You are in your car, you are late for a meeting, and you are looking for a place to park in the lot where you work. Another driver coming in the opposite direction sees an open parking space at about the same time that you do. A pedestrian blocks your way for just a moment, you slow down, and the other driver quickly pulls into the open space you thought was yours. Your blood starts to boil and you pull your car in behind the other fellow’s car, roll down your window, and start screaming at him that you saw the space first and he is a son of a bitch for taking your space. You have a Virginia concealed carry permit and you are carrying a 9 mm semi-auto handgun locked and loaded in your car’s center console.

The pedestrian who was briefly in your way sees and hears all the commotion and suggests that you calm down and find another parking space.

The driver who took “your” parking space can hear you screaming at him as he exits his car and he flips you the bird with a grin on his face. You continue yelling at him, mixing in obscenities, and tell him what a nice paint job his car has, as you wave your car key at him.

That’s when he loses his temper, gets back in his car, and comes out with a tire iron in his hand. He demands that you get out of your car so he can do a little bodywork on it.

You grab your gun from the console, conceal it in your jacket pocket, and get out of your car. Mr. Tire Iron sees you exit your car, raises his weapon over his head, and starts coming toward you with a snarl on his face.

Believing that you are facing an immediate deadly force attack, you pull your gun from your jacket pocket and shoot Mr. Tire Iron twice in the chest. Down he goes and he dies before there is time for any help to arrive.

Was this lawful self-defense on your part? After all, Mr. Tire Iron made the first move to initiate a physical attack, and he came at you with clearly hostile intent and a deadly weapon. Or are you now facing a lengthy prison term for a homicide?

You might be surprised to learn that under Virginia law, you gave up your right to claim self-defense by verbally initiating the confrontation, and you are now facing a lengthy prison term.


If you didn’t know the correct answers to these questions, you are not alone. But if you rely on firearms for personal defense, your life and your freedom will one day depend on you knowing the right answers.

If you would like to find out how to recover your right of self-defense and lawfully deal with situations where you are initially at fault, click on the link below and sign up for our course – “The Legal Use of Firearms for Self-Defense in Virginia.” We will teach you all about Virginia’s strict limits on the use of firearms for self-defense and help you to lawfully manage deadly force confrontations like this one and others you will see in everyday life.

Stephen L. Sulzer
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.
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