Anyone who owns a gun has thought about their plan, what they will do if this decision actually presents its self. You wake up, you hear something out in the living room. Did you lock that window? You cannot remember. You reach for your gun and feel the cold metal in your hand, your heart beats, you feel terror like you have never known. Your kids are in their rooms, can you get everyone out before the intruder tries to stop you? You chamber a round as quietly as possible, and take cover behind the edge of your bed. Foot steps come down the hallway, toward your door. You aim toward the door, it is him or your kids. What do you do?
I heard a radio talk show show discussing this topic today, and found it fascinating. I never doubted what I would do – but, the callers brought up so many good points that I am now slightly wavering on my 100% certain plan. What would you do? What is your plan? Why is that your plan?
Most states have some type of Castle Doctrine law, and most of those that do not have laws that protect defense of your home when reasonable fear of death to the residents is imminent. It is your job to understand YOUR state laws. A good place to start is Wikipedia, but make sure you follow the links to the actual penal codes and make sure you read the most up to date versions. I live in California right now, they do not specifically have a Castle Doctrine, but they do allow defense of you home IF you cannot retreat safely.
California Penal Code 198.5 (No Castle Doctrine)
§ 198.5 sets forth that unlawful, forcible entry into one’s residence by someone not a member of the household creates the presumption that the resident held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury should he or she use deadly force against the intruder. This would make the homicide justifiable under CPC § 197.CALCRIM 506 gives the instruction, “A defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his ground and defend himself and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger … has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.”
One day I hope to live in a state more like Indiana. They had one of the shortest laws on the books:
Indiana Castle Doctrine
Ind. Code Section 35-41-3-2 (b) A person: (1) is justified in using reasonable force, including deadly force, against another person; and (2) does not have a duty to retreat; if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other person’s unlawful entry of or attack on the person’s dwelling…
Yes, technically (probably) it is legal, especially if you cannot retreat safely. But, have you ever really thought about what you are going to do if the moment comes where you have to decide? I would love to hear your thoughts on this one!