Clear Leather

Talking to an associate the other day, he said, in passing, “I won’t pull my gun as a threat, if I clear leather I’m going to shoot”.
I understand the idea that I only pull my firearm as a last resort in self defense, I get it. BUT how about this, I get attacked, I fight back but it looks like I’m going to be injured or killed, for what ever reason. I pull my gun and they all run away at the sight of a fire arm. I don’t need to shoot, the threat has been eliminated. All of the elements are there for a self defense action but in the end they retreat post hast.
I guess, to me, I’m not going to try to frighten an attacker by showing my EDC but if just the sight of the thing works, what the hell, I survived and didn’t have to shoot.


That’s correct. This is the scenario that should be introduced in every defensive class to show when NOT to shoot.


Spot on Mike. You nailed it.

The people who say things to the effect of “if I draw I’m going to shoot” or “if you draw you better shoot” are just plain wrong. 100% incorrect. In fact, last I checked, in the vast majority of defensive gun uses in the US, no shots were fired.

Now, they are somewhat on track in a way when they make those statements…you should not draw the gun unless and until that imminent deadly threat (or ability, opportunity, intent as some put it) is, well, imminent, and you had better be prepared to use that firearm. But you don’t have to. Seemingly fairly often the attacker(s) has a change of heart when you start to reach for that gun, or when they see the gun. If so, and they flee, or start running their mouth calling you this and that while walking away, great! that’s pretty much the best possible result of you going for the gun.

The old “If you draw you better shoot” is as incorrect and dangerous as “if you shoot you better kill”.

Jerzy, I"ve heard people report that when they took stuff with Mas Ayoob, they had 10 or more scenarios run and would only shoot in one out of the ten


In any event, you best be the first one to call 911 so your attacker will not attempt to say you threatened him with a gun.


Yes…that should be the next step once you put your handgun back into the holster.


Absolutely correct @Mike164! The first CCW class I attended, in the 90’s, was taught by an ex Dallas Cop that had been wounded and could no longer pass the physical for duty. He ran through several scenarios that would end in a NO SHOOT, some like this one.

Of course you know when you call this in you’re going to have to deal with some flak. Especially if you are in a snowflake paradise. You’ll probably have the attackers trying to sue you for PTSD.


That sentence is seriously problematic. A much more defensible sentiment (and mindset) would be, “…if I clear leather it’s because I believe I will need to shoot.” Or, “…because I intend to defend myself.”

In any case, if the defender does not use all the available time between going for the gun and tripping the trigger to continually re-evaluate the need and justification to fire the shot — and every potential shot thereafter — things may well turn out awkward or criminal for the defender. It could be only fractions of a second, but you’ve got to do what it’s reasonably possible to do. Anything else is just defending ego, which does not justify lethal force.


People that are afraid of the unknown and have no actual knowledge of what happens when your @$$hole slams shut around your neck like to boast about what they would do in a “What if”. It usually starts off with “If that was me I would’a…” or “If I was there I would’a…” . Me personally, if my spidey senses trigger I’m bugging out. If I’m stuck I want the gun in my hand not in the holster and at that point I don’t give a crap who sees it. Shoot or no shoot I’m 1 second ahead of the game and my odds just got a whole lot better.




Meets the definition of “stop the threat” in my book.
Any shot fired after is no longer self-defense.

However, I do keep in mind that there’s a split-second that elapses between the time I drew and the thugs retreat and it’s highly possible that a shot could’ve been fired.
That same split-second applies to a thug’s pea-sized brain, on the attack then processing the sight of a drawn gun before deciding to retreat.


Exactly, that was going to be my suggestion, cause things can go south if the attackers called 911 first for assault with a deadly weapon.


I am going to disagree with a lot of the comments in here. Absolutely don’t shoot unless you have to… but ideally your draw to first shots happen before they even have a chance to react, and that is absolutely what you should aim for. You never want to draw when their attention is on you (unless you are forced to), rather wait for your turn to counter ambush while they are distracted or focused on something else.

The reason I say this is because I would never encourage anyone to draw their weapon and then give the threat a chance to react before firing, which some of the threads in here seem to imply. If your draw is on point, and you only draw when under deadly threat, then you should be squeezing the trigger before the aggressor has even fully processed that you have a gun.

Some have noted that many defensive uses of firearms happen without a shot being fired, and this is absolutely true. These are defensive displays where the firearm is not even unholstered (the right way to do it when you are not in immediate life threatening danger) or are draws without the immediate intent to fire (which can be messy legal and/or tactical mistakes).


There’s my split second


Right on Mike! I absolutely agree with you.

Unfortunately I live in this lovely “Land of Lincoln” state the law dictates even if I show my EDC “brandish my firearm” that in itself could be a legal issue. I basically need to be backed into a corner with no other viable means of escaping & evading and on top of that the attacker needs to be in the physical act of intent to inflict immediate bodily harm and or death upon me.


Are you familiar with Michael Drejka case? Check it and think how it would end up of he would decided NOT to shoot AFTER he drew the firearm.
In my opinion, he will be a free man today.


…if Drejka, while carrying, exercised wisdom that day.
And I’m not talking of not discharging his firearm.


The parking lot handicap spot guy? The one pushed down, drew, guy took a couple steps back and started turning away, THEN the concealed carrier fired?

To me that is a perfect example of when not shooting, after drawing, is the correct course of action.

Discussion about this incident with Kevin and attorney Tom Grieve can be found in the USCCA Protector Academy, under the real life self-defense analyzed series, Episode 3


Not exactly the “perfect” example.

If I take @BeanCounter’s meaning correctly:
If Mr Drejka had not initiated the entire sequence with his verbal assault on the woman in the car — but simply reported the observed parking infraction appropriately — then there would be no alarm; then there would be no defensive response; then there would be no “standing of ground”; then there would be no shove; then there would be no fall; then there would be no draw. The discharge of the firearm was a long, long sequence beyond the beginning of Mr Drejka’s wisdom failures that day.

If Drejka’s decisions were pre-wound by real or imagined prior grievances over parking or other issues, a sense of invulnerability behind the gun, an imagined belief in his enforcement authority, and a full dose of internet puffery and bluster — then his wisdom failure had begun light-years distant from the firearm discharge.

I think the “perfect” example of do not shoot is when faced with a lethal threat, a defender takes an opportunity to respond to the threat with the intent to immediately engage and stop the threat, but in the process of engagement observes that the attacker has withdrawn the threat — stepped away, fallen, surrendered, dropped weapon, fled, or otherwise changed the scenario. The time interval may be very small, and human reactions may not be fast enough to recognize the change and interrupt the immediate intent to defend — that risk is the responsibility of the attacker to avoid by not threatening in the first place. But when recognized it is the responsibility of the defender to downgrade the defense ASAP to match the threat.

Retribution against or “teaching lessons” to a person who threatened violence is not a citizen responsibility or authority — attempting that is a legal peril, for sure.





Absolutely correct.

I meant perfect as in, solely looking at one thing, drawing and not firing, it’s a great example. The carrier was shoved forcefully to the ground and for a moment it might have appeared as though the other party might close in while the carrier was in a position of disadvantage on the ground. But then the gun ‘cleared leather’ and at about that time the other party had, it appears to me, a clear change to stepping back and turning away (still empty handed)…

Looking at the whole situation, you are 100% correct, the confrontation never should have happened to begin with.

The concealed carrier should not have been trying to enforce parking laws, should not have been up on the woman’s window in what was visually a clearly aggressive (IMO) manner, a little tiny bit of AVOIDANCE would have, well, AVOIDED the whole thing entirely.

Not to mention the lack of situational awareness once the carrier got focused in on the woman in the vehicle that let him be so easily blindsided in a transition space (parking lots are where head should always be in a swivel. after all)

We can never know what the repercussions would have been, legally, had the gun been drawn and that was the end of it with no shot fired…might have been considered justified (even though it never should have happened!) or at worse would be a much less serious charge. Even with all the other screw ups, things would be so much better if the gun was not fired, despite being drawn. For starters, nobody would have died.


I did see that video, and I disagree. Drejka drew and fired his firearm against a non-deadly threat, and one that he had provoked in the first place. He would still be guilty of assault with a deadly weapon if he did not shoot. The proper course of action for Drejka (at least in my state) would be to conduct a defensive display of the firearm, which does not involve unholstering. Even so this is still legally murky for him because he played a part in provoking the attack in the first place. Like others have said, this was the end of a long chain of mistakes by Drejka.