As I walk out of an office building and head to my rental car, a man appears and demands my keys. He has a gun in his waistband. I put my hand on my gun. He makes a move for his and fires two shots, I fire two back and hit him. He goes down. man is about to try to steal my car.
This isn't real. I didn't just really shoot my attacker. I'm at a training simulator at Athena Gun Club and Instructor Rick Bongiovanni is putting me through the ringer.
The Simulator plays different scenarios that have different possible endings only he knows how they will end My heart is pounding.. my palms are sweating..
" You have to make split second decisions and it may or may not be your life that you might be defending.. It may be somebody else's. It can be very stressful.. The fact that you may have to take someone else's life." he says.
The simulators shows you that situations aren't always black and white and the situation can change in an instant. So when can you use deadly force? We put that to Edwin Walker with Texas Law Shield. It's a company that provides prepaid legal services to gun owners. He says Texas has no stand your ground law per se, but in 2007 the self defense law changed so Texans no longer have to retreat before using it.
"The law is very clear and straight forward." he says.
But that doesn't mean you can just shoot people just because. only under a precise set of circumstances...
"If you feel you are about to be the victim of a murder.. and aggravated kidnnapping, and aggravated robbery, a robbery, an aggravated sexual assault or a sexual assault.. So if you have a reasonable belief that one of these crimes is going to be perpetrated against you then you have the ability to use deadly force."
The Trayvon Martin case is being dissected over and over again, so let's avoid that.. But we had our own high profile stand your ground case here, the Raul Rodriguez case. He shot and killed neighobor Kelley Dannaher during a noise dispute.. He videoed the encounter and kept saying the same thing over and over again.
"I'm in fear for my life."
The jury convicted him anyway even though Danaher and others rushed him. Why? He legally couldn't claim self-defense. He had been trespassing, despite his claim he was afraid he never attempted to leave and he threatened the crowd with his gun.
"I believe that reviewing that tap, that he made himself and would up being the key piece of evidence against him. The jury believed he had disqualified himself."
Texas juries hold you to the "reasonable person standard." In other words. What would a reasonable person do in that situation? In Texas you can also use deadly force to protect your property under certain circumstances. Remember when the owner of the Breakfast club caught a man attempting to vandalize the Obama mural? He had a gun and could have used it.. Why?
"Arson, Burglary and robbery. These are felonies and you are allowed to use deadly force if circumstances warrant anytime they occur.. However criminal mischief and vandalism. You are only allowed to use deadly force at night."
It did happened at night.. But instead he held the vandal and waited for police.. Which takes us back to the simulator. In a lot of the scenarios you have the options, when confronted by this mugger at an ATM I drew my weapon and in the real would I could've shot him but I didn't and he fled. Which Brings us to the most important point Bongiovanni teaches students about using deadly force.. Only when it's absolutely necessary.
"You're going to have to process this through your brain, just because you can shoot someone doesn't mean you should shoot someone. If you can get away that would be a better option."