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Thursday, April 13, 2017

When Deadly Force is Involved

There is a new book by Major General (Ret.) Bruce Lawlor titled: When Deadly Force is Involved: A look at the legal side of Stand Your Ground, Duty to Retreat and other questions of Self Defense.  He shared pre-publication portions of the book with VSSA Board Members earlier this year and now that the book is out, John Caile of USCCA has done a review.  From Caile's review:
“[This book] describes a legal framework for thinking about self-defense that is applicable everywhere. It doesn’t focus on the laws of any one state, nor does it compare the laws of one state with those of another.”

This is where Mr. Lawlor’s approach is especially effective. Most self-defense writers spend time dissecting particular court rulings with their arcane and often confusing legal jargon. In addition, too often the results of one case are used to predict that a defendant in a different but similar case will “surely be acquitted” (or just as surely “convicted”).

Instead, Mr. Lawlor creates intriguing fictional “composite” cases, drawn from his considerable experience, each of which highlights a particular aspect of self-defense law (provocation, imminent harm, reasonableness of fear, retreat, etc.), as well as covering how laws such as “Castle Doctrine” or “Stand Your Ground” are interpreted by judges and juries.

This approach allows the author to use his excellent storytelling skills to, like a good novelist, create much deeper and more complex images of the various participants involved. We get to know them intimately, their histories, their views, even their emotions. We know not just what they did, but what they were thinking when they did it. This makes the cases more memorable, and the legal realities we are likely to face that much easier to understand.
Lawlor is currently the Director of the Center for Technology, Security, and Public Policy at Virginia Tech. When he met with the VSSA Board, he was asked why he wrote a book about self-defense, a subject usually thought of as being about guns. He explained, “While I confess to being pro 2nd Amendment, that is not what made me write the book. Rather it came from thinking about homeland security, and about the individual’s responsibility for his or her own protection.”

The book takes on each element of the use of deadly force and explains what happens after a person uses deadly force to avoid being killed or seriously injured. It is based on actual shootings. There are fifteen chapters that discuss the major legal issues that surface in virtually every self-defense case. Each chapter describes a different shooting incident, how the authorities handled it, and most importantly, why it was decided the way it was. When Deadly Force is Involved provides a practical working knowledge of how the law of self-defense works, removing some of the mystery that surrounds what appears to be a hodgepodge of statutes and court decisions.

Lawlor was also interviewed earlier today by NRATV's Cam Edwards.  He spoke about why he wrote the book and the approach he took.

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