“If I pull the gun I don’t pull it to scare ’em.” That’s Army vet and motorcyclist Don Hunter’s proud pronouncement to the Oklahoma TV news crew re: the fact that he shot a man attempting to rob him. At the end of the report, Hunter reiterates his pre-planned armed self-defense strategy. “I don’t shoot to wound ’em. I shoot to kill ’em.” Oy vey. Let’s go over this again . . .
Legally speaking, you NEVER shoot to kill ANYONE. If you make that admission to a 911 operator, responding cops, the media leeches and/or your neighbors, you have just admitted to intentional homicide. casebriefs.com tells us that here are two types of intentional homicide: manslaughter and murder.
Murder is the commission of homicide with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought denotes purpose and intent, as opposed to accident and mischance. It may be express or implied.
Manslaughter is intentional homicide committed without malice. Proof of provocation or extreme emotional disturbance reduces intentional homicide from murder to manslaughter.
If a prosecutor gets a hard-on for you, if the circumstances of your defensive gun use (DGU) are less than clear-cut or political concerns inspire them to charge you with murder, they need to prove “malice aforethought.” They have to show you wanted to murder the victim. Even better, you planned on murdering them – even if you didn’t personally know the victim before he or she or they showed up.
If you go on record saying “I don’t shoot to wound ’em. I shoot to kill ’em” you have made the prosecutor’s job a lot easier. The prosecutor may eventually walk down the charge from murder to manslaughter, but that still sucks. Ideally, you don’t want to be charged with anything. So it’s best not to say anything that will cast doubt on your assertion that “My (or other innocent) life was in danger. I didn’t have a choice.”
Simply put, you shoot to stop the threat. The fact that the perforated person or persons died as a result of your ballistic defense is a deeply regrettable, entirely unintentional side-effect. “I just wanted to stop him.” Not kill. Stop. Shooting to stop the threat is 100 percent self-defense.
Words are not magic talismans. No matter what you say or don’t say to the police or prosecutors after an entirely lawful DGU you can still face horrendous legal and financial fallout. To increase the odds of walking away from a DGU with minimal personal damage you need to follow the advice of an old British aphorism: “when you’re in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging.”