Whether you are young or old, male, or female knowing when to defend yourself can be a life saver. How do you know when it is appropriate to use force to defend yourself? In the day of lawsuits and liability, we must be cautious with our actions. Hesitation can cost you dearly. Here are 5 principles you can quickly use to assess if lethal force is prudent. These principles address the legal implications of one’s actions.
This seems like a simple enough idea. Are you innocent of wrongdoing? Did you trespass on another person’s property, and now you’re facing a bad situation? Did you get in an altercation using words likely to incite a violent reaction? Are you at home and someone has broken into your home? The situation itself is the first thing you must quickly address.
2) IMMINENT THREAT
Are you in immediate danger. For your claim of self-defense to be valid, you must be in imminent danger with no other way to resolve the situation. If you are not able to remove yourself or call the police for help, you may be able to defend yourself with a reasonable amount of force.
If you can lock a door and call the police, then you have time to hold out. Now, most situations are fluid, changing by the second. You may be safely locked in your car waiting for help, and one broken window can change your situation to an imminent threat.
3) PROPORTION TO THE THREAT.
This is the principle of force meets force. If a person is only trying to hit you with their fist, is it reasonable to pull out a firearm and shoot them? Most likely not. The type of defense you deploy should be reasonable per the situation.
In future articles, we will learn about the force continuum in depth. I would like to touch on this briefly here as it is exactly what we are discussing.
The idea of the continuum of force is that you are able to move up and down the scale of force depending on the fluid change of the situation.
You can start with words, attempting to diffuse the issue. You may have to move to pepper spray to get a subject to leave you alone if you can’t remove yourself from the situation. Say that person pulls out a knife, and you are close to them. At that point, it may be acceptable to pull out a firearm. You may have heard the old saying, never bring a knife to a gun fight. The subject may see this and put the knife away. The correct response would be to move back down the force continuum and re-holster your firearm. This can go back up and down the continuum of force until the situation is resolved.
You May Also Like: Do you walk like a bud victim?
4) AVOIDANCE OF THE SITUATION.
In this principle, we discuss the ability to remove yourself from the situation. When you are able to, you have a duty to run away. There would be no need to engage in an altercation if you are able to get to safety. It would not be considered self-defense if you ignored an open opportunity to get away and instead. choose to engage a subject possibly resulting in the death of another. You could face criminal charges for such an act.
Many states have “stand your ground” or “castle law” that may not require you to have to run away. As a practitioner of self- defense, you should know your state law on the use of force. Even with these laws, many prosecutors may choose to file charges if the person had the option to flee and choose not to do so.
5) REASONABLE RESPONSE.
This is the principle that any other reasonable prudent person in the same situation would have taken the same course of action. Were your actions within the scope of the law. If another would have or could have done something differently, would there be vastly different results? Would the outcome have been the same?
When we discuss the legal side of self- defense, it is easy to believe we know exactly what we would do and how we would respond. Often, it is not as clear in the moment. Many things are happening all at once. There are things that must be addressed quickly.
For the best outcome, you must be sure you have prepared yourself with knowledge. It is easy to play arm- chair quarterback after the fact. By arming yourself with the laws in your state and practicing self- defense and firearms training, you can be sure to have a favorable outcome.
Be safe, keep calm, and carry on!
You May Also Like: What are 9 reasons to attend a gun and knife show in person?