RVer Safety: Making that difficult decision – Firing a weapon in self-defense

22

By Mike Sherman
We have spent several weeks discussing various aspects of self-protection in your RV. Several comments from our readers were quite beneficial in pushing the conversation along, providing enlightenment on the type of weapons, ammunition, and the pros and cons of one’s choices. It is time to take a closer look at the ramifications of any shooting, should you ever be faced with that difficult decision.

You’ve made your decisions, got some training, and are comfortable knowing that you will probably never need to call upon the implements you have or the training you have received for protecting yourself or your family. Police training involves an abundance of scenarios and we could spend hours going over just a fraction of the potential problems one could encounter.

If you are ever faced with the decision to fire a weapon in self-defense, odds are you won’t have a lot of time to think about it. Do I shoot? Do I not shoot? If someone is trying to break down your door, you will probably be terrified, but you will have a few moments to make some decisions and gather your thoughts. This is where training and some forethought become beneficial.

Depending on the extent of your training, you will have a level of confidence … standing there ready to fire if the suspect actually gains entry. You’ve already called 911, but there are no neighbors coming to your aid, and you are on your own until help arrives. So if the bad guy does in fact tear open the door and gestures to advance … BOOM … problem solved, just like in the movies, right?


Well, not always. You may have terminated the immediate threat but now others are coming, in a more subtle form. You will be questioned by the authorities and at times it can feel like an interrogation. You will feel like you are a suspect for saving your life and the lives of your family. They will request a blood sample to test for drugs. They will try to determine your state of mind, what you were thinking, what exactly you did in the moments leading up to the shooting. Were you just scared or were you in actual fear for your life.

I am obviously making this simple and very basic, but it can happen. You will be put under a microscope. Did you intend to kill the suspect? Absolutely not … You intended to stop the suspect.

You can actually buy insurance to cover a shooting incident. The odds of a civil suit filed by the deceased’s family will probably take place. Overall, you solved one problem but now you have another. The legal, financial and emotional loops you will go through can be devastating.

Fortunately, justified shootings can easily be determined and if you are cleared, the civil suit may not happen. Those aspects of your case will end up being black-and-white, no gray areas left open for speculation on why you fired. You’ll hear those wonderful words: “You’re free to go.”

But your journey may not be over. Your emotions, for whatever reason, can have you suffering through sleepless nights. It’s not easy killing someone. What are the odds? But it happened, and now you seek closure. Having no criminal charges filed against you and no civil lawsuit coming at you, you focus on your well-being. This is when insurance, family, friends, faith, etc. bring you full circle to closure.

We’ll talk insurance next week. Your comments are appreciated.

Note: We know what we discuss in this column may be controversial. While we invite your polite, constructive comments, inflammatory remarks will be immediately deleted.

Mike Sherman is a retired street cop and investigator with 30+ years of RV experience as a traveler, camp host and all-around advocate for the joys of living on the road. His articles are for general discussion purposes only – you should always consult your local authorities or legal counsel for specific answers if necessary. Write him at MikeShermanPI@gmail.com if you have questions, or leave a comment below. 

##RVT888


22
Join the Discussion

avatar
700

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Dennis H Gregory
Dennis H Gregory

Problems related to gun ownership are virtually never associated with “responsible” gun ownership. Go back and apply that word “responsible”, to every instance of a gun-related tragedy and you will find that an individual was not being so, in some manner; mentally disturbed, no trigger locks or gun safe, a terrorist, etc. We will never hear about the thousands of lives saved every day by responsible gun ownership, because those stories don’t sell newspapers or compel you to watch TV. If you think keeping guns away from “responsible” gun enthusiasts will keep them out of the hands of criminals, wacos… Read more »

Ben
Ben

I am a retired Canadian police officer with over 30 years on the job doing everything from beat cop to Homicide Detective. It is a very sad state of affairs that in the USA people feel a need to have a gun. I understand the reasoning; if most people have guns you should have a gun. The USA has gone so far overboard on gun ownership that they’re past the point of no return. People are dying at an alarming rate due to gun violence. It’s an arms race, how do you stop it? I understand the need to have… Read more »

Sharon Nelson
Sharon Nelson

I have taken shooting and gun safety classes and target shoot pretty regularly. I have my CCW permit. I’ve never had to use my weapon but something you said concerned me. If I’m at home and have had a few glasses of wine and someone breaks into my home and I shoot him (or her), what is the legal system’s view on the fact that I had a few glasses of wine?

Mike Sherman
Mike Sherman

Sharon, I’m not an attorney but if all the facts of a shooting confirm you were justified then the potential blood alcohol level in your bloodstream may not be an issue at the end of the day. However, the potential for prosecutors or civil attorneys to make it an issue exists. It’s just the nature of the beast. A lot depends on where you live when the event took place. Some geographical locations have different standards, laws and guidelines that prosecutors use when determining any charges that might be filed.

Salty Dog
Salty Dog

Great discussion! I have my CC license in my home state of Florida, have taken a couple of defensive handgun courses, and maintain legal defense insurance in case I ever have to use it. And most importantly, I pray I never have to use it. Even if I have to use it to save my life I know I’ll always be second guessing myself and wondering if I could have done something else. But the real reason I opened this article is I’m finding it difficult to keep up with all the gun laws in the other states while we… Read more »

Mike Sherman
Mike Sherman

The RV Newsletter has an ad for a booklet covering weapon laws for all 50 states, updated regularly. A wise investment.

Tom Fitch
Tom Fitch

Mike, thank you for these articles and also the comments are very educational. A lot of the discussion has been centered around the prospect of taking “lethal action”. I’m curious if it makes sense to try to take “non-lethal” action with a gun? Why wouldn’t we want to shoot the aggressor say, in the leg or the shoulder? I have no idea of knowing for sure, but I’m thinking I might be aiming for a guy’s groin area. That would certainly be a lesson not soon forgotten by a bad guy. Thank you.

Wolfe

It’s “fun” for some people to quip about kneecapping or groin shooting, but “A THOUSAND TIMES -NO-.”

Legally, if lethal force is justified, use it effectively when REQUIRED. If you have an option to do less than dropping the threat on the spot, you’re NOT legally justified but “punishing” the bad guy without a trial. You’d be in DEEP fecal matter legally.

Mike Sherman
Mike Sherman

Good point Wolfe.

Bob Stubbs
Bob Stubbs

Speak to an attorney before you speak to the police. “Anything you say can and will be held against you”

Eric Eltinge
Eric Eltinge

I was told that if you defend yourself with a hunting weapon and ammo (and are a licensed hunter), the police, judge, and jury will be more likely to believe you. Have an AR-15 and hollow points, not so. True?

Bob Stubbs
Bob Stubbs

Hollow points are the most common hunting round. Steel or copper clad rounds are made for defeating barriers such as body armor, doors and such and will go through your target and through your wall and your neighbors wall. Hollow points cause bigger wound channels and will stop inside the target causing more blood loss and less suffering if you’re hunting. Jacketed ammo (non hollow point) is generally used for target practice and again to defeat barriers.

Wolfe

Courts no longer know what a hunting weapon is. An AR15 is a great hunting rifle. I do carry hollowpoints. Factory made, defensive ammo. That’s my intent for my sidearm and I don’t see denying I want it effective at stopping the threat. Yes, a prosecutor may try to make a case you’re mean or whatever, and your defense should ask what ammo they’d LIKE to be shot with? Potential lethal force is just that, so don’t use it casually and don’t apologize when it is warranted …because then YOU open the question whether it was warranted. “I was FORCED… Read more »

Jan E. Van Hoven
Jan E. Van Hoven

Most places that I have been, more or less have the same laws: you have to be in fear for your life. The intruder has to have some sort of weapon, be it a gun, knife, or has threatened you. In other words, he is larger than you. If when you point your gun at him and he runs away, then you can not shoot as the threat is gone. If he keeps coming, he is a threat and it’s safe to shoot. I agree that you will have sleepless nights and nightmares afterwards.

Wolfe

The standard in most states is a “reasonable expectation of grievous harm or death.” The problem is that I am old, fat and slow, and even someone my same size is going to beat the hell out of me. As far as I’m concerned, anyone breaking into my house or taking a swing at me IS a “grievous threat.” I don’t care about words, and don’t start bar fights for fun, so any such physical initiation is an attack. As for blood tests, I don’t do drugs ever, or drink at all while carrying. Give the scumbag’s family -0- basis… Read more »

Patrick Granahan
Patrick Granahan

If you own a firearm and have covered all your bases as to local laws and perhaps even have a concealed carry permit you may think all is well. Next you should take the time to check out what your state requires for the use of deadly force. Some states are more forgiving than others. In one state the use of deadly force against a home invasion is permitted while in other states that may not be the case….in short…educate yourself on the laws in the state you live in. Better safe than sorry. Knowing what to say to responding… Read more »

Marty Chambers
Marty Chambers

A local sandwich shop owner carried a gun to protect himself and others in case of a robbery. Well, a young man with a gun tried to rob him. He was able to shoot the robber and he died on the spot he fell. The shop owner was so badly effected he had to close the business. The last I heard was he was suffering from bouts of deep depression. Killing someone for most people is a very traumatic experience and should never be taken lightly. In 27 years in law enforcement I am proud to say I have never… Read more »

BuzzElectric
BuzzElectric

I don’t like cops. That said, Marty thank you for your service. I do respect the need for the police. I know that I could not have done that job for 27 years. I’m glad you never had to shoot any one. I have chosen to not carry anything lethal. This forum has cemented that thought pattern.

STEPHEN P MALOCHLEB
STEPHEN P MALOCHLEB

Mike here’s a controversial comment. A detective friend of mine once told me that should I ever need to use deadly force, when he investigates the scene, he will ask me and my neighbors how many shots I fired. The answer from both had better be two. A warning shot, then a fatal shot. He also told me It was my decision which one was fired first. I pray that I never find this situation, but will act as needed. My life and families come first. Thanks for your articles.

Wolfe

ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY NOT. In MOST states, any “warning shot” is reckless handling and endangerment. You may not have controlled where you shot properly (esp. into the sky). It wastes ammo. I personally know people persecuted for putting a shot in the ground at their own feet. DO NOT drop the hammer except in actual defense. As for two shots, I teach two center of mass, but repeat until the threat drops. Use large enough ammo you won’t need the whole magazine because that looks bad to a prosecutor even if it DID take 8 x 380s to stop the threat.

Jim
Jim

If you carry you need insurance. It is a small price to pay for peace of mind and security.