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Attempted Carjacking and the Use of Lethal Force

February 12, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, Crime Avoidance, Legal Issues, Use of Force Issues Comments Off

Question:  My uncle who lives in Glendale, Arizona was recently a victim of what appeared to be an attempted car jacking.  As he was stopped at a traffic light, a man came up to his driver’s side door, attempted to open it but was unsuccessful because it was locked.  The man then commenced to verbally assault my uncle and ordered him to get out of the car.  My uncle did not comply so the man then physically assaulted the vehicle by repeatedly kicking in the driver’s side door and hitting the window with his fist.  The altercation lasted approximately two minutes then the light changed, the man ran away and my uncle drove to a safe distance and called 911.  My uncle, who is a “reasonable person”, was really traumatized by this event and believed that his life was in danger due to the level of rage that the man was exhibiting.  My question is:  At what point would the “threat” of deadly force and possibly the “use” of deadly force have been justified?

Answer: In order for your uncle to use ‘lethal force’ he must be in fear of ‘serious injury, disabling injury or death’ by the acts of the person threatening him.  Since the man did not display a weapon and your uncle was locked inside the car, your uncle did the correct thing by not threatening or using lethal force.  For the most part, threat of lethal force only be used in the same circumstances as the actual use of lethal force.  There are some limited exceptions, but they don’t apply here, so I won’t go into them.

Had the attacker displayed a weapon or opened the car door and physically tried to attack or remove your uncle from the vehicle, then it would have been a different story.  With the display of a lethal weapon, the attacker would have demonstrated lethal intent and would have provided justification for a lethal response.  Similarly, had he gotten the vehicle open and tried to remove your uncle by force, the Castle Doctrine would have kicked in, allowing your uncle to protect himself from what would have mostly likely been a ‘carjacking’.

Based on  the circumstances you described, your uncle did everything correctly…I know it was frightening, but he did well.

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Defensive Display of a Firearm…

Question:  At what point does it become “legal” to prepare to defend yourself (draw your weapon to the low ready position)?  What would be some examples?  For instance, someone pounds on your door at 3am can I go to the door with my weapon in hand.

Answer: I need to qualify things before I answer this question.  First, as stated in the disclaimer on this site, I am not an attorney and do not give legal advice.  I am simply providing my own opinions based on my understanding of the relevant Arizona law.

The question that is really being asked here is “when am I justified in using a threat of lethal force to defend myself?”.  Any defensive display of a firearm implies readiness to use lethal force.  In order do this, a person must be in a situation where the use of lethal force would be ‘justified’.  In Arizona, the threat of lethal force or use of lethal force is only justified in situations where there is an immediate and illegal threat that could result in the serious injury, permanently disabling injury or death of a person or persons involved in the situation.  Additionally, the threat or use of lethal force would be appropriate when an individual is being threatened with a deadly weapon.

Overall the entire question of justification is extremely complex from a legal perspective.  A person is generally considered to be ‘justified’ in a particular action when a reasonable person or persons, placed in the same set of circumstances would either act in a similar manner or would believe that the actions taken were reasonable and appropriate in light of the circumstances.  Clearly the possible scenarios are limitless.  Other factors that create ‘disparity of force’ can come into play as well.  These are factors like the number of attackers, their size, sex, age and the presence of any physical disability on the part of the person being threatened.  If a single individual were being threaten by multiple persons, the threat might be more serious than if that person was only being threated by a single individual.  Similarly, physical size or sex could also change the balance and correspondingly change the level of threat.  Under certain circumstances, personally observing some serious criminal acts can also justifiy the threat of or the use of lethal force.  For example, if someone personally observes a murder, they could use lethal force against the person committing the crime and would very likely be justified.

Regarding the questioner’s specific examples, let me first state that a ‘low ready’ position is a ‘range ready’ from my perspective.  If I am in a potentially deadly situation, I am more of what might be called a ‘contact ready’ type person.  In contact ready, the gun is pointed at the potential target, but slightly lowered to allow full view of the hands of the potential target.  In low ready, the gun is pointed at the ground.  If there is a true lethal threat that has justified my drawing a firearm, I am going to be pointed at the target, not the ground.

To address the example of the ‘Pounding on the door at 3:00am’, here’s what I would do.  If my family is all home and tucked in, there is no way I am going to the door.  The first thing I am going to do get to my shotgun.  If I don’t have a shotgun, then a rifle.  If I don’t have a shotgun or rifle, then I will get a handgun.  Shotguns and rifles in a proper caliber are ‘one shot stops’.  Handguns are not.  I would also have a flashlight on the nightstand and keep the lights in the house turned out.  No sense making an easy target of yourself if they break in or can see you through the windows.

Then I am going to call 911 and tell them to send the police because someone is breaking into my home.  I would get my family members to an easily defended location in the house and wait for the police to show up.  This is why I teach my students to have a home plan to escape, evade or defend.  Without a pre-defined plan, you will be improvising and that is not the best situation to be in.  If you don’t have a solid core wood door with a deadbolt on the entrance to your bedroom, you are not going to have a defensible place to wait for the police.  Give the 911 operator your cell phone number and tell them to call you when the police are on the scene or stay on the line with 911 until the police arrive.  Bear in mind that if you are talking on a landline, those could easily be disabled from outside your home.  I keep my cell phone on the nightstand for that reason.

It is a really bad idea to go to the door or even worse, open the door.  You have no idea of what is outside.  In a recent home invasion in my area, there were two men with shotguns in addition to the guy banging on the door asking for “help”.  Most civilians are NOT trained to engage multiple possible targets in a dynamic gunfight or to clear a residence where there might be burglar hiding.  Trying to do either of these things without proper training and assistance from a partner will most likely get you killed.

Currently there is a law that has been introduced into the Arizona legislature that would broaden the number and types of situations where ‘defensive display’ of a firearm would be permitted, but for now, if there is no justification for the use of lethal force, there can be no ‘defensive display’ of lethal force.

Please bear in mind that the question is quite complex and there is only so much I can go into in a written answer here.  If you don’t have it already, I strongly recommend the “Arizona Gun Owner’s Guide” by Alan Korwin as a more complete resource that includes both the relevant Arizona statutes and some really good scenarios for your consideration.

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What caliber of ammunition should I use for self defense?

Question:  I just recently bought a Smith & Wesson M&P in 45 ACP and was curious as to what weight grain to carry for personal defense.  I’ve carried a gun for 29 years now, and after doing some research on the computer, I’m no closer to a real definitive answer than I was when I started.  Most everyone seems to swear that the 230 grain bullet is the only way to go, but in my honest opinion, I can’t possibly see how a 185 grain bullet wouldn’t ruin a bad guy’s day.  I’m currently carrying the 185 CorBon DPX and as soon as the ammunition arrives, the Remington Golden Saber in 185 +P.  Like I said, I can’t imagine these rounds not working just fine, but I’m sure you gentleman have more resources available to you and I would truly appreciate your input.

Answer:  I generally don’t like to answer ‘caliber questions’ as I seem to always ignite a firestorm of discussion.  As you said, there are lots of folks out there that feel like .45 ACP in 230 gr. is the only way to go.  Sometimes that is because of research, but most of the time I fear it is because the ‘bigger must be better’ syndrome.  Unfortunately that is not always the case.  Don’t get me wrong, I am an advocate of shooting the largest caliber that you can shoot well.  But it is about more than just bullet size.

In most gunfights, winning the fight has more to do with is the ability to get precise shots on target quickly vs. the caliber of the projectile.  Winning a gunfight without getting shot also has a lot to do with your ability to get off the bad guy’s intended point of impact.  So the two most important factors are a) not getting shot and b) making sure that you are getting good hits on the bad guy.

In my opinion, your 185 gr. carry ammo, if fired accurately, will definitely ruin a bad guy’s day.  There are a few factors to consider in your ammo selection. Will you need to penetrate lots of clothing (this comes into play in colder climates during the winter), would you likely need to penetrate some other object (wallboard, glass) or would you be shooting into a vehicle (penetration of steel or windshield glass).  Depending on your most likely scenario, you may want to look at links to the two ballistics studies below.  They are quite informative.

For general personal protection, don’t let the caliber bigots get you down.  Your 185 gr. .45 ACP ammo will be quite effective…



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Threat of Deadly Force to Protect Property…

Question:  Can you threaten the use of deadly force to protect your property, i.e., someone is breaking into my vehicle?  Could you then hold that person until the police arrive?

Answer:  In general, when answering legal questions of this type, I have to state that I am not an attorney and cannot give legal advice.  I can give you an informed opinion based on my reading of the Arizona Revised Statutes and based on my experience as an Arizona CCW instructor.

The short answer to the above question is ‘no’.  Arizona law does NOT permit the use of deadly force or the threat of deadly force to protect tangible movable property under your possession or control.

Arizona law does permit a person to use either the threat of physical force or actually use physical force to the extent necessary to prevent an attempt to commit or the commission of theft or criminal damage of your property by another person.  I would suggest that just because the law permits you to do so, does not mean it is a good idea.  What would you do if the person attempting to break into your car was physically much larger than you?  Is anything in your vehicle worth placing yourself at the risk of physical injury?  Situations like this can quickly escalate when physical force is used.  What if the thief is armed with a deadly weapon?  Again, is there really anything in your vehicle that is worth risking your life over?

Please don’ t misunderstand my comments.  As a person who spent four years living in downtown Boston, I lost 3 car radios and had three broken windows in a period of less than a year.  It was frustrating and expensive.   Yes, there were times that I wanted to hang out and wait for the perpetrators and see how they liked my “Louisville Slugger”, but reason ultimately prevailed and I stopped leaving my car in places where it was likely to be broken into.  I also did not leave anything in the car that would be attractive to a potential thief.

Either threatening deadly force or the use of deadly force is very serious business.  If it is not justified, you could be charged with Aggravated Assault, which in Arizona is a Class 6 felony punishable by up to 1.5 years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000.

I’d suggest that crime prevention tactics are probably the key thing here.  Make your car a less attractive target or find a safer place to park it…

If you are interested in the actual law, the specific section of Arizona law is:  ARS 13-408.  Justification; use of physical force in defense of property.

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Using a Firearm in Self-Defense Against a Dog Attack…

Question:  I was walking to the mailbox this morning to get the mail when a neighbor’s dog lunged, snarled and tried to bite me.  Why I was not carrying is a question that I cannot answer.  I was complacent being at home and that will now change.  I got away when the neighbor’s family came out to see what was going on and retrieved the dog.  I was at the edge of my property but still on it.  Does Arizona law allow me to shoot the animal if I feel like it will bite me?  The neighbor said the kids left the front door open and the dog got out.


Regarding your neighbors dog and the situation you describe, the law basically is this:

Under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3107, a person who discharges a firearm within or into the limits of any municipality is guilty of a class 6 felony.

This offense has several exceptions that permit you to discharge a firearm inside city limits under certain limited circumstances.  The one that specifically applies to your question is Section 9 of which states that you can use a firearm:

“In self-defense or defense of another against an animal attack if a reasonable person would believe that deadly physical force against the animal is immediately necessary and reasonable under the circumstances to protect oneself or the other person.”

The key phrase is ‘if a reasonable person would believe’.  In order for those six words to apply for many, the dog would have to have a history of being vicious.  Many dogs are territorial by nature and suspicious of strangers.  They will approach and bark loudly and may attempt to bite if sufficiently frightened or provoked.  Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there that would say there are other things you could do to drive the dog off without shooting it.

You didn’t say how large the dog was or fill me in on any previous experiences with the dog which are other factors that might be taken into consideration.  If the dog was very large and could potentially knock a person over in an attack or had a history of repeated attacks against you or others, the level of justification could change fairly dramatically.   Overall, I would say that unless there is a history of attacks by this dog, I’d probably suggest pepper spray vs. a firearm.  It would have the desired effect of causing the dog to break off the attack and would not result in the dog’s death or the neighbor’s lasting hatred (although they will be upset at you having pepper sprayed their dog, not only due to the dog being sprayed, but it will also be unpleasant for them to clean up the dog).

It also keeps you out of a class 6 felony charge if the judge decides that there was not enough of a threat to justify your use of a firearm.

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Is the use of force justified in the face of verbal threats?

November 3, 2008 Legal Issues, Use of Force Issues Comments Off

I recently received the following question in the comments to an earlier post on the use of force in self defense…

“So if a young man is walking with friends, and a large group of 20 drunk young men approach him calling him on, he is not permitted to do anything to protect himself even though he is in fear of getting the life beat out of him? I’ll be very interested in the true legal answer to my question please.”

Overall, the young man is in a pretty difficult spot.  He cannot use force to defend himself until one or more of the group of drunks attempts to assault him or use some type of force against him.  Arizona law does not permit any use of force against verbal threats or someone ‘calling him on’.  In fact, this is generally an attempt by the group to ‘provoke’ him.

As difficult as it is to do, the best thing he can attempt to do is either leave the scene or try and de-escalate.  In my experience, this is usually the best course of action.  The fact that he has several friends with him provides him with multiple witnesses if they do attempt to assault him.  The group of men calling him out probably know this too and this is why they are attempting to get him to ‘start something’.

For your reference, I have provided the language of the appropriate statute from the Arizona Revised Statutes below:

13-404. Justification; self-defense

A. Except as provided in subsection B of this section, a person is justified in threatening or using physical force against another when and to the extent a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force.

B. The threat or use of physical force against another is not justified:

1. In response to verbal provocation alone; or

2. To resist an arrest that the person knows or should know is being made by a peace officer or by a person acting in a peace officer’s presence and at his direction, whether the arrest is lawful or unlawful, unless the physical force used by the peace officer exceeds that allowed by law; or

3. If the person provoked the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force, unless:

(a) The person withdraws from the encounter or clearly communicates to the other his intent to do so reasonably believing he cannot safely withdraw from the encounter; and

(b) The other nevertheless continues or attempts to use unlawful physical force against the person.

There is also a legal concept known as ‘disparity of force’ that states that use of force might be justified in the face of superior numbers, but again this is only if there is a ‘credible threat’ of injury.  Verbal taunts do not constitute a credible threat under Arizona law.

In terms of your request for  a true ‘legal answer’, since I am not an attorney, I can’t give you that, but I suspect that you might get a very similar answer if you asked an attorney familiar with criminal law in Arizona.

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Justification for the Use of Force in Self Defense

Question:  I noticed you said in a previous post that if someone swung at you, you have the right to use force to defend yourself.  What if one or more people grab you and make you fear for your safety by threatening to harm you in a non-lethal way?  Do you have the right to strike them or defend yourself from them before they strike you?

Answer:  Before I answer the question, let me reset the stage for readers that might not be familiar with my previous post.  In order to use any type of force in self defense, a person must be under a credible threat of force or a perpetrator must either use force or attempt to use force against you.  Words alone, no matter how nasty, provocative or threatening are not ever a justification for the use of force.

The level of force you can use against another must be reasonable and measured based on the circumstances of the threat.  The purpose of your use of force is to stop the threat or use of force against you.  Once the threat has ended, your use of force must end as well.  If you continue to use force in the absence of a threat, you run the risk of becoming the ‘aggressor’ and potentially turning the tables against yourself.

There are also many factors that can enter into the use of force equation.  These things generally fall under a concept called ‘Disparity of Force’.  Some of the factors that enter into a ‘disparity of force’ situation can include:

  • Age – if there is a substantial age different between the victim and the perpetrator, additional force may be appropriate to provide a force multiplier to the disadvantaged person.  For example, a man in his 60′s might need to use additional force to effectively eliminate a threat from another man in his 30′s.
  • Numbers – if there are multiple perpetrators that are threatening or using force against a single individual, then that individual might need to use an enhanced level of force to end the threat.
  • Physical Disability – if the person being threatened is disabled to the extent that they cannot run away or effectively defend themselves against a threat, again, additional force may be appropriate to eliminate the threat.
  • Size – if there is a significant size difference between a person being threatened and the person doing the threatening, that might be justification for using a higher level of force to end the threat.
  • Sex – if a woman is being attacked by a man, regardless of the size or age of either party, the law generally permits a woman to use an enhanced level of force to defend herself, up to and including lethal force,  if she is in reasonable fear of sexual assault or serious injury.

Disparity of force issues are not limited to these factors alone.  Many other factors or combination of factors may come into play in the court making a determination of whether or not a particular use of force was justified or not.  You must understand that there is no ‘bright line’ here.  This is a gray area where the factors involved will be considered by a judge or jury in their determination of whether your actions were ‘reasonable’ in light of the circumstances and were appropriate to the level of threat experienced.

Now, to specifically answer your question.  If someone grabs you without your permission, you are being assaulted.  Simple assault in Arizona is defined as:

  1. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person; or
  2. Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury; or
  3. Knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke such person.

If someone commits assault under the conditions described under item 1, they are committing a Class 1 Misdemeanor which is punishable by a jail term of 6 months and a fine of up to $2,500.

If someone commits assault under the conditions described under item 2, they are committing a Class 2 Misdemeanor which is punishable by a jail term of 4 months and a fine of up to $750.

If someone commits assault under the conditions described under item 3, they are committing a Class 3 Misdemeanor which is punishable by a jail term of 30 days and a fine of up to $500.

You do have the right to defend yourself using a threat of force or physical force if necessary, but nothing you described would allow you to use anything greater than physical force unless you believed that you were in danger of serious injury, permanent disabling injury or death.  My guess is that people that do as you described are trying to intimidate you or are bullies that enjoy making other people afraid.

If you are not trained in some type of self-defense skill, any resistance on your part is likely to result in escalation which could result in potentially much more serious consequences for you.  You might want to consider carrying some non-lethal defensive device.  My choice would probably be a high quality pepper spray from either Fox Labs or ASP.  They make key chain devices that when deployed, can make it very unpleasant for your assailants.  Pepper spray will effectively disable an attacker for 30-45 minutes, giving you plenty of time to get to safety and call 911.

My first recommendation is to not put yourself in the situation if you can avoid it.  If possible, just remove yourself from the vicinity.  Get in your car and drive away or if you are on foot, walk or even run away if necessary.  I can’t begin to tell you the number of bad situations that result from men letting their testosterone dictate their actions in a confrontation.  You can also try to control your anger and de-escalate the situation.  I have used this technique with great success myself many times.

If you cannot leave and cannot de-escalate, do anything you can to attract the attention of any onlookers or witnesses.  Scream or call for help and get on your cell phone and call 911.  Tell them to send the police immediately and give your location.  If your attackers are bullies, they will probably not hang around for long.  If they don’t leave and continue to press the attack, this might be the time to consider using your pepper spray on them.

If they do attempt to harm you in any way and you know who they are, you should call the police and press assault charges.

One final note:  If at anytime you feel that you are in real danger of being seriously injured or killed, or the perpetrators have taken up a weapon or ‘dangerous instruments’ like a stick, bat, rock, bottle or anything similar, the simple assault has moved to an aggravated assault which is a felony.  At this point, unless you are armed, your primary objective should be to get away at all costs.  Even if you are injured while getting away, it is better than trying to fight your way out and be more seriously injured or killed.  Get to a place with lots of people and call 911.

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Legal Strength of OC Spray in Arizona

I recently received a question regarding the legally allowed strength of OC spray or “pepper spray” in Arizona.  Here in Arizona, we are fortunate to live in one of the less regulated states as far as non-lethal personal protection devices.  There is no statuatory limit to the strength of pepper spray in Arizona.

I do feel a bit of an obligation to explain how pepper spray works and how to determine the strength of any spray you might consider purchasing.  This is important because there is some confusion about how hot a spray should be in order to insure that it is effective against a potential attacker.

First, let’s talk a little about the idea behind what is more properly called ‘OC Spray’.  The ‘OC’ stands for Oleoresin Capsicum.  OC is a strong irritant of any mucus membranes it comes in contact with.  The sensation generated by exposure to OC is one of severe burning of the affected tissues.  If sprayed in the eyes, it causes profuse tearing, burning, pain and can cause temporary blindness.  A friend of mine in law enforcement that has been sprayed with OC in training says that it feels like “drowning with your face on fire”.  Not a pleasant experience to say the least…

This experience of burning eyes, running nose, coughing and having difficulty breathing can continue for 30-45 minutes depending on the amount of spray used and it’s strength.  The strength of the spray not based on the percentage of active ingredient, but rather is based on the number of Scoville Heat Units or SHUs that the spray has.  Scoville Heat Units are a measure of ‘heat’ in peppers.  A mild jalapeno pepper might have a SHU rating of 1,000 to 1,500.  Tabasco might carry an SHU rating of 30,000 to 50,000.  The hottest pepper in the world, the habanero, carries an SHU rating of 300,000 to 500,000.  Compare those to the rating of popular pepper sprays which can range from 2 million SHUs to 5.3 million SHUs.  As you can see, these sprays are really hot.

As you have no doubt experienced, different individuals can have different levels of sensitivity to peppers.  My father-in-law can put incredible amounts of crushed red peppers on food.  What he relishes is completely inedible to me.  Similarly, some people will be less susceptible to pepper spray due to ‘conditioning’.

Since pepper spray is many times used by law enforcement and correctional officers against their ‘clients’.  Some of those individuals develop a higher tolerance to the effects of the spray.  While OC spray will always have some effect, even on a heavily conditioned individual, they may be able to continue to function if the strength of the spray is near the lower end of the range.

That is one of the reasons that I recommend a spray by Fox Labs.  The Fox Labs product is highly refined and the SHU rating for it tops out at 5.3 million SHUs.  It is the hottest OC spray available.  Even the most ‘conditioned’ criminals have a difficult time fighting through this stuff.  It is truly ‘wicked hot’ as my friend from the east coast would say.

If you plan to carry OC spray for personal defense, there are a few of things to think about on both the positive and negative sides:

  1. It will do you no good if it is in the bottom of your purse, in your pocket or in your briefcase when you need it.  It needs to be accessible.
  2. There is a high likelihood of ‘cross contamination’ if you use OC spray.  What I mean specifically is that you might be exposed to it when you spray someone else.  This is not something you want to be experiencing for the first time when you are in trouble.  I’m not saying that you should blast yourself in the face with it, but you might want to understand what you might have to deal with.
  3. You cannot just ‘spray’ someone without justification.  You need to be under threat of assault at a minimum to be justified in using OC spray.
  4. You might also want to think before using OC spray in enclosed spaces.  Several people were killed during a panic to get out of  a Chicago dance club when a bouncer used OC spray on an unruly guest inside the club.

After considering all those things, you might ask yourself “Should I carry OC spray”?  Here is the answer for me:  one of my students probably prevented a robbery or worse by using pepper spray.  She had it in her hand when she was grabbed from behind at an ATM.  She sprayed the robber/rapist in the face and got away unharmed…

You can decide for yourself, but I don’t go anywhere without my OC spray…

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What are the laws in Arizona regarding self defense and the legal use of force?


What are the laws in Arizona regarding self defense and the legal use of force?



This is a short question that has a very long answer.  To give you some idea, in the CCW courses that I teach in Arizona, we spend between 2-3 hours discussing this topic.  


Clearly I can’t do that here.  I also need to tell you that I am not an attorney and can’t give you legal advice.  If you need to get a definitive answer or need legal advice, you should locate a good criminal attorney.  

Having said all that, I will try and give you an answer to your question…

In general, Arizona laws provides that you have the legal right to use force if you are ‘justified’ in doing so.  Justification is a fairly complex concept that looks at the circumstances when a threat of force or use of force has occurred and applies a test of whether or not the response to that threat or use of force was ‘reasonable and appropriate’.  

First, you must understand that words alone are never justification for use of force.  Someone can stand right in front of you and scream obscenities in your face and you are not ever justified in using force to stop them.  

On the other hand, if they take a swing at you with a fist, you may be justified in using some level of force against them to ‘stop the threat’.  Since the force you are being threatened with is not “lethal force” , you can only use enough force to stop the threat and can only do so if you believe that you are in danger of being injured.

If the threat against you involves a “deadly weapon”, which by legal definition would be a knife or a firearm, then you are justified in using force, including lethal force to stop the threat against you.  When someone illegally uses lethal force against you, you are most likely in fear of serious injury, permanently disabling injury or death.  This almost always would justify the use of lethal force to defend yourself.

It is the gray areas in between that cause so much confusion.  What happens when someone threatens you with a baseball bat or a stick?  Since neither of these are “deadly weapons” but simply “dangerous instruments” you may not be justified in using lethal force, but would be justified in using some physical force in self defense. 

It simply depends on the circumstances.  For example, if you were elderly or infirm, you might be justified in using lethal force if you believed you might be seriously injured or killed by your attacker. 

If you were about the same size and the same sex as your attacker and had some impact weapon available, you might not be justified in using lethal force, but you would be justified in using physical force to stop an attack.  

These issues are broadly referred to as “disparity of force” issues.  They involve things like the number of attackers, disparity in the physical size, age or sex between the victim and attacker.  All these things can affect whether or not justification can be used as a defense against use of force in a self defense situation.

My rule of thumb is this…if I can remove myself from the situation, that is the best choice.  If I am forced to defend myself from injury I will only use the force necessary to stop the threat or attack.  If I am being illegally threatened with lethal force, I am justified in using lethal force and will use it if necessary to stop the attack.

Bear in mind that any use of force, justified or not, can result in criminal charges.  The police may arrest all involved parties and let the court sort out who is guilty and who is innocent.

If you want a much more involved discussion of justification, you can pick up a copy of the “Arizona Gun Owners Guide” written by Alan Korwin.  You can pick one up for $15 in most gun stores.  You can also buy a copy online at http://www.tacticaldirect.com 


You can also visit the Arizona Department of Public Safety website at http://www.azdps.gov/ccw  


There you will find a downloadable paper written by an attorney, Michael Anthony, on the Arizona laws associated with the use of force and lethal force.  It’s about 75 pages worth of legal reading, but there is lots of detail.  It is also free.


Certainly, if you have specific questions you can feel free to drop me a note with and follow up questions you might have.



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Do I need a CCW Permit to carry a retractable baton in Arizona?

May 10, 2008 AZ CCW Laws, Legal Issues, Use of Force Issues Comments Off

You do not need an Arizona CCW Permit to carry a retractable baton in Arizona, concealed or not.  I would recommend that anyone carrying a baton of this type get some training with it.  If a baton is used improperly, they can easily be lethal.

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