U.S. Law Shield: Should You Protect Thy Neighbor?

Every Member has to make the decision to intervene in a fight — or not — based on a host of tactical and safety issues. Member Ambassador Sherry Hale interviews Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington to learn how Good Samaritans can stay out of legal trouble if faced with these dangerous situations.

Make sure to check your states laws on protecting yourself, and those around you. Every state is different. Some have clear-cut laws defining the shooters rights, some are vague, and some states have no laws on the books at all, but rather court cases by which to stand behind. Ohio is a rare case, where the shooter (person using deadly force to protect him/herself) must prove their justification for defending themselves.

Post in the comments what the law says in your state!

2 thoughts on “U.S. Law Shield: Should You Protect Thy Neighbor?”

  1. Granted, if you see someone holding a knife or a gun to a person with intent to harm; it seems fairly clear who is in harms way. Still, the initial beginning of the incident may not be what is known and they may actually be defending themselves from an initial attack; even if no other weapon is visible or present. If you see a person beating someone with their fists and the other is fighting back too, which is the aggressor is you didn’t witness the start? Point being: there could be a lot of incidents that are not very convoluted and you had better use extreme caution if entering the battle, whether your state allows it or not. Just remember, warning shots are not smiled upon, even though Shotgun Joe thinks they are.

  2. I am not a lawyer, however, it is my understanding in Tennessee, you may use deadly force only if you have a reasonable belief of an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury to yourself or others. If you do not have all of these elements, do not even show your weapon—you will likely be facing a criminal charge. You get the protection of this law only if you are not engaged in unlawful activity and you’re in a place where you have a right to be. You CANNOT use deadly force to protect property, because there is no danger of death or serious bodily injury: the threat has to be against a person, not a thing. The threat has to be imminent: it has to be about to happen now, You do not have a duty to retreat before using deadly force if you hold a reasonable belief of an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury, and you do not have to give any kind of warning, verbal or otherwise. The no duty to retreat concept applies in and around your home, as well as out in public.

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