Defending Someone Else

Just watched Unhinged last night starring Russell Crowe and it takes road rage to a new level. That being said in 1 of the scenes he brutally assaults then murders a man in full view of a diner full of people. They did nothing to help, no one called the police until after he left. Being a CCW permit holder would I be justified in shooting an apparently deranged individual to stop the assault before the murder.I would certainly call the police 1st or have someone else call before intervening and I know there are a lot of what if’s in this scenario but I wouldn’t be able to stand there and not do anything. Any thoughts on how this might end up if I had to shoot to save someone else’s life?

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If you thought what you saw was a forcible felony, and the victim was in immediate threat of grave bodily harm or death, just be sure of your states laws and the fourth rule “always be sure of what’s in front and behind your intended target”!
I’m definitely not saying shoot, but you need to know the facts, how can you be sure the perpetrator is not an undercover cop wrestling a methhead?
Games like this only work out well when we are on the couch. When you’re faced with the actual life or death situation it’s your inner voice. Would any other reasonable person n your shoes do exactly what’s in your heart.
Me, IMHO, if the facts are that this person is about to die and in fact the good guy, I have no problem stopping the threat!
You also mentioned a diner, there are probably many ways the perp could be stopped without the use of your handgun, chairs, bottles, fire extinguishers, I guess in our world we need to think like James Bond.


As with all other self defense or defense of others posts… It depends… Mainly what state you’re in and their local laws

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First thing you have to ask yourself is are you willing to go to jail for this? This is the theory of deadly threat, you were afraid for your life or in this case, someone’s life. If that person you have made the effort to save their life cooperates and collaborates with your story then you are good. IF witnesses collaborate with your story then you are good. Will the cards stack in your favor or will they say," That gun toting maniac went off shooting at that person for no apparent reason! "
Another model you can get this idea from is Kyle Rittenhouse. He was there to protect property and had to defend his self and now is facing charges. He had good intentions and now he is in jail.


Be very careful with this. You might come across a minor being taken by family which is not a crime.

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Welcome @Paul181!

As others have said, make sure the local laws are on your side, as well as potential witnesses.

Under Florida law, you can defend another person, but there are caveats below. You have to be certain you are acting within the law and confident that you will be judged accordingly.

776.012 Use or threatened use of force in defense of person.—
(1) A person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.
(2) A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.


Welcome Paul! Your question has been asked by a few in various ways and everyone has an opinion on it.

My opinion is this, YOU have to decide for yourself whether it’s worth getting involved and drawing and potentially using your firearm because you’re the one who will have to deal with the consequences. Those consequences could be anything from being arrested and having to post bail, charges filed against you and a costly criminal case against you, possibly civil case against you by the family of the person you shoot, time off work or loss of job, bills to pay, negative press and public opinions, etc are all possibilities of what could happen, so, understanding the potential down side, it’s best if you consider all these things and decide for yourself on a case by case basis. Best of luck to you though.


These are always rough. I remember reading somewhere a man was beating some gal so good sam steps up & pops him, woman then attacks good sam for injuring bf/hubby whatever.

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@Todd30 has the best point so far. “Are you willing to go to jail for this person?”

You have to be really sure that you know the situation. Is it an undercover cop making an arrest against an unwilling criminal? Is the attacker a father who just encountered a pedophile? Did the defender “start” the fight and earned the beating in some way?

Even in the case where a man is beating a woman, oftentimes (because abusive relationships are complex) the woman may turn on you or to avoid risking their boyfriend/husband going to prison lie and say you attacked without provocation.

Now, I’m not sayin don’t intervene. You just need to be really sure that you know the totality of the circumstances before you apply lethal force into a situation.

A better option is to verbally try to disengage “hey man he’s had enough”, or (if able) physically intervene, or maybe pepper spray. And of course, be a good witness.


I would call 911 but unless one of the parties is known to me, that may be the extent of my involvement.
Before I received my permit, I used to think differently.
The CCW instructor suggested to make a list of people who belong to my “circle.”
They are the people who, if their lives are threatened, would I be willing to put my life on the line?
My daughter once asked me out of the blue, “would you die for me, dad?”
So, who’s in my circle? My wife and two kids, definitely.
My mom, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, yes!
My one best friend too!

My cousins and in-laws, other friends, co-workers, strangers? Nope.

One exception and I’ve already made up my mind about it is that I will help stop the threat if I witness police who are in danger of death or great bodily harm.


Indeed, but on the other hand, how do we know the one getting the crap kicked out of them and about to be killed is not the undercover officer.

It is a tricky situation, and one with risks, but also one where you must live with the decision, to intervene or to not intervene and know someone died that you might have saved.

But, if it is a cop who looks like an attacker, you will suffer severely, and if it is a cop being attacked and you do nothing, you will need to live with that.

Tough call.


True, but, think of the other side, is it a criminal attacking an undercover officer?

And while we all would think the father is justified, would we want him to go to jail if he seriously hurt or killed the sicko?

Tough situation. Variables we do not know.

Valid points all.


Welcome Paul,

As seen in some of the replies so far, there are many variables that must be considered and most likely in very short span of time.

Is the attacker an undercover police officer? Is the one being attacked an undercover police officer?

Without knowing, you could step in and assist the wrong person.

Is it a domestic abuse situation, where the spouse may turn on you…or is it any number of other things…perhaps even two drug dealers trying to remove competition.

In many cases, depending on the state laws, you can defend others, but you need to be sure of the situation you are entering, and that is not always something that you can be sure of.


The more “what if’s” we deal with now the more prepared we’ll be on the street! Eyes wide open, making factual judgements rather than emotional jeopardizing acts.


Appreciate the feedback :us:

Absolutely I agree disengagement is the 1st approach. If they are law enforcement hopefully they would identify themselves as such. I know that isn’t always the case in some situations. Appreciate your thoughts

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Agreed George Zimmerman case proved that. I’m not taking a side on that issue just using it as an example to you point Erik’

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Yep, that’s a great example of someone thinking he’s making the “right” decision and paying for it. Also, like others pointed out, you could be acting like judge and jury on a situation that you know nothing about and the person getting beat actually deserves it. It’s best to focus on protecting your family and direct friends and leaving the others to LE to sort out.