This lesson was produced in conjunction with Personal Defense Network. In it, Network President Marty Hayes and PDN video series developer Rob Pincus explain that most self-defense incidents don’t involve shooting–but there are still legal ramifications that must be resolved with the police and courts. This video lecture covers non shooting defense issues including:

  • Defensive display (pointing a gun to prevent imminent attack)
  • Taking an aggressor at gun point
  • Legal issues attaching to using hand to hand defensive tactics, pepper spray and improvised weapons.

The practitioner must understand when and why use of force is necessary and know how to articulate those facts to authorities. Pointing a gun at another without justification would constitute the crime of assault, but doing so is justifiable to stop grave, imminent danger of death, Hayes teaches. He explains the standard of a reasonable and prudent person and the elements of ability, opportunity and jeopardy to justify the use of force in self defense. These factors will have to be explained to the police and in court along with your attacker's actions that lead you to believe your life was in danger, he emphasizes.


When a threat can be defused with displaying or implying that you have a gun, the danger of being charged with assault is diminished. Hayes demonstrates verbally defusing an attack. A related topic details holding an attacker at gun point until police can arrive, with recommended steps and procedures the viewer can review and practice.

Use of force without firearms is subject to a number of legal considerations, as well, and Hayes explains that care must be exercised to avoid going beyond what is legal when in a physical confrontation. Defensive tactics using hand to hand kills, pepper spray, mini-baton (Kubotan) and improvised weapons are subject to legal questions of whether the force used was reasonable under the circumstances. Hayes recommends applying a use of force model to document why the use of force option was justifiable.

Hayes closes by emphasizing that any time one uses force, legal consequences will ensue. Be sure you know what is legal in the jurisdiction where you are, and have qualified legal counsel to help protect your rights, he concludes. For previews of the other member education lectures, click here.