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Posted: 9/17/2009 3:56:17 PM EST
Experts Explain Self-Defense Issues With Firearms
Firearms Instructor Says People Need Training With Guns
Posted: 7:27 pm CDT September 17, 2009

Text SizeAAAMADISON, Wis. –– The fatal shooting of an intruder in a Fitchburg home Wednesday is raising questions among some on how people should protect themselves and their families.

Fitchburg police said a man shot and killed an intruder who broke in to apparently burglarize his home Wednesday.

For people wondering who they'd react in a similar situation, experts said there are things that homeowners looking to protect themselves with firearms should know.

Marshall resident Samuel Swartz was at the Deerfield Pistol and Archery Center Thursday getting the feel of a new handgun.

"(It's) for protection and sport. I like to shoot and I do like to have them available in the house for protection," said Swartz.

Swartz said he keeps up on shooting and training in case the worst were to happen.

"Yes, I think about it," said Swartz. "You have to protect your family. If somebody is in your house, they're not there for a good reason."

Certified firearms instructor Freddie Harris said that just buying and storing a gun for protection isn't the right idea.

"I also think that people need to realistically understand that there is a lot of training that goes into that and it has to be maintained," said Harris.

He said frequent training and legal advice are key to knowing what to do.

"There has to be this dualism of protecting themselves both physically as well as legally," said Harris. "If those two are not in sync, it just leaves room for good people to unfortunately lose that legal battle."

Attorney Chris Van Wagner said the state's self-defense law states that people have the right to protect themselves or their families if they reasonably believe they're in danger of serious injury or death, not just to protect their property.

"If somebody is trespassing, you can't shoot them. If somebody is walking in the front door, you can't shoot them," said Van Wagner. "Unless the rest of the circumstances lead you to reasonably believe that you or someone else is in danger of serious bodily injury or death."

That's a situation Swartz said he hopes never to find himself in.

"Nobody ever wants to do it and you have to live with that if you make that choice," said Swartz. "But if it means protecting yourself and your family, your options are limited."

Van Wagner said he believes the Fitchburg case is "exactly the type of frightening event that would make someone think they were in grave danger."

He said the district attorney will surely conduct a thorough review of the Fitchburg case, but given the facts released so far, Van Wagner said he thinks it will be proven that the homeowner acted reasonably in the situation.
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