Deadly force against "unarmed" attackers

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There's no way I can really offer a lot in the way of serious answers to the questions as posed- just general things to think about well in advance of ever finding yourself in such a situation.

Much of any conceivable response in such an event is covered in the notes below. Some here may not be familiar with them. My suggestion is that you GET familiar with them.

I also suggest you get VERY familiar with both the black-letter law AND the case law of self defense in your jurisdiction. Every place is different. You NEED TO KNOW what the real rules are in your jurisdiction- "if you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

Some might not be familiar wih ATSA-speak. Here's a brief glossary:

VCA- violent criminal actor
SODDI- some other dude did it
TODDI- THAT other dude did it
AOJ- ability, opportunity, jeopardy
ADEE- avoid, de-escalate/disengage, escape, evade

Study hard,


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Monthly Lecture: 02-2006

By: Skip Gochenour


The legal right to use force, even deadly force, in self-defense and the defense of others in the U.S. has been a settled discussion in the law since before the formal founding of the country. No other conclusion can be drawn by looking broadly at the law in the respective jurisdictions across the 400 year time span of European settlement to the present day.

With the exception of a brief period, largely the third quarter of the 20th Century, and a few locations, predominately those with populations enamored with the Franco-German political model, U.S. law has recognized the right of decent, productive, ordinary citizens to use force to interrupt unlawful violence directed against themselves or another person.

Viewed across the sweep of history for those centuries, it is reasonable to argue that the law has sought to define the circumstances that would allow finders of fact to determine the difference between the necessity of the defender citizen to strike a blow and a person who ignores or manipulates circumstance to mask an act laden with criminal intent.

A similar sweeping view would suggest good evidence exists to argue the current trend in the law is to correct some of the constructs bequeathed during that quarter century and promulgate law that returns to concepts long in practice, though largely lacking in specific legal definition.

By way of example, the law 50 years ago regularly restricted the justification of defense of others to those with whom the defender had a “special” relationship. Hence, the current “short-list” advocated in some currently operating training schools. The requirement for a defender to have a “special” relationship with the person defended is largely gone from defense of others law. Another shift in the law that began about 20 years ago is the redefinition of “immanent” from immediate to inevitable in the foreseeable future, as seen in the “batterer syndrome”.

When viewed from this landscape perspective, the law found itself with two problems to finesse. The first was to find a way to objectify a subjective occurrence. The law had to create models of fiction that could allow finders of fact to view the conduct of a defender with sufficient objectivity to sort an act of necessity from criminal intent. Because real-life experience teaches that infinite combinations of circumstance must be interpreted on an instance by instance basis, the law had to allow for sufficient “wiggle room” on the part of the defender and the finder of fact for the model to be useful. The result was the “reasonable and prudent man operating in the same or similar circumstance” standard.

The second problem was to provide the defender with access to a means of defensive tools. Returning to our landscape view, the issue of carrying weapons about in U.S. has largely been a process of trying to define who was fit to be trusted with such responsibility. While it was common for the law to preclude anyone without a license to carry concealed weapons, evidence would suggest that as a matter of practice, “people of good character” found with a concealed weapon were ignored. Enforcement was confined to those operationally defined as untrustworthy, with the definition varying by time and place.

The historical record suggests that the laws restricting the carrying of weapons in the south and west were designed to keep weapons out of the hands of former slaves. The laws restricting the carrying of weapons in the east and mid-west were written in response to labor violence connected to the influx of immigrants from southern and eastern European countries and the laws written in the far west were written to control Asian immigrant access to weapons.

The influence of criminal gang violence starting in the 2nd quarter of the 20th century and America’s flirtation with the rejection of the construct of individual responsibility led to a more universal enforcement of concealed carry restrictions and difficulty for the ordinary citizen to acquire a carry license.

By the 4th quarter of the 20th century, state legislatures were defining those fit to have a license to carry concealed weapons for employment in self-defense as anyone who by personal history and demonstration was unfit. The nearly universal three disqualifiers are: a felony conviction, a history of mental illness and a history of substance abuse. The common thread of these three categories is that each demonstrates in the individual with such history a proven lack of judgment requisite in a person walking about in society while armed. Not surprisingly, a person with a proven record in one of these three lapses of judgment, probably has one or more of the other two categories operant, whether a matter of record or not.

The rhetoric of those who reject the concept of personal responsibility aside, an argument can be made that the current trend in the law to recognize that any American citizen of good character and repute is entitled to the right of self-defense as well as a means to travel about with a means of defense, is more declarative of our commonality as Americans than all of the assertions of those who would plead us as pre-adolescents engaged in whining fits of jealousy.

With this backdrop, let’s look at the intent of the legal constructs that form the operating milieu of legally sufficient justification for using force against another person.

I. Assuming there is an incident where a defender is required to use force to reduce the threat to an acceptable level:

A. Police will be summoned by:

1. One of the parties to the incident.
2. An onlooker.

B. The occurrence of injuries and the increase in severity of injuries elevates the likelihood of police response and the bringing of charges against the defender.

C. The form of force and the level of injuries will determine the nature of charges the defender will face.

1. Homicide
2. Assault of various forms.
3. Intimidation of various forms
4. Unlawful restraint.

II. The Players and their roles.

A. Patrol Officers will make the initial response to the scene.

1. If there is no death or danger of death, they may handle the entire incident.
2. Collection and preservation of physical evidence will be cursory and concluded quickly.
3. Statements will be done largely at the scene. Follow-up with other witnesses will be cursory. Little attempt to identify and locate all potential witnesses is likely.
4. They will probably make any charging decisions at the scene and proceed with lodging of charges.
5. If the department is small, it is possible that patrol officers will be the totality of the investigation response, even in the event of a death.
6. If there is a death, or the possibility of death as a result of the incident, the patrol officers will likely hand the case to detectives.

NOTE: When patrol officer arrive they will likely ask, “What happened”? Your response is most likely admissible in a court proceeding, even if you have not been Mirandized. On the other hand, a response from you of “I would like to speak with my lawyer!” will probably subject you to a charging decision made without the benefit of your input. Patrol officers will not be inclined to wait for a lawyer to arrive, especially after mid-night. They will probably have the benefit of statements from the “victim” and any of his cohorts. The decision will probably be made with, or without your input.

B. Detectives

1. Short of a death, they will make the charging decisions.
2. The involvement of detectives likely means that more physical evidence will be collected, analyzed and interpreted.
3. Many more statements will be taken. Witnesses and potential witnesses will be identified, located and interviewed. Those interviews will be compared to with one another and with the physical evidence to create an interpretation of what likely occurred in the event.
4. If the incident involves a death, the evidence as well as their interpretation will be referred to the prosecutor for a charging decision.

NOTE: At some point detectives will want to take a statement from you. The involvement of detectives usually means the process is slowed down by the methodical nature of their work. There will usually be time for a lawyer to arrive to represent you. It is likely the involvement of detectives will allow time for you to provide your story for use in the charging decision.

C. Prosecutors

1. They will be involved in any charging decision where a death occurs. They will often be involved in charging decisions where serious bodily injury occurs.
2. In such cases, it is common for a prosecutor to be at the scene and at the station while processing and interviewing is in progress.

D. Defense lawyer

1. He will be your spokesman.
2. He can transmit your story to police and prosecutors in a fashion that the statement can not be attributed to you at the time of trail.
3. The charging decision can be made with the benefit of a lawyer for the state reviewing the evidence that includes your rendition of what occurred, presented by a trial lawyer who understands and can convey the meaning of the evidence at trial.

NOTE: Remember that once the decision to charge you is made, the impetus of the party’s shifts from trying to learn what happened to trying to win the case.
· This is now a contest between “Champions”.
· Facts become subservient to the rules of evidence and each champion will try to exclude that evidence which he deems harmful to his case.
· A trial is a form of ritualized fighting as in dueling, where the rules determine what is and is not “fair”.
· The truth will not necessarily set you free, but a lie, or apparent lie will lock you up!

E. Witnesses

1. Direct evidence witnesses.
2. Indirect evidence witnesses
3. Expert witnesses
4. Character witnesses

III. The Process

A. Reason and Rationality

1. Reason and rationality are constant themes in the American trial system.
2. Reasonable man standard
3. A reasonable and prudent man acting in like or similar circumstances standard.
4. Reasonable doubt standard.
5. Rational decision standard.

NOTE: Reasonableness varies with the specifics of the occasion. If retreat is required “if it can be accomplished in complete safety”, the ability of the Practitioner to reach a place of safety will be measured differently depending on whether the Practitioner is quick and agile or is infirmed.

Another issue of reasonableness arises with the past experiences of the Practitioner. A person who has experienced spousal battering, complete with the ritualistic aspect, and perceives a life threatening incident in the making, will have their actions viewed from that experience.

Likewise, specific knowledge, in the possession of a defender that an assailant has a reputation for violence can be considered by the finder of fact as the actions taken by the defender is reviewed.

B. Reasonable and prudent man.

1. Is a fictional legal character with abstract objective qualities that form a standard by which to review the subjective determinations and interpretations of a real person in an actual set of circumstances.

NOTE: The subjective portion of this standard will include any knowledge residing in the particular person asserting necessity in the specific occasion coupled with the fair conclusions one could draw from that cumulative knowledge and circumstance. That includes knowledge derived from experience, education and training.

The Practitioner must be prepared to articulate the totality of his knowledge and the operating circumstance and the derivative conclusions that formed his belief in the necessity of his actions.

C. Reasonable doubt.

1. Not a doubt constructed to avoid an unpleasant duty but one that arises fairly out of the evidence.

D. Rational decision

1. Comes from a careful review of the relevant facts and an application of the law.
2. Verdicts must be rational, not speculative.

E. Burden of proof

1. As a general rule, the burden of proof is always on the prosecution.
2. Are required to prove each element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
3. Must refute any defenses
a. True defense
1) alibi
b. Affirmative defense
1) Justification
2) Prosecution must refute a claim of justification beyond a reasonable doubt.
3) Rare occasion where the defense has a burden of proof.
4) Must demonstrate the elements of justification to a preponderance of the evidence standard.
5) If the prosecution can refute one of the elements of justification beyond a reasonable doubt, he can prevent the defense from arguing justification to the jury.
6) The jury will be precluded from considering a claim of legal justification.
7) The defense can negate a claim of justification by introducing evidence inconsistent with an element of justification.
8) Eg. An assertion by the defendant that the gun discharged “accidentally.
Part 2:

NOTE: Available studies from different times and places suggest that of the total number of homicide charges filed; about 22-25% have an element of self-defense involved. Self-defense is different than legal justification. Self defense is an act of self-preservation that may or may not meet the legal requirements of justification.

Those with an absolutist view of “self-defense” query with incredulity if a person with a criminal record or is actively involved in criminal conduct is not availed the right of self-defense. The answer is that he certainly has aright to defend himself, he may, however have difficulty with one or more of the elements of justification.

4. Elements common to justification defense

a. Recklessness and negligence
1) Expect problems with a justification defense if you decide to go for a stroll in a section of town known for a high incidence of street robberies while carrying a transparent bag full of fifties.
2) Avoidance, general
b. Provocation
1) If an antagonist makes accusations concerning the level of intimacy between you and your mother, it is not advisable to non-verbally indicate him that he is “#1” with you.
2) Avoidance, specific
c. Retreat
1) Disengage

NOTE: The practical effect of the retreat rule is to punish those parties who choose to stay and continue the engagement.

d. Excessive force
1) You may not use force greater than that offered by the antagonist.
2) The level and amount of force may not exceed that which is required to reduce the threat to an acceptable level.
3) Any blow delivered that is outside the requirements of “necessity” is not justified.

NOTE: Training techniques, when reviewed under the “necessity” standard, will examine the necessity of each blow delivered.

F. Mindset

1. Mindset as used in this circumstance refers to the state of mind of the Practitioner as he struck the blow.
2. Mens Rea.
a. Guilty mind.
b. The jury will be instructed of a legal construct that permits them to infer intent when a deadly weapon is employed against a vital part of the body.
c. The intent in justification is to interrupt the violent actions of another.
d. Unintentional injury or death resulting from the use of a deadly weapon and is grossly reckless or negligent conduct that likely rises to a criminal level.
1) Reckless and negligent conduct is that which deviates from a standard of care a person in like or similar circumstance would be expected to employ.
2) Shootings that result from a violation of the 4 Rules would occasion this form of criminal prosecution.
3) R&N differs from other states of mind that must be established through the evidence.
4) Regarding R&N, the state of mind is irrelevant. The issue is the standard of care exercised did not those of a R&P man in the same or similar circumstance.
e. 3 conditions reviewed to determine R&N act.
1) Potential to reasonably foresee harm that might result from your actions.
2) The probability that harm could occur
3) The burden the actor would have to bear if he did not take the action.
4) The higher the potential for an unintended harm to come from an action, the higher the certainty of that harm to the actor must be to justify his actions.
f. Reckless behavior.
1) Generally, reckless behavior requires a higher showing of disregard in the conduct of the actor.
2) Requires a showing the actor showed a disregard for the apparent danger occasioned by his actions.
3. Motive as part of mens rea.
a. Malice is a part of murder.
b. Malice has a specific legal definition.
c. Recklessness, hardness of heart, cruelty, a mind regardless of social duty.
d. The actor’s actions have a substantial and unjustifiable risk of causing harm.
4. Necessity as motive.
a. Gives rise to the concept of retreat, which is actually a tactic recognized as disengagement.
b. Each blow delivered must be, in and of itself, necessary
c. The use of force must be necessary to be justified.

NOTE: Necessity is the product of a two pronged test, subjective and objective.

The Practitioner must believe it is necessary to use force in the present circumstance. He must show that his subjective interpretation is derived from objective facts.

Inversely, the Practitioner who has objective facts from which to interpret a real threat, but does not subjectively believe force is needed can not reach the necessity standard. The Practitioner can not rely on a checklist to justify the use of force.

That is the fallacy of the AOJ model.

5. Proportionality as evidence of motive.
a. . Proportionality is that force which is equal to that force offered and/or just enough additional force to reduce the threat to an acceptable level.
1) Proportionality is that force which is equal to that force offered and/or just enough additional force to reduce the threat to an acceptable level.

NOTE: OC sprays can be used as part of the disengage, escape and evade strategy. Even if the spray is not used directly on the assailant, it can be used to contaminate the path as the assailant gives pursuit.

6. Immanent as motive.
a. Statutes and case law must be consulted for the standard that operates in the specific jurisdiction.
b. Immediately means at the present moment.
c. In the last 20 years, immanently has come to be seen as in the presently foreseeable future. This view came about in response to the “battered” syndrome.
d. Traditionally, immanent and immediate were used interchangeably.

NOTE: A bonafide threat to kill is not justification for a pre-emptive strike. It is available to use as a circumstance to assess the actions of a VCA on an occasion when that threat combined with other actions gives rise to a conclusion that the intent of the VCA is lethal.

7. Castle doctrine
a. In jurisdictions where the castle doctrine is the law, the doctrine generally stands for the position that a person in his home or place of business is not required to retreat from an attack.
b. Some jurisdictions require an actor to retreat in their domicile or place of business if the aggressor has an equal right to be in the premises, even if the jurisdiction recognizes the castle doctrine otherwise.
1) Was designed to prevent cohabitants from engaging in mutual combat.
8. Pursuit
a. An actor who is justified in defending himself should avoid pursuing an aggressor.
b. The pursuit of a VCA who is withdrawing can transform the Practitioner into the aggressor in any subsequent action.
9. Provocation as motive.
a. Any action a Practitioner engages in that can be interpreted as provocative will be reviewed for its role in creating the need for use of force.
10. Mutual combat as evidence of motive.
a. Failing to take any opportunity to avoid or disengage an antagonist will be reviewed for the role those failures played in the need to use force.



1. AOJ is the traditional model used by those who must defend themselves while completing their sworn duty obligation to confront VCA.
2. AOJ identifies the salient features of behavior that can be indicative of a lethal threat.
3. Ability refers to the presence of a dangerous weapon.
a. Any implement that is employed in a way to create a danger of death or serious bodily injury.
1) Can be anything from fists and feet to a firearm.
2) Some implements are identified in statute as deadly weapons. Eg. Dirks and blackjacks.
3) Any item that is a force multiplier.
4) Disparity of size, weight, numbers of assailants, training, able-bodied.
4. Opportunity refers to the effective striking distance of the weapons system employed by the VCA.
a. Effective distance can be mediated by obstacles and the VCA being outside the effective distance for his weapons system.
b. Avoidance can be accomplished by maintaining a distance from the VCA that is outside the effect of his weapons system.
c. Obstacles can be used to avoid and disengage from a VCA.
d. The failure to use the options of distance and obstacles can be used to overcome a Practitioners claim of necessity.
5. Jeopardy refers to the actions of the VCA that leads to the reasonable conclusion that force is necessary to interrupt an action that can realistically cause death or serious bodily injury.


1. A model more appropriate to the non-duty sworn Practitioner who is compelled through necessity to confront a VCA involves avoidance, disengagement escape and evade.
2. This model is useful as a tactical strategy and as a framework through which to describe the objective circumstance that lead to the subjective conclusion that the use of force was necessary.

NOTE: While it is common to regard avoidance as meaning staying away from places where stupid people congregate to do stupid things, it is important to realize that such people can come to visit you in your home. It is unwise to allow into your home people who bring actively operant baggage through your front door. Giving shelter in your home to someone who is hiding from an abusive spouse is a very bad idea. Direct them to a service that is in the business of providing such services.


As part of your obligation to prepare for the rigors of carrying weapons about in society prepared to use them to protect yourself and those for whom you are legally and morally responsible, develop a working knowledge of the legal constructs that guide you towards a determination of objective standards from which you will form your subjective determination of when it is necessary to employ force.

With application, you will conclude that the law of justification is consistent with your own value system and the ADEE model.
please don't come in here I don't want to hurt you

A good idea to record evidence but I wouldn't want to convey an unwillingness to hurt them, you want the BG to absolutely 110% believe that you will shoot him if he doesn't stop. They will key on hesitation or lack of confidence, if you tell them you don't want to hurt them they will likely believe you are also unwilling to hurt them.

IF I issue a warning it would probably be along the lines of "Leave now, I have a gun"

In my state the laws are pretty good for defense, homicide is justified when a person is in reasonable fear of grave bodily injury or death to himself or another person. The bad guy doesn't have to have a weapon to cause grave bodily injury. If you use force to defend yourself, can articulate the threat and are the good guy chances of charges or even being arrested are low.
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This post has certain issues that would be better resolved in the legal forum, but from a strategic point of view, yes, a person can beat you to death and it occurs rather often if you search a bit.

The most important thing to mention here would be, only shoot when you feel as sure as you can feel about anything, that you are in serious danger of getting killed. After trying to escape, run, close the car’s door or leave in any possible way, this guy is still closing in. That would be number one.

Meaning, as someone else mentioned, huge guy comes after you, ok, I see why you fear for your life. 80 year old grandpa insults your mom and you shoot, no-no.

Again from a S&T perspective, this isn’t just a role play scenario, it happens, and it’s a perfect example of why it’s important to have a less than lethal alternative with you along with your gun (OC spray)
Could safe you from ending up in jail. Dead is worse but that 20 USD can of OC spray you didn’t bother to carry might save you from spending most of your life in prison.

Edited to add:
IF you are actually involved in something like the original poster suggested, a VERY smart tactic would be to yell clear commands out loud, for everyone to hear ( including future witnesses that may save you during the trial).
“Stop or I’ll shoot”
“Sir! stop or I’ll have to shoot you!!”
Someone that testifies hearing those words would make a world of a difference.

shadowalker ...

The plea was more for those that aren't RKBA minded on the Jury (should there be one in regards to the shooting). While I agree with your point, the point he wanted to make: we were told to sound like this was not your choice. You just absolutely abhored violence etc. (remember a Brady bunch member could be on that Jury) It is to make you sound like you were the antithesis to Dirty Harry and thus more likely to get a sympathetic jury :) The officer who trained us was a very pragmatic person, quite the realist and no nonesense. He knew his way around a courtroom and a bit of psychiatry surprisingly.
I'm reminded of a case in Spokane, WA... As I remember the newspaper article, a 17 year old boy got angry at a man in traffic. The man pulled into a service station, the boy drove around the block to get back to the service station. Once there, the boy hit the man breaking his jaw then the man shot and killed the boy.

The boy was unarmed and had been drinking. The newspaper implied that driving around the block to get back to and assult the man was key to this being determined a good shoot.
He comes towards you, and you draw your pistol. He then says something like "I dare you" and keeps coming. I think it is 100% clear to fire. What say you?

I'm 70.
He's shot.

I didn't get this old by taking a lot of crap.:)
We can sit here and run scenerios all day long(and dont get me wrong - scenerios are great training) but the bottom line here is that if you shoot someone - and it doesn't matter if they are unarmed or carrying a bazooka - bottom line is you better have had a darn good reason to do so. You better have felt very threatened - either for your safety or someone elses - otherwise you shouldn't shoot - bottom line!

Every state has different laws and we could debate for hours on the differences - Some are more liberal others are well -stupid - but here's the deal - you need to feel threatened and you damn well better express that to the cops when they show up. I am a gun owner and enjoy my guns as a hobby and a way of life - Im also a LEO who believes strongly in the 2nd Amend - im not here to take anyones rights/guns away and im not here to keep anyone from defending themself - however - there are alot of gun owners who are itching to shoot someone (armed or not) if you dont believe me then come ride my beat for awhile - you would be surprised what some of your counterparts(obviously not THR members!) are up to - If you have to shoot someone you better start right away playing the part of the victim - Because if your not the victim when the local pig arrives you'r going to get a ride to jail and your attacker is going to sue your a$$ off. Its a sad fact but thats how it goes.

If you have a chance to retreat you should take it. Even if your local law says you dont have to - can you honestly live with yourself knowing you killed someone when you didn't have to?? If you have a means of getting out of the situation then take it. Call for help - call 911 - scream - demand he leave - tell them you are armed- make every effort to end the confrontation without having to shoot - if it doesn't work and your still being threatened then focus on your front sight and shoot till the threat is over.

Just to give you a brief example: The last shooting I was called to was of an unarmed person. An old man shot a juvenile in the face. Without going into great detail the juvenile deserved more then what he got(I had personally arrested him seveal times before and after) He was out causing problems with some friends and ran afoul of an old man playing cards on his front porch(keep in mind this happened on the old mans property) When the juvenile began a mild attack on the old man, the old man went back into his house and came out armed(he didn't call for help and he didn't stay inside) - he shot the juvenile and then shot at several other people running around in the street - I arrested the old man on the spot and then later arrested the juvi when he was released from the hospital - This case could have gone alot of ways - the Juvi was conficted in juvi court on several charges stemming from the incident and the old man decided to fight his charges in a jury trial - the DA decided it wasn't worth it and dropped all charges - Just an example - doesn't always work that way but thats how it played out that time.
In CT, it is only justified if a "disparity of force" exists. This means things such as 2 or more vs you, a very clear size disadvantage, usually meaning a man threatening to kill a woman, or knowledge that you could prove in court that you were aware that he has martial arts training. I'd google for "disparity of force" and your state statues.
If it's "reasonable" to believe that your life is in danger, switch the safety off and good luck. The object (or lack thereof) placing your life in said percieved danger is irrelevant as long as it's "reasonable" for you to fear for your life in said scenario.
In California one needs to take a beatdown before using deadly force unless the threat of serious harm, or death is clear and present.


Permissible Use of Lethal Force in Defense of Life and Body

The killing of one person by another may be justifiable when necessary to resist the attempt to commit a forcible and life-threatening crime, provided that a reasonable person in the same or similar situation would believe that (a) the person killed intended to commit a forcible and life-threatening crime; (b) there was imminent danger of such crime being accomplished; and (c) the person acted under the belief that such force was necessary to save himself or herself or another from death or a forcible and life-threatening crime. Murder, mayhem, rape and robbery are examples of forcible and life-threatening crimes (PC section 197).

Limitations on the Use of Force in SelfDefense The right of self-defense ceases when there is no further danger from an assailant. Thus, where a person attacked under circumstances initially justifying selfdefense renders the attacker incapable of inflicting further injuries, the law of self-defense ceases and no further force may be used. Furthermore, a person may only use the amount of force, up to deadly force, as a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances would believe necessary to prevent imminent injury. It is important to note the use of excessive force to counter an assault may result in civil or criminal penalties.

The right of selfdefense is not initially available to a person who assaults another. However, if such a person attempts to stop further combat and clearly informs the adversary of his or her desire for peace but the opponent nevertheless continues the fight, the right of selfdefense returns and is the same as the right of any other person being assaulted.
"He was coming at me and yelling threats at me... I removed my weapon to prepare to defend myself... When he didn't even stop, but kept approaching me, I was really afraid for my life... "

"Sir, why did you shoot him 15 times?"

"Because he was still moving after 14, officer..." :p

In Kansas, you are justified in the use of deadly force "if a reasonable person would have fear of imminent threat of death or great bodily harm"... Imminent is the important word there.

DaScotsman said:
"Sir, why did you shoot him 15 times?"

"Because he was still moving after 14, officer..."

Pay very close attention to item 10

Sam's Rules for a Gunfight

If you have been in Condition Yellow, the following will be
unnecessary, but, if not, then:

1. Bring a handgun.

2. Bring a handgun whose caliber starts with a 4.

3. Don't draw it unless you intend to use it.

4. Don't point it at anything you don't want to destroy.

5. Don't put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

6. Once you fire, keep firing until your "target" ceases to be a
threat. Count your shots if you can. If given the opportunity, do a
tactical reload. Try not to shot your weapon empty.

7. Call 911

8. Call Your lawyer. If you can, get a good criminal law attorney on
retainer before you need one.

9. Render aid if needed.

10. When questioned by police:
a. I feared for my life.
b. I'm too upset to talk now.
c. Stop talking

Item 2. is arguable. You may not be able to properly conceal one of
the 10mm or 11.25mm pistols. Or you may not be able to control your
fire with one. If either is the case, then at least adhere to rule 1
and bring a handgun of some type. the .25 ACP you have with you is a
lot better than the .45ACP you left home.​

That said, if you do shoot, keep shooting until the threat is ended or you've run your gun dry.

The problem with this is that in your head, your imaginary scenario played out just perfect for justified handgun usage.

In real life, it would never be that clear. Why didn't you turn around and sprint away? Or back away quickly with your gun at low ready?

Fact is, if you're afraid that this guy is gonna approach you and take your gun... aren't you the person who introduced a gun into a fender-bender? Pretty big commitment, producing a gun into a situation that was just an argument (chest beating? please).

What percentage of punches to the face every day result in death? Then, what percentage of gunshot wounds every day result in death?

I am pro rkba, and I CCW, but if I were on a jury, I'd have a real hard time not saying "this dude killed a guy because he didn't want to get punched over a fender bender?"
Wow: +1 on Lee Lapin and Skip Gochenour

Very impressive post--surprised it didn't end this thread.

I can't say it better, but maybe I can say it shorter:

1. Deadly force is justifiable (legally and ethically) to defend against an immediate, otherwise unavoidable threat of lethal or crippling injury to the innocent. (Massad Ayoob formulation)

2. Unarmed attackers may possess the ability to visit lethal or crippling attack due to disparity of force (several attackers against one defender, large, strong attacker against smaller or disabled defender, trained boxer attacking novice defender, etc.) or through use of an improvised weapon (example: kicking a fallen defender with a shod foot constitutes a lethal force attack).

3. The key to prevailing legally (after surviving the attack) will rest on the defender being able to articulate that he reasonably perceived a lethal attack was underway, and that he had no other safe means to avoid it.

4. Additional protections in the home may apply: some "castle" statutes state that violent entry of the home followed by felonious activity constitutes justification for lethal force.

That's as short as I can get it.
My 2 cents, for Maryland:
'Your having a gun = you were looking for somebody to shoot = your committed premeditated murder." I should mention that Maryland only lets nobility carry.
I'm a pretty big guy. Pretty strong, pretty quick. Following that line of thinking, I always assumed I could take a punch stoically.

Until this little twerp one day, barely half my size, with no formal comabt instructions whatsoever, hauls off and sucker punches me in the nose. Hard.

I got dizzy, and went down. Hard.

Of course, I got back up after about two seconds and went to town on the little you-know-what like he owed me money.

But that's not the point. The point is that even one off-chanced blow can put you on the ground, where you risk having your weapon taken from you, being beaten or kicked, or any number of things.

I assume, if I have a weapon drawn on someone (God forbid) and they keep advancing... they know something I don't, and it is probably not conducive to my health and general well-being.
Had this been me 20 years ago I would not have feared for my life but today I doubt I could defend myself very well. So I would present the gun and do my best Matt Dillon "don't be a fool." If he backed off I'd tell him to get in his car and stay there till the police came. If he came at me I'd shoot. When the police came I would be having severe chest pains that would last till I got to see my lawyer.
Here is a story about a Suffolk County NY correction officer that was moonlighting as a bouncer and it cost him his life.:mad:

Followup story. Officer removed from life support.,0,3418404.story

Here is someone with training and see how bad it got. Was he armed who knows. One thing that really got to me was the fact that the badguy continued to strangle the unconscious officer for a long time. What, nobody had the stones to smash a chair over this mutt's head. You can't depend on anyone for your safety. In that situation if you are armed and can access the gun shoot the [mutt]. This was a deadly force attack.
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Item 10 can get you in deep trouble if executed so matter-of-factly. Ayoob talks at length about this.

As I've been trained, you shouldn't resort to the "I want to call my lawyer" speech and refuse to talk or cooperate any further. When officers arrive to the scene, they've got a dead/dying person and you, armed with a gun. You need to put yourself in a positive light ASAP.

What do most criminals do?
"I ain't saying nothing, call my lawyer".

That isn't going to look good from the officer's perspective. The vast majority of defense lawyers are defending criminals, because an overwhelming majority of innocent people never tangle with the court system. Therefore their stock advise of "don't say anything to the cops at all" is tailored around the majority of their clients---criminals. You don't want to say much, but you really need to show some cooperation and provide very rudimentary information in the process which is exculpatory in nature. Criminals don't want anything to do with cops. The innocent will offer assistance to the best of their ability. Which profile do you want to fit?

The first few minutes of interaction with the first responding officer on the scene is crucial. When the officer is taking notes with victims, witnesses, and suspects, you don't want him to put a tick mark in the "suspect" box next to your initials by using that type of attitude. You also don't want to give contradictory information because that makes you a liar. What you want to do is very clearly state you were the victim, that perpetrator attacked you, and that you will sign the complaint against the perpetrator. You want to make it clear that your life was in danger leading up to, and exactly at the moment you drew and fired to stop the threat (stop the threat, not shot to wound, not shot to kill). You had no way to safely retreat in this situation. You want to point out all exculpatory evidence in a blunt manner. You also want to point out witnesses as they have the tendency to disappear very quickly.

You noticed that by doing the above, you haven't given any specific details, such as rounds fired, trajectory, distance, etc. Any figure you give at that time WILL BE WRONG given your state of mind with shock, trauma, stress, adrenaline, etc. This is where you state that you will fully cooperate with law enforcement but you will require legal council and at least 24 hours of resting time to recover from this incident. Also you need to start taking notes so you can recall details as they trickle in. If any attempts are made to collect specific details "how many rounds did you fire?", simply state that in your current condition, there is no way you could answer the officer's question with certainty.

Do you see how you've cooperated with police by following the above? Without volunteering information that could get you in trouble? That's tons better than "I ain't got nothing to say copper, call my lawyer"

Also, request a trip to the hospital. You can't be denied medical attention.
a) This might get you out of staying at the station, and
b) you might have some previously unknown medical conditions that might make themselves known under such a stressful situation. The last thing you want is to survive a self-defense situation, only to suffer a stroke or heart attack because you shrugged it off.

I also wanted to make clear on Loosedhorse's mention of disparity of force. If the perpetrator turned out to be a boxer or an expert martial artist and you learned this AFTER the fact, it is not a defense for you at all. You must know this information beforehand or it is irrelevant. Everything is based off what the defender knew at the time of the encounter. Also, disparity of force can come into play at some point during a physical struggle with someone of equal stature to you. As mentioned, you will have little luck arguing lethal force was justified to stop someone of similar stature to yourself. Therefore if you're battling someone hand-to-hand because its not justified to apply lethal force, and it's clear you're loosing due to injuries or whatnot, then a disparity of force will make itself known because you are no longer on equal footing with the perpetrator.

Keep in mind the jury's decision is based off what a reasonable and prudent person will do in your shoes, knowing what you knew at the time. Would a reasonable and prudent person think it proper to shoot someone your size who took a swing at you? What if they were 6'8" and 400lbs? If you were in a wheelchair? If you had a child? Etc.
All you need in florida is a belief he can kill your or cause severe bodily injury to yourself or another

If he breaks into your house, you are immediately authorized for deadly force by virtue of his mere presence! :evil:

And forget anything Massad Ayoob has said about it, hes chicken little always saying the sky is falling. he will just cause you to hesitate and get killed
All you need in florida is a belief he can kill your or cause severe bodily injury to yourself or another

If he breaks into your house, you are immediately authorized for deadly force by virtue of his mere presence!

I suggest you actually read the Florida law. It says you are presumed to be right in your assumption the person was a legitimate threat. It doesn't say that the police won't investigate and it doesn't say that charges can't be filed if the investigation shows you weren't right. All it does is relieve YOU of the burden of proving you were right.

And forget anything Massad Ayoob has said about it, hes chicken little always saying the sky is falling. he will just cause you to hesitate and get killed

Why don't you post you real name and experience in this field so that we may judge if you are right? It's only fair, Mas Ayoob writes under his own name, posts here under his own name and his resume is available to all of us. Please post yours.

If you draw your pistol and someone still tries to approach then I think you would be crazy not to shoot. So given the OP scenario, yes, I would fire. But if I were in that position I probably wouldn't have drawn just yet. I'm well put together and young/dumb enough to use my hands first. It probably wouldn't even come to that though. If someone comes at you like that and you don't appear to be intimidated at all they tend to back off if you are a decent sized individual. So in order of use I'd go with words, hands, then gun. Probably not the most "tactically" or "safe" thing to do but it's how I would have handled it.
copper 4262 writes:

I arrested the old man on the spot and then later arrested the juvi when he was released from the hospital

Just curious. Why didn't you arrest the juvi at the hospital (bedside arraignment)?
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