By now, many of you may know who Chris Gaither is. If not, he’s an 11-year-old from Talladega, Alabama (Home of Ricky Bobby) who recently used a 9mm handgun to “defend” himself during a burglary that took place while he was home. Score one for the good guys. This kid is a hero. Hoorah for the 2nd amendment. Molone Labe, Don’t tread on me, blah, blah, blah. Truth of the matter is, based on his comments and demeanor, this kid doesn’t fully grasp the gravity of his actions. It would also seem that most of the adults who support his actions don’t either. His mindset is excusable, he’s 11. The rest… smmfh.
As the story is told, Chris was home alone on Wednesday morning when a burglar broke into his house. Chris’s response to this home invasion was to grab a nine-millimeter handgun, fire (and miss) 11 shots at the burglar as he ran for the hills, and finally hit him with the 12th “full metal jacket” bullet as he tried to climb a fence at the edge of the property.
One of my Facebook friends, a guy I’ve come to respect as one of the sharper knives in the block said it perfectly… “it’s a poor decision to give children unrestricted access to firearms, motor vehicles, power tools and other dangerous pieces of implementation.
Queue the whiners and internet tough-guys saying : “When I was 11 I already had a job and was perfectly capable of handling…. blah blah blah”
First: No…you weren’t. The adolescent brain is not a fully developed organ, for anyone, period. If you think you were just as adult and responsible at 11, 14, or 16 as you are now…you’re probably right – but not for the reason you think you are.”
WELL SAID MY FRIEND!!!
In Georgia, as I suspect is the case in most places in the U.S., O.C.G.A. 16-3-21 states:
O.C.G.A. § 16-3-21
Use of force in defense of self or others; evidence of belief that force was necessary in murder or manslaughter prosecution
(a) A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force; however, except as provided in Code Section 16-3-23, a person is justified in using force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
No where in there, does it state “May shoot a threat in the ass as he’s jumping a fence”. So, among some of the kids supporters, I came across a police officer whose position was…
“Guys it was a criminal!! If someone were breaking into your place think how you’d act!” Only, he didn’t shoot him during the act.
“Tennessee Vs. Garner says you can use deadly force against a fleeing felon” wellll…not exactly “officer” (smfh)
“While in the police academy this was very important case that we studied relentlessly…we bet our freedom on this quite often. Let me reiterate “don’t steal and bad things won’t happen” Safe to assume you fell asleep in class that day.
A number of us attempted to clarify Tennessee v. Garner for him and inform him that what is actually says is…”Law enforcement officers pursuing an unarmed suspect may use deadly force to prevent escape ONLY if the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”
His response: “Does anyone see what is wrong our society…we are defending a felon! A FELON!”
Me: Holy shitballs…WTF…turn in your badge, do not pass go, you’re too stupid to carry a gun, go back through the police academy again…but whatever you do, get off the streets before you kill someone.
Now, I regularly train LEO’s to become better marksmen and fighters with their guns. What I don’t do, is try to teach them how to be better cops and how to do “cop stuff”. I’ve never been a cop, so I know my lane. The majority of my clients/students are private citizens who carry concealed. As an instructor, my objective is to develop critical thinkers who are capable of making sound decisions when faced with the prospect of becoming involved in a violent critical incident. One of the ways I accomplish this is by not only teaching multi-disciplinary fighting skills but also, providing my clients with the information needed to make these decisions and do so quickly and decisively within the legal guidelines of the jurisdiction in which they live. It’s my belief that by arming the civilian defender with the proper information, that the decision making cycle speeds up, therefore increasing reaction time (if they have also train to fight).
In this same thread, Greg Ellifritz a highly respected instructor, police officer and subject matter expert in most things defense related, put it in perspective, and cleared up what the difference is between how an LEO can use Tennessee v. Garner and a private citizen doing so when he stated…
“Cops have slightly more latitude because they are authorized to use force not only to defend themselves and others, but also to effect a lawful arrest.
In most states, any citizen can make an arrest for a felony crime and would fall under the same police rules (tenn. V garner) that the cops have to follow when doing so.
Theoretically a cop could use deadly force to effect a misdemeanor arrest where a citizen couldn’t. But I can’t think of any situation where that would be legal.”
The key points that the private citizen needs to take from this are…
A) Don’t shoot at what you aren’t reasonably certain you can hit. He fired 12 shots, 11 bullets missed. That’s 11 bullets with no specific back stop. 11 bullets capable of continuing to be lethal at distances of at least a mile (2500 yards or 1.420455 miles). 11 bullets capable of killing or destroying people or property not intended to be shot. I believe Claude Werner calls that a “Negative Outcome”.
B) Know the laws of your jurisdiction. In Georgia, where I live, using deadly force to protect property, no bueno. Conversely, in Texas, not a problem, as we saw in the 2007 shooting of two burglars by 61 year old Joe Horn.
C) Tennessee v Garner DOES make concession for shooting a fleeing felon but ONLY if a threat of serious harm is still and continuously posed by the fleeing felon. As another participant in the thread stated “You can’t shoot someone because you are “mad” at them.” #MicDrop
D) Using lethal force to protect property that can be replaced is, in my opinion, a bad idea. New “stuff” can be replaced at the store, you can’t go but new life.
If you carry a weapon but don’t know your states laws on the lawful use of deadly force to the degree that you can arguably consider yourself a “layman’s expert”…you’re not doing this right.