February 15, 2013, 10:47 PM
My neighbor, a 40 year old single mom frantically knocks on my door and screams there is a burgler in her house with her two young kids, under 18. Frantically, she asks for my help, but my back is out and I can't move or walk. I offer her my 12 gauge shotgun and she grabes it and takes it; I call the cops who are 15 minutes away. 2 minutes after calling the cops she kills the burglar with my gun. Am I held liable?

What if I offered her a pistol or AR, would I be held liable?

If you enjoyed reading about "Hypothetical..." here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
February 15, 2013, 10:57 PM
Wow. I've run some wild scenarios in my head, but never that one.

I don't think anyone here, even a lawyer, can answer that one in black-and-white. Too many variables to consider.

But, here's an idea. Since you're already considering this, why don't you find out more about her familiarity with firearms beforehand? Perhaps you could teach her some, or at least find out if she is even receptive to the idea..

The more you can establish you knew about her proficiency with any weapon you lend her, the easier a time you'll have mitigating liability.

The type of firearm will have little bearing, unless you come up on someone (state attorney or judge) who has a political agenda going on. But, if it were me and I was seriously trying to give someone the best chance, I'd offer what I knew them to be the most proficient with. If that's an AR, so be it.

February 15, 2013, 11:00 PM
Better choice:

She and her kids wait at your house for police to arrive. Stay armed there, and hunker down.

February 15, 2013, 11:37 PM
But she ran out of her house without them. It allready happened.

February 15, 2013, 11:43 PM
To clarify MedW, she has little experience with guns. She's seen how to use a pump, rack a semi pistol and AR. She is a lion mama at this point, does not want her kids to die.

February 16, 2013, 05:19 AM
Here in OH, she'd be in trouble....

We have a "duty to retreat" that pretty well says that "if you can get out of the house, you should have stayed out" in a case like this.

We are no longer under the obligation to leave (if possible) no matter what - that got changed a few years ago. However going back inside (which is pretty much the same as chasing after a robber) may get a lawyer or six a nice bonus.

Anybody's guess what a Jury would eventually find, given the kids presence, but there are enough Police and Prosecutors out there who'd look at the stats, and/or the "gun crime" aspect, and really stick it to her.

Here in OH, too, you can't go in there yourself - same retreat foolishness. Licensees aren't likely to be LEO's, too, and shouldn't expect to act as them, except in some areas where real common sense isn't unusual.


February 16, 2013, 10:40 AM
SMMA, this question is more complicated than that.......she apparently went back into the house to help her kids. I don't see any prosecutor jumping happily into this one.

February 16, 2013, 10:45 AM
A person in almost every case has a right to use lethal force to defend the life of another person -- if that person would have the same lawful ability to use lethal force in their own defense.

Her need to retreat -- if her kids are in the house and she's coming to their aid -- isn't relevant here.

I'm not even sure I understand the question of are you held liable? Liable for WHAT? Her justifiable homicide? SHE pulled the trigger and she will be the one who has to provide the justification for her act, which in this case sounds fairly straightforward. Probably she'd not even be arrested, let alone charged.

So we've got two issues here under scrutiny: 1) Did she have a legal justification for her act? and 2) was it legal for you to transfer a weapon to her?

If she's a prohibited person, and you KNOW (or had reason to know) that fact, then yes -- you broke the law. Otherwise, there's no crime here whatsoever to be liable for.

February 16, 2013, 10:56 AM
In IL she'd have to show you her FOID card first.

Laughable, yes.

But dead serious.

If you handed a firearm to someone who didn't show you an FOID card, you could be charged with a Class 4 felony (for transferring it without seeing her FOID card).

February 16, 2013, 01:35 PM
But she ran out of her house without them. It allready happened.

So, what was the outcome?

Or, is she still at your house frantically waiting for us to make up your mind..? :D

If you enjoyed reading about "Hypothetical..." here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!