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    Posted private establishments can prevent permit holders from carrying a firearm within their business. "Posting" or notification can be done with a sign that meets the requirements of MN 624.714 subd. 17 or be done verbally (see statute below). Failure to comply with postings may result in legal action and law enforcement interaction. The general rule is that if you wish to shop at a business that is "posted" leave your firearm secured in your car. Otherwise, spend your money elsewhere. If you ignore the signs and refuse to leave when asked to do so, you will most likely be charged with trespass. Follow the law and there will be no issue (generally speaking).
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    In order to use deadly force against another, the attacker must truly have the ability to kill or cause great bodily harm. This “ability” may come in the form of having a dangerous or deadly weapon or a disparity of force exists between the victim and the attacker.

    First, what is a "dangerous weapon"? Well, according to Minnesota statute 609.02 subd. 6 it means this:
    "Dangerous weapon" means any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, or any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm, any combustible or flammable liquid or other device or instrumentality that, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm, or any fire that is used to produce death or great bodily harm. As used in this subdivision, "flammable liquid" means any liquid having a flash point below 100 degrees Fahrenheit and having a vapor pressure not exceeding 40 pounds per square inch (absolute) at 100 degrees Fahrenheit but does not include intoxicating liquor as defined in section 340A.101. As used in this subdivision, "combustible liquid" is a liquid having a flash point at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
    The obvious “dangerous weapon” includes guns and knives. However, any every-day common household object can in fact become a “dangerous weapon” under statute depending on how the object is used. For example, is a camera tripod a “dangerous weapon”? Well no, of course not. Not if it is sitting on the shelf at Wal-Mart or if the tripod is being used to take photographs. But what if a stranger were to approach you and proceeded to crush in your skull with the tripod?. Under the law, the tripod becomes “clubbed” and therefore, based on how the tripod was used, is labeled as a “dangerous weapon”. Baseball bats, golf clubs, hammers, laptops, grandmas Waterford vase and your tire iron (to name a few) can all be turned into dangerous weapons based on their use at the time of an attack. Dangerous weapons are believed to give an attacker the “ability” to cause death or great bodily harm.

    When a “dangerous weapon” is not present, the attackers “ability” can come from what is referred to as a disparity of force. Essentially, the attackers own strength, size, force in numbers or the victims own condition can create a life threatening situation if attacked by an unarmed attacker or attackers.

    Elements that create a disparity of force include, but are not limited to:


    A great deal of common sense must be used when assessing a threat. For example, if a 5 year old boy runs at you with a kitchen knife, you may in fact suffer some cuts and scrapes but it will most likely be difficult convincing a jury that the 5 year old had the strength to wield a knife in a manner that truly represented a valid threat of death or great bodily harm.

    In a one-on-one altercation between two males, the attacker being unarmed, there is going to need to be a significant size and strength difference before the victim would be justified in reaching for a weapon. An example might be an 80 year old violently attacked by a 25 year old or possibly a 5’ 4” 125lb male attacked by a 6’ 7” 300lb male.

    There is a cultural predisposition that males are generally larger and stronger than females and therefore disparity of force will most often exist. It is important to note that a female can use deadly force to defend against rape.

    Generally speaking, when attacked by two or more assailants, disparity of force clearly exists. With two against one, it most likely will come down to a judgment call as to whether or not the two attackers represent enough of an overwhelming force to justify the use of deadly force for self-defense. It is important to note that should you disable one of two attackers or two of three attackers, your use of deadly force must generally stop because now disparity of force (force in numbers) no longer exists.

    If you are attacked by someone with superior fighting skills, disparity of force can exist. The challenge is you must know your attacker possesses these skills at the time of the attack. Fighting skills in the destructive arts typically include a black belt in a martial art, professionally trained boxer or specialized training in the military where the individual is taught to kill fighting hand-to-hand.

    In some cases if the victim has a medical condition or is taking certain types of medication such as blood thinners, disparity of force may exist even between two males evenly matched in size and strength. Conceivably, someone on blood thinners would be at risk of death even if only moderately / mildly attacked (high potential for hemorrhaging).

    Lastly, if you find yourself in an altercation fighting hand-to-hand where size and skill are all equally matched, should you (the victim) become disabled during the attack, disparity of force may now exist and justify the use of deadly force. An example would be to receive a kick to the knee, falling to the ground and be unable to get up. Being unable to roll with the attackers crushing kicks and punches, these crushing blows with the shod foot or fist could in fact be life threatening.

    The element of “ability” in the AOJ-P analysis is easily identified when a weapon such as a gun, knife or club exist. Ability becomes more difficult to identify in cases where disparity of force is claimed unless the disparity of force is clearly obvious (multiple attackers).
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    In addition to ability, your attacker must have the opportunity to kill or cause great bodily harm and the threat must be immediate. For example, if some man yells, “I am going to cut your head off with my knife” and your attacker is on the other side of a four-lane highway with heavy traffic flowing in each direction, it would not be reasonable to believe he had the immediate opportunity to kill you; you could, in fact, most likely run away to safety. The attacker has distance and obstacles (traffic) working against him.

    On the other hand, if the same person is within 21 to 30 feet and there are no obstacles, it is very likely that this individual has the immediate opportunity to kill you with his knife. It has been proven that a person can close a distance of 21 feet and thrust a knife into the intended target within 1.5 seconds. Other similar studies found elderly people who qualified for Social Security capable of closing a distance of 21 feet within 2 seconds. See the “Tueller Drill” by Dennis Tueller.

    With firearms, guns are considered to be remote-control weapons and therefore opportunity nearly always exists. The opportunity criterion is mostly a factor with contact weapons.

    Some other considerations may apply when it comes to opportunity. For instance, is a knife-wielding assailant behind a locked door a threat? Most likely not; therefore, if you were to shoot the assailant through the door, that would not likely be found justifiable. On the other hand, if the assailant started to successfully break the door down, then he would promptly become dangerous and firing a gun to stop the deadly threat would in fact be warranted.
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    Statute 609.065 specifically authorizes the use of deadly force to prevent the commission of a felony in the home (or place of abode). In Minnesota, the courts have ruled that there is no duty to retreat from the home. Exercise great restraint before deciding to employ deadly force. Even in the home there can be a high financial, psychological and social cost to shooting another human. Ensure it is necessary before doing so.

    The choice to own a firearm for use in the home as a defensive weapon is a very personal decision that requires forethought. Some humans are capable of committing amazingly heinous acts of violence resulting in the possible torture and or death of the intended victim or victims (can you count to 46?). At a minimum, everyone needs to ask the question:

    “If my home is invaded at 3AM and the phones do not work or police response is not immediate, how will I defend myself and or my family against one or multiple armed attackers?”
    Some folks have given this question considerable thought and have addressed the issue to the point where they are reasonably prepared to defend their home and family. Other folks do not believe a home invasion is likely or they do not believe their home will ever be invaded by criminals and subsequently consider the question no further. Either way, how people deal with life’s issues and the resulting decision that is made is an individual choice and we all must live with the choices that we make.

    Home invasions most often occur during the day between the hours a home would most likely not be occupied (e.g. 9AM to 4PM). The motivation for these “cold” invasions is almost always theft. Home invasions that occur while the home is occupied (hot invasion) are to be considered extremely dangerous for the occupants. One must conclude that individuals committing a hot invasion are prepared to “deal” with the occupants of the home using violence. This almost always results in an armed confrontation.

    The end result of a hot home invasion cannot be predicted. The criminal’s original motive may have been theft but the focus may shift from the theft of possessions to the occupants at any time and result in rape, torture, murder and or arson. Generally, the more invaders in your home the more dangerous the situation will be. This is because a group of criminals will tend to embolden one another and in some cases members of a group will want to out-do the others by committing more heinous acts of violence than their cohorts. A single home invader may only restrain the victims and leave the home or he may choose to kill the victims in an effort to eliminate witnesses that could identify him in court.

    Another point to be made is the fact that most criminals are on drugs. This can create a few challenges for the victims. First, if you believe you can reason with or negotiate with someone that is truly out of their mind, good luck. Attempting to convince a criminal that what they are doing is wrong will probably not result in anything positive. Second, criminals that are on drugs are not easily subdued. Adrenalin combined with various drugs can make a criminal nearly unstoppable without the aid of a firearm and well-placed shots.

    Consider our original question and make a decision on your level of preparedness.
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    According to the National Rifle Association, more than 2 million assaults are prevented each year by making a potential attacker aware that the would-be victim is carrying a firearm.

    If you believe a threat will soon turn into physical violence, you may take the following actions to preempt an attack (least aggressive to most aggressive):

    • Expose your firearm but leave the gun in the holster, keeping your hand on the guns grip so the gun can be quickly pulled and put into action
    • Pull your gun from its holster and keep the gun at your side or at a low ready position (pointed toward the ground at approximately a 45 degree angle)
    • Pull your gun from its holster and point your gun at the attacker (see notes below)


    Anytime a firearm is used defensively, regardless of whether or not a shot is fired, it is important to notify the police as soon as it is safe to do so. The reason for this is the fact that the would-be criminal might decide to call 911 to report that someone (you) just pulled a gun on him. Generally, the first person to call 911 is the victim.

    Keep in mind that if you point your gun at someone and you are not able to articulate your legal justification for doing so, you run the risk of criminal prosecution for second degree assault which can be up to 7 years in prison. In theory, it would be fair to say that to be justified in pointing your firearm at someone, the situation would have to be so grave that you would also be justified in shooting the attacker but at the last moment, the attack was prevented upon the presentation of your firearm without the need to fire.

    Never, under any circumstance, fire warning shots, either into the air or into the ground. Firing a warning shot is dangerous and primarily a product of television and Hollywood. Many police departments have policies against this type of action. Innocent people have been killed by firing warning shots and you are responsible for the bullets that leave your barrel.
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    As a reminder, in self-defense training you are taught never to shoot with intent to kill; you shoot to stop the threat of death or great bodily harm. This is not meant to say that you are to aim your firearm at the attacker’s leg, foot or hand. You are in fact instructed to shoot at the center of exposed mass. Most often this will be the center of the attacker’s chest. If the byproduct of stopping the threat is death, that is not your concern. Once the threat of death or great bodily harm passes you must stop your use of deadly force or risk criminal charges. You need to be indifferent regarding the health of the attacker. Your only concern should be stopping his forward motion and preventing your own death.

    For legal reasons, never use the phrases and or words “kill”, "accident", "mistake" or "I didn't mean to" (just to name a few), when referring to or describing your own actions. You cannot claim self-defense if the shooting was an accident or a mistake. Do not let your own words send you to prison. A claim of self-defense is an affirmative defense that is reserved for intentional acts based on necessity.

    After a self-defense shooting, remaining calm and in control will be important because it will set the tone for how others perceive you and how law enforcement officers interact with you. After all, an out of control and irrational person with a gun may make others uncomfortable and create a dangerous situation that otherwise would not be dangerous. Employ the use of safe gun handling techniques so there are no accidents. Do not sweep the barrel of your gun across innocent bystanders. Keep your finger outside the trigger guard to avoid an accidental discharge.

    If you should have to fire your gun in self-defense to protect your life or the life of a family member, your first priority is ensuring your continued safety. Many times criminals will work in pairs or groups so ensure there are no additional threats in the area. Seek out some form of cover even if it is only having a wall to your back. If it is not safe to remain in the area of the shooting then leave. Go to the nearest gas station or retail establishment and call 911 immediately. Otherwise stay where you are and call 911. If someone (a bystander) tells you that they have already called the police, call yourself to ensure the accuracy of the information and to have record that you called as well.

    Pertinent information for the 911 operator:

    • Location and or address
    • Name
    • You have a permit to carry a firearm (assuming you do)
    • You were attacked, someone tried to kill you and you had to fire your gun in self-defense
    • Provide a description of yourself and state whether or not you are holding the criminal at gunpoint or if you have your firearm in your hand
    • Request medical attention for your attacker (MN statute 609.662) and yourself if required
    • Follow the instructions of the 911 operator unless you feel the instructions will jeopardize your safety

    When speaking to the 911 operator, only provide information related to your safety and only provide limited information on the most obvious facts regarding the shooting. Do not provide details regarding the incident. From this point forward you are in legal jeopardy and everything that you do and everything that you say can be used against you in court (criminal and or civil).

    In the state of Minnesota if you shoot someone you are legally obligated to render aid. This is as simple as asking the 911 operator for an ambulance. Criminals are dangerous and sometimes criminals will “fake” injury or death in an attempt to gain an advantage in the altercation. Do not approach the person you have just shot. This person may still be dangerous.

    While waiting for the police to arrive, do not have protracted conversations with witnesses, do not threaten witnesses and be mindful of the direction your firearm is pointed. Ask those in the area to remain and wait for the police as they are witnesses. If the criminal attempts to flee, let him. You are not legally obligated to prevent the criminals flight and you certainly cannot shoot a fleeing criminal. However, should the criminal attempt to regain control of a weapon, it would be prudent to conclude that your life was once again in jeopardy and the use of deadly force would be legal.

    While waiting for the police, it is imperative that the integrity of the scene be intact for the investigation that will soon follow. Always be aware of the attacker’s weapon. The attacker’s weapon is evidence that will help to prove your case should you end up in court. Some bystanders may want to assist the attacker and provide medical attention. You should strongly advise against this action as the attacker may still be armed or the person going to the aid of the attacker may be an accomplice and use the attacker’s weapon against you. Maintain distance between bystanders and the attacker, but never threaten anyone as this is likely to be misinterpreted later.

    When greeting the police, it is likely they will have their guns out and drawn on you. Remain calm and rational and follow all instructions immediately and keep your hands visible. All actions should be slow and precise. The police will want to secure the scene and bring things under control. When they arrive, all they will see is you holding a gun on the person that you have shot. Do not argue with the police or other witnesses on the scene. Witnesses may have a distorted view of what happened or may intentionally give false testimony because they are friends with the attacker.

    Even if you are an attorney or were a cop in a former life, you are most likely not qualified to make statements to the police immediately following a self-defense shooting. This is because of the psychological and physiological effects a deadly encounter has on the human body (more on this later). When questioned by the police only answer questions with obvious and self-evident answers like your name, where you live, he tried to kill me, I had to defend myself, there is his weapon, those people are witnesses, yes I have a permit to carry and so on.

    When the police press for details regarding the self-defense shooting, you need to respectfully respond with something similar to the following:

    "Officer, I want to cooperate fully but I wish to speak with my attorney. In addition, I do not consent to a search"
    Questions the police may ask you:

    • How many shots did you fire
    • Where were you standing
    • What kind of weapon did the attacker have
    • What was said by the criminal
    • What did you say to the criminal
    • What were you doing prior to the attack
    • How much time passed

    These types of details need to be discussed with your attorney and no one else. Between the complexities of the legal system, errors made by law enforcement, misspoken statements, misinterpretations and malicious prosecutions, the deck of cards is severely stacked against the private citizen.

    If your spouse is with you, your spouse needs to invoke their rights as well regarding an attorney and no consent to a search. If you have children with you, you need to invoke their rights on their behalf. Request that your children not be questioned unless in your presence and in the presence of your attorney.

    Regarding your rights, law enforcement will do whatever they want and sometimes make the rules up as they go or even lie to get information. Let your attorney sort things out later. Never resist police action, never argue with the cops or attempt to give a legal lesson on constitutional law, doing so will only add complication to your case and invariably cost you more money. On the street, the police have the power and authority over you. Do not attempt to fight them on their own turf. Take the battle into the courtroom.

    After a defensive shooting outside the home, there is a high probability you will be arrested and held until things get sorted out. If you plan to carry a firearm outside the home with a permit, have a criminal defense attorney lined-up. In the event you should need one, flipping through the Yellow Pages from Hennepin County Jail at 2AM is not the best of plans.

    If you are forced to defend yourself in your home and the person you have shot is not known to you and forced entry into the home is obvious, the police will tend to give the defender the benefit of the doubt. However, all the same rules still apply and that is, you want to speak to an attorney and you do not consent to a search. This is still important even when the shooting happens in your home.

    Law enforcement is responsible for collecting information and assigning blame. Only the prosecutor can decide whether or not to pursue legal action against you. The police do not make this decision even if they tell you that they do (they of course do have influence). The police have been specially trained in interrogation techniques and this often includes lying and bending the rules to extract a confession. Generally speaking, it would be fair to say that most people get themselves deeper into trouble as a result of what they say to police. When law enforcement officers are themselves involved in a shooting, the officer is specifically told not to make statements to anyone without consulting his or her attorney. What is good for the police should be good for private citizens as well.

    Regardless of the situation (shooting or not), if law enforcement demands that you accompany them to the police station for questioning, then you are most likely a suspect in a crime. Ask the officer, “Am I under arrest?” If the officers answer is “no” then ask the officer, “Am I being detained against my will?” If the officer replies “no” then politely and respectfully tell the officer that your attorney will be in contact to answer any questions and that you are leaving. If you should end up at the police station after all of this, your reply to any and all questions is, “I want to speak to my attorney and I do not consent to a search”.



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    Reciprocity is what you have when states honour each others permit to carry a firearm. For example, at the time of this writing, if you have a permit to carry a firearm in the state of Minnesota, you can also carry your firearm in South Dakota, Montana and approximately 12 other states. If you have a Minnesota permit to carry and a non-resident Utah permit to carry, you can carry your firearm in more than 30 states.

    Establishing reciprocity is a political process and not a legislative process which essentially means that reciprocity is determined by leaders in state government and not by law makers. Because of this, reciprocity between states can be granted and then be denied with or without notice on a whim.

    Regarding reciprocity, keep the following in mind:

    • When travelling out of your home state with your firearm, always check this WEB site to find out which states your permit is valid in. This site is privately operated so there is a chance the information could be inaccurate or outdated. When in doubt, check on the government run WEB site for firearm carry laws regarding reciprocity.
    • If travelling to a state where your permit is valid, brush up on that states carry laws. This will help to avoid issues and unwanted interaction with law enforcement. For example, in MN you can carry openly but maybe not in the state you plan on visiting.
    • If you will be passing through states where your permit is not valid, be mindful of federal and state transportation laws regarding firearms. Usually a firearm will have to be kept unloaded, stored in a secure container specifically designed for a firearm (zippered gun tote or pouch) and stored out of reach (in the trunk). If transporting a pistol, ensure the magazines are unloaded and removed from the firearm. In some states, a loaded magazine inserted into the firearm with an EMPTY chamber is considered to be loaded.
    • Indian reservations are considered to be sovereign territories. Therefore, reservation laws apply. Do your homework and make phone calls when in doubt.
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