Good day fellow bikers, patriots and lovers of freedom! Hopefully you are getting plenty of wind-therapy and perhaps some time shooting and enjoying the smell of cordite! It is hard to believe July 2020 is in the history books and today is the first day of August. Not that I can really tell, it has felt like August since the last week of June. Today, I want to dive into what you can expect if it is necessary for you to use lethal force on a shitbag.
I hope you never find yourself in the terrible predicament where you need to defend yourself – with your firearm. You may be at home, you may be out on a dinner date or you may be at the gas station filling your bike with high-test gasoline. And things go quickly out of control. You pull your pistol from its holster and command the thug to halt what he’s doing. Maybe he’s pummeling your friend, holding you at knifepoint or charging at you with a pipe. Whatever he’s doing, you are in serious danger. You draw your concealed pistol, bring it to full ready and pull the trigger, hitting the scumbag square in the chest. He’s still coming so you put two more shots into center mass before your assailant goes to the ground.
Your life has now changed forever. At this point you need to call 9-1-1 immediately. When the police arrive they will inevitably approach you with their service pistols drawn and command you to the ground. You may well be thinking, “But I’m the good guy.” Unfortunately they have no idea what has happened up to this point. The only thing they know is that there is a guy on the ground, bleeding out, and you have a gun. Follow all instructions they give you. Explain that you feared for your life and you commanded the thug to cease what he was doing. Or, better yet, say nothing except that you want to speak to your attorney. You must understand that even if you did everything correctly, the police are going to consider you a criminal suspect at this time. Pretty scary, isn’t it?
If it can be demonstrated that you acted purely in self defense, you should have nothing to fear. But what factors are considered by the police, and more importantly, the prosecuting attorney’s office, on whether you are charged as a criminal or are quickly sent home with no threat of criminal prosecution?
** For more details on each of these five principles, click on the hyperlinks above. **
For each of these five items, you must be able to demonstrate – and prove – that you were in the right. If you fail to prove any single one of them, your argument for self-defense may well fail. The consequences of failure are immense – up to a very long incarceration in prison. This is why I always refer to firearms ownership as an immense responsibility.
Innocence seems pretty simple and straightforward. You were minding your own business and the scumbag came at you with a knife. But in order to be innocent, you cannot be viewed as the aggressor. More than likely there will be witnesses to the event. Will they corroborate what you said happened? Were you somewhere you were not legally allowed to be? Did you pursue the altercation? Did you take actions which sustained the incident? Was it a case of mutual combat (legal term)? Did any actions you take cause a small altercation to escalate?
Simply put, in order for your self-defense claim to be considered, there has to be an imminent threat of severe physical harm or death to you, or a third party you are protecting. If the dirtbag is 100 feet away from you threatening to beat you up – that would not be considered imminent enough for you to use deadly force. If he is threatening to go home and get all of his brothers, and come after you, that is not an imminent threat. If he is 18 feet away from you and has a knife pulled – that could well be an imminent threat that would allow you to use lethal force.
Proportionality is key to a self-defense claim. If you find yourself in a fist fight with a smaller guy, a proportional reaction would be to fight back with your fists. If you pull your sidearm and shoot the attacker, it would not be a proportional response. However, if you are being brutally attacked by a much larger man, and you are flat on your back being pummeled by his huge fists, you may well be able to use your gun to end the attack.
Could you have avoided using lethal force? While Tennessee is a “Stand Your Ground” state, could you have simply turned around and headed out the side door? Why allow a situation to deteriorate into a life changing event if it is not necessary?
If the police believe your actions were reasonable, given all of the circumstances, you are most likely going to be cut loose quickly. However, if they have any questions regarding whether your actions were reasonable you may very well find yourself in legal jeopardy. If it escalates to the district attorney, there will be an entire set of litmus tests regarding whether you acted as a reasonable person would have, given all of the circumstances.
I encourage you to take time and read each of the hyperlinked articles, above, as they provide much more detailed information on the five key components to a successful self-defense claim.
Until next time, keep the shiny side up, carry your club when you leave your cave and shoot straight!