When Is it Okay to Open Fire on Intruders?
Can you imagine the moment when you discover an intruder in your home and pull a gun out of your gun safe? When your life and the lives of your family are at risk, you may be tempted to shoot first and ask questions later. But will you live to regret the decision to open fire?
This is a potentially life-changing moment for everyone involved. Clearly you are blameless at this point as you are at home when someone has decided to break into your property.
Yet the last thing you want is to kill someone and then end up on the wrong side of the law for your actions. So what should you do?
Don’t Risk Your Family’s Safety
Most of us who have a gun at home bought it because we want to protect our families in any way that we can. Yet indiscriminate shooting can lead to exactly the opposite effect. If it is dark and you have family members around, could they get caught up in the crossfire?
There have even been tragic cases in which a homeowner has accidentally shot a family member thinking that it was an intruder they were aiming at. It can be very difficult to understand exactly what is going on in a confusing, stressful situation like this, and the last thing that you want to do is to take any chances with your family’s safety. So, ensure you don’t do these 10 deadly mistakes that new gun ownersmake.
Make sure that your family is safe and sound and well out of harm’s way before you think about opening fire.
Avoid Warning Shots
The first piece of good advice in this case is to avoid firing off warning shots. If you are simply trying to warn off the intruder, then this could go terribly wrong as a stray bullet could hit someone and kill or badly injure them. If you aren’t sure whether it is an intruder or not, then a warning shot isn’t the best move.
This will also give away your position to the criminals, meaning that they may shoot back at you. The time spent firing off warning shots is usually better spent getting your family to safety and calling the police.
If you plan to shoot, then you should always do it with a clear target in mind. However, there are still some points to bear in mind before you open your gun safe, get out your gun, and then pull the trigger.
Consider Whether Self-Defense Is Really Necessary
Self-defense is considered a valid approach in most parts of the world. However, this isn’t a straightforward issue, as each case needs to be taken on its own merits with all of the individual factors taken into account.
Perhaps the most important point to bear in mind here is that this justification requires you to use “reasonable force” to protect yourself and your family from harm. For example, if an unarmed robber gives himself up when he sees you, then you can’t reasonably plead self-defense if you shoot him.
The use of a plea of self-defense in court results in a full acquittal when successful. Yet it can lead to a harrowing few weeks or months as you wait for justice to be done.
Add in the psychological after-effect of having killed someone and it is clear that shooting an intruder in self-defense is not an action to be taken lightly.
Check Your Local Laws
The laws regarding a person protecting their property vary from one place to another. Therefore, if you are going to have a gun at home for your protection, then you need to understand where you stand in terms of the local laws.
For example, in some states of the U.S., there is a requirement to retreat to safety where possible as the first resort. In other states, you can stand your ground and still be within the law.
Known alternatively as castle doctrine or castle law, this is a controversial legal issue that allows some homeowners to use deadly force at home to defend themselves. Basically, if you live somewhere where this doctrine applies, then you can protect yourself without first having to consider the possibility of retreating to safety.
This isn’t a single, clear law but rather a set of principles that vary from one state to another. Again, the responsibility to learn the exact approach taken in the place where you live comes down to you.
The moment when you have to decide whether or not to pull the trigger is likely to be one of the most stressful and difficult moments in your life. Of course, we all hope to live a peaceful life and that this sort of frightening, nerve-racking situation will never arise, but we can’t be sure whether it ever will or not.
With this in mind, it makes sense to look into the matter in advance. This way, you can be fully prepared to make the right decision if that moment ever comes.