I Protected Myself With a Gun: Am I a Criminal?
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people across the United States are victims of a crime. While calling the police may help you after a crime has takes place, the police can do little to help you while a crime is taking place. In many cases, it can take upwards of 15 minutes for police to respond to a 911 call. In these situations, people must be prepared to protect themselves and their families.
Gun ownership can be an effective way to protect oneself and one’s family from harm. However, it’s important to have a thorough understand of federal and state law before using a weapon.
Many states that are strong supporters of the 2nd Amendment have “Stand Your Ground” and “Castle Doctrine” laws. These laws are designed to protect lawful gun owners in the event they have to protect themselves or their families.
Under Stand Your Ground laws, an individual is not required to retreat prior to defending himself or herself with a legally-owned gun. If an individual is physically assaulted, it may be possible to use a gun without facing legal repercussions. However, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of the law.
Gun use should be restricted to an appropriate use of force. For example, if an individual with a knife is threatening you from 200 feet away, you are not facing a direct threat from that person at that time. If this same person was 10 feet away from you, they could be considered a legal threat.
If an individual isn’t armed, using a gun in self-defense can open you to significant liability. While it may be possible to avoid criminal repercussions in this type of situation, it can vary. If an individual defends himself or herself from an adversary with a weapon, a shooting may be justified. However, if the adversary is unarmed (or is armed with something that is less-than-lethal) a shooting may not be justified.
Most important of all, it’s essential to recognize the cost of a criminal defense. If you shoot someone in self-defense, you are responsible for showing that your actions were justified. While a public defense attorney may be appointed to your case, hiring a good legal team could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even if a defensive shooting is found to be justified, court proceedings could cost you and your family significant amounts of money. Guns should only be used as a last line of protection in self-defense.
Christopher T. Braddock