sparks wrote:It is either legal to defend etc. or it is not.
It took me a while to remember this guy's name but I finally found it, Ward Bird. It's yet another example of why some people might be reluctant to risk reporting self defense use of a gun when no one was shot.
The facts of the case:
It's a short read, so I won't quote any of it here. The short version is Ward Bird was convicted of waving a gun at a trespasser on his property and sentenced to the mandatory minimum of three years. However, after serving only three months, and after much public outcry about miscarriage of justice, the state's Executive Council voted to commute his sentence.
Here's an editorial (yellow highlighting added by me):
Clarify the criminal threatening laws
Monitor staff, Thursday, December 02, 2010
We can't fathom why Ward Bird felt the need the point a gun at a woman he knew was likely to have accidentally trespassed on his posted Moultonboro property - if he indeed did so. A jury believed he had, however, and Bird, a father of four, farm manager and Boy Scout leader, is now serving a mandatory three-year sentence for felony criminal threatening.
Bird apparently thought that since he was on his own property, he had the right to level a gun on a trespasser while ordering the person to leave. Most gun owners would think so too, but they would be wrong, potentially years worth of wrong.
The state's criminal threatening laws, and related laws controlling when deadly and non-deadly force may be used, are confusing and prone to misinterpretation.
The key element of the criminal threatening law, for example, appears to be not the state of mind of the person making the threat but the emotional state of the target of the threat. If the person is scared enough, then the person making the threat is guilty.
. . . Laws can't be written to cover every possible situation, but to the greatest extent possible they should be unambiguous and widely understood. The criminal threatening laws are neither.
I think this example illustrates Ed's point. Your Mileage May Vary™.