A gun is an implement of deadly force. Firing a gun is exercising deadly force. A warning shot is both dangerous, and can lend a LOT of doubt to the validity of your concern for your safety. Also it requires you to either take your eyes off the threat, or fire blindly. This can get you arrested.

A New Hampshire man who fired his handgun into the ground to scare an alleged burglar he caught crawling out of a neighbor’s window is now facing a felony charge — and the same potential prison sentence as the man he stopped…Fleming said he yelled “Freeze!” before firing his gun into the ground, then held Hebert at gunpoint until police arrived.

“I didn’t think I could handle this guy physically, so I fired into the ground,” Fleming told “He stopped. He knew I was serious. I was angry … and I was worried that this guy was going to come after me.”

No one was injured in the incident, but when the police arrived, they made two arrests. Hebert was charged with two counts of burglary and drug possession. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. Fleming, meanwhile, is scheduled to be arraigned March 20 on a charge of reckless conduct, which could potentially land him a sentence similar to the one Hebert faces.

“I didn’t know it was illegal [to fire into the ground], but I had to make that guy realize I was serious,” Fleming said. “I’ve got a clean record. I really don’t want to be convicted.”

It would be a shame if he was to do prison time for this as his intentions were obviously good. That being said If the guy didn’t stop when verbally commanded, but he felt the need to shoot the ground rather than the goon, this doesn’t sound like an “Immediate Threat of Life and Limb”.

Don’t pull a gun unless you fear for your safety, don’t fire your gun unless you’re prepared to kill your target to safe your or another innocent life.

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  1. bluesun says:

    If you are threatened enough to shoot, then shoot. It’s not a warning device.

  2. Jack says:

    Same thing with never shoot to wound.

    Nevermind the increased risk of missing if you aim for a limb.
    Nevermind that shooting the leg or arm can still be lethal.

    The main point is exactly Bluesun’s. If you have to pull the trigger then lethal force better be justified.

    Funny story, I was just talking about this in mixed company, and apparently the “European” way is to have the police aim for the knees or shoot the gun out of the hands. The people I was talking with were aghast when I was critical of such “Cowboy nonsense.”

    I suppose if you don’t know any better you’d think a gun was a magical device and those that use ’em to kill a perp are merely heartless.

    • Greg Camp says:

      You mean that Hollywood doesn’t have it right? It’s actually difficult to hit a tiny and possibly moving target while shooting one handed in the dark from the hip? Who’d a thunk it?

  3. Bubblehead Les says:

    I think he’s gonna walk. Probably the DA is an AntiGunner who’s about to lose Re-Election because of his Stupidity.

  4. Wally says:

    I dont know about you, but no matter how intentional my warning shot may be, it will be an accidental discharge by the time I tell the police about it.

  5. Kristopher says:

    The cop was the one who arrested him. The local DA probably won’t touch this with a ten foot pole.

    They will probably try to get the guy to admit to some bullshit misdemeanor to avoid getting the city sued for this bad arrest.

    • Weerd Beard says:

      That’s probably the most likely situation. You have an honest citizen who did something stupid, but he managed to apprehend a serial burglar and junkie.

      This is a pure case of “No Harm, No Foul”.

  6. 45er says:

    I absolutely agree, but I still think it is douchey for them to charge someone in that situation.

  7. mikee says:

    Forget the warning shots issue – this is another clear example of why the lawyer is the one who is supposed to explain everything – absolutely everything – regarding the incident to the police.

    All the man should have said is, “I was in fear of my life. I fired one shot but did not hit the man who was threatening me. My lawyer will explain everything after I talk with her.”

    • Dann in Ohio says:

      Ahh… the “I didn’t fire a warning shot, I’m a terrible marksman defense”… 🙂

      Probably could have said, “I was in fear for my life, and I don’t want to say anything further until I’ve talked with my attorney.”

      Dann in Ohio

  8. karrde says:

    I almost feel a need to play Devil’s Advocate here.

    Warning shots are alright.

    If you interpret the first two shots of the Mozambique drill as ‘warnings’. The warning is that the next shot is going to be an attempt at a head-shot.

  9. dustydog says:

    +1 to Karrde

  10. Dann in Ohio says:

    The strange thing is that he could have said he was “in fear for his life” and put 5 rounds into the burglar as they faced each other after coming out of the window… and he would have been in less trouble… probably would have walked away with a pat on the back… than being a nice guy and firing a warning shot into the ground and sparing the man’s life… I hope they give the guy a break for being nice to the burglar…

    Dann in Ohio

  11. Nylarthotep says:

    Farmington Police, now their’s your problem. Massive Douches.

    I think they’ll be challenged to convince a jury of “reckless conduct.” It all depends where it comes to trial. That’s the eastern part of NH which is pretty “progressive.”

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