In this article we'll discuss the dilemma of warning shots and give another example of why they do not work. This is a two part article. The first part is a news story highlighting a real life scenario of someone who used a warning shot out of fear for his own life. The second part is an analysis of this incident that breaks down what should have been different.
Keep in mind that we are keyboard quarterbacking here, and no two circumstances are identical. All we can do is our best to understand and ultimately learn from any mistakes made.
This time out of Jacksonville, Florida — Two parents are mourning the loss of their adult son after the dad fired a fatal warning shot killing the son outside the dad's home.
After questioning, the dad was released and is not being charged with a crime. He reportedly fired the warning shot after fearing for his own life as his son attempted to throw a propane tank through the window. It is reported that the father called the police, first.
In 2013 the father had also filed a domestic violence injunction against his son who battled with anger and addiction.
Watch the video with interviews:
The mother said her son battled with anger and addiction, but gives no reason why her son threw the propane tank into the window to begin with.
According to police, the son was shot and killed by a warning shot on August 8th outside his father's home on Wood Ave. The father reportedly did not want to take his son's life.
This is a sad story. I'm a firm believer that things are backwards when parents are forced to outlive their children. And, things are even more backwards when the child dies at the hand of the parent.
We don't know much, here, and all we can analyze is what is reported on. The rest is speculation. There were a couple of news stories I read from a couple sources, and the above video is the best one I've seen on this particular incident.
The father reportedly feared for his life, which is backed up with the 2013 domestic violence injunction the father filed against his son.
The son was also was known to battle with anger and addiction. I've seen first hand what an angry addict can be like and how they can become a danger to those around them, even their loved ones. But, none of what I have said until this moment is the point I'm trying to make.
The point here, is that a father fired a warning shot and took a life he reportedly did not mean to take–to the point of even calling the police on his son. They just took too long to get there.
This is the prime example of why we don't condone firing warning shots. Any number of things can go wrong when you do this, but the main thing to remember is when you fire a shot at an unintended target, you have less of an idea of where the bullet goes.
If you fire straight out in front of you or to the side or rear, as I suspect the dad in this story did, you run the risk of hitting someone in close or far range. If you shoot up into the air, you run the risk of hitting someone further away, as the bullet can travel for miles before it falls back to the earth. Finally, if you shoot down, you run the risk of injuring yourself or someone else by ricochet.
Then again, there is something else to this story that we must discuss. If there is the barrier of a wall between you and a bad guy, is there really a justified use of deadly force? I'd personally say no, unless the guy on the other side of the wall had a gun or somehow got through the window.
At this time, the father is not being charged with any crimes. But, he could have been based on the fact that there was no imminent danger to life. After all, the son was still outside. Firing a warning shot, heck — even showing someone your gun — can be seen as the use of deadly force.
When and if that time ever comes for you, make sure there are no other options. And don't fire a warning shot. Rarely does anything good come from it.
Jacob goes more in depth on why warning shots are a bad idea, beyond what we cover here, in this article.
As always, I'm not an attorney and it's always best if you consult one before taking any advice off the internet. Because I'm not an attorney, nothing I say here should be construed as legal advice. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.