You are on page 1of 10


Courtney Wise
Arizona State University

■ My project 2 is centered around the argument of whether it is permissible

for a person protecting his or her home to shoot an intruder in “self-
defense”, or does such an act constitute “excessive force”. The online
definition of self-defense is simple enough, but it raises many questions
when applied to actual situations. I think this is an important topic for our
country, especially now, due to an increase of crime recently. It is
beneficial for the people of our society to know what is considered self-
defense and what could be seen as an excessive force, ultimately getting
them in trouble with the law.
Self-defense: What is it?

■ ”The defense of one’s person or interests, especially through the use of

physical force, which is permitted in certain cases as an answer to a
charge of violent crime.”
■ A claim or plea that use of force or injuring or killing another was
necessary in defending one’s own person from physical attack.

– Sentence: He shot the man who was trying to stab him and pleaded self-
defense at the murder trial.
Why is it complicated?
■ The definition of self-defense seems
simple from the outside, but it raises
many questions when applied to
actual situations such as:
– what is a sufficient level of force or
violence when defending oneself?
What goes beyond that level? What
if the intended victim provoked the
attack? Do victims have to retreat
from the violence if possible? What
happens when victims reasonably
perceive a threat even if the threat
doesn’t actually exist? What about
when the victim’s apprehension is
subjectively genuine, but objectively
Laws regarding self-defense

■ States have developed laws to determine when self-defense is allowed

and how much force a victim can use to protect themselves. The exact
laws differ between states, but the considerations are largely the same.
■ Duty to retreat: many states require that a person make an attempt to
escape the situation before applying lethal force.
■ Stand your ground: this law removes the duty to retreat and allow for a
claim of self-defense even if the claimant did nothing to flee from the
threat of violence.
■ Castle doctrine: allows people to defend their homes against intruders
through lethal force.

Over a 5 year span ending

Nearly half of gun owners say
Annual figure of in 2012, more than half -
they keep weapons because
2.5 million 56% - of the justifiable
it makes them feel safer.
instances where homicides involved
strangers, and in 11% of
the presence of a
the cases, the relationship
gun stops a crime.
was not reported. The rest
were acquaintances such
as neighbors and
How to reduce your risks of dangerous
■ Avoid shortcuts that take you through isolated areas.
■ If you're going out at night, travel in a group.
■ Be sure your body language shows a sense of confidence. Look like you
know where you're going and act alert.
■ When riding on public transportation, sit near the driver and stay awake.
Attackers are looking for vulnerable targets.
■ Be willing to report crimes in your neighborhood and school to the
When can I shoot, and when can’t I?

■ It would do no good to answer this question with a long list of

rules/guidelines that people would have to mentally go through in their
head before making the decision to shoot or not.
■ One simple rule: you are justified in using legal force against another
human being if, and only if, there is immediate and unavoidable danger of
death or grave bodily harm to an innocent person.
Fun Fact

Group Portion owning a firearm

Male 45% The most common reason
for owning a firearm is for
Female 15% protection purposes. My
White 33% family has always owned
Nonwhite 22% and kept guns in the
house for the purpose of
Republican 38% safety.
Independent 31%
Democrat 22% Reason Portion
Protection 60%
Hunting 36%
Recreation/ target 21%

■ (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2018, from
■ Wing, E. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2018, from
■ May I Shoot an Intruder? (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2018, from
■ LoRusso, L. J. (2017, November 29). Self-Defense Realities: Justified
vs. Excessive Force. Retrieved March 15, 2018, from
■ Everything You Should Know about Self Defense in AZ. (2016,
October 20). Retrieved March 14, 2018, from