Let’s revisit this case again.
Investigators said 68-year-old Willie James Jones woke up and noticed a motion detector light had been activated outside his home. Police said Jones saw someone standing near his pick-up truck in the front yard and armed himself before going to the door to investigate.
According to investigators, one of the two juveniles outside was scared by Jones’ sudden appearance and fled. Jones fired a shot and struck the juvenile in the buttocks. Police found no weapon on the teenager.
Authorities arrested Jones for second-degree assault. Police said they charged Jones because he wasn’t in immediate threat of danger when he fired his gun at the juvenile.
“The main reason this would not fall under stand-your-ground law is that the juvenile was posing no threat,” said Lieutenant John Crouch. “He was actively trying to escape, to get away from Mr. Jones at the time he was shot. Mr. Jones’ life was not in danger. The person was not trying to come into his home and threaten him in any way.”
Huntsville criminal defense attorney Russell Crumbley agreed when provided with details on the case.
“You can’t use deadly force to protect property. That’s where this got out of the self-defense law,” he said. “Once they see you and flee, there is no imminent risk to your life, and the self-defense argument is not going to help you.”
When we first wrote about this story, many people expressed in the comments the attitude, “if he’s on my property, I have the right to shoot him.” I suspect most of the people expressing that sentiment are just “spouting off,” but let’s really look at the problem this mindset poses.
If you sincerely think that it is acceptable to shoot an unarmed person for merely standing in your yard, you are the kind of gun owner that fuels the anti-gun movement.
If you honestly think it is acceptable to fire a weapon at someone who is running away from you, you are the kind of gun owner that fuels the anti-gun movement.
When you decide to own a firearm, you are not just exercising a right, but taking upon yourself a responsibility to use that firearm rationally, intelligently, and safely at all times, without exception.
That responsibility include knowing and practicing the safety rules religiously at home, the range, in the field, while carrying, and during transport.
That includes storing your firearms in such a manner where they cannot easily be accessed by the unauthorized (children, the mentally ill or infirm, addicts, etc) or petty criminals.
Most assuredly, that responsibility includes knowing when, where, and how you may employ your firearms in accordance with the law, including how you may use your firearms in self-defense… and when you may not.
Every Willie James Jones out there who thinks that he has “the right” to shoot an unarmed teenager in the back as he flees is another argument for gun control. Every person who thinks that putting a loaded gun in a sock drawer, or under the bed, and that their children or grandchildren “know better” or can’t find it is another accident—or worse, a crime—waiting to happen. You’re working as an example in Shannon Watt’s next campaign.
Getting involved in shooting has been one of the most rewarding decisions of my life.
The people I’ve met in the gun culture are some of the kindest, most giving, fun, sincere, and caring in the world. The people I’ve met in the industry are a tight-knit extended family. Teaching families and friends marksmanship and civics via Project Appleseed has been immeasurably rewarding, on so many levels.
All of that is threatened by the actions, and frankly, the stupidity, of a relative handful of irresponsible blowhards and know-it-alls.
You have the right to own firearms. You have the responsibility to your families, your communities, and your Republic to exercise that right intelligently.