Personal protection is consistently the top reason Americans purchase firearms every year. However, to what extent can you use lethal force to protect yourself from those who wish to harm you or your family?
If you're a long-time gun owner, you're probably aware of the collection of rules you need to know for concealed carry, purchase and transfer, etc. But, where does personal protection fall into this list of laws and statutes?
If you've spent time researching firearm self-defense laws, you may have heard of the terms "castle doctrine," "stand your ground," and "duty to retreat." So, what is castle doctrine?
Keep reading to learn more about castle doctrine, castle doctrine states and what it means for you and your family.
Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. We want to give you general information about castle doctrine, but every situation is different and online resources aren’t a suitable replacement for legal council.
1. What Is Castle Doctrine?
According to the National Conference of State Legislature, the castle doctrine is a common law principle that "individuals have the right to use reasonable force, including deadly force, to protect themselves against an intruder in their home."
In other words, castle doctrine and stand-your-ground laws allow you to use force if you are in imminent danger.
2. Does Castle Doctrine Just Apply to My Home?
Lawmakers coined the phrase "castle doctrine" from the idea of a king or queen defending their castle from invaders. While castle doctrine starts with the ability to protect your home, in many states, it includes most areas you can legally occupy.
While your home may not have a moat or fortified wall, it's your castle. Here are some of the other places that can be regarded as "castles" regarding the use of a firearm in self-defense:
- Your home or legal residence
- Your place of work
- Your vehicle
- Your private property
- Any other property you have permission to occupy
While you may use lethal force in other areas outside of your home, always follow the firearm policies of any property you visit. Never take a firearm into a posted no-firearm zone.
3. Castle Doctrine States: How Are the Rules Different?
Castle doctrine and other self-defense laws differ from state-to-state much like concealed carry and firearm purchase policies. Before you plan to use a gun in self-defense, make sure you are aware of your state's rules. For most states, the use of a firearm for personal protection breaks down into one of two categories: stand your ground and duty to retreat.
"Stand-your-ground" laws allow you to use lethal force for self-defense where you are.
"Duty-to-retreat" laws require you to exhaust all forms of retreat from the situation before using lethal force for protection.
Considerations for the Castle Doctrine: What Happens After I Shoot?
While your state may permit you to use a firearm to defend yourself or your family in the spaces outlined, castle doctrine doesn't allow you to use force without reasonable cause.
The most desirable outcome is for you to never need to fire a shot. If you need to use your gun in self-defense, there are several legal considerations you’ll need to make once you call 911.
After the incident occurs, law enforcement will arrive on the scene to investigate the invasion, attack and use of force.
If you end up in a civil liability case, you'll need to prove that you reasonably used your firearm. Once you prove justification in your action, the prosecuting party must pay for attorney fees and expenses.
The use of legal force should be your last course of action. Alert the authorities, get your family to a safe location and only use force when someone has given you reasonable cause that they are a threat.
To prepare for emergencies, having a secure but accessible place to store your firearm is crucial. Concealment wall art, flags, furniture and decor are great ways to keep your guns out of sight but ready to use at a moment's notice.Check out our products page to find the right firearm storage solution for your home. For more information on our concealment products, visit our contact page to get in touch with a team member.