Can I Defend Myself in a Pennsylvania Mall Parking Lot?


The following is a video transcript.

Do you go out holiday shopping? I don’t know a lot of people that do. But just in case you do, I think it would be smart for us to talk a little bit about holiday shopping and that time of year, because bad things happen and evil people don’t care that it’s December 25th—they just do bad things the way they do them.

What we need to do is to always sit back and be very aware. The tagline that’s used in the industry is “situational awareness.” That means you have to be oriented to people, places, and things. Keep your head on a swivel; you can’t just keep your head buried in your phone. Whatever it is that’s on your phone can wait until you get home safely.

This is what the bad guys are looking for: people that are not paying attention. That makes you very easy prey for them. That’s 90% of the people out there these days, especially this time of year.

So we have to be situationally aware, we have to look for our pre-indicators: is the person picking at their waistline, do they have high elbows, do they have no cover for action, no cover for status, meaning that they’re just loitering around? Situational awareness: we want to avoid problems offensively. If you see something bad or you get a bad heebie-jeebie about someone, you don’t have to go and confirm that they’re a bad guy. In fact, prudence would dictate that you use run fu, not kung fu.

So situational awareness is very important, not only during the holiday season but 24/7. Look before you cross the street, and pretend like everywhere that you’re going is like crossing the street. Keep your head on that swivel.

One of the other questions that comes into play is self-defense and the difference between what some people would frame as public self-defense versus private self-defense. Is there a difference? There is, but it’s very subtle and it’s very small.

What is universal between both of them? You are authorized to use non-lethal force if you reasonably believe, under the totality of the circumstances, that it’s imminent for bodily harm to occur. And bodily injury or bodily harm means a punch.

That’s to be contrasted with deadly force, when lethal force is authorized under the law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Lethal force is, of course, only authorized if it is reasonable for you, under the totality of the circumstances, to be in imminent fear of serious bodily injury, which is something that would take you to the hospital and probably keep you in the hospital, such as kidnapping, sexual assault, or death.

That presumption of reasonableness is a very important legal standard that means you’re presumed to have acted correctly, and the government has to disprove that beyond a reasonable doubt.

Now, there is no difference between Stand Your Ground law between private, meaning inside a house, versus public. You have to be in lawful possession of a firearm, you have to be allowed to be where you are located, and the person has to display an item that is capable of serious bodily injury or death.

So that’s some discussion about situational awareness and self-defense, both in private and in public.

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