Response to Calvin Branche of Hudson, December 15, 2015 Letter of the Day: Arming citizenry raises questions.
Mr. Branche’s premise supposes that anyone who is already armed or who is taking a local Sheriff’s advice and arming themselves has not already considered the question he poses. The short response is that every responsible gun owner has already considered their responsibilities and the potential consequences of their actions involving the use of a firearm.
I’m not a lawyer so I can’t give legal advice, but I am informed enough to answer his questions. His first question concerns injuring someone who is not committing a forcible felony (776.08). Yes you could face criminal charges and/or a civil lawsuit. The follow up question is really the same question, but shifts the person you injure or kill to a perpetrator, “are you subject to charges unless you have the authority to shoot to kill or injure that person?” The short answer is yes you could still face criminal charges and/or civil lawsuits. However against a perpetrator of a forcible felony where you were acting in defense of yourself or others, Florida statues provide protection.
There is no immunity for your actions either as a private citizen or a law enforcement officer. Killing or injuring another human to stop a threat to yourself or someone else is again codified in Florida statues dealing with the use of deadly force. Statues provide protections for the person acting in a prudent and responsible manner but there are no guaranties of immunity from prosecution. The right to self-defense comes to you as an American Citizen. You have as much right to defend yourself as any law enforcement officer. You being in a place you are legally allowed to be gives you “legal standing”.
Mr. Branche’s question about the transition from a training environment to a justifiable use of force situation is what every person who considers an active self-defense position has to consider beforehand. This is really the crux of his letter. As someone who has not been involved in learning about firearms and their use, he questions those who have.
The spectrum of training available in the region is quite varied. A search on www.nrainstructors.org will provide information on NRA Certified Instructors who offer classes. A google or Bing search of gun ranges will also lead you to range information for courses they provide. Further searches can also find more advanced training from law-enforcement and military personnel who focus on specific tactics or skill sets. There are competitive shooting organization in the area, some of which promote defensive shooting skills.
The level of skill required by the state of Florida to obtain a concealed carry permit is not a very high threshold. It takes a much higher level of demonstrable marksmanship to qualify to become and NRA Instructor. The certificate anyone obtains from completing an NRA course, or another organizations course, doesn’t define that person’s continuing proficiency. The training a person has had, along with the amount of practice they take, could become an issue in a self-defense shooting situation if innocents get injured. But to answer the question, you would not hold up your certificate in one hand while shooting with the other.
Mr. Branche is certainly correct in his assertion of not wanting to be an untrained armed Citizen who has to defend his actions in court. Untrained people should not be carrying outside their home and there are few exceptions to the statues concerning concealed carry in Florida.
Sheriffs who encourage Citizens to arm themselves understand that Citizens are the first responders to violent attack. The State doesn’t require any training for a person over 21 to purchase a firearm and use it for self-defense in their home. This is the basic exercise ensured by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Who can purchase a firearm is regulated by the BATFE and the FBI NICS.
In order for someone to legally carry concealed in the state of Florida they have to meet the requirements as established in Florida Statue 790.06 and overseen by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Anyone who carries should have already considered the questions Mr. Branche has.
I can’t completely allay his concerns because responsibility cannot be legislated. It is self-serving for me to recommend that continuing education become part of the requirements for concealed carry licensing.
You won’t know if the person with a gun and a permit only has enough proficiency to pick up a gun and fire it, or if they regularly train and take courses to expand their knowledge, skills and attitude. In any case, the Citizen who lawfully carries has meet the requirements of the State of Florida. They will be subject to the Criminal and/or Civil justice systems if and when they choose to deploy and/or use their gun. Most importantly, in the State of Florida we still have the liberty to decide for ourselves what if any action we will take in a self-defense situation.
Even if you personally don’t want to carry, don’t vote for representatives who want to make the decision for everyone not to carry.