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Old January 7, 2012, 09:29 PM   #1
plinky
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A Slant on the Castle Doctrine?

I recently came across this article:

http://www.wjactv.com/news/news/blai...s-shots/nGGc5/

In a nutshell it states a man returning from a walk enters his home only to find an intruder.

Home owner draws weapon and fires 2 warning shots running the intruder off.

The article doesn't say if the intruder was armed or not.

The statement was made that because of the "new law" in PA the home owner was justified in his action.

I'm only guessing that the "new law" is in reference to the Castle Doctrine in PA.

We usually see the argument for a justified use of force when a home is being broken into while the owner is in the home.

If you walk into your home and find an intruder and draw and fire a weapon who is really the agressor from a legal point of view?

And are warning shots ever a good idea?
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Old January 7, 2012, 09:32 PM   #2
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I don't think it makes any difference who got there first, it's your house. I say shoot first unless they are leaving with empty hands.
But then I ain't no lawyer and this IS Texas.
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Old January 7, 2012, 09:51 PM   #3
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The PA law is new and a good one.
I would never fire warning shots ,you waste ammo that you might need.
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Old January 7, 2012, 10:17 PM   #4
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And are warning shots ever a good idea?
From a practical standpoint, they're a waste of ammo. From a liability standpoint, they're a risk of collateral damage.

Would it come back to bite me in court? Probably not where I live. Your mileage may vary according to where you live. Most states with castle doctrines generally require some articulated threat of harm. Running into a burglar while walking into one's house...well, most juries would say that was a situation in which a homeowner could get hurt.

It could be a really gray area, and every situation is unique. Generally, I'm not a fan of violence over property, but I could definitely see a threat of harm here.
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Old January 7, 2012, 10:38 PM   #5
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Oklahoma laws says I can shoot to kill it that situation. How many people have been hurt or killed as a BG is confronted . He might just want to try to eliminate witnesses and guess what you just became one.
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Old January 7, 2012, 10:44 PM   #6
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kinggabby View Post
Oklahoma laws says I can shoot to kill it that situation.
No it doesn't. No law specifically allows "shoot to kill". The intent is to stop the threat. Whether the assailant lives or dies is not addressed in the law authorizing deadly force.

The Oklahoma law is this:

§21-1289.25.

PHYSICAL OR DEADLY FORCE AGAINST INTRUDER

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

B. Any occupant of a dwelling is justified in using any degree of
physical force, including but not limited to deadly force, against
another person who has made an unlawful entry into that dwelling, and
when the occupant has a reasonable belief that such other person might
use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant of
the dwelling.

C. Any occupant of a dwelling using physical force, including but not
limited to deadly force, pursuant to the provisions of subsection B of
this section, shall have an affirmative defense in any criminal
prosecution for an offense arising from the reasonable use of such
force and shall be immune from any civil liability for injuries or
death resulting from the reasonable use of such force.

D. The provisions of this section and the provisions of the Oklahoma
Self-Defense Act, Sections 1 through 25 of this act, shall not be
construed to require any person using a pistol pursuant to the
provisions of this section to be licensed in any manner.



Just as the "Castle Doctrine" laws of every other state, the law of Oklahoma allows for the "presumption" of a deadly threat. That presumption, in all states, can be rebutted.

Notice how the law uses the word "reasonable" in several places. "Reasonable use of force", "Reasonable belief".

It is NOT blanket authorization to shoot intruders and it does not allow "shoot to kill" as specific intent.
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Old January 7, 2012, 11:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Just as the "Castle Doctrine" laws of every other state, the law of Oklahoma allows for the "presumption" of a deadly threat. That presumption, in all states, can be rebutted.

Notice how the law uses the word "reasonable" in several places. "Reasonable use of force", "Reasonable belief".

It is NOT blanket authorization to shoot intruders and it does not allow "shoot to kill" as specific intent.
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And as stated by law if someone is in my house I am in fear of my life and that of my wife and child.
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Old January 8, 2012, 07:55 AM   #8
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And are warning shots ever a good idea?
I asked a cop about that once.
He said the warning shot is a warning another one is on it's way.

Sounds like a decent enough answer to me
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Old January 8, 2012, 09:37 AM   #9
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I have fired a warning shot since I retired in 2004.

I was threatened by a couple of guys, on my own property, when I asked them to leave.

Because of my condition (I am no longer the fine speciman of what a man should be, but I am still good looking! ) I can not and will not take a beating from anyone.

When one of the guys approached me, threatening to beat me with a pipe, I put one shot into the ground between him and I. I went on to explain the next one would be between his eyes and the third shot would be in the second guys head.

They called me a few names as they took off and left my property.

I am a firm believer that warning shots should never be used just to scare people off. If you are going to fire a warning shot, you must be prepared to follow-up with a shot that could kill someone.

I get people who are looking for anhydrous ammonia so they can cook their meth. They seem to think that my drive-way is a short cut back to the highway. (They always seem to carry empty one gallon milk jugs or small, lunch box coolers with them in the front seat.)
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Old January 8, 2012, 04:30 PM   #10
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I am not one for warning shots unless it is a case of you vs a large group of people, trying to get the group to scatter. In my mind, if I aim my gun at someone or pull the trigger for any reason it will be because I am in fear for my safety and the threat must be dispatched.
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Old January 8, 2012, 04:31 PM   #11
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For the story listed here - I'm not sure if WJAC is slanting it or the police are, but there does seem to be an approval that the homeowner put a round into the ground and not the burglar.

Another thing that I objected to though was their characterization that:
Quote:
he took matters into his own hands, pulling out his gun and firing two shots to scare off the burglar.
The insinuation was that a citizen was somehow fed up with law enforcement's inabiltiy to stop a rash of home robberies so he decided to take matters into his own hands and do it himself. And that's not what happened. The homeowner interupted a burglar in the act and drew his firearm and fired a warning shot. If the homeowner was really a vigilante intent on ending the theif's criminal career, he would have gone into the house and confronted the burglar, held him at gun point or just shot him.
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Old January 8, 2012, 08:33 PM   #12
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I am a firm believer that warning shots should never be used just to scare people off. If you are going to fire a warning shot, you must be prepared to follow-up with a shot that could kill someone.
I concur, Uncle Buck.

Here's a warning shot situation: you're leaving the mall on your way to your car with your purchases. Three girls about thirteen years old decide it's time to try robbery for fun and profit, and two have knives. Are you faced with an immediate, credible threat of great bodily harm or death? Yeah, but they're thirteen-year-old girls. In that situation, I'd put a round in the asphalt and hope they'd undergo a rapid change of heart.

In my home? Not a chance.
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Old January 8, 2012, 08:41 PM   #13
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Quote:
And are warning shots ever a good idea?
Legally you are now using lethal force. There is no difference from a legal standpoint (mostly) and actually pointing the weapon at someone and pulling the trigger. So I would say:

- that if deadly force is justified why are you firing warning shots?

- if it is not than why are you using deadly force?
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Old January 8, 2012, 10:32 PM   #14
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Quote:
If you walk into your home and find an intruder and draw and fire a weapon who is really the agressor from a legal point of view?
I don't think the issue is so much one about who is the aggressor as it is about who is the threat to me in my home. The intruder is the threat, whether he walks in on me in my home or I walk in on him in my home, he is a threat. I sincerely hope that I am the first to take action because the threat needs to be mitigated, whether that means downed or in flight from my home. I certainly don't want to be the second person taking action if I run into an intruder in my home.

Quote:
And are warning shots ever a good idea?
I am not a fan of warning shots, but at the same time I cannot argue with all the instances in which they have worked (regardless of the legal consequences which I am not involving here).

Quote:
I asked a cop about that once.
He said the warning shot is a warning another one is on it's way.

Sounds like a decent enough answer to me
So a warning shot is a warning that another warning shot is on its way?

From my own personal perspective, a warning shot is not an indication of a willingness to shoot another person, but more of an indication of an unwillingness to shoot another person. The person firing the warning shot is not doing it for the benefit of the person being warned (though often portrayed as such) as much as doing it as a non lethal show of lethal force because the shooter mentally isn't prepared to shoot another person.

If you think you need to warn a person that another shot is on its way, then I think it is clear that you are hesitant to fire at another person. In other words, you are taking indecisive action, demonstrating a force you don't want to use.

Back when my pop became a cop in the 1950s, they taught things like warning shots, but they have fallen from favor for numerous reasons such as those mentioned in this thread.

Warning shots are a scare tactic and some people will be scared by them. The big problem I see that is if they aren't scared, then you are now down 1 round from which to begin to deal with your threat.

If you are justified in using lethal force against another human because that person is showing intent, opportunity, and ability to do serious bodily harm or cause death to you or a loved one, then why would you waste a shot? If there is intent, opportunity, and ability to do such harm, do you really want to waste time and ammo hoping that the bad guy might be scared by the warning shot? You are at a point where the time for warning may already be passed and it is now a time for action.

Of course, it is all very situational as Uncle Buck's circumstance indicates. Warning shots can work, but certainly don't always work.

True story about a warning shot...
When my grandmother died, I helped my mom cleaning out my grandmother's house. It was where my mom grew up. Mom found a piece of slate (an old chalkboard) that hung in a closet of the house and it had a hole in it. My grandfather traveled for business and was away from home a lot. Early one morning came a pounding at the front door. Grandmother called out to ask who it was and the pounding just persisted and got louder. Fearing a person was wanting to break in, she gathered my mother and uncle together so they would be safe and she fired a warning shot into the closet at the chalkboard...which it went right through (go figure)...and the pounding soon stopped. Success! A potential intruder scared off. No.

Turns out that the guy knocking on the door was a deaf man that lived down the street several blocks. His family and my family were good friends. He had walked the several blocks to catch the train to go into town to work but had taken with him the money needed to pay the rent that day. Fearing he would be late to work (which you didn't want to be during the Great Depression), he had stopped at grandmother's house hoping she would take the money back to his wife so that the rent could be paid.

In the end, the knocker never heard the shot. He was deaf, LOL. He ended up running home with the money and caught a later train, was late for work, but did not get fired. Warning shots don't work if the person being warned doesn't know you are firing a warning shot.
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Old January 9, 2012, 09:14 AM   #15
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It doesn't seem like warning shots are very often a good idea. Mainly because of the difficulty in finding a good, safe place for that bullet to go. It also seems unlikely that most situations would be appropriate for warnings shots, even with an appropriate bullet stop.
However, as in Uncle Buck's example, it's obvious that they're useful at times.

As for the "message" they send, I think it's impossible to say unless the message is meant for you. Is it "I'm not willing to shoot you" or "I don't want to but I will" or "I'm so eager to pull the trigger I'm going to shoot dirt, don't give me a reason to put one in you"? Whatever message the shooter may intend, don't mean that's the message the BG is going to get.

Take a literary analysis class sometime. Even "obvious" written word will have a 1/2 dozen translations to it's meaning that everyone else can't imagine how the other 5 people see it that way. A "nonverbal" message in the form of a gunshot is sure to be translated a variety of interesting ways!
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Old January 9, 2012, 10:28 AM   #16
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I agree with the notion that a warning shot indicates an unwillingness to injure or kill another. Many would think that to be an admirable trait...

Worse than wasting ammunition, a warning shot gives the intruder time and motivation to do great bodily harm to you or your family.

The sequence from firing the warning shot to taking another(?) or a "stopping shot" requires that the defender wait to see whether or not the warning shot had the intended effect. That gives the assailant time to press an attack -- especially if he has the right mindset.

In my view, the decision to fire a warning shot must be made well in advance, with a thorough understanding of the consequences of it not having the desired effect. To be sure, alternative scenarios need to be considered from the intruder being within an arm's length of you or your loved one to being at the other end of the living room and obviously unarmed.

Bottom line: if deadly force is authorized, your weapon displayed and pointed at the perp is sufficient warning. I'm not even sure that words to the effect of "Leave Now" make sense -- particularly if one is not good at the growling command voice under very scary and stressul situations.
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Old January 9, 2012, 10:41 AM   #17
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Quote:
Bottom line: if deadly force is authorized, your weapon displayed and pointed at the perp is sufficient warning. I'm not even sure that words to the effect of "Leave Now" make sense -- particularly if one is not good at the growling command voice under very scary and stressul situations.
I agree weapon out and point should be the only warning given. Seeing #1 perp should not have been there to begin with #2 a warning shot lowers your round count #3 A lot of distance can be made up in a very short time. A short while ago a woman who lives near me walked in to her home as a perp was inside. He decided to shoot her on the way out.
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Old January 9, 2012, 11:00 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT TL
Legally you are now using lethal force. There is no difference from a legal standpoint (mostly) and actually pointing the weapon at someone and pulling the trigger. So I would say:

- that if deadly force is justified why are you firing warning shots?

- if it is not than why are you using deadly force?
^ This.
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Old January 9, 2012, 11:29 AM   #19
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Displaying an unwillingness to use your weapon

If you listen to the account of Sarah McKinley's shooting of home invader / would be rapist Justin Martin, she said something to the effect that when he broke open the door and stepped inside, he looked at her and when she didn't shoot, he took that to mean that she wasn't going to shoot and then he came for her.

I don't remember her exact verbiage, but she relayed that she beleived that he made a decision that she wasn't going to shoot. He forcefully shoved a couch out of the the way then Sarah pulled the trigger and shot him in the head with her 12ga.

I say Martin was a would be rapist because that's what Sarah believed and also because he had been through the house and stolen her deceased husband's prescription drugs already. If he were merely after drugs, he had already gotten what he wanted or could get what he wanted at some future date when she left on errands because she didn't lock her doors normally. But he chose to break into her house while she was there. She thought it was to rape her and I think it makes sense.

Anyway, there are some predators out there who will react to any hesitation by immediatley launching an attack.

If you've done the warning shot you've just reduced your available ammunition by one round and it's also likely that you've allowed them to get somewhat closer to you.
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Old January 9, 2012, 12:02 PM   #20
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Quote:
Quote:
And are warning shots ever a good idea?
I am not a fan of warning shots, but at the same time I cannot argue with all the instances in which they have worked (regardless of the legal consequences which I am not involving here).
This. Seems a lot of people are missing the obvious. There are many cases where warning shots have worked. Not having statistical data to make a factual call, my guess is that more often than not, warning shots have probably worked.
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Old January 9, 2012, 12:07 PM   #21
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Another aspect of the warning shot, is that it gives the perpatrators / attackers extra time for their minds to assess the situation. This is a bad thing when you're being attacked, you're handing them a mental advantage, and especially so when there are multiple attackers.

Also, there are times when you may think you are dealing with a single attacker when you're actually dealing with multiple attackers.
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Old January 9, 2012, 12:12 PM   #22
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There are instances where not only have warning shots failed, but actual shots into a perpatrator failed to stop a second unseen or un-noticed assailant from shooting the targeted victim.

Even if there were statistics on this what statistic would be deemed acceptable?

If warning shots succesfully "scared off" attackers 75% of the time? Ninety percent of the time? Ninety five percent of the time? If I knew there was a 10% chance of taking a bullet by warning I wouldn't but if it's only 5% I will?
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Old January 9, 2012, 12:25 PM   #23
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I don't really think a warning shot indicates an unwillingness to kill in every situation. I will if I feel I have to, but too many scenarios to run through to say definitively a warning shot indicates such a feeling.
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Old January 9, 2012, 12:31 PM   #24
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Military organizations use warning shots, 'shots across the bow of the vessel' and the like...

They don't really have a place in SD/HD in my opinion. If you are justified to use lethal force, use it and be effective with it.

If you're not justified in using lethal force, why is a gun even in the equation?

Warning shots are a waste of ammunition in a lethal scenario at best, and a liability and dangerous practice with serious moral and legal repercussions at worst.
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Old January 9, 2012, 12:57 PM   #25
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The point is that warning shots are a calculated risk. Sometimes they work...sometimes they dont. The person who is holding the gun has to decide if the risk is worth it. I am betting that warning shots aren't likely to turn up snake eyes.
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