The holidays are approaching, bringing an end to a tumultuous year of quarantines and stay-at-home orders. If your travel plans have not been canceled, then we want you to have a safe holiday and still be able to protect yourself while traveling. This of course includes safely and lawfully transporting a family defense firearm.
Especially if travel plans take you outside your home state, be sure to know the laws of transporting firearms in the states you will be visiting. In previous videos, we have discussed the best general rules for traveling through anti-gun states; keep your gun unloaded and locked in a secure gun case in the trunk of your vehicle while passing directly through a hostile state. Even in states that recognize your license or permit to carry, there can be peculiar quirks in the law about carrying that can get law-abiding gun owners in trouble.
Protecting Yourself on the Road
But what if you do have to defend yourself and your family? What do you do when an aggressive driver pulls alongside your vehicle and starts screaming obscenities and insults for no reason? They are looking increasingly like a threat and you are not without the means to defend yourself. What if they try to run you off the road?
Unfortunately, road rage is a problem that is plaguing the highways of the United States. These incidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and your choice to use force or deadly force can mean the difference between making it safely to your holiday destination or spending time behind bars in an unfamiliar state. Even if your conduct is justified, the investigation alone could last hours (costing you precious holiday time) and could mean a return trip to that locale for court proceedings.
Display of a Firearm—Not Recommended
Often when people feel threatened on a roadway, their first instinct is to show their firearm to the other driver. Although this may scare off the road rager and prevent further attack, this action is NOT recommended because of the potential legal consequences. Many states criminalize the act of displaying or brandishing a firearm, which could constitute a serious felony. Even when acting in defense, the other driver is likely to call the police to report a “crazy person with a gun,” and from that point on, it’s your word against theirs.
Rather than staying to fight, oftentimes the best defense is attempting to avoid the altercation altogether. If there is a reasonable safe alternative to pulling your firearm, retreat from a road rager can keep you safe and save you from having to deal with the legal consequences.
In fact, some states require you to retreat before using force or deadly force. Even in states that do not have a duty to retreat from the conflict, the overwhelming response from law enforcement after a road rage incident involving the use of a firearm is, “why didn’t you just drive away?” Sometimes, there is no safe way to retreat from the situation. But more often, being in a vehicle gives you many options to safely escape. Take a side street, exit the highway, or even drive to the local police station. Because even when you are 100% justified and are forced to display your firearm, law enforcement officers, district attorneys, judges, and juries alike may ask why you didn’t try to get away.
The Last Resort
Your family defense firearm should be your last resort. Just because you are in a vehicle does not mean that you lose the right to defend your family. However, your actions must be reasonable and should only be taken as a last resort. If you are ever involved in such an incident, make sure you contact an attorney before you make any statements to law enforcement.
We hope you never have to experience such a traumatic event, but road rage is a pervasive problem. Know the law in advance to keep your family safe. If you have any further questions about the law of defending yourself in your vehicle, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney today.
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