Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Michigan Concealed Pistol License Is Not A 007 License

Unlike Ian Fleming's fictional character James Bond, persons issued a state of Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL/CCW) do not have a "License To Kill." Rather, a CPL only allows a designated person to carry a concealed pistol on or about his person.

In fact, in the state of Michigan a permit of any kind is not necessary carry an "openly displayed" registered handgun in a holster. Since many Michigan residents are either unaware or uncomfortable with the idea of "open carry," it is not widely practiced throughout the state.

While a concealed handgun does provide a person with a means of defending himself against an attack, there is a narrow band of circumstances under which the usage of lethal force can be used by any citizen for defensive purposes - whether he has a CPL or not. Thus, it is imperative that armed law-abiding citizens are knowledgable about the law. One excellent way of learning the law and its nuances is to take a bona fide Personal Protection Class.

Lethal Force Authorization
In Michigan a person can use lethal force if he is somewhere he has a legal right to be, is not committing a crime, and has a reasonable and honest belief that he or another person is facing an imminent threat of severe bodily harm, sexual assault, or death. Any person using lethal force outside of the aforementioned boundaries faces criminal prosecution.

While the usage of lawful lethal force may result in the death of an assailant, it is not the intent. The intent is to stop the threat posed by the bad guy. Once the threat has ended, the defensive use of lethal force must also end. In contrast, James Bond didn't have to worry about the law. He could indiscriminately kill anyone at any time for any reason without repercussions from the legal system.

Realities Of Shooting
Contrary to what is shown on television shows, an individual defending himself from an attack by an assailant may have to shoot the bad guy several times to end the threat. There is no set number of times that a bad guy can be lawfully shot, as long as he is a threat. Multiple hits may be necessary to offset the effects of illegal drugs in his system and/or heavy clothing and jackets being worn.

Assailants under the effects of drugs and adrenaline may be mortally wounded but still possess the ability to pose a threat. In fact, a defender may mistakenly believe that his shots were misses because the bad guy continued to advance despite being shot several times. The key strategy to be employed is to target the assailant's "center-of-mass" and to shoot until he stops.

Once the bad guy stops his threat, the defense of that threat must also end because a CPL is not a license to kill. It would be unlawful to stand over the shot-up assailant who was no longer a threat, and "finish him off." However, it is entirely possible that any of the prior shots were enough to cause death - which would be lawful.

Bottom Line:
If you are going to be using a firearm for personal protection, you need to be aware of the law. In Michigan, lethal force is authorized under a very narrow band of circumstances. Failure to know or observe the boundaries is not a valid excuse. Take a bona fide Personal Protection Class which teaches Michigan law on lethal force to not only empower yourself with knowledge but also to prevent you from being prosecuted. James Bond is authorized to kill; you aren't.
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