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Carrying a gun for self-defense comes with great responsibility. This is because it does not give a citizen the powers to use it without justification of self-defense. Firearm laws of most states only protect those who use guns for self-defense. In fact, self-defense and use of handguns are some of the most controversial subjects for many Americans. However, examinations of the two cases present interesting scenarios.
In the first case, the use of a shotgun by the young woman to kill one of the two men who had previously raped her is not justified as a necessary use of weapon in self-defense. In fact, this is a clear case of revenge. Despite the fact that the men had allegedly raped the young woman, there is no evidence to prove their intention to repeat the same in the second incidence.
The justification for use of firearm in self-defense would fail because the men did not present any physical threat to the young woman. According to Carpenter (2003, p. 667), “the defense of justification would fail, for example, if a defendant deliberately killed a petty thief who did not commit robbery and who did not appear to be a physical threat.”
The justification for the use of firearm must prove the need to protect one or another person from an impending bodily harm, death or forcible felony such as, burglary, rape, or kidnapping. The young woman could face up to three years in jail for an attack that does not justify use of deadly force in self-defense.
In the second case, the 62 year-old retired army officer is justified in the use of deadly force to kill the two men in act of burglary. In fact, it does not matter whether the two men were unarmed. First, the two men were walking in the hallway towards his direction and there was urgent need to act in self-defense.
Second, the defendant had all the right to use deadly force within the circumstances to protect his property. Fletcher (1990, p. 14) expounds on this in his analysis of Florida law by stating, “the use of deadly force is justified trying to prevent a forcible felony, such as rape, robbery, burglary or kidnapping.”
It is discerned that the retired army officer had no means of ascertaining whether the men were unarmed or not. However, they presented real danger to his life and body by moving towards him in the hallway. This is a clear case duty of retreat, which states, “you need not retreat from your own home to avoid using deadly force against an assailant” (Fletcher, 1990, p. 21).
The castle retreat legally applies to this case because the retired army officer is attacked in his home by burglars and as such is in danger of great bodily harm or even death. In this case, the 62 year-old retired army officer is justified within the law to protect his life and his property and is not liable for conviction.
It is discerned from the above discussions that the justification for use of deadly force must prove that the action is taken in self-defense.
Carpenter, C. L. (2003). Of the Enemy Within, the Castle Doctrine, and Self-Defense. Marquette Law Review , 86 (4): 653–700.
Fletcher, G. P. (1990). Crime of Self-Defense: Bernhard Goetz and the Law on Trial. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.