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California 2nd Amend. Political Discussion & Activism Discuss gun rights activism and 2A related political topics here. All advice given is NOT legal counsel.

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  #1  
Old 02-28-2008, 10:03 AM
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Default Can you legally shoot an armed robber in the act?

One of my coworkers and I were having a talk about hypothetical scenarios and we were not sure what would be legal and what wouldn't. Can you guys clear this up for me?:

An man with a drawn gun comes into our workplace and demands money. As soon as he turns his back, my coworker draws his CCW and guns him down. He had not yet physically harmed anyone in any way.

Would there be any immediate legal ramifications to this, or would it be a good shoot by default? I understand that if he had already gotten his money and was leaving then it would not be ok to shoot, but what if he was still in the act and on the premises?
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:14 AM
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If your colleague shoots him in the back, it's almost certainly a bad shoot, unless he's turned his back on worker 1 and is about to shoot worker 2 - and that might be hard to prove. As soon as he actually fires at someone, then I think that it should be OK to shoot him in the back, but I wouldn't want the legal bills.

This is NOT legal advice.
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:16 AM
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Shooting him in the back? Not legal.

Saying something to get his attention to turn around, having him see you have him dead to rights yet he starts to draw a bead on you anyway, forcing you to shoot him in the front? Should be legal .
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:17 AM
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Its never a good idea to shoot someone in the back... a good prosecutor will hammer that fact in any way they can, into the jury. It just never sounds good unless there is a very clearly defined situation that shows no other reasonable course of action.

Per your scenario, everything sounds like a good shoot except the "shot in the back". I would expect the prosecutor to make the argument, regardless of its validity, that any reasonable believe of imminent severe bodily injury-death is negatated because the robber was in the process of "fleeing" from you. Burden of proof would be yours to show good cause for your use of lethal force, i.e. what reasonable belief you had that the aggressor still posed a deadly threat to you or another.

I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, assume I am wrong and seek appropriate legal counsel.
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:17 AM
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A shooter has to prove that his life, or another innocent person's life, was in danger in order to use deadly force. YMMV from one jurisdiction to another but that's the general rule of thumb. There has to be a REASONABLE threat and that can vary from one jury to another (or DA). Then, you have all these whiz-bang defence lawyers arguing about every little detail to the point where even if someone shot Bin Laden, he would feel guilty about it.

To answer your question, I'd say sure, shoot the armed robber as soon as he presents a good frontal view of his kill zone. I'd be afraid he'd kill me to keep me quiet once he got the money.
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  #6  
Old 02-28-2008, 10:26 AM
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Depends right?

It's like if someone armed is in your house and they are walking down a hallway leading to the exit or they are walking down a hallway leading to your kid's rooms.

In the scenario the gunman certainly has the means to cause great bodily harm, would a reasonable person think that acting will prevent that? This ain't Matt Dillon time here, he doesn't have to face you and make the first move.
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:30 AM
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NOT LEGAL ADVICE, But I would draw, get his attention then tell him drop the gun get down, at this point if he aims at you(or anytime up to here) SHOOT the basta*d!
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:32 AM
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In general, no... you would not be justified in shooting if the robber is in the process of fleeing or leaving.

You may use lethal force as long as there is an immediate threat to your person or that of another. As soon as the threat ceases to be a threat, you must disengage (stop shooting).

Now, if the robber turns his attention from you to point his gun at another person and you have the opportunity to use your own weapon, that's fine, since the robber is threatening someone else.

If your work location has security cameras they will record the situation as it unfolds and either vindicate your actions or condemn them.
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:40 AM
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Just ask yourself this; would the shooter (not the robber) have a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury? If so, then you are allowed to use like force to defend your life or the life of another (lethal force). Just because someone's back is turned doesn't mean that the reasonable fear is negated and that death or serious bodily harm isn't imminent. However, if someone is fleeing/leaving, well, shooting them will probably garner serious charges against you.

This "get his attention and then shoot him while he is looking at you" stuff is nonsense. Again, to reiterate, if you are in reasonable (objective) fear for your life or the life of another and the threat is imminent, then you may be justified in using lethal force to protect yourself or another. If someone is LEAVING with their back to you, would you be in fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury....NO, and if you did subjectively feel threatened, you better hope that it is an "objective, reasonable" belief and others (a jury) will share your point of view.

Your scenario is devoid of detail. It is ALL about the detailed facts and circumstances in real life.

So, the answer to your hypo is "maybe."
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  #10  
Old 02-28-2008, 10:40 AM
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Not legal Knowledge.

He is in your work place with a gun. He is not leaving. He turns his back. He is stupid to turn his back to anyone therefore he is dead. Good shot and wise.

If you are not willing to shoot him in the back then you are not willing to shoot him at all. Maybe you will feel better to call him out in the hall way for a face off. I don't think so. He threatens you and your workers with a gun and you don't want to shoot him in the back? Then leave your gun at home in a safe.

Jerry
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  #11  
Old 02-28-2008, 10:41 AM
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Default There would be legal ramifications.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan HBC View Post
One of my coworkers and I were having a talk about hypothetical scenarios and we were not sure what would be legal and what wouldn't. Can you guys clear this up for me?:

An man with a drawn gun comes into our workplace and demands money. As soon as he turns his back, my coworker draws his CCW and guns him down. He had not yet physically harmed anyone in any way.

Would there be any immediate legal ramifications to this, or would it be a good shoot by default? I understand that if he had already gotten his money and was leaving then it would not be ok to shoot, but what if he was still in the act and on the premises?
In the states of California, NY, Illinois, Maryland, NJ and the like. It would be a huge NO NO. The threat is gone. As a good minion of the state, you would need to call the police and let them handle it from the moment he turned away. This isn't legal advice from a lawyer, this is info from one California tax slave to another.
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  #12  
Old 02-28-2008, 10:48 AM
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In this state you would get nailed. In other states where they have the Castle Doct., if it was at home, fire away, not sure about a business environment though. In any case, best not to shoot unless absoultely necessary, you would have to live with it.
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  #13  
Old 02-28-2008, 10:48 AM
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So if he turns away - could be to leave, could be to threaten a coworker - you draw and make a verbal challenge ("drop the gun" etc.), he turns back and raises his weapon, are you shooting in self defense, or did you become the threat by attempting to stop his escape? Does that depend on who has the better lawyer?
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:11 AM
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you give too little information in your hypothetical scenario. Must be much more specific.
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:13 AM
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Use of a Firearm or Other Deadly Force in Defense of Life and Body

The killing of one person by another may be justifiable when necessary to resist the attempt to commit a forcible and life-threatening crime, provided that a reasonable person in the same or similar situation would believe that (a) the person killed intended to commit a forcible and life-threatening crime; (b) there was imminent danger of such crime being accomplished; and (c) the person acted under the belief that such force was necessary to save himself or herself or another from death or a forcible and life-threatening crime. Murder, mayhem, rape, and robbery are examples of forcible and life-threatening crimes.


Self-Defense Against Assault

It is lawful for a person being assaulted to defend himself or herself from attack if he or she has reasonable grounds for believing, and does in fact believe, that he or she will suffer bodily injury. In doing so, he or she may use such force, up to deadly force, as a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances would believe necessary to prevent great bodily injury or death. An assault with fists does not justify use of a deadly weapon in self-defense unless the person being assaulted believes, and a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances would also believe, that the assault is likely to inflict great bodily injury.
It is lawful for a person who has grounds for believing, and does in fact believe, that great bodily injury is about to be inflicted upon another to protect the victim from attack. In so doing, the person may use such force as reasonably necessary to prevent the injury. Deadly force is only considered reasonable to prevent great bodily injury or death.
NOTE: The use of excessive force to counter an assault may result in civil or criminal penalties.




Protecting One’s Home

A person may defend his or her home against anyone who attempts to enter in a violent manner intending violence to any person in the home. The amount of force that may be used in resisting such entry is limited to that which would appear necessary to a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances to resist the violent entry. One is not bound to retreat, even though a retreat might safely be made. One may resist force with force, increasing it in proportion to the intruder’s persistence and violence, if the circumstances apparent to the occupant would cause a reasonable person in the same or similar situation to fear for his or her safety.
The occupant may use a firearm when resisting the intruder’s attempt to commit a forcible and life-threatening crime against anyone in the home provided that a reasonable person in the same or similar situation would believe that (a) the intruder intends to commit a forcible and life-threatening crime; (b) there is imminent danger of such crime being accomplished; and (c) the occupant acts under the belief that use of a firearm is necessary to save himself or herself or another from death or great bodily injury. Murder, mayhem, rape, and robbery are examples of forcible and life-threatening crimes.
Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family, or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry had occurred. Great bodily injury means a significant or substantial physical injury. (Penal Code § 198.5.)
NOTE: If the presumption is rebutted by contrary evidence, the occupant may be criminally liable for an unlawful assault or homicide.



Defense of Property

The lawful occupant of real property has the right to request a trespasser to leave the premises. If the trespasser does not do so within a reasonable time, the occupant may use force to eject the trespasser.
The amount of force that may be used to eject a trespasser is limited to that which a reasonable person would believe to be necessary under the same or similar circumstances.

Limitations on the Use of Force in Self-Defense

The right of self-defense ceases when there is no further danger from an assailant. Thus, where a person attacked under circumstances initially justifying self-defense renders the attacker incapable of inflicting further injuries, the law of self-defense ceases and no further force may be used.
The right of self-defense is not initially available to a person who assaults another. However, if such person attempts to stop further combat and clearly informs the adversary of his or her desire for peace but the opponent nevertheless continues the fight, the right of self-defense returns and is the same as the right of any other person being assaulted.


more here:

http://www.ittendojo.org/articles/general-4.htm
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:21 AM
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So if he was aggressive towards another co-worker, just not you, that would be preventing great bodily harm or death from that co-worker. After badguy is down, you make sure everyone knows you prevented imminent death, and then you have excellent witnesses for you, right? that should law low any prosecutor.

Of course, if your co-workers don't think the guy was threatening them, and you killed them...then yer toast.


I think, in my personal, non-legal opinion, that you should be face to face, or in some other way (through cover or reflection), communicate your defensive intentions...somehow legally provoking a defensive action on your part to defend yourself.
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:21 AM
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CA PC197

"Homicide is also justified when committed by any person in any of the following cases:

4. When necessarily committed in attempting, by lawful ways and means, to apprehend any person for any felony committed..."

PC211 Robbery has just occured - Felony. Your CCTV has just recorded the felony. You are using lawful ways and means (your building, you are legally armed on your premises) to apprehend the felon. If you persue and he stops, great, wait for the police. If he attempts to harm you, then you are justified in using lethal force accordingly PC197 1 and 2. If he keeps running away, it may be difficult to prove he was still a threat to you or others, and thus lethal force may not be necessary. Be a good witness and give a good report to the police.

My two cents.
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  #18  
Old 02-28-2008, 11:23 AM
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What if he drops something and turns around to pick it up, but has said he'd going to shoot you? He's not making for the exit. I suppose it just comes down to your word vs the dead man's relatives, and possibly the prosecuting DA if he doesn't like you or guns.
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:25 AM
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If his back is to you and he is fleeing, no. If he is standing there and hasn't raised the gun, no way. If someone is standing in front of him and he has his gun pointed at the person, it starts getting blury and his actions and state of mind become factors. If he raises the gun to aim at another person, he's fair game. If you yell at him and order him to drop the gun and he turns to face you, he better not raise his gun hand, because he's fair game if he does. That's pretty much how I look at this scenario, but there are too many extenuating circumstances to give absolutes.

If you do shoot, make sure you have plenty of witnesses that will back you and acknowledge that the dead guy was placing innocent people in peril.

Last edited by Piper; 02-28-2008 at 11:28 AM..
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:41 AM
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Just remember this guys, lethal force is EXPRESSLY AND ONLY for the purpose of defending innocent life. Be it your life or the clerk's life.

You many defend any life that is in danger.

If a robber is pointing a gun AT someone, they are in danger. If he's running out the door with his back turned, probably no longer in danger.
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Old 02-28-2008, 12:53 PM
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I guess in my scenario the bad guy is walking throughout the office building, and telling people to "put the money in the bag" so to speak. He is not finished with cleaning the place out and he is walking around pointing the gun directly at my coworkers while ordering them around.

If he is pointing the gun at a coworker, is that generally a green light?
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Old 02-28-2008, 12:57 PM
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make sure you are on the phone to 911 and are yelling "drop the weapon"
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Old 02-28-2008, 1:15 PM
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Most likely, provided that the only words that escape your lips are, "I was in fear for my life. I'm too shaken up right now to talk to anyone but my lawyer."
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Old 02-28-2008, 1:28 PM
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The "Back turned" rule is a generalization that internet lawyers have made up. Self-defense is a flexible, complex, and fact-intensive determination made by a jury. The correct answer is, it's anyone's guess.
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Old 02-28-2008, 1:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan HBC View Post
I guess in my scenario the bad guy is walking throughout the office building, and telling people to "put the money in the bag" so to speak. He is not finished with cleaning the place out and he is walking around pointing the gun directly at my coworkers while ordering them around.

If he is pointing the gun at a coworker, is that generally a green light?
I think the consensus would say yes.
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Old 02-28-2008, 2:00 PM
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The guy that took a Gun to school and held a bunch of kids Hostage and also discharged a few rounds into the air, He received 22 years in prison for his deeds.

I would think it would have been OK to put his lights out strictly for the reasons he held other hostage at gun point but then I'm not a licensed attorney not that there is such a thing.

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Old 02-28-2008, 2:02 PM
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if someone just robbed you at gun point and turns and starts to walk away the threat is NOT GONE if he walks out into the street carrying his gun the threat is NOT GONE . the law is, if they are a threat to you or others it would be justified. where does it say in any law that you cannot shoot an armed felon in the back. in no law does it say that. there is always the possability that he will shoot others in public. you would be justified shooting an armed felon that just commited a 211 p.c would you be arrested at first probably not but if you did would you be convicted, absolutly not. no d.a would prosicute somebody for shooting an armed felon in the back. as a former police officer, in my county no way would they even try to prosicute you for something like that. in fact a few years ago in the town i worked a guy walked into a stop and rob armed with a 38. as he was running across the parking lot the clerk pulled out a 30/30 and shot him in the back. the robber spent 3 years in prison actually state hospital, because he was paralyzed. the clerk did not face any crime what so ever

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Old 02-28-2008, 2:16 PM
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Shooting somone in the back MIGHT be a good shoot. It all depends on the situation.

The OP didn't say the BG was leaving or fleeing; just that he turned his back.

Since we live in the REAL WORLD, you do not have to give the BG a "fair or sporting chance". Shouting a warning to someone armed with a firearm & possible hyped on andrenaline or drugs is a good way to get shot with that firearm. A person can partly turn and fire faster than many people would believe. If he's right handed and holding gun in it, the BG doesn't even need to turn around to fire, he could just twist his upper body a little, stick his right arm under his left armpit and fire away.

In that case, you only option (other than ducking incoming rounds) is to shot towards his back.

Every situation is different so there is no simple answer.
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Old 02-28-2008, 3:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mymonkeyman View Post
The "Back turned" rule is a generalization that internet lawyers have made up. Self-defense is a flexible, complex, and fact-intensive determination made by a jury. The correct answer is, it's anyone's guess.
Couldn't agree more.
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Old 02-28-2008, 4:10 PM
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It can get hazy if the robber turns, and is facing someone else. It could be assumed (remember what happens when you assume) that the gunman was targeting the people he was facing. But I would try VERY hard not to have entry wounds in the back of someone.
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Old 02-28-2008, 4:28 PM
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There are two issues, criminal culpability and civil liability.

Use of force issues are so complex - and not just here in CA - that any specific opinion not based on an actual court decision is a swag, maybe not even that.

I'm aware of shootings that have occurred concerning civilians that were no-billed that were (to me) questionable, and others that looked good that resulted in major civil court grief.

I can absolutely guarantee one thing.

If you ever find yourself surviving a lethal force incident as a civilian, you will never look at self-defense in the same light, and you'll never approach living your life in the same way you did before the incident.
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Old 02-28-2008, 4:39 PM
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Become a cop, problem solved.
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Old 02-28-2008, 4:56 PM
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You ask a hypothetical question, and you'll get 10,000 different hypothetical answers. (99.9% of which, will be from non-lawyers, non-LEOs, and people who have never experienced anything remotely similar to the scenario... myself included).

The problem is, everyone sees this scenario in their own way. To one poster, the "turn the back" comment means the guy is leaving. While to another poster, the "turn the back" comment means the guy briefly put his attention in another direction. Who's to say which is correct? Who wants to make the wrong decision on that call?? Wouldn't any sane jurror feel the same way? Justifiable..... or you have a poor attorney.

Net-net, is that if a robber is within XYZ feet of you with a gun (assumed to be loaded), then YOU ARE in a potential situation that could be life-threatening. Who can trust the judgement of a criminal? How many times has someone handed over the money, and still got shot in the head?

I would not confuse self-defense with some sense of honor. Maybe one would not feel "honorable" about shooting another person in the back, but once you realized that you were safe and alive, you'd get over it. If you were truley in fear of your life (or a coworker's) then you should take the shot. None of these laws say anything about being face-to-face with the guy.... that's ridiculous. You should not carry a gun if you aren't inclined to use it when warranted and lawful.
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Old 02-28-2008, 5:14 PM
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A shooter has to prove that his life, or another innocent person's life, was in danger in order to use deadly force. YMMV from one jurisdiction to another but that's the general rule of thumb. There has to be a REASONABLE threat and that can vary from one jury to another (or DA). Then, you have all these whiz-bang defence lawyers arguing about every little detail to the point where even if someone shot Bin Laden, he would feel guilty about it.

To answer your question, I'd say sure, shoot the armed robber as soon as he presents a good frontal view of his kill zone. I'd be afraid he'd kill me to keep me quiet once he got the money.
Actually, it's legal to use lethal force to resist a violent crime like robbery. So that might actually be a good shoot, though I wouldn't want to see the civil case afterwards.

Best bet would be to draw and wait for him to turn back toward you, unless there are other innocents in the direction the BG is now facing.

IIRC, one of the CG members who was involved in a defensive shooting drew and shot his assailant when the BG looked away for just long enough. His back wasn't literally turned, though.

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I guess in my scenario the bad guy is walking throughout the office building, and telling people to "put the money in the bag" so to speak. He is not finished with cleaning the place out and he is walking around pointing the gun directly at my coworkers while ordering them around.

If he is pointing the gun at a coworker, is that generally a green light?
In that scenario, then it would become "yes."

IMO, ohsmily's reply to this thread was one of the best.
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Old 02-28-2008, 5:23 PM
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Interesting thread. I especially appreciated the text of the law relating to deadly force in self defense and in apprehending a felon.

I share the view of those who would shoot the robber in the back. That's potentially a cleaner kill because he may not be able to return fire.

I think it is legally supportable because an armed robber in your office is a volatile deadly scenario that could result in massive carnage. Instead of "office" think "commercial airplane." Would any one question the righteousness of someone killing an armed robber victimizing the passengers on an airline? Well, there's not that much difference between the two.

Do some jurisdictions allow deadly force to resist property crimes, apart from a strict self-defense scenario? That would seem to be a more reasoned approach.

Last edited by Shotgun Man; 02-28-2008 at 5:42 PM..
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Old 02-28-2008, 7:09 PM
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Become a cop, problem solved.
not really, a cop has the potential to loose more than everybody else. when i became a cop one of the first things they told me was to homestead your house. when i asked why? the chief said because if you end up shooting somebody they will sue you. so homestead that way if you were to loose in court you will still have a place to live. under the color of authority they look at your actions under a microscope. i would say they would prosicute a cop almost as fast as a civilian.
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Old 02-28-2008, 7:13 PM
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A lot of these types of scenario problems remind me of problem 2/3 at Front Sight. Criminal and Civil liability issues.

Got to tell you, knowing about all that, and especially the costs involved, I can never quite get it out of my mind that it would just be easier to bury the intruder in my backyard, poor over some concrete for the new patio, and crack a beer. My guess is nobody would miss him.

I know, not a good idea, but can't say I haven't considered it.
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Old 02-29-2008, 2:24 PM
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So that might actually be a [/B]good shoot[/B], though I wouldn't want to see the civil case afterwards.
I'm noticing this term a lot in these posts. Is this an insider CCW term? Does it mean 'good shot?' I'm not being a grammar nazi, I just have read it over eight times now in different posts. Is it the equivalent of green light?

IMHO (non-lawyer blah blah blah) I think that in this backwards age, a DA is still going to try for a criminal charge, unwarranted homicide, etc. Also, convincing 12 people I don't even know that I made 'the right choice' in defense of myself and others sounds terrifying.

Still, I think I would pull the trigger if it seemed like a valid threat- and that I could tactically stop it of course. But no one's brought up the other targets other than the BG in this 'office'. I'd be scared of hitting other co-workers...but not the copier, that's totally OK...I hate that thing.
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Old 02-29-2008, 2:26 PM
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I would shoot and then shoot again.
He could shoot at you before you could react...
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Old 02-29-2008, 2:41 PM
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Originally Posted by KDOFisch View Post
I'm noticing this term a lot in these posts. Is this an insider CCW term? Does it mean 'good shot?' I'm not being a grammar nazi, I just have read it over eight times now in different posts. Is it the equivalent of green light?
A "good shoot" is a term used to describe a situation where someone has had to fire and it is considered to be legally justified. It's not a "good shot" as it's more of a combination of the actual shot, the whole situation, etc.



In regards to this situation, if my life or the life of someone else was in danger, I would not hesitate to stop the threat. If the BG was bolting out the door, no, I wouldn't shoot him in the back. If he was moving towards someone else, continuing he tirade, wasn't fleeing the scene, and the danger was still present to myself and others, the fact that his back was to me means he made a poor tactical decision.

Would it be legal? I don't know. It'd be rediculous if it wasn't, but we all know how that goes. That said, I and the innocent people around me would still be alive, and that's what matters.
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