Christmas Lessons on the Castle Doctrine from Ralphie and Ol’ Blue
We have all seen the movie “A Christmas Story,” written and directed by Bob Clark and Jean Shepherd and released in 1983 just in time for Thanksgiving. I remember the Red Ryder BB gun especially that Ralphie, played by Peter Billingsley—and later me, as you will see—wanted so, so badly…so badly that he went to great measures to ensure its placement under the tree just for his exclusive enjoyment.
Now Ralphie had quite an imagination, as most of us did growing up. He dreamed of saving his family while daydreaming at the family dinner table, firing that most coveted Red Ryder BB gun, so treasured by all the kids in that era.
As you recall, Black Bart and his gang show up at the “old-man’s” house (the Parker’s residence) to burglarize the home and to wreak havoc on the Parkers. Ralphie shows up just in the nick of time as Black Bart and the gang literally swings into action, very overtly I might add, to implement the terrible deed. Ol’ Blue, as Ralphie named his most treasured peacemaker, was the instrument Ralphie employed to stand between Black Bart and his frightened family. Ralphie looked out the kitchen window to access the situation. Black Bart and the gang were crawling under the fence and over the fence and down the swing and rooftop of the old outbuilding when suddenly they look up to see Ol’ Blue. They stop in their tracks and immediately notice that the peacemaker employed by Ralphie was just too much to endure. They frantically tried to flee the backyard, retreating to avoid the imminent peril that they would later realize. Ralphie shot each one of the gang as they were retreating, as they were trying to get away. Only one of the gang survived as he rode off on Silver…oh, no that was another story. Anyway one got away on the horse on the other side of the fence, exclaiming as he rode out of site, “I’ll be back!!!”
Is there a problem? The answer depends on statutory law in South Carolina, codified out of case law known to many as the Castle Doctrine. Under the law in South Carolina you may stand your ground and defend you and those around you with deadly force so long as there is clear and present danger. So if you intend to use Ol’ Blue, you must make sure that the danger presented is imminent and still present before you fire up your peacemaker to protect your home and your loved ones. You see, when Ralphie fired on the bad guys, they were clearly on notice that the homeowner was on notice of their threatening nature and that he and Ol’ Blue were about to fire that smoke wagon and throw down on them….oh yes, that was another famous line in another movie…
The point here is simply this: You may use that force necessary to neutralize the threat if the danger and peril appears to be imminent. However, if the bad guy is retreating you must not use that deadly force.
This part of the law is complicated because each situation is different. Please call me to discuss this if you find yourself in a pickle over the holidays. I will appear in my bunny suit and represent you vigorously. Unlike Ralphie, I feel comfortable in pink as pink is the new grey.
Seriously folks, if you need any guidance regarding the law and how you apply it to your situation, call on me 24/7. Read my bio here and find out how I can help you.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!