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Elderly Homeowners, Attempted Burglary and the Castle Doctrine…

Question: My mother is over 65 and in ill health and has been tormented by numerous attempts by someone to either (peep) in her windows; tamper with the windows, etc.  She is thinking of purchasing a firearm for protection since my father, who is 73 and still works, travels away from the home 4 days a week.  I am afraid that if she does get a firearm and someone tries to break into her home she will be so terrified as to shoot and ask questions later.  Please advise.

Answer: It’s a sad commentary, but in many cases the elderly are targeted by criminals since they are generally one of the more weak and potentially helpless members of our community.  A former student of mine just told me about an incident where there was an attempted home invasion at his father’s house.  You mother should certainly take some steps to protect herself.  One thing she may want to consider is purchasing a burglar alarm that she can activate with a panic button remote that she can keep on her person when she is at home.

If she is intent on purchasing a gun, I’d recommend that she get some training with it and consider attending an Arizona Concealed Weapons Permit course, not so that she can carry concealed, but rather so that she has a better understanding of the laws that govern the use of deadly force and when it can justifiably be used.  We see a lot of older men and women in our courses for this reason.

If she did purchase a gun for her own protection, should someone break into her home she would be justified in using the firearm in self defense if the burglar entered her home illegally and she was in reasonable fear of serious injury, sexual assault or being killed.  As far as shooting first and asking questions later, as long as the criminal was inside her home, she would be on pretty firm legal ground.  If they were still outside, there is an argument that could be made that there was no ‘credible’ threat until the criminal entered her home and she was therefore not justified in using lethal force.  One of the reasons for taking the class is to understand under what circumstances she can legally defend herself.

Overall, I’d suggest the burglar alarm route first, but would have no problem with the firearm as long as she had proper training.

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