5 Things Every Gun Owner Should Know | Attorneys for Freedom Law Firm

5 Things Every Gun Owner Should Know

By Attorney Marc J. Victor

As a criminal defense attorney, I have been representing people charged with gun-related criminal offenses for over twenty-five years.

During that time, I have been lead counsel in several hundred gun-related criminal offenses including 1st-degree murder, drive-by shootings, aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, unlawful discharge, and many more serious felony-level offenses. I have represented people in countless misconduct with weapons and prohibited possessor criminal charges as well. In short, I have represented more people than I could possibly count in serious gun-related criminal cases in both state and federal courts. There are few ways a person can get into big trouble more quickly than to misuse a firearm.

The decision to keep and bear arms is a serious one. It is also a decision that necessarily comes with great responsibility. All gun owners are required to know and follow the law. As you have heard many times, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Especially in cases involving firearms, you would be well-served to study the law and to think about its application before carrying, or even owning, a firearm.

This short guide is no substitute for studying the law regarding firearms and self-defense. Reading this guide will not teach you everything you need to know about carrying or using a firearm; far from it. I recommend that all gun owners take an initial comprehensive gun safety class as well as a refresher class on a regular basis from a qualified instructor. Carrying a firearm is a huge responsibility. There is no room for error.

#1: Just Shut Up!

Many people have an urge to explain what happened to the police. Don’t! I wish I could simply ask you to just trust me on this and accept what I’m telling you. Despite what the media likes to report, I realize many shootings are actually justified. I realize many police officers are good people trying to do the right thing. This does not change my mind about remaining silent. That said, if you are anything like me, you need more information.

If you have been arrested and are being interrogated about what just happened. This is when the police officer will remind you of my advice to just shut up. The first thing the officer will tell you is, you have the right to remain silent. This should remind you of my number 1 piece of advice, to just shut up. Remember, you have a right to remain silent, and you should exercise that right. In addition, also do not consent to any searches either.

#2: Self-Defense is All About Reasonableness

This is what self-defense is all about. As an attorney who has tried gun cases, I can tell you from experience it will all come down to if a jury thinks what you did was reasonable. Imagine a trial, and after everything has been presented from both the prosecution and defense, the judge then turns to the jury and asks them; after considering all the facts, hearing the testimony, and reviewing the evidence, did the defendant act reasonably? At the end of the day, that is really the question in a self-defense case. If the answer is yes, then you can thank your attorney for doing a good job and maybe even take them out to dinner because that means you have been acquitted. But, if the answer is no, then this is bad news for you. You will probably be taken into custody, and you will most likely be doing some time. So, remember, it’s all about reasonableness.

#3: Your Case Will Turn On The Facts

Good lawyers always have long detailed initial meetings with their clients to understand the facts of what occurred. However, good lawyers also know from experience that the client’s version of the facts is just that; the client’s version of the facts. In almost all criminal cases, there are other different or even competing versions of the facts. It is always the case that there exists a truth about what actually occurred. However, it is obtaining that truth, and getting other people to accept that truth, that is often the problem. Sometimes people have different perceptions about what occurred. Also, some people lie about what happened.

#4: Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Almost all gun crimes carry with them mandatory minimum sentences for those who are convicted. In my opinion, this is a huge problem with our law and something we need to change. This is when the legislature passes a law that sets mandatory minimum sentence terms for those who are convicted of certain crimes. What this means is, the judges’ hands are tied and must sentence you to at least the minimum amount of time that has been established for that particular crime. For example, in Arizona, the most common crime you will be charged with for pulling out your firearm when you were not justified to do so is aggravated assault.

As a side note, you don’t have to actually touch someone to be charged with aggravated assault. Simply putting someone in fear of an imminent physical injury (pointing a gun at someone) when you were not justified, will most likely be charged as an aggravated assault. In most states, this will be seen as a dangerous offense. This means you will be looking at a mandatory minimum sentence. The mandatory minimum in Arizona is 5 to 15 years (with a presumptive term of 7.5 years), and this is for someone who has no prior offenses. It can be more if you have prior offenses.

So, if you take a case like that to trial, and you lose, you are going to prison. Even if the judge thinks there were lots of mitigating factors, and you had stellar character references, and the judge really likes you, and would like to give you probation, you are still going to prison. The best the judge could do is give you 5 years. We need to do away with mandatory minimum sentences and give the judge discretion.

#5: What To Think About

I want to leave you with a scenario to help you decide if you should pull out your firearm or not. Imagine you find yourself in a situation where you are trying to decide if this is a good time to pull out your firearm. What would be my preference is that when you find yourself in this situation, you just give me a call and tell me all the specifics. I will want to know everything like, where are you, what’s the threat, how many people are there, what are their sizes, what weapons do they have, what is the distance between you and them, etc. After about an hour of consultation, I will give you a very conservative lawyer answer.

What’s the problem with this? I think you already know the problem. If you have that much time to think about whether you should pull out your firearm or not, I can already tell you DON’T DO IT! Why? Because it’s not imminent. If you have more than just a few seconds to decide, you probably shouldn’t be pulling out your firearm.

Pulling out a firearm can be a life-changing event, and I want you to be very conservative. Ok, so these were the 5 most important things you need to know if you are going to possess or carry a firearm. Of course, this is not everything you need to know, there is a lot more. But these are the 5 things I have distilled down for you to think about before pulling out your firearm.

In conclusion, there may be a time that you need to pull out your firearm to protect your life or someone you love. Those are the decisions you are just going to have to make. But if it’s not that serious, don’t do it, be smart. If you can safely get out of the situation without using your firearm, do that instead.

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Published by Arizona Gun Enthusiast & Criminal Defense Attorney Marc J. Victor from Attorneys for Freedom Law Firm.

Jon Hegreness - R.
Jon Hegreness - R.
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