Firearm Safety & Security-Why Understanding State Gun Laws is So Important

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Firearm Safety & Security-Why Understanding State Gun Laws is So Important

Gun ownership has been a hot topic of debate for quite some time among the United States. Though some people use them strictly for hunting and sport, others view them as important for defending one’s home and family against potential threats. But there is a substantial difference between having a gun in your home and using a gun in self defense against a home intruder. It is for this reason that understanding state gun laws is so important for every gun-owning resident. 

There are numerous stories among the news about residents shooting and sometimes killing home intruders. In some cases the resident was justified; in other cases the shooting turned out to be a fatal mistake. For example, in a recent ABC News report out of Michigan, a man who mistook his wife for an intruder in the middle of the night, shot and killed her. In a Dallas News report out of Midland, Texas, a police officer was mistakenly shot by a homeowner while responding to the resident’s home alarm call. In a Fox News report out of New York, a resident was arrested for an illegal weapons charge after he shot and killed two intruders in his home with a handgun that was owned by his deceased father, not the resident himself.

Though some residents are within their rights when they use a gun in what they deem as a life-threatening situation, the laws that govern the use of a gun in self-defense vary greatly from state to state. The following are some important facts about state gun laws that every resident who possesses a firearm should understand before pointing it at an intruder.

Deadly Force Defined

Deadly force is generally defined as the use of any form of physical force that knowingly poses a significant risk of serious bodily injury or death to another human being. 

Law enforcement officers are allowed by law to use deadly force in certain situations while serving in the line of duty. Private citizens, however, are held to a different set of laws dictated by their state. Though gun laws can vary from state to state, the legality of the use of a firearm by a citizen in self defense is typically determined by what the state defines as “reasonable and necessary” force. 

For example, some states deem it legal for a resident to use deadly force against another person if that resident possesses reasonable fear of grave injury or death by that person. Other states, however, deem it illegal to use deadly force to defend one’s home, especially when the intruder is not armed. In other words, in certain states, a resident can be arrested and prosecuted if he or she shoots an unarmed intruder in their home. 

That’s just one of the unfortunate situations some residents who don’t understand their state’s gun laws can be faced with.

In some circumstances, residents have been taken to court by the very criminals who invaded their homes. Many of these cases involve injuries brought against the criminal at the hands of the resident. Although most of these cases are dismissed, some have made it to trial. Even if the resident is found not guilty, the expense and stress of the ordeal can leave any resident further victimized. 

Castle Doctrines

Because of the confusion among some various state gun laws over the legality of a resident’s right to defend their life and their property, some states adopted what are known as castle doctrines as a way to better define and protect citizens when an intruder enters their residence.

Some of the protective provisions castle doctrines address are as follows: 

  • Removes the necessity for a resident to “retreat” from an intruder under certain situations defined by the state.
  • Grant residents immunity from civil action and prosection in cases involving legal deadly force. 
  • Allows citizens to “meet force with force” against an attacker in ANY location they have a legal right to be.
  • Provides residents with the legal presumption that they are justified in their use of force when an intruder illegally or forcibly invades their property, residence or vehicle. 

State Gun Laws

Though the Second Amendment protects a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms, each state’s gun laws vary in terms of their use, sale, and possession. Not only do residents have to follow their own state’s gun laws, they must also follow the laws of other states when traveling within them. 

For example, though you may be legally allowed to carry a concealed firearm in the state you live in, that legal right may not be recognized in other states. If you intend to travel outside your state, it is very important to understand the gun laws of the region you are visiting. 

The same is true if you plan to relocate to another state. Some states require new residents to register their guns within a certain timeframe. For example, California requires new residents to register all firearms within 60 days of moving to the state. 

Should You Own a Gun?

Jordan Frankel, residential security expert and Vice President of Global Security Experts, advises every resident who is considering purchasing a gun for self-defense purposes to seek advice from a certified firearms instructor first.  Doing so will allow you to get important questions answered as well as learn more about your state’s gun laws and your responsibilities as a citizen and resident. A professional firearms instructor can also help educate you on the proper use of a gun and help you with your firearm selection.

Just as important is learning all you can about gun safety and how to use a firearm in self-defense. This is where a firearm self-defense class can be useful. Such a course will teach you various skills to help you keep control of your firearm when faced with an intruder. The course will also educate you on how your state defines deadly force and when you are justified to use it. 

To find a firearm self-defense course near you, simply enter the keywords in your favorite search engine along with the city you live in. 

Understanding State Gun Laws in Your Responsibility

When you choose to own a gun, it is up to you to research and understand your state’s gun laws. If the purpose of that gun is to help defend yourself against a home intruder, be sure to take time to learn everything you can about the laws governing its use in such a situation as well as the proper and safe use of your firearm.