What the Three Bears can teach us about Gun Law

Posted on: August 5th, 2013
Remember the story of the “Three Bears and Goldilocks”…it was all about getting things “Just right”. There are a lot of similarities to this and gun law. Let’s use the “porridge” example to illustrate some aspects of gun law you might not have realized. 

When we think of self-defense, we sometimes see it as an all or nothing proposition.  Truth be told… it isn’t quite that simple.  For example, there are different degrees of criminal charges that can be brought against you if you intentionally harm another person in defense of your life, another person’s life, or even of property. Let’s use the Three Bears to illustrate what we are talking about.

When the porridge was “Too hot” no one wanted to eat it. This is the same as criminal liability.  You happen to be in a situation where you simply needed to use deadly force as a last resort and in defense of your life or another’s.  Less than deadly force is generally justifiable to deal with threatened violence or even in protection of property, so long as it is “reasonable” force.  Things tend to fall apart when you were the aggressor. You lose your right of self-defense and it probably shifts to the other person.  It can be unclear and messy.
The Fix – Be aware of your surroundings.  Avoid problems and be competent to act in lawful defense.  This takes time to learn, but if you are carrying a gun or other implement for protection, you simply must train to apply the law in an instant…and to do it correctly.  It’s not using a gun or knife or a rolled up newspaper, it’s acting lawfully.  Sometimes, no matter what you do, you cannot avoid trouble or you shouldn’t.  So it is important to act in a way where you get to go home that night instead of supporting your local jail system.

When the porridge was “Too cold” no one wanted to eat it either, it was distasteful. This is civil liability.  If you did something that made sense to you, but it harmed some other party, especially some innocent bystander or family member…they may have a claim to make against you for money damages.
The Fix – Same as above, but be a good neighbor.  Be slow to take offense and to act.  Avoid situations that cause problems.  If one finds you or you find it, a little planning in advance can make all the difference.

Buying insurance against risk provides cash to solve a money claim.  Even better, if you did some planning in advance, called “asset protection”, you can make it tough or impossible for somebody to collect.  Hmmm…if you had insurance and a vault protecting your assets, you could probably settle things.  In any event, you have options.

But when the porridge was “Just Right”, everyone wanted a bowl.  A win in a self-defense situation is when you go home at night and there is no viable civil claim against you.  Facing a criminal trial, even if you are not convicted, is not really a win.  Think Zimmerman.  A civil trial is no picnic either…but it can still be “Just Right”.
The Fix - Do some estate and business planning…called asset protection planning.  This allows you to make it difficult, if not impossible, for a creditor to collect easily.  The key is doing this in advance and not in a way to cheat known or likely creditors.  But if you do it right, and get some insurance too, you can turn things in your favor.

Training and planning in advance is what it takes to get it “Just Right”.  So take your time, see a good “gun law” and “estate planning” attorney and you can get the porridge that tastes great!
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