8 Run… Hide… Fight! Legal Precautions

Kirk Evans, president of Texas and U.S. Law Shield:

If you ever find yourself in one of these terrible active shooter predicaments, your instant reaction could save the lives of yourself and others. Before you get in that circumstance, it’s important to know what the law is, so that you can act immediately without hesitating or second-guessing yourself. Here’s Michele Byington, a Texas Law Shield Firearms Program Attorney and a partner in the Houston-based law firm of Walker Byington.

 

Michele Byington, Texas Law Shield Firearms Program Attorney:

So, if you are enjoying dinner at Chili’s, and some active shooter madman comes in, what can you do? Number one, be on alert. Know what’s going on around you. Know the other third parties that are around you.

Two, if you happen to be a gun owner, grab your gun.

Three, the law tells us that as long as you are in fear of death or serious bodily injury, you may use that firearm to neutralize that threat.

What on earth is deadly force? What deadly force is, is force that is intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury. Now, we can drill that down a little bit further.

We know what death means, right? You’re six feet under and your days are over.

But serious bodily injury is a little more complicated. What is serious bodily injury? Well, here in Texas, serious bodily injury is defined as loss of limb, loss of organ function, permanent disfigurement, things like that. It’s an injury that will put you in the hospital. It’s not something that’s going to hurt, and you will be fine an hour or so later. It is something that is really going to affect you in your day-to-day life.

Now let’s transition into the black-letter law of when you would be justified in using deadly force. So what the law tells us is that you must have a reasonable belief of imminent death or serious bodily injury. So let’s take this in the active-shooter context. Would you be justified in using deadly force if there were a madman who came into the restaurant where you were peacefully eating, enjoying food with your family?

You see a man come in with a trenchcoat. You think to yourself, “It’s 900° outside.” It’s the Texas summer. This individual comes in with his trenchcoat, and you think, “This is odd.” All of a sudden you see this individual pull an AK out of his trenchcoat. Would you be justified in using deadly force to protect yourself, number one? And the answer is yes, you would be.

Because being shot by an AK-47 or whatever the firearm may be constitutes deadly force. Because it is likely that you’re either going to die from being struck by a bullet, or at a minimum sustain serious bodily injury. Therefore, you have an imminent fear of death or serious bodily injury.

Now let’s go one step further. What about third parties? You are in a crowded restaurant, and you don’t know half of these people from Adam. In fact you don’t know the majority of them from Adam. Can you protect those third parties by pulling your own firearm and neutralizing that active shooter?

The answer here is yes. Because, in Texas, we can use deadly force to defend third parties, as long as you would be justified in using deadly force if it were just yourself. So you can step inside the shoes of the victim, and use deadly force on behalf of everyone else in that restaurant as well.

Kirk Evans, president of Texas and U.S. Law Shield:

From Columbine to Sandy Hook, from Virginia Tech to the Navy Shipyards, and from Orlando to San Bernardino, the phrase ‘Active Shooter’ has become all too common. On behalf of Texas and U.S. Law Shield, I hope that we have provided you some insight that can help you through one of these tragic situations. For more information on our Active Shooter series or how to join the more than 200,000 law-abiding gunowners we protect, visit TexasLawShield.com or USLawShield.com. Thank you.