National Review: Michigan Court Hands Down Good Decision For Law Abiding Gun Owners

Every citizen who has a firearm for self defense should cheer this decision

A Michigan Court Case Shows the Right of Armed Self-Defense Is Broader Than You Might Think

Yesterday the Michigan Court of Appeals handed down a decision in a highly public and very controversial case that gun owners across the United States should applaud. In short, it demonstrates and validates the value of armed self-defense even when you do not pull the trigger and — crucially — have no cause to pull the trigger. It justifies the brandishing of a gun as pre-emptive measure to block the use of unlawful force.

What do I mean? Hang with me for a moment, because this case is a bit complicated. At its heart is a dispute between Siwatu-Salama Ra, an African-American concealed-carry permit holder from Detroit, and a woman named Channel Harvey. Ra was put on trial for assault with a dangerous weapon and possessing a firearm while committing a felony after she brandished her unloaded pistol at Harvey during a heated confrontation outside Ra’s mother’s house.

The facts are hotly disputed, but Ra claimed that during the course of an argument, Harvey backed her car into into Ra’s vehicle — while Ra’s two-year-old daughter was inside, playing. Ra claims she grabbed her daughter out of the car, then grabbed her unloaded gun, “pointed the gun at Harvey’s car” and then again demanded that Harvey leave. Harvey testified that Ra was the aggressor, and that she hit Ra’s car on accident only after Ra pointed the gun at her. The jury apparently believed Harvey’s version of events, and Ra received a two-year prison sentence.

The case was immediately controversial, with critics of the verdict claiming that the case represented “yet another instance of a black gun owner, with the permits to legally carry, defending themselves against violence — and getting punished for it.”

So, what happened?

Yesterday the Michigan Court of Appeals threw out her conviction. It didn’t hold that the jury got the outcome wrong but rather that it didn’t have a true opportunity to get it right. It was improperly instructed on the law, and the trial court placed too high a burden on Ra to justify her decision to brandish her weapon.

The jury was instructed only on the affirmative defense of self-defense through the use of “deadly force.” To prove that deadly force was appropriate, a defendant has to prove that she “reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual.” (Emphasis added.)

Under this reasoning, a person could brandish a weapon only when she has the legal right to fire the weapon.

The court of appeals, however, said that’s not the law. When one brandishes a weapon without firing it, they don’t, in fact, use “deadly force.” They use nondeadly force, and the legal standard for the use of nondeadly force only requires the defendant to prove that she “reasonably believes that the use of that force is necessary to defend himself or herself or another individual from the imminent unlawful use of force by another individual.” (Emphasis added.)

Under this reasoning, a person can brandish a weapon to prevent the imminent use of force from escalating to a threat of imminent death.

Ra spent months in prison, giving birth, then having her child taken away two days later. It is important to note, as the piece later does, that this is only a Michigan case, but, it can set a proper legal foundation for any cases that arise in other states, and can be used if fought to the federal level. Of course, it also means that people can’t just whip out their firearm carelessly, nor should they, Responsibility is the key. But, if you feel your life is threatened, you should be able to pull it out to de-escalate.

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4 Responses to “National Review: Michigan Court Hands Down Good Decision For Law Abiding Gun Owners”

  1. gbear says:

    Civil rights victory!

  2. Doom and Gloom says:

    My wife just finished a gun safety course, including the right to concealed carry. One of the many things we were taught is the value of dash cams and rear window cams. The right to brandish a weapon is arbitrary and confusing. For example if you have a fender bender and the guy starts shouting at you and you whip out our pistol that is fine. The moment you POINT your pistol at the perp you had best have the whole thing on tape and secondly the tape should show clear and present evidence that a jury would find you not guilty of assault, attempted murder or a myriad of other felonies….again depending on your state.

    Secondly. In some states simply removing your weapon without cause can land you in jail. thus the dash cams if you conceal carry. Examples would be if you are alone and the other car or the perps are more than one. Two against one etc. in court.

    thirdly. You can be exonerated from criminal liability but still SUED in civil court which is an entirely different matter. Case in Point. A man is screaming at a woman and child for parking in a handicapped zone. Her boy friend shows up and shoves the old man very harshly to the ground. The man pulls out his gun and kills the other man. All caught on tape.

    He was exonerated from criminal liability but now faces a hefty civil suit because the woman was in the car holding a child and she claims he acted irresponsibly etc.

    So the lessons we learned is know your law. Keep your weapon holstered, have front and back dash cams which by the way all Uber Drivers quickly learned after many of them being sued out of existence. Semi Truck drivers have gotten out of many tickets from cops because of Dash Cams. etc.

    If its you against him with no cameras in sight depending on the state. You are going to be in for some hefty legal fees for defending yourself even if it is legit. If you have cameras rolling the cops will look at it on the scene and you will be on your way.

    TL:DR Incidently I live in a VERY RED STATE…Just an FYI…each state varies. Consult local laws if you ever want to conceal carry in other than your own state and have cameras rolling if you start waving a gun around.

    • Doom and Gloom says:

      This happened in july 2018:

      A 47-year-old man who shot and killed someone over a parking space dispute will not face criminal charges, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced during a Friday afternoon press conference.
      The Thursday afternoon incident falls under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, he said. Investigators say Michael Drejka fatally shot Markeis McGlockton, 28, after he was shoved to the ground. The altercation was captured on video.

      Yesterday he was just convicted of manslaughter because the law states that you cannot be the one instigating the confrontation which he clearly was by beginning to aggressively shout at the woman who was then defended by her boyfriend. The man in the Florida statue case that I cited above was clearly wrong because he INSTITUTED THE CONFRONATATION.

      Another example of what Mr. Hale says. Keep it holstered. The right to carry does not make any of us vigilantes and if you go stomping into a parking lot and begin screaming at someone who then punches you and you shoot them. Well your going to jail and perhaps for a very long time.

  3. The lesson is: Never show your gun unless you are so afraid for your life and safety that you are willing to pay the price in court for your actions. People who carry guns pay a higher obligation to run from a fight and to de-escalate confrontation.

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