Edison High (courtesy fresnobee.com)

When it comes to armed self-defense, it’s not really a matter of “letting” school teachers carry in school. All Americans have a natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Why should that right end at the school gates? Here’s why it shouldn’t: “Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer announced on Christmas Eve that four male teenage Norteno gang members were arrested as suspects in the shooting of an Edison High School teacher,” fresnobee.com reports. “Dyer said the boys, one 17 and the others 16 years old, entered the classroom at 7 p.m. Thursday just after Edison trainer Steven Guerrero called his wife to say he was leaving. Dyer said the 17-year-old pointed a handgun at Guerrero, and another boy hit the trainer and part-time teacher in the head with a 25-pound weight.” (The AP reports that one of the gang bangers held a sawn-off shotgun; the group was attempting to steal a computer.) And then . . .

The blow momentarily stunned Guerrero, but then the teacher knocked the gun away before the oldest boy grabbed it and fired five times, with two shots hitting Guerrero. He sustained wounds that were not life-threatening. He grabbed the gun and fired one shot at the boys as they fled.

There’s your trouble: shooting at the “boys” as they left the scene. Unless Guerrero thought his attackers were going to turn around and renew their assault, the shots weren’t defensive. Yes, result. Yes, who knows if this story has been accurately reported by the media. But technically, that an offensive gun use.

A thought which may offend some readers, especially when they learn that . . .

[Chief] Dyer said a break in the case occurred when a 62-year-old woman told police that four boys, one armed with a handgun and another with a sawed-off rifle, beat her in an alley near the school just before the shooting. Police then got five search warrants. Dyer said one search of a home near the school led to the discovery of a bullet from the handgun allegedly used in the shooting.

Given the fact that the thugs were known members of a gang (a.k.a, a criminal organization) you could say that the teacher’s decision to fire at them after a brutal assault was a defensive gun use on behalf of society. But I couldn’t possibly comment.

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52 Responses to Defensive Gun Use of the Day: Was It Defensive? Edition

  1. No, they were still armed as far as he knew, they had demonstrated the will to attempt murder through the use of blunt trauma, and they were moving to a position of tactical advantage. He had every right to shoot at them before they gained that tactical advantage.

    • My thoughts exactly. They could’ve just been regrouping for another attack. They obviously had already shown their intent. But of course, that’s not how the law (especially in California) will see it. Meanwhile, if a cop shot them under the same set of circumstances…

        • Indeed. CA self defense laws aren’t good, but these were gang bangers who attack an unarmed teacher at a school en masse. Shooting in the back should absolutely be self defense in this scenario even though it is counterintuitive. The gang members could have very well renewed their attack once they had reached a position of advantage. Acting in concert, they are all assailants and therefore attackers. This man acting very quickly, and in my opinion, very well.

          It is to our advantage to replay and learn from these scenarios as much as possible. I worked an attempted murder case where a man was stabbed in the back while sitting. The victim jumped up, grabbed the chair he was sitting on, and used the chair to knock the knife out of his attackers hands. The victim then charged forward with the chair lion-tamer style and forced his assailant into a seated position on top of another chair at the end of the room. The victim held his attacker and called for help. Although the victim nearly died twice from his grievous wounds, he fought through the injuries and joined me in testifying against his attacker. The attacker was incarcerated and sentenced to 15 years.

          Even without a weapon, the will to fight counts for a hell of a lot.

        • “Weak to nonexistent castle doctrine”???? Says who? True, California does not have an explicit “castle doctrine,” i.e., a law named as such, but it does provide, by statute, that the use of force in defense of an unconsented entry into your abode is presumed lawful self-defense. This is a presumption that “affects the burden of proof”, that requires the prosecutor to prove not only that you wounded/killed an intruder, but also that you were not acting in self-defense. The defendant has no burden of establishing that he was lawfully acting in self-defense–the statute presumes this fact. that’s pretty strong.

    • Exactly. But of course, if one of the utes had sustained an injury, bloodsuckers Jesse and Al would have been protesting.

      And since I am Black, I can call them bloodsuckers.

      • Dirk, you don’t have to be black to know that those two are like vampires, dementors and weeping angels all in one.

      • “Yoots”, Dirk. “Utes” were one fierce fighters, and allies of Kit Carson, but are now peaceful reservation-dwellers.

    • In addition to the pistol and shotgun, it’s rumored they were also carrying a bunch of newspapers. If so, the teacher’s actions were justified.

    • Same here. Unless someone comes up with crystal clear video depicting four prone attackers submitting to the armed teacher, then I’m willing to give very wide latitude to the teacher as to the teacher’s actions and how this fluid violent incident unfolded second by second. Four gang bangers on a violent crime spree have a huge credibility hill to climb before I second guess the teacher.

  2. Fresno, California?

    Makes sense.Next thing I’ll read , the CA constitution will be amended to make gang membership a State recognized protected category.

    • Unless your “gang” is the NRA or GoA. Then you’re an enemy of the state…

      Having lived in Fresno from ’86-’97, I was always interested in their community arts program, “COP,” aka: “Chalk Outlines on the Pavement”.

      PS – Interesting fencing – apparently to keep the animals out. Yeah, that worked…

  3. I think we need to not have too much in the way of expectations when someone is in the heat of a moment. Were I a juror, I would vote to acquit Guerrero should he be charged with a crime. Fear, adrenaline, anger…all of these have a consequence, all of them predictable, understandable and set in motion by the original crime of assault perpetrated by the “boys”.

    • Unfortunately, people like you and me rarely populate juries in cases like these. Even if we were in the jury pool the prosecutor would likely exclude us with prejudice…

    • Any juror should protect this teacher — hopefully they are members of http://fija.org/

      Of course if this happened to a COP the chances of trouble would be ZERO — and the cop is TRAINED to deal with these situations — unlike civilians.

      To a lot of DA types — self-defense is “taking the law into your own hands” — which of course, it isn’t…

    • I don’t know your state, let alone the laws there, Tim, but I can say that just about everywhere the Grand Jury system is the citizenry’s first major line of defense against misguided, politically motivated, or simply mistaken, police and prosecutors. It’s an excellent forum for shutting down erroneous prosecutions before they engulf the defendant’s life and ruin him/her, perhaps in a case like this, if charges were brought.

      To you and other here who are obviously serious about individual freedoms, I’d ask that you please take a look as to what’s required to sit on a Grand Jury in your jurisdiction. Some places may just pull from the trial jury pool; but in Houston, for example, one must specifically apply to be in the Grand Jury pool for State jurisdiction cases.

  4. And shall we all say in unison, once again; “gun free zones are magnets for criminals and homicidal maniacs with guns”.

  5. Them “fleeing” once the tables have turned does not translate into the teacher becoming the attacker. If charged, I would take this case to a jury. It was a fluid situation. It was a fight for his life, and he was still fighting. Pity he didn’t hit them.

    • JURY?

      How many people get to take their case to a jury? The DA & Judge may not let you tell your story — AND the DA will say: take a year now or I will get you for 20 later — and then — guess what happens?

      • EJ, you have a choice. If you accept no deals or pleas you get a trial. What happens then is a crapshoot. But you have a choice.

  6. He had been hit in the head with a 25 lb weight and there were four of them. I doubt he was in the best shape to know where all four of them were, hence the need to make sure they left. Clearly they weren’t done with their crime spree. He’s one lucky guy to escape from four gangsters.

  7. The teens were the aggressors. So long as they remain conscious and capable of further aggressive actions, they are a threat. Always finish the fight. Especially if you are bleeding and at risk of losing your ability to fight back. As they say, better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.

      • The mandatory minimum is only in play if you’re convicted. Accept a deal before the trial and you’re a self confessed felon for the rest of your life. Make them earn the conviction and appeal it every step of the way if it happens.

      • Dont think you understand how the court system works.
        As stated already, mand minimum can only be given if youre convicted, you know, by 12 jury members

  8. This is all fantasy… Every one knows that guns are not permitted on school grounds and gang bangers would not brake the law. Besides “Uncle Joe” said shot guns are for everyone. Never happened>>

  9. There are times when the best defense is a good offense and there are some people in this world that need a good killing. If the “facts” as presented in the story are indeed true then, I believe that Mr. Guerrero was correct in continuing to fire to force his assailants to flee and to provide himself with cover fire that may have allowed him to seek a safer location. Four on one with clearly murderous intent, I’ve got no problem with how he behaved in that circumstance.

  10. This case is pretty simple. The teens unequivocally demonstrated their intent to kill or cause great bodily harm. And since there were four of them, even if they only had their fists, a reasonable person would rightly still be in fear of their life. Which direction the attackers were facing or moving is irrelevant. Until the attackers were incapacitated, or surrendered and face down on the ground with their hands behind their heads, they were a credible threat to any reasonable person. Remember, they could have been running to acquire a hidden or improvised weapon or simply to confuse the victim.

    Now if it had been one teen with no weapon trying to take on the teacher, then the teacher would not have been justified to use a firearm. But because there were four teens who had already assaulted him, he was justified.

    • uncommon, you said, “Now if it had been one teen with no weapon trying to take on the teacher, then the teacher would not have been justified to use a firearm.”. Not to be too snarky and all but did you miss that whole Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman thing? Not to put too fine a point on it but if someone has arms, legs, feet and a reasonable level of fitness then they are indeed “armed”. In Massachusetts the “shod foot” is legally considered a weapon. Annually, in this country alone, several hundred people are murdered or killed where the weapon is nothing more than hands or feet. Here’s a little advice; if sometime you find yourself getting pasted by someone for no good reason, shoot the SOB. Far better to be judged by twelve than carried by six as the old saying goes.

      • Greg,

        I agree with your sentiments. I was presuming that the teacher/coach/trainer was fairly young and in good physical condition and explaining the current legal atmosphere. If that assumption is correct, many courts/juries would claim that is was not “reasonable” for the teacher to be in fear of his life because he should be able to fend off a single, unarmed attacking youth with his hands.

  11. The young men brought the guns with them. They had already fired and hit the trainer, who then knocked the gun from the shooter’s hand. That he fired one bullet is not a crime when there is an on-going course of felony aggravated assault still underway. One of the assailants, by the given facts, was still armed. The reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury has not ended until the shotgun and its wielder are out of shotgun range. If DA would attempt to prosecute under these facts the jurisdiction has a much bigger problem than gangs.

  12. What if they were shooting while running? Seems a bit superfluously investigated on the victim. The boys could have killed him with the 25lb weight let alone the firearm. These things should be kept within context. It is ridiculous to attempt prosecution or try to instill blame on a guy that could have been mortally wounded.

    Oh you hit me in the head with a 25lb blunt object and shot me twice? Oh you are trying to leave now? Sure, go right ahead – ill just call the cops and wait for them to arrive.

    This is why everyone should carry. So they can both defend themselves and also efficiently clean up garbage in the process. Guns are more than just guns they are broomsticks and sweeping pans.

  13. Is this the time to talk about stopping power? Dude got hit in the head with a 25 pnd weight and shot twice. And then he took away a gun that was used against him and chased the assholes away.

    4 against 1, and even with all the weapons they took off like jackrabbits. They’re street trash, not Marvel Super Villians. Any resistence by a good guy almost guarantees a hasty exit.

  14. When are we going to hear the story when armed citizens turned the tables on the gangbangers and killed all four.( when California and New York and the rest get their heads out of their asses and stop illegally denying people their rights) Ya I don’t give a crap they were under age they are thugs and killers.You have a better chance of being killed by the 12-18 year olds than any other age group.
    So,when more of these gang jerks start receiving the same as they are dishing out ,the better.Like Wyatt Earp said when asked “what do you want to do about your brother’s death; kill em,Kill em all ” And Wyatt Earp was a man of his word!

    • ” when California and New York and the rest get their heads out of their asses and stop illegally denying people their rights”

      Not in my lifetime, and not in yours.

  15. His only regret, besides being accosted by a shambling gaggle of cowards (and a nasty bump on the head), should be that he missed and didn’t hit at least one of those cock-suckers in the spine.

  16. I believed my life was in danger and now until I talk to my lawyer I have nothing further to say about the incident. End of story as you say all the time STFU until you have an attorney present.

  17. Easy to judge when you aren’t the one with wounds fighting for your life.

    I am not okay with shooting people in the back, unless you have a reason, which he very well may have.

  18. As long as they were together, as a unit, they were enemy combatants. Who is to say the victim was not still in danger? My view is that I will protect myself and my family from anyone who might come after me later. Therefore, I believe he was still employing self defense.

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