The other side of gun debate: Your rights in self defense

The other side of gun debate: Your rights in self defense

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"If you don't have anything to defend yourself with, they can kill and you can't do nothing about it," said Harold Williams. "If you don't have anything to defend yourself with, they can kill and you can't do nothing about it," said Harold Williams.
"There's no such thing as a warning shot,"  said Knox County Sheriff Assistant Chief Bobby Spangler. "There's no such thing as a warning shot," said Knox County Sheriff Assistant Chief Bobby Spangler.

By DREW GARDNER
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Every home owner and business owner in Tennessee has the right to use a gun to defend their property. It's a right some say is their only true line of defense.

Harold Williams has been held at gunpoint several times while working at Adobe Liquors on North Broadway.

"He had that shotgun right in my face," said Williams. "He just pumped it twice before he got up to the counter. He made me give him all my money and then said lay down on the floor."

Williams was unharmed, but that's not always the case.

An unarmed clerk was shot and killed last October at Discount Tobacco on Magnolia Avenue when three men robbed his store.

"If you don't have anything to defend yourself with, they can kill and you can't do nothing about it," said Williams.

Williams was put to the test again when a man tried stealing several bottles of expensive liquor. When the robber wouldn't stop, Williams followed him outside and fired a shot.

"I didn't shoot to hit him," said Williams. "I just shot to scare him and I did just that."

Knox County Sheriff Assistant Chief Bobby Spangler says that's where people confuse the laws.

"That's called aggravated assault," said Spangler. "There's no such thing as a warning shot."

Spangler says to stay within the self defense law you must stay within the walls of your home or business and assess a few things before pulling the trigger.

"That individual has to be, number one, an imminent fear of serious bodily injury or death that can occur. And the second part is, does that individual have access?" said Spangler. "That doesn't mean they have to have a weapon in their hand."

That was the case last May when three masked teens tried robbing the South Side Market in Knoxville. The clerk shot one of them as he reached into a bag, which turned out to have a hammer in it.

"They need to know inside, can they pull the trigger?" said Spangler. "Once I put my finger on the trigger and pull it, I can't pull it back. Once that explosion is made, that round is released, I can't call it back."

Williams has made peace with that and says if forced, he would do it again.

"If somebody comes in here and is going to kill me if I can beat him to it he ain't going to do it," said Williams.

But he says hopes he never has to.

If you have more questions about Tennessee's gun laws you should contact your local law enforcement office or visit the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security's web site.

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