Can I Legally Shoot Someone If I'm Defending a Statue?

Grant cavalry statue


A viral social-media post is suggesting that it may be okay to shoot someone to defend a statue. Our Independent Program Attorneys beg to differ.

Here is U.S. & Texas LawShield® Independent Attorney Edwin Walker’s response:

defend statue
Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker

Texas LawShield recently became aware of a viral Facebook post telling people they can shoot someone vandalizing a statute.

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Based on recent events, we understand the importance of knowing whether or not this is valid legal information.

It appears this viral story started as a blog post that reported on one individual’s opinion on the use of force and/or deadly force to protect public property.

The position advocated by the Facebook post cited in the blog is not a very good idea.

The defense of property justifications (TPC 9.41, 9.42, and 9.43) are all based upon the finding that the person’s conduct was based upon a “reasonable belief” that the use of force is “immediately necessary” to prevent the harm to property.

With regard to deadly force, it can only be used if the person “reasonably believes that … the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by ANY other means.”

This presents a lot of room for a jury to find that someone was unreasonable in using force or deadly force to defend against an act of criminal mischief.

Further, deadly force can never be used in response to the crime of criminal mischief in the daytime.

Many people who have commented on this post have posed a “…but what if they come at me…” scenario.

It is true that the circumstances that allow for the use of force and/or deadly force can change instantly. If a person is simply trying to stop a vandal by shouting at him or calling the police, and as a result the vandal attempts to attack the person, then the person being attacked would be justified in using force and may even escalate to deadly force to defend themselves if they have a reasonable belief that they are going to be murdered.

However, if a person were to physically intervene to stop a vandal (any offensive, unwanted, or injurious touching is an assault) and then were to be physically assaulted themselves, the issue that a jury would have to decide is whether or not the person had disqualified themselves from claiming self-defense because of their initial “assault” on the vandal.

Needless to say, this is a very complex issue and should not have been addressed by anyone in a cavalier manner.

It is unfortunate that civilized behavior in our society has devolved to such a state that it is even necessary to consider these issues.


To learn more, we invite Members and guests to attend seminars and workshops presented by experienced attorneys as they discuss laws regarding the legal use of force and legal use of deadly force. To stay on the right side of the law, it is critical you stay current on any legal changes. Don’t miss this opportunity. Click Gun Law Seminar to find out more. 


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Comment section

11 comments on “Can I Legally Shoot Someone If I'm Defending a Statue?

  1. Thanks for putting this out there. The idiocy was rampant with this one.

  2. Thank you for answering this question. Many were reading more into the law and took it as a absolute.

  3. Phil Ryan’s post suggesting that deadly force be used against someone damaging a statue, is unprofessional at the least. He is a police officer and instructor of recruits. He should lose his job for making such suggestions. He knows the statutes were not intended to allow citizens to commit deadly force over property crimes. If his analogy were true, citizens would be killing people for painting graffiti. This is the very reason that law enforcement gets a bad name.

    • He did lose his job and has had his life threatened so now he and his family are in danger. Right or wrong the world has lost all common scene!

  4. I disagree with the headline. The law draws a clear distinction between night and day with respect to the use of deadly force and that distinction is clear that vandalism at night potentially involves the use of deadly force. An example used in TLS seminars was a tree being toilet papered where even though the law allowed the use of deadly force, it may be a circumstance where a jury might disagree.

    If deadly force is used in defense of statutes during the night, one should not be surprised if charges follow, nothwithstanding the law. Obviously, there may be blended questions of law and fact related to self-defense or defense of others if force or deadly force is applied to those standing to defend the statues.

    Under such circumstances would TLS defend a member facing charges?

    • Hi Rick. Thanks for your question! Please see the below response from one of our Independent Program Attorneys here in Texas.

      “You are correct, Texas Penal Code Section 9.42 provides that a person may use deadly force against the crime of criminal mischief at night IF the person has a reasonable belief that the deadly force is immediately necessary and a reasonable belief that the property could not be protected by any other means. This leaves a lot of room for a prosecutor to argue and a jury to find that the actor’s belief WAS NOT reasonable. Texas Law Shield will stand behind our members to defend them when the member believes that they have justifiably used force or deadly force. Texas LawShield has defended and will continue to defend members who have faced charges when the police and prosecutors believe that the member did not act reasonably.”

  5. BS – Step in front of the criminal and make it certain that they will have to go through you! If they attempt a move on you, shoot the bastard! At least that is what a Marine would do, without a thought otherwise. Let a jury convict you for defending yourself and what is the right (RIGHT) thing to do!

  6. I hate the fact that people believe it is ok to destroy property for any reason! But it is best left to law enforcement to handle those situations. The law should be enforced though, that is one of the reasons we are seeing these problems and thoughts . It is being allowed to happen!

  7. Killing someone is a serious matter, even if they are doing something that deserves killing, like trying to kill someone. The use of deadly force presumes that you are trying to kill that person because nothing else justifies it. Thus, the presumption in your use of deadly force is that it is necessary for this person to die to stop him from committing a heinous act. If he lives, it should be “his lucky day” and evidence that you need more training and practice. Even IF you are totally justified in using deadly force, regardless of whether the perp lives or dies, you WILL need a good lawyer. No matter what, do NOT discuss the incident with ANYONE, including the investigating officer, your spouse, your best friend, the person(s) with you at the time, bystanders … not a soul, UNTIL you have discussed it with your attorney. Period. Full stop. Your attorney will thank you and your life after that day will be much less stressful and expensive. No matter what, killing someone, even in war, is a life altering event that you will live with the rest of your life. Do not do it lightly.

  8. Is it true that history repeats itself if we don’t learn by it? If all is removed about the Civil War does this mean blacks will be in slaved later? Removing all the true teachings about the Civil War I am afraid this could be a reason used for another Civil War between the whites and blacks. We are living on a power keg!! The Civil War is our history like it or not it is history. I can’t believe all blacks are descendants of black slaves as most act.
    The Civil War wasn’t about slavery but economics the South had the raw products and the North had the equipment to use the raw products. When the North wouldn’t pay what the South wanted to sale their raw product for the South went else where. Other country’s we’re willing to pay what the South wanted and the North could not let that happen. For our children and grand children’s sake I hope some day we can find a common ground to live together. Hope I didn’t step on anyone’s toes but I know you can’t please everyone.

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