Tag Archive for Self-defense

Comforting Lies

I recently read an article, “Running While Female,” and The Comforting Lie of Safety.

From the article…

“But it’s even more misguided to believe that we can create a safe environment for women everywhere.

The fact is, it’s not a safe planet. It’s not safe for rabbits or cows or gazelles, or for women or men. This is a truth that Western societies have beautifully concealed with antibiotics, airbags and security systems, and so it’s always upsetting when a murder or a survey suggests that we’ve been comforting ourselves with a lie.”

“It’s easy to ride around with our Coexist bumper stickers and assume that we ought to be safe, but nature laughs at the concept. A rabbit doesn’t have the “right” to be safe while sitting exposed in a field. Should humans? The inherent brutality of the world, which theologians and philosophers have grappled with for thousands of years, has been papered over so much that we believe safe is the default and become outraged when it becomes clear that it’s not. That’s our bad.

We are not safe, none of us, and we become less safe when we start to believe that we are.”

These concepts go to the heart of what I find problematic with much of the progressive liberal agenda. It seems to be prevalent the thinking that the world owes you everything you need: food, shelter, clothing, tampons, birth control, medical care, smartphones, and so on. All your needs and wants met with little to nothing in return. And anyone who opposes that is racist or classist or full of microaggressions. The very idea that you’re owed something that you didn’t contribute to in any way is basically saying that you have a right to take the fruits of someone else’s labor for nothing in return. That’s slavery. It doesn’t matter what it is, someone had to work to produce it, plant it, take care of it, maintain it, provide the service, etc.

Now none of this is to mean that I think everyone gainfully employed shouldn’t be able to afford the things they need. But I do think that they shouldn’t be able to afford all the things they want. Someone working at McDonald’s cooking fries is not entitled to go to fancy restaurants every night or to get all of the latest and greatest technology gadgets. Of course, I do think that our priorities are screwed up when it comes to compensation. I don’t think an athlete is making a far greater contribution to society than a teacher, for example, to warrant the millions of dollars difference in salaries. But I digress.

Getting back to the topic of safety it also flabbergasts me that it is expected that others are responsible for your safety. So many people respond to stories of criminal attacks with the mindset that you shouldn’t have to worry about how you dress or how you act or where you go. You shouldn’t have to refrain from showing off wads of cash because nobody has a right to attack you. You shouldn’t have to obey a police officer if you don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. You shouldn’t have to worry about getting drunk and passing out at a frat party because nobody has a right to take advantage of you. Some go so far as to believe there shouldn’t be any consequences for their actions. As Marc likes to say (paraphrasing), “should” is a problematic word: try using “should” with the weather and see how that works out.

That goes hand in hand with “deserve”. No, you won’t deserve to get sexually assaulted or robbed or killed. But people take it to far and rely on what they deserve to determine how to live their lives. Or use their concept of fairness and what is deserved to excuse behavior (that unarmed man attacking a cop didn’t deserve to be shot).

The world doesn’t owe you anything. Not a living, Not your health. Not your safety. If you’re not willing to provide for yourself then maybe in this case you really are getting what you deserve.

What is Castle Doctrine?

I was in an online discussion today where the topic of Castle Doctrine came up and there were quite a few statements made exposing misconceptions about what it really means.

In Ohio, like many states, there are very specific circumstances when deadly force is “allowed” to be used. I put that in quotes because killing or intentionally seriously injuring another person is illegal. When you make a claim of self-defense, you are actually admitting to a crime! However, you are attempting to invoke an “affirmative defense” that excuses your actions. If you meet all of the criteria you are more likely to be found to be justified.

The first set of criteria they are looked at are referred to as Jeopardy, Ability, and Means. Jeopardy means you were in real danger of serious bodily harm or death.

Ability means that the other person had the capability to cause that serious bodily harm or death. An example of the difference is that a small, frail, 90-year-old man may wish to harm a fit, young man but does not possess the strength to do so. However, if that old man had a weapon (known as a force multiplier) now he has ability.

Means, also known as Opportunity, is being able to reach you with his Ability. For example, a person may intend to harm you and is armed with a gun but is threatening you on the phone. There may be Jeopardy and Ability but lacking the Means you can’t just hunt him down.

When it comes to proving Jeopardy, Ability, and Means the jury is allowed to take into account the circumstances and determine if it is reasonable that you had an honest belief that those criteria were met. An example: you’re walking through a park at night and a person come running at you, yelling and holding a large knife over their head. If you defend yourself and it is later discovered that the knife wasn’t real you will likely still have a self-defense claim. But, it does have to be reasonable in their mind. Simply saying “I was in fear for my life” is not enough!

All that said, there are other criteria that come into play as well. Such as you not having contributed to the situation escalating to a deadly force incident or be at fault for causing it. A prime example there is a bar fight. If you are found to have been mutual combatants and you pull a weapon and use it you are very unlikely to prevail with a self-defense claim. Another good example would be if you pull a knife on someone and he pulls a gun but you stab him before he can shoot you it isn’t going to be a valid self-defense claim because you caused the situation.

Now we finally arrive at the topic of this piece and that is the Duty to Retreat. In Ohio, you generally have a duty to attempt to escape from a potential deadly force incident before using deadly force. However, Castle Doctrine removes this requirement if you are in your home or vehicle. That’s all it does! All those other criteria still stand and will be evaluated to determine the lawfulness of your actions.

So to say, as I saw multiple times, that anyone you catch breaking into you house can be shot due to Castle Doctrine is not true. You will still have to prove (and claiming self-defense shifts the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense) you were in, or had a reasonable and honest belief you were in, Jeopardy; that the other person had the Ability to cause serious bodily harm or death; and that he or she also possessed the Means to do so.

To help you visualize how this comes into play here are some real examples where deadly force was not justified:

  • A drunk came home to the wrong house and knocked what he thought was his own door down.
  • An elderly woman with dementia returned to her previous residence and was able to gain entry
  • A father heard a noise in the house at night and armed himself to investigate. He ended up shooting his son’s friend who was staying the night unbeknownst to the father.
  • A woman was home alone and heard someone enter the house, climb the stairs, and approach the bedroom. She fired a shot through the door, killing her husband who had returned from deployment and way trying to surprise her.

These are just a couple of examples of situations where Castle Doctrine will not save you from a homicide charge. Simply saying you were afraid (even if you really were!) is not enough. Use of deadly force is a serious matter and you owe it to yourself and your family to learn when it is prudent to use that force and when it is not.

Armed Lorain woman repels intruder

An as-yet-unnamed man’s drunken antics nearly cost him his life when he broken into the home of an armed nurse, 36-year-old Deborah Krasienko.

“I would have shot him had my daughter been home, just out of fear for her safety,” she said. “I almost killed this man, just because he was too dumb and drunk to know what he was doing.”

From the story, Krasienko had just gotten home from work Saturday morning when the drunken intruder began pounding on her front door. She retrieved her handgun as he went around the house and entered through the rear door, breaking the screen door and using the keys she had left in the lock to unlock the back door. He eventually realized she was armed and fled the scene, later to be picked up by the police, positively identified by Krasienko, then driven home.

Hindsight is always 20-20, and it turned out the intruder was non-violent, but it certainly could have ended much worse.

Krasienko was wise to arm herself when her home was threatened but admits exhaustion lead to her mistake of leaving the keys in the back door lock. Had she not done that, he might not have even been able to enter the house.

Once he entered the house, some would recommend using deadly force immediately. It takes only seconds for an intruder to charge and close the distance in most rooms, and a person impaired by drugs or alcohol has diminished capacity to feel pain. Even if such a person was fatally hit he may live long enough to cause significant bodily harm or death. In fact, Krasienko acknowledged the danger by stating she wouldn’t have taken the risk had her daughter been home.

That said, I believe she made the right choice. Pulling the trigger is a last resort and she still had options available. Hopefully she had furniture between herself and the intruder, but even if she didn’t I think it was a reasonable risk to avoid loss of life.

She stated that once he had entered the house he had gotten distracted by her puppy and hadn’t even acknowledged her presence yet. Although he had entered her home it seems clear he didn’t know where he was and was not yet a threat. Once the reality of the situation sunk in he quickly fled the scene. Had he advanced towards her then she would have been forced to defend herself.

When confronted by a situation like this you will have just seconds to make decisions that will affect your life and the lives of others. Using situations like this as a learning experience can help prepare you for what your response will be and make the decision easier.

Securing your home should always be a top priority. Be sure to lock all your doors and windows and remove the keys from the door. Everyone gets tired but you must focus on this detail.

Arm yourself at the first sign of danger. Had Krasienko waited and the intruder been violent she might not have had time to get her gun once he gained entry.

If an intruder does gain access, get him/her out. Do not try to capture the intruder. They could feign compliance while waiting for the opportune moment to attack. Getting them out is a much safer option. Order them to leave clearly and simply.

During the confrontation, try to maintain your distance and keep furniture between you and them as an impediment. Watch for signs of aggression or weapons. A weapon in hand is an immediate cue to act.

Hopefully you’ll never find yourself in a situation like this but if you do, and have considered your options in advanced, it is more likely to end in a positive manner.