Friday, May 31, 2013
Do stupid things, pay the price
I'm frustrated and angry to read that a man in Washington state is facing charges after firing a warning shot at someone trying to break into his home. This is something that's stressed in every shooting course I've ever taken, and in every qualifying course for a concealed carry permit. If you fire a shot, whether or not it's aimed at anyone (or no-one), you've just employed lethal force! It may not have caused lethal (or any) damage, but it still had the potential to do so, therefore it's legally classified in the same way.
I've taught for years (and been taught) that the only reason you're legally allowed to use lethal force in almost every state is to prevent or avert an illegal, immediate and otherwise unavoidable threat of death or serious injury to you or those for whom you are legally responsible. Some states stretch that a bit with 'stand your ground' laws, or allow you to intervene to protect even a stranger if you believe they're the victim of a criminal assault; others don't. A warning shot does nothing in and of itself to avert danger - it only delivers a warning - but since the use of a firearm is classified as lethal force, it means you may well be charged with the inappropriate or illegal use of lethal force. That's the way it is, Hollywood notwithstanding. If you're convicted, you may have a felony charge on your record for the rest of your life, and lose your Second Amendment and other rights forever.
I hope many gun owners learn from the plight of Mr. Thompson. I'm sorry he didn't think this through ahead of time.