Legality & You
**I must give a legal disclaimer stating I’m not a lawyer or legal counsel of any kind; I am a CWP instructor and am giving you the laws and explanation of things, we must follow to remain within the legal realms of self-defense for educational purposes only.
Make sure you have a lawyer that you can contact to retain if an incident occurs. Right to Bear is a great program that will keep you covered if you ever find yourself in a self-defense situation. If something happens ask for your lawyer, say nothing to the police not because they’re out to get you or anything but simply because anything you say will be used against you. The police write what you’re saying down and if you get the slightest little part of the incident wrong just because your emotional state is going crazy, and you may have remembered it a little different than it happened, and the witnesses all give the same statements, and they differ from yours this will be used against you. This is you protecting you from you and your emotions.
First and foremost, we must be prepared to take a human life especially if we plan on using a firearm for our defensive tool. When we train, we train to shoot the biggest visible target area of our attacker which we call the center of mass (COM) which is normally the chest (thoracic cavity) or head and the possibility of the attacker dying is great. We do not shoot to kill them. Let me say this again, we do not shoot to kill our attacker. We shoot to stop them and stop them only. It is not legal to simply kill someone, that would be murder, however it is legal to use a force great enough to be lethal (lethal force) to stop someone from killing or causing great bodily harm to us that may result in their death. This would be a time where killing the person that was attacking us is justifiable but killing them is not and should never be our intentions in defending our lives. Using a force great enough to get them to stop attacking us is not simply killing or murdering them but stopping them from attacking us or others in the best and quickest way possible so we are not harmed, and the end result is their death.
Picture this, you are on the jury of a court case and the defendant is asked why he shot the guy, and he answers I shot him to kill him. What is your first reaction or thought as a juror? He said this because he has always trained to shoot COM to hit vital organs to stop an attacker by using “kill” shots, so he trains this and mentally thinks it, so he says it in court. He meant nothing with evil intent by it, it's just the wordage used to explain what he did. We do and say what we train; we have got to change our thought process of this. We shoot to stop, not kill. Even shooting vital organs doesn't guarantee it’ll stop them especially if their hopped up on something. The only hits that guarantee an instant stop are of the spine, head, and hips. So, we train to shoot to stop period. I’m shooting COM but hoping the bullet will penetrate to the spine and drop him so he’ll stop attacking me, I can stop shooting him, run to safety and call 911. Now, same question but the guy says: I shot to stop him from attacking me. I shot until he stopped and then I went to safety and called 911 and my lawyer. Now what thoughts are going through your mind as a juror? A bit different isn't it. Nobody in their right mind really wants to kill anybody but we will do what it takes to defend ourselves. This is both legal and scriptural.
2.“If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no blood guilt for him, 3. But if the sun has risen on him, there shall be blood guilt for him, he shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
This is telling us that if a thief is breaking into your house and you strike or shoot him and he dies there is no human punishment for him, but if he lives he is to pay for his crime. This says nothing about the person that struck him which indicates it’s not a crime nor sin that you used lethal force against them and the end result was their death. It also indicates that if someone is attacking or presumed to be attacking us and we strike them to stop them and they die, it is finished. But, if they don’t die they will pay for the crime which indicates there is a point at which we must stop striking them. We stop when they stop or drop. We can’t walk over to them and shoot them to finish them off, that is murder and we will be the guilty aggressor at that point. We stop them only!
There are other passages in the Bible that show us that protecting ourselves and others is right.
Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
This is both spiritual and physical. This is telling those of us that are able it is our duty to protect those that are not. We must face the reality that even with the Bible and our 2 Amendment there are those not competent enough to have a firearm or even if they do have one to use it in a manner to protect themselves.
He (Jesus) said to them, “but now let the one who has a money bag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one”.
This tells us that there are evil people that will harm us for our stuff and we have an obligation to use whatever means necessary to protect ourselves and others with the tools available to us. In that time it was swords which are just as lethal as the firearms of today. Jesus told them to get swords because that’s what their enemy’s would have to use against them. In today’s world we use firearms because this is what our enemies would have as well. There are many more examples in the bible and if you research them you will find them.
As far as the law is concerned there are some generic rules and then I’ll go over SC law because that’s where I live and what I teach. If you live in or are traveling to another state make sure you know their laws.
There are a few things that must be in place before we can use lethal force.
The person you apply lethal force against must have been “able” to kill you or inflict serious bodily harm to you.
You have a 93 year old man with a walker with a knife that is 10-15 feet away that moves at snails speed: Not able
The same man has a gun pointed at you: Able
Are you in effective range of his weapon(s)?
Above example 1: NO
Example 2: YES
Now, let’s say it’s a seemingly healthy 21 year old man with a knife at 15 feet. Does he have ability? Well, yes; but is he close enough to you?
We must go over some statistics to figure this one out:
The average person can run, from a standstill:
21ft in 1.5 seconds
32ft in 2.0 seconds
So, does he have the opportunity? YES
The danger must be mortal and imminent.
The 1 example of the old man with a knife had a lethal weapon, but is unable to use it in a manner to be lethal. Not close enough, not fast enough, no imminent threat.
The 2 of same man with gun was close enough for the gun to be used fast enough, with deadly force so you are in imminent danger.
The 3 man had a lethal weapon 15ft away and is fast enough to be an imminent threat.
All three of these must be met at all times for us to be able to use lethal force against our attacker. If the 3 example is attacking us and we shoot him to stop him and he drops to the ground and has stopped attacking us we must stop because we are no longer in imminent danger. However, if he rolls over and starts pulling a gun out of his pocket we are once again in imminent danger, all three are met and we can use lethal force until he stops the aggression.
There are a few other things we must know to protect ourselves in an attack and in the courtroom.
The Average “fight” left in a human before total “bleed out” is 6-14 seconds.
This tells us that just because we shot him it doesn’t mean he is going to stop right away and we must continue shooting until he does stop attacking.
The Average age of a violent attacker is 25. This brings the question up: Are most attacker’s average people? Can they actually be a little quicker than the average person? More than likely.
How much ground can an attacker cover before “bleed out”?
6sec = 90ft/30yrds
14sec = 210ft/70yrds (2/3 of a football field)
Again, this shows us that just because we shot the attacker at 15ft doesn’t mean that we stop after we shot him once. We stop shooting when he stops attacking.
How long does it take you to realize you are being attacked?
1.5sec (greatly depends on situational awareness)
How long does it take to draw your firearm?
Experienced/well trained person: 1.5sec approx.
New/Less trained person: 2.5 sec approx.
Knife wielding attacker at contact distance can stab you 12-28 times before total “bleed out”. Again, Do not stop shooting until he stops or drops.
Why must we know all this? First, we must know it to know our abilities as well as our attacker’s abilities. I can’t tell you how fast you can draw your gun and fire a well-placed shot; you must practice and time this for yourself. We also must know this for court which your attorney will help you with. Once in court and we are asked why we shot the person 28ft from us we must know these things so that we can tell them the attacker had the ability to stab me seeing as he is a seemingly healthy 21 y/o man with a knife approx. 30 feet away yelling at me that he was going to kill me. He also had the opportunity of stabbing me because the average person can go 32ft in 2.0 seconds which puts me in imminent Jeopardy of being stabbed with a lethal weapon. I also know that it takes me 2.3 seconds (this number depends on your training and findings on your own) to draw my gun and fire a well-placed shot on my target, and it takes the average person 1.5 seconds to realize they are being attacked even with gun drawn and ready. So this is why when he was yelling at me approx. 30ft away I drew my gun to defend myself and when he started aggressing (running) towards me I shot to stop him from causing me death or great bodily harm. In SC most police dept.’s protocols are to shoot a suspect that has a lethal (non-firearm) weapon at 30ft or less. If the suspect has a firearm then these distances can be much greater. This is a basic rule of thumb to go by. Again, once the attack or aggression stops we stop. We also shoot until they stop and there are only a few hits that are guaranteed instant incapacitation Spine, Head, and hips. I’m not going too much into shot placement here, check out our other videos.
Remember we must have all three steps before we can counteract with lethal force.
Now I’m going to go over SC’s Self Defense law known as “Castle Doctrine” or “Protection of Persons and Property act”.
1. You must be without fault in bringing on the difficulty;
We cannot start the “fight” nor escalate it.
2. You must actually believe you are in imminent danger of loss of life or serious bodily injury or actually be in such danger. (You must rationally believe it).
3. If you believe you are in such danger, you must use deadly force only if a reasonable or prudent man of ordinary firmness and courage would have believed himself to be in such danger, or, if you were in such danger, the circumstances were such as would warrant a man of ordinary prudence, firmness and courage to strike the fatal blow in order to save yourself from serious bodily harm or losing your own life. In other words, the everyday average competent person would have to believe themselves in such danger.
4. You had no other probable means of avoiding the danger of losing your own life or sustaining serious bodily injury than to act as you did in the particular instance. (This would be that if you see trouble like a known gang blocking your way to the stair well you need to go up, you can’t walk up to them and try to get them to move just because you have a gun. You would have to go around them and/or call the police).
Bill 4301 Also known as the “Protection of Persons and Property Act.” Or the “Stand Your Ground” Law.
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in another place where he has a right to be, including, but not limited to, his place of business, has NO duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or another person or to prevent the commission of a violent crime as defined in section 16-1-60
For purposes of definition under South Carolina law, a violent crime includes the offenses of:
-assault and battery by mob, first degree, resulting in death
-criminal sexual conduct in the first and second degree
-criminal sexual conduct with minors, first, second, and third degree
-assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct, first and second degree
-assault and battery with intent to kill
-assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature
-trafficking in persons
-attempted armed robbery
-drug trafficking as defined in Section 44-53-370(e)
-trafficking cocaine base as defined in Section 44-53-375(C);
-manufacturing or trafficking methamphetamine as defined in Section 44-53-375;
-arson in the first degree
-arson in the second degree
-burglary in the first degree
-burglary in the second degree
-engaging a child for a sexual performance
-homicide by child abuse
aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse
-inflicting great bodily injury upon a child
-allowing great bodily injury to be inflicted upon a child
-criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature
-abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult resulting in death
-abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult resulting in great bodily injury
-taking of a hostage by an inmate
-detonating a destructive device upon the capitol grounds resulting in death with malice -spousal sexual battery
-producing, directing, or promoting sexual performance by a child -sexual exploitation of a minor first degree
-sexual exploitation of a minor second degree
-promoting prostitution of a minor
-participating in prostitution of a minor -aggravated voyeurism
-detonating a destructive device resulting in death with malice
-detonating a destructive device resulting in death without malice
-boating under the influence resulting in death
-vessel operator's failure to render assistance resulting in death
-damaging an airport facility or removing equipment resulting in death
-failure to stop when signaled by a law enforcement vehicle resulting in death -interference with traffic-control devices, railroad signs, or signals resulting in death -hit and run resulting in death
-felony driving under the influence or felony driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration resulting in death
-putting destructive or injurious materials on a highway resulting in death
-obstruction of a railroad resulting in death
-accessory before the fact to commit any of the above offenses
-attempt to commit any of the above offenses
To see the full list and sections with definitions of these offenses please go to http://www.scstatehouse.gov
SECTION 16-11-440. Presumption of reasonable fear of imminent peril when using deadly force against another unlawfully entering residence, occupied vehicle or place of business.
(A) A person is presumed to have a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to himself or another person when using deadly force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury to another person if the person:
(1) against whom the deadly force is used is in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or has unlawfully and forcibly entered a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if he removes or is attempting to remove another person against his will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
(2) who uses deadly force knows or has reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act is occurring or has occurred.
This basically says that a person is presumed to have reasonable fear of imminent danger when someone unlawfully enters your house by force. To enter a house by force basically means without consent.
(3) "Enters a building without consent" means:
(a) To enter a building without the consent of the person in lawful possession; or
(b) To enter a building by using deception, artifice, trick, or misrepresentation to gain consent to enter from the person in lawful possession
You can look up the laws online and get the full law as it is written.
With all this and the presumptions therein we still have some limitations with using deadly force against someone in our home. The danger must still be imminent. One example would be we’re sitting on the couch in the living room and someone kicks our door open. This would be imminent, if we are walking in our door while bringing in groceries and someone sneaks up behind us entering our house, this is imminent and the presumption is there. However, what if we hear a sound in the middle of the night in the living room from our bedroom, we go investigate (which I do not suggest, I suggest if you believe someone is in your house stay where you’re at unless you have kids and be ready just in case they come to your room and call 911, if you have kids it’s of course your duty to protect them) it and find a guy stealing your dvd player and tv. You can’t just shoot him because he’s stealing your stuff. You can however hold him at gun point till the police arrive.
Defense of Property “…in the protection of one’s dwelling, only such force must be used as is necessary, or apparently necessary, to a reasonably prudent man. Any greater expenditure cannot be justifiable and is therefore punishable. State v. Hibler, 79 S.C. 170, 60 S.E. 438 (1907).
“[t]he weight of modern authority limits deadly force in a defense of a dwelling to situations in which the householder reasonably believes that the intruder intends to commit a felony or only when deadly force would be authorized by the law of self-defense.” McAninch and Fairey
We also have a Defense of Others law:
If you intervene on behalf of another, you will not be allowed the benefit of the plea of self-defense; unless that plea would have been available to the person you assisted if he himself had done the killing.
In other words, the person intervening is deemed to “stand in the shoes” of the person on whose behalf he is intervening. If that individual “had the right to defend himself, then the intervening party is also protected by that right. If, however, the party [victim] had no right to use force…then the intervening party will also assume the liability of the person on whose behalf he interfered.” McAninch and Fairey.
The “defense of others” rules apply to “any relative, friend or bystanders…” State v. Hays, supra.
The same principles of retreat and withdrawal apply as if the individual himself were acting in self-defense rather than on behalf of someone else. If there was no duty to retreat by the person being assisted, there is no duty imposed upon the intervener.
With this law we must be absolutely certain of what is going on and the person you defend is without fault throughout the entire episode. Let’s say you walk up on a lady that is savagely stabbing a man on the ground. We know nothing else besides what we see; with this limited info can I use lethal force against her? No. What if the man attacked her and she defended herself and just got locked in tunnel vision and is still stabbing him because she doesn’t realize he has stopped attacking. If you then used lethal force you would be guilty of murder. Make sure you know what’s going on…
At all parts of an attack we must make sure we are in the right, and unfortunately this means letting the attacker build all the evidence against him so it is in no way your fault or could be seen as your fault.
Let’s say you hear someone banging on your door trying to break the door down, even if we have identified our target through a glass door or video camera we wait until they kick it in. This gives more evidence towards them and may even give you enough time to not only grab your gun but get in a good position and maybe even get 911 on the phone. Make sure in everything you do to defend yourself you do it within the legal limits of the law and moral limits of the Bible.
I hope this helps in your preparation and training for an attack which I pray never happens to anybody but we know evil exist and we must be ready.
For more info and legal definitions please to the Sled or SC Legislative websites.