Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 9, 2012

‘Make My Day’ self-defense laws under scrutiny

TAHLEQUAH — In the state of Oklahoma, citizens have the right to expect absolute safety within their own homes, vehicles or places of business.

Some of the state’s lawmakers are currently pushing to expand the “Make My Day” laws which allow the use of deadly force against an intruder to include places of worship. But the recent Florida Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman self-defense case has called into question when the use of deadly force in a public setting is allowed.

According to the Oklahoma “Right To Stand Your Ground” personal defense law, a person “has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his/her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he/she is not engaged in an unlawful activity and is attacked in any place where he/she has a right to be, if he/she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself/herself/another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

“In the event we find ourselves in a case where self-defense or defense of property is [in question],  it’s the burden of the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not active in defense of property,” said District Attorney Brian Kuester. “So it doesn’t shift the burden to the defendant. Once evidence is offered, whether it be a part of the state’s case or a part of the defendant’s case, the burden is upon the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, just like any other case.”

 Oklahoma is one of 25 states with the so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws that essentially allow law-abiding citizens who are attacked in public to use deadly force if they hold a reasonable fear of peril of death or great bodily harm.

Zimmerman, the 28-year-old Florida neighborhood watch volunteer claimed he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense in the February incident that has sparked racial and gun-control debates.

Lawmakers in Oklahoma want to expand gun permit laws to allow an individual to openly carry a weapon in public.

People who undergo self-defense and gun training are given clear and definite instructions on when to use deadly force when presented with protecting their home.

“[It should only be used] when it’s the last step available,” said Self-Defense Act Instructor Randy Tanner. “I tell my students, ‘Don’t get yourself in a situation that you can’t get out of, because carrying a concealed weapon does not make you a freelance peace officer.’ If you were on your porch and someone came up and attempted to harm you, you still have the option to go inside [the dwelling].”

Tanner added that use of deadly force in the situation of defense of property, or dwelling, can be used only when an individual attempts to gain unpermitted access by way of violent and aggressive action.

“The way it’s printed in the manual that we teach, the law stipulates an illegal entry must be made by a threatening party, and there be such reasonable belief the illegal party may harm someone,” he said.  

An individual who uses deadly force under the law is “justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and  civil action for the use of such force,” states the statute .

“If I’m getting ready for a trial, I’m trying to see what are the potential defenses and what the law says about those potential defenses,” said Kuester.

“It’s easier for me to analyze it that way than put myself in an unknown scenario that someone may present to me and ask me, ‘Can I use deadly force?’ Well, I’m not going to answer your question. Let’s go and see what the law says.”

According to Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions on defense of self-defense and justifiable use of deadly force, a person is justified in using deadly force in self-defense if that person reasonably believed that use of deadly force was necessary to protect himself from imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.

Kuester believes it’s important that each case be thoroughly investigated.

“It’s going to be scrutinized. Anytime there’s loss of life, someone is killed it’s going to be scrutinized, and it needs to be scrutinized,” Kuester said. “It’s always going to be put in terms of a reasonable person. What would a reasonable person do in that situation? This is not a new statute. This has been here for awhile [since 1910]. It perhaps may have clarified some thing.”

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered everyday to your home or office. Code for E-EDITION TRIAL OR SUBSCRIBE Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition.

It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case