The following is a video transcript.

I want to discuss a topic about which I get a lot of questions from members. They ask regularly, “What do I do, or what can I do, if I need to use my firearm to defend myself or another, and I am in a gun-free zone?”


First of all, “gun-free zone” can mean different things depending on the place. It could be a prescribed forbidden-carry zone—like a courthouse or a police station—that you have inadvertently carried into with no intention to break the law; or it could be your local convenience store that doesn’t want guns on the premises and may or may not be complying with the signage requirement. It could be a forbidden-carry zone that you rushed into with your firearm in a third-party defense situation, despite the rules prohibiting firearms. If there is no emergency, I would suggest you immediately remove the firearm from the premises as soon as possible. If unable to do so, before circumstances arise requiring you to use it, remember you do not abdicate your right to defend yourself or others simply because you have carried intentionally or not into a gun-free zone.


We have this tenant in the law called the “doctrine of necessity,” and it is relevant to this discussion. Basically, it means that you are justified in breaking the law to avoid an even worse result. Think of swerving your car to miss a child in the road and crashing into parked vehicles. You would normally be cited for such reckless conduct, but for the fact that your actions in this case saved the life of the child. Same with firearms; to an extent, you could carry into a gun-free zone to save yourself or others in an emergency situation without worry of criminal prosecution. But, if you were to carry into one of those places illegally, whether intentional or not, you can still defend yourself, but may be rewarded at the end with criminal charges regarding the unlawful carry upon the premises.

For more information about where you can legally carry and use your firearm, and what to do when you inadvertently carry into a gun-free zone, please feel free to call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.