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Thread: Question about carrying a gun and crimes

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    Regular Member Samantha86's Avatar
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    Question about carrying a gun and crimes

    Hey everyone, so I am confused on the laws about carrying a gun and witnessing a crime. If I witness a crime, am I legally able to do a "citizens arrest" and stop them from doing it? Or do they have to be physically harming someone for me to stop it? A couple guys from the gun shop I go to told me if I witness a felony, i.e. someone physically hurting someone, I could actually shoot them to stop them from harming that person. But I can't stop someone from stealing anything. I heard it has to be a felony. Please help! I am so confused.
    ~Samantha~

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    Regular Member tombrewster421's Avatar
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    Question about carrying a gun and crimes

    I think you're right about it having to be a felony. That said, if they're stealing something over a certain value or are personally taking it from a person by force that would be a felony.
    Guns don't kill people, bullets do!

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    Activist Member golddigger14s's Avatar
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    The security company I have a part time job with, has a strict hands off policy. The most I can do is say: " I would really appreciate it if you stay here while I call the police." Anything stronger would get me fired. We can't even carry pepper spray.
    "The beauty of the Second Amenment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it." Thomas Jefferson
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    Regular Member Vitaeus's Avatar
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    First, if you have questions like this, don't even draw your weapon. Second if you have questions of whether you are justified in drawing your weapon, don't.

    RCW 9A.16.110
    Defending against violent crime Reimbursement.

    (1) No person in the state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting by any reasonable means necessary, himself or herself, his or her family, or his or her real or personal property, or for coming to the aid of another who is in imminent danger of or the victim of assault, robbery, kidnapping, arson, burglary, rape, murder, or any other violent crime as defined in RCW 9.94A.030.

    (2) When a person charged with a crime listed in subsection (1) of this section is found not guilty by reason of self-defense, the state of Washington shall reimburse the defendant for all reasonable costs, including loss of time, legal fees incurred, and other expenses involved in his or her defense. This reimbursement is not an independent cause of action. To award these reasonable costs the trier of fact must find that the defendant's claim of self-defense was sustained by a preponderance of the evidence. If the trier of fact makes a determination of self-defense, the judge shall determine the amount of the award.

    (3) Notwithstanding a finding that a defendant's actions were justified by self-defense, if the trier of fact also determines that the defendant was engaged in criminal conduct substantially related to the events giving rise to the charges filed against the defendant the judge may deny or reduce the amount of the award. In determining the amount of the award, the judge shall also consider the seriousness of the initial criminal conduct.

    Nothing in this section precludes the legislature from using the sundry claims process to grant an award where none was granted under this section or to grant a higher award than one granted under this section.

    (4) Whenever the issue of self-defense under this section is decided by a judge, the judge shall consider the same questions as must be answered in the special verdict under subsection (4) [(5)] of this section.

    (5) Whenever the issue of self-defense under this section has been submitted to a jury, and the jury has found the defendant not guilty, the court shall instruct the jury to return a special verdict in substantially the following form:


    answer yes or no
    1. Was the finding of not guilty based upon self-defense? . . . . .
    2. If your answer to question 1 is no, do not answer the remaining question.
    3. If your answer to question 1 is yes, was the defendant:
    a. Protecting himself or herself? . . . . .
    b. Protecting his or her family? . . . . .
    c. Protecting his or her property? . . . . .
    d. Coming to the aid of another who was in imminent danger of a heinous crime? . . . . .
    e. Coming to the aid of another who was the victim of a heinous crime? . . . . .
    f. Engaged in criminal conduct substantially related to the events giving rise to the crime with which the defendant is charged? . . . . .

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9A.16.110

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    Regular Member conandan's Avatar
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    My understanding, and I could be wrong. But to draw your weapon it has to be a forceable felony. As far as detaining someone for a simple crime I wouldn't risk it. They can turn it around on you as a violation of there civil rights. And we all know the BG'S have more rights than we do.

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    Regular Member DCKilla's Avatar
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    It seems that everyone has a line that needs to be cross before deadly force is necessary. There is always that legal limit as well. Assault with a deadly weapon and/or being beat senseless without cause seems to be the start for me to defend a victim of no relation. To defend a family member and/or friend, the stakes are a quite a bit higher. My guess with a person of no relation, you better be pretty damn sure you're right.

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    Regular Member hermannr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hot_Every_Night View Post
    Hey everyone, so I am confused on the laws about carrying a gun and witnessing a crime. If I witness a crime, am I legally able to do a "citizens arrest" and stop them from doing it? Or do they have to be physically harming someone for me to stop it? A couple guys from the gun shop I go to told me if I witness a felony, i.e. someone physically hurting someone, I could actually shoot them to stop them from harming that person. But I can't stop someone from stealing anything. I heard it has to be a felony. Please help! I am so confused.
    this is my philosophy...you fit to the circumstanses as you see them. Active shooter,,,shoot...cancel the threat, Someone threatening someone else, challenge, shoot if necessary to cancel the threat...like the guy in Post Falls ID that told the guy that was robbing the woman, and threatening her with a knife...drop the knife, or I'll drop you..perp dropped the knife and ran. No compelling need to go any farther, threat cancled...check the woman is ok, and be a good witness.

    Guy that asaulted the woman in Spokane and stabbed her, the hero guy followed and kept police informed via cell phone. I am of the opinion, if you shoot someone in the back, there better be a very good reason (there still is concern for someone else's safety) as the guy here did not feel that anyone else was in danger and did not shoot, did persued, but did not try to arrest.

    I believe the law allows citizens arrest, while using deadly force if necessary, only when there has been a violent felony committed in your presence...Home invasions and robbery are considered violent felonies, as is, asault, rape and kidnapping. Once outside those type of parameters...walk softly. Anything that you would think you would/could do to protect yourself, you can assume you can do to protect someone else.

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    Regular Member Samantha86's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone! I have looked online for a long time for laws pertaining to firearms, and I really do know a lot about guns, but the laws have really got me confused. I am sure I have a lot more to learn when it comes to the firearm laws, but I appreciate your guy's help a lot. I love this site.

    Quote Originally Posted by NavyLCDR View Post
    You are really asking two, possibly three seperate questions. 1. Citizen's arrest, yes or no? 2. Using force to perform the citizen's arrest. 3. Using deadly force.

    1. The Washington Attorney General has opined that any person may make a citizen's arrest for any misdemeanor or felony that they have witnessed.

    2. RCW 9A.16.020:
    Use of force When lawful. The use, attempt, or offer to use force upon or toward the person of another is not unlawful in the following cases:
    (1) Whenever necessarily used by a public officer in the performance of a legal duty, or a person assisting the officer and acting under the officer's direction;
    (2) Whenever necessarily used by a person arresting one who has committed a felony and delivering him or her to a public officer competent to receive him or her into custody;
    (3) Whenever used by a party about to be injured, or by another lawfully aiding him or her, in preventing or attempting to prevent an offense against his or her person, or a malicious trespass, or other malicious interference with real or personal property lawfully in his or her possession, in case the force is not more than is necessary;
    (4) Whenever reasonably used by a person to detain someone who enters or remains unlawfully in a building or on real property lawfully in the possession of such person, so long as such detention is reasonable in duration and manner to investigate the reason for the detained person's presence on the premises, and so long as the premises in question did not reasonably appear to be intended to be open to members of the public;
    (5) Whenever used by a carrier of passengers or the carrier's authorized agent or servant, or other person assisting them at their request in expelling from a carriage, railway car, vessel, or other vehicle, a passenger who refuses to obey a lawful and reasonable regulation prescribed for the conduct of passengers, if such vehicle has first been stopped and the force used is not more than is necessary to expel the offender with reasonable regard to the offender's personal safety;
    (6) Whenever used by any person to prevent a mentally ill, mentally incompetent, or mentally disabled person from committing an act dangerous to any person, or in enforcing necessary restraint for the protection or restoration to health of the person, during such period only as is necessary to obtain legal authority for the restraint or custody of the person.

    3. If you are going to draw your gun, you must be prepared to deal with the consequences of using it, so I would make sure to be justified only with the gravest outcome before drawing the gun:

    RCW 9A.16.050
    Homicide By other person When justifiable.
    Homicide is also justifiable when committed either:
    (1) In the lawful defense of the slayer, or his or her husband, wife, parent, child, brother, or sister, or of any other person in his or her presence or company, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design on the part of the person slain to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury to the slayer or to any such person, and there is imminent danger of such design being accomplished; or
    (2) In the actual resistance of an attempt to commit a felony upon the slayer, in his or her presence, or upon or in a dwelling, or other place of abode, in which he or she is.
    ~Samantha~

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