A close friend of mine is a police officer who recently took a second job as a security guard to earn extra money. He works for a large department store and last week was his very first day on the job. After his first shift he called me and said, “you’re never going to believe what happened to me tonight.”
Well, he proceeded to tell me that there are a lot of homeless people in the area he works. He said one of his security guard duties is to clear the homeless people off the benches in and around the store, which to me sounds like a full time job in itself.
He said that while he was attempting to clear one of the homeless people off of a bench, the guy pulled a knife on him. Before he could finish his story I interrupted him and asked, “did you draw your gun and how close did you come to shooting the guy?”
A drunken homeless man…
My friend said the guy was very drunk and slowly pulled out the knife and that he simply slapped it out of his hands and then called the police. He then told me that he didn’t feel his life was in danger at the time and he didn’t feel deadly force was necessary, which was why he hadn’t drawn his gun and used it.
In short, my friend gave the perfect answer to why he hadn’t shot the man. In a large majority of instances, if someone pulls a knife on you then using deadly force is justified. However, the key factor is that you have to believe your life is in immediate danger or that the person threatening you could cause seriously bodily injury.
My friend is well trained and understands the law. But imagine if he didn’t. Imagine if he had drawn his gun and shot and killed the homeless man. A few hours later, police would be watching the security surveillance tapes and they would see a drunken homeless man who slowly took out a knife and probably appeared to be no serious threat. My friend could have gone to jail for a “bad” shooting.
Of course, a good lawyer could have probably gotten him off because the homeless guy did have a knife, but my friend would have had to live with the guilt for the rest of his life knowing that he had killed someone who he knew he shouldn’t have.
The bottom line is, every single shooting and deadly force incident is different and only you will know if you feel your life is in immediate danger. Also, if you’re walking around with a gun and you’re still not clear on your state’s deadly force laws, please look them up today. You and I know that carrying a gun is a big responsibility and knowing the deadly force laws is a major part of that.