Tragic shooting offers many lessons
By Jim Irvine
There has been a fair amount of media coverage about Allen Davis, who shot a teenager in the head late Wednesday evening. She was in critical condition from the gun shot wound.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the high school girl in hopes that she makes a full recovery.
This case does not appear to have anything to do with concealed carry or a license holder. The shooter reportedly used a rifle and shot from inside his house at a car in the street. While the anti-gun crowd will use this case to argue against HB541, a “castle doctrine” or “stand your ground” bill, it would have no bearing on this case.
HB541 defined times when someone may use deadly force. It allows for deadly force for a home invasion, but there have been no allegations that ever happened in this case.
HB541 also removes the “duty to retreat” before using deadly force when in a place you are legally entitled to be. (i.e. not trespassing) But it does not remove the requirement that you must reasonably be in eminent danger of death or great bodily harm. According to news reports, that was not the case.
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One of the cardinal rules of shooting is to “know your target, and what is beyond.” This rule applies every time a shot is fired. It applies to target shooting, hunting, and self-defense. When target shooting, you must have a safe backstop, and be aware of what is behind your backstop. When hunting, you must not only be aware of your prey, but what is behind it. In self-defense, you should know where your attacker is, but you also need to consider other people that may be present. Are your children in the room where the bullet is headed? Are there other innocent people beside/behind the attacker?
In “The Ohio Guide to Firearm Laws” attorney Ken Hanson defines the conditions that must be met prior to using deadly force.
- Prior to employing deadly force in self-defense, a person must show that he/she:
Had reasonable grounds to believe and had an honest belief that they were in immediate danger of death or great bodily harm, and that their only means of escaping from such danger was by the use of deadly force, and …
(emphasis in original)
Note: There are other criteria that must be met in addition to the above.
The “Ohio’s Concealed Carry Law” by Ohio’s Attorney General Jim Petro has this to say about using deadly force:
- Second, the defendant must prove that, at the time, he had a real belief that he was in immediate danger of death or great bodily harm and that his use of deadly force was the only way to escape that danger. Bear in mind that deadly force may only be used to protect against serious bodily harm or death. The key word is Serious. (Emphasis in original)
There is never a justification for a “warning shot.” The only reason to shoot at or in the direction of another person is to defend a life from likely death or great bodily harm.
The facts are that while not perfect, gun owners are among the most law-abiding and safety conscious people in our society. That is one reason why a shooting like this generates so much news coverage and interest. With billions of rounds fired safely and responsibly every year, it is rare and newsworthy when such a tragic event happens.
Gun owners are misunderstood by many in the media. We are feared and hated by those who focus on the problems a small minority while ignoring the majority of safety conscious shooters.
It is incumbent on each of us to conduct ourselves in a safe and legal manner at all times.