There are laws in place that should have prevented the mass shooting in Texas that left 26 people dead. Yet, due to an oversight by the Air Force, the criminal got his hands on a semiautomatic rifle used at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs to go on a killing spree. Thankfully, there are also gun laws in place that give law-abiding citizens the power to poses firearms, and thus protect themselves and others from criminals using deadly force. That is exactly what happened in this instance, preventing the shooter from causing further harm.
A Hero Emerges
The shooter should not have been allowed to legally purchase the firearm he used to kill 26 individuals, due to a domestic violence conviction and his history of poor mental health. However, all of that happened during his time in the Air Force, and that information was never entered into the federal database. Now, years later, another domestic dispute lead him to enter a church in this small Texas town with the intent to kill. He succeeded in doing so, and fled the scene with that the gun he illegally possessed in hand. Enter: Stephen Willeford.
Willeford lives next door to First Baptist Church. Upon hearing the shooting, the former National Rifle Association instructor grabbed his rifle from its safe and pursued the criminal barefoot. He chased after him while getting off several shots, one hitting the shooter in the leg and one in the torso. This caused the criminal to finally drop the weapon and retreat, which likely saved many lives. The good samaritan is being hailed as a hero, and rightly so. It brings to light a point many supporters of the 2nd amendment have made in the gun law debate: Law-abiding gun owners are essential for effectively stopping criminals who get their hands on firearms.
Laws Concerning Third-Party Gun Defense
Self defense gun law is a topic we discuss regularly, yet not as many individuals are familiar with the law’s guidelines for protecting others with a firearm. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law gives a lawful gun owner the right to use deadly force in situations where it is evident that such force is needed to prevent another individual from killing or gravely injuring oneself or others. It can also be used if doing so prevents the criminal from committing a forcible felony, such as a robbery. Furthermore, the state’s concealed carry laws allow owners of firearms with the appropriate permitted to possess those weapons in public, so long as they are not openly displayed — including in church. In this regard, Texas law goes even further to allow gun owners to openly carry such weapons, which could potentially dissuade criminals from committing a crime at all.
It is important to point out that being a good samaritan can come with a price. Not only does it open one up to the obvious risk of bodily harm, it also comes with a gray area that must be considered in a split second before acting. That is why it is extremely important to be knowledgeable about gun laws, even before that information seems necessary. For instance, if a gun owner is engaging in an unlawful activity when using deadly force to defend himself or others, “Stand Your Ground” may not apply. Not to mention, the chance that a court will determine that deadly force was not needed is always there. For this reason, enlisting an experienced Miami gun law attorneys when met with a legal issue concerning gun ownership or use is of the utmost importance.
Do you have questions about self defense gun law in Florida? Our Miami gun law attorneys are always just a call away to offer guidance and protect your rights. Contact our office today to speak with a member of our team.