Legal Considerations of Firearms Part 4
Armed Women of America
March 16, 2022 | View PDF
Over the last couple months, I’ve been discussing some legal considerations of owning and using firearms. I’ve been discussing a scenario in which a man breaks into your home and your spouse shoots him before he has a chance to fire the gun pointed at you. Let’s wrap up our discussion on this by talking about two important laws and other considerations. As always, please remember that none of the information in my articles should be construed as legal advice nor is it a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome- positive, negative, or otherwise. Please consult your attorney and your local and state laws and regulations for any legal issues.
CRS 18-1-704.5 is the legislature in Colorado that covers self-defense in the home and is typically referred to as the Castle Doctrine or Make My Day Law. It states that any occupant of a dwelling is justified in using any degree of physical force against another person when that other person has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, AND when the occupant has a reasonable belief that such other person has committed or intends to commit a crime in the dwelling in addition to the uninvited entry, AND when the occupant reasonably believes that such other person may use any physical force, no matter how slight against any occupant.
Some people are inclined to think that this law means that they can shoot anyone that comes on their property, however, in Colorado there is much more nuance to this. First of all, this law only applies to incidents inside your home. For example, using lethal force against someone in your front yard would not be considered valid under this law. Second, the law states that there has to be reasonable belief that the intruder intends to commit a crime and may use physical force against you.
Cases that occur outside the home would fall under CRS 18-1-704, which covers self-defense in general. This states that a person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and he may use a degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for that purpose. Further, deadly physical force may be used only if a person reasonably believes a lesser degree of force is inadequate. This begs the question of what is “reasonable”? And this is why self-defense cases can be so complicated. Generally, the question the court will have to answer is: Would another person have acted in a similar way under the same circumstances?
I hope this article series has gotten you thinking about some of the important legal considerations of owning a firearm and using it in your defense. Being a firearms owner is a weighty responsibility and it is critical that you understand your state’s laws and regulations. Let me leave you with a few scenarios that will challenge your understanding of what I discussed today:
Jimmy and Leroy don’t get along. One day Jimmy knocks on Leroy’s door while holding a shotgun, and when Leroy answers and draws his gun to defend himself, Jimmy shoots him. Would this be considered self-defense even though Jimmy was the initial aggressor?
Shane invites Ron to his house for drinks. Ron gets belligerent after a couple hours and refuses to leave. Shane shoots Ron, believing he is covered under the “Make My Day Law”. Does this meet criteria for Castle Doctrine?
Johnny tries to steal Lucy’s wallet from her, and she sprays him with pepper spray. Was this reasonable? What if she had shot him instead?
To find out more about legal considerations of owning a firearm, home defense, self-defense, and firearms, please join us for the Armed Women of America (AWA) Sterling Chapter meeting on March 19th from 9 am to 11 am at the Logan County Shooting Sports complex, 12515 Highway 61/2nd Amendment Way off Highway 61 Sterling.
Prospective members are welcome to attend their first meeting before joining. If you would like to become a member, you can join online at www.twawshootingchapters.org. Women over 18 interested in learning more can contact Andrea Stump at [email protected] or visit TWAW Shooting Chapters, Inc. website at www.twawshootingchapters.org. You can also like us on Facebook @twawsterlingcolorado or stop by Boondocks Army Surplus at 324 N 4th Street in Sterling and pick up a flyer.