Self Defense or Murder?

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The recent incident in Little Falls, Minnesota, in which two teenagers apparently broke into a man’s house and were subsequently shot by the home owner, brings into sharp focus the issue of what constitutes legitimate self defense. The story first broke just after Thanksgiving:

As a longtime firearm instructor and gun rights activist I am constantly amazed at the lack of understanding by the average person of just what constitutes self defense. More importantly, they seem particularly naive about the complex, and often subjective, process by which any self defense case is likely to be judged. Ask any number of your friends the following question: “When can you use deadly force to protect yourself?”

By and large you will get answers that are all too brief, all too simplistic, and more often than not, all too wrong. Typical responses will be “if you’re in fear for your life” or “if someone’s in your house, you can shoot ‘em.” The number of people who think that just because someone is in their house, that they can blast away willy-nilly with impunity is simply staggering.

And if you question them further, you will likely get some variation on the usual litany of urban myths, almost invariably the result of what some vague many-times-removed third party supposedly told them: “My brother-in-law’s uncle is a cop and he says….” Among the more popular myths, the “just shoot ‘em on the front porch and drag ‘em inside” is one of the most common, followed by some gross misinterpretation of “Castle Doctrine” law.

But self defense is anything but simple. It is one of the most difficult cases for any criminal defense lawyer to win – just ask them. In an article in “The Champion” (the magazine of the American Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers) the author warns very clearly: “A self-defense case is fundamentally different from most other criminal prosecutions,” and that “the defense attorney has a great deal of work to do in order to convince the jurors that the client’s conduct fell within the common law of self-defense or within applicable state statutes.” The article goes on to delve into all of the technical, physical, psychological, and even emotional issues that come into play.

In the classes that I teach to people who wish to apply for a Minnesota Permit to Carry a Pistol, I spend several hours just explaining all of the pitfalls that will confront anyone who threatens, or uses, deadly force in self defense. And in each case, the students are stunned at the complexity, and the uncertainty, of what will happen should they ever find themselves in a threatening situation.

When the Little Falls incident occurred, the knee-jerk responses fell into two camps: those who were ready to lynch the homeowner for killing “two unarmed teenagers” and those who were quick to point out that the two “kids” had intentionally broken into someone’s home, and therefore, “deserved what they got.” But what this case illustrates is that in many such incidents, neither party is totally innocent.

The homeowner, by his own admission, has admitted to shooting the teenagers in a fashion that even the most die-hard supporters of gun rights (like myself) have a hard time justifying as self-defense. And the two young people now appear to be far less innocent than previously thought, having been apparently involved in other home break-ins prior to the one which ended in their deaths:

I have long advocated that courses on self defense similar to what I teach be made part of every high school curriculum in the nation, certainly by the end of Senior year. After all, upon graduation, most people are either 18 years of age, or will be soon thereafter. Then consider that the most significant, most profound, and most life altering thing a person will ever do is to take the life of another human being. Yet 99.9% of them do not have a clue as to what constitutes lawful self defense, let alone the nightmare that will follow even a legitimate use of deadly force.

The Little Falls case will run its course, and the full story will likely take some time to fully emerge. But regardless of the end result of this particular incident, it is simply unconscionable that we continue to allow the vast majority of the populace (including most newscasters and journalists) to continue in their ignorance of the responsibilities, and the enormous risks, involved in the lawful use of lethal force.

It is also a tragedy that we apparently have parents who have not instilled in their children the obvious lesson that committing a criminal act, especially one as obviously risk-laden as breaking into someone’s house, can get a person killed. Perhaps this horrible case can at least serve as a “teachable moment” for concerned parents everywhere.

We can only hope.

357 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. As a soldier in the U.S Army we are trained to identify threat and react appropriately. In the case of these two teenagers when he shot the fist one he should have been on the phone calling the police but staying on high alert until back up arrived. Especially in a multi level home. You never clear a home by yourself because you don’t know where the threat is. Yes you are a victim in your own home at this time but hopefully this will help with the legal proceedings that you didn’t want to begin with.Now if the other kid would have come down the stairs right after the first one was shot I would consider that immanent threat and acted accordingly.
    And for those wondering what they should do with there kids about training, We have safety training in my house all the time. How to handle a gun, what if one of there friends has a gun, how to unload and clear the gun. It all starts with the parents.

    1. You are absolutely right! It does start at home! I learned from my Dad starting at about 6 on what was acceptable and what was not! Shot my first gun on a range at 8! First bow and arrow also. Be prepared! Not foolish!

    2. Hey, that’s a really nifty way of looking at it, but YOU (nor I) was there. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. He had no way of Knowing how many people were invading his home, nor did he Know how they were armed or how willing the invader(s) was/were to do him harm.

      I am a proponent of non-lethal force, to include a bat to the leg, pepper spray, taser, and even bean bags from a shotgun. But when someone intentionally invades my home I will use the most effective means of defending myself that I can acquire.

      Joe McCain
      USMC 83-87

      1. Hi Joe,
        Thank you for posting what you did. It doesn’t make sense to me that someone would say that someone should try to find out if a person who broke in to your home was armed. My word, if I were faced with someone in my house I would not wait to see if they just wanted to use the bathroom (ha) or plan on robbing or raping me. What are we supposed to do, ask nicely, how can I help you? I mean give me a break. I would not want to take a life, but I don’t want my life taken either or maybe be violated. If a person is breaking in to a home, they have to know that they run a chance of being caught and maybe even killed. It is their responsibility and chose. I am sure that they have even devised a plan to take care of anyone who confronted them whether they had a gun or not.

    3. I whole-heartedly agree. I instructed my children how to treat firearms and act around them. Trading starts at home. My dad thought me about guns before I could hold his .22rifle level in my little 5 year old hands. I was privy to some advanced weapons training during my military career, and was also taught safety and marksmanship by a family friend. All lessons are indelible.

    4. Thank you, that was very clear, well appreciated. And thank you for who you are, ‘serving’ our Country to ‘keep us safe’. God bless you and God bless America.

  2. Yup it all boils down to education

  3. Great information good to know all these things especially when you live in a state like NJ

    1. In NJ lethal & non lethal force force will get you gail time. Even if you are beaten to almost death. It is you the victum who has the sole duty to retreat. If you do act to save your own or family’s life you will be treated just like any other criminal. Gun, bat, pepper spray, stum gun, or even pushing the attacker down the stairs. You will do some type of time and still loose everything. So the thought of being killed by your attacker might just be the better option. At least here in NJ.

      1. I truly worry that your New Jersey governer Christe will drag that horror across the 1st, 2nd and 4th amendments.

      2. maybe people living in New Jersey should make a strategic retreat before their homes/lives are invaded by thugs with the “right” to invade/hurt/kill with impunity. That is to say, MOVE to a state with more respect for the rights of law abiding citizens. Not easy to pull up roots and go, but easier than going to jail for defending your and your loved ones’ lives. For myself I turned down lucrative job offers in Wasington DC and New York City because of their draconian gun laws. Never got rich, but never had to go to jail for defending myself or others. Last time I pistol whipped a home nvader to snap him out of his alcohol induced stupor to realize he was facing a gun and it was time to go away–the local cops already had responded but were hanging back upstairs listening, waiting to see if he complied with my repeated (and loud) demands to take his hands out of his pockets. When he finally realized his danger and retreated, they scooped him up–and called and said to bad I didn’t break his face!

      3. Gee Anthony,
        You guys need to vote in new representatives, that makes no sense at all. It probably even encourages crime.

      4. It doesn’t matter where you live sir, the criminal seems to have more rights then the victim we see it in the papers all the time man or women does 20 years in prison for killing someone in self defense but some lowlife rapes and kills a 10 year old girl and does half the time. Where’s the justice in that? It’s time to stand up people and fight for our rights cause they will just keep taking them away if we don’t do something about it.

  4. Tim,
    I just wanted to say thank you for the information you provide. I am a Georgia Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor and I instruct our county citizens on firearm safety, personal protection firearm skills and laws that govern within the state of Georgia. Your information is update to date, accurate, realistic and more. The common sense approach that you provide on protection of life should not be overshadowed by politicians trying to score a point with the uninformed few. Firearms possession is a constitutional right, an American culture and again a Common Sense Tool for protection against evil. Informed, Trained and Armed Citizens are Good Citizens. Keep up the work, I’m going to recommend other citizens and law enforcement officers that I instruct to survey USCCA for themselves and join. P.S. To add to your article of Self Defense or Murder, I still stress the need of the Deadly Force Triangle
    (Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy)

    1. Mike,

      I’m looking for classes, can you suggest some close to the Atlanta area (southern side)? Thanks!

    2. Mike,
      I live in Georgia. On Saturday I am going to a shooting range to take a class and practice. Do you have any suggestions for me?

  5. Guess I am “lucky” guy got nine shots off before he dropped.

  6. I take home defense a bit different ,I really don’t want my wife or kids to have to shoot a intruder not that their not adequately trained or prepared but more the mental aspect they will have to live with. I still believe in your dog as first line of defense period ! I have a certified K-9 bodyguard Pit Bull , we do mock home invasions & attacks and in a case of a home invasion with a armed intruder and no weapon sitting on the end table or in arms reach your dog just became your loaded gun and will buy you more than enough time to grab your weapon and call 911 now im not saying go buy a pit bull or a shepherd because there like guns most people shouldn’t own one ! but 80% of most family pets can be attack trained ,just my view on home protection

    1. your dog backup is a very good alternative if you don’t have easy access to your firearm, but if the criminal has a weapon he very well could shoot your dog first. That would really piss me off and would want to kill him very slowly and painfully!!!! Unfortunately , I would probably be killed to with my dog! God! I hate criminals!!!

    2. Who are you to say most people should not own guns? For you to say that makes you no different than the fascists in D.C. who are trying to remove our rights. I say that most people should own guns because if gun ownership was more prevalent then idiots like the two described in this article would’ve maybe thought a bit more before committing burglary.

      1. Howard,
        I am wondering that if the man did not have a gun ,what would happen to him, because these two could beat him to death in they felt threaten at getting caught, which I am sure would be their mind set.

      2. I totally agree with that statement. Who are u to say most people shouldn’t own guns. It’s statements like that which give these anti-gun people more ammunition on our 2nd amendment rights. And a dog wether it’s a poodle or a Pitt bull has no authority over a armed intruder.

    3. Having a dog for home security is a definite plus…BUT…as a lifetime dog owner (multiple large breeds) I remember what I learned as a child. A DOG IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE FOOD DROPPED IN FRONT OF IT What I mean by this is that ALMOST NO DOG, no matter how well trained it is, will refuse to eat raw meat tossed or dropped in front of them. Taint the meat with crushed sleeping pills or, God forbid, poison, and where is your security. A dog is a good place to start. However, do not, for one minute, think that someone who want to get into your house will not think of a way to rid himself of the dog. If the intruder has a gun, well, what good is the dog if it is dead. I have a Great Dane. She is my alarm. That is what she was trained for and that is her sole JOB. To warn me if something is out of place. Where I live, I have 5 convicted felons ( assault, armed robbery, etc…) who live within 1.5 miles of my house. The internet has an abundance of information just waiting to be found. The Dane’s deep bark is an alarm for me and a warning to outsiders that someone might be home to take care of the dogs. It may sound silly, but I also have 2 WEINIE dogs that won’t bark unless something is out of place. Like I said, dogs are a good place to start….

      1. I trained my dog to “”NOT”” to eat anything from anybody but me (not even my wife) it was hard but he learned. I just used a rolled up newspaper and had other people try to feed him and when he went to take it I “”lightly”” smacked him on the nose.. it took a while but he won’t eat anything that I don’t give him.. (except the ass of the guy who tryed to come through the fence in my back yard) He left a bloody pare of pants that got tore clear off. I had to laugh at the thought of someone walking or running down the street without any pants and a bite out of his butt.. it would probally be hard to explain to a cop what happened..”” HAHA still have to chuckle..

  7. Unfortunately at this time I am dealing with this night mare.One of my neighbors has decided I need to die..And blasted off five rounds at me while I was sleeping.I just found out how little I know about how to tprotect myself and the legal ramifications and what is even legal and what is not.I also found out law enforcement is not going to protect me.I do have a gun now and I keep it loaded.I grew up around guns..but was always taught no to touch them.And now I have no clue what I can do to protect myself nor do I really know the law.I am told I am perfectly legal and within my rights since I have obtained a gun.This POS has moved but is in and out of my neighborhood.I was told I can use my gun on my property ..but not if I step into the street this is where he most often is less then maybe 200 feet from me.I am totally lost and scared and thinking can I shoot someone?.But a friend of mine told me It is either 6 foot under or 6 feet under.Any help from you guys I would really appreciate.Thank you

    1. You could try taking a self defense class in your state/area. It would make you more confident with your gun, the law, and help your mindset. Also, if this person shot at you, shouldn’t they be jailed for attempted murder? The police should be involved in such a situation…

  8. Sorry..but if I do not know what the threat is and I fear for mine and my families life’s. I will kill them. i do not want them to get up and continue their rampage. Stop them at all costs. That said, if i am able to I will disable them…but my safety is tantamount

    1. Good! when in doubt always err on the side of your life and loved ones. It high time the asshole’s start taking responsibilities for their actions! You can’t assume their not going to harm you that will get you dead!

    2. Look in any kitchen and what is on the counter, a wooden block with about 6 instruments that can kill you and the family.

    3. If you own a firearm for protection… make sure you are prepared to kill with it… If not, chances are the survivor is going to sue you and win… and own you for the rest of your life.
      I would not be one bit surprised if a criminal could break in, rifle through your stuff, get a papercut, and come back and sue you for $10k and win.

  9. I had a guy stalking me just before our stalking laws went into effect. I had 47 warrants out on him. He had to be removed physically from where I worked, stole my dog, which I got back thanks to two professional wrestlers I knew. He sat in the trees across the road. My Son and his friend brought him down with semi lug nuts and wrist rockets! LOL. But he trashed every car in my driveway, cut my phone lines twice so I could not call the police. The last encounter we had I was on the phone with police. They asked me if he was armed, since he had threatened my life. I told them “I don’t know but I am and I have him sited dead square between the eyes!” They asked me what kind of gun I had and I told them 30.06! I was going to stop him permanently! All my outside lights were on and all the inside lights were off. They told me he has to be in my house before I shoot him. I told them by the time they get there he will be in my house and he WILL be dead! At that point he cut my phone lines again! 5 cars in less than 2 minutes right thru the ditch out front! They got him. They asked me if I would of really shot him! Itold them Damn right I would. I grew up in the mountains and knew how to shoot that gun before I could even hold it without a chair to rest it on! My Daddy always told me that if I pull a gun on someone I best be prepared to pull the trigger. If I pull a gun, I will fire! Don’t tread on me!

  10. Tim,
    Being from Illinois, I am still not able to carry, at least not until the permits are available 8th January. So I am new to CCW, but have always practiced gun safety for myself and my family. I want to thank you for all of your helpful tips and info, all of which I can use to properly carry a firearm safely. As of yet I haven’t subscribed to your magazine, but plan on doing so.
    Tom L.

  11. I’m afraid that my comment will NOT be agreeable to 100% of those reading; but, I am not like anyone I have ever met. Don’t misunderstand . . . I do NOT think I am better than anyone else . . . but, I am different.
    The law most definitely says you can’t shoot someone just because they broke into your house- that you can not kill someone that destroyed the Sanctity of your home. The law says that you can’t take the life of a gang that is looting your store- that you can’t take the life(lives) of those that destroy the Peace & Tranquility of your neighborhood. THAT’S BECAUSE THE LAW CARES MORE ABOUT ‘LIFE’ THAN PRINCIPLE! And the reason for that is because the “Law” was formulated by Arrogant Human Beings that are LESS ‘Human’ and LESS ‘Principled’ and prefer a “Rule” to having to ‘Think’. You might say that I am Violently against “Violence”. “THOUGHT” is uncontrollable; “ACTIONS” are NOT! Those that read my words and chose to hate me are 100% within their right to do so. Their ‘right’ to visit harm upon me is 0% and THAT is 100% controllable. That being an absolute Truth, I think that ANYONE that does cause harm on another, NON-CONTRIBUTING, person should be ELIMINATED! The Human Race should rise above Violence of ANY kind, save self-defense. That’s why I used the words “Non-contributing’.
    Breaking into someone’s home, even if you have NO weapon, you have caused someone immense emotional harm. Threatening to kill or rape someone, even if the ‘act’ is not completed, caused someone immense emotional harm. THAT IS WRONG! It is also unnecessary. It breaks a ‘Principle’ that I believe is worse than death.
    Were I on a jury, at a trial that was of an individual, charged with ‘Murder’ for taking the life of someone that had violated the sanctity of their home, disrupted the Peace & Tranquility of a neighborhood by violently destroying property through looting, by threatening to kill or rape, I would undeniably find them INNOCENT! But, that is me. I urge NO ONE to feel as I do; it IS against the law.

    1. God help you! Criminals , degenerates and evil people will a have a field day with you!

    2. What’d he say? I quit reading at the “less human” part ;p Srsly tho, careful going down that rabbit hole, some horrible acts have been justified with that thinking :(

    3. You must be reading the liberal puke version of the Constitution. Where I come from and live, we have the authority of SELF DEFENCE, since you don’t, the you will be one of the Darwin award winners and be totally removed from society. We will not miss you. At the last convention of the Police Chiefs Association (nation wide), a statement was released by them that stated the average response time on a 911 call is 10 minutes. A lot can happen during that time. I will be armed and shooting if necessary. You will just be part of the victim count. Good by.

    4. Hugh, I think you are more like the percentage of the people in the USA. According to many comments made on this blog, 95% of the people think the same.

  12. Home invasion is RAPE. Whether the perp has a firearm or a stick of firewood, they are invaders into the domicle of another who has the resonable idea that their home is theirs for thier use and protection against the elements and the evils of the world. I am an old man now and not as physically able as I was as a Marine in nam and I know it. So a shotgun, pistol, rifle, baseball bat, whatever is my equalizer in my home. Whosoever breaks into my home with the warning signs posted on the perimeter of my property and on the entrys is up to no good and whatever harm befalls them is exactly what not only our Constitution states but as far back as the English Magna Carta states is thier due. My home has been invaded while I was away some 11 years ago but it still feels like I was personally raped and my private protective safe space was invaded for evil doings. And of course it took 4 hours for the county mounties to arrive after I called 911 on my cell while I stayed in the driveway with my carry weapon in hand talking to the dispatcher after I realized my door had been busted in with a battering ram . Had I been home I would have protected my being from the harm they most likely would have perpetrated. I would have yelled out a warning and if they continued to advance with thier evil doings the next thing would have been a well placed shot. It would have been a shot to kill since, with the liberal judges today, a wounding shot can get you a payment for their life of medical care. A convicted criminal supposedly can not receive compensation for a book or film of their deeds but a perp can get the homeowner to pay through the nose if they are wounded in the commission of a crime against the body or family or property of that same homeowner. This is the reason that many insurance companies such as GEICO will NOT insure a homeowner who has firearms, or a pit bull, or other large protective dog. Police are NOT protective agents but inforcement agents. Protection has to be the homeowner themselves……unless they are politicians who have police protection at taxpayer expense constantly on guard for them like every one of our elected officials in El Districto De Criminales. Or millionaire media anchors. Or entertainment moguls. Or sports gangbangers. Living in their secure cloistered compounds protected by armed guards/armies. I stil remember an old lady in her late 80’s blown away by 6 Atlanta cops when they took for granted that a snich gave them the right address for a street drug dealer and busted into her home in the middle of the night and she tried to protect herself in a bad neighborhood from whomever had just violated her sanctuary with a century old sixgun that had been her fathers. I also remember an old man in his late 70’s years before who answered his door at night and the perps shoved thier way in, beat him down and then started beating his wife. He crawled to a closet, grabbed a shotgun and fired at the perps killing one and wounding another and the Atlanta police arrested him and charged him with murder. he was finally exonarated but spent some time in jail while his wife was still in the hospital.

  13. Alot of this deoends on what State you live in. Oklahoma has several laws to help protect yourself if you shoot someone thst is in your home.

  14. Many years ago, long before concealed carry, I tried to convince my son to get a handgun larger than the 22 auto with 9 shot capacity for home protection. He lived in an area in Houston that was being encroached on by Asian gangs. Well he didn’t and one night at about 3:00AM he and his wife were awakened by breaking glass. Turned out it was one of two guys running from the police following a hostage standoff situation and he dove though a living room window to try to escape. I had always told him that if he wasn’t going to get more than the 22, don’t stop pulling the trigger. Well, he grabbed the 22 and met the guy point blank in the hall by the bedroom. My son obviously listened to me as he fired off all 9 rounds and the guy did not get off a shot from the 9mm he had pointed at my son. He did not miss any of the 9 shots.
    On the way back from the police station that morning he stopped at a pawn shop and bought a 1911 frame .45acp. The police provided in home presence of an officer for two weeks since the guy he shot (and killed). was an Asian gang member. My son and his wife moved from that neighborhood shortly thereafter and received no threats or attempts at revenge.
    He now has the 45, and he and his wife each have their license and each have a 32, a .380, and a 40.
    That was a real wake up call for him, literally and figuratively.

  15. It’s too easy to kill a dog but it’s a good start.

    I would gladly do jail time to protect someone!

    Too bad the man could not hold them at bay

    while someone called the “ubiquitious” cops….

    Keep yer powder dry, folks.

  16. I think universally the minimum is the reasonable person standard. If someone is in your house or coming at you and you have a firearm, and he doesnt stop coming at you after your firearm is pointed at him, then by all means shoot. If he is as stranger you have no idea what his intentions are and he could take that firearm away from you and kill you with it. If he stops and makes no attempt to get closer or flees, then you better not shoot (most of the time). You could probably justifiy shooting him in the back if he has already seriously injured someone, which would prove he is dangerous and likely could injure or kill someone else if he were allowed to get away, but you better be able to justify and articulate well your reasons for doing so.

  17. i live in texas i would not think twice about shooting someone in my home i have the right to protect to my home and family nobody gave him the right to enter to my home so i am ready i am able and willingly to protect my family at all cost i am not trying offened anyone this is just my opinion i am going to get my concealed hand license in the very near future best of luck to all stay safe

  18. This is a very slippery slope we stand on. Basically, according to the laws, shooting someone should be looked at as a last resort, as tempting as other options may be.

    The shooter in this case is most likely going to spend a lot of time in prison, unless all his friends and neighbors make it on the jury, but I wouldn’t count on that happening.

    Those of you saying you’d shoot someone in your home no matter the circumstances will probably be his cell-mate.

  19. I live in Kentucky, and I have a CCDW permit, the class was taught by an ex police officer, the first thing he did before the class started was to tell each applicant the repercussions of have that permit.
    He himself stated that even though you may be right and justified in shooting and/or killing an intruder, you are going to be charged with something, even if it is for unlawful discharge of a firearm within the city limit, and even if you are found not guilty for murder, the perps family can sue you in civil court for unlawful death.
    I am not discourage by this, and my motto is “My front door isn’t there to protect me from you; it’s to protect you from me” if you come through my front door,window,or chimney,and you aint Santa, I promise you, you will be leaving in a body bag, and I keep a supply on hand in case the coroner is short.
    I am not a violent man, but I look at it this way, if you intend on breaking in my house while I am there, then you obviously have no regard for the life of me and my family or yours, and mercy isn’t a language I speak.

    1. Attaboy, Joe!

      “Gun control” is using both hands!

      Lil’Joe in Texas

  20. Doesn’t this vary significantly state to state? I know in Texas it’s…unlikely that you’ll be charged if you shoot a home intruder or someone attacking you w/out provocation. But that varies a lot state to state so know your LOCAL laws and realize they’re not universal.

  21. The writer is quite correct but the case he cites apparently has some quirks that were not mentioned. Yes, the kids involved were apparently involved in other break-ins. The shooters house had apparently been broken-into at least once relatively recently. The real problem is not that he shot both of them but after shooting them, it is alleged that he shot them again while they were lying on the floor, basically executing them. Can’t do that. If you do that, you will no doubt be arrested for at least manslaughter and you will be hard-pressed to be able to justify it.

    1. Ya know, if I were to kill someone who was in my home with bad intentions, I would probably go in to total shock or panic and just keep shooting to make sure that they were dead or just because I was scared or out of my mind. I know that it is not a normal thing to do and no telling what a persons mind would do. It’s like, “you dare to come in to my house and harm me or my familly, how dare you, how dare you, how dare you. Know what I mean?????

      1. Sally, I see where you’re coming from, but did you read the details this? He shot the boy first, as he was coming downstairs into the basement, dragged him the rest of the way into the basement, and then shot him in the face because “he wanted him dead”. Then, several minutes later, when the girl came down the steps, he shot her with his mini 14(fires a .223 round), then when that jammed, took out his .22 pistol and shot her repeatedly in the chest, and then as she gasped, put the pistol under her chin and “gave her a clean death”. Then, because it was Thanksgiving and he didn’t want to bother the police on a holiday, waited till the next day to report this.

  22. God bless us and the second amendment

  23. In the MN instance OK I get it but overall I disagree with this article. First time I completely disagree with one of these articles. My military training aside … I OC my daughters and wife CC. They are trained that if someone breaks into the house shoot to kill. PERIOD. We will worry about the legality later. I would prefer to fight the legal system than to bury one of my kids or my wife. Fortunately for us we live in AZ where the self defense law is a bit different from MN. With the amount of brazen illegals here I will not take a chance with my families life.

  24. I recently aquired permits to carry for my wife and grown daughter. My daughter works nights and get home around
    2.30 to 4 am. She often shops at night as she must sleep days. about 40 thugs jumped on her car outside of our home in the wee hours, They said open your door and your trunk or we will shoot you. They damaged her vehicle so much it was considered too much to repair. If any one does that again they will suffer her wrath.

    1. Jack. how did she get away? I would have backed over them and then run over them again. How dare they tramitize her and threaten her, whether they meant to kill her or not.

  25. I don’t condone the actions as reported by the sheriff. With that being said, I do have a problem with the new trend to try every self defense case in the media before it ever goes to a court room. This sheriff is trying to make a name for himself here and should be ashamed of himself as a law enforcement officer. This also demonstrates your point that the aftermath of a self defense firearms use, or deadly force use, is much harder than the actual pull of the trigger. With decision making that only takes fractions of a second sometimes, will be examined for hours and hours. All concealed carry and firearms owners should think that through before ever carrying a firearm or thinking of using one in self defense.

  26. The best way to stay safe in BOTH battles (the one for your life at home and then the one for your life in the courts) is to FIRST – be able to identify your threat and recognize if you are in IMMINENT danger of grave bodily harm or loss of life (or not); and, SECOND – shoot to STOP or neutralize the threat as opposed to killing the threat.

    If you think you see a threat, in the dark, in your home, you’d better make sure it’s not your kid coming home way too late, trying to sneak in to avoid being grounded.

    The unfortunate homeowner in the article went way over the top and lost his claim to self defense by continuing to shoot after his threats were neutralized. He should have called an ambulance for the one girl still gasping for air instead of “finishing her off.” Also, he was the “ensconced” defender and had the tactical advantage as well as distance in his favor. He really should have issued a command to drop their weapon (if they had any) and been ready to shoot if they exhibited any resistance or furtive movements, save from running out of the house. Had he met up with them at “spitting distance” then, most likely it would have been game on… and he would have been justified had he shown a little ballistic restraint.

  27. Dang, some of you people live in states with totally wacked self defense laws. In Oklahoma, we enjoy the same self defense ability in our cars, any business we go to, and any public place [other than government buildings & posted property] as we do in our homes / on our front & back porches and in our yards. No expectation to retreat.. we can stand our ground anywhere we have a legal right to be.

    We have conceal & open carry with a permit. And we can openly carry loaded handguns, rifles & shotguns on property we own / rent / lease or control. Which means you can sit on your front porch with a loaded shotgun nearby for protection against roaming pit bulls or street thugs if you live in a bad neighborhood.

    Here is a excerpt from our self defense laws…Pay particular attention to sections E & F… if someone uses force to break into your home, your vehicle or your business…or tries to unlawfully remove anyone… then they are [[[presumed by state law]]] to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.. and therefore deadly force for self defense is a legitimate response.

    TITLE 21 § 1289.25

    A. The Legislature hereby recognizes that the citizens of the State of Oklahoma have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes
    or places of business.

    B. A person or a owner, manager or employee of a business is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:

    1. The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, or a place of
    business, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against the will of that person from the dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, or place of business; and

    2. The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

    D. A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

    *****E. A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter the dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle of another person, or a place of business [[[[[is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.]]]]] Emphasis mine.

    F. A person who uses force, as permitted pursuant to the provisions of subsections B and D of this section, is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution [[[[[and civil action]]]]] for the use of such force. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes charging or prosecuting the defendant.

    G. A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force, but the law enforcement agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

    H. The court shall award reasonable attorney fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection F of this section.

  28. Know your state law. In Colorado you have immunity from prosecution for using deadly force on any intruder into your home. Using deadly force outside the home only requires that you fear serious harm from an attacker even if the attacker is only armed with fists. Colorado is one of 20 states having such a strong self-defense doctrine. Colorado also provides immunity from civil suit in legitimate self defense cases.
    Don’t wait until after the event to find a self defense attorney. If you concealed carry, join US Concealed Carry or some similar organization providing insurance in the event you actually have to go to court. Practice, show good judgement in all aspects of your behavior, and be prepared.

  29. After evading the details in the source document it is absolutely clear that the homeowner went well beyond self defense. He nuetralized the threat, summarily executed them afterwards, moved the bodies, and then called the police THE NEXT day.

    Even by Geneva Conventions, the kids bleeding out on the floor (that is the good part) were no longer combatants (read: threat, in civilian application.). Sticking his gun under the chin and blowing the kids cranium off was extra legal (where he started to go horribly wrong).

    Put simply:
    14 fast 45ACP’s in the chest, then call the cops = good thing
    2 in the chest, drag them into the basement, one under the chin for good measure then call the cops 24 hours later = very bad thing.

    The homeowner violated the law of proportionality.

  30. To me it sounds like the author hit the nail on the head concerning wives tales about SD. Particularly “if you shoot someone in your home… be sure to kill them or they will sue you” Reading the source article, the first shots (CoM?) sounded clean, but I find it hard to believe that that there was much threat of violence, or that the homeowner was in fear of his life, if he was comfortable enough to put the gun to the chin of the female for a “clean finishing shot” AFTER he dragged her to another room Hell, that would be murder in Afghanistan. (Speaking of military training) Neutralizing and killing a threat are not synonymous.
    Had these two died from their injuries from the first shots I would say serves them right, but B&E is not a capital offense.

    I don’t see the controversy. Responsible gun owners should condemn this guy’s actions, not defend them. IMHO this guy does more to take our guns away than some nut at a shopping mall.

    We can’t very well call ourselves “Law abiding gun owners” if we don’t abide by the law.

    1. Exactly! My first thoughts were, Of course you can shoot someone breaking into your house. Then I read the article on what the homeowner did….and he murdered those two intruders. If, like you said, he had them with his first shots, no problem. But after basically executing them when they were incapacitated….that changed everything.

  31. I am a former Marine and retired police officer with over 28 years of service. I know for a fact that the courts hold former law enforcement officers to a higher level when it comes to self defense. It’s hard to guess what would be the right thing to do until it actualy happens. In most cases I would think that if someone was stupid enough to enter someone’s home while they were home they would exspect to be shot and killed. How could anyone determind the level of training a person might have in harming another with or without a weapon. What if they were a black belt in martail arts? I’m sure they wouldn’t have a sign on their head. I’ll take my chances with a jury trail. I’m sure it will only be my family and I testifying.

  32. If you are lucky enough to be near a light switch, turn it on and show them your weapon. If they come after you, then they’re nuts anyway. Even then, a warning shot into an easily repaired part of your house to get their attention, may be a “step between” a verbal threat or an outright attack by shooting them to death. If they’re armed with a gun, baseball bat, crowbar, or anything a “reasonable person” would consider a potentially deadly weapon, and they come at you after letting them know you WILL shoot them, then you are probably on safe ground against later prosecution. You cannot kill someone because they run out of your house.

    District Attorneys are mostly elected into their position. That in itself is a deterrent to improper or unjustified prosecution. I’m just guessing due to the fact that I don’t have all the facts in this case, however it’s a safe bet that there are extenuating circumstances that led up to a prosecutorial action by the DA.

    The author of this article is looking to get enrollees to his offered courses on concealed carry. He want’s to strike fear into the reader so they all do enroll. Read your own state laws on use of deadly force. They’re the same for cops as they are for us, though cops are rarely prosecuted for much of anything. And, by the way, I’m an ex cop from the early seventies. I never killed anybody, but I threatned to a time or two. Nobody wants to get killed. A threat by someone packing is usually all that is required. Read your state laws prior to dumping a clip in someone!

  33. My two cents worth is…two teenagers or anybody is already operating outside the law by breaking into someones home. The only thing we know for sure is that they have no respect for the law or your rights as a homeowner. I believe everyone has the right to protect their home. You come into someones home uninvited there is a possibility you may get shot, maybe shot dead. Everyone should know this. I believe this is a rightful shooting. Someone showed me something on FaceBook two days ago, the locks on my doors and windows are for your protection.

  34. When faced with a home invasion all reason goes out the window and response is what will save your life and the lives of your loved ones.and if it comes down to that choice I would rather take my chance to be judged by 12 rather than carried by 6.

  35. Some additional reading from Google. I was on the side of the homeowner until I read the following paragraphs.

    After a long thoughtful period, I decided that it sounded too much like executions. My thoughts decide nothing. The jury will have the final say here, after which he will face God and his judgment.

    According to the complaint, Smith told authorities he was fearful after several break-ins at his home in the town of about 8,000 people. The complaint said he told authorities that he was in his basement on Thanksgiving Day when he heard a window break upstairs. When he saw Brady on the basement stairwell, he fired — then shot him again in the face after he fell down.

    The complaint said Smith told an investigator: “I want him dead.”

    Smith said he dragged Brady’s body into his workshop. When Kifer came down the stairs, he shot her multiple times as well, and dragged her into the room with Brady. She was still gasping for air, so he fired what he called a “good clean finishing shot” under her chin “up into the cranium,” the complaint said.:

  36. The State of Texas removed any question about self defense. Not only are you justified in shooting someone that is in your home, but you can also shoot someone if they’re on your property and attempting to steal something.
    I don’t care how long you have been an instructor, but someone breaking into my home poses a threat to myself and to my family. They have not been invited in, and we do not know what their intentions are or if they are armed. If we wait for them to make a move or pull out a weapon, then it’s too late for us to react. Breaking into my home would be a suicide mission.

    1. Texas is a great state I spent some time there.Nice to hear there is some lawmakers that care about the decent people.
      A MANS HOME IS HIS CASTLE. Not in yuppy states like Conn.

    2. I like your thinking Tony. Totally agree. Starting to think that Texas is the place to live. :)

  37. I am licensed and carry concealed. I agree that the homeowner had the right to protect his home and I also believe that he had the right to use deadly force to protect himself. However, I do believe that he crossed a line in the manor of how he exercised his action.
    Why was he not on the phone immediately as he heard the breaking glass or while he was hiding in the basement. He had the right to protect himself and shoot the first one as he came down the basement stairs. Yes he had the right to shoot the second as she came charging down the stairs. At that time she also was a imminent threat of she was charging down after hearing the gun fire.
    Where I believe he was wrong was in how he handled the scene and bodies. From what I saw in the news video he admitted to executing the female as she was gasping for air. Why did he not call for the police and EMS after the threat was neutralize. I believe that was the moment he crossed the line and holding the bodies for a day was also crossing the line.

  38. First of all the homeowner was justified in using deadly force to protect himself.

    His home was FORCEIBLY broken into by unknown intruders. Breaking a glass window to gain entry immediately makes the perpetrator a dangerous individual. If they are willing and capable of forceful entry then they are willing and capable of violence should they encounter the homeowner and/or his family.

    That said once that intruder invaded the space of the homeowner and according to the report the space was a basement then retreat from the threat was likely improbable if not impossible.

    Once the owner encountered the threat he was justified in using deadly force. The owner has NO IDEA if the burglar is armed and/or intent on bodily harm. One can only assume that if the perp used force to get into the home he would use force to LEAVE the home and/or eliminate incriminating witnesses.

    Shooting the first person multiple times wasn’t excessive as no one knows what it will take to STOP THE THREAT. The same can be said of the 2nd perp. The owner likely had no idea of the person’s sex and if armed or un-armed. So once that person showed him/herself that person became another threat to the homeowner and at that time he was justified in using deadly force.

    But, here is where it gets muddy and the homeowner didn’t help himself by doing these acts.

    1. he dragged the body of the first burglar into a room. He should have called 911 and left that person where he/she was.

    2. When the 2nd threat appeared again he should have left the threat/person where they were.

    3. He should have called 911 ASAP and YOU DO NOT STORE DEAD BODIES IN YOUR HOUSE AND WAIT TILL THE NEXT DAY!! That was wrong on so many levels.

    4. You don’t fire a coup de grace on a threat once that threat has been neutralized. By dragging the person from where they fell he was able to ascertain that that person no longer remained a threat and by “finishing her off” with one last shot he at that time used excessive force. He even admitted doing so to the police.

    It’s a tragedy all the way around but the two youths instigated the threat by forcibly entering someone’s home. They then took their own life into their own hands by doing this criminal act.

    And while I’m not so sure the homeowner broke any laws he failed to act as a reasonable human being by not calling police or an ambulance within a reasonable time and the final shot to kill the second intruder who was INCAPACITATED at that time would seem to be excessive force.

    Lot’s gray in this case and the homeowner didn’t help himself with some of the decisions he made.

    1. Tom K, I am right there with you; especially your #3 point.


  39. It definitely depends what state you live in.I grew up in Conn if you shoot an unarmed intruder there you have got a big problem.Even after cases like the home invasion case of DR.Petiet in Chesire Conn’ two unarmed perps. robbed and raped his very young daughters and wife then burned there Cheshire home to the ground. If Dr petit had a weapon and killed them when they first entered his home.He would defiantly be in prison. Or would be very broke from defending himself in civil court and criminal court,Dr Petit survived this horrid ordeal.I would love to here his opinion on gun ownership. Conn has constant invasion on the news. I left 25yrs ago and have no desire to move back.I live in home invasions are very low .Its definitely not yuppy Liberal state and almost every home has a gun in it.

  40. I feel that all bets are off when someone decides to enter my home (aka break in, home invasion, etc), regardless of time of day or night. I shouldn’t have to worry about whether the intruder(s) are armed or not and how this would play out in court. I don’t know their intent – just looking to steal some electronics, or perhaps cause physical harm/death to me and my family – and it shouldn’t matter. The laws should be on the side of the home owner, not the criminal! What happened to common sense? Seems that the laws only change when the law makers are impacted, then they open their eyes. Stay vigilant, stay armed.

  41. I am dumfounded at the response from the authorities, concerning ones rights as a home-owner. If someone is stupid enough to violate my home then they should also know there will be a price to pay, by whatever means necessary. If that is what they leaned at home then the end result will be death at the hands of a stranger.

  42. two pages on the this and that of the particulars of self defense and no mention of what the lines we should not cross are neither the links to find them… i could just look them up. but your typical teen would go back to just buy the gun without education just as the article suggests. whats the difference this article has made? be a source of knowledge and put facts into the articles, its why im signed up for this newsletter.

  43. As a veteran and a responsibly armed citizen, I am absolutely a proponent of the right to defend my family, home and property. After reading the whole article on this case, I have come to this conclusion. Should the teens have broken into the Smith home? Certainly not. I would be with the County Commissioner Rich Collins on this one. If smith would have engaged the threat (whether deadly force or not) and then ceased fire and called the authorities, he would have a great self defense case. Instead he dragged the bodies to another room and then executed them with a “kill shot” to the face/head. Folks, that’s called murder.

  44. I recently took a class called ‘Refuse To Be a Victim liked it so much I want to teach it, and have signed up for more classes that will alllow me to teach it. I would like to know if the Good Samaritan Law of Nevada protects me if one of the students is involved in a self-defense situation, acts according to what he/she learned in my class, and then ends up getting hurt.

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