The Difference between Legal and Illegal Self Defense
Within many States it’s considered a crime to carry offensive weapons. Although firearms are permitted within homes and can sometimes be carried with a license, they are only permitted for use when the carrier is faced with a life or death situation. Over the years, this has led to many unprecedented prosecutions; many of which could have been avoided had an alternative weapon been used in place of a gun.
What is illegal self defense?
Illegal self defense can be deemed as any act of willing concealing, carrying, or using a weapon with the intent of causing harm or death. There is a fine line between what constitutes as legal self defense. If an individual carries a weapon with the intention of bumping into someone and then killing them by shooting or stabbing, then this is a criminal offense.
Where does legal defense come into things?
If an individual was to instead carry a defensive weapon such as a stun gun, pepper spray, or other accessory that can be used to deter a crime, then the consequences can be entirely different. Most rulings are based on the circumstances of the event. If an individual decides to use their device or defensive accessory on an unarmed person without due cause, then this can be considered a crime.
If the individual is faced with a threatening situation however, if they feel that their life (or someone else’s) is in danger, or if they have no other choice than to defend themselves, then it is typically seen as permissible to use force. There are some defensive tools that can help to ensure that they are only used when necessary – and even defending oneself with a firearm can have severe penalties when compared to carrying a stun gun.
This is why many citizens find carrying a stun gun helpful, or a can of pepper spray, as these devices are intended to debilitate an attacker without posing an immediate threat to life. By carrying them, an individual will be seen as intentionally arming themselves, but as the tools are defensive by nature, there aren’t many courts that will consider their use a criminal offense.
How to recognise the difference
There is one main rule of thumb that can be followed when practising self defense. If an individual is bearing arms in an attempt to cause harm intentionally to an individual, then this is an offense and the person may find themselves being prosecuted. If however, they are carrying a defensive device such as a tazer, a stun gun, or pepper spray, then these tools are considered defensive. As long as they are only used to protect the wielder from harm (or others at risk), then there is no offense – and the entire event may be considered self defense, as opposed to an assault.