Using Your Gun to Defend Your Car: Just Don’t – Law Of Self Defense Case Of The Week

USA – -( story comes out of Chattanooga TN last week, and involves a man who fired shots at his receding automobile as it was being driven away by a car thief. That man has now been hit with felony charges, and ironically enough found himself locked up in the same jail as the car thief. This as reported by local NBC news station WRCBtv.

A Cascade of Poor Decision-Making

As usual, there was a cascade of poor decision-making that led to this sub-optimal outcome.

First, the car owner decided to leave his car running as he entered a convenience store/gas station. I mean, seriously.

Second, the unoccupied running vehicle was observed by an apparent drug addict, who decided that was as open an offer to “borrow” a car as was likely to come along. The apparent junkie jumped into the car, and started driving away.

Third, the car owner, seeing his car drive off without him, ran out into the parking lot, which was crowded with other customers and folks gassing up their own vehicles, and decided this would be a good opportunity to make use of that handgun he was carrying on his person. | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Firing Rounds At His Own Car: One Hit, One “Miss”

So it was that on 6:00 pm on a pleasant Sunday afternoon two rounds were fired by the car owner at his own car as it drove off into the evening.

What he was hoping to accomplish is hard to know, really. Head shoot the car thief, brush the brain matter off the dash, and drive on home? What he actually managed to do was put one round through the windshield of his own car, another round flying off somewhere of uncertain destination (but it wasn’t a miss, it certainly ended up hitting something), and get in hot water with the law.

As the article notes:

“[Chattanooga Police Department] Investigators determined that the gas station parking lot was full of customers when the vehicle was stolen and [the car owner] fired shots. They came to the conclusion that [the car owner] was “not in imminent danger and unnecessarily used deadly force to stop an auto theft. [The car owner] faces charges of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.”

Aggravated assault with a firearm by itself can easily carry a sentence of a decade in prison, and sometimes a multiple of that.

Shooter and Car Thief Booked Into Same Jail

The 35-year-old female car thief apparently didn’t make it very far before being found by police with drugs on her person, and a sharp item concealed in her mouth with which she tried to escape from custody. She was arrested on various drug, resisting, and obstruction charges.

Both car owner and thief were booked into the Hamilton County Jail, presumably in different cells.

Using Your Gun to Defend Your Car: Just Don’t
Using Your Gun to Defend Your Car: Just Don’t

Urge You to Avoid Deadly Force to Defend Property

Folks, only non-deadly force may be used in defense of least-defensible property (the only exception is found in Texas), and a car not occupied by an innocent party under threat of harm will always be deemed to be least-defensible property.

I urge you, do not use your gun to defend least defensible property (unless you’re in Texas, and even then I strongly discourage the practice—it’s easy to meet one of the many loopholes that even the Texas exception requires you jump through in order for deadly force in defense of property to be lawful in the Lone Star state).


Attorney Andrew F. Branca

Law of Self Defense LLC

About CCW Safe, LLC:

CCW SafeFounded by former police officers and attorneys who have all worked on local, and federal levels of law enforcement, CCW Safe, LLC offers legal service membership plans for concealed-carry permit/license holders and law enforcement officers. Two of the founders, Mike Darter and Stan Campbell, have spent more than 20 years each in law enforcement and have been victim of federal lawsuits themselves from shooting and use of force incidents as police officers. General Counsel, Kyle Sweet, is a former police officer and current owner of Sweet Law Firm, representing hospitals and health care professional across the United States. With a strong membership base in 50 states, CCW Safe will have the most experienced attorneys in the jurisdiction of the incident handle members’ cases. Learn more on how to become a member at CCWSafe.Com.

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Shooting a driver with a car in motion that can kill to someone else, it can’t be smart at all. Both must be in jail.

Molon Labe

This car owner did not hit any bystanders. Obviously he is a good shot. I don’t think I could find him guilty if I were on the jury.


Molon, if you were in the jury, would you put an apple over your head as a target to prove that “he is a good shot”? …and remember the car was in motion, so you must driving a motorcycle with the apple over your head waiting for the shot… would you do it? This is the only way to prove the bystanders were safe.


“The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”


Got to love Thomas Jefferson and John Adams /Samuel Adams too of course 1776


Perp pix of the two appear to be reversed. The names don’t match….he?…she??


Many municipalities have laws to prevent LEO’s from firing at a moving vehicle, primarily because ‘what if’ the cop hits the driver at say 50-60 mph. The vehicle potentially becomes a deadly weapon as it veers out of control…


Biggest dumb thing done by shooter was leaving the car running with keys. Second dumb thing was using gun to attempt to destroy own car. Obviously not an intelligent person. BTW, yes deadly force in defense of personal property ( yours of someone else’s ) is legal in Texas, but shooting down the street randomly will most likely get you arrested anyway. All in all, both made very bad choices, both endangered the lives of other non participants. It might be wise to keep both of these individuals off the street for 20 years.


She must be on Meth, it will turn you into a zombie.

Joseph P Martin

Stupid laws give felons a chance at becoming repeat offenders while honest citizens lose the things they worked hard for most of their lives. It’s not about fear for your life, it’s about justice. Dead criminals don’t commit more crimes.

John Morgan

That is correct. Drop them and NO repeat crimes. Sorry.

1776 Patriot

OK, I know it feels good to say that but the money you spend on lawyers and court costs, loss of income, civil lawsuit judgements, etc will be so MUCH MORE than what ANY vehicle is worth. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes!

Wild Bill

, It only costs more than the value of the vehicle because it is illegal to shoot thieves.


I’ll be frowned upon for agreeing with you I’m sure. However, I don’t condon him shooting into a crowded area to “save” his car, I DO for my believe in true justice for being screwed over by a criminal. As I have been several times over my lifetime. So, although it was wrong to fire his gun he surely shooter get the opportunity to dispense a little street justice to the perp. Ass kicking? Knock a few teeth out? IF the meth hasn’t already ate em up!! Tie the thief up and beat with a ballbat? Making the crackhead pay… Read more »


Exactly what I was going to say about WA law, Webfoot. But unless that felony is harm against another and there is a chance of actually stopping the act without causing MORE harm, just don’t is good advice.

BTW: she looks like an outstanding individual, no? If Obama had a daughter….


Two REAL WINNERS there… He looks like a girl, she looks like a guy.


rock,you must have read my mind!!! do you remember mad TV,she looka like a man. and he does look like a girl,he’s going to have a problem with all the bubba’s in jail though,he better lube up.

Wild Bill

Gentlemen, I think the person that put the names to the pictures became confused by appearances, also.
“Donald” better be maxing out his credit card to make bail.


He just put some new 22s on his bad ride

Webfoot Logger

The last I knew, Washington state law technically allowed the use of lethal force to prevent the commission of a felony in your presence . . . technically.

Only a fool would use lethal force for anything other than defense of life.

John Morgan

WHY . Because you are a far left liberal snowflake???


No! Because he doesn’t want to go to jail. If that makesWebfoot a snowflake, then he, unlike you, is very inelligent


John Morgan, if someone hit you a punch in your mouth because you are a moron, that don’t let you to use a deadly force against an smart person. A gun is not to “punish” somebody, it’s a deadly weapon… are you sure that mentally you are able to carry a gun?


True enough… but it seems in this case the felony had already been committed, with ample assistance by the owner of the item being feloniously stolen. Had he been IN the car park when she TIED to jump in, he might have got off with presenting lethal force to stop the felony IN PROGRESS. Once she was in the car andmoving away… its hers untl shels caught. Many states also have laws against leaving a running vehicle unattended in situations like that. Looks like a case of Dumb and Dumber to me. I think it would be some bit of… Read more »

Roy D.

I believe this is the first time I have seen the term “car park” used by an American in the US.