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Old May 30, 2017, 09:55 AM   #1
ShootistPRS
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Professional training

I know of a few people who have had specific training on shooting techniques and combat training but I wonder how many have had any legal training about using self defense.
Have you gone through any professional classes on the legal aspects of using self defense? What are the laws like in your state?
I'll be back to talk about Washington state after a few posts.
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Old May 30, 2017, 09:57 AM   #2
Glenn E. Meyer
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Quite a few people have gone through Ayoob's seminar or taken other classes that discuss the issue.

There are also some very professional books and websites with that info.

So the answer is that serious folks pair the gun fighting with the legalisms.
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Old May 30, 2017, 11:10 AM   #3
g.willikers
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Concealed Carry classes required for gaining a permit emphasis the legalities, usually far more than shooting.
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Old May 30, 2017, 11:23 AM   #4
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Concealed Carry classes emphasis the legalities, usually far more than shooting.
That is certainly the case for Illinois. How much and how good the instruction is very much dependent on the instructor, although the state sets minimum standards. Some instructors are very informed and extremely knowledgeable, others, based on my conversations and hearsay from those who have attended their classes, not so much.
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Old May 30, 2017, 12:08 PM   #5
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I have been through two classes for concealed carry and neither really talked in depth about the legalities of self defense. The first one was required by Oregon to get my permit and none of the laws were discussed other than where you could not carry. I have attended a few classes on the legal issues and was surprised at how simple it is to run afoul of the circumstances of the use of deadly force.

more later! I am off to the range.
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Old May 30, 2017, 12:30 PM   #6
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My CCW class was mostly about memorizing the Ohio guidebook on the CCW laws, then immediately passing the multiple choice test. The banging 50-ish rounds into a target at 15' and bingo, instant CCW.

So far every class I've taken has been about how to shoot better and get more rounds on target in various conditions. But nothing so far on WHEN you should shoot, or when it's wise to do so (not just legal). Stuff like "you know he's got a gun, and he's demanding my wallet, and if I give him my wallet he might go away, but then again he might kill me anyway because he doesn't want anyone calling the police...and I might be faster on the draw than he is...but drawing and firing might get me killed when I should've just given him the wallet..."

Never been discussed.
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Old May 30, 2017, 04:34 PM   #7
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So I have been through two CCW classes in 2 different states, both of which were relatively similar, while the states are almost polar opposites.

My first experience with a CCW course was in NY, upstate to be exact(er). Very rural, western NY. I took the class almost as soon as I turned 21(aka 5-6 years ago). The class was taught by the leader/trainer/manager of the county SWAT/drug team. The guy was literally an operator. He was very knowledgable. Initially we went over why we were there. Next was firearm safety, followed by firearm instruction (what, where, why, how). Next was ammo. The largest portion of the class was devoted to the legal use, misuse, justifications, and ramifications. Use of deadly force was gone over. However there were several folks there who didn't really use firearms and had only just gone to their hunter's safety course (required in NY before the CCW class) and still were extremely new to firearms in general. And there were also a few who had questions that kind of went off topic, so it didn't get as detailed as completely possible. I was not dissatisfied and I think it was relatively useful.

Fast forward to now (aka within the last few months): Colorado. I took a CCW course here very recently and whilst it had very similar undertones, it was slightly different; in a good way. The instructor was an NRA certified pistol instructor/trainer/firearms coach. The class was NOT NRA sanctioned, as is allowable by CO law, just a bit of legalese for the NRA to CYA(or theirs to be exact). The instructor (two of them actually) was VERY knowledgable. He was not LE, but he had trained LE. He was also a competition shooter. Very opinionated, but he used it mostly for comic relief. The class went IN DEPTH into the laws of CO/Utah (Utah law says they will reciprocate with CO IF you take a course that they sanction and their laws are slightly more strict, so we followed theirs basically). Went through in depth scenarios and stated very clearly what was required to draw, let alone use, a firearm in self defense, many many times: if you feel you are in mortal danger, there is no escape, and there is no other way to stop the threat. And another thing he harped on was that you "Shoot to stop the threat" and not a word/show of force/bullet more. He also made sure to suggest that drawing your gun MAY not be the best idea. If you can "surrender" the requested item, or somehow placate the threat without putting yourself in danger, that MIGHT be a better option. After going through the specific laws themselves and him also explaining them in lay terms, we moved on to firearms instruction, use, techniques, ideas. Bullets were touched on, as well as the permit application process. It was a great class and the only way it would be better would be a practical portion.

All in all, both classes served their purpose. And though I don't remember the initial class as well, I think it was informative enough for the time, though I think a more thorough look into the specifics of the law would have been extremely applicable. I'd say that if you didn't get even this minimal (IMHO) quality of instruction, you should seek it out. I think an in depth look at the laws in your state given by someone who has experience with and applicable to those laws is paramount, as also reiterated by other experienced persons here. The only addition to these classes that I wish was given was a practical application. An initial qualification to be able to prove you can shoot a pistol and then a scenario. IDK if that's possible/allowed or even safe, but it would go a long way to boost my confidence that anyone who takes that course has a basic, working knowledge, of what could happen in a very vague 1-case scenario. Like I said, I'm not sure that's a good idea, but at the very minimum I think a 10yd qualification shoot would not be hard to implement and would give participants some confidence in themselves and maybe even a drive to continue improving.

Edit/add: I know, a long post with even MORE writing, my apologies. I am looking at getting some training in practical shotgun use as I've practiced with my chosen home defense weapon at the range to acquire shooting/aiming proficiency; I've practiced at home to gain reloading/handling proficiency; and I've practiced at home to gain situational/movement/handling/home defense proficiency. The shooting/reloading/handling I feel I have acquired good basics, but moving through the house has left me nervous were I to do it in a real situation. I don't believe I should be able to "clear" a house, but even just my small scenario: lock bedroom(upper floor), move to bathroom(overlooks the middle level/stairs/bedroom door), exit bathroom to gain the best vantage point of the house(minus the lower level and basement) and to be able to cover the largest amount of area with me having the tactical advantage; leaves me worried that I don't really have the knowledge necessary to really defend my home. But that also leads me to wanting to get a practical course with my pistol as well because having experience with HD is great, but that doesn't cover the vast majority of the rest of my life which is lived outside my door.

Last edited by PlatinumCore16; May 30, 2017 at 04:46 PM.
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Old May 30, 2017, 04:59 PM   #8
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I'm back!
The classes I took were here in Washington and discussed the Washington laws and the five principles of a lawful self defense shooting. I am not going to try to cover what I learned in a sixteen hour class or even the other classes I have taken but I can provide some "overall guidelines" to teach yourself when you can shoot. You should always remember that just because you can does not mean you have to.

For deadly force to be excused as justifiable by reason of self defense you must meet all of these criteria:
1. You have to be the innocent party. You can in no way aggravate the other person or go from a fist fight into a shooting without first distancing yourself from the initial fight. (more on this later)

2. The threat must be real and immediate. Fearing that he might come back later to fulfill a threat is not an immediate threat. Three guys coming at you with baseball bats threatening to break your legs is an immediate threat. If you called them names or threatened to place their bats where the sun doesn't shine then you are the initial aggressor and not them. You have to distance yourself from that situation because you can't use self defense as an excuse without getting out of that confrontation first.

3. The force that you use must be proportional and reasonable to a "reasonable" man in your position with your knowledge. If a guy attacks you with his fists you can't use a gun to stop him unless his attack would be considered capable of inflicting great bodily harm or death. Great bodily harm could be broken bones or rendering you unconscious. A good rule of thumb is if an attack is a felony it could produce great bodily harm. You need to be able to explain that to a jury so they believe you acted correctly.

4. You must avoid the confrontation if safely possible. Even in a "stand your ground" state you are better off if you can demonstrate the desire and steps you took to avoid the conflict. Putting your hands up at chest level and voicing that you don't want any trouble would be seen as an attempt to avoid a fight. In removing yourself from a previous confrontation or if you had insulted a person as in #2 above this kind of movement can be used to separate yourself from the initial events.

5. Any actions you take must be reasonable under the circumstances to you and to a "reasonable man" looking on from outside the conflict. This is a "gray" area and is both subjective to you and objective to the third party witness.

If any of those five points cannot be demonstrated then you will likely be tried for homicide. Since you must admit to having willfully taking the action against your "attacker" then you are virtually assured of at least manslaughter.

The other thing you should do is report the incident as quickly afterwards as you can. You should inform the 911 dispatcher that you need an ambulance and the police because you were attacked and had to defend yourself. When the ambulance gets there and they have check the guy on the ground out the you need to be checked out too. Your body may be in shock and not be able to feel an injury that might help your case, Get checked out at the scene and if necessary go to the hospital for treatment. Let the responding officers know that you wish to press charges and wish to cooperate with the police but you need to recover from the event before giving a statement. Be sure to point out any evidence that they might have missed and any witnesses that saw the confrontation.
Before talking to the detectives or interviewers make sure to get a good nights sleep and wait at least 24 hours before you meet with them and have your lawyer present. Make sure your lawyer is up to date in self defense cases (most are not).

In Washington the state will reimburse you for your legal costs if you are found not guilty by reason of self defense but most lawyers will want at least a deposit before they will represent you. A public defender can be a very good lawyer as they are well known to the courts but they have little funding to pay for expert witnesses. Having state reimbursement for costs can help with that limitation.
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Old May 30, 2017, 05:29 PM   #9
PlatinumCore16
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So from your post I take it that Washington is NOT a "stand your ground/make my day" state? (May or may not have gotten those confused, don't berate me too hard.)

One thing I will disagree with, or at least clarify, is that when you call 911 because you were forced to shoot someone, ask for an ambulance, and when the police arrive tell them "The bad man is over there" or something to that effect. Do NOT say "I shot him/her" or "I killed him/her". If the police continue to pressure you for information, which they probably will, say "I will fully cooperate AFTER I have spoken to my attorney". At which point you will more than likely be taken into custody. Unless the situation is obvious or there were witnesses present that can also make it obvious, there is a man/woman who has been shot and YOU are holding a gun (hopefully it's in your holster at that point). Let the prosecution prove you are GUILTY beyond a reasonable doubt, instead of having to prove you were JUSTIFIED in shooting.

If you were involved in ANY altercation/situation where you were put in danger, whether you drew your gun or not, you need to be the first to call the police. Provided that you were the victim, if you call the police and log your report, whatever the situation may be, the 911 records will indicate that you called first and if the perpetrator of the crime/situation also calls to attempt to make themselves the victim (because you drew on them or even had to shoot), the log will show that you reported what happened first. After that it's up to the lawyers/judge/jury to hash out who takes the blame, but do your part to CYA and make the case easier for all involved.

Please weigh in, lawyers and members of LE, but that's [I think] how it was taught to me in our class and I think it makes sense.

Last edited by PlatinumCore16; May 30, 2017 at 05:34 PM. Reason: Forgot to add 'call police first'
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Old May 30, 2017, 06:16 PM   #10
ShootistPRS
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Washington is not a "stand your ground" state but they do not have a requirement to retreat. The law states the you are not required to retreat but not at least making some visual clue that you are not the aggressor is a good idea. Case law is mixed on the topic of retreating so the more you do to look like you are trying to avoid the confrontation the less likely it is that you will be prosecuted. The older you are and the more support you have from witnesses and neighbors also reduces your risk of prosecution. Washington is very gray when it comes to prosecuting any case of self defense. Some people have been prosecuted when it was fairly clear case of self defense and on the other hand a guy that chased down some young thugs shooting them in the back was not prosecuted.

Yes, you should be the first to call to report your incident and using words like attacked or home invasion are key to getting quick response times. Asking for an ambulance shows that you did not want the bad guy to die - even if he was shot in the head. Saying that you had to defend yourself is better than saying you killed him or you shot him. The fact that you are claiming self defense means that you have to admit, at some point, that you intentionally acted to stop the bad guy. If you are arrested the charge will be a felony assault or murder charge. You then plead not guilty because of self defense - as long as you can demonstrate all five points. If you fail to provide evidence of even one of the five your self defense strategy is gone.

If you can demonstrate all five points it would very unlikely that you would be prosecuted, but it could still happen if a rabid anti-gun prosecutor wanted to set an example for job security.

Be prepared to win the physical fight and the legal one that follows.

Something I forgot to mention is: Do not accept a dismissal of the charges. Dismissed charges can be refiled at a later date because guilt or innocence is not established. If the court dismisses the charge appeal to the judge to have the record show that you were not guilty due to self defense. That way you can never be brought up on charges in the future. sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. You will always have an arrest record so it would be nice to have a "not guilty" verdict to go with the arrest record.

Last edited by ShootistPRS; May 30, 2017 at 06:27 PM.
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Old May 30, 2017, 06:45 PM   #11
PlatinumCore16
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Would your record of arrest not be expunged when the case is dismissed? Or is that the case if you only requested it be so/the judge allowed it to be so?
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Old May 30, 2017, 06:54 PM   #12
ShootistPRS
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I am not sure that you can get rid of an arrest record. I have an arrest record from when I was 18 but it has a not guilty verdict to go along with it.
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Old May 31, 2017, 06:35 PM   #13
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Here in AZ six years ago when I took the CCW class, most of the non-shooting portion focused on the legal aspects of a defensive shooting as it might pertain in the state of AZ.

Also, one of the defensive handgun courses I took last year had an add-on class which served to refresh my mind on the legal ins and outs. Though I admit that at the time if the class hadn't been offered at a discounted price, I probably would've opted not to attend.

After reading this thread, I may make sure that I find and attend another refresher course later this year.
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Old May 31, 2017, 07:45 PM   #14
DPI7800
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@ Rangerrich99,

Here is the refresher you need, ARS13-400 i.e. Chapter 4. If you know that very well you will be good to go, also understand oppertuninity, ability, jeopardy and preclusion and how it applies to use of force in Arizona.

If you need more info PM me.
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