Once again the news provides us an extremely tragic cautionary tale for those of us that choose to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense. On January 13th at a Theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida during a screening of Lone Survivor, 71 year old Retired Tampa Florida Police Captain, Curtis Reeves, shot and killed 43 year old husband and father, Chad Oulson, over a verbal dispute about Oulson texting on his cell phone during the movie. Oulson’s wife, Nicole, was also injured in the exchange, while trying to defend her husband. Reeves was arrested without incident and has initially been charged with Second Degree Murder. Read the entire story HERE.
As we have discussed time and time again here at HCS, when a person decides to carry a firearm concealed for self-defense, that person takes upon themselves a large amount of responsibility.
If you were to breakdown (percentage wise) how that responsibility would shake out, I would divvy it up like this:
25% of that responsibility lies in knowing the current law(s) as they relate to self-defense and CCL in the state in which they live and/or are visiting
25% rest in seeking advanced training after you have received your CCL
50% is exercising self-control and good judgement in self-defense matters
Note the bolded and underlined statement in point #1. I did that to help you understand that although self-defense laws are based on legally held universal concepts, the specifics of those statutes vary GREATLY from state to state.
This qualifies the 10th amendment to the Constitution whereby a Supreme Court Justice once said that “States are the Laboratories for Democracy”.
In this specific case we see the differences in Florida and Texas Law as it relates to Self-Defense,namely the issue of Verbal Provocation, which is not mentioned anywhere in the Florida Penal Code in relation to Self-Defense but is a fundamental element in Texas Self-Defense Law:
TX Penal Code Sec 9.31:
“The use of force against another is not justified in response to verbal provocation alone”.
Going back to several eye-witness accounts (including Oulsons Wife who was sitting beside her husband) the night of the incident, it is said that Reeves and Oulson argued loudly and yelled at each other for some time before the shooting. The witnesses also states that Oulson threw “a bag of popcorn” at Reeves out of frustration, no doubt, right before the fatal shots were fired. This brings us to another legal quandary: Reasonable Fear of Harm and Proportional Response.
Looking at the Universal Legal Concepts relating to Self-Defense once again, we see that several “burdens” must be met in order for The Use of Force and/or the Lethal Use of Force to be used. The first is Reasonable Fear of Harm. Here the law uses the term “Reasonable Man (or Person)” as a measuring stick to determine whether the action that was took would be considered a “reasonable” response. Was Reeves response of Lethal Force reasonable to Oulson’s verbal provocation and the throwing of a bag of popcorn at Reeves? The second is Proportional Response. Simply put, the Level of Force used must match the level of the threat in question. This is also called the Force Continuum by Law Enforcement. Was Oulson’s Bag of Pocorn thrown at Reeves a legitimate enough threat to warrant force, let alone lethal force?
There is also the issue of Florida’s (now notorious) “Stand your Ground Law” which the lib-tard media seems to love to bash over and over again, no doubt because of the Zimmerman/Martin Case two years prior.
As much as I hate to burst the anti-gun agendas bubble to cast yet even more dispersion on that law in hopes that it may be repealed some day so that Florida can join the pitiful ranks of other northern “Retreat” states; it plays no role in this case.
For Reeves to use that as a defense, he has to first prove there was indeed a legitimate threat to his life in order for him to stand his ground and not retreat. Yes, Reeves may have “felt” his life was in danger, but as we have already seen, no ‘Reasonable Man” could claim some nasty language back and forth and a bag of popcorn as a projectile was a legitimate threat to life and limb.