Warning shot?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Thomasss, Nov 4, 2021.

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  1. 1942bull
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    1942bull Contributing Member

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    In preface to that which follows It should be understood that I am not a lawyer. I am a reasonable man and write the following based upon my reasoning in light so PA Law. I have no idea how the below might apply in any state except PA.

    The topic of this thread is not only interesting but also drought with the possibility of making misjudgments. So I took the time to review the PA statute on Crimes and Offenses(Title18, sec 500. Therein, several subsections show the complexity of making judgments about a warning shot. I have selected certain passages of the law to illustrate the complexity not justify any action taken by anyone.

    The PA Law contains the words below that are in quotation blocks. My thoughts follow each quotation in plain text.

    In preface to that which follows It should be understood that I am not a lawyer. I am a reasonable man and write the following based upon my reasoning in light so PA Law. I have no idea how the below might apply in any state except PA.

    Therein, several subsections show the complexity of making judgments about a warning shot. I have selected certain passages of the law to illustrate the complexity not justify any action taken by anyone.

    The PA Law contains the words below that are in quotation blocks. My thoughts follow each quotation in plain text.

    So proving a warning shot was justified is an acceptable defense if the shooter is charged.


    This leads me to believe that a warning shot could be justified depending upon the nature of the threat.



    Again this seems to make a warning shot reasonable as self-protection.

    A warning shot properly executed is not going to cause death or serious bodily injury so in PA it would likely not be “deadly force.”

    Next I reviewed the laws of the township where I reside and also surrounding townships. All had a prohibition against discharging a firearm in the township(s), unless fired by an Official legally authorize to do so, or if fired in self defense. There were no definitions of self defense so the State’s laws would apply to that determination, which would be base on the previously enumerated factors and other parts of the Law.

    If nothing else the above makes it clear why consulting a qualified attorney is important when considering one’s rights and liabilities under the law.

    Good luck out there.
























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  2. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    The definition does not hinge upon "is not going to".
     
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  3. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    Here's another way of looking at this which may help clarify:

    What is the purpose of a "warning shot"? To demonstrate you have the ability, and the intent, to shoot (use deadly force) an assailant, correct?

    In the eyes of the law, you have ALREADY done this when you draw your weapon. When you fire your weapon, warning shot or not, you are defacto using deadly force.

    It doesn't matter if you shoot up in the air, down into the ground, at the assailant, or whether you hit anybody or not.

    This means your use of deadly force MUST BE JUSTIFIED under the jurisdictional laws you fall under.

    So, if this goes to court you can bet that this angle will be smartly addressed by the prosecution, because that's what they do. If you were firing warning shots, the question that will likely be brought up is "did you actually meet the legal requirements for the justified use of deadly force?" That an be a very tough question to answer because of the word "imminent" in the phrase "imminent threat".
     
  4. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    A squirt of pepper spray would be likely the best “warning shot” from a legal standpoint (and probably from a tactical standpoint as well) for most people. The LEO situation may be different; I’m speaking from a CCW standpoint.

    Having a nonlethal option is always a good idea, and if someone is too far away to use pepper spray they aren’t an immediate threat unless they have a visible weapon. If they have a visible weapon then why isn’t the lethal option the #1 choice, assuming they are brandishing this weapon in a threatening way?
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2021
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  5. AK Hunter

    AK Hunter Member

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    No it's a waste of ammo.
    If your life is in danger you shoot to stop the threat. If you life is not in danger you shouldn't be shooting at all. In fact if your gun is out of the holster in a confrontational situation it could be considered brandishing.
     
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  6. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Aggravated assault, in many jurisdictions.
     
  7. Neo-Luddite

    Neo-Luddite Member

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    The use of deadly force continuum/doctrine at my department (Illinois Department of Corrections, IDOC) mandates a verbal/visual warning prior any shooting (whenever circumstances permit)...and the firing of a warning shot before engaging in proper deadly force...(again) whenever circumstances permit. But while warning shots oftentimes *do actually work* in a correctional setting...it is mostly because the "audience" has been conditioned to respond with passivity to cautionary gunfire. In the outside world, If one felt justified in shooting for defense against imminent threat I'm betting that warning shots would be a waste of valuable time/distance from threat and resources (ammo). Of course, everyone owns what they do in that moment.
     
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  8. Shanvanvocht

    Shanvanvocht Member

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    A shot fired into the ground can easily ricochet off a rock just below the surface. A shot fired in the air has to land somewhere. In either case, you are responsible for whatever it does. In many, if not most, jurisdictions that is considered "reckless endangerment" or "wanton disregard of life" and leaves you open to both civil liability and criminal prosecution.
     
  9. Hanshi

    Hanshi Member

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    Warning shots are a danger to the public and should NEVER be fired. If you are justified and/or feel the need to pull and fire a gun at all then fire at the danger or don't pull the gun out. DUH! Never, ever try and "bluff" with a weapon.
     
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  10. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    At the cost of ammo, warning shots are a terrible idea. Legally, financially, tactically, and a few other y words I am forgetting.
     
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  11. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Not the dumbest thing he’s ever said but, are we in an area where discharging a firearm, while not acting in self defense, is criminal? If so, that alone would make it a thumbs down, right off the bat.

    You are also responsible for every shot you take, so other than giving away your position, the fact you have a firearm, potential escalation of said situation, you could also be endangering other things that you will be responsible for despite intent to harm nothing.

    Under what circumstances would you consider just shooting at nothing, legal issues or not?
     
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  12. frogfurr

    frogfurr Member

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    If you are called home early from work by your terrified wife who just arrived home and discovered her favorite Doberman's brains were blown all over her kitchen floor by robbers I doubt a warning shot will be one of first things that comes to your mind. Nor will it be a consideration later.

    This kind of thing shouldn't be trivialized by something like a warning shot. The robber will need this advice next time. It certainly will not be me.

    The onus is on those that come to do harm.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2021
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  13. entropy

    entropy Member

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    You would have to produce an expert on using 'properly executed' warning shots in self defense, because any DA worth the title will rip your reasoning for firing apart; and even if you find this unicorn, expect a savage redirect on them also.

    What is a 'properly executed' warning shot? How in the spur of the moment, in a random location (or even in your own home, for that matter) can you acertain that that round will not harm someone (even the assailant; after all it is a warning shot) after it leaves the barrel?

    There is a reason for the saying, "There is a lawyer attached to every bullet that leaves the barrel of your gun."



    Supposedly, the sound of a shotgun's pump will fill any thug's pants with feces also, but I'm not betting my life on that, either. ;)
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2021
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  14. bdickens

    bdickens Member

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    Why are you shooting if your life isn't in immediate danger?

    If your life is in immediate danger, why are you playing around instead of trying to stop the threat?
     
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  15. 1942bull
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    1942bull Contributing Member

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    I respect most of you opinion. Perhaps you interpreted my post as favoring a warning shot. It was not a recommendation, it was simply lay person’s analysis of a specific law that applied to this thread. This is the Legal Forum, and so I thought it appropriate. Now, going beyond my earlier post, i would never fire a warning shot. Good forbid that I ever have to use my pistol in self-defense. But if I do have to my shots would be at the targeted aggressor.

    This is the comment which does not get my respect: “You're a better man than I, Gunga Din.”. That was unnecessary.
     
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  16. Space Ghost

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    I can't say what the legal implications are not being a lawyer, but most cities/towns have ordinances against discharging firearms within their limits.
    If you fire a warning shot, and the bad guy runs, you may have to answer for that warning shot.
    Now, if you happened to be in a situation where you are considering the use of deadly force, then I am of the opinion that the time of "warning" an individual is long past.

    A deadly weapon such as a firearm is not for "warning" a threat... it is for "stopping" a threat.
    If a threat stops any violent actions before I pull the trigger, they made the right choice.
    All my "warning" shots will be fired center of mass.











    Possibly, center of face.
     
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  17. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    ...and way of base, in every jurisdiction I know about. Don't try it without looking at case law. Attorneys have access to it.
     
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  18. 1942bull
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    1942bull Contributing Member

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    How many jurisdictions do you know about and from what perspective? I am not arguing your point. I am just trying to determine how much stock I should put it it..
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2021
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  19. tachelberry

    tachelberry Member

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    "Due to the price of ammo, no warning shots will be fired."
    Sorry I just had to throw that out there.
     
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  20. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Consult an attorney in your jurisdiction who has experience in use of force law.
     
  21. 1942bull
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    1942bull Contributing Member

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    Very good advice.

    That is why my first post stated: If nothing else the above makes it clear why consulting a qualified attorney is important when considering one’s rights and liabilities under the law.

    I did attempt to find a case re a warning shot in PA. I could not find a single one. I can assure I will never be the case. I would never fire a warning shot.
     
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  22. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    https://www.uslawshield.com/warning-shot-pennsylvania/

    I am asked frequently if warning shots are a good idea. In Pennsylvania, the answer is no. The term “warning shots” is not found anywhere in the Pennsylvania statutes.

    You won’t find a statute saying that warning shots are prohibited, and you won’t find a statute defining what a warning shot is, but we are all familiar with the term. Is a warning shot considered use of deadly force? We’ll help you to understand the proper definition of deadly force to answer this question.

    It is Deadly Force
    Deadly force is described in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code as, “Force which, under the circumstances in which it is used, is readily capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.”

    Let’s look at an example: Imagine there is a trespasser on your front yard and you want to get rid of them. Not only do you want to get rid of them, but you also want to “teach them a lesson,” by shooting a warning shot. Now, when you pull that trigger, and the gun is pointed in the direction of another human being, is that bullet readily capable of causing death or serious bodily injury? The answer is obviously yes, it is.

    Never fire a warning shot
    Next question, can you legally use deadly force against a simple trespasser in your front yard? Absolutely not in Pennsylvania. If you choose to use a warning shot, you need to be in a scenario where use of deadly force would be justified. My practical advice: Warning shots are a bad idea and should never be used in Pennsylvania. For more information on the use of deadly force in Pennsylvania, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
     
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  23. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    The only way that a trial court case would be found by searching for some attribute of the case would be the chance mention of that attribute in a news report, and that would not be definitive. It is rare for a trial court verdict to hinge upon any one factor.

    To find anything about the legal implications of some particular factor, we would have to have (1) a conviction or unfavorable judgment in a trial; (2) an appeal by the losing party contending that the factor in question was improperly treated in the trial court in the jury instructions, in the admission of evidence, etc.; and (3) an appellate court ruling addressing the issue in question.

    Attorneys have the wherewithal to search for such rulings.
     
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  24. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Sorry, but the way I read it, it sounded like that was your personal beliefs on warning shots. Sounds like we are in agreement, and I did delete that phrase from my post.
     
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  25. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Member

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    Where did the bullet from your “warning shot” go? Remember, you are liable for every round fired….and lest we forget, every bullet has a lawyers name attached to it!

    Never say never…..but I would say 99.9% of the time…..warning shots are a bad idea.
     
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