idea how many punches I can take, and damn sure do not want to find out. One well placed punch could kill me, and I’m not going to take chances with my life.

    • Charlie Carter

      Too young to die, too old to take an ass whipping.

  • kutock

    People need to learn self defense, and not the break a board crap, that is a joke and is for sport. Train like you are going to be killed, strike like you only get 1 chance to hit.

  • Todd

    I agree. Try to distance yourself. And only draw as a LAST resort if you can’t leave or get to safety. As a concealed carrier you have to have that situational awareness of when to leave and when to stand and fight.

  • Leland_Gaunt

    Nicely done article!

  • Obi Sean

    If you’re that worried about it, you’re going to need a stiffer belt to carry weapons in addition to your firearm. Baton’s for example. Or figure out in advance what improvised impact weapons are readily at hand. Having JUST the gun isn’t a good idea for exactly the reasons set forth in the above scenarios. And pistol whipping with the common polymer framed autos so popular is probably not going to work well.

    • Brad Armstrong

      Just putting pepper spray on your belt should be enough of an option — I think this also helps your defense case — if you need a less than lethal option then you have it, but if you chose not to use it then you must have been in fear for your life

  • Gary Wieland

    Here again is another scenario with so many variables, its incredible. Having been in this very situation right in front of my house, I’d say do as the situation dictates. I witnessed four grown men in their 30’s and one in his 50’s get out of a car and jump two teens (the guys are arabic, the teens are black) when after beeping their horn, the teens didn’t walk across the road fast enough for them. Talk about stupidity. The ensuing ass kicking they were giving these young kids and the fact that there were four of them first prompted me to call 911. That’s when my wife, who’s a mom decided to go over there and tell them to stop. Well, the older guy turns at her with a very nasty look on his face and that’s when…..”POOF!” out of seemingly nowhere appears a Glock in the air as I announce, “you can all get back in your car now and get the hell out of here”. Well, Grandpa saw me and kind of froze and it took one more verbal warning, which included the phrase, “right now you’re committing the felony of aggravated assault in the state of Texas and as a concealed handgun license holder I have the right to shoot to kill in defense of that young man”. That got their attention. Well, the driver who I’ll refer to as dumbass says, “maybe I’ll come back and shoot you” as they drive off. About five minutes later guess who returns? Dumbass gets out of the car, my hand fills the grip on my Glock. He walks about three steps towards me, I look him right in the eye and tell him if he takes one more step, “I will kill you where you stand”. At this point, I do believe even this dumbass could figure out I wasn’t kidding. They got back in the car and took off. So there you have it, Gun pulled, not used, crime was stopped and one of the kids mom told me, “you saved my son’s life”. That’s the best thing anyone has ever told me in this life. Aftermath: The four dummies were given probation for aggravated assault and sued by the kids parents. The detective in charge of the case confirmed that I had the right to shoot all four of them, but he was so glad I didn’t.

    • Brad Armstrong

      In the People’s Republik of New York you would have been arrested and likely sued by the attackers … sigh …

      • Gary Wieland

        Brad, I’m originally from NJ and that’s a sad state of affairs. Here in Texas, if I decided to start shooting, with a CHL I can actually shoot them in the back as they try to run away and its my right. Its referred to as “during the commission of a crime”, especially when there was violence. Knowing things like that keeps a lot of bad guys in check. We also don’t get a lot of home invasions down here or trespassers after dark. Like one sheriff from Tyler said on TV a while back, “we don’t usually get peeping toms around here. Out here we’re armed to the teeth”.

    • Rob

      Incredibly well handled. You should be proud there are few men who can say they have acted with the same responsibility and bravery. To bad they got probation they should have been locked up for quite a while.

      • Gary Wieland

        Thanks for the kind words, Rob. No one really knows how they’ll react when the s*** hits the fan. I do know things would have been quite different if that guy had touched my wife.

  • The question should always be “Do I have to Shoot” not when can I? Circumstances like this is why I always carry pepper spray in my EDC – non-lethal and non-contact and takes care a lot without going to that gun. In some states, unless your going to die in the next 2 seconds leave it in your holster. Remember, intent/jeopardy is the hardest thing to prove in court so go sparingly. Also, remember civilians can only use EQUAL force baring the absence of disparity – so can you escalate the force from a fist fight to lethal force if your losing – all I can say is better have a good story or your going to court.

    • Tyler M

      the force doesn’t have to be equal. if 2 people each weigh 200 pounds on a teeter totter? it won’t go anywhere assuming all other things are equal.

      It is therefore necessary to apply greater force in order to overcome an opposing force. this is very simple physics.

      The force used to defend oneself MUST be greater than the force applied against them in order for an act of defense to be successful.

      HOWEVER, even though the force used in defending oneself is greater, the TOTAL FORCE USED must still be within reason.

      • Again it depends on the jurisdiction but in most circumstances a civilian cannot escalate the force, a law enforcement officer can. If like you say two 200 pound men were going at it, and the “innocent victim” escalates the force to a lethal level by pulling out his gun and shooting the other… your probably going to jail. There was no disparity of force, and proving jeopardy is going to be almost impossible in a court of law if he didn’t have some kind of weapon. Again circumstances my differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and those 12 reasonable people on the jury (which are not always reasonable). By that time the lawyers fees would have bled you of every cent you and your family have – so you got to think is it worth it if the guy wasn’t really trying to kill you and if he was it’s up to you prove that in a court of law. In cases like this OC is the way to go…. disable him long enough to get out of the situation.

    • Clive

      Unfortunately, most of the gun sites and groups on Facebook glamorize shooting and killing people. This makes the jackheads who’ve never been there foam at the mouth for the chance to prove something. It’s not fun. You don’t want to be there.

  • Mark W. Mullins

    The key word here is Self Defense. These two have their own reasons to fight. They both are swinging fists, or other instruments. Its their party, and they cry if they want too. I would not interfere if it were only them. If it was me or my family, I would revert back to my training in safe pistol training, and home protection. That’s my take on THIS situation.

  • Andrew Miller

    Costco prohibits Concealed Carry, so I don’t shop there.
    If you’ve got a gun there better keep it concealed so as not to end up like that guy in Vegas.

  • Jim Screws

    Anybody who strikes me with the goal of bodily harm, dies…………. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. No quarter! I didn’t get this old by being careless……………….

    • PILawyer

      Just hope the prosecutor doesn’t see this post. You are establishing a premeditation to kill instead of a self-defense posture to stop a threat. Make sure you are wearing your “Kill ’em all, and let God sort ’em out” shirt too when the police arrive at the scene. Some of you people are just asking for a manslaughter or murder charge by your rhetoric.