Neighbor Beaten in Her Front Yard – Armed Citizen Stories
Article first appeared on Ammoland.com
You hear a woman scream. It is 8 in the morning, and the screams for help continue. You grab your gun and go outside. You see a woman lying on the ground with a man standing over her. The woman tries to get up and the man throws her to the ground and hits her again and again. You walk closer and shout for him to stop,
“Don’t touch her again.”
The attacker turns to you and comes closer. You back up. The attacker says he’ll beat you. Now your attacker lunges toward you. Again, you step back quickly while your attacker continues to advance.
You present your firearm and shoot your attacker in the chest one time. Now your attacker stops. You step back and call 911.
You stay at the scene. When the police arrive, you give them a brief statement. Other neighbors also called 911 and recorded the woman’s screams for help.
Emergency medical services declare your attacker dead at the scene and call the coroner. EMS takes the female victim of the beating to the hospital for treatment. The local grand jury declares this an act of self-defense.
Few of us get out of bed expecting to witness a violent attack next door. Fortunately, this defender took a number of actions that allowed him to save a life that morning.
Our good guy owned a firearm. Owning a firearm gave him the physical means to stop an attack. He could engage his attacker at a distance rather than having to go hand-to-hand. In addition, our defender had a plan so he could react immediately to cries for help. The defender’s gun was accessible and he was able to use it in seconds. We don’t know if he was already armed at home or if he had to get his gun before he went outside.
The defender recognized an immediate, unavoidable, and life-threatening attack.
He tried using verbal commands to defuse the situation. Verbal commands worked in that the attacker stopped hitting the female victim. The defender moved away from his attacker. That is clear evidence that he did not initiate a confrontation. The defender reported that the attacker threatened him. That is important too.
The defender used his firearm when the attacker closed the distance between them. The defender shot until the attack stopped, and then he stopped shooting. He moved to a safe distance and called 911. The defender gave a brief statement to the police when they arrived.
There are a number of facts we’d like to know that are seldom covered by the news reports. This beating went on for as long as ten minutes. The female victim is extremely lucky that she was not killed, permanently crippled, or disfigured by her attack. The neighbors heard her screams and called the police. As the beating continued, the neighbors probably begged the police to hurry. If the neighbors were untrained, then that is all they could do. If the neighbors were unarmed and smaller than the attacker, then that is all they could do. In contrast, a 100-pound woman can stop a 300-pound attacker if she is armed and trained. Your training includes having a plan. That way you know when you will intervene and when you should call for help.
Millions of new gun owners are learning about armed defense.
They are learning about the safe and effective storage of a personal firearm. Having your loaded gun locked in a combination safe means it isn’t accessible for immediate use. Having your unloaded gun on the top shelf, with ammunition stored in a separate location, means your firearm is neither safe nor available for use. I hope you consider a rapid access safe to store your loaded firearm when it isn’t being carried on your body. If you are a new gun owner, please consider that carrying your handgun in a holster at home is an accessible step towards carrying concealed in public.
(More small steps are listed here.)
We have to talk about the elephant in the room. When chosen at random, men are physically larger and stronger than women 90 percent of the time. That makes a difference in self-defense. Because of the disparity of force, a small woman may have legal justification to defend herself with a firearm against a larger man. That isn’t the case if you’re a large man and come across a smaller person who is the attacker. In that case, a gun isn’t always the appropriate tool. You’re expected to wade in and absorb the scratches, cuts, bruises, and broken fingers of a hand-to-hand encounter. If that sounds unappealing, then you know why many of us carry pepper spray. You want to know when not to use your gun.
Another issue with the defense of a third party is innocence.
We can not claim the right of self-defense if we started the fight. Our right to intervene on behalf of a third party comes from the fact that the third party was innocent and did they not start the fight. As is true in this story, we know the female victim did not start the latest attack since she tried to escape and was caught and attacked by her pursuer. That isn’t always the case so we have to be careful. We might not know who started the fight if we see two guys throwing punches outside the local bar.
We want to use the smallest amount of force necessary to save an innocent life. Our defender used verbal commands to try and stop the attack. Our defender moved away from the attacker. That clearly established that the other man was the aggressor as he closed the distance. Our defender shot the attacker and used force only long enough to escape the attack. He stopped shooting when the attacker was slowed down enough that the defender could safely back away from danger.
Now our defender is standing there with a gun in his hand. This is where a holster becomes invaluable.
Most people survive after being shot by a handgun. That is why we call 911 and ask for police and medical services. We use force to save a life, not to take one. In case you forget that, then your lawyer will remind you in your official report about the incident. Yes, you want a lawyer to prepare your official statement about what happened. Words have precise legal meanings and we can talk ourselves into trouble. In addition, writing an accurate report is a skill. Some officers are better at it than others. We can talk ourselves into a huge legal bill or into a jail cell.
One thing that helps is a concealed carry permit. Some states don’t let you go armed outside your front door without a permit. Other states don’t require a permit at all. A permit is helpful even if it is not required. The police officer sees criminals every day. Our carry permit identifies us as one of the good guys who has a clean criminal record. That can be invaluable as we answer questions.
We will still have to explain why we shot an unarmed man. We can say too little or too much when we talk to the police. Before we talk to our lawyer, we want to be helpful but brief.
“I called you. He attacked that woman. He ran at me and threatened me. I moved away and he chased me. I defended myself when he got close. I want you to arrest him. I’ll press charges and testify against him in court. I’ll cooperate fully and give a complete report after I’ve spoken to my lawyer.”
There is a lot to consider before we use a firearm. We talk about that a little bit during a concealed carry course. We cover more of that practical wisdom in a class on the legal use of lethal force. If you’re involved in a self-defense incident, the class saves your lawyer so much work that it easily pays for itself many times over.
That course isn’t required but you’d rather know those things and not need them than need them and not know them.
We wish this story had turned out differently. Of course, we want everybody trained. We wish the victim was armed so she could have defended herself without serious injury. We want the other neighbors armed so they could have been good defenders rather than helplessly witness a beating. Armed citizens save lives.
Rob Morse highlights the latest self-defense and other shootings of the week. See what went wrong, what went right, and what we can learn from real-life self-defense with a gun. Even the most justified self-defense shooting can go wrong, especially after the shot. Get the education, the training, and the liability coverage you and your family deserve, join USCCA.