Can I Defend Myself In a North Carolina Mall Parking Lot?

The following is a video transcript.

During the Christmas season, many of us are out visiting loved ones or doing Christmas shopping in both the day and the night. This month, I want to talk about being aware of your surroundings and your right to defend yourself in public places where you might be this Christmas season.

When you’re out shopping, be aware of your surroundings and others’ behavior, particularly if you are shopping at night. Remember, while it is the Christmas season, criminals do not take off for the holidays.

In a public place in North Carolina, you have a right to defend yourself just like you do on your own property. If you have a reasonable belief that you are facing imminent death or serious bodily harm, you have the right to use deadly force to protect yourself. That includes the right to use your firearm to protect yourself. Imminent threat means an immediate threat—it does not mean a conditional or a future threat.

Now, if you are in a public place and you are faced with a non-deadly threat, you may still defend yourself, but you may not use deadly force. That means you may defend yourself with a punch, a shove, or a push, but you may not use a deadly weapon to defend yourself.

If you are in a public place where you have a legal right to be, you are not required to retreat. You may stand your ground and defend yourself. If you are in the parking lot of a store where you’re doing your Christmas shopping, you are in a place where you have a legal right to be and therefore you have no duty to retreat.

For example, if you are faced with an armed gunman in a parking lot of a store where you’ve been doing your shopping, you may defend yourself with your firearm and you are not required to flee or retreat.

In all situations though, be careful and protect yourself and others from harm. If you have to defend yourself or if you have been threatened, remember to immediately call 911.

So be careful this Christmas season, and be aware of your surroundings and your legal rights to protect yourself and your family. Have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

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