I Defended My Loved One—My Pet Part 2 – Georgia

In Part I, we saw the actions Clint took to defend his dog from being killed by the neighborhood stray. Now, in Part II you will learn if his actions followed the law. Watch Independent Program Attorney Matt Kilgo teach you the law, so you will know what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Paul Ready: Welcome back to Part II of our feature on defending your pets. In Part I, our member Clint was forced to defend his dog against an attack by another bigger dog. Many of you have asked what the law says about how and when you can defend your four-legged friends. The answer will be different depending on the law in your state. That’s why we’ve asked the Independent Program Attorneys in your state to tell us more.

Matt Kilgo: The law in Georgia gives a great deal of protection to you to protect yourself, your property, and your pet from other vicious animals or dogs. Let’s first talk about the general cruelty to animals statute in Georgia Official Code of Georgia 16 – 12 – 4.

Now, that statute says that you are legally justified in using force, or even deadly force to the degree there is a reasonable belief that such act is necessary, to defend against the imminent threat of injury or damage to any person, other animal, or property by the acts of another animal, In other words, if you, your property, or your animal are threatened by another animal, and you have a reasonable belief that you must act to protect yourself, your property, or another animal against that perceived threat, then the law justifies your use of force. A person who humanely injures or kills an animal under circumstances indicated in this subsection shall incur no civil liability or criminal responsibility for such injury or death. In other words, if you properly are justified in using force to protect yourself, your property, or an animal, then the law says you’re not civilly liable, and you bear no criminal responsibility. Now, that’s the Cruelty to Animals statute in Georgia.

There’s a secondary statute called cruelty to dogs. It’s a specific statute that deals with dogs and how you can protect yourself in a situation where you may be attacked by a vicious dog, or your pet is attacked by a dog. Official code of Georgia 4 – 8 – 5 is cruelty to dogs.

No person shall perform a cruel act on any dog, except that you may defend your home or person, or the person or property of another, from injury or damage being caused by a dog. Or more importantly, you may kill any dog causing injury or damage to any livestock, poultry, or pet animal. This law says that should you act against a dog to protect your pet, and that dog dies, you bear no criminal responsibility.

Now, there are some rules in place in order to avail yourself of the justification. Under the cruelty statute 16 – 12 – 4, you must not be in commission of a crime. You, or your animal, must not be trespassing on another property, and the acts to protect yourself, or your animal, must occur on the property where you’re threatened. In other words, you can’t go five blocks down to kill a dog after it’s threatened or bitten your dog. It must be imminent, which means about to happen, and it must be in a place on the property where the acts are occurring. Georgia law does provide you with a great deal of protection to protect yourself and your own animals or pets, such that if done properly then you bear no civil responsibility or civil liability or criminal responsibility

Paul: For more information on when you can use force in your state, please go to GunLawSeminar.com and register to attend one of our events in your area. If you missed Part I of Clint’s story, you can click the link on your screen to see it. And as always if you are not a member we would love for you to join us at uslawshield.com.

The Restaurant Has a Bar. Can I Carry? Georgia

Spring Break is here, and everyone is thawing out after a long winter. Watch Independent Program Attorney Matt Kilgo instruct you on the law before walking into a restaurant or bar with your firearm. 

Can You Carry Into a Bar?

Prior to 2014, bars were listed as a specific exclusion—a place where you could not carry a firearm even with a weapons carry license.In 2014, Governor Nathan Deal signed the Safe Carry Protection Act, which struck bars from the list of excluded places.Meaning, as of 2014, if you have a weapons carry license, you can carry a firearm into a bar. Remember, the law in Georgia says that if you are authorized to carry a weapon, meaning you’re in lawful possession of a valid weapons carry license, you can carry in every location in this state not prohibited. Since bars are no longer prohibited you can carry into a bar.

Can You Carry While Intoxicated?

Yes, you can but it’s not necessarily recommended. The law in Georgia has no specific restriction on carrying while intoxicated, but there is a restriction on discharging firearms while intoxicated. You cannot discharge a firearm if you’re intoxicated by alcohol, or by drugs, or any combination there of that makes you less safe to discharge that firearm. But even then there’s an exception to the rule. Even if you are intoxicated by alcohol or by drugs, and that includes prescription drugs, you can use the firearm to protect yourself, protect your home, protect your family, so the statutory defenses of defense of person, property, or household still apply.

What If This Bar Has a Sign That Says No Guns Allowed?
Remember, the law says that if you’re legal to carry you can carry in every place in the state. So, the signs shouldn’t have any impact on your ability to carry. You can go on into the building. That’s at least our considered opinion. However, the owner, or the person in legal control of the property, has the right to eject you, or to exclude you, if you’re found in possession of a firearm. So, you may lawfully enter so long as you have a valid weapons carry license, but if you are asked to leave by someone who owns or controls the property then you must leave. Failure to do so could result in you being arrested for criminal trespass.

Hurricane Irma: Georgians Will Welcome Evacuating Gun Owners

irma evacuationWith the prospect of a major storm event on the horizon for much of Florida, Georgians are welcoming thousands of friends, relatives, and those in need into their cities, towns, and homes. Floridians evacuating to Georgia will all find a warm welcome; those who lawfully own and carry firearms, in particular, will be happy to learn they have nothing to fear from Georgia law if they travel into our state with their firearms—if they are armed with the right knowledge.

Irma Evacuation

To begin, let’s make perfectly clear: Florida’s 2015 “Emergency Concealed Carry” law, enacted to allow individuals without a Florida firearms license to carry concealed while evacuating during a mandatory evacuation or state of emergency, DOES NOT APPLY IN GEORGIA. This law certainly protects Florida’s residents as they prepare to evacuate their families and belongings, but does not reach into Georgia. When in Georgia, Florida residents must follow Georgia law, and ignorance of that law is no excuse (that’s part of the law, too!).

Here’s the good news: Georgia’s possession and carry laws are friendly to the lawful gun owner. Georgia shares firearms-license reciprocity with Florida; so, if you validly possess a Florida CWFL, you may possess a firearm (including revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, rifles, shotguns, and knives with blades longer than 12 inches) in Georgia.

You may carry them openly or concealed, and in any public or private location without prior permission, save for certain locations mandated by law (courthouses, jails, mental health facilities, government buildings with law-enforcement screening, etc.). Virtually any place open to the public is safe for open or concealed carry. Signs in private establishments (bars, restaurants, hotels) prohibiting the carrying of firearms do not necessarily have the force of law, but if you are barred entry or asked to leave by the owner or person in legal control of the property, you must do so, or risk arrest for criminal trespass.

What if you don’t have a Florida CWFL, but you still possess firearms lawfully, meaning
—You are not a felon or First Offender probationer,
—Have no convictions for domestic violence-related crimes, and
—Are over the age of 18 (for handgun owners only; there is no minimum-age requirement for possession of rifles or shotguns in Georgia law).

Those who may lawfully possess a firearm, but do NOT have a CWFL or Georgia Weapons Carry License, may still carry in Georgia inside his or her “home, motor vehicle, or place of business without a valid weapons carry license.” (See O.C.G.A. §16-11-126)

This means our Florida friends and family may carry firearms into the state without a license. Those possessing a firearm in a car without a license must (a) be otherwise eligible for a license, and (b) have the permission of the owner of the vehicle.

Additionally, carry of a handgun or long gun without a license is permitted when the firearm is enclosed in a case and unloaded (“unloaded” meaning no round in the chamber for semi-auto, no round in the cylinder for revolvers), and carry of a long gun, concealed or openly, is always permissible without a license for an individual who may otherwise legally possess a firearm. But if the long gun is loaded (round in the chamber), it must be carried openly.

For those who find themselves stopping over in a hotel, hotel rooms are considered your “habitation”: previous cases in Georgia have established that, because you obtain the use of a hotel room and exclude all others from entry, it qualifies as a habitation (See Hammock v. State, 277 Ga. 612, 616 (2004)).

Evacuating from Georgia
For Georgians who may be required to evacuate, keep in mind, you are lawful to carry in your home, motor vehicle, and place of business. Your home will be wherever you find yourself in Georgia, but the rules for lawful carry still apply.

Nothing changes for those with Weapons Carry Licenses, and because lawful gun owners without a license may carry in their motor vehicles, they, too, can evacuate knowing their firearms are safe.

It’s important to realize, however, that evacuation into another state means you must follow the laws within that state. Georgia maintains firearms reciprocity with Alabama, Tennessee, and both North and South Carolina, so Georgia Weapons Carry Licenses are recognized in those states, but the laws in those states prevail.

Keep in mind also that federal law (the Firearm Owners Protection Act) protects lawful gun owners who travel state to state by allowing firearms possession through any state from your state of origin to final destination, so long as your journey begins and ends in states where your possession is legal; the firearm is unloaded and locked in the trunk or made inaccessible from the passenger compartment (no glove boxes or compartments!); and the ammunition is likewise separate from the firearm and locked in the trunk.

Wherever you may travel, make sure you research your destination, and be sure to call U.S. LawShield for assistance. —by Matt Kilgo, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. LawShield of Georgia

Hurricane Irma: Evacuating from Florida with Firearms?

Georgia Hunters: Time to Get Your Ducks in a Row

georgia bird huntingEach year, millions of bird hunters head afield in pursuit of doves, ducks, and other flying fowl. So you can bet that right now, Georgia bird hunting aficionados across the state are shooting clays, rustling up game bags, and getting insect repellent and sunscreen in their field kits in preparation for the various bird seasons that are opening soon.

Matt Kilgo, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. & Texas LawShield® in Georgia, said wingshooters need to be aware of stiff penalties that are attached to migratory-bird hunting regulations. According to Kilgo, the penalties aren’t just monetary—they can involve jail time, and you can get caught and prosecuted even if you are unaware that you’re breaking certain laws.

Kilgo explained that migratory game birds are those species designated in conventions between the United States and several foreign nations for the protection and management of these birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The relevant U.S. Code is found in 16 U.S.C. 703-712.

“In the Georgia bird hunting regulations, migratory game birds in the state include various ducks, mergansers, geese, mourning doves, and other wildfowl,” he said.

Mourning-dove bird hunting tops many hunters’ lists, and every year game wardens cite dove hunters for a variety of infractions related to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA, 16 USC 703 – 712). Many hunters may not know about this law, he said, but ignorance of the game laws is no excuse.

He said, “The Migratory Bird Treaty creates two types of consequences for violations of its bird hunting provisions: criminal penalties and forfeitures. It is a misdemeanor to violate any provision of the Act, with punishment of a maximum fine of $15,000 or imprisonment up to six months or both.” The relevant U.S. Code is § 707(b)-(c), he said.

Bird Hunting: Shotgun Capacity Limited to Three Shells

Kilgo said, “In addition to the United States Code and federal regulations, Georgia hunters are also covered by the regulations of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division.”

Kilgo said, “One of the most common Georgia bird hunting mistakes is shooting a semi-auto or pumpgun that can hold too many shells. Shotguns are limited to a capacity of not more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined. If a plug is necessary to limit the capacity, it has to be one piece, and the hunter must not be able to remove it through the loading end of the magazine. Also, shotshells can’t be longer than 3 1/2 inches.”

Hunting Over Bait

Kilgo said, “Another area that snares hunters is inadvertently hunting over bait. Georgia game law is very clear that it is the hunter’s responsibility to know whether or not he or she is hunting over a baited field. It is unlawful for any person to place or scatter any corn, wheat, or other grains, so as to constitute a lure or attraction or enticement for any game bird.”

He said, “It is also unlawful to hunt any game animal or game bird near any bait for a period of ten days following the complete removal of all such feed or bait.”

Regulatory changes adopted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1999 defined key terms relative to baiting to clarify the conditions to legally hunt migratory game birds, including doves. Click here to get a printable version of the information created by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The document defines a baited area as “any area where salt, grains or other feeds have been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed or scattered if they could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds.”

Kilgo said that in Georgia, the distance a person can hunt from a baited area is defined in state law. He said, “You can’t take game birds within 200 yards of any place where any corn, wheat, or other grains, or bait has been placed. It’s a misdemeanor. Check Code Section 17-10-4 for details.”

Kilgo said conservation rangers can require land owners to put up signs identifying areas as, “No Hunting, Baited Field,” and such signs must remain for 10 days after bait is removed. Kilgo said the printing on such signs must be clearly visible to a person with normal eyesight from a distance of at least 50 yards, and enough signs should be put up to provide reasonable notice to hunters that the field or area is baited.

Georgia Bird Hunting: Other Infractions

Hunting-citation figures highlight some other areas that account for the bulk of wingshooting violations in recent seasons.

— Bird hunting without a license is a common oversight. “Some hunters may feel the risk of being caught without the proper documentation isn’t that high,” Kilgo said, “but the cost of a license sure beats the cost of a citation.”

— Exceeding the bag/possession limit nabs a bunch of hunters, Kilgo said. He emphasized that shooting a limit of doves in the morning and then again in the afternoon is a violation. Also, hunters shouldn’t share birds to manipulate the possession bag limits.

Click here to see the state’s opening-day dates, limits, and other migratory bird regulations.

Hunter Shield Protects Hunters and Anglers

Did you know that tens of thousands of Georgia bird hunting game-law violations are recorded by various game agencies every year? Mistakes in the woods and on water happen, and while unintentional, you could still be breaking the law.

If you have questions about year-round Georgia bird hunting regulations, U.S. LawShield is here to help. Members of U.S. LawShield’s Hunter Shield program have access to attorneys to get the answers they need concerning not only year-round game, but hunting and fishing laws in general. In addition, members are granted discounted entry to Sportsman Law Seminars. Seminars include access to former game wardens and attorneys who are also seasoned hunters. Add Hunter Shield to your existing LawShield membership for only $2.95 per month.

Not a member of U.S. LawShield? Join today to expand your education as a Georgia bird hunting sportsman and ensure your hunting and fishing questions are answered by trustworthy sources who know the law.

Georgia Legislative Update—What are the Latest Laws Affecting Gun Rights?

Georgia Legislative Update by Independent Program Attorney Matt Kilgo:

There were some significant changes in the law for Weapons Carry License holders and for firearms owners in general in Georgia in 2017. (Transcript continues below video.)

 

georgia legislative update
Independent Program Attorney Matt Kilgo

In this Georgia legislative update, we’re going to look at two specific House Bills: House Bill 280 and House Bill 292, both of which were signed by Governor Deal and both of which went into effect July 1st.

Now House Bill 280 is what we call the Campus Carry bill. This bill applied to Georgia’s public colleges and universities—not private schools—public colleges and universities, but does allow for lawful Weapons Carry License holders to carry concealed handguns onto certain areas and spaces of Georgia’s public colleges and universities.

Very important thing to remember in this Georgia legislative update:

• Only public colleges and universities.

• You must have a Weapons Carry license.

• It must be a concealed handgun.

There are certain places you can’t go; no sporting events, no stadiums, no gyms, no sporting events or areas where sporting events are held. No student housing, no dormitories, and no fraternity houses. You can’t carry in any of those locations.

No rooms or spaces where disciplinary proceedings are held, no rooms or spaces where administrative offices are, no rooms or spaces where high schoolers take classes, and no rooms or spaces where child care is provided. But other than that, there’s a lot of open places where you can carry to protect yourself. That’s House Bill 280.

Now House Bill 292 is the other bill in this Georgia legislative update that changed many facets of Georgia’s weapons carry law. To begin with, financial institutions are barred from prohibiting transactions with businesses that deal with firearms or from discriminating against businesses that handle firearms or they have a business involving firearms. So businesses that involve firearms—can’t discriminate against them.

That’s number one.

Number two, whereas before the change in the law, you could only carry a knife with a blade of five inches or less without a weapons carry license, the law was changed beginning July 1st. Now you can carry a knife with a blade of 12 inches or less.

The law revised multiple aspects of reciprocity law, allows for easier reciprocity and recognition of reciprocity with other states. And it also requires the Georgia attorney general to maintain a public list of states that we have reciprocity with.

So, in this Georgia legislative update, there are many good changes in the law for Georgia citizens. Be sure to look those two up: House Bill 280 and House Bill 292.

 

Concealed Carry Now Legal at Georgia’s Public Universities and Colleges

Back to School: Firearms Laws You Need to Know in Georgia

 

Back-to-School Issues and Guns

Matt Kilgo, Independent Program Attorney:

In Georgia some of the most frequently asked questions are: “Can I carry a firearm onto a school campus?” Middle school, high school, or college.

These are complex questions, but I think we have some good answers for you.

Let’s talk generally about schools.

Back-to-school for a Weapons-Carry License Holder

A weapons-carry license holder CAN carry on to school property to pick up and drop off students. Now weapons-carry license holders, there are certain places you can go. If you do NOT have a weapons-carry license you cannot carry on the school property, or through a school zone. If you do and you’re caught it’s a felony. If your weapons-carry license holder and you’re caught out of bounds on school property then it’s a misdemeanor.

But weapons-carry license holders can carry in their vehicle when they’re picking up or dropping off students. They can also keep the firearm in a locked compartment or container within a locked vehicle when they leave the vehicle and go on to school property.

You cannot carry in the sports venues.

You can’t carry at school functions ,so even if the school function is off school property you can’t carry in the school function. So those dances that occur in downtown Atlanta. Can’t carry into those functions.

You can leave it in the parking lot when you go to the school football game. But you certainly cannot carry into the football game.

In order to pick up and drop off with one in the car, you must be above the age of 21 years, which means students cannot carry. Students can’t carry on to the property and leave them in their car either.

Back-to-school for Teachers

Teachers, with the proper authorization from the duly authorized administrator or your local school board, would be given authority to carry into the school, but those rules are very strictly followed and strictly regulated through the statutes in Georgia. So you have to refer to your local school board your school authority—they have to give you permission. There are certain ways that you have to be licensed, and training that has to be taken before you can do that. So please don’t carry without the permission of your school board if you are an administrator or a teacher. They’ve got to do that for you.

So weapons-carry license holders picking up and dropping off is OK in the vehicle. Leaving it in the vehicle when it’s in a locked container or compartment when you attend the school or a school function.

Back-to-school and Campus Carry in 2017

Now let’s talk about campus carry in 2017.

The Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 280 that was signed by the governor that does allow for campus carry—a lot of restrictions to this law. So listen closely.

First and foremost, again, you MUST be a weapons-carry license holder. Not only that, it’s only for handguns, and only for handguns that you conceal. With a weapons-carry license and a concealed handgun you CAN carry on to a public university property.

You can’t carry in private schools. Private schools do still restrict that, and it is still restricted in private schools. Public schools you do have access to. Public colleges and universities. Must be concealed. Must be a handgun. You must have a weapons-carry license. You cannot carry into any stadium or sports venue.

You cannot carry into any dormitory or student housing including fraternity houses.

If you go into a building, you cannot carry into any space in that building that houses faculty or administrative offices, child care facilities, rooms or spaces where high school students take classes.

A lot of restrictions to this but on a general level, with a weapons-carry license, and concealed handgun you can carry on to Georgia college campuses public universities.

Georgia Governor Signs New Gun-Law Upgrade!

Georgia: Can I Use Force Against Someone Burglarizing My Car?

Member Ambassador Sherry Hale:

Welcome members and fellow gun owners. In the last Members Voice video our member Tyler witnessed a criminal breaking into his car. Tyler drew his gun and the bad guys ran away.

The legal questions started pouring in, and members, you wanted to know your legal rights in your state. So here’s your U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney to give you insight on what the law says.

U.S. Law Shield of Georgia Independent Program Attorney Matt Kilgo:

Can you use force to defend your motor vehicle? Well the law can be very complex and confusing here in Georgia. Let’s begin with a few definitions. First let’s talk about a habitation.

In Georgia there are three places that are habitations: Where you live, where you work, and how you get to where you live and work. Georgia law defines your home, your place of business, and your motor vehicle as habitations.

Georgia law also allows you to use the threat of force, force, and deadly force to protect your habitation. Threats of force: Get out of my home! The use of force: Anything short of deadly force. And in fact deadly force: That force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm. You can use deadly force to protect your habitation if you have a reasonable belief that another person has entered your habitation for the purpose of committing a felony.

So let’s talk about someone burglarizing your car in your driveway. What can you do? What kind of force can you use to stop them? Certainly you can use the threats of force and force. Can you use deadly force? Well remember, your car is a habitation. Georgia law allows you to use deadly force to protect your habitation from someone committing a felony inside it. Based on Georgia law, there’s a very strong argument that you can use deadly force to keep someone from burglarizing your vehicle.

Now we’re talking about you being outside the vehicle and someone getting into the vehicle. Certainly if you’re in the vehicle and this bad guy’s trying to get in with you, yes, you’re justified, because you’re protecting yourself and your family. You’re protecting whoever’s in the car. But if we’re outside the vehicle, bad guy’s outside the vehicle, can you use deadly force to keep him from committing a felony in the vehicle i.e. burglary? You know burglary in Georgia, the second degree burglary, can be entering a vehicle to commit a felony. Well according to the law, since your car is your habitation, you can use deadly force to protect your habitation to prevent the commission of a felony inside your habitation.

So from a legal perspective, it’s entirely possible that you could be justified in using deadly force against someone who’s burglarizing your vehicle.

From a public-policy perspective, and from perhaps the district attorney’s perspective, you may very well be charged with a crime if you injure that person, because just because you have that right, doesn’t necessarily mean that the district attorney agrees with you.

And in fact if you ask two lawyers the same question: “Can I use deadly force to protect my car from a burglary?” You’re going to get two different answers. One lawyer is going to say “Well sure, car’s your habitation you can use deadly force to protect your habitation.” The second lawyer is going to go “No no no no. Your car’s your property.”

Well I think the law is pretty clear that your car is a habitation, but I don’t think it’s going to keep you from being charged if you hurt someone who’s burglarizing your vehicle.

Let’s look at it from a practical standpoint though.

Let’s say you’re in your home. You look out the window. You see someone burglarizing your vehicle. Are you going to leave your position of safety? Are you going to give up your position of advantage to go outside and confront this person? Or are you going to call the police and let the police do their job?

I think prudence and common sense would say, yes, we let the police do the job. That’s what we pay them for. That’s why they’re here, to protect us. I do think if you decide to take that step and go outside, you’re giving up your position of advantage, or giving up your position of safety, and you’re putting yourself in an unreasonable situation without justification, but if you do that and you do fire on someone, the law could in fact protect you. But it may not keep you from being arrested.

Member Ambassador Sherry Hale:

Educating you is the cornerstone of U.S. Law Shield. Thank you for being a part of our family.

 

As Temperatures Go Up in Georgia, So Does Road Rage

A recent national television report asserted that road-rage incidents are becoming more common and more deadly, with the latest incident taking place in Pennsylvania, in which a man is alleged to have shot and killed a teenage girl during a traffic merge. Click to watch level-headed advice from your Independent Program Attorney about what to do—and what not to do—in these situations.

 

Transcript:

 

Road rage is unfortunately something that we must discuss because it is so prevalent here in Georgia and in the rest of the United States.

Now from a safety perspective, if you are involved in a road-rage incident, seek safety immediately. Call the police. Let them know you’re the victim. Try to find a well-populated, well-lit area. Don’t get out of your vehicle. Wait for the police to come and help you.

And it’s important to call the police as quickly as you possibly can for at least one practical reason. One of the two of you will be considered the aggressor. The other could be considered the victim. And sometimes it’s a situation, where the first person to call the police is considered the victim. Now that may not be right, but the fact is, if you want the police to believe you, better to call them sooner rather than later. And then call your lawyer.

If the other person gets out of his or her vehicle, be prepared to protect yourself, but remember, in Georgia you are justified in the use of deadly force, however, under certain circumstances you may not claim that justification. Number one: If you provoke the other person as an excuse to use deadly force, you can’t use the justification. Number two: If you’re attempting to commit a felony, or you’re fleeing the commission of a felony, and that felony could be terroristic threats, could be aggravated assault, if you have a vehicle, and you threaten someone with your vehicle, which is a deadly weapon, if you pull the weapon out on the highway, and shown it to the other driver, then at that point, the law may not allow you to use the justification. You also cannot use it when you were the primary aggressor, or you were engaged in what the law calls “combat by agreement,” meaning if you’re the aggressor, or the other person attempts to assault you, and you attempt to assault them, if you’re in mutual combat, you cannot use the defensive justification, unless you pull completely out and let the other person know “Hey I’m not fighting you anymore.”

So if you have to protect yourself, protect your party, do so. But just be forewarned, road-rage incidents very hard to determine sometimes who is the initial aggressor, who is the victim. The best-case scenario here: Seek shelter immediately. Seek safety immediately. Call the police as fast as you possibly can. Tell them you’re the victim, and then call your lawyer.

Quick Thinking, Fast Shooting Prevented Massacre in Alexandria

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was at the practice with his 10-year-old son.
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was at the practice with his 10-year-old son.

Three Capitol Police officers’ quick thinking and fast shooting saved members of Congress from a gunman early Wednesday morning at their baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was wounded in the attack and listed in critical condition a day later at the hospital.

One of the officers, Special Agent Crystal Griner, was wounded in the ankle, said Chief Matthew R. Verdosa.

But Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) told WWJ Radio in Detroit that the heroic response foiled a massacre.

“The only reason why any of us walked out of this thing, by the grace of God, one of the folks here had a weapon to fire back and give us a moment to find cover,” Bishop said.

Scalise, along with various Republican colleagues, are members of a baseball team that was practicing Wednesday morning at a park on East Monroe Avenue for an upcoming charity game.

Bishop said they all were “sitting ducks” when a gunman approached and sprayed the field with rifle fire.

“We were inside the backstop,” he added, “and if we didn’t have that cover by a brave person who stood up and took a shot themselves, we would not have gotten out of there and every one of us would have been hit—every single one of us.”

Special Agents David Bailey and Henry Cabrera also returned fire, Chief Verdosa said. Alexandria police officers joined the fray, according to a joint press release from police and the FBI.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was at the practice with his 10-year-old son. He said that he was “very grateful” for the officers’ protection.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.).

“They attacked the shooter (and) that’s what saved our lives,” Barton said.

“The thin blue line held today,” said an emotional U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, the team’s coach, at a news conference. “My family and I will be forever grateful.”

Williams, a standout ballplayer at TCU during the 1960s, is the coach of the GOP’s ball team. He came to the press conference on crutches.

The gunman, James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, was mortally wounded and died at the hospital. He reportedly made far left-wing rants on social media before the shooting.

Post-shooting media coverage swirled with commentary about how political rancor from last year’s presidential election may have fueled the rampage.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), also a member of the ball team and a survivor of the shooting, called for civility.

“The over-the-top, hateful rhetoric that has consumed politics, on both sides, has to stop,” Davis said. “We can have thoughtful debate on the issues, and at times disagree, but we cannot forget that we are all represented by the same flag and the freedom it represents.’’

“Thank God for the Capitol Hill police,” said Matt Kilgo, a program lawyer for U.S. Law Shield of Georgia.

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, the GOP team's coach.
U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, the GOP team’s coach.

“You could tell there was going to be some backlash,” Kilgo said in a Facebook interview with Sam Malone of U.S. Law Shield LIVE. “(But) anything that puts firearms and our Second Amendment rights in proper perspective in the media I think is a good thing.”

“I’m glad it went the way it did and they were able to save as many lives as they did.”

Click here to see the discussion between Kilgo and Malone.

—By Bill Miller, U.S. Law Shield contributor