Self Defense and Mag Dumps plus using an AR as a bystander in an active shooter situation

Two part question, I’m hoping one (or more) of the Lawyers who do the YT videos might weigh in on.

I’ve seen dozens of videos where LEOs and/or civilians 2A advocates advise emptying your magazine into the bad guy in a self defense situation “till there’s no longer a threat” (plus other hypotheticals like if you ended the bad guy with one shot, you must be an assassin…). We don’t do this in hunting and in Iraq/Afghanistan, nobody empties an entire magazine on one guy - unless he’s still running and that’s only because the assumption would be that you missed or didn’t hit a vital - if they go down when shot, you don’t waste the rest of your magazine on the body. What is a prosecutor’s likely perspective on a civilian putting 17 rounds into somebody at the mall?

The second one is guys advocating carrying concealed ARs for the same type of active shooter situation in a shopping center/mall - so if you “need to, you can take 100 yard shots.” I think in the current environment, carrying a concealed AR in the mall would be an automatic strike even if your intentions were innocent. Further, I think it would be argued that if you found yourself a place outside of pistol range (more than 50 yards) in some kind of urban setting and were going to take shots at “bad guys” it would be a tough sell that you were “defending yourself” at 100 yards… Obviously there’s duty to retreat in some locations, so the question is more about places where that’s not required. Clearly, any collateral damage would be held against you (very likely with a vengeance).

Anyway, I’d like a legal perspective on emptying magazines into bad guys in “self defense” situations, and thoughts on using an AR in a “self defense” situation at extended range.


I think “emptying your magazine” and “till there’s no longer a threat” are two different things. The best way of approaching it is to “shoot to stop the threat”. When there is no longer an imminent threat of serious harm/death, is time to stop shooting (other things may dictate the stop as well).

The perspective on shooting some 17 times (getting 17 hits would be quite the feet though given the typical 20% hit rate, just sayin). But, the perspective will depend on the totality of the circumstances. Can’t say based solely on rounds fired/hits.

It’s probably not like Iraq/Afghanistan unless that is referring to a lone individual with nothing but a handgun. Rifles and handguns are very different in their terminal effects and a lone civilian being attacked by criminals may be different than a member of the armed forces that’s armoured and armed with a rifle with friends.

I have to say, I don’t recall seeing people advocating carrying a concealed AR for an active shooter event. If I did see someone advocate that, I’d have a lot of questions. Like how, and why. I mean if they want to, alright, go for it…but those shooter situations are incredibly rare, for one thing. For another, in such a situation, if you have a rifle in your hand, somewhere that’s legal (even if against rules) to carry…I’d expect to get shot…having a rifle in your hand with an ‘active shooter’ situation you are pretty much going to look like the shooter. A handgun I think less so…though still possibly…but you can probably draw the handgun much faster and move in a way that you look less like a shooter, while still having the handgun pretty ready

I agree that carrying an AR type rifle around concealed would seem…well it would raise some eyebrows of people who are like…but why? Not that there is anything wrong with it.

You dont’ necessarily have to be defending yourself (check local laws) if you are defending a third party…depending.

I’m not a lawyer.

But I have seen lawyers discuss this kind of thing…the answer is probably going to be exactly the same as anything else: “It depends” combined with “imminent threat of serious bodily harm/death” and “shoot to stop the threat”

17 rounds fired could be the exact right amount, it could be 17 too many, or anything in between


Agree with @Nathan57.

I’ve never seen a self-defense/firearms instructor advocating for dumping the entire magazine into the bad guy. I have seen guys like Clint Smith saying that’s what often happens, but he’s not suggesting you do that.

You shoot to stop the threat and not another round beyond that. From what I’ve learned in training, you will be held legally accountable for every round fired.

I have seen some YouTube videos where guys have a bag setup for an AR pistol for an active shooter situation. (Some Vertx bags are designed for that.) Apparently, in some jurisdictions an AR pistol is a pistol and therefore can be carried concealed in such a bag and be legal. I have friends who talk about doing that, but I don’t know of anyone who actually does it. I have no training behind an AR pistol or rifle. So it isn’t going to be my go to.

I understand the sentiment of wanting to be armed with something more than a regular pistol if the SHTF. The events in Israel might raise the concern for some that an attack such as that is likely here. I have my doubts. I also don’t know exactly how such an AR would be deployed in that scenario. While I carry almost all of the time, if I can get away from the threat without drawing and shooting, that is preferred. The best gun fight is the one you are not in.


I’m not a lawyer but haven’t seen any one with real self defense training or legal experience recommend mag dumps. I have seen and read of several circumstances where police officers did seem to dump their magazines with variable degrees of accuracy and effectiveness. In a couple of those circumstances officers made multiple hits (in one case 14) and the attacker still managed to harm or kill an officer. So shooting until the threat is stopped seems to make a lot of sense whether that is one round or 15 or however many are needed.

The distance to the threat is irrelevant if that threat is presenting an imminent threat of death or severe bodily harm to yourself or others and you have the ability to stop that threat.


Will also add that I have no personal interest in lugging a concealed semi auto rifle or SBR around with me on a daily basis. The odds of needing one are so incredibly low and the hassle of doing so would be very high.

Though I might change my mind if there were credible reports of an imminent armed threat in the area and I didn’t have the option of just staying home to avoid it. In that case I might keep a rifle in my vehicle or maybe carry it in a backpack. I have a light weight folding option that would work reasonably well for that.

Rifles are a lot more effective than pistols for self defense but nowhere near as convenient to carry around.


I think you might not have seen enough “Guntoob” gunsperts yet. The dump the magazine thing goes round periodically like the “if you use handloads, the prosecutor will hang you” or the latest one going around (again) “If you use hollow points (it’s excessive force) the prosecutor will get you” - apparently both of these are SOP for slow news cycles, see them at least once a year. The argument being that if you kill the bad guy with one shot, then you were obviously a trained killer looking for an excuse to kill somebody…so empty the magazine. Part of the reason why I ask the question is because there hasn’t been incidents/court cases where this has been done, or for that matter, a civilian in an incident expending multiple magazines.

I agree conceptually that if you could legally carry a rifle (concealed or not), you should be able to if you want to - my question being what would they try to do to you if you did and got into an incident. There’s not been incidents where this has happened yet. My concern also being as Nathan pointed out - 20% hit rate - and you’re adding 3x the muzzle energy/penetration with a 5.56 as you will have with a 9mm… I just can’t see anything short of reckless endangerment and manslaughter at a minimum.


I have to admit I’ve never seen the argument about trained killer etc based on one shot. Seems quite silly thankful I haven’t seen it

There haven’t been incidents where what has been done? There have absolutely been self defense cases where the defender shot their pistol empty.

My answer is not to worry about the rifle carry thing because who daily conceal carries a rifle to need to worry about it anyway? And if they do, the chances of getting wrapped up in an active shooter, and then using the rifle…probably better odds of winning the maga millions and powerball both.

The hit rate calculus I think should change with a rifle though. The 20% hit rate thing is from handguns, and as we know rifles are much easier to shoot/hit with than handguns. That 20% number would surely be higher if it was primarily shoulder fired four points of contact arms vs pistols.


I agree that using a rifle should noticeably increase the hit rate and decrease the chances of a miss hitting a bystander. One of several reasons why a rifle makes such an effective self defense tool.

Though that did not seem to be the case when the police cornered the Boston Bombers. The hit rate in that confrontation was staggeringly low and I believe most the LEOs involved were using long guns. Us private citizens have to be a lot more careful with our aim.


That happens, but part of why that happens is how LEO vs private citizen enounters differ. A private citizen in that boathouse/whatever it was scenario would have likely bugged out without firing any shots. Actively hunting down, approaching, and apprehending the suspects can result in far different shooting scenarios than self defense (or even defense of a third party)

Then again I do seem to recall an officer with a backwards facing (inoperable) sight on their rifle out looking for those suspects having their pic go viral


I was thinking more about the encounter with the car in the street before the cornering in the boat. There were hundreds of rounds fired with many hitting occupied houses throughout the neighborhood and only 1 or two hitting the bombers. That might have been leaning more towards the mag dump category and less towards trying to use effective suppressive fire to pin the threats down Especially since the LEOs seem very reluctant to officially release the actual number of rounds fired.


Geez. If you came to me for legal advice about carrying a concealed AR into a mall, and asking whether you should empty your magazine into a bad guy who threatened you, I’s tell you to find a different lawyer, 'cause I wouldn’t want to handle your defense and all the drama that would swirl around defending such an individual.


Mass shooter walks into your work killing your coworkers. You make way to safety, grab an AR with LPVO or fixed magnification. Shooter is actively killing people and he’s 150 yards away.

Is it self defense? Does that same shooter have the same equipment shooting at you? If not no.

But since he’s killing others- THIS IS DEFENSE OF OTHER. Or maybe there’s other environmental factors that him shooting could cause damage and harm to you which also makes it defense of self.

Do not mindlessly mag dump throwing shots every which direction- Lawsuit and reckless endangerment charges ensue.


IMHO (Not a lawyer) A mag/cylinder dump is defensible when you are scared out of your mind and you are clicking on empty cylinders when the police show up with no cognitive ability to stop shooting. It can happen. To train yourself to dump a full mag as a rule is not a good thing both defensively (there may be another bad guy) or in optics (you pumped 10 rounds into a corpse). Having an AR is neither here nor there. If you want to lug one of them around as a daily you are 1. a much bigger man than I (physically) 2. in a neighborhood you need to move from.

FWIW: A pistol is a really good tool to fight your way to a good rifle.




Roger all brother. Good to see you!


I’m mainly here for the meme’s nowadays but every now and then I choose to comment.

Anybody got a good load for a 7-08 w/ 162’s got a dedicated hunting stick I’m playing with.




With rising price of ammo, I would prefer the economical Mozambique Drill to
Stop. The. Threat.


I played multiple times the part where he cleared his coat to draw from 4 o’clock.

My rotator cuff hurt. :confounded:


@John486 Maybe this is what it would look like. Along with an Attorneys comments. :slightly_smiling_face:




That happens, but part of why that happens is how LEO vs private citizen enounters differ. A private citizen in that boathouse/whatever it was scenario would have likely bugged out without firing any shots. Actively hunting down, approaching, and apprehending the suspects can result in far different shooting scenarios than self defense (or even defense of a third party)

Then again I do seem to recall an officer with a backwards facing (inoperable) sight on their rifle out looking for those suspects having their pic go viral

RE POST ABOVE Concerning responding to a mass shooter, be careful, this happened in Israel the other day:
In Israel the other day… terrorist began killing people on the highway. A lawyer sees what iss happening, pulls over, shoots the terrorists dead, then is shot and killed by the IDF because he is mistaken as a terrorist also.