By Roger Lanny,
When Deadly Force is Involved, book by Bruce M. Lawlor, ISBN 978-1-4422-7528-7 cloth / 978- 1-4422-7529-4 eBook, from Rowman & Littlefield, 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Dept. WG, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706, www.rowman.com, release date – March, 2017.
The book being reviewed is a pre-publication, uncorrected proof copy. However, by the time this review is in your hands, dear reader, it should be available both in paper and electronic forms, in order to suit everyone’s needs.
Our author, Bruce Lawlor, is eminently qualified to pen this book. A retired Army Major General, he is a Harvard National Security Fellow, and both practices, law, and teaches self-defense as a certified firearms instructor. Lawlor also works with national, state, local and private sector executives enhancing organizational and individual security.
One point of order which, while obvious, must be stated anyway. Neither Bruce Lawlor, Women & Guns, nor myself are providing legal advice. Anyone involved in a situation necessitating such advice should immediately seek the services of a qualified attorney, preferably one with recommendations. Better yet, prior to that possible event, join the Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network, http:/ /www. armedcitizensnetwork.org.
“It can’t be stated too strongly that if you possess a gun for self-defense, you need to become familiar with the self-defense law of your state.”
Self-defense, by deadly force if needed, is a basic, God-given right. In times past, chat has not always been acknowledged by various governments and/ or royal entities, but nowadays, the good news is that it is, mostly. The fly in the ointment is the minefield labyrinth of local, state and national laws regarding the use of deadly force in self-defense. Many times these laws seem at cross-purposes to each other – there’s stand your ground, duty to retreat, and more.
The book is divided in to fifteen chapters, each of which starts off with a brief, engaging tale of someone using a firearm in self-defense, and targets a particular point regarding self-defense. Although most stories are taken from actual criminal proceeding in which the shooter was charged with manslaughter or murder, the names, dates, locations, etc. have been changed, and a bit of literary license taken for topic clarity and readability. The verdict, and the legal path which led to that verdict, are the actual ones. The stark reality of these situations makes for memorable teaching points.
Meticulously researched, the book ends with a comprehensive Notes section for each chapter, a Bibliography for the cited court cases, and other referenced works.
The author notes that while there are basic “ground rules” to the legal world of self-defense, laws and enforcement vary according to locale (state and city), legal precedent (prior rulings–both local and supreme court–both state and national), and the leanings of the populace, law enforcement, and governing officials at the time.
Lawlor breaks down the usual 1 ability, opportunity, jeopardy and preclusion to the following more granular eight points. In his fifteen chapters, he teases apart these points in a more nuanced manner:
- Threshold issue-was the shooting an intentional act, or unintentional (i.e.- an accident). If the latter, you CANNOT claim self-defense.
- “The second issue is … the shooter cannot provoke, prolong, or contribute in any way to the escalation of events that ends in the victim’s death.”
- Third & Fourth-“the triggering threat … an imminent threat of death of serious bodily injury.”
- Fifth-there must be a “reasonable belief in the shooter that he or she is about to be killed or injured.”
Sixth-“whether there existed a reasonable alternative to the use of deadly force.”
- Seventh-“Has the initial aggressor abandoned the fight, or is he unable to continue it, or has he somehow indicated he wants peace, rather than further confrontation?”
Eighth-was the force used reasonable to avoid the feared death or injury, or was it excessive?
Lawlor has an easy-going, enjoyable writing style, but it is also crisp, and immersive. You may find yourself wanting to tell a participant “Don’t do that!” or raging at the impotency of law enforcement and courts to help severely abused women, seemingly bordering on abandonment. Other scenarios may have you thinking “I might have said or done that myself.”
This book could lead you to re-evaluate the way in which you conduct interactions in your life -with your friends, your acquaintances, and with strangers. You’ll almost definitely re-evaluate the self-defense scenarios you occasionally run through in your head. Hopefully you are doing the latter, at lease occasionally, and thinking about how you go about your life, and potential threat scenarios, and how to best react to them, or, better yet, avoid them entirely.