There are two starkly different arenas where your life will be on the line if you’re ever involved in a gunfight. The first, of course, will be the shootout itself. If you don’t survive that, you won’t have to worry about the second stage. You’ll be in a box six feet underground, or your ashes will have been scattered on the winds, the forests, or the waters.
The second arena will be that of the Courts. You’ll have to deal with the criminal justice system—after all, you’ve just shot a fellow human being. It won’t be a “clean shooting in defense of self or others” until a very powerful criminal justice entity (the prosecutor’s office, or the Court) SAYS it was.
If all goes well and the criminal justice system says you’re justified and good to go, you still have to be concerned with the civil court system. It is absolutely true that “anyone can bring suit against anyone for anything.”
Pro-self-defense forces have been conspicuously successful in a few states, most notably Florida, in passing laws which decree that if a shooting has been determined to have been justifiable in self-defense, a civil lawsuit should not be brought. An amazing number of people have not read the fine print in those laws, and don’t understand the dangerous subtleties that lie beneath the surface of headlines that say, “Lawsuits Forbidden in Justifiable Shootings.”
For one thing, every such law I’ve read leaves an opening for lawsuits if the plaintiff alleges negligence. After all, there is no such thing as a “justifiable accident.”
For another, most such laws are very fungible as to what exactly constitutes a determination of Justifiable Homicide. (Notice the wording itself: it’s not “Justified Homicide,” it’s “Justifiable Homicide.” To most of us who speak the English language, the word “justified” would mean concluded to be such, and the word “justifiable” would mean MIGHT be such. In other words…something open to further interpretation and further analysis.)
For example, consider what I’ll call here Case One. A young man shot and killed a thief on his family’s property who appeared to be about to kill him and a beloved relative. The prosecutor’s office investigated the shooting, and told defense lawyers they didn’t intend to prosecute.