Action is always faster than reaction. This is never more true than in a high stress deadly force situation. It is important to properly tailor your training around this fact because anyone who is being victimized is forced to react from way behind to stop the threat. Unfortunately, you as the “good guy” will not have the advantage of being the first to act. This is why your best weapon is always your situational awareness.
Anyone who carries a firearm for protection should familiarize themselves with the important 1989 SCOTUS case, Graham vs. Connor. Here is a good summary if you don’t want to read the whole thing. While this case is directed towards use of force by police, the same principles are true for anyone who is lawfully armed. Knowing the standards by which you will be held legally accountable is paramount.
In short, the court held that any action used to protect yourself (and for the police to do their jobs) that is reasonable is legal. The court wisely recognized that these types of decisions made in a split second under extremely intense circumstances cannot be judged by the “20/20 vision of hindsight,” but only by the “facts and circumstances” known at the time. The severity of the crime and the differences in size and strength are also important considerations by which your actions will be judged.
With these facts in mind, consider the recent news story from Richmond, VA about a pizza delivery driver who recently shot a robber armed with a stun gun at around 2am. Is the crime of armed robbery pretty severe? Can anyone differentiate with certainty between a stun gun and a real gun in the dark? Were the robber’s actions inherently (and quite possibly verbally) communicating a threat likely to cause substantial bodily injury? The answers to these questions are clear and reasonable and so should the fate be of the pizza delivery driver in this case.
Disclaimer: This should not be construed as legal advice. Familiarize yourself with your local and state laws.