Self-defense law changes in AlaskaBy
I just read this article here on a proposed expansion of the self-defense law in Alaska. if I’m getting it right, you have a duty to retreat in case of self defense. Meaning, if you can get away, you have to get away instead of stand there and use deadly force. There are some exceptions to this:
- When you’re home or at work.
- When you’re defending a child or family member.
- When you’re a guest or agent of the owner of the property you’re standing on when the encounter happens.
Makes sense to me so far.
The bill would add another exception: when you are somewhere where you have a right to be.
As in, you’re in the supermarket late at night and a guy pulls a knife on you. This doesn’t fall into any of the previous three categories, which means that as far as the law is concerned, you’re not defending yourself if you kick the guy’s ass big time. Because the law states you should have run.
In more cases than not, I believe you can run away in such situations. It’s not glamorous, it’s not cool or macho, but it keeps you alive. Standing there and trying to take on a knifer is less productive in that area. So the law has something going for it here. However, you don’t always have that chance. Or you might not have it right away.
The dumb-as-bricks knife-wielding attacker will pull his knife from across the aisle and give you plenty of opportunity to practice your Nike-Fu. Hooray for the law!
But not all of them are this dumb. The smarter ones will come up close and have the knife out before you can move away. Unless you’re Usain Bolt, chances are slim you can’t turn and run away before he gets to cut you. Because you’re already standing within the range of his knife, so you’re screwed right there if you try to bolt (Hehehe, get it? “Bolt.” Frikkin’ comedy genius, that’s what I am).
Create a diversion you say? OK, you snatch a bottle of wine from the rack and smash it over his head in one swift move. The thug goes down, hard, and cracks his skull on the floor as he falls unconscious. He dies. (He could have lived but I say he dies. It’s my story, I get to choose.)
So here’s the question: did you just commit murder or was it lawful self-defense. You had a duty to retreat, but you couldn’t because he could have stabbed you before you turned and ran. That’s why you used a diversion, to buy the time to run. But that turned ugly and now he’s dead. In the strictest sense, the law should exonerate you of any guilt. Your life was in danger and you couldn’t flee right away. But there’s the law and then there’s lawyers arguing it…
The even smarter attacker will not pull the knife until he is close enough to use it. And he’ll only pull it to perform his first strike. So by the time you know you’re in a knife attack, you’re already wounded. Let’s assume you’re tough as nails and manage to disarm the attacker even though your bleeding badly. OK, so now you have to run because it’s your duty to retreat. Have you ever tried to run with your arm cut so it’s dangling from your shoulder? With a long slash across your quadriceps? With blood pouring in your eyes? You probably won’t beat Usain’s record any time soon…
It would make more sense to immediately incapacity the attacker. Because once wounded, the disparity of force is such that you’re probably not going to be able to gain the upper hand anymore: you grow weaker due to your injury(ies), he stays just as deadly as long as he can wield that knife.
Makes sense to me. But will it make sense to the DA when he decides whether to apply the law and prosecute you or not? Dunno. What do you think?
The point is: dura lex,sed lex. Meaning, the law is harsh but it’s the law.
You may not like it, but it’s still the law.
You may disagree, it’s still the law.
You may refuse to observe it, it’s still the law.
Especially in the last case, the law usually wins. You can try and fight it but I’d say it looks grim when you go up against Lady Justice. I wouldn’t put my money on you but I’ll put $10 on that blind girl in the white sheet.
Here’s the thing:
This is just one bill being passed, in just one state. Around the world, bills like this are passed on a regular basis, changing the privileges and the regulations citizens have to follow. Which begs the question:
Does your training reflect the current status of the self-defense laws of the place you’re living in right now?
If so, when was the last time you checked to see if anything has changed?
If it does not, why not? Are you above the law? Can you draw your own knife and give that thug the death of a thousand cuts because that’s what you learned in Kali class and dammit it works so well and it’s frikkin’ cool!
Like I said, I have $10 on the blind woman…
Just some qualifiers:
- I’m not an Alaskan, I don’t pretend to know the legal code of that state. Just pointing out some stuff, that’s all.
- I’m no lawyer, I don’t give legal advice here. Just offering a perspective.
- If you dare to comment with “better be judged by twelve than carried by six” I’m going to make you stand in the corner wearing a “I’m stupid” hat.
Just some thoughts after talking to a student about Silat, Kali, Kuntao and self-defense. So it’s really all your fault Drew! ;-)