One day a few petty thieves decided to hold up a local diner. Little did they know, a man named Harry Callahan would be in that diner. Harry took action and killed them all, except one. The surviving robber panicked, held a waitress hostage and threatened to shoot her. With a menacing, squinty-eyed stare, Callahan didn’t back down an inch. Raising his .44 Magnum revolver right into the robber’s face, Dirty Harry boldly called robber’s bluff.
“Go ahead…. make my day.”
“Make My Day” laws may seem to have little in common with that famous scene from Dirty Harry, but the idea that a person has a right to stand his ground to protect himself, his family, and his property from menacing danger certainly gets at the spirit of these laws. “Make My Day” laws show up in various terms, some legal, some coined by media outlets. Some of the related terms you may hear include:
- The Castle Doctrine
- Stand Your Ground
- Castle Law
- Defense of Habitation
- No Retreat Protection
- Justifiable Homicide
- Justifiable Deadly Force
- Defense of Imminent Peril
These terms show up in a multitude of state statutes and treatises across the US. Although not all states have Stand Your Ground laws but most do. However the nuanced details of how those laws protect citizens differ greatly from state to state. Some states (such as California and New York) have what some refer to as “soft castle laws”. States such as Florida, Texas, and our own state of Oklahoma, on the other hand, have strong laws. Strong Castle Laws are intended to give citizens more reasonable leeway in how they protecting themselves and their personal property from intruders.
If you own a firearm of any kind, it is important for you to know how Oklahoma’s laws work in supporting your right to protect yourself and your property. Oklahoma Statute 21 OS1289.25 as well as Statute 21 OS1289.25(D) are the laws that govern the justified use of non-deadly and deadly force, respectively. You need to know when force of any kind is considered appropriate and legally justifiable.
Part of what makes the State of Oklahoma’s castle laws strong is that they can include but are not limited to your place of residence. The State of Oklahoma considers your “castle” to not only be your home, but, in some cases your occupied dwelling, your occupied vehicle, your place of business, or your place of employment. In addition, our statues can help you start with a legal presumption that you acted reasonably in your use of non-deadly or deadly force in defense against an intruder.
That being said, there are scores of implications and subtleties to consider when interpreting these laws. Some of these interpretations may be even more generous than you think. On the other hand, as strong as these laws are, you may still be arrested and criminally prosecuted, even if you are eventually proven to have taken justifiable measures.
In any case, it would be in your best interest to know the law and leverage your relationship with a trusted advocate. The Law Firm of Robert Robles is committed to serve our clients, helping them find practical solutions to sometimes complicated and confusing legal problems.
Oklahoma’s firearms and Stand Your Ground laws are supported and expounded upon by thousands of pages of legal treatises. We can help walk you through relevant questions in regards to these great laws. Some of these may questions include:
- What is considered an occupied dwelling?
- Is an occupied vehicle any vehicle I am inside?
- Does “residence” have to be permanent for me to be protected?
- What are the disqualifications for Stand Your Ground laws?
- Am I protected in using force to retrieve property from the intruder upon getaway?
- What if the intruder did not have a weapon?
- What if someone forcefully removes me from my “occupied dwelling”?
Is it lawful to use another person’s firearm in self-defense in Oklahoma? Generally, the answer is yes.
Picture this: you’re in a parking lot with your spouse when a man approaches and starts violently attacking your spouse without warning. You reach into the car, grab the firearm belonging to your spouse, and fire at the attacker. Was this legal? Can you grab another person’s gun and use it to defend yourself or others?
In Oklahoma, it is legal to use someone else’s gun for self-defense, in defense of another, or for any other legal purpose. There is nothing in the law indicating you can only use your firearm in self-defense. The assumption in this scenario is that you are legally allowed to possess or carry a firearm for self-defense, and the firearm is a legal weapon (not a sawed-off shotgun or an unlicensed machine gun).
LAW OF NECESSITY
However, not all people can legally possess or carry a firearm. In cases of emergency, the law of necessity may allow someone who is not legally allowed to possess a firearm to use someone else’s firearm in certain self-defense scenarios. If someone who cannot legally possess or carry a firearm comes into possession of a firearm and uses it to save another person’s life from an unlawful attack, the law of necessity could justify the actions of that person.
For instance, Angela, a convicted felon, sees an officer being attacked in the parking lot. She immediately comes to the aid of the policeman who dropped his gun in the fight with the attacker. Clearly, Angela cannot legally pick up or possess a firearm due to her felony conviction. However, the law of necessity would allow her to pick up the weapon and possess the firearm when rescuing the officer from deadly peril.
In Oklahoma, you can use someone else’s firearm to engage in self-defense, defense of others, or for any other acts of defense allowed under Oklahoma law. Whether the firearm belongs to a spouse, friend, or even a Good Samaritan stranger willing to give you access to their firearm, the fact you are using a gun not belonging to you will not affect your right to take defensive measures.
The law focuses on why you used a firearm. If you use another’s gun in an emergency self-defense situation, you will be judged by the same standard used if it was your own firearm: did you reasonably believe force or deadly force was immediately necessary to protect against another’s use of unlawful force or deadly force?
If you have any questions about self-defense, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.