This past week, several people forwarded me the story about the Washington state man who is facing up to 10 years in prison for shooting a thief who was stealing his car. In case you didn’t see the story, here’s a quick recap…
One morning, a gentleman starts his car in his driveway because he’s getting ready to take his wife to work. He runs back into the house to get something and leaves his car running in the driveway as many of us have done before.
When he comes back out of his house he sees a thief driving off with his car. He chases the car down the street and fires one round from his 9mm handgun at the thief. In a one in a million shot that he probably couldn’t do again, he hits the thief in the back of the head and kills him.
As I just mentioned, the car’s owner who took the shot has been charged with manslaughter and is facing up to 10 years in prison.
I hate hearing about these stories because although the car owner thought he might have been doing the right thing, he clearly has no idea what his state’s law is when it comes to the use of deadly force.
And understanding the use of deadly force is obviously one the first things you should do if you ever carry concealed. The fact is, when it comes to deadly force, Washington state law says you (the person) must be in immediate and imminent physical danger.
In other words…
Like the majority of states in this nation, you can use deadly force to protect life but not property. Clearly, when the owner of the car was chasing after his stolen vehicle he was not in any physical danger caused by the car thief and he should have immediately called the police instead of firing a round from his gun.
I do feel sorry for the car’s owner because I am sure he is a good family man and all around good person. But if I was called to be an expert witness in this case I would have to say this was a bad shooting and the shot should never have been taken.
That’s why if there is even the smallest amount of doubt in your mind as to what the deadly force laws are in your state, you should look them up right now. Simply Google “Virginia deadly force law” (or whatever state you live in) and one of the top choices should be the government website for your state.
Read over the deadly force law and if you don’t understand it, ask around or pay a lawyer for an hour of their time. As much as I dislike lawyers, if you have to spend $300 bucks so you feel comfortable with your understanding of the law, it would be money well spent in my opinion.
By the way, the owner of the car has set up a legal defense fund and is fighting his charges and it will be interesting to see the outcome of the case. But I pray all of us will study our state laws so we never have to find ourselves in his position.