Don’t Underestimate the Risks of Using Your Gun

Only you can make the right choice.

Close up of barrel of shotgun aiming at man with his hands up

We’ve heard a few stories lately of people who felt that they were “defending” themselves only to end up facing a murder charge. Here’s another example. Why do we tell you about these stories?

We don’t want Guns Today readers to end up killing someone and facing a jury trial, like this guy.

Tracy Lawrence of rural Michigan interrupted a burglary attempt by two teenagers one morning last June. He saw two young people, in mid-summer, mind you, dressed in stocking caps and coats lurking near his garage and pickup. He got out his rifle and yelled from his porch, “What the hell are you doing?”

The men, who were both 18, took off. Lawrence ran after them and fired his gun 5 times. He killed both of them. Later, he told police he didn’t mean to hurt them.

Michigan only allows the use of deadly force when someone is physically in a threatening situation. Chasing them off your property, literally running after them, does not count. It’s likely that Lawrence knew this. At least, he should have known his state’s laws on using deadly force. If he did, then it’s possible that the heat of the moment simply took over and he acted on impulse.

When you have a gun in your hand and you’re pointing it at someone, you can not afford to act impulsively. It’s the difference in mindset between “looking for a fight” and “ready for a fight.”

A lot of times people who have guns feel that they need to pull them out anytime there’s an incident. this guy pulled his gun out, which he should have rightly done in order to scare off the robbers. But he then shot his gun 5 times. He was running after them. You can’t do that kind of thing and expect to not get into serious legal trouble. He interrupted the robbery and scared them off, which is what he should have done. If they came back and he interrupted them in his home, this would be a totally different story.

So keep your head. Don’t get involved in someone else’s fight. Don’t become the aggressor. Use your guns if you have to. But only if you REALLY have to.