Legal duty to retreat vs Moral duty to retreat


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benbernanke
May 7, 2012, 10:56 PM
Most progressive states have some form or another of Castle Doctrines, which eliminate the Legal Duty to Retreat in ones home, and frequently a place of business. Many other jurisdictions have extended that Doctrine into Stand your ground laws applicable to areas outside the home. Therefore, the armed citizen, under these laws, has no legal duty to retreat, even if he can do so in complete safety. But does he have a moral/ehtical duty to do so? I postulate that the responsible armed citizen does.

Ben

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Certaindeaf
May 7, 2012, 10:58 PM
Well there you go.

writerinmo
May 7, 2012, 11:00 PM
Nope, not one bit. They are protecting the most precious gift given to them, their lives and those of their loved ones. Here we have no legal duty to retreat either, props to Missouri for their Castle Doctrine.

Robert
May 7, 2012, 11:02 PM
Discretion is the better part of valor
Why fight if I don't HAVE to?

mljdeckard
May 7, 2012, 11:06 PM
The idea here is NOT to get to shoot someone. The idea here is to NOT GET SHOT.

SGY laws are a good buffer, but it really doesn't change the fundamental ethic that you only use deadly force if you absolutely have no other option.

oneounceload
May 7, 2012, 11:07 PM
But does he have a moral/ehtical duty to do so? I postulate that the responsible armed citizen does.

Why do you postulate that?

Robert
May 7, 2012, 11:08 PM
but it really doesn't change the fundamental ethic that you only use deadly force if you absolutely have no other option.

Exactly.

Loosedhorse
May 7, 2012, 11:20 PM
There are other things to consider in Castle laws (or SYG laws, which--in general--remove the legal "duty to retreat" outside the home).

Morally, we can argue whether we
a) have a duty to "remove" a criminal from society from by stopping him (including by use of lethal force) even when we have the option of escaping (retreating) in complete safety;
b) have a moral obligation to preserve human life even if it costs us dignity; or also costs us property; or also costs us non-crippling injury;
c) have a duty to our families not only to survive an attack, but to do so in a way that will least likely lead to financial ruin or felony conviction.

Tactics, to me, is less confusing: running away in safety is always better. We are supposed to avoid, escape, de-escalate and dis-engage if we can. If we shoot, it means that we failed in all our other efforts to stay out of a lethal situation, and had to rely on our very last line of defense.

Legally, these laws often remove only the burden of proving you had no means of safe escape; the law assumes you had no safe escape. In general, they do not, and are not meant to, permit you to shoot someone because you wanted to, but didn't have to.

sig220mw
May 7, 2012, 11:25 PM
Not all situations are the same. There may be a time when you can't or don't really want to retreat since the problem may just follow you. Some bad guys will see it as their chance to continue their bad behavior and view your retreat as giving up.

What do you mean by progressive states? I ask this because it brings to mind progressives in politics which are one worlders or socialists. I don't believe this is what you mean but would like to know.

allaroundhunter
May 7, 2012, 11:27 PM
But does he have a moral/ehtical duty to do so?

I believe that I have a moral duty to avoid bloodshed if I have other avenues of escape, but I understand that these morals are not held by everyone. Even though I will do everything that I can to avoid pulling the trigger on another human being, I have no personal morals or reservations that will keep me from pulling the trigger if that is my only option. I also will not leave a defenseless person to fend for themselves if I am in a position to aid them.

Owen Sparks
May 7, 2012, 11:35 PM
Let's turn this around. Does a criminal have the authority to FORCE you, through threats or intimidation, to leave some any place where you have a legal right to be?
In other words, should disobeying an illegal order made by a criminal be a crime?

CountryUgly
May 7, 2012, 11:36 PM
If you are attacked excatly how are you supposed to retreat? Seems to me if retreating is an option the situation wasn't life threatening. I've never heard of anyone being attacked or involved in an armed robbery and retreating with positive results. I do however have personal experience with someone close to me trying to retreat during an attempted robbery and then taking a bullet to the chest while going for cover. In hindsight they admitted that fighting back would have been a better option.

allaroundhunter
May 7, 2012, 11:38 PM
Let's turn this around. Does a criminal have the authority to FORCE you, through threats or intimidation, to leave some any place where you have a legal right to be?
In other words, should disobeying an illegal order made by a criminal be a crime?

No, not at all. I think that the OP should be asking if anyone's personal morals differ from this as opposed to trying to impose his feelings on everyone else.

As far as I'm concerned, if one is following the law then they are morally and ethically right (in a SYG situation).

M2 Carbine
May 7, 2012, 11:43 PM
But does he have a moral/ehtical duty to do so? I postulate that the responsible armed citizen does.

Absolutely not.

I will not be the aggressor. I will not be out to rob, hurt, or kill someone.

If someone seeks to do me or mine harm I have no moral obligation to try to hurt them as little as possible.
Basically, to hell with them, if they die they die and it won't bother me one bit.

Loosedhorse
May 7, 2012, 11:44 PM
Seems to me if retreating is an option the situation wasn't life threatening.And there you have captured the core reasoning behind the duty to retreat requirement. However, having to prove you actually had no retreat can put you in legal jeopardy even though you did everything "right." It is that possible injustice (that was famously played out in MA (http://masscases.com/cases/sjc/367/367mass508.html)) which defines the need for Castle laws.someone close to me trying to retreat during an attempted robbery and then taking a bullet to the chestThe duty to retreat, where it applies, only requires you to retreat rather than use lethal force if you can do so in complete safety. Unfortunately, as already said, it may also require you to prove that you had no safe escape.

Owen Sparks
May 7, 2012, 11:46 PM
As far as I'm concerned, if one is following the law then they are morally and ethically right.

That was the defence the Nazis gave at the Nuremberg trials.

CountryUgly
May 7, 2012, 11:48 PM
And there you have captured the core reasoning behind the duty to retreat requirement. However, having to prove you actually had no retreat can put you in legal jeopardy even though you did everything "right." It is that possible injustice (that was famously played out in MA (http://masscases.com/cases/sjc/367/367mass508.html)) which defines the need for Castle laws.The duty to retreat, where it applies, only requires you to retreat rather than use lethal force if you can do so in complete safety. Unfortunately, as already said, it may also require you to prove that you had no safe escape.
I guess a bullet lodged in your chest would qualify as proof?

allaroundhunter
May 7, 2012, 11:51 PM
That was the defence the Nazis gave at the Nuremberg trials

I am trying to defend the law that you are in favor of. But sorry for the lack of specificity, I fixed it.

lindy
May 8, 2012, 12:02 AM
There are Four Types of Homicide:

Felonious,
Accidental,
Justifiable,
and
Praiseworthy.

-Ambrose Bierce-

Good Shooting

Lindy

Loosedhorse
May 8, 2012, 12:04 AM
I guess a bullet lodged in your chest would qualify as proof? That would seem to legally justify a lethal force response. Of course, we'd still have the practical considerations of whether the person shot can manage that, and if he believes that attempting to shoot will lead to something better than simply being shot several more times. I take it your acquaintance did not fight back after being shot, and that one of the two practical reasons above (or both) was the cause.

It would not serve as proof that, as your acquaintance supposes, fighting back would have gone any better.

RBid
May 8, 2012, 12:06 AM
My view:

1) if i have the means to safely remove myself and those I care for from harm's way, that is my first choice. Avoiding legal ramifications is a good choice. More importantly, the only way to avoid dangerous developments is to be away from it all.

2) if escape is not free & clear, meaning that it may be dangerous to try to get out, then I will do what is necessary. Once somebody threatens my loved ones or me, they have demonstrated to me that they are not deserving of any concern or consideration for their well being. Remorse would not be forthcoming.

abq87120
May 8, 2012, 12:18 AM
I have not experienced an SD or even a near SD situation. However, if I encounter one, I plan to retreat if possible for all the wrong reasons. Some bad guy's life is not worth the legal hassles I will endure if I pop him. But if I cannot retreat, then that's a whole new ball game. If it's him or me, I can only hope that I have spent more time in USPSA and IDPA events that he has.

Rail Driver
May 8, 2012, 12:21 AM
I don't believe that there is a moral or ethical duty to retreat - That's a denial of one's right to self defense. I believe that it's just the opposite - one has a moral and ethical duty to defend oneself and family. The law doesn't change the fact that my life and the lives of my family are my most precious possessions and there's no law invented by man that holds enough weight to prevent me from defending those lives to the best of my ability. If I can do so by retreating, I will - if I cannot, you can bet I'll fight with everything in my power to defend those lives.

Certaindeaf
May 8, 2012, 12:22 AM
. If it's him or me, I can only hope that I have spent more time in USPSA and IDPA events that he has.
I wouldn't get too cocky. Many a fellow has fallen by simple bad luck.

ApacheCoTodd
May 8, 2012, 01:09 AM
Morally obliged to retreat? Well then by continuation you would have a moral duty to not physically defend your self in a fist fight, a moral precedent to not withhold valuables in a mugging and on and on and at some point you would even be morally obligated to unlock a car or front door based upon a scenario initiated by a social miscreant?

What a bunch of utopian bile! Sure, then the potential follow on violence is the responsibility and social burden of the individual who chooses to not allow something to be taken from him, be it property, life or liberty by another individual with no more claim to same than a willingness to attempt a grab and the confidence that he can get away with it due to force, imposed fear or the understanding that society obliges the victim to back down.

earplug
May 8, 2012, 01:17 AM
I have a moral objection of letting a evil person choose future victims based on my choice/ability to retreat.
While I don't agree on a preemptive first strike. I do think its my responsibility to take care of problems when I legally can.
To do less would be dishonorable and only contribute to a on going dangerous situation in my neighborhood.

JRH6856
May 8, 2012, 01:35 AM
In a SD situation, a person's moral and ethical duty to society is met by performing his legal duty. His moral and ethical duty to himself and his family is no ones business but his own.

QUESTION: Is one justified in the use of deadly force in self defense when in imminent fear of death or serious injury from an attack in which the attacker does not intend death or serious injury and his attack would not produce fear of such in a normal responsible human being? A specific example might be victim who is a hemopheliac, or has a another non apparent medical condition (such as an aneurysm) such that what would normally be minor physical trauma could well be fatal, and the attacker would have no way of knowing the victim's medical condition.

What would be the legal, moral, and ethical requirements of the victim?

Rail Driver
May 8, 2012, 01:38 AM
reasonable fear of death/great bodily harm is based on the individual's perspective. As long as the person being attacked knows they're a hemophiliac, and relatively minor damage could be fatal, I'd say it would put them in reasonable fear for their life.

TonyAngel
May 8, 2012, 02:08 AM
I'm in Louisiana and have dealt a bit with such issues, though the vast majority have not included homicides wherein self defense was asserted as a defense. The question when self defense is asserted is whether the criminal action was justified. In fact, the finder of fact (whether judge or jury) is forbidden to consider whether an opportunity for retreat existed.

Keep in mind that shooting someone, committing a battery upon another, etc. is considered to be criminal behavior, but is excused by the law when the action is justified (committed in self defense).

I don't mean to make this an ultra long post, but just as a reference, these are the Louisiana Statutes regarding acting in the defense of one self or others.

<edit>

So...in my neck of the woods, I am under no legal obligation to retreat. Morally? I don't know how most people feel. I know that I got into an altercation many years ago with three teen agers. They were armed. I was armed. I knew they were coming for me, but when it came time to shoot I hesitated. To me, they were kids. Once they actually started shooting my apprehension left me.

I'll put it in these terms. I really don't think that I'm morally obligated to risk my own life to give a bad guy the chance at a life longer than mine.

Sorry this was so long.

Sam1911
May 8, 2012, 07:49 AM
But does he have a moral/ethical duty to do so? I postulate that the responsible armed citizen does.

I can't dictate someone else's morals, but ethically I'd say that the citizen has the responsibility to do whatever will bring him or her through an encounter with the greatest chance of survival -- while causing the least damage to his/her own life and family.

That means avoid shooting anyone, ever, at almost any cost. The only "costs" not worth paying to avoid this are death, grievous injury, and perhaps one or two other very serious felonies.

On this principle are based the laws that govern self-defense in almost all locations -- whether there's a codified "stand your ground" or "castle doctrine" in that jurisdiction or not.

SYG/CD only changes how the prosecution of the case goes after the fact. It does NOTHING to alter the use of force in the moment.

...

Let's turn this around. Does a criminal have the authority to FORCE you, through threats or intimidation, to leave some any place where you have a legal right to be?
In other words, should disobeying an illegal order made by a criminal be a crime?

That's not really a legitimate corollary question -- this and "SYG" are not two sides of the same coin, so to speak. The criminal has no authority to force you to do anything -- just as you have no authority to force HIM to do anything. However, lawful self-defense has nothing to do with protecting your right to go somewhere or be somewhere you want to be. Its sole function is in preventing death or grievous injury in the instant.

There are a great many things we may have the right to do, but which we can surmise will end badly for us and which can reasonably be expected to lead toward a negative end (like bloodshead) rather than away from it. Having the RIGHT to do something is not the same thing as being free from repurcussion/responsibility for the effects and results of your actions and decisions. If you contribute to the escalation of a situation that ends in a death, and you could have done anything to avoid, de-escalate, and escape, you carry some of the fault. This can and does become a factor in self-defense prosecutions.

This is part of what we mean when we say, "Never go anywhere armed that you wouldn't have gone UNarmed." "SYG" laws are not -- at all -- to protect your right to be somewhere or to allow you to resist being forced to leave a dangerous situation. They merely help to shield you from legal risk if you are forced to injure or kill someone when you had NO CHOICE but to do so. If you have the ability to leave, then the decision to shoot has not been forced upon you, yet.

...

Morally, we can argue whether we
a) have a duty to "remove" a criminal from society from by stopping him (including by use of lethal force) even when we have the option of escaping (retreating) in complete safety;


While I don't agree on a preemptive first strike. I do think its my responsibility to take care of problems when I legally can.
To do less would be dishonorable and only contribute to a on going dangerous situation in my neighborhood.

Let's reiterate one absolutely essential point: You have NO duty or legal authority to use lethal force to "take care of problems" or "remove a criminal." That is NOT your right under self-defense law, including the "SYG/CD" versions. You may ONLY shoot/injure/kill when you have NO OTHER CHOICE and you will DIE, right this moment, if you do not.

Loosedhorse
May 8, 2012, 07:52 AM
Well then by continuation you would have a moral duty to not physically defend your self in a fist fightYes--if you could retreat in complete safety and were reasonably sure the fist-fight would result in death. Apples to apples.I don't believe that there is a moral or ethical duty to retreat - That's a denial of one's right to self defenseJust so we understand what we're talking about: you're in you car, about to pull out of a parking lot into an empty, clear-sailing road, when a guy from 20 ft away shouts: "I'm gonna kill you with my knife!" You could just drive away in complete safety, but you decide to shoot him instead (or, better yet, drive over him).

If you don't do that, you've denied your right to SD?

Or: guy at a bar says, "If you don't leave in the next minute, I'm going to kill you." Instead of leaving, you wait out the minute, and then when he starts toward you, you shoot him. That's the moral duty or right you feel you have?What would be the legal, moral, and ethical requirements of the victim? A warning. Guy comes toward you (suppose you've been told by your doctor that a blow to your head will be fatal for some reason--why you're not going around in a football helmet, I'm not sure, but anyway) and says, "I'm gonna sock you right in the mouth." Pull your gun and say, "Then I'm gonna shoot you." Or say nothing: the drawn gun is a warning in itself.

And explain the situation when the police arrive--that's also part of your duty, IMHO.

blue_ridge
May 8, 2012, 07:54 AM
<edit>

the Castle doctrine is not about morality, or legislating morality. It is about protection from over-zealous prosecutors and civil suits.

If you feel a morale obligation to leave the scene, you have to make that decision on your own. Can't ask the government to tell you what your morale grounds are.

1911Tuner
May 8, 2012, 07:58 AM
Even with no duty to retreat, I will if given the opportunity and can do so without placing myself in greater danger. I'm old, and I have a bad back. My knees aren't what they used to be, either. There was a time that I could do a 9.8 hundred-yard dash, but that was long ago in a galaxy far away. I'm not going to turn my back on a young, agile male who can be on top of me...from behind...before I could make it much beyond 30 feet.

I also have blown rotator cuffs, so I'm not about to stand and slug it out with a street fighter half my age. Again...there was a time, but that was then.

A man's gotta know his limitations.

My philosophy is like that line in a John Wayne movie. Black actor. Roscoe...somebody.

"If you will let me go in peace, I will let you go in peace."

Sam1911
May 8, 2012, 08:06 AM
Just so we understand what we're talking about: you're in you car, about to pull out of a parking lot into an empty, clear-sailing road, when a guy from 20 ft away shouts: "I'm gonna kill you with my knife!" You could just drive away in complete safety, but you decide to shoot him instead (or, better yet, drive over him).

If you don't do that, you've denied your right to SD?

Or: guy at a bar says, "If you don't leave in the next minute, I'm going to kill you." Instead of leaving, you wait out the minute, and then when he starts toward you, you shoot him. That's the moral duty or right you feel you have?
STELLAR examples, Loosedhorse.

Some, and probably most, folks out in the general population will look at the SYG laws and read the "no duty to retreat" clauses as saying that they would be right to sit still and allow the situation to unfold and try and kill the antagonist. And that's reading ENTIRELY the wrong message.

(Another great example of how reading black-letter law can get folks really, really mixed up!)

The SYG clauses are attempts to limit the burden of proof required from the defendant (the self-defense claimant) if the case goes to trial. They are NOT carte blanche to (literally) "stand your ground" when danger threatens.

elrowe
May 8, 2012, 08:15 AM
If it's just me and the guy with the (insert your favorite) lethal weapon, I feel that backing down (note, NOT turning around and running) is my best option - probably with drawn equalizer, at least until he escalates. However, if the threat(s) have already turned to using deadly force (say active shooting event), I have a duty to those being harmed to use lethal force to end the threat. If I flee from an active shooter when I have a loaded functional firearm, I feel that I would be culpable in their wounds through my negligence. Would I be convicted in court, no, but I would probably never be able to sleep again.

Being in an SYG and Castle state, I know how this would work in the criminal courts here for me. I'm not so sure how it would play out across the river in Ohio if I dropped the guy shooting up a store I'd just walked into. The libs over there even make it criminal to disobey a private property owner's "victim disarmament zone" sign.

grampster
May 8, 2012, 08:41 AM
Good discussion here.

Here's a bit more to think about and discuss: "There are no morals or ethics in a street fight. The object is to survive." Stand your ground says we have no duty to retreat. But the wise man, if able to and if possible, is better off retreating even though he has no duty to do so. I agree with the comment that the Stand Your Ground law is more about protecting the innocent from overzealous prosecution. Your duty is self defense. But self defense is a fluid situation, depending on the circumstance of the moment.

Life is sometimes messy and not simple. The best one can do, perhaps, is to not put oneself in harms way. But if found in harms way, one will have the means and intellect to be able to extricate oneself in the best way possible, and protected by the law that supports the innocent over the corrupt.

JShirley
May 8, 2012, 08:48 AM
SGY laws are a good buffer, but it really doesn't change the fundamental ethic that you only use deadly force if you absolutely have no other option

If you have no other GOOD/moral option, is the correct stance. There is always an option. You can die or suffer serious harm, and also perhaps allow those you love to receive injury through your failure to resist.

John

Loosedhorse
May 8, 2012, 08:59 AM
If I flee from an active shooter when I have a loaded functional firearm, I feel that I would be culpable in their wounds through my negligence.That is a very interesting side issue, and one that I struggle with.

Legally, unless you are wearing a uniform, there is no duty to render aid to the unarmed victims (what did William Munny say? "Well, he shoulda armed himself..."). I think private citizens only have a legal duty to render aid at sea, in response to a received SOS (and failure to respond is seldom prosecuted).

Morally, your duty to help the unarmed must be weighed against your duty to your family. If they are with you, do you stand and fight or retreat with them them to safety? If they are not, do you risk getting killed--the impact of that will fall heavy on them--to try to save others? What if you fire errantly and injure a bystander--will good intentions save you from bankrupcty in the civil suit, or from being shot by another volunteer defender? What if the prosecutor in your area looks at your volunteering to shoot the attacker as evidence that you were "just waiting for the chance to kill someone," and brings you up on charges?

I can't answer those questions for anyone else. I have trouble answering them for me.

elrowe
May 8, 2012, 09:06 AM
The bad guy's flying bullets would probably get me off all legal hooks in this state since he'd removed all doubt about means, opportunity, and intent. The innocent backstop question is always a problem in civil court, and I'd likely lose some cash there - hopefully I would have the presence of mind to verify what's behind the target but stress does funny things.

Carl N. Brown
May 8, 2012, 09:46 AM
Under Stand Your Ground or Castle Doctrine, if you are where you have a right to be, your home or property under CD or anywhere in public you have a right to be under SYG, there is no legal obligation to retreat in the face of an unjustified attack.

Do I have a moral or ethical duty to retreat from a situation if I can do so in complete safety? Heck with morals or ethics, it is just commonsense that I will retreat in face of attack if it is possible to do so safely, or even with a level of acceptable risk, as long as an innocent is not put at risk by my retreat.

The law was changed to CD and/or SYG because by the time courts decided that the defender could not retreat safely, the defendent was often jobless, penniless, and financially ruined by the legal costs of proving his or her innocence, and in some cases had spent months in custody.

I remember the Massachusetts case that brought Duty To Retreat to my attention.
Ann Jones, Women Who Kill, Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1980.

In Massachusetts Roberta Shaffer was convicted of manslaughter for the 1971 shooting of her fiance, John Ferruzzo, who was threatening to beat her and her little boy, as he had done before. She fled to the basement of her house to join her son and daughter, and when Ferruzzo kept coming, she shot him. Massachusetts law, however, requires that the defendant retreat as far as possible to avoid violence; and Roberta Shaffer had only retreated as far as the basement. Shaffer argued that she could not retreat farther with her young children, and she would not leave them behind; but in 1976 the Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld her conviction.

Shaffer could have climbed out of the basement window, even if it meant leaving her children with their abuser. (Locally we have had too many beating deaths of children by abusive boyfriends or fathers for me to feel Shaffer did the wrong thing.) That case changed a lot of minds, including mine, about the DTR.

Havok7416
May 8, 2012, 09:50 AM
In an active shooter scenario I would think that unless you are directly in danger, retreating would be the far better option. Police will no doubt respond to a "man/woman with a gun" call and are more likely than not to come into an active shooter situation bullets first. Assuming you have not stopped the shooter(s) before they arrive -- which is a distinct possibility -- the police may see you as the "man with the gun".:eek::uhoh:

Even in a one-on-one situation you should still make every attempt to get away. As several people have mentioned here that is different for each individual based on their physical abilities and the exact situation. Once those options are exhausted the distinction between legal and moral probably will matter very little.

Caliper_RWVA
May 8, 2012, 09:52 AM
Without knowing the situation, this question is entirely too vague. If I can retreat "safely" I would love to avoid shooting another human and all the aftermath (psychological/physical/legal) from that event.

But, what is "safe"? I don't fantasize about having a SEAL or SWAT team to extricate me from the situation by helicopter. Am I fleeing on foot? To where? With my back turned to the potential aggressor? My g/f is NOT a runner, am I to abandon her? What about the Family I plan to have someday? Strollers or kids don't run well either. Will I run to my car and flee the scene? What if "they" follow me? To my home? If they know my car/license plate/address things may have just gotten much worse for me several days/weeks/months later. If I am out of the house by myself you'd better believe I will not take the chance that a criminal learns the location or identity of my loved ones. My moral obligation is first and foremost for me and my loved ones to live. I see no moral obligation to risk the life of me and mine to safeguard the life of anyone who would threaten us. If someone keeps coming after a clear "STOP! Go Away! Leave us alone!" and then keeps coming after a pistol is drawn... Well, I guess I'd rather play the Rattlesnake than the Gazelle in that situation.

Whew... Enough of that for now. I'll wait for the OP to elaborate on their postulation.

Creature
May 8, 2012, 09:55 AM
I do not believe a protagonist has any moral/ethical duty go retreat...but in most cases, it is fiscally prudent to do so.

Havok7416
May 8, 2012, 09:58 AM
If someone keeps coming after a clear "STOP! Go Away! Leave us alone!" and then keeps coming after a pistol is drawn... Well, I guess I'd rather play the Rattlesnake than the Gazelle in that situation.

+1 to this

Sam1911
May 8, 2012, 10:01 AM
If they know my car/license plate/address things may have just gotten much worse for me several days/weeks/months later. If I am out of the house by myself you'd better believe I will not take the chance that a criminal learns the location or identity of my loved ones.

BluEyes, you're certainly right in most of what you suggest -- that you don't have either a moral, legal, or ethical duty to retreat that invloves abandoning those in your care or putting other grave risks upon yourself. (You wouldn't, for one example, have to "retreat" to the point of jumping off a bridge.)

However, the lines I've quoted get a little off message. You can't shoot someone because they've learned your identity, seen your license plate number, or know your address. You can't assault or kill them because of what they MIGHT do at some later time.

Your ONLY lawful use of force options involve prevention of immediate death or grevious injury. If you can get away, you should. Killing someone because you suspect that they'll harm you later is simply not a justifiable use of force.

elrowe
May 8, 2012, 10:02 AM
In an active shooter scenario I would think that unless you are directly in danger, retreating would be the far better option. Police will no doubt respond to a "man/woman with a gun" call and are more likely than not to come into an active shooter situation bullets first. Assuming you have not stopped the shooter(s) before they arrive -- which is a distinct possibility -- the police may see you as the "man with the gun".:eek::uhoh:

Even in a one-on-one situation you should still make every attempt to get away. As several people have mentioned here that is different for each individual based on their physical abilities and the exact situation. Once those options are exhausted the distinction between legal and moral probably will matter very little.
Knowing peolple who were at both VT and Ft. Hood and their stories, I could not stand by and let innocents be slaughtered. I'll take the bet that the shooting will be over and I'll be either dead or reholstered by the time police can arrive.

Kleanbore
May 8, 2012, 10:06 AM
Posted by Creature: I do not believe a protagonist has any moral/ethical duty go retreat...but in most cases, it is fiscally prudent to do so.And physically.

Kleanbore
May 8, 2012, 10:14 AM
Posted by earplug: To do less would be dishonorable and only contribute to a on going dangerous situation in my neighborhood.Concepts of honor, valor and so forth have absolutely no place in the thought process involving the possible use of force by one citizen against another.

CountryUgly
May 8, 2012, 10:17 AM
That would seem to legally justify a lethal force response. Of course, we'd still have the practical considerations of whether the person shot can manage that, and if he believes that attempting to shoot will lead to something better than simply being shot several more times. I take it your acquaintance did not fight back after being shot, and that one of the two practical reasons above (or both) was the cause.

It would not serve as proof that, as your acquaintance supposes, fighting back would have gone any better.
His comment about fighting back was more out of saving his pride. He was unarmed and his attacker was obviously not. He was actully able to evade his attacker and further injury by locking himself and others in a secure room after being shot and was able to prevent an injury to anyone else. He did collapse shortly there after before the medics arrived but I guess anyone would that just lost a lung to a GSW.

k-frame
May 8, 2012, 10:36 AM
FWIW the exact same post (http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=362200) was placed on The Firing Line three years ago, with a poll. The debate went on for 30 pages.

Back to your regular programming....

pockets
May 8, 2012, 10:48 AM
A warning. Guy comes toward you (suppose you've been told by your doctor that a blow to your head will be fatal for some reason--why you're not going around in a football helmet, I'm not sure, but anyway) and says, "I'm gonna sock you right in the mouth." Pull your gun and say, "Then I'm gonna shoot you." Or say nothing: the drawn gun is a warning in itself.
Wow...something I can relate to! THIS is exactly why I got a CHL in the first place.
There is no schoolyard fist fighting (never really understood that game either) for me, a good head hit and it's brain hemorrhage time with no stopping.
I will always try to exit a confrontation. Drawing a weapon is my absolute last resort, only after all other options have failed or it is apparent that they will fail.
Don't care what folks think of me. Unless I have no recourse but to use my gun for me or mine's protection, I subscribe to King Arthur's advice in The Holy Grail, "Run away!!!!". Over my 6 decades, I've only drawn a gun once (a knife twice).

I'm also under no obligation to clean up Dodge City for anyone else.

.

chhodge69
May 8, 2012, 10:49 AM
SYG does nothing to change how one should handle a deadly force encounter. It only affects what happens after. When a violent criminal threatens to do harm the armed citizen's moral obligation is to self and family, not to the criminal.

Skribs
May 8, 2012, 10:54 AM
I personally believe that if someone is commiting a violent or coercive crime, they are suspending their right to safety until such time as the crime is stopped. Be it a home invasion, mugging, armed robbery, or anything else along those lines. I'm not saying we should shoot them all, but until such time as the crime is ceased, I do not feel a moral obligation towards the criminal's safety.

If I am in a public place, there is no legal or moral reason for me to obey an order by a criminal. I believe the quote goes something like "the only thing necessary for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing." I'm not suggesting vigilantiism or that you should immediately draw and fire on anyone who has broken a law, but I see absolutely no moral duty to retreat. If you stand your ground and no lethal force is required (as happens with most self defense gun use) then you didn't cause bloodshed and you didn't retreat.

With that said, I don't believe you have a moral obligation to stand your ground, either. I think if everyone was armed and did stand their ground, a lot less people would be trying these types of crime, but at the same time there is a lot more to it than simply standing your ground.

303tom
May 8, 2012, 10:56 AM
In my home I will not retreat, no moral to it..................

sig220mw
May 8, 2012, 11:01 AM
So we don't need honorable intentions or behavior? This is one of the things wrong with our society today. That is what bad guys are. People with dishonorable intentions. It IS the honorable thing to do to stop an obvious criminal from being able to succeed in crime.

SabbathWolf
May 8, 2012, 11:05 AM
Kansas says I can blast you.
If you have the low morals to attack me or mine in my own home...then I'm not too concerned about being "moral" toward you after that point.


Body:

21-5223. Same; defense of dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle; no duty to retreat. (a) A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that it appears to such person and such person reasonably believes that such use of force is necessary to prevent or terminate such other's unlawful entry into or attack upon such person's dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle.

(b) A person is justified in the use of deadly force to prevent or terminate unlawful entry into or attack upon any dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle if such person reasonably believes that such use of deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to such person or another.

(c) Nothing in this section shall require a person to retreat if such person is using force to protect such person's dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle.

History: L. 2010, ch. 136, 22; L. 2011, ch. 30, 8; July 1.

Sam1911
May 8, 2012, 11:13 AM
So we don't need honorable intentions or behavior? This is one of the things wrong with our society today. That is what bad guys are. People with dishonorable intentions. It IS the honorable thing to do to stop an obvious criminal from being able to succeed in crime.
But you as the armed citizen are not empowered to use lethal force to "stop crime." That's vigilanteism. We have a justice system with law enforcement officers, courts, prisons, and a system of laws, trials, sentencing and so forth that is constructed for the purpose of dealing with folks who break laws.

If you assault or kill someone, the only manner in which your guilt for that homicide may be set aside is if you can show that you had no choice but to act as you did. You had a reasonable belief that this person would kill you or seriously hurt you, right that second, if you did not fire your weapon.

Even in cases of self-defense, you are NOT being empowered to administer justice to keep a criminal from succeeding in his crime. You are not assaulting or killing him because he's bad, or he's broken the law. ONLY because you reasonably believed that you had no choice but to shoot or die. (Or prevent a very short list of other serious felonies like assault or rape.)

There's a habitual tendency among "gun guys" to look at lethal force encounters with a broad wink and a gruff statement to the effect that, "Some folks just need killin'!" In other words, justice was served -- it was a GOOD shoot -- that's one less bad guy in the world, and so on. The problem is, there is no element of the actual law that considers things that way. You either can prove that your situation met the standards for lawful use of deadly force, or you can not. If not, you're now a criminal and are going to jail. Doesn't matter if the guy you shot was a 3-strikes felon or a minister.


Commissioner Brumford: Ladies and gentlemen, I would now like to introduce a most special American. Tonight, he is being honoured for his 1000th drug-dealer killed.
Lt. Frank Drebin: Thank you. But, in all honesty, the last three I backed over with my car. Luckily, they turned out to be drug-dealers.

Rail Driver
May 8, 2012, 11:19 AM
But you as the armed citizen are not empowered to use lethal force to "stop crime." That's vigilanteism. We have a justice system with law enforcement officers, courts, prisons, and a system of laws, trials, sentencing and so forth that is constructed for the purpose of dealing with folks who break laws.

If you assault or kill someone, the only manner in which your guilt for that homicide may be set aside is if you can show that you had no choice but to act as you did. You had a reasonable belief that this person would kill you or seriously hurt you, right that second, if you did not fire your weapon.

Even in cases of self-defense, you are NOT being empowered to administer justice to keep a criminal from succeeding in his crime. You are not assaulting or killing him because he's bad, or he's broken the law. ONLY because you reasonably believed that you had no choice but to shoot or die. (Or prevent a very short list of other serious felonies like assault or rape.)
I don't know about your jurisdiction, Sam, but in mine the law states otherwise. It's not the "administration of justice" though some see it that way - it's defending good people from bad people plain and simple:

776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.—

... (snipped for brevity - full statute linked at the bottom)

(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0776/Sections/0776.013.html

"Forcible Felony" as used in the previously cited statute is defined here:

776.08 Forcible felony.—“Forcible felony” means treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.
History.—s. 13, ch. 74-383; s. 4, ch. 75-298; s. 289, ch. 79-400; s. 5, ch. 93-212; s. 10, ch. 95-195.

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0776/Sections/0776.08.html

mdauben
May 8, 2012, 11:21 AM
Some bad guy's life is not worth the legal hassles I will endure if I pop him.
This. I am less concerned with the life or death of a criminal who has chosen to threaten me than I am with avoiding the legal and emotional aftermath of even the most legally and morally justified "shoot". CD and SYG means you probably won't be convicted of murder, it does not guarantee that you won't be cuffed, arrested, your gun(s) confiscated or other disagreeable results before "they" finally decide you are innocent.

I don't know about your jurisdiction, Sam, but in mine the law states otherwise:

One thing Sam does not seem to specifically mention, is that deadly force is not only generally permissable to defend yourself from death of grave bodily injury, but also to defend other innocents.

"Forcible Felony" as used in the previously cited statute is defined here:

Note that most of the examples of "Forcible Felony" are by definition forms of grave bodily injury (i.e. sexual assault, battery) or so frequently involve death or grave bodily injury (i.e. carjacking) as to fall under Sam's definition of justification of use of deadly force.

Kleanbore
May 8, 2012, 11:23 AM
Posted by sig220mw: So we don't need honorable intentions or behavior?Of course we do.

It IS the honorable thing to do to stop an obvious criminal from being able to succeed in crime.When one does so lawfully, yes.

But while deadly force may be justified or excused in cases in which the actor had reason to believe that such force had been immediately necessary for self preservation (or in some jurisdictions, for stopping certain serious felonies), doing "the honorable thing", defending one's honor, or displaying valor do not justify the use of force.

GEM
May 8, 2012, 11:23 AM
For the scholars here - :)

The discussion might be well informed by reading about Kohlberg's theory of moral development - the idea that morality is following the law is examined.

Also, Killing in Self-Defense (expensive legal text) by Fiona Leverick - covers most of the issues here.

To cut to the chase - life is more important than property. The only justification for killing is to save your own life (or that of others) as the attack devalues the worth of the life of the attacker. If one can safely avoid taking a life, then the value of the attacker's life trumps even a legal opportunity to kill the attacker. Grievous bodily harm counts as it is a predictor of propable death.

Rape is a special case - one might argue that it doesn't take a life but:

1. The victim cannot know if he or she will be killed.
2. The act of rape so diminshes the value of the victims' life that the value of attacker's life sinks below that of the victim and lethal force is justified.

Thus retreat if it can be done safely is preferrable to killing, even if legally justified. That's what Leverick concludes. Interesting read but dense.

Sam1911
May 8, 2012, 11:25 AM
Rail Driver -- I did mention that there were a few instances where you could be found justified if you used lethal force to prevent a specific set of very serious felonies.

Should have been more clear about that, but that's less universal and a whole lot murkier ground.

(Kind of like that whole "Shooting thieves in TX after dark" issue! :rolleyes:)

Also, you'll note that many of those listed in FL's statute involve serious risk of injury or death to others anyway.

GEM
May 8, 2012, 11:29 AM
PS to my post above:

The motivation to kill even if not necessary to prevent life loss is probably driven by a revenge motivation.

It is argued by some theorists that this is an evolutionary driven process with several components.

1. Attacking our attacker probably triggers pleasure center circuits designed to reward us for fighting in risky situations.
2. We are driven to maintain our place in dominance hierarchies. Thus if we are attacked we need to demonstrate that we dominate the attacker.
3. That's we also see displaced aggression if we are attacked. We may lose to the attacker but we show others that we are still powerful.

The mass get togethers after some tragedy like VT serve to help share grief but also mark our territory as defended by group force.

Thus wanting to kill an attacker when unnecessary supports our view of our self-image and image in the community based on built in drives.

hso
May 8, 2012, 11:29 AM
duty

No, there's no duty to do so. It is practical to avoid a confrontation if you can simple for your own safety, but telling someone they have a duty to retreat puts them in a dangerous position of putting their attacker's well being above their own. Remember that self defense is defense, defense in the face of an attacker. You should avoid a confrontation and avoid having to defend yourself, but when attacked your only consideration should be defending yourself from your attacker without you or other innocents being harmed.

ball3006
May 8, 2012, 11:31 AM
Memorize the law in YOUR state. Think about how you will react to different situations before you place yourself in harm's way. Stopping and thinking about it in a SD situation will probably get you killed. chris3

Kleanbore
May 8, 2012, 11:33 AM
Posted by Rail Driver (quoting the Florida back law): "...reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

Do you contend that that differs materially from "you reasonably believed that you had no choice but to shoot or die. (Or prevent a very short list of other serious felonies like assault or rape.)"?

BTW, the list varies among jursidictions.

...it's defending good people from bad people plain and simple...From an imminent threat posed by "bad people". Let's not let anyone think otherwise. It has nothing whatsoever to do with what "bad people" might do later.

Skribs
May 8, 2012, 11:34 AM
GEM, how do you know that mugger is going to let you go after you hand him your wallet and watch?

bikerdoc
May 8, 2012, 11:37 AM
Why are you all feeding a 1 post troll who answered his own question.

Skribs
May 8, 2012, 11:42 AM
Biker, people aren't responding to the OP anymore, but to each other.

Rail Driver
May 8, 2012, 11:43 AM
Do you contend that that differs materially from "you reasonably believed that you had no choice but to shoot or die. (Or prevent a very short list of other serious felonies like assault or rape.)"?

BTW, the list varies among jursidictions.
No, I don't. The qualifier (or prevent ...) appears to have been edited in after I posted my local statute and statement.

From an imminent threat posed by "bad people". Let's not let anyone think otherwise. It has nothing whatsoever to do with what "bad people" might do later.

I didn't intend to imply otherwise - It's to prevent what the "bad people" are in the act of or is imminently pending. What someone may do tomorrow is not relevant nor do I have any way of knowing that - Further, I'll go so far as to state that even a person saying to myself or another "I'm going to get my gun and come back here and shoot you" is also NOT valid grounds to shoot - that same person reaching in his trunk and pulling out a firearm as he is saying those words IS valid grounds to shoot in defense. (in my jurisdiction)

Kleanbore
May 8, 2012, 11:46 AM
^^^^
Probably a good time to move on to something else.

Sam1911
May 8, 2012, 11:46 AM
Why are you all feeding a 1 post troll who answered his own question.

Biker, people aren't responding to the OP anymore, but to each other.

There are some issues that are imperfectly understood by the world at large, and there's far more of the wrong kind of info out there to support such poor understandings.

The OP may never return, but lots of folks will read this now or stumble upon it later and perhaps read something that gives them a critical insight they otherwise would not have had.

A teachable moment, perhaps?

Fred Fuller
May 8, 2012, 01:56 PM
Therefore, the armed citizen, under these laws, has no legal duty to retreat, even if he can do so in complete safety. But does he have a moral/ehtical duty to do so? I postulate that the responsible armed citizen does.

Here we have an interesting juxtaposition of concepts that might or might not actually be relative.

Legal? Many things are or have been legal that might not be considered moral by some people.

Moral? Many things are considered moral by some people which are not legal.

But in life, legality is what has the most visible and tangible consequences, morality being more of a private concept (save in its translation to actions in life).

I am discouraged by the number of people new to the idea of self defense who are 'headhunting,' for lack of a better way to put it. The question is too often phrased by these folks as "When can I shoot him?" or the like.

To paraphrase my sainted mother in law: It isn't enough not to want to shoot someone. You have to want NOT to shoot someone.

That doesn't mean you won't shoot if you are forced to shoot in defense of yourself or your loved ones. What it means is that shooting is a last resort, not an early option.

I quote trainer John Farnam pretty often in this regard:

Winning a gunfight, or any other potentially injurious encounter, is financially and emotionally burdensome. The aftermath will become your full-time job for weeks or months afterward, and you will quickly grow weary of writing checks to lawyer(s). It is, of course, better than being dead or suffering a permanently disfiguring or disabling injury, but the "penalty" for successfully fighting for your life is still formidable. -- http://www.defense-training.com/quips/2003/19Mar03.html

Good advice in my experience...

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