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View Poll Results: You have seriously injured an innocent person:
I hold both moral and financial responsibility for the injuries caused by my bullet. 47 74.60%
I hold moral but no financial responsibility for the injuries caused by my bullet. 4 6.35%
I hold financial but no moral responsibility for the injuries caused by my bullet. 2 3.17%
I hold neither moral nor financial responsibility for the injuries caused by my bullet. 10 15.87%
Voters: 63. You may not vote on this poll

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Old July 26, 2010, 11:12 AM   #1
.22lr
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Are you responsible? [Part 1]

You have been an incident that included the use of deadly force. Your use of force was deemed justified by the state. During the deadly force event, one of your bullets struck and seriously injured a non involved innocent party. What responsibility do you hold to the injured innocent party?

Just to clarify:
There are three parties involved
1) you (the shooter)
2) the criminal (who really isn't involved in this discussion)
3) The INNOCENT NON-INVOLVED third party who was struck by your bullets.

Last edited by .22lr; July 26, 2010 at 11:54 AM. Reason: Typos and clarification
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Old July 26, 2010, 11:18 AM   #2
.22lr
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Last edited by .22lr; July 27, 2010 at 03:46 PM. Reason: Deleted as it could prejudice poll results
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Old July 26, 2010, 11:34 AM   #3
scottaschultz
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It depends.

If I shoot someone by accident, then it would be the first choice.

If I shoot someone who means to cause someone bodily harm, then it would be the last choice.
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Old July 26, 2010, 11:43 AM   #4
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This sounds like a legal/moral question. Doesn't really fit "Tactics & Training."
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Old July 26, 2010, 12:15 PM   #5
TylerD45ACP
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True, maybe it doesn't belong in T&T but I'm still interested. From my point of view any round that I discharge, I am totally and 100% responsible for where that bullet goes and who it hits. I would take full responsiblilty if I accidently seriously injured a 3rd party not involved in the shooting. I would do whatever was in my power to make sure that person was ok and got proper treatment,etc. Even if I just accidently hit the side of someone's house lets say in a SD situation. I would offer to pay for the hassle. That's another reason to watch you background even more so, however this is something I imagine very difficult in adrenaline fueled SD situation. Still would take full responsiblity no matter what, I discharged the weapon. I am responsible for where my rounds go.
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Old July 26, 2010, 12:33 PM   #6
Skans
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The answer in most places is going to be: 1) you are morally responsible; and 2) you are financially responsible for the damage.

Cops have immunity from injuring a bystander when trying to stop a crime, YOU DO NOT! That's why it makes no sense at all to consider "long range" shots when it comes to self defense. Anything beyond a few yards is too long range IMHO to be self-defense.
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Old July 26, 2010, 12:55 PM   #7
Vanya
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What Skans said...

And that's why this topic does belong in Tactics and Training: you are responsible for every bullet that leaves your gun, the tactics you employ in a given situation had better reflect that responsibility, and you need to train accordingly.

It's a good reminder. The real topic for T&T, especially given that we all seem to agree on the principle, is this: what are the best ways, when training, to take this into account? (Hint: marksmanship alone isn't sufficient, IMHO.)
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Old July 26, 2010, 02:07 PM   #8
booker_t
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Vanya, by that reasoning (predicate logic), anything can be extended to be a Training/Tactics discussion. To wit:

Discussion of how to polish a fire control group to create a smoother, tighter trigger pull. Well, that's changing how you manipulate the trigger as you fire, and how it feels when you break. Probably something that should be trained with if you're going to carry it that way. Hence training topic, not gunsmithing.

Discussion of various holster materials for IWB concealed carry. If you're going to carry IWB concealed, that's something you'd better train with. Hence training topic, not gear & accessories.

Discussion on how you like to load your practice vs. self defence rounds, what projectiles you favor for each and how much of what type of propellant. If you're going to load your own defense rounds, then you'd probably be smart to train with them, and employ tactics that take into account your loading's accuracy, penetration, and incapacitation potential. Hence training & tactics, not reloading.
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Old July 26, 2010, 02:15 PM   #9
OldMarksman
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Many of the T&T questions are "should you shoot" or "would you shoot" or "should I shoot." One's decision may well hinge on his knowledge about the civil liability involved.

Regarding Skans' point--long range shooting may well also bring into question the issue of immediate necessity and color the determination of justification under criminal law. Nothing to do with the third party, but important.
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Old July 26, 2010, 02:26 PM   #10
CWPinSC
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I am, legally and morally, 100% responsible for each round I shoot. Always make sure of your target, and make sure of your background if possible.
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Old July 26, 2010, 02:38 PM   #11
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it all gets back to the issue of when you shoot/dont shoot. Last clear chance......run away, no matter what the law says, unless you cant...let the guy steal your car, trash your house, call your kids names, sleep on your kitchen floor but dont pull that trigger unless you have NO other option....

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Old July 26, 2010, 04:08 PM   #12
markj
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I am with wild on this one, do everything possible to get away. I have talked my way out of a few incidents that sure could have ended up bad. Sure would hate myself if I killed someone trying to be the hero.....
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Old July 26, 2010, 04:44 PM   #13
BillCA
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Quote:
2) the criminal (who really isn't involved in this discussion)
This it the part I disagree with. The criminal is the instigator of the event requiring the use of deadly force in self-defense. If there are two criminals and I kill one to defend my life, the State charges the survivor with a homicide -- holding him responsible for the injuries suffered by his criminal partner. He should be the first person named in the lawsuit.

I'm coming at this as a case where self-defense was not only morally and legally justified, but required in order to save a life. In that case, then, when defending one's self in extremis, you're still legally responsible for damages, but not morally. If the moral question is "do I not shoot for fear of even a very remote chance of hitting a 3rd party?" the answer is no-- your first moral imperative is survival. Your second moral imperative is continuation of the species/bloodline -- you can sacrifice your life to save another's (i.e. women & children).

If the shooting is reckless or the shooting was not an exercise in survival, then I think there is a moral obligation. This is not to excuse damnfools who wander onto a live fire range oblivious to the dangers or hear gunfire in the wilds and rush towards it, ignoring the dangers. Nor does it excuse Darwin awards candidates who fail to heed warnings to get down or flee just as the fighting begins.
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Old July 26, 2010, 04:44 PM   #14
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If I am firing to defend myself from an immediate eminent threat I feel that I have a Moral obligation. The Moral obligation I have has an order. My first and foremost obligation is to survive or to insure the survival of my family. After that if it is possible to do the above without endangering innocents thats what should be done. If it is not possible to do so without endangering innocents survival of me and mine comes first.

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Old July 26, 2010, 05:39 PM   #15
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I kinda agree with BillCA on this one. If I used deadly force it was because I had no other choice. Read again: no other choice. My use of deadly force would be a choice that was made by my attacker, not by me. His choice was to attempt to cause great bodily harm to me, my friends, or my family, in the act of a crime. His actions alone brought about the injury of an innocent third party.

I would probably grieve for what I did. It would probably haunt me for the rest of my life. But would I be held morally responsible? No. I would be held morally responsible if I would let the criminal harm me or my family. The alternative is much worse.
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Old July 26, 2010, 06:02 PM   #16
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Quote:
I kinda agree with BillCA on this one. If I used deadly force it was because I had no other choice. Read again: no other choice. My use of deadly force would be a choice that was made by my attacker, not by me. His choice was to attempt to cause great bodily harm to me, my friends, or my family, in the act of a crime. His actions alone brought about the injury of an innocent third party.
I disagree. You can say "He made me do it", but that's never literally true. It always boils down to a conscious decision on your part to act, and as such you bear the responsibility for your actions.

Take the malevolent actor out of the equation for a second. Suppose you're driving down a road at highway speeds and see a tree falling in your path. You can't stop before reaching it, and you can't speed up fast enough to get under it. You have two choices - swerve out of your lane to avoid it, or let it hit your car. Either path is a conscious decision on your part, and if you mow down a cyclist in your attempt to avoid the tree, you own that decision. You can't say "The tree made me do it."
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Old July 26, 2010, 06:29 PM   #17
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First, my vote was for "I hold neither moral nor financial responsibility for the injuries caused by my bullet." The situation was brought to me by the instigation of others. No matter how you parse the scenario, I had a legal right to be where I was, and I had no part in instigating the action that resulted on the discharge of the bullet in question. Had I not responded by discharging a bullet I would have suffered serious bodily injury or death - and may have in spite of my defensive response/reaction.

@ ScottRiqui - Sorry, but I cannot take the malevolent actor out of the equation. Were it not for the malevolent actor I would not have responded by discharging a bullet. Yes, in this case it really is a case of claiming "He started it!"

Please recall that common law and case law place the blame and responsibility on the "malevolent actor." The felony murder rule extends also to non-fatal injuries suffered as either a direct or proximate cause of the illegal act.

Now - for me the more important question is - am I going to "feel bad" about having shot an innocent?

stay safe.
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Old July 26, 2010, 06:48 PM   #18
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Quote:
Had I not responded by discharging a bullet I would have suffered serious bodily injury or death - and may have in spite of my defensive response/reaction.
The fact that you acted to avoid injury or death does not absolve you of the responsibility for the consequences of your actions. Much like swerving to avoid the falling tree does not absolve you of liability for damage/injury you cause in the process. Ask your insurance agent who's going to pay to repair the damage to someone else's car when you hit them while swerving to avoid an idiot that pulls into your path. That's right - you're responsible, even though your actions were necessary to avoid injury or death.

And if you have any case law or statutes that hold a criminal responsible for what what one innocent civilian does to another during a crime, I'd love to see it. I suspect that such actions would not be "proximate" enough to trigger the laws you mentioned. Those laws are used more to hold one criminal responsible for the actions of his partner(s) in crime, or for when the criminal takes a direct action that has unforeseen consequences beyond what he intended.
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Old July 26, 2010, 07:02 PM   #19
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A tree has no choice, it either falls or does not falls. Malevolent actors do have choices, they chose to commit crimes or to lead productive, crime-free lifestyles.

Maybe I need to rephrase myself when I say that I have no choice. The choice the malevolent actor forces me into is either the death or harm to me or my family (innocents) or the death or harm to him (the guilty). That choice is an extremely easy one, to the degree that it is almost not a choice at all. The innocent bystander is not something that can be predicted (at least in this scenario) and thus must be left out of the choice that the criminal forces me into.

So yeah, Scott is right, there is a choice, but it is so clear and obvious as to the right path that it almost is not a choice.
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Old July 26, 2010, 07:12 PM   #20
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Quote:
The innocent bystander is not something that can be predicted (at least in this scenario) and thus must be left out of the choice that the criminal forces me into.
Where do you get this? The scenario doesn't say one way or the other, but I don't think we're talking about an innocent bystander six blocks away that gets hit by one of your stray bullets. I'm understanding the scenario to be that the innocent bystander is in the same room with the shooter and the "bad guy".

How is missing the bad guy and hitting the innocent bystander not "something that can be predicted"? Missed shots in self-defense scenarios are so common as to almost be cliché.

One innocent shooting another during a crime is admittedly rare - that's why I mentioned the similar case of a car pulling out in front of you, "forcing" you to swerve to miss it. That happens frequently, and it's well-established that you're responsible for any damage or injury you cause while avoiding the idiot that pulled out in front of you. He may have forced the choice upon you (hitting him or swerving to avoid him), but the choice itself and its consequences are still yours.
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Old July 26, 2010, 07:56 PM   #21
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Quote:
Please recall that common law and case law place the blame and responsibility on the "malevolent actor." The felony murder rule extends also to non-fatal injuries suffered as either a direct or proximate cause of the illegal act.
Has to do with criminal guilt only. And then there's the issue of civil liability. Entirely different. And that was the question at the start.
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Old July 26, 2010, 09:48 PM   #22
Glenn Bartley
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Matt,

Quote:
What responsibility do you hold to the injured innocent party?
I cannot answer your poll because none of the answers are acceptable to me nor do they necessarily reflect what responsibility anyone would have in a real life situation as you described.

You say this:

Quote:
I am wholly responsible for the damage caused by any bullet that leaves my gun.
While that statement may make you feel good about yourself now, maybe you had best think about what you just said and how such an attitude could effect you in the event you ever accidentally shoot someone during a justified self defense (or defense of another) with an adversary. You have given yourself enough rope with which to hang yourself and so too has anyone else who agrees with you and answers likewise here.

The truth be told, you could accidentally shoot an innocent bystander during an otherwise justifiable armed confrontation with a bad guy and you could be found to be absolutely without financial liability toward the innocent party whom was shot. You could also be without any moral or ethical fault too.

First of all I will go with morals and ethics. You have no such responsibility as I see it (and yes your moral code may differ) if the shot that hit the bystander was beyond your control for any reason. There are a virtually endless amount of ways that such could take place. If you cannot figure hem out - well, I think you had better talk to an attorney, a clergyman, a psychologist, a judge, and a philosopher before you make a statement like that again. Mostly though - discuss it with a pragmatist who has been in such a situation as you describe and maybe speak to a few victims of such an accidental shooting too. This is not meant as rhetoric, I truly mean I think you need to discuss, debate, explore this matter in great depth before ever making such a statement about your moral responsibility again. It may save you an awful lot of grief if you ever wind up in such a predicament.

As for the financial end of it, or should I say the civil end of it - let the courts decide. Of course, if you want to say ahead of time that you are going to be wholly financially responsible should you ever be involved in such a mess, I have to warn you again to be careful of what you are saying. I also have to wonder and ask, respectfully, do you have any grasp of what you just said when you said you would be wholly responsible for any damage caused by any bullet that leaves your gun? You are courting, enticing, even begging for absolute financial destruction of yourself and maybe your family) by saying that, or you have no to little comprehension of what it means to be financially responsible, even in part let alone in whole, for any damage done.

First of all, it could be quite possible that the only reason your shot went astray and hit an innocent was because of an action taken by a third party (such as he bad guy, one of his accomplices, or even another innocent third party) and that you could not have reasonably avoided under the circumstances. If a third party is not at fault, consider this, it could be the fault of the innocent bystander you shot that said bystander was shot. Both types of situation should be easy to imagine especially since they do sometimes happen.

Just a brief example of each.

1) A bad guy tries to mug you, you draw and fire and hit him but he was already attacking and forward momentum has him on you and he struggles for several minutes before falling mortally wounded. As you struggle to retain your pistol, the bad guy shoves, pulls, punches, twists, or otherwise causes your body to make a movement whereby you squeeze off a shot (whether or not your finger was off the trigger during the struggle it wound up back on it because of the violent attack on you by the bad guy). The shot cripples and cause permanent complete disability to an innocent bystander who had just started a $250,000 a year job, and has a family of 4, a wife and three children. His wife was previously made permanently disabled but received no compensation for it. Are you telling me you are completely responsible financially for any damage the bullet that came out of your gun caused? If so, you are in big trouble if it ever happens to you.

2) What if, while you are shooting it out with a bad guy, someone (an innocent bystander) with reckless abandon runs in front of you just as you are shooting, and is screaming "please, please, make love not violence". Is there any chance that the innocent bystander (certainly innocent with regard to the shootout between you and the bad guy) might have some liability in such a case? Oh heck, let m slip in -another 2a) What if the innocent party mistook you for the bad guy and jumped on your arms and pushed the pistol down and it went off killing or severely injuring the innocent party. Is there any chance the innocent would be liable in any part in this situation?

I strongly recommend you reconsider answering the questions you asked with such absolute generalizations as to whether or not you or anyone would be liable.

Would you feel like crud if you shot someone. I can say, without a doubt that would be one of my emotions to one extent or another even if I gunned down Osama bin Laden - so yeah sure I would feel pretty badly if I shot an innocent party by mistake or accident or even because of someone else's fault. Would I be financially responsible? I would hire the best attorney I could afford and take my chances in court before hanging myself. As for morally, if it was an accident or by fault of someone else then again, I would feel like crud but I certainly do not think I would be morally responsible for anything. Of course neither outlook means I might not try to help the innocent victim either because of ethics or morals or because it would make me feel good.

All the best,
Glenn B
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Old July 26, 2010, 10:43 PM   #23
Wildalaska
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Quote:
A bad guy tries to mug you, you draw and fire and hit him but he was already attacking and forward momentum has him on you and he struggles for several minutes before falling mortally wounded. As you struggle to retain your pistol, the bad guy shoves, pulls, punches, twists, or otherwise causes your body to make a movement whereby you squeeze off a shot (whether or not your finger was off the trigger during the struggle it wound up back on it because of the violent attack on you by the bad guy). The shot cripples and cause permanent complete disability to an innocent bystander who had just started a $250,000 a year job, and has a family of 4, a wife and three children. His wife was previously made permanently disabled but received no compensation for it. Are you telling me you are completely responsible financially for any damage the bullet that came out of your gun caused? If so, you are in big trouble if it ever happens to you.

Yep.....Under that factual scenario I could cogently argue several reasons for your negligence

Quote:
What if, while you are shooting it out with a bad guy, someone (an innocent bystander) with reckless abandon runs in front of you just as you are shooting, and is screaming "please, please, make love not violence". Is there any chance that the innocent bystander (certainly innocent with regard to the shootout between you and the bad guy) might have some liability in such a case? Oh heck, let m slip in -another 2a) What if the innocent party mistook you for the bad guy and jumped on your arms and pushed the pistol down and it went off killing or severely injuring the innocent party. Is there any chance the innocent would be liable in any part in this situation?

Reductio ad absurdum


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Old July 26, 2010, 11:24 PM   #24
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Responsible for every bullet that leaves my gun. "Be sure of your target and what's behind it."
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Old July 27, 2010, 02:42 AM   #25
raimius
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Too many "what ifs" here...

In the case of the round fired during a struggle, I would probably absolve the good guy (what the court does... ).

If the good guy could not reasonably see the innocent/know someone was there, they may be absolved.

In the classic "oops" flyer that hits poor Mrs. Smith....that's a tough one!
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