Self-Defense and Lethal Force

Obviously, the news lately has been filled with stories about the shooting of Trayvon Martin. I’m withholding further comment on that particular case until more facts come to light as to what all happened before the trigger was pulled. There have also been other similar stories in the news lately, such as this one out of Slinger, Wisconsin.

I’m not here to debate the legalities of these individual cases. I have no information to go on aside from that which as been reported in the media. Relying upon the media to provide enough facts to make such a decision would be incredibly naive at best.

What I do want to bring up though is this. I know many of my readers legally carry concealed weapons for self-defense. That’s great, I have no issues with that. But, for those who do make that decision, I would implore you to educate yourselves on the legalities of using lethal force in self-defense. A CCW permit does not come with a badge that signifies you are a member of law enforcement. Nor does it grant you the right to walk around thinking you are Captain Badass.

If you haven’t done so recently, say within the last six months or so, I encourage you to look up any and all applicable laws for your jurisdiction that apply to self-defense, Castle Doctrine, and other related matters. Do NOT rely upon someone else’s interpretation of the law they’ve posted on their own website. If you have trouble translating the actual legal language as cited in the state statutes, have an attorney do so for you.

It is far better to learn the letter of the law now, rather than having it explained to you after a shooting and you find out you misunderstood something.

In almost all situations, it is preferable to get away from the danger than to escalate it. If you are given an avenue to escape, do so. Following that advice will help you to avoid a sticky and likely costly legal battle. Even if you were 100% justified in your actions, that does not prevent the family of a shooting victim from filing suit against you. They may lose but you’ll spend thousands of dollars in legal fees before you prevail. Just food for thought.

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Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

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