The following is a video transcript.
What do you do when you inadvertently carry your concealed firearm into a place you’re not supposed to be, and you are forced to use your gun in self-defense?
STAND YOUR GROUND LAW
Imagine you are at a bar with some friends. You’re not drinking, but while you sit at the bar, you realize that you forgot to remove your gun. You are illegally carrying in the bar. You decide to take the firearm to your car, but on your way out, you see a man break a bottle on the bar and swing the broken glass at a woman while shouting “I’m going to kill you.” You yell for him to stop, as you reach for the gun in your coat. He turns on you, approaching you threateningly with the broken beer bottle. What do you do next?
Oklahoma law allows you to use deadly force to prevent death or great bodily harm and allows you to stand your ground in many circumstances. Unfortunately, when you’re unlawfully carrying a firearm in a bar, that is not one of the circumstances where the stand your ground law would apply. A jury could still consider basic self-defense if the judge found that you are not the aggressor in the case. However, since you did not have a legal right to be in that location with a gun, stand your ground won’t apply. That means you actually had a duty to retreat before using deadly force.
DEFENSE OF NECESSITY
What happens if you live next door to an elementary school and you hear shots fired from the school? You go outside and see a masked gunman shooting as he enters the school. You get there in time to intercept the gunman and manage to shoot him just as he is opening the door to a classroom full of children.
We all know that an elementary school is a prohibited place, and it is against the law to carry a gun on school property. That means you will not get the legal protection of the stand your ground law. So, what protections does the law offer you in this scenario? The answer in Oklahoma is the defense of necessity.
Necessity is an affirmative defense, which means you will be freed from liability if you prove your defense in court. The defense applies when your actions, though illegal, were justified by the real circumstances in which there was no other way of avoiding the imminent harm. Essentially, the law of necessity applies when you commit a crime to prevent an even greater harm. Don’t forget, this is not full immunity; you can still be arrested and charged with a crime. In this case, rescuing the children clearly justifies the unlawful carry of a gun in a gun-free zone. There was no time to call 911 and you needed to take action immediately to save lives. It is likely the defense of necessity would free you of any criminal or civil liability in such a case.
For more information about where you can legally carry your firearm and what to do when inadvertently carrying into a gun-free zone, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.