Legal experts and law enforcement weigh in on use of force rights
(ABC 6 News) – A Glenville man is arrested after he used a gun to try and stop someone from stealing his truck. Now, he’s facing charges.
38-year-old James Vinton of Glenville is facing charges of 2nd-degree assault with a dangerous weapon for shooting at a man he caught trying to steal his truck off his property. Vinton says he was just trying to scare the man off when he accidentally shot him.
The gunshot victim, Andre Williams is expected to make a full recovery and isn’t yet facing charges.
For many that raises questions: Why was Vinton charged for trying to defend his property? Doesn’t Minnesota law protect our right to self defense?
"You have a right to protect your property within reason. The operative word in this statute is reasonable. You’re allowed to use reasonable force," Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag said.
For most situations, experts say using a gun is not reasonable because it’s a lethal weapon.
"For somebody that thinks for example okay if someone comes on my two hundred acre farm I’m allowed to take out my shotgun and shoot at them and I’m being perfectly protected under the law. The answer is no you’re not," said David Schultz, a law professor at the University of Minnesota and Hamline University.
In self-defense situations, Minnesota does not have a "stand your ground" law. This means you first have to try to run away before you try and defend yourself. Law enforcement suggests people consider all their options before acting with force in any situation.
"I would always encourage them to contact their sheriff’s office or police department," Sheriff Freitag said.
Experts suggest you exhaust all other options before using lethal weapons to defend yourself and keep them entirely out of property disputes.