I recently completed a CPL/CCW class in Michigan and had a random thought. I understand it is illegal to possess a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, but what are the ramifications if deadly force is used in scenarios when it wasn't necessarily by choice?

Suppose I am in my own home, drinking late at night, and an intruder breaks into my home. I have a reasonable belief that they intend to do myself or my family great harm.

If I were to use deadly force on the attacker, would it still be considered justified in the eyes of the law?

I definitely understand it could prove more difficult to prove I had no other choice since my judgment may have been compromised, and that could be another issue entirely.

But in regards to my right to own a firearm, would I automatically lose that right since I possessed and used the firearm while under the influence?

  • 1
    Concealed carry and a weapon in your own home are not the same.
    – paparazzo
    Jun 11 '18 at 10:17
  • 1
    I understand that. This is not really a concealed carry question.
    – Zephyr
    Jun 11 '18 at 13:17
  • Would you rather die or suffer great harm if you believed you would get your gun rights taken away if you defended yourself? It is possible you would lose those rights, but I can't see a court enforcing that if you can prove that being under the influence would not have changed your decision.
    – Ron Beyer
    Jun 12 '18 at 1:28
  • Oh, I wouldn't NOT defend myself, just curious what the consequences could be.
    – Zephyr
    Jun 12 '18 at 1:49

I'm not familiar with Michigan law on the matter and unfortunately, there are too many different gun laws throughout the US to give good advise without several hours of reading your state's laws.

But in my state, Kansas, it is NOT "illegal to posses a firearm while intoxicated." It is illegal to carry (concealed or open) a firearm off your property while intoxicated.

Inside your own home (in pretty much any castle-doctrine state) you can shoot any intruder, whether you are drunk or not.

If 'a reasonable person' would be in genuine fear of their life in your situation, then you can not be arrested in your own home for the self defense either (In Kansas anyway).

Law and court precedent also provides (in castle doctrine states) that anyone having gained unlawful access to your domicile, may reasonably be assumed to be a deadly threat to you or your family. They don't have to be aggressive to you. They don't have to have a weapon. They do not have to have used force to break in.

If you invite them in that's another story. But if you were not aware of their entry, or their entry was against your command, then they are legally assumed to be a threat to your life.

There have been cases where an alzheimer's patient, curious child, or drunk teen has entered the wrong house via an unlocked door, been shot, and the homeowner is not criminally liable, at all. (Though a civil lawsuit could always follow)

Owning a firearm DOES NOT MEAN you have to swear off all drinking, forever. In fact in many states, you CAN drink while armed, in public. But you may not "be intoxicated", and whether you are or aren't intoxicated is going to be a subjective observation of an officer, who is certainly not intoxicated themselves, and probably very familiar with signs of intoxicated persons, so I wouldn't recommend drinking any more than a tiny fleeting sip if you're armed.

Very few states set a BAC limit for firearms possession in public. It's either NOTHING IN YOUR SYSTEM AT ALL or NOT INTOXICATED. And frankly public intoxication is almost always a crime anyway whether you're intoxicated or not.

  • Hell, there was a recent case in Maryland (not a gun owner friendly state by any stretch) where the police served a warrant to the wrong address and got shot by the home owner. The home owner was not criminally liable and didn't face charges. Also, Castle Doctrine should be the standard in all 50 states.
    – hszmv
    Feb 12 '20 at 18:07

Simple: If you do something that you thought was reasonable in your drunken head, and the average sober person would not find it reasonable, then you are in trouble. Worse, if your drunkenness put you so much out of control that you didn’t even think “what would a reasonable person do” but you thought “what would Rambo do”, then you are in deep trouble.

If you were at home - with your family - then it would seem much more reasonable to point the gun at the intruder and your wife calls the police. Or worst case, shoot the guy in the leg instead of the head. If you didn’t think about that because you were drunk, suffer the consequences. And if you are religious, you will know that someone higher up won’t accept your justifications.

  • 1
    The only time 'shooting someone in the leg'is a viable choice is if you're in direct hand to hand contact. And that would be too late, much more dangerous. It's negligent to advise shooting someone in the leg instead of center if mass. Ask any cop. Feb 13 '20 at 13:31

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