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Old September 4, 2013, 10:27 AM   #1
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Had a group of teenagers throwing rocks at me last night.

Last night at around 7pm I was running on the side of the road for exercise when I passed a group of about 8-10 youths who looked to be about high school age. They immediately began to attempt to pelt me with rocks and started to pursue for a few hundred yards. Thankfully all of the rocks missed and I was easily able to outrun them. I wasn't carrying a weapon and am not legally allowed to (under 21 and live in an anti-state).

If you were in this situation what would you have done, assuming you WERE legally carrying? I know since I was able to get away my life was not in immediate danger but let's say I was cornered/couldn't run fast enough.

Last edited by FLanighan; September 4, 2013 at 12:31 PM.
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Old September 4, 2013, 10:51 AM   #2
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rocks are lethal!
how to handle it with a firearm is a very complicated subject I am not qualified to answer. there are going to be as many answers to that one as posters. I will be watching but in no way will I be swayed.
p.s. I have also been subject to rock throwing kids (in Bethlehem). my answer was to charge them, they scattered.

p.p.s. ask 'Goliath' about being hit with a stone.

Last edited by max it; September 5, 2013 at 11:51 AM.
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Old September 4, 2013, 10:56 AM   #3
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I personally do not think lethal force is justified even if kids are throwing rocks. yes, it sucks to be pelted by a bunch of punk kids but it's not justification to shoot someone. I can't really comment on what you could've done since you're under 21 and can't legally carry, but these situations warrant doing what's right. Getting away from these kids was the right thing to do - had you been carrying, confronting them with a lethal weapon might make you look like a vigilante. Did you call the police?
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Old September 4, 2013, 11:05 AM   #4
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You did exactly the right thing legally: Ran away. Which is what I would do also, even though I carry.

If I could not escape, it would not take many hits from rocks to put me in fear of great bodily injury or death. If simply displaying my weapon did not scare them off, it may at least give me time to pull out my phone and get the cops on the line. If they continue to attack after a gun is displayed, then personally I can see no other choice than to use whatever force necessary to stop them.

I am not a lawyer, this is just me imagining the scenario in my mind.

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Old September 4, 2013, 11:18 AM   #5
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Given the circumstances you did the right thing and it worked out for you.

But if you were cornered it depends and whether you fear grave bodily harm or death from the attack. As I understand it, multiple attackers can be justification for such fear of grave harm, or an armed attacker. I think it would depend on how serious the attack is. are they small rocks, kids just harassing? Or, teens getting out of control and determined to seriously hurt you? gravel pebbles is one thing, but even one large rock can do serious damage if it hits your head or throat. A crowd can escalate violence without warning so it can be a fine line.

The main thing is that you have to determine that to your own satisfaction for your own moral peace of mind, and a police officer and/or jury will decide if you were in reasonable fear and acted in self-defense.

I don't think there is a cut and dry answer as circumstances can vary a lot and the threat can be interpreted different ways. That is the very serious side of carrying a self-defense weapon.
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Old September 4, 2013, 11:22 AM   #6
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It depends on a number of factors, most of which are going to be assumed by whomever is answering the question and so you may well get any number of answers that appear to be contradictory, simply because they are based on opposite assumptions that are not spelled out.

Not the small assumption is what might be defined as a "rock". If you're talking about sizes that fit between your thumb and pointer, similar to what you might skip in a pond and they're not being thrown from "point blank", you're going to have a hard time convincing most folks that they pose a lethal threat. After all, a great many of us had rock fights when we were kids. Never killed each other.

If you're talking about "rocks" like the kind they might use to stone someone in the middle east, you've got another scenario.

If you're "cornered" and the kids are laughing and throwing small stones from a distance, you're going to be hard pressed to justify lethal force. If they're advancing, talking about killing you and throwing stones that weigh X pounds, you've got a different ballgame all together.
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Old September 4, 2013, 12:53 PM   #7
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i wouldnt even think about a gun in that situation.
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Old September 4, 2013, 01:00 PM   #8
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Not sure folks fully read the OP's question. He was not asking if running would be better, he was asking what if a person were cornered or were unable to escape.

That changes the dynamic considerably.

This is where terms like "disparity of force" come into play.

My line of work requires good eyesight. Even small rocks, striking the face or head, could end my career. This would affect my calculus, and impact what I view as potential to cause great bodily harm.

Would I fault a person in such a scenario for drawing? No.

But if it could be safely done, escape would always be preferable. It's just that the OP's question is about what happens when escape is impossible.
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Old September 4, 2013, 01:14 PM   #9
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Rock throwing is assault and if one hits you, its assault and battery. Are these kids gonna get away with assault and battery? At least call the cops and report it.

I think if it was me, and I was carrying, I would have been tempted to "brandish".
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Old September 4, 2013, 02:15 PM   #10
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After all, a great many of us had rock fights when we were kids. Never killed each other.
No, but I have seen grievous eye injuries (a torn retina in one case). Further, the rock itself doesn't have to be life-threatening if the rock-throwing is just a means of putting you in a position where more lethal means of force can be used against you (ie fists, kicks, slamming head against concrete, etc.).

I would not be so quick to discount thrown rocks (or any other object of sizable mass) as a potentially deadly threat to my own or others' lives.
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Old September 4, 2013, 04:26 PM   #11
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IMHO if I was easily able to out run them, then that is what I would do. If you used a gun on teenage boys throwing rocks at you, I doubt you would fair very well in the eyes of the law and or a jury. Even if you were armed I believe you did the right thing out running them. You can always file a police report that you were assaulted by teenagers throwing rocks. Anyway you made them look foolish because they couldn't hit you with a rock and they couldn't catch you. lol But a police report should be filed because someone else may not do as well as you did. They could end up seriously hurting someone.
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Old September 4, 2013, 04:33 PM   #12
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Had a group of teenagers throwing rocks at me last night.

Isn't a situation like this almost a mob action? It's not one kid throwing rocks or possibly cornering someone, its 8 to 10 of them. Of course you do what you can to get out of the situation. Perhaps showing the gun but still running by forcing your way through the mob (without firing a shot) is an option?
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Old September 4, 2013, 07:03 PM   #13
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In this day of nearly universal instant, mobile communication, why is running such a great idea?
They may be herding you towards the greater threat..."you can run, you'll just die tired", as they say.
If armed, perhaps hunkering down and calling the police while facing the threat you see, rather than running towards the unknown threat is a better option...find some cover and concealment, choose your own battleground.
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Old September 5, 2013, 09:38 AM   #14
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8-10 high school age males pelting me with the larger of rocks the size I skipped on ponds as a kid, while cornered, would be sufficient for me to be in fear for my life. I was swimming in a pond once and someone thought it would be funny to skip rocks across through the swimmers. Someone was hit in the head, opened up pretty good, and gave them a concussion. 8-10 people throwing at short range could turn bad pretty quickly. Now, if they are throwing at your legs that would be different. Even a decent crotch shot wouldn't be anything close to justifying lethal force. I might cover it though.

Limestone is ~3/4 oz/cubic inch. So a 2.25 oz stone would be about the max for a "skipping stone." The pitchers on my HS's baseball team could throw about 80MPH. I'm sure someone can do a comparison to different cartridges. I maxed out my math yesterday.

Larger rocks, lets call them stones, and it is a no brainer.
Smaller rocks, lets call them pebbles, and it is a no brainer the other way.
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Old September 5, 2013, 10:03 AM   #15
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A group of 8-10 kids can kill you.

For your situation, you did the right thing.

If you were cornered, you'd likely have the right to draw. Here in AZ, you can use a firearm against an attacker that has a deadly weapon (gun or knife) or a dangerous weapon (anything else that can cause serious harm. baseball bat, golf club, crowbar, etc). You CANNOT bring out a gun during a fist fight, unless there are TWO people jumping you - then you may draw. I'd say 8-10 kids throwing rocks and you're cornered is cause to draw. Chances are as soon as you do so, they'll bolt. You could always give them a verbal warning, too.
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Old September 5, 2013, 02:54 PM   #16
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What's legal and what I'd want to deal with in the aftermath (i.e. Zimmerman) are 2 different things. You could of pulled a gun and yes, you might shoot one or two and get away in criminal courts with it. But in reality, the chances of death or serious injury were very slim though. You did the right thing and even if you had a gun attempting to flee was the right first step.

Back up the truck though and give me a large can of pepper spray.......... things might of gotten very interesting for the punks.

After getting away I'd of called the cops in a heartbeat.
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Old September 5, 2013, 03:45 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by FLanighan
...If you were in this situation what would you have done, assuming you WERE legally carrying? I know since I was able to get away my life was not in immediate danger but let's say I was cornered/couldn't run fast enough.
Way too wide open. What to do, and what one can lawfully do, depends on exactly what is happening and how it is happening. Avoidance and escape are always the best ideas when possible. The use of force, especially lethal force, should always be a last resort.

Now let's look at the basic legal reality of the use of force in self defense.

  1. Our society takes a dim view of the threat or use of force and/or intentionally hurting or killing another human. In every State the threat or use of force and/or intentionally hurting or killing another human is prima facie (on its face) a crime of one sort or another.

    1. However, for hundreds of years our law has recognized that there are some circumstances in which such an intentional act of violence against another human might be legally justified.

    2. Exactly what would be necessary to establish that violence against someone else was justified will depend on (1) the applicable law where the event takes place; and (2) exactly what happened and how it happened, which will have to be judged on the basis of evidence gathered after the fact.

    3. Someone who initiated a conflict will almost never be able to legally justify an act of violence against another.

    4. If you threaten physical harm to another person, if you use force against another person, if you intentionally hurt another person, if you intentionally kill another person, you will have performed an act that is a crime of one sort or another.

      1. You may try to avoid criminal liability by claiming that your act was legally justified.

      2. If you claim justification, you will be admitting the elements of the crime, i. e., that you intentionally performed the act.

      3. You will then have to establish your justification and be able to articulate why you did what you did, and why a reasonable person would have determined the otherwise criminal act of vilence against another human was justified.

  2. The amount of force an actor my justifiably use in self defense will depend on the level of the threat.

    1. Under the laws of most States, lethal force may be justified when a reasonable person in like circumstance would conclude that a use of lethal force is necessary to prevent the otherwise unavoidable, imminent death or grave bodily injury to an innocent. And to establish that, the actor claiming justified use of lethal force would need to show that the person against whom the lethal force was used reasonably had --

      1. Ability, i. e., the power to deliver force sufficient to cause death or grave bodily harm;

      2. Opportunity, i. e., the assailant was capable of immediately deploying such force; and

      3. put an innocent in Jeopardy, i. e., the assailant was acting in such a manner that a reasonable and prudent person would conclude that he had the intent to kill or cripple.

    2. "Ability" doesn't necessarily require a weapon. Disparity of force, e. g., a large, young, strong person attacking a small, old, frail person, or force of numbers, could show "Ability."

    3. "Opportunity" could be established by showing proximity, lack of barriers or the like.

    4. "Jeopardy" (intent) could be inferred from overt acts (e. g., violent approach) and/or statements of intent.

    5. And unless the standard justifying the use of lethal force is met, use of some lesser level of violence might be legally justified to prevent a harmful or offensive, unconsented to contact by another person.

  3. If you have thus used violence against another person, your actions will be investigated as a crime, because on the surface that's what it is.

    1. Sometimes there will be sufficient evidence concerning what happened and how it happened readily apparent to the police for the police and/or prosecutor to quickly conclude that your actions were justified. If that's the case, you will be quickly exonerated of criminal responsibility, although in many States you might have to still deal with a civil suit.

    2. If the evidence is not clear, you may well be arrested and perhaps even charged with a criminal offense. If that happens you will need to affirmatively assert that you were defending yourself and put forth evidence that you at least prima facie satisfied the applicable standard justifying your act of violence.

  4. Good, general overviews of the topic can be found at and in this booklet by Marty Hayes at the Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network.
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Last edited by Frank Ettin; September 5, 2013 at 07:21 PM. Reason: response to deleted post
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Old September 5, 2013, 04:56 PM   #18
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You CANNOT bring out a gun during a fist fight, unless there are TWO people jumping you - then you may draw.
Where are you getting this info?

There is NO 2 people clause in the ARS. You simply need to have reasonable fear of serious bodily harm or death. If you're a 120 pound guy and some cage fighter has you trapped in a room and says he is going to KILL YOU...

You're within the law to use deadly force.

Conversely... if some crazy woman half your size does the same thing, you can't reasonably illustrate that the unarmed woman has the means to follow through on the threat.
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Old September 5, 2013, 05:14 PM   #19
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The worse could happen is you bleed from the hit. Just run away. Or pull out the gun to fire a warning shot in the air. It's not a fatal situation.
No, that's not the worst that could happen by a long shot.

Blindness could easily be a consequence of being hit in the eye. That's worse, I think. Depending on the size of rock and where it hits, you could die. That's probably worse than bleeding too.
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Old September 5, 2013, 07:15 PM   #20
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A smooth stone will cause different injuries than a jagged sharp rock. Blunt force compared to sharp force trauma are very different. A blunt stone will likely need much more mass to cause bleeding thus doing more damage before the tell tale bleeding starts. A sharp rock of less mass could scratch you and cause bleeding. So bleeding in and of itself is a terrible identifier of injury level.

Rocks hurt. 10 of them really hurts. Cornered against 10 High school kids throwing golf ball or bigger rocks at me will be met with some equally forceful response. I would shoot at their feet first to prove that I meant business. Then if they continued I would be lethal. I would also hope that one of them was dumb enough to be recording for some proof later on. At close rock throwing distance I could maybe spare 2 of my 17 rounds. I would then have enough without reloading to take out hopefully 3/4 of the mob. If I could not reload in time, I would stand a better chance of then running or putting up a fight. I have absolutely never been in anything close to this situation though.
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Old September 5, 2013, 08:12 PM   #21
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When the person being assaulted with rocks is elderly, . . . a bad knee, . . . cardiac history, . . . and a .45............

Some kids could very quickly get well acquainted with what it looks like seeing the business end of a 1911.

And about one rock after that, . . . the thrower won't be throwing any more rocks.

Harsh??? Over-react??? I don't think so at all, . . . just hope it never comes to that.

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Old September 5, 2013, 09:20 PM   #22
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If you could not reasonably escape, and they were throwing rocks of decent size or with great force, you could probably convince people that you reasonably feared for your life. However, that would need to be demonstrated in court, with, most likely, a skilled attorney trying to prove otherwise.

In states without a "Stand Your Ground" law, you would need to show that you could not reasonably flee AND that their actions created a fear of death or great injury (for a "reasonable person"). In states with a "Stand Your Ground" law, you would only need to prove the elements that justified the fear of death or great injury.

It might be a tough case to win with the defense, unless you had some moderately serious injuries from previous rocks, eyewitness testimony, or some sort of recording. A lot of places with rocks available would also not make thrown rocks very obvious to the police.
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Old September 5, 2013, 10:39 PM   #23
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Old September 5, 2013, 10:53 PM   #24
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another one of those huge grey areas, I don't think being harassed by a group of teenagers uncommon. Clearly using lethal force to defend yourself in this case is not the ideal solution, I'm always fascinated with the discussions of what rights one does have in cases like these....

put an innocent in Jeopardy, i. e., the assailant was acting in such a manner that a reasonable and prudent person would conclude that he had the intent to kill or cripple.
suppose the kids didnt have the intent to kill or cripple and were just throwing rocks in their dumb ignorance? Small rocks can put out eyes or bust teeth, does permanent teeth damage count as being crippled?

I guess my real question is how little physical abuse does one have to endure before defending themselves? In this case you could never throw enough stones to equal the level of force used against you (group of teenagers)....
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Old September 5, 2013, 10:53 PM   #25
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If you were in this situation what would you have done, assuming you WERE legally carrying?
I don't care for large groups of unsupervised teenagers because it's rarely been my experience to find that they have spontaneously banded together to do voluntary community service.

I would have adjusted my running route to avoid them as soon as I determined that's what was in front of me.
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