NFLI Course Card VA-2
29 students

This course teaches Virginia’s legal limits on the use of deadly force in self-defense situations, with a particular focus on the use of firearms.  It will give you a working knowledge of the legal boundaries between a justifiable use of firearms in self-defense and an incident that will expose you to criminal prosecution and civil damages liability.  It will also give you a practical set of guidelines and steps you can take to maximize your chances of winning (and financially surviving) the legal battle that inevitably follows a self-defense shooting.  If you live or work in Virginia and rely on firearms for self-defense, this course is a must.

Part 1: Important Principles You Need to Know and Apply to Stay Legal in a Deadly Force Confrontation

In Part I of the course, we explain in everyday terms Virginia’s boundaries between the lawful and unlawful defensive use of firearms.  Our presentation is illustrated with useful, practical examples involving real-life situations.  We cover street confrontations, home invasions and the Castle Doctrine, Virginia’s stand your ground principle, and defending others.  We will also cover (i) troublesome new case law concerning the unambiguously life-threatening overt act which is legally required to justify a deadly force response, (ii) Virginia’s legal rules relating to threat duration and proportionality of response, and (iii) a new development in Virginia’s law regarding brandishing.  We also address whether you can still rely on prevention of an atrocious felony in Virginia to justify the use of deadly force.  We will provide you with a real-world understanding of the rules you need to know to maximize your chances of staying legal in responding to a deadly force attack.

Part 2: Vital Information Needed to Deal With the Legal System in the Immediate Aftermath of a Self-Defense Incident

In Part II, we describe the legal battle that follows on the heels of almost every self-defense use of firearms.  We explain each step in the post-confrontation legal process and give you a real understanding of how the system works.  We teach you how to deal with the critical time just after a self-defense incident, including:

  • 911 calls
  • Pre-arrest interaction with the police
  • When and how to assert your Fifth Amendment rights
  • What follows after an arrest

What you do in these circumstances will have a huge effect on how the legal system will treat you.  The course provides you with practical steps you should take and tools you will need to (i) protect your legal rights and (ii) help you (and your counsel) extricate you from the legal system with the least amount of difficulty.

Part II also discloses the real magnitude of your exposure in defending against criminal and civil suits, and provides detailed information about the various kinds of affordable, cost-effective insurance coverage that are available to help you financially survive a protracted legal battle.  This information is not only up-to-date, but readily understandable and reliable.

The course has been taught for five years in northern Virginia and has consistently received enthusiastic reviews from the Virginia shooting community for both its content and its straight forward, engaging presentation style.  It has become the gold standard for those who carry or rely on firearms for home security and self-defense.


Mr. Sulzer has been practicing law in Washington, D.C., for 40 years and has been a partner at some of the city’s most prominent national law firms, including Steptoe & Johnson and, most recently, California-based Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. In fall 2013, Mr. Sulzer broke away from Big Law to found his own law firm, and after much planning and preparation, expanded his practice to encompass firearms-related matters. He is particularly focused on criminal and civil defense work for clients who have had to use firearms in self-defense. He has also expanded into matters involving federal and state firearms regulation, as well as Second Amendment-based litigation. Mr. Sulzer has an AV Preeminent Peer and Judicial Rating from Martindale Hubbell, the highest rating given by Martindale-Hubbell for legal skills and professional ethics. Mr. Sulzer is pleased to have been selected as a referral attorney for both the United States Concealed Carry Association and the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network.

Mr. Sulzer has developed a two-part training course entitled “The Legal Use of Firearms for Self-Defense in Virginia – When the Defensive Use of Firearms Is Permissible and How to Win the Legal Battle That Will Follow.” For the past five years, Mr. Sulzer has taught the course regularly in northern Virginia at the Nation’s Gun Show in Chantilly and Fredericksburg (through Historic Arms Corp.’s Firearms Training Store), at Silver Eagle Group in Ashburn; at Fairfax Rod & Gun Club in Manassas; and at The Gun Dude in Falls Church. The course has received enthusiastic reviews from the northern Virginia shooting community and has become the gold standard for those who carry concealed or rely on firearms for home security and self-defense.

Mr. Sulzer is now offering the course live online through the National Firearms Law Institute. He is also developing an online version of the course covering the law of self-defense in several mid-atlantic and southeastern states and will ultimately cover the law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Mr. Sulzer has also expanded NFLI’s course offerings with a new course on Virginia’s 2020 gun control legislation and a short course on insurance coverage and other programs available to protect your finances if you are involved in a self-defense incident.

Mr. Sulzer has been active in the shooting sports dating back to the mid-1990s, when he began shooting service rifles in competition against the Marine Corps Rifle Teams and the Army Marksmanship Unit. He began his competitive shooting career with the M1A and transitioned to the AR-15 in 2000. He competed in three position “across the course” iron sight matches at distances of 200, 300, and 600 yards, and has also competed at 1,000 yards. When Mr. Sulzer retired from competition in 2005, he was shooting Master level scores. He still shoots handguns (particularly M-1911s) avidly, has held a Virginia Concealed Carry Permit since the late 1990s, and is an NRA-certified pistol instructor.

31 total


  • Gordon Collyer

    Virginia Self Defense Law On-line Course

    This course is a must for any gun owner or would-be gun owner. Mr. Sulzer has provided a comprehensive, objective, and sobering review of self-defense in Virginia. Internet searches and attempting to read the law will not get you to the rubber-meets-the-road realities that you must appreciate before you face the moment of gun deployment in halting deadly threats to you or your loved ones. His presentation is clear and easy to follow. It should be regarded as the gold standard in gun ownership training.
  • Robert

    Washington, DC Course Attendee

    Very thorough but digestible and well presented in an easy-to-understand way. Love the background and personal expertise.
  • Amber

    Washington, DC Course Attendee

    Tons of info. Thanks for also sending the PowerPoint. Gave me a lot of info to know in self-defense. Mr. Sulzer is extremely knowledgeable.
  • Anon

    Washington, DC Course Attendee

    Very good/interesting. Well worth the investment!
  • Richard

    Virginia Course Attendee

    Provided me with the info I came to learn. I really did not know what I did not know. Provided critical facts to move forward.
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