When You Can Legally Shoot Someone: Guns for Beginners

A Texan can shoot someone “who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property.” In the northeast, shooting a fleeing nighttime burglar would win a gun owner some an extended stay in the rebar hotel. If you haven’t already done your pre-defensive gun use deadly force homework . . .

fire-up the Google search engine, enter your home state’s name and “legal use of deadly force” and press play. Read your state’s actual statute.

There are some general rules for letting loose the ballistic dogs of war. The basic formula is simple enough: you can shoot someone if they pose an imminent, credible threat of death or grievous bodily harm. Let’s break that down . . .

Imminent

dictionary.com defines “imminent” as “likely to occur at any moment; impending.” From a gun owner’s point-of-view, it’s better to define “imminent” as “in the process of happening.” It’s a subtle but crucial difference.

An imminent threat of grievous bodily harm or death isn’t a threat that’s about to happen. It’s a threat that’s actually happening. A threat is imminent if the bad guy or guys are actively trying to hurt or kill you (or other innocent life).

If someone across the street waves a knife at you and says “Hey d-bag! I’m going to f you up,” that’s a threat of grievous bodily harm or death. But it’s not an imminent threat. Not until they cross the street and begin their attack.

By the same token, if you escape someone who tries to hurt or kill you, you can’t grab your gun, return and open fire. In that case you’re shooting a potential threat, not an imminent threat — even though the threat was imminent.

Credible

dictionary.com defines “credible” as “believable.” From a gun owner’s point-of-view, that’s pretty much it.

If the person waving a knife and threatening you from across the street is an elderly woman in a wheelchair, that’s not a credible threat. If she starts a slow roll in your direction, stand your ground laws be damned, that’s still not a credible threat. If she aims a rifle at you from across the street, yeah, that qualifies.

Grievous bodily harm

dictionary.com defines “grievous” as causing great pain or suffering. From a gun owner’s point-of-view, it’s better to define “grievous” as a significant, sustained injury.

While a slap across the face can be plenty painful, that kind of bodily harm doesn’t justifies a ballistic response. An imminent, credible prospect of sexual assault, however, does.

Wiggle Room

With all these terms — imminent, credible, grievous — there’s plenty of wiggle room. For example, there’ve been women who’ve shot and killed their abuser when he wasn’t in the process of abusing them.  Their defense lawyer stretched the definition of an “imminent threat” to successfully claimed justifiable homicide.

All these conditions are subject to interpretation (a.k.a., Monday morning quarterbacking) by the police, prosecutor, judge and/or jury. (Not to mention friends, family, co-workers, employers and the media.) The authorities and your peers are supposed to make their judgements based on what’s called the “totality of circumstances”: the who, what, when, where, how and why of the entire incident.

They are also supposed to be constrained by what’s called the “reasonable person standard.” They’re supposed to ask themselves if a reasonable person in the same circumstances would consider the threat imminent, credible and potentially grievous or deadly. (Click here for a full explanation of these concepts.)

In conclusion . . .

Generally speaking, you can legally shoot someone who’s in the process of attacking you (or other innocent life) if they’re fully capable of seriously hurting or killing you (or other innocent life).

Of course, just because you can shoot someone doesn’t necessarily mean you should — especially if you can run away or use some effective form of non-firearm self-defense. But you are on safe ground if you do. Depending on where you live and other factors beyond your control. But at least you have a reasonable chance of being alive to confront them.

comments

  1. avatar MamaLiberty says:

    And… except for some crowded cities, if you have a DGU that does not involve shooting, don’t call the police. If you must call them, don’t talk to them. If you have a pre-paid attorney plan, call them instead.

    That ought to be part of any information such as this article.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Whoa! Hang on there!

      ALWAYS call the police after ANY defensive gun use, including “simple” brandishing. If you don’t, you run the risk of the bad guy or guys reporting you to the police as an armed aggressor.

      You can’t afford to wait for your lawyer to get back to you. Any delay can be used against you in a court of law.

      Failing to call the cops could be one huge sticky wicket. Demeaning, time-consuming, money-devouring, gun rights threatening.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        I’ve got to lean toward Mama L’s position on this one, but it depends on the situation. If someone tries to rob me with a kni fe and I show my weapon and he flees and there are no witnesses I’m keeping it to myself. If it’s an incident of road rage maybe I call. If I break up a convenience store robbery and there are obvious witnesses I definitely call or have the clerk call. The robber isn’t likely to call 911 since there’s a high probability of him being arrested (yes, I know, there are criminals dumb enough to do it), the road rager might call to get revenge. Lots of scenarios in between, but to my knowledge there’s no law that says you have to report a crime.

      2. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

        The advice I was given was to immediately call the police and tell them you have been the victim of a crime and ask them to come. Hang up and when they call back (they will) don’t answer. Call you insurance provider and tell them what happened and let them know the police are on their way.

        1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

          Yeah, it really is that simple. Your own linked article says the danger posed by not calling it in is grave.

        2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          ‘The option of reporting the incident to the police has a strong potential for an immediately felt downside—interaction with law enforcement officers who know nothing about you except that you just self-reported having threatened another person with a firearm.

          On it’s face, that admission alone is sufficient to support a number of prospective criminal charges, ranging on the low end from disorderly conduct, through brandishing, all the up to aggravated ass ault. That last charge is good in many jurisdictions for 10-15 years, and more in jurisdictions with sentencing enhancements for the use of a firearm in a crime…’

          Sounds like a pretty compelling reason for not self reporting to me. The downside is that in the <1% chance the bad g uy has the balls to call the incident in himself it might make you look bad once you're facing the same charges you would have been facing anyway by self reporting.

          People get mugged all the time and don't bother reporting it because they know there's no chance the cops will apprehend the bad g uy since they won't even show up for 20 minutes. Failure to report a crime is not a crime.

        3. avatar Geoff PR says:

          “Failure to report a crime is not a crime.”

          Eh, I’m not sure about that…

        4. avatar ropingdown says:

          Misprision of felony is concealment of a felony by a person aware or cognizant thereof. It is a cime in many jurisdictions.

        5. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Misprision huh? So if a woman is raped and doesn’t report the rape she can go to jail for not reporting it? Or if leave your gat in the car while you’re in a GFZ and someone breaks in and steals it, you can go to jail for not reporting the theft? Seems like a pretty big can of worms there. And if you’re the one accused of the felony, there’s a little thing called the 5th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, so this can only apply to the victims and third parties.

      3. avatar FedUp says:

        Robert places more trust in LE than many of us do.
        It’s one of the reasons why I laugh every time somebody with an agenda calls him anti-cop.

  2. avatar Geoff PR says:

    “A Texan can shoot someone “who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property.””

    That right there is proof God blesses Texas, and those who reside there… 😉

    1. avatar Paul53 says:

      Long live The Republic of Texas!

    2. avatar Gnorts, Mr. Alien! says:

      This is also Madd (from the) Clapp’s cue to chime in and say, “Texas is full to the rafters with a-holes” as zhe is wont to do.

    3. avatar Ragnarredbeard says:

      Texas is great. Read a story of a guy who lived in a 2nd floor apartment who heard some noise in the middle of the night and looked out a window and saw some guy jacking with his car. So he went out on the balcony and shot the guy with a deer rifle. No charges. I loved living in Texas back in the day.

      Oh, and its not just shooting a guy. East Texas rancher in the 90s caught a guy rustling his stock and he strung him up from a tree. County Sheriff came by and said its within the law. County prosecutor no billed him. Apparently its still on the books in Texas that you can string up a rustler.

  3. avatar Paul53 says:

    Wish you’d speak more on disparity of force. I’m 64, just 6 months free of cancer, unable to fight or run due to injuries and prosthetics.
    Granny with a gun has a distinct advantage with the wheelchair.
    Parking lots I fear most. I’m between 2 cars and suddenly confronted from ahead and behind. Been there done that. Had I not recognized 1 of 2 dirt bags from high school a fight was imminent.
    Lots of examples, but the message is I’m more likely to shoot sooner than a young healthy potential victim.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Please click on the link provided re: the reasonable person standard.

      Here it is again: http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/11/robert-farago/gun-for-beginners-the-totality-of-circumstances-reasonable-person-standard/

      1. avatar Paul53 says:

        Awesome! Thanks Robert.

    2. avatar strych9 says:

      Jeeze. Best wishes for you to recover as much as possible as rapidly as possible!

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Don’t fuck with old guys. We’ll kill you and take our chances with a jury.

        We know our chances are pretty good.

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          My dad is sufficiently old and curmudgeonly that I have learned that were I to “fuck with” and old guy they’d be dead or dying before they knew what happened because I don’t really fancy getting shot repeatedly.

          Old guys; they’ve got one foot in the grave already and they know it. No sense in giving them even half a chance to take you with them.

        2. avatar ProfessorManque says:

          You posing macho losers would sheet your pants if confronted… and shooting someone is not something to laugh about, anyone who is not a sociopath who has actually shot someone knows this, it is traumatic, as awful as anything you can imagine and should be avoided at all costs… most of you NRA Trump acolyte imbeciles joke about it using your power to get away with grabbin em by the puuusssssyyyyy….

        3. avatar Scoutino says:

          ProfessionalMacaque has no idea of what I can imagine. Shooting someone is not nearly as traumatic and awful as say GETTING shot or stabbed.

          I would sleep like a baby knowing that my shooting someone prevented the same ‘someone’ from hurting my children or wife. Or myself for that matter. Call me sociopath if it makes you feel better.

          Now cry a bit more about how your side lost in last elections.

  4. avatar Geoff PR says:

    “By the same token, if you escape someone who tries to hurt or kill you, you can’t grab your gun, return and open fire.”

    Translation : A sleazeball thug comes up from behind you, does a ‘knockout game’ on you and drops you like a sack of wet cement and strolls away with his buddies laughing about it you cannot draw and open fire.

    Just get a description of the attacker (if possible) and report it to the cops…

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      A few years ago, some wimpy youth tried to play the knockout game with a stun gun.
      The victim had a heavy coat that prevented the stunning, and a CPL. The youth got himself shot, as he was a proven attacker who still had the capacity to do harm. At the time, the victim didn’t even know what happened, he just knew he’d been stabbed from behind, so he assumed it was with a knife, not a stun gun.

  5. avatar Texas Gun Gal says:

    With so many people moving to Texas from blue states and bringing their failed gun grabbing ways with them!
    Seriously doubt “reasonable” is in their vocabulary.
    If I have to defend my life will go with disparity of force. Sixty six years old, left hip replacement, if I fall down I can’t get up by myself. Any defense attorney worth lizard spit, would defend on disparities of victim vs bad guy.

  6. avatar Echo5Bravo says:

    Can someone please explain to me what is going on in the picture accompanying this article. Maybe its a bad camera angle, but sure looks like that weapon is pointed at him. Why is there a weapon up behind the line when there is a blue training gun sitting right there? How does this picture belong with this article? Or is it just me?

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      The gun is pointed safely down range. The picture illustrates gun training, which includes use of force instruction.

      What image would you suggest?

      1. avatar Echo5Bravo says:

        I would suggest using the blue training gun sitting on the bench in front of her, that’s what its there for. Maybe I’m just being picky from lack of coffee this morning. You did explain so thank you.

      2. avatar Echo5Bravo says:

        Okay. Thanks Robert. Its just me, happens sometimes maybe more coffee this morning will help.

  7. avatar Joe R. says:

    This is what happens when you let others define the parameters for your safety. Give the bad guys full access to rubbing distance on the limits of your safety. Give them room to laterally position themselves by defining loose limits to their threats. Give them ample room to fall back to cover to re-group, or redirect their aggression unimpeded against someone else. And more people are goong to wind up hurt or dead, and bad behavior will be incentivized by a lack of legal consequence (that they are not even likely considering in the first place so you shouldn’t be more impeded than they are).

    Tie should at leat go to the runner. Rules of Engagement, and Escalation of Force, in daily life, will just leave you frustrated and wanting to shoot someone. And THEY ARE AN AFTER-THE-FACT JUDGMENT NIGHTMARE concocted (civilian-wise) by people that don’t give an F about you, or the society-filled individuals that they helped foster to be your constant potential problems.

  8. avatar Ralph says:

    Several commenters have wisely noted the “disparity of force” issue, which is an especially critical part of the legal defense when the attacker is unarmed and the defender has a firearm. Elderly and women defenders will benefit the most; bodybuilders and Krav Maga experts the least.

    I’ll also note that there have been cases where the defender brandished his firearm in self defense but did not shoot, and the BG made the first (and mostly the only) call to the cops. Not surprisingly, the defender was arrested and the BG walked.

    You do what you want, but if I have to brandish my firearm in self defense, I’m calling the cops right away. If they manage to catch up to the BG and he puts the blame on me, I’ll leave him to explain why I made the call and he didn’t.

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      OK, my decision matrix has four result quadrants:

      1. I don’t call, he calls, cops arrest me on his word if they catch me with a gun.
      2. I don’t call, he doesn’t call. I go on with my life, he buys new underwear.
      3. I call, he doesn’t call, cops probably never find him. They may or may not hassle or, at worst, arrest me.
      4. We both call, they may take my word and arrest him, especially if he has an arrest record. They may say ‘it’s your word against his, we can’t get a conviction on either of you without independent verification. Or they might arrest me because I’m the one with the gun, or because I have an arrest record for Contempt of Cop Felonious Assault of a Police Officer’s Flashlight with the Back of My Head.

      So, 4 is better than 1, and 2 is better than 3. The questions are, what are the odds your attacker will volunteer himself to the cops, and how much better than 1 is 4, and how much worse than 2 is 3? In my case, I doubt 4 beats 1 by very much.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        FedUp,

        Your matrix is accurate.

        In my opinion, whether or not to call depends on the circumstances. In broad terms:
        (1) If your attacker is an “urban professional” thug who tried to to jack you up, that thug is NOT going to call police and I would not be concerned about calling police either.
        (2) If your attacker is coming after you for a personal slight (e.g. rebuffing their unwanted advances, reporting them late for work which gets them fired, road rage, abusive spouse, allegedly flirting with someone’s girl/boyfriend at a party, etc.), then I would call the police right away.

        1. avatar ropingdown says:

          Your assessment of ” ‘urban professional’ thug” is not a universal reality. In Philadelphia some years ago and man and woman accosted a commuter on his way to the office. The woman demanded his wallet. The male of the mugging pair flashed a butcher knife. The victim had been issued a “license to carry firearms,” (which he left at home….). The muggers fled. The male with the knife called 911 reporting “a man brandishing a pistol.” The police promptly arrested and jailed the commuter for brandishing, and for carrying without an LCF.

          The mayor and chief of police were publicly against white guys from the suburbs carrying guns. A former mayor, John Street, came out publicly calling the licnses racist, because “so many black Philadelphians were disqualified from obtaining a license.

          You have to know your local law. I would call 911 immediately anytime I have to present a firearm to stop an aggression. I have done so twice, and it has worked out as it should.

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      “Drawandfire” is and should remain, a single word. You will not discover me waving my gun around.

      1. avatar Scoutino says:

        I tend to agree. If my situation is so bad that I have to pull my gun, it has to be bad enough to shoot. It’s up to the attacker to try and break off his attack fast enough and clearly enough to make me interrupt my defense.

  9. avatar Hank says:

    There’s also a disparity of force, an elderly and/or handicapped person attacked by an unarmed youth or a gang of kids might rightly feel so threatened that deadly force is justified. And if someone threatens to kill you and you later see that person coming your way carrying a potentially lethal weapon (baseball bat, screwdriver, hammer) a reasonable person might conclude they’ve returned to fulfill the threat and then use deadly force when they get close.

  10. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    ‘Read your state’s actual statute.’

    That sums it up right there. In fact, read it twice.

    1. avatar Stereodude says:

      Then read it a few more times.

  11. avatar Felix says:

    I had some fun once trying to define “threat”. The best I could come up with was “imminently unavoidable harm”. My best plain English definition was that if you had acted just a split second later, the threat would have been made good. My definition of justifiable self-defense was anything appropriate which stopped the threat before it became real.

    I could not think of anything which was not subject to quibble.

  12. avatar Kendahl says:

    Reading the statute is only half of it. You also need to research court decisions based on the statute. This is called case law or legal precedent. It’s at least as important as the actual statute. For example, California, of all places, is a stand your ground state. There is no statute that affirms your right to fight back rather than retreat. However, the precedent was established in the late nineteenth century and still holds. At this point, overturning stand your ground would require a new law.

    My advice is to buy and carefully read Andrew Branca’s book, The Law of Self Defense. Then, take one of his live classes. He has started offering them online, via Facebook, at half price since he doesn’t incur travel expenses.

  13. avatar strych9 says:

    It should however be 100% legal to shoot someone, such as the guy with Ms. Liberte here, who manages to make a North Face jacket look that… frumpy…

    1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      Seriously, that’s a guy??

    2. avatar Stereodude says:

      But her camo boots are just oh so stylish! 😉

  14. avatar FedUp says:

    “With all these terms — imminent, credible, grievous — there’s plenty of wiggle room. For example, there’ve been women who’ve shot and killed their abuser when he wasn’t in the process of abusing them. Their defense lawyer stretched the definition of an “imminent threat” to successfully claimed justifiable homicide.”

    There’s a lot of inconsistency in the application, and the inconsistencies tend to weigh against those who defend themselves with firearms. For example, take Francine Hughes. When she got tired of her husband’s crap, she didn’t run away while he slept and file for divorce and a restraining order, she poured gasoline on him as he slept and sent him to the most gruesome death possible. What happened to her? Farrah Fawcett-Majors, the leading Hollywood Hot Chick of the day, portrayed her in a movie, that’s what happened to her.

    Not many years after Hughes’ acquittal, a black woman pulled a gun from behind the sofa and shot her abuser dead, while he was abusing her. She was prosecuted under the same state’s laws as Hughes. Unlike Hughes, she went to prison, although the circumstances of the homicide she committed were much more favorable. Is it because she was black? Because she used a gun? Because the feminists didn’t make her their national mascot?
    All I know is that if there were such a thing as justice in the world, this woman whose name I can’t remember would not have been punished by society more severely than Hughes.

  15. avatar Bruce Maxwell says:

    So, not when the pizza guy is late then?

    1. avatar Echo5Bravo says:

      Well maybe she was singing the National Anthem when she arrived?

      1. avatar FedUp says:

        Or she refused to go out with him?

    2. avatar Scoutino says:

      Depends. How late are we talking? 🙂

  16. avatar DonS says:

    Read your state’s actual statute.
    There are some general rules for letting loose the ballistic dogs of war. The basic formula is simple enough: you can shoot someone if they pose an imminent, credible threat of death or grievous bodily harm.

    Yeah, read the statutes. Especially if/when different statutes apply depending on location.

    For example, in Colorado, we don’t need no stinkin’ “imminent, credible threat of death or grievous bodily harm” before we can use deadly force against an intruder in our home. The statute (CRS 18-1-704.5) specifically says:

    and when the occupant reasonably believes that such other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant.

    Based on the plain text of the statute (and including all of the other required elements), if:
    * unknown intruder enters my house unlawfully;
    * I see him pick up my laptop and head for the front door; and
    * I reasonably believe he might nudge my wife out of the way
    I am justified in using deadly force against him. And I’ll be immune from criminal prosecution and civil liability.

    EDIT: Yes, I’ve read the various Colorado appellate and Supreme court cases that have addressed the statute. They all seem to focus on “unlawful entry” or the definition of “dwelling”. None of them (that I’ve seen, at least) have ever addressed the level of threat faced by the shooter.

    1. avatar Bruce says:

      My memory is that the entry, per se doesn’t have to be unlawful, but, rather, that the 2nd party is there unlawfully. Usually works out the same – except there was an early case (under the CO “make my day” law) where permission to be in the House was revoked. Everyone apparently knew that the shooter here was not a law abiding citizen, and this case was held out as an example of how the law could be abused. Nevertheless, even after getting off here, he ultimately ended up in prison on another matter.

      1. avatar DonS says:

        My memory is that the entry, per se doesn’t have to be unlawful, but, rather, that the 2nd party is there unlawfully. … permission to be in the House was revoked.

        That sounds like you’re equating “unlawful entry” with “remaining unlawfully”. The Colorado Court of Appeals has expressly stated that the terms are not equal and the statute requires an “unlawful entry”.

        It’s probably not the one you’re thinking of (since it was a stabbing instead of a shooting), but a case that addresses exactly this issue is 1993’s People v. Drennon.

        In that one, victim knocked on defendant’s door. defendant said “come in”. Victim and defendant then got into an argument and victim was told to leave. When the victim did not leave, defendant stabbed him twice. Defendant was charged with second and third degree assault.

        The trial court interpreted the statute’s “unlawful entry” as including “remain unlawfully” and, based on that interpretation, dismissed the charges against defendant. The People appealed the trial court’s order.

        The Court of Appeals court reversed the dismissal of charges, saying that “unlawful entry” does not include “remain unlawfully” after a lawful (e.g. invited) entry:

        In this case, the victim was invited into the defendant’s residence. Only later was the victim asked to leave. Consequently, in accordance with the explicit terms of the statute, the defendant has failed to establish the legal elements of § 18-1-704.5 to bar prosecution.
        The order of dismissal is reversed, and the cause is remanded for reinstatement of the charges.

  17. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

    “Generally speaking, you can legally shoot someone … if they’re fully capable of seriously hurting or killing you (or other innocent life).”

    One not so small issue with this: The standard isn’t that they *are capable*, it’s that a reasonable person would *think them capable* of seriously hurting or killing you. So if they’re threatening you with a fake gun you may be justified in shooting them if you reasonably thought it was real.

    1. avatar ropingdown says:

      In my state the question for proof is not whether you reasonably believed the toy gun was a real gun. Rather, the question is whether you actually believed it was real. (The motivation for our rule should be obvious.)

      1. avatar Bruce says:

        Typically, you have to have both – a subjective belief and an objective belief. You have to personally believe that he poses such a danger, and he has to, in fact, have done so. That said, the determination is from the point of view of the DGU shooter claiming self-defense. This means that he can legally shoot someone if he knows that the danger is real, even if the other party does not. Wife has had a number of back surgeries, and someone knocking her down would likely put her in the hospital as a result (for more back surgeries). It doesn’t matter that this is not visible – it only matters that we know it, and can take it into account with a DGU.

        1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

          “You have to personally believe that he poses such a danger, and he has to, in fact, have done so”

          My point is that he does not have to *in fact* pose a danger. If you honestly and reasonably believe he’s an imminent threat you’re morally and legally justified using lethal force.

          I think you were going from the other side though where the *perp* doesn’t realize he’s an imminent threat, which is an interesting aspect I hadn’t really thought of.

      2. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

        I’ll stand by the first part of that post but my example wandered into the world of lawyerly language and probably failed.

        1. avatar ropingdown says:

          Lawyerly language itself fails often enough: lawyers often times can’t agree what particular phrases mean except on Bar Exams. Once joined into sentences and paragraphs it’s anybody’s guess, and the judge gets to decide, just until his ruling appears before an appellate court. As the NY hedgies say “a contract is simply an opportunity to renegotiate.” But didn’t the contract say…….?

  18. avatar Jeff Purvis says:

    I’m a 22 year Texas lawyer with 14 years as a Board Certified criminal law specialist. The Texas statute quoted at the beginning of this article does not end with a period as shown. There should be a semicolon followed by the word “and.” Following that, there is a provision that the property cannot be recovered by any other means. Tex. Penal Code Sec. 9.42(3). If the grand jury thinks you could have gotten your property back by calling the police rather than killinga man, you’re going to get indicted for murder. I would advise you NOT to “read the statute.” The law isn’t some grand puzzle for you to solve so that you can legally kill. Just follow this rule: don’t shoot someone unless you absolutely have to, and you’ll be just fine.

    1. avatar the bastard from Ballarat says:

      in a close-quarters, panic-type situation……when confronted with a much bigger, much younger and armed opponent in yr own home/property, it is difficult to make fine legal decisions….
      the best advice is that contained in this YouTube…
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7o9xYp7eE ;

      1. avatar the bastard from Ballarat says:

        (that said: you obviously wouldn’t be shooting some-one who just jumped over yr front fence to get a drink a water @ yr front-yard water faucet)

  19. avatar A O says:

    Replace the word “imminent” with IMMEDIATE any time you see it in deadly force statutes and the law will become clear when you can fulfill that criteria.

  20. avatar MyName says:

    All you gotta do is buy some of that murder insurance, amiright?

    1. avatar ropingdown says:

      —you advocating putting out a contract? That’s the only “murder insurance” I’m cognizant of. As a young attorney I thought those were only in the repertoire of the Colombians. Then one night when I was travelling Chuck Peruto (Sr,) took my girlfriend and her roommate on a tour of South Philadelphia bars, pointing out, as they went, “hit men” recently involved in court processes. What a world. ACP encouraged me not to drop out of Geo, It was 1L , Spring, and I was fed up….

  21. At 13:22, Mr. Purvis made the most useful comment regarding this matter:

    “…don’t shoot someone unless you absolutely have to…”

    All of our legal concepts, i.e.: reasonable person, imminent, immediate, grievous injury, death, etc. are all contained in this one complete thought.

  22. avatar ropingdown says:

    I hope that readers realize that there is no generic “covers all states” definition of self-defense or standard of proof. My state, Pennsylvania, for example, does not have a jury examine whether a reasonable man would believe his life or limb was in danger, but rather instructs a jury to find use of lethal force “justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.” 18 Pa.C.S. § 505.

    We use a so-called “subjective objective” standard. Our laws provide much protection for those pushed to use lethal force. Should such person nonetheless find herself charged and defending in court, she can still offer the affirmative defense of self-defense, which requires proffering a modicum of evidence, usually the defendant’s own testimony. From that point on the burden of proof shifts back to the prosecutor, who must convince the judge or jury beyond any reasonable doubt that it was actually not self-defense.

    Our statute does not provide a simple standard, but instead leaves much to the jury, which must, and is free to, consider “the totality of circumstances” in reaching a verdict.

    Our statute explicitly requires only that an aggressor is “about” to cause death, grievous injury, kidnapping, or forcible rape.” Again, the totality of the circumstances (good lawyering) will settle the issue as to whether “about” was ….about.

  23. avatar Anymouse says:

    Keep in mind that the jury is supposed to use a “reasonable person” standard to determine if you really felt the attacker had the capability and intent to hurt you. A pretty young woman is going to get a lot more leaway than a big OFWG.

  24. avatar ropingdown says:

    SPOUTABLE: It’s constantly popping up on my mac laptop, unbidden. I’ve never had a problem with TTAG’s ads before.

  25. avatar Tom in NC says:

    “If someone across the street waves a knife at you and says “Hey d-bag! I’m going to f you up,” that’s a threat of grievous bodily harm or death. But it’s not an imminent threat. Not until they cross the street and begin their attack.”

    The imminence of the threat depends on a number of factors, including the width of the street, the age and fitness of the person making the threat, any intervening obstacles, width of the street, etc. among other factors such as your conduct (innocence) and your abilities (e.g., disparities as others have mentioned). Personally, even though I’m a pretty big guy, somebody younger and seemingly more fit than me waving a knife at me from across a narrow street and verbalizing his intentions as above is very likely to get a gun pointed at him if not shot. But I will still do everything possible to NOT shoot.

    Reference Tueller…

  26. avatar adverse4 says:

    I have one law: I don’t shoot until I have to. I have not had to yet (since 1965). I’m hoping I can keep that string going.

  27. avatar VerendusAudeo says:

    The problem with defining reason is that stupid people are unreasonable. Like the guy who murdered his neighbor at his own doorway because the music at his party was too loud. The guy recorded the whole altercation and loudly announced that he ‘felt threatened’ and was ‘standing his ground’.

  28. avatar joetast says:

    I never call the cops because I never shoot nobody that I can’t drag to the hog pen.

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