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Can I Use a Firearm to Protect Personal Property In Florida?

November 14, 20206 min read

What's Up Sheepdogs? Ryan here with Tampa Carry.

Recently a man drove four hours to attend my concealed carry course in Tampa. I asked the man why he wanted to carry a gun. I wasn't prepared for his response. 

"Over the weekend, I was hanging out by the pool of my apartment complex with some friends, when a man walked up and ripped my chain off my neck and took a bottle of liquor I had. I want a gun so that if something like this happens again, I can kill them." 

Does this individual have a right to use or threaten the use of deadly force in this situation? To find out, we're going to explore Florida Statute 776.031(1). Here's what it says:

Florida Statutes 776.031 (1) A person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate the other's trespass on, or other tortious or criminal interference with, either real property other than a dwelling or personal property, lawfully in his or her possession or in the possession of another who is a member of his or her immediate family or household or of a person whose property he or she has a legal duty to protect. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force. 

According to this statute, our victim would have a legal right to use force, which includes his fists, feet, or pepper spray, to defend his property from being stolen. He would not have a right to use deadly force; this would include a firearm or knife. If our victim was not able to physically defend his property from being stolen, whose fault is that? It's the victim’s. This is why I am such a big believer in learning how to fight.

I don't believe my firearm is about protecting my stuff; it's about protecting life.

Ethal Is A Badass...

Recently, I had an elderly woman attend one of my concealed carry courses in Brandon. When I asked her why she wanted to carry concealed, she gave me the greatest answer in history. Here is what she said:

"Last week, I was mowing my lawn and stepped inside to get a glass of water. I looked out the window and saw a man stealing my lawnmower. I know what this man looks like and what kind of truck he drives. If I ever see him again, I want to be able to shoot him legally." 

I love the enthusiasm, lady, but I don't think you're allowed to do that. First, your firearm is not about protecting your lawnmower. Second, let's look at the cost of the two options. If the bad guy steals your lawnmower, how much money do you lose? A few hundred dollars? If you shoot this guy, how much is your trial going to cost? Hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of stress. Even if you were justified, which I know you are not, would it be worth it? Of course not!

What Can We Do If Someone Is Stealing From Us?

I believe we have two options. First is to confront the bad guy and demand our items back. A word of caution: Many thieves are stealing to feed a drug habit, and drugs make people do some crazy things. Some scumbags may be willing to kill you over $10 just so they can get high. This brings me to option number two: Let the guy go and call the police. I don't want my wife in a confrontation with a thief in my front yard. I prefer for her to stay out of harm's way and call the cops. Depending on the situation, I may or may not confront the bad guy. 

Use a lot of judgment in a situation like this. As I mentioned before, it's crucial to think about and plan for these scenarios way before they occur. In the heat of the moment, you're bound to make bad decisions that will land you in a lot of trouble later on. 

Using Deadly Force to Protect Personal Property 

There are certain circumstances in which you are allowed to use or threaten the use of deadly force to protect personal property. Here's what Florida Statute 776.031 has to say. 

Florida Statute 776.031 (2) A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be. 

According to Florida law, you would only have a right to use or threaten the use of deadly force if the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. The list of forcible felonies can be found in Florida Statute 776.08. Here's what it says:

Florida Statutes 776.08 Forcible felony means treason, murder, manslaughter, sexual battery, carjacking, home invasion, robbery, robbery, burglary, arson, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, aggravated stalking, aircraft piracy, unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb, and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical violence against any individual. 

According to Florida Statute 776.031, you would only have a right to use or threaten the use of deadly force if one of these forcible felonies was occurring, was in the process of occurring, or had already occurred.

I'm sure you work hard for your belongings, and finding somebody stealing these items is very difficult.

There Is A Man Stealing Your Kids Bikes"

I remember a couple of years ago, I got a really loud bang on my front door. I opened it, and it was my UPS driver. She said, "There is a man stealing your kids’ bikes." So, I ran outside, and the guy had a bike in his hand. There was another bike in the back of his truck.

I grabbed the bike out of his hand. I threw it in the yard. I grabbed the bike out of his truck and chucked it, and I was screaming at this dude.

This was a high-emotion moment for me, and these are the most dangerous situations we will ever be in. We have to be cautious in these high-emotion states because it's very easy to make a mistake, do something stupid, end up pointing a gun or threatening the use of a gun, and then you may end up getting arrested for brandishing. We want to avoid that.

That's all I have for today. So until next time keep training and stay safe...

Ryan G. Thomas

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Ryan G. Thomas

Ryan believes a trained and aware citizen is the best way to minimize crime, victims and senseless acts of violence. Ryan is a veteran of the United States Air Force and a father of three beautiful children. Ryan and his wife Tiffany met while doing inner city ministry for Operation Explosion in Tampa 12 years ago. He is passionate about God, his family, and his community. Ryan has a passion for the 2nd amendment and believes all Americans should have the right and ability to protect themselves and their families.

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