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What Legal Protections Do Gun Owners Need?

october 26, 2021 | family law
Hunter with rifle practicing responsible gun ownership

As a responsible gun owner, you’ll want to do everything to the letter of the law to avoid any potential legal issues. In addition to proper permitting and training, it’s critical to ensure that you’re using a gun only in instances that are permissible under the law, whether that be in emergency situations in the home or in the context of hunting and sport. However, things may still go wrong, and the law must get involved. In those cases, you’ll want to know your rights and also need access to affordable legal advice.

Home Intrusion

A majority of people who own guns cite personal safety and protection as their primary reason for gun ownership. And like any safety measure, you’re hoping there’s never any need to turn to it. However, there may come the day when you must do the unthinkable, and you’ll need to know what protections you have legally for discharging your firearm in the event of a home intrusion.

While state laws differ, all have adopted some variation upon “castle doctrine” into their state laws, which permits homeowners to use reasonable force, up to and including deadly force, in protecting themselves against home invaders. There is variance among the states around the duty to retreat for homeowners or the standard and burden of proof of self-defense in any criminal cases, so if you find yourself in that situation, you will of course need a lawyer to help guide you through any legal process.   

Self-Defense Insurance

While many gun owners might assume that any incidents within their home would be covered by their home insurance, that may not be the case in the event of any injury or damage that results from discharging a firearm. Some insurers offer self-defense insurance policies for gun owners for such occasions. These self-defense insurance policies may cover the expenses of a criminal court case if the policyholder is charged for a shooting in self-defense.

Accidental Discharge

Despite the best efforts and intentions of gun owners, there are often far too many incidents involving accidents or negligence, sometimes with grave consequences. In instances where a firearm is accidentally discharged by its user and actual physical harm is done to individuals or property, the gun owner may be subject to accidental discharge laws, depending upon state law and the circumstances.

An accidental discharge is defined as an incident in which a gun is fired unintentionally, whether that be due to someone pulling the trigger accidentally, believing the gun was unloaded, or that the safety was engaged. Where the matter gets complicated is in trying to differentiate genuine accidents from instances of actual recklessness or negligence.

Some state laws and/or police and prosecutors may view any accidental discharge as negligent, save for instances of mechanical malfunction, with any corresponding negligence or recklessness only adding to the severity of the possible penalties. This is a complicated area and legal advice should be sought.

Legal Protection for Gun Owners

If you’re concerned about potential legal issues related to your gun ownership, LegalShield’s Gun Ownership Supplement is for you. For an additional $14.95 a month, you get access to a lawyer for all your gun-related questions, and in the event of a criminal case or civil lawsuit, you get 20 pretrial hours and 40 trial hours of defense as part of the plan. Sign up now to make sure you’re protected.

 

Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (“PPLSI”) provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to PPLSI members through membership-based participation. Neither PPLSI nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation, or advice. The information available in this blog is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations. The blog post is not a substitute for competent legal counsel from a licensed professional lawyer in the state or province where your legal issues exist and the reader is strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel for your specific legal matter. Information contained in the blog may be provided by authors who could be a third-party paid contributor. All information by authors are accepted in good faith, however, PPLSI makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of such information. 

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