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Understanding Your Second Amendment Rights When It Comes to Self Defense

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution establishes our right to bear arms. While this right has often been debated, it is a bedrock principle on which our country was founded and will never be abrogated.

One area of debate around the Second Amendment is its application to self-defense. As a criminal defense attorney, Steven Thayer of Vancouver, WA, has successfully defended dozens of men and women who have used a firearm in defense of themselves or their loved ones.

Most recently, Mr. Thayer won a two-week trial for Sam Westby, who was acquitted of second-degree murder charges after using a glock to defend herself against her abusive husband. As Mr. Thayer argued in closing, “A woman doesn’t have to wait until she’s dead to defend herself.”

Self-Defense and the Second Amendment

Because the Second Amendment expressly creates a right to bear arms for the purpose of maintaining a militia, there has been an extensive debate on how this right should be interpreted. However, the right to bear arms for self-defense purposes has been recognized by the Supreme Court in cases such as District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago.

In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense. 

In McDonald v. Chicago, the Court extended Second Amendment protections to the states, making it clear that the right to bear arms was a fundamental right that could not be infringed upon by state and local governments.

These legal decisions support the fundamental concept that individual gun ownership is a fundamental right, reinforcing the right to self-defense.

Self-Defense and Its Limitations

While the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, and our cases provide that individuals may possess and use them for self-defense, there are limitations. Homicide is justifiable when committed in the lawful defense of the slayer or any person in the slayer’s presence or company when: 

  1. the slayer reasonably believed that the person slain intended to commit a felony or inflict death or great personal injury;
  2. the slayer reasonably believed that there was imminent danger or such harm being accomplished; and 
  3. the slayer employed such force and means as a reasonably prudent person would use under the same or similar conditions as they reasonably appeared to the slayer, taking into consideration all the facts and circumstances as they appeared to him at the time of and prior to the incident.

The Importance of Self-Defense

Best Criminal Defense Attorney Clark County

Self-defense is a fundamental right. It empowers individuals to protect themselves and their families from harm. The ability to use a firearm in defense helps to level the playing field for the vulnerable, including women, children, and the elderly.

No one is eager to take someone’s life, even in legitimate self-defense. However, when there is no other way to guarantee one’s safety, the ability to respond in kind, i.e., deadly force in response to immediate danger, can act as a critical deterrent to perpetrators of, for example, domestic violence.

The Importance of Legal Representation When It Comes to Arguing Self-Defense

With the right to self-defense comes the responsibility of justifying its use in a court of law where legal representation is crucial. Self-defense claims may have to meet specific criteria. Self-defense is a justification rather than an excuse. Individuals need to demonstrate that they acted reasonably within the law and based on the reasonable belief that lethal force was necessary to stop the threat. An experienced criminal defense attorney is essential in establishing the narrative of what happened. In the case of Sam Westby, Steven Thayer successfully argued self-defense on behalf of his client. His experienced trial skills led to her acquittal, despite facing a two-week trial and a charge of second-degree murder. The verdict was a testament to the importance of strong representation in court when it comes to trying self-defense cases.

In conclusion, the experience and ability of your attorney can mean the difference between conviction and acquittal. 

Best Criminal Defense Lawyer In Vancouver, WA

For over 40 years, as Clark County’s leading criminal defense law firm, we have provided outstanding representation to clients throughout Southwest Washington. Mr. Thayer has tried and won virtually every kind of criminal case, including:

  • Homicide & Assault
  • Vehicular Assault & Vehicular Homicide
  • Domestic Violence & Domestic Assault Cases
  • Sexual Assault & Other Sex Crimes
  • Child Pornography Charges
  • Drug Crimes, Including Marijuana growth/Manufacture and drug cases
  • DUI & DWI

The legal team at Steven Thayer’s law firm has extensive experience helping clients who have been falsely accused and overcharged by the state. We will thoroughly investigate the allegations against you and work tirelessly to build a strong defense. If you have been accused of a crime or are in need of legal advice, contact our offices today to schedule a consultation

Steven Thayer has been voted Vancouver, WA’s top-rated Criminal Defense Attorney. (Click here to read more.)

Posted on by Steven W. Thayer, PS
Understanding Your Second Amendment Rights When It Comes to Self Defense

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