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New North Carolina gun laws allow deadly force against criminals

When people enter a place of business with the intention to commit robbery, they usually have one goal in mind: getting the money or goods and getting out. If they're armed, they generally don't worry about getting injured or killed, assuming they'll be able to take a clerk by surprise and overpower that person.

That was the mistake a robber when he attempted to steal from a gold-dealing business in Hendersonville, North Carolina, last week. The man entered the store and immediately flashed a gun, according to the store clerk. The clerk told him to "take the money," but after the robber went behind the counter and proceeded to fill a bag with cash, the clerk knocked out the robber with a quick and powerful punch. When the robber fell, the clerk grabbed the robber's weapon, which turned out to be a pellet gun.

The clerk then called police and the robber asked to be let go. Instead, the clerk told him to clean up his own blood off the floor. He was later taken to jail on a charge of attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Although this incident involved the robbery victim's own fists, it raises the issue of force against criminals. Up until recently, citizens who used a firearm to protect themselves in their homes or businesses had no guarantee they wouldn't face criminal charges. But a recent change to North Carolina's gun legislation adds protection for those legally authorized to use and carry firearms. Under the state's new "castle doctrine," which took effect at the beginning of December, a person who shoots someone on their property, car or place of business is presumed to have done so because he or she had a reasonable fear of serious bodily harm or death. It also shifts the burden off the shooter and to the prosecution, making it more difficult to convict someone protecting their home and business.

The update to the law makes it easier for homeowners and store clerks to use deadly force against robbers and other criminals, which means people should have more than money on their minds if they plan to commit a crime.

Source:, "Caught On Tape: Clerk Punches, Knocks Out Armed Robber," Mike McCormick, Dec. 26, 2011

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