Opinion

King County prosecutor and armed citizens | Firearms Lawyer

An armed citizen I assisted stopped a robbery by exchanging repeated gunshots with an assailant in an auto parts store in Tacoma. The armed citizen wasn’t charged with any wrongdoing, but I asked several other lawyers in the office what they thought about the shooting.

The lawyers all had some theory as to why the man who had just faced down a hail of bullets (and may have saved several lives) should be sued in civil court or charged with reckless endangerment (because the assailant took multiple .45 rounds in the abdomen and one of the bad guy’s rounds wounded a store employee).

This proves my premise that many of my fellow lawyers are victims of too much education.

Afterward, I talked to the supervising attorney that reviewed the case for the Pierce County Prosecutor’s office. I asked him what he thought about the facts of the Tacoma shootout. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he thought the armed citizen should have received a medal.

Dan Satterberg, our King County Prosecutor, talked to us in Federal Way recently. He discussed the increasing rate of violent gun crime committed by youth in our area. He also talked about the county’s successful effort to stop auto theft and how King County cities like Federal Way can deter people coming to King County unlawfully. He told us that many prisoners are threatening to kill police officers because they want to be like Maurice Clemmons, who recently killed four police officers.

What would Mr. Satterberg have done if he had been in the Metro bus tunnel during the assault by one 15-year-old girl against another young woman of the same age? He told us he would have sat on the assailant until the police arrived.

I asked Satterberg before he left what would happen if one of the assailant's apparently unarmed male friends decided to come to the assailant’s assistance? He would have used reasonable force up to and including deadly force, depending on the circumstances.

Most gun activists who closely observe situations involving justified use of lethal force agree that prosecutors in the State of Washington understand the use of justified force. We have local prosecutors that recognize the contributions to public safety provided by armed citizens.

Judges and prosecutors increasingly receive threats from defendants and prisoners. Do some prosecutors believe that it is politically incorrect to carry and hesitate to get a concealed pistol license? One deputy prosecutor seems to believe that obtaining a CPL might hurt his career. Mr. Satterberg assures us that there is no policy concerning any employee's right to carry a firearm: Deputy prosecutors enjoy the same rights as other citizens to make decisions about personal protection.

Each prosecutor makes decisions about self-defense outside the courthouse. Funds for law enforcement are getting scarce. Support Mr. Satterberg when you vote so that Washington law continues to be enforced in a manner that makes criminals go somewhere else.

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