CCW Weekend: The Armed Citizen And Detaining The Assailant
By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
If a person invades your home or tries to mug you out on the street, there are three basic potential outcomes once you’ve drawn your home defense gun or your pistol from a concealed carry holster.
The assailant/home invader flees.
The assailant home invader capitulates and freezes.
You shoot them because they haven’t ceased threatening behavior.
In the case of the latter two, you will need to stay armed to further ensure your safety, preferably pointed at the threat. In other words, you will need to hold them at gunpoint. Unless they’re dead, of course, but the likelihood of that is slim. After all, more than 80 percent of all shooting victims survive.
So, what to do during this period between when the encounter began and when authorities arrive? Bear in mind that this isn’t legal advice, and I’m not a lawyer, but I am handsome enough to play a doctor on television.
First is call the police. Tell them what’s happened, and stick to the facts. You also need to do so if the home invader or assailant flees and at that, right soon. The person who establishes the narrative is in early control of it, and police and prosecutors go by what information they have.
There is an objective reality that exists, but it’s hard for anyone to see it as we don’t always have 100 percent of all information regarding anything at any given time. Therefore, we rely on what we have to go on and it is in your best interest to make sure your version of events is what law enforcement has to go on.
Once contact has been made and authorities are en route, your safety and the safety of anyone else in your home is the first, second, third, and all the way on down to last concern. Make sure a spouse or children stay in their rooms or in a safe area and a safe distance away from the threat or invader. Ideally, you’ll want your spouse to arm themselves while they’re at it.
Detaining a criminal is called a “citizen’s arrest.” In most states, the law gives citizens the right to intervene when crime is being committed, though force is only authorized when force is being used to commit the crime. A home invasion is an attempt of robbery, which is a violent crime. Mugging/robbing out on the street is likewise. Therefore, the armed citizen does have this authority to detain a home invader, assailant or robber until police arrive.
One question is whether to bind the suspect until authorities arrive. While not a bad idea in theory, it’s not advisable unless a spouse or housemate can hold a second gun on them while you apply zip ties, duct tape or otherwise. This gives the assailant a chance to overpower you and hurt you by bringing them into closer proximity. Distance yourself from the threat as much as possible.
What if they try to leave? Here there is some serious gray area. While Castle Doctrine and Stand-Your-Ground laws do give you legal authority to protect yourself with force in your own home, said protection may not extend to shooting a fleeing person.
If they are trying to flee, the threat is no longer imminent. Light cavalry from the First Millennia BC in Mesopotamia were known for shooting from horseback whilst retreating, but you won’t find too many instances of a home being robbed by Parthians these days.
Granted, there are instances where a fleeing robber has been shot by an armed citizen, only for the armed citizen to not be charged or, in some cases, for the armed citizen to be merely acquitted. Mere acquittal still requires a trial, which involves arrest, charges being filed, and for lawyers to be paid, which is not cheap and is often traumatic. However, there are also instances where a homeowner was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, manslaughter or murder after shooting a fleeing would-be thief.
Remember, it isn’t about what you think the law says. It’s about what police and prosecuting attorneys think the law says. They are the ones who enforce the laws. Thus, whether you’ll face charges depends heavily upon their interpretation and application of the relevant laws of your state.
The point here is that if someone you’re detained attempts to flee, it’s better to let them leave than chancing your freedom. Give a description to police when they arrive, and if any fingerprints can be found, they’ll take care of the rest. Leave law enforcement to professionals.
So, you need to call the police as soon as the threat has ceased their threatening behavior on their own or after being shot. Don’t attempt to bind their hands or feet unless you have help, who are also armed. If they attempt to flee, don’t try to stop them and certainly don’t shoot…but definitely defend yourself if they attempt to harm you again.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.