5 Sept 18

Deadly Force!

“Shoot, when you have no choice!

Don’t, when you have other choices that are reasonably safe.

When you have no choice except to shoot, who cares if it’s ‘legal?’

When you don’t need to shoot, who cares if it would have been ‘legal?’”


The foregoing quotation, from a celebrated lawyer, represents his inevitable answer to the naive question:

“Can/should I shoot someone if they ….?”

When you’re involved in a deadly-force incident, particularly one where guns were present, here are some factors that will lend credibility to your case:

1) You were not the “initial aggressor”

When it becomes obvious to the jury that you were going about in public, armed with a deadly weapon, presenting yourself as “bait,” looking/hoping for an “opportunity,” an “excuse,” to shoot someone, as did Paul Kersey (played by Charles Bronson) in the original (1974) version of “Death Wish,” don’t expect much sympathy, regardless of other facts in the case.

Prosecutors refer to this attitude as “the malignant mind.” The Latin is “mens rea.”

The “Death Wish” motif may be made into an entertaining film, but neither prosecutors, nor juries, will have any tolerance for it!

Don’t go anywhere with a gun, that you wouldn’t go without a gun!

2) Even when you were not the initial aggressor, when in a public place and faced with someone offering violence and/or wishing to engage in violence, you declined confrontation and instead made a reasonable effort to disengage and separate (assuming it was mostly safe to do so).

In order to qualify as an “innocent party” you must not say, nor do, anything that a reasonable person would interpret as aggravating/challenging the aggressor(s).

The horn on your car is there solely to “prevent accidents” Employing it to “scold” or “punish” other drivers and pedestrians represents a conspicuous misuse, and is thus illegal, no matter who is “at fault.”

Like your car’s horn, using your gun because you’re frightened (assuming your fears are genuine
and legitimate), is acceptable.

Using your gun because you’re angry, is not acceptable!

When “sorting motives,” the prosecutor needs to see yours as sensible and respectable!

3) You were “first to the phone” and reported the incident to police as soon as you could.

In the eyes of prosecutors, “flight equals guilt,” always! Guilt also attaches to excessive delay in reporting the incident. Who flee the scene and try to evade police are always seen as “guilty parties.”

In conclusion:

In most states, citizens of character are now trusted to “go armed.” Legally-armed citizens are not required to be “perfect.” But, we are required to be “reasonable.”

No matter the outcome, investigators, prosecutors, and juries need to interpret your actions as reasonable, and your motives as those of a “good person.”

“Discernment is the son of good judgment, and the father of self-control.”

Criss Jami