What do I do with my gun?

Complete hypothetical. I’m in a self defence situation where I have just fired on my attacker. He is down and the threat is no longer imminent. Do I unload and make my weapon safe prior to the police getting there? Just holster it ? What’s the right thing to do ?


I would holster my weapon and get out the phone number for the USCCA. Ask the police to take you to the hospital to get checked out. Then prepare for a whole bunch of answering questions.


I’m not a huge fan of being in a hurry to re-holster (I doggone sure am not going to down load my pistol) but I certainly don’t want to have a gun in my hands when the police show up unless I am still covering the situation. The last part is exceptionally dicey as the LEO doesn’t know what happened and there is some guy with a gun. Obviously that has the potential to play out poorly. Worse than that is to be in the middle of a gun fight when the LEO shows up.

The primary objective of self defense is to make yourself safe. Stay with that thought and be in a safe position (one that allows you to re holster) when the police get there or when you get to the police. It’s your gun and your right to defend yourself, don’t give up that right until LEO has the situation under control. The police will NOT point their guns at you and scream “Take your gun out!”




@Craig6 has it. Going to add that if there’s one bad guy, there may be more… they tend to run in packs. I’m not giving up my teeth until I know there are no OTHER threats.

If it’s a mass shooter situation, or there are people running and exiting an area, you do want to take care not to be mistaken for the problem by LEO or other concealed carriers. That might mean reholstering before you flee an area, but still keeping a hand on your gun… hard to predict how that should go in advance, just another scenario to work through as you train.


Raymond, it all depends on your local police. I know where I live, IF the threat is down I have to lay my firearm in front of me and hands in the air as they approach.

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The smartest thing you can do is unload and clear it and place it away from you in plain sight of arriving police if circumstances allow.

Cleared, empty, and locked back in your your holster would be next.

IF you’re in a situation where there might be additional threats before police arrive I’d keep it holstered but in ready condition.


Very good point. Even if you think you’re fine you will most likely be in shock and will certainly have a post adrenaline dump collapse when you finally calm down.

The more time you can have before being questioned the more likely you are to have your story straight and the time you’re sitting in the ER will allow the USCCA go get a lawyer headed your way.

One thing I teach all my students is to immediately declare that you had to shoot in self defense, call your organization/atty, and shut the hell up after telling police you’ll be happy to cooperate as soon as your atty arrives.


Nope, I don’t think I’m going to be unloading. Holster? Yes. Put it a step away on the ground or car roof as the officers arrive? Yes. Drop it if told to by an officer? Yes.

Once all he!! breaks loose, it has a way of doing that again. If I even have to consider this situation, things have already gone pretty badly wrong and the situation is volatile. Not going to be putting myself in a situation to maybe need to pick up or draw my firearm again and not have it in a defense-capable state.

Holstered is good. Gun down hands up is good. In that moment the officer can’t see if there’s one in the chamber or not, he’s going to be reacting to the presence of the gun, my attitude, and my behavior.


I re-holster. I will never unload and clear or place the weapon on the ground until police on scene direct me to do so. Definitely keep the weapon out of your hands.


I would add, Do not answer those questions until your attorney is present. Be respectful and say you will cooperate and only speak with legal representation.



Based on my personal experience, I would holster the firearm for when the police arrive, but don’t do it too quickly(unless the authorities are there) in order to make sure that no other perpetrator is around.
In your case, the firearm will become evidence so be ready to turn it over, but get a receipt!


Every situation is going to be different. How long does it take the police to respond to the scene? How many threats are there? Is the threat down or no longer a threat? How many witnesses are around you? What did those witnesses see? Are you hurt? Is your loved one hurt?

There is no one right size fits all answer. Always consider there might be another threat.

Another option instead of reholstering after the self-defense incident is to take a different arm position. When you defend yourself, your arms are going to most likely be at full extension,
bringing your arms and firearm back to your body (in Defensive Shooting Fundamentals we call it high compressed ready) can be another option instead of reholstering.

In this position, you are in solid control of your firearm, able to re-engage quickly if needed, and look a heck of a lot less threatening than a person with their arms at full extension aiming at someone.

It also breaks your hyper-focus on the initial threat who is now no longer a threat and gives you a chance to assess your surroundings for other threats or people who can help you.


I just watched a video of an officer re-holstering to quickly and got attacked by a nut job with a knife that he shot numerous times.
I would keep low and ready.
As Dawn says, nothing fits every situation so you would need to monitor your surroundings.

Link with GRAPHIC warning, but this is why I would not re-holster, at least in this scenario.


That was intense, @Sneezy. It shows a lot of different factors of self-defense and solid police defense. They didn’t want to shoot. They REALLY didn’t want to shoot. My heart goes out to those officers.

Shooting to stop the threat is important - and those officers did everything they could to stop the threat without shots. There was a call for less lethal in there, but I don’t know if they deployed it or if they ran out of time.

Thanks for sharing that!


It really is intense. People always tell me how good they would do in a gun battle etc. I think this shows it’s much tougher than you think. They backed up a long way before shooting!

I hope it helps people understand that gun battles are not always quick.


I doubt you’ll see that on the alphabet news since it doesn’t meet their "cops are trigger happy " narrative.


Reholster Reluctantly !! I would only reholster when I saw the red and blue flashers.
Then take out my wallet with CCW and hold it on top of my head and stand VERY still.
Officer - that person tried to kill me. I was afraid for my life. I will sign a complaint against him/her.
There is his weapon / witnesses (if any). Do not ask me any more questions until my lawyer is present.
DO NOT talk to them - DO NOT !! Everything you say WILL be used against you.


This needs emphasized:

Get a receipt!
Get a receipt!
Get a receipt!

You almost certainly will NOT get your sidearm back without one.


I can tell you that in most every county in IL no matter if receipt or no receipt. Chicago Cook Co. Lake County, Dupage, De Kalb, and most every single county in the entire state you will not be getting your property back ever. If it’s a nice one it’s going to end up in someone’s collection, if not so desirable it’s going to go from evidence to the fire and evaporate.

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As a combat vet, when you are in a fire fight the time seems to go by VERY slowly. The few seconds it takes can feel like minutes, and the minutes waiting for the first responders will more than likely feel like hours.

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