I have been seeing a lot of articles about the use of deadly force lately, I have also seen a lot of comments on these articles going on about personal opinion on when deadly force is justified. The problem is this: your opinion just might not matter.

There are two justifications for deadly force. There is legal justification and moral justification. In the world we live in, one must first contemplate the legal justification before the moral one. Sadly, the moral justification for deadly force will get you thrown in jail or prison if you don’t have the legal justification in the first place. It is pretty hard to protect your family while you are locked away.

Gun owners and those who carry concealed are held to higher standard. If they are to use deadly force for protection and not get convicted for it, they must know the laws of the land inside and out. When crossing state lines, just because you have a concealed weapons license in that state, doesn’t mean the laws are the same as in your state of residence. As a Concealed Handgun License holder, it is your responsibility and obligation to know the laws in the state, counties and municipalities in which you are carrying did a fantastic write-up on some guys who decided to play Rambo when they should have known better:

Ken Richardson and his brother-in-law stopped three burglars from robbing a vacant property belonging to a family member. The two gun owners confronted the three young men with a gun and a machete and detained them until police arrived.  Police arrested James Young, 19; Brandon Matthews, 22; and a juvenile for that burglary.

“We made it real clear to get down on the ground and show us their hands,” Richardson told local reporters.  “We didn’t give that a whole lot of thought as far as potentially what could happen.”

Had things turned out violently in either scenario, Woolsey, Richardson and/or his brother-in-law could have been prosecuted without the protection of the Castle Doctrine.  As mentioned, they didn’t personally own the property and they weren’t occupying it at the time of the robbery.

Read the whole article HERE

While I have a little sympathy for the men who were just trying to protect their family members vacant property, these men should have known better. They should have been familiar with the laws on use of deadly force.

Another example of a man with a concealed weapons license who decided to try to be the hero is this article from Oregon Live: he followed two cell pone thieves out of an AT&T store and shot at their vehicle as they drove away.

There was a huge debate about whether this man was in the right or wrong. The thing is, whatever anyone thinks doesn’t matter. This man was legally wrong, making him liable for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

1) The boys who took the cell phones did not threaten the use of physical force on any person. In the State of Oregon, a person may not use deadly force to stop the commission of theft. (Robbery = use or threatened use of physical force on another person. Theft = simply taking an object without use or threatened use of physical force).

2) The “hero” shot at a fleeing criminal. In Oregon, deadly force is not authorized when the suspect  is engaged in the process of fleeing the crime scene or has communicated his intention to cease aggression.

3) Not to mention the moral wrong-doing: by taking those shots, this guy put a whole lot of innocent bystanders at risk, including those on the nearby public transit train station which was directly in his field of fire.  Never forget that the shooter is always going to be held responsible for each and every round he fires.

Another common element to both of these scenarios is the fact that nobody would have been in danger of loss of life or serious bodily harm had the “heroes” not intervened.  In fact, such a danger was created by their involvement.  A good question for all concealed carry holders should be “Are the actions of the suspect so egregious that they must be immediately stopped regardless of the consequences to myself or them?”  If you cannot answer this question with a resounding “yes”, you may wish to have the police take care of the situation.

In conclusion, while everyone is entitled to their own opinions on when to use deadly force, one should not be caught by surprise when they are prosecuted for using it illegally. Like I said earlier, it is the responsibility of every gun owner to know and understand the laws on use of deadly force in the state, city and municipality in which they intend to carry their firearm. Just because we carry guns, doesn’t mean we are invincible super heroes. To quote an extremely knowledgable firearms instructor on the matter ” If you pull up to a seven-eleven and see three guys wearing ski-masks with sawed off shotguns inside holding up the place, that’s why God made cell phones and SWAT teams.”