As a citizen of the U.S. you have the duty and the right to protect your family and yourself from death or great bodily harm. However, in this article we’re not discussing protecting your family or yourself—this is defense of a stranger. So, the question is: do you have the obligation or responsibility to help others who encounter violent happenstances?
You might be familiar the “Good Samaritan” rule or law (GSL). Depending on your state, that “legal duty” to help a stranger varies. Usually there is No Legal Duty. Let me emphasis: NO LEGAL DUTY which is why you should check your state’s laws. As a member of the CCL community (and the fact, I care about other human beings), this troubles me. However, there have been cases when a rescuer is sued or other legal action has been taken against them by the victim whom they have rescued. This is unfortunate. So it is important that you must also consider protecting yourself with making the decision to help a stranger. There is no requirement by law that (without a specific relationship) someone should be prosecuted for not putting their life in danger to help another person. Therefore, you need to understand that there are certain conditions that must exist. So again, check your states’ laws because GSLs do have exceptions.
There are also “Reasonableness Standards” which can get complicated fast; these are laws that allow people to use force to protect others they “reasonably” believe to be in imminent danger. But what is reasonable? Something reasonable to you might mean something different to me. You can see how this just gets more and more complex.
Apologies—I haven’t answered the question. What do you do if you suddenly happen upon a situation where a stranger is say, being assaulted? Well first, you want to avoid a dangerous situation if possible to protect yourself. Keep in mind that if you have the option to avoid a person you perceive to be a threat, do it. But what about the stranger? Call the authorities and warn others in the vicinity that you suspect violence is afoot. However, if you are suddenly confronted by a dirtbag involving a stranger keep these things in mind:
- 3-3-3 Rule of self-defense. You have three seconds or less to respond to an encounter distance of less than three yards, with typically three shots max are fired and it is over.
- Do not endanger yourself more than necessary to control the unknown situation (keyword here is: unknown. You will not have all the information)
- Don’t assume; who looks to be the “bad guy” may not be.
- ONLY use as much force as necessary. Legal council will tell you to not draw your weapon unless you must.
- Deescalate if at all possible. However, caution yourself because drawing your firearm could actually escalate the situation.
- Deadly force is the LAST resort only to save your life or others.
Understand that every situation or encounter is going to be different. So, you need to prepare yourself. Sure, you’re not going to be able to plan for every single instance, but you need to know what you will (or will not do) in response to certain factors. Knowing, from the beginning, that you will not have all the information; so plan accordingly. Every encounter is specific and subjective. Ask yourself “if, then” questions—“if this happens, I will do this” etc.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and these are strictly personal opinions determined by my beliefs, morals, my training, and interpretation of the law. This is not legal opinion, nor legal advice, but meant strictly for general educational purposes. For further information, I strongly suggest seeking legal counsel in your state about applicable laws. Stay safe and stay informed, my friends.
When was the last time you checked the gun laws in your state?