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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Cost Of Using A Gun - What Ya Gonna Do?

Disclosure:  I have a new business venture which will be announced in a week or so that pertains to this issue.  I found this article, and it was just too perfect not to discuss.

You've got access to a gun.  You see a crime being committed.  This Daily Caller article titled, "Should you use your gun to stop a crime?" poses an important consideration -
Before carrying your gun again in public, ask yourself whether or not you are prepared to go to jail to stop a crime.  Most concealed gun carriers will risk their lives and freedom to defend themselves and their immediate family.  But defending others, even when the use of deadly force is warranted, ups the ante.  Is it your moral obligation to step in and help when a crime is in progress?
Defending others.  Where's the line between self-appointed wanna-be cop and publicly spirited citizen?  What will a jury think?

In my firearms training classes, I tell my students to get their heads ready, now.  If you shoot someone,  regardless of the circumstances, expect to be arrested.  If you resist, you're going to be bound and gagged, and hauled away with additional charges piled on. 

You will have gone from good guy to bad guy in the blink of an eye.  Is it your stated intent (after you've been arrested) or your actions that will carry the day in court?

In my advanced, Practical Defensive Pistol class, right in my class description, I tell my students that I want no part of their decision on when to discharge their weapon - 
We will not make any recommendations regarding WHEN to use a firearm for self-defense.  The laws in California are simply too vaguely written.  We will provide each student with a copy of the California DOJ Firearms Law Summary section titled, "The Use Of Firearms In Defense Of Life And Property".  Students are strongly encouraged to read and understand this information, and to consult their own attorney if they have any questions.
I've had this in my class description since 2009, well before incidents such as the Zimmerman/Martin case made the headlines.  The Zimmerman/Martin shooting could not have been a more clear-cut case of self-defense, plus it occured in a pro-gun state, arguably the most pro-gun state.

Yet George Zimmerman was put through an emotional and financial gauntlet - because of politics, in this case.  What would have happened in an anti-gun state such as California, New York or Illinois?

There is the legal concept of curtilage.  It's a very important one, especially in a state such as California where guns are so highly regulated.  In short, curtilage is the physical space which defines your home.  This is hugely important in a state where the only two places you can carry a gun without a CCW permit are your home and your business, AND where obtaining a permit is near impossible.

Scenario:  You're sitting in your back yard, sippin' a cool one - all safe in your curtilage bubble -  and hear some yelling from across the street.  You have no idea what's going on.  Sounds like some sort of screaming match between the folks that just moved in a few weeks ago.

It rapidly escalates.  Plates and glass start breaking.  You and other neighbors call 911.  Suddenly, the wife from across the street comes running out of her house, screaming unintelligibly.  She has blood on her face and hands.  The husband is in pursuit, also covered with blood.  He grabs her, and drags her back into the house. 

What do you do?

You know - hope - the police are on the way, but you don't hear any sirens coming.

The sounds of breaking glass continue.  The screams get louder, and at least to your ear, become more desperate.

What do you do?

She starts screaming for help.  It sounds like she's losing strength.

What do you do?

They come tumbling out of the doorway, both covered in blood.  You can now hear sirens in the distance.  Perhaps 45 seconds away.

What do you do?

The husband throws the wife on the ground, sits on her chest, and starts open-hand slapping her face.   You see a pistol tucked into the back of his waistband.  Police are 30 seconds away.

What do you do?

Remember, step on to the street with a gun, and you've lost your legal protection of curtilage.

If you interject into this argument, you have the potential to end up in jail, particularly if you use your gun in any way.

If you don't interject, the wife may end up dead, but you're off the hook legally.

From the article -
These questions get to the heart of how prepared you are to stop a crime, even when your life may not be immediately in danger but someone else’s is.  In Arizona, for example, people are legally authorized to use deadly force to stop a crime in progress if another person’s life is at risk.  What about your state?  Does your state offer protections to “Good Samaritans” that use their gun to stop a crime?  Does your state provide you with legal protections, or will it leave you with the risk of being thrown in jail for the rest of your life, for the crime of protecting someone else’s life?
Again, as Zimmerman/Martin showed us, even when clearly acting in defense of yourself - let alone in defense of someone else - you risk being tried for murder.

Accept The Challenge

We make mistakes - sometimes mistakes which will result in the forfeiture of our personal wealth and liberty - most often when we act impulsively.  Most folks gut, primal reaction would be to go club the bastard to death.  If he had a gun, blow his brains out.

Conversely, too much hesitation in defending yourself or another because you're worried about lawsuits and liability can result in your death or injury, or the death or injury of others.

Think through scenarios before you're put into a real-life situation.

What are you going to say, what are you going to do, if:
Someone breaks into your house
You see a hold-up happening at a gas station
You see a woman being raped in an alley by one man.  By 3 men.
You see 4 teens beating someone unconscious with bats and fists
You see 4 adults beating someone unconscious with bats and fists
The laws are different for different states with regards to the "good Samaritan" laws.  How does your state stack up?

Get informed on your state's laws, and walk through some scenarios now, while you're cool, calm and collected.  To do otherwise could result in the loss of your freedom and fortune.

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Adam said...

Excellent article. I tell people all the time when they ask if they can use deadly force... "You need to read the laws on deadly force and you must understand them. Further, you MUST be ready to accept whatever consequences come about from your actions."

I never tell people in circumstance xyz you can shoot someone. It doesn't work like that. It all depends on the "totality of the circumstances."

Any time you intervene you can be caught up in the politics of it and be charged. We don't necessarily arrest everyone if they shoot. You'll need to provide a good statement as to why you're doing it. And if you say "I'll talk to you tomorrow with my lawyer." Unless there are other witnesses who can provide what happened, the chances are you'll be charged because there is nothing to refute the fact that there is someone shot and/or dead on the ground, you did it, and there no story behind how it happened.

Sometimes people use imperfect self defense or defense of others and they go overboard. The only way to be within the law is to study it. What takes you a split second will take a judge, jury and attorneys days, weeks, months, and years to determine. They don't see it in the immediacy that you do.

You must understand your local laws.

Chief Instructor said...

Amen, brother.

The key thing with accepting the responsibility to owning a gun is something you mentioned, and which I make the cornerstone of my introductory gun class: It depends.

In short, it means that every situation will be different. In one home, a safe direction for a muzzle might be facing down towards the floor. In another, that might be the absolute worst direction. Before you pick up the gun, you must determine the safe direction.

Same goes for when to shoot/don't shoot. You must assess the situation prior to acting.

Am I going to shoot that guy? It depends. Am I in fear for my life or severe harm? Do I have a reasonable way to stop an attack without using lethal force? Me, a 6' 3" male in decent shape may answer that question differently than a 5 foot tall, 75 year old frail woman.

Think it through BEFORE you're in a crappy situation.