The Consequences of Deadly Force – Part 2

Deadly Force: You need to be in immediate fear of bodily harm.
Michael Bender of the Personal Protection Academy demonstrates defensive handgun technique, but stresses the legal and financial consequences of a defensive gun use (DGU).

Reasonably in immediate fear of death or great bodily harm.  Hmmmmm.  Sounds kinda squishy. Legalese.  Let’s parse that a bit.

Many states call these threats forcible felonies … aggravated assault, various types of murder and manslaughter, kidnapping, rape, sexual abuse of a child, arson, robbery, burglary … really any felony offense that involves use of force or violence against a person so as to create a substantial danger of death or serious bodily injury.

Here’s something we all need to keep in mind. Reasonable fear is in the eye of the victim … in other words, in the eye of the one who is scared.

What’s going to be most relevant is that the victim had a reasonable perception and a belief that the threat was real, regardless if after the event it was found that the attacker’s gun wasn’t loaded, or was a toy, for a couple of common examples of how foolish folks get shot by the Po-Po.

Keep this in mind, too.  The Wolf doesn’t necessarily have to be threatening you with a gun before you’d be justified in threatening or using one on him.  Big strong wolf attacking a smaller and weaker victim … great disparity in capabilities.  In such a case, the smaller person might be justified in employing a firearm to avoid being maimed or killed.

Same thing with multiple attackers and a single defender.

Also keep in mind that an intended victim would only be justified in using deadly force against mere physical force in circumstances where the attacker’s physical force might prove deadly or crippling.

Lots to keep in mind!

Here’s more.   It’s the threat of bodily harm, not having been harmed, that’s essential.

You don’t need to wait until you’re maimed before you can use or threaten force to defend yourself, if you perceive yourself to be in reasonably in immediate fear of death or great bodily harm.

Has to be immediate fear … this thing is coming down right now … he’s not stopping!  And that’s quite different than, “Joe, next time I see you, you’d better have a gun.”  Or, “I’m going home and will be right back with my baseball bat.”  Not immediate.  Plenty of time to get to safety, get out of Dodge, or call the police.

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I recommend using Reasonable Man thinking … Reasonable Woman Thinking … Reasonable Juror Thinking … as a means of helping to define threats and justify self-defense actions.

Simple test: To justify force ask yourself if a Reasonable Juror would have the same or very similar perspective of the event, if he or she were in the same situation … same time … same place.

Woops!  Not everyone is going to see an event the same way.  So it’s my guess there’s a fairly wide swath of grey here, and that an intended victim’s force decision need not be perfect … but would have to be objectively reasonable to a Reasonable Juror, given the totality of the circumstances.

I want you to keep this in mind, too.  We Sheepdogs can’t use our good old 20/20 hindsight to get our butts out of a legal jam if we make a faulty decision to use, or threaten to use, deadly force.

If the police find 10 machetes or loaded guns in your attacker’s car or even concealed on his person, after the event, and one of these weapons was not used to threaten you during the event, the law will not let you use that information as justification for shooting someone in self-defense, or threatening them with deadly force, based on the existence of a weapon that wasn’t known to you at the time you acted with deadly force.

More simply said … You can use the knowledge you have before your gun goes bang, but nothing you learn after.

Bottom line on all this … Make certain you can articulate to a Trier of Fact that you were reasonably in immediate fear of death or great bodily harm.

That’s all I have for you this time around. The next DGU Advisor topic will discuss the third condition … No lesser force will do.

Please feel free to pass this DGU Advisor on to friends, family, and colleagues.

Be safe out there, Sheepdogs.

For more information about Michael Bender and the Personal Protection Academy, call Toll-free (888) OK SHOOT or (888) 657-4668 or visit

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