Over the weekend, a 31-year-old man was walking out of the Macey’s parking lot in Orem, Utah. Suddenly, he heard a woman scream and noticed a man dragging her out of her vehicle in what looked like a carjacking.
The 31-year-old man (who has a valid concealed carry permit) drew his gun and ordered the attacker to stop. According to police, the attacker lunged at the man trying to grab his gun so the man fired several shots at the attacker killing him.
Now, if you understand deadly force law then you know this was a “good shoot” and the 31-year-old man did everything right. However, for people who don’t understand deadly force law you end up seeing headlines such as “31-Year-Old Vigilante Guns Down Unarmed Man” and believing them.
The fact is, it doesn’t matter if you carry a gun or not, I think it’s critical that everyone understand deadly force law because you might not be using a gun to defend your life… It might be a knife, a tactical pen, or your bare hands.
So, here’s a quick primer on deadly force law and why the 31-year-old made the right decision…
In most states, in order to use deadly force against another person you or the person being attacked must be in fear for your life or serious bodily injury. In the state of Utah, an attempted carjacking falls under the serious bodily injury category, which is why it was okay for the man to draw the gun.
Once he drew the gun and ordered the attacker to stop, if the attacker had indeed stopped and just stood there, the man should not have shot him and just held him at gunpoint until police arrived.
However, the moment the attacker lunged to grab the gun, firing the gun was 100% legal. If the attacker had gotten hold of the gun he could have used it on the 31-year-old and ended up killing him, the woman, and possibly other innocent bystanders.
To delve even deeper into deadly force law, here are three elements that must be present to use deadly force. Ability, Opportunity, and Jeopardy.
Ability– This means the person has the ability to kill or seriously injure you or another person.
In the story above, the attempted carjacker showed that he was not disabled or otherwise unable to seriously injure someone because he was forcefully dragging the woman out of her car.
Opportunity– The circumstances are right for the person to use this ability to harm someone.
In other words, this attacker wasn’t on a deserted island all by himself. He was in a crowded parking lot where he proved he had the opportunity by actually attacking the woman.
Jeopardy (also called Intent)– The person’s actions give you reason to believe they will kill or seriously injure you or another person.
The man was dragging the woman out of the car and he lunged at the 31-year-old with the gun, showing intent.
Don’t forget, deadly force law doesn’t only apply to guns. If you happen to find yourself in an airport bathroom and someone tries to attack you and you end up killing that person with your bare hands then deadly force law applies just the same.
So, please make sure you fully understand deadly force law. You don’t want to end up in jail for pulling or using a gun or a knife when it’s not legally justified.