Shoot or Don't Shoot?

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

Imagine a frightening situation where you are face to face with an intruder in your home--do you shoot now and deal with the consequences later?  That's the question we're asking you, our viewers.  We've put together three scenarios and we want to know what you would do if put in those situations. How tough is the decision to shoot or don't shoot?

Here is our first scenario.  You unlock the door and walk into your house after a long day. You throw your keys down.  Meanwhile an intruder that you notice has a gun in his pocket is in your bedroom going  through your things.  You walk into your bedroom--he sees you, you run back into the living room to get your gun out of your bag.  He comes after you with a gun drawn.  You're in the living room of your home  face to face with an armed stranger. Shoot or don't shoot?

Here is 2nd Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney, Mike Walden.

"This person is in their home where they are in a life threatening situation where the gun is being pointed at them.   It would be very unlikely that charges would be filed against a person defending themselves in that situation. That's a pretty frightening situation.   It appears their life is in jeopardy.   It appears they're doing what they have to do to protect their life.   Since they are in their own home, they are under no obligation to retreat.   Watching that I'm not sure that person had the opportunity to retreat anyways.   So I think what she was up against, she had to make a decision," said Walden.

Here's the second scenario.

You're at home, you're alone, and a noise gets your attention.  You walk around the corner to the living room.  You notice the door knob is moving, it opens and an intruder enters your home. You don't know if he's armed.  You run back into your bedroom and grab your gun.  You walk back into the living room with your gun drawn and the intruder is standing in your living room with his hands in the air.  Shoot or don't shoot?

"She clearly seemed to have control of that situation.   This was a situation where clearly someone was doing something illegal.   He was an intruder, but he also had his hands up in the air and was trying to terminate his criminal conduct arguably.   Obviously the situation could change moment by moment, these things are influx.   If an instance after he holds his hands up in the air he charges at her, you have a completely different situation.   If in fact, he has terminated his criminal conduct and standing there with his hands in the air, I certainly can't give anyone the license to pull that trigger," said Walden.

Here's our third scenario.

You're  in your back yard.  Meanwhile in the front, a stranger walks into your garage.  He tries to steal your car.  You walk into your house and notice the intruder getting into your car.  You get your gun, go outside and stand in front of the vehicle.  You see him reach to put the car in motion--you don't know if he's going forward and could run over you, or just  interested in the car and backing out.

"A jury may hold you somewhat accountable for having put yourself in that position anyway.   You don't get to gun someone down because they are stealing your property.   She has run outside with a gun and put herself in a situation that maybe she should have thought twice about before she did that.   Obviously, the more prudent course would be to call police and let them know what's happening," said Walden.

Walden says if ever put in a situation like what we showed or something else, it's important to remember that your actions will eventually be  judged whether it's by law enforcement, prosecutors, by a jury.

"Those determinations are ultimately going to be viewed from a stand point of were those person's actions reasonable under the law, were those person's actions justified.   Very often, the best answer you get is put 12 people in a jury box and let them be in that same situation and see what they would think," said Walden.

Again those are attorney Mike Walden's thoughts on those three situations in particular.  He says each case is different.

We asked viewer to vote shoot or don't shoot in each scenario.  Here are the results.

In scenario one, where you find an armed intruder in your home, an overwhelming 99-percent of voters said they would shoot.

In scenario two, where you encounter an intruder with his hands up, 35-percent of respondents said they would shoot.  65-percent said "don't shoot."

The final scenario, when someone is trying to steal your car, 53-percent said "shoot." 47-percent said "don't shoot."

The feedback we received on our Facebook page was just as divided.

George Manuel wrote:  "if I felt my family or my life was in danger I'd shoot. If someone comes into my home they are putting their own life at risk."

Sara Hill says "this is a hard question to answer. I don't think a lot of people would know until they are actually in a situation like this....people do crazy things when they get scared!"

While Gene Goode writes: "shoot him! you wont have to worry about health care when you are in the Arkansas Department of Corrections!"

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