Phyllis Law - November 2019 | 404.514.3397

Protecting Bright Futures


Bright Futures Bulletin

YouHave theRight toBear Arms, but YouBetter BeRight

I am a regular guest on Court TV and into the wrong apartment and killed a 26-year-old accountant who was sitting on his sofa, eating ice cream and watching football. She claimed “mistake of fact,” alleging she thought she was in her own apartment and that the gentleman inside was a burglar. Her defense team relied on the “castle doctrine.” This legal concept says that if you are in your “castle” or home, any deadly force used is presumed to be reasonable. In these cases, the prosecution must prove that the use of force was unreasonable to get a conviction. Both sides agreed that Guyger genuinely believed that she was in her own apartment and that the person inside was an intruder. The dispute was whether that was a “reasonable” belief, given all the facts and circumstances, and whether her subsequent actions were reasonable. Ultimately, the jury found Guyger guilty of murder and sentenced her to 10 years in prison. It was a tragic case. This was a difficult trial for me to cover. I am a firm believer in the right to bear arms, but I was really torn up by the tragedy of this case. A true mistake of fact, reasonable or not, resulted in the death of an incredible young man just beginning his career. recently, the network covered the case of Texas v. Amber Guyger. This was a very controversial case involving off-duty police officer Amber Guyger who went

His family testified during the trial, and theywere all God-fearing, hardworking people who were devastated by this loss. This trial led me to think about my own decisions regarding protecting myself. Several years ago, a local attorneywas representing a woman in a divorce and the litigation was very contentious. The husband walked into the attorney’s office in the middle of the day and shot and killed him. When I heard about this, it scared me. My knee- jerk reaction was, “I need to learn how to use a gun and get a permit to carry.” I immediatelywent to a gun range and learned how to shoot. I was very uncomfortable with it, but I thought it was important to protect me and my family. But something changed my mind. A retired police officer friend offered to help me become proficient. He said to me, “Are you prepared to shoot to kill?”

"My first thought was 'What if I make a mistake?'"

My first thought was “What if I make a mistake?”

After careful deliberation, I decided that it was a risk I was not willing to take. So, I don’t do it. I

certainly understand those that do. But, remember, if you shoot to kill, you better be right. Just ask Amber Guyger.

–Phyllis Gingrey Collins

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