While many of us might own firearms for self-defense because we’re concerned about being the victim of a crime of opportunity like a carjacking or a random break-in by a stranger, research indicates that those we know are almost as likely to be the perpetrator of a crime of violence as someone unknown to us.
That was the case in Las Vegas early Wednesday morning, where police say a man broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home before threatening her life.
Police Lt. Ray Spencer said preliminary information indicates the woman acted in self-defense.
Spencer said the woman, her current boyfriend and her three young children were in the home at about 4:30 a.m. when the woman called 911 as her former boyfriend smashed windows to gain entry into the home. The incident occurred on Seasons Avenue between Pecos Road and Eastern Avenue, near the I-215 Beltway.
Spencer said the woman had a gun, prompting the ex-boyfriend to leave the home before returning moments later with a gun of his own.
According to Spencer, the woman then shot the ex-boyfriend when he put his gun to the head of her current boyfriend.
The ex-boyfriend expired from his injuries, and while police continue to investigate, Spencer says all evidence to date points to self-defense.
He said circumstances of the incident indicating that the woman acted in self-defense include the fact that the ex-boyfriend “had ample opportunity to leave, however he chose to return back into the house armed with a handgun.”
Nevada has a Castle Doctrine, so arguably the woman would have been well within her rights to shoot her ex once he broke her windows in order get into her home, but it sounds like the presence of her firearm was enough to get him to leave, albeit temporarily.
Once he returned with a gun of his own and threatened not only her but her current boyfriend, however, there should be no question about whether or not she was acting to save her own life and the life of all those inside the home. Her only other option at that point was to trust that her ex, who had broken into her home and put a gun to her boyfriend’s head, wasn’t really serious about harming anyone.
I hope no one reading this ever finds themselves in similar circumstances, but if an ex or anyone else won’t leave you alone, please take it seriously. As my friend Nikki Goeser and her colleague Debbie Riddle recently reminded us, the criminal justice system definitely has its flaws, but there are still steps you can take to protect yourself.
It’s important that victims of stalking end all contact, document every incident, tell family and friends about the stalker, connect with a victim advocate and develop a safety plan. It’s also important to get law enforcement involved once there is documentation and evidence of unwanted behavior patterns that cause fear.
An order of protection may be necessary, and victims should consider that if they feel it is right for them. Nikki and Debbie both believe it is also time for a convicted stalker registry all across the nation. However, we think that law enforcement needs additional training on the seriousness of stalking and the potential for extremely harmful and deadly outcomes if they do not act. This mindset of “call us when something bad happens” has got to go.
A victim’s safety plan may include moving, address confidentiality program, name change, career change, protection order, security cameras, extra door locks, taking different routes to your job, making sure everyone in your inner circle knows about the stalker, not being alone, self-defense training and situational awareness training.
Not every victim will choose the same safety plan. It is an individual decision, but it is essential to know all of your options to make the decision you feel is right for you.
Nikki now has a lifetime order of protection against her stalker. She also chooses to carry a legally concealed firearm to defend herself and loved ones, and has taken firearms training classes that include laws on justifiable use of force.
A gun isn’t a magic wand, and it won’t miraculously keep you safe from all harm. It’s a tool that can, however, help to save your life and the lives of those you love if, God forbid, your stalker ever decides to ignore that piece of paper telling them to stay away and tries to do you harm. In Las Vegas, the decision to not be unarmed may very well have saved five lives today, and as traumatic as those moments may have been for the woman forced to shoot her ex-boyfriend, it’s a far better outcome than having to stand by helplessly as her assailant carried out his attack.