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Defense of self and dog against ATV trespassers

Discussion in 'GATE Self-Defense Forum' started by Hoonz, May 31, 2011.

  1. Hoonz


    May 23, 2011
    I live in a rural area in PA, and my family owns property with "no trespassing" signs. Unfortunately, these signs are ignored, and people ride their ATVs around the gate where I walk my dog. Sometimes people have sped by very fast and next to my small dog.

    Mr. Ayoob, I know you answer on the safe side of things, and wouldn't want to give advice to put anyone legally at risk. But honestly, if a quad is speeding fast next to my dog, it really irritates me...

    If someone is speeding towards me and/or my dog, I would like to know your opinion legally, what situation I could get into if I fired at their tires (I'm usually carrying an AR-15 or G19).

    What about if I aimed it at their vehicle (as a warning to slow down)?

    Consider a situation in that I could also be in danger, as well as my dog; the speeding vehicles do not slow down around the many curves and I could be killed. They are usually teenagers and enjoy passing at threatening distances. I have had to decrease my walks during "busy" hours when there are many trespassers. Usually when carrying the AR-15, they keep a distance but not always. The only thing I have done so far was yell, which hasn't worked.

    There is no need to mention the obvious about blocking off the property better; there is seemingly an infinite number of ways onto the property. When my grandfather was alive, he put a lot of money into blocking off the property with cables and cut trees and all that resulted was stolen cables and new paths. Clear "no trespassing" and "POSTED" signs do remain though. It is a losing battle that we have given up.

    It is a frustrating duty to patrol the property. Once there was a group of guys with shotguns who I asked politely to leave, and they refused (saying they were given permission by an adjacent owner, whose property was about 500 yards away). When I was walking away they fired about 10 shots.
  2. Mas Ayoob

    Mas Ayoob KoolAidAntidote Moderator

    Nov 6, 2005
    Hoonz, DON'T DO IT.

    Firing in the direction of the ATV-ers under the circumstances you describe would be construable as aggravated assault or even attempted murder.
    Pointing the gun in their direction would constitute aggravated assault.

    If there's hostility between you and the trespassers, your simple possession of an open carried firearm would open a path for them to falsely accuse you of threatening them with deadly weapons. It would be their word against yours, with more of them speaking than you.

    Make your concerns about the ATV trespass known to the appropriate local authorities. Call them as soon as you see trespassers. Follow all necessary local rules about posting your property. I strongly urge you not to confront the trespassers. What I read in your question tells me you're not ready for that confrontation.

    I would strongly suggest consultation with a local attorney and a local concealed carry instructor.


  3. Hoonz


    May 23, 2011
    Thank you for the warning. I'd imagine the only time I would fire at an ATV is if they are actually trying to hit me, and I felt that my life or my dog's life was in danger... which would be rare to happen. Perhaps I didn't emphasize that well.

    I'd take the risk if I was convinced my dog would be killed; I know that means trouble, but I love my dachshund. In addition, if someone fired at my dog I'd return fire (and legally speaking, if they are shooting at her, they are shooting in my direction, too).

    You've taught me, among other things by reading your material, that pointing a gun at someone is F grade aggravated assault. I never gave it much thought before (would have guessed M1-3, but didn't realize the weight of such an action). I'm still not sure if that applies to a trespasser who is riding an ATV pushing more Ft-lbs than a bullet (if they are deliberately threatening me).

    Perhaps it is a gray area but I will lean towards the side of caution; It'd be Quite a nasty thing for a grad student in science to be hit with (career ending for sure)- stated as applying to the felony, but I guess also could apply to an ATV running me over (reminds me of you saying that its better to have hearing loss than be in the ground not hearing at all). I carry my dog on the side if I hear a speeding ATV, especially near a curve. I'll move, I certainly don't play chicken even though it is private property (that is just a concept which some may choose to ignore).

    My grandfather trained me well; he always emphasized "only point a gun if ready to shoot someone" (due to life-threat), and I plan on sticking to that. Using a gun in any way to get someone's attention (aiming at them or firing up in the air) would be done only if I was very afraid and yelling didn't work. When yelling hasn't worked before, I've left.

    As a member here FL Airedale suggested via PM, I will be carrying a video camera now in case of confrontation. My property is the only place I am comfortable with open carry and don't wish to stop doing that, but realize the additional risk.

    I don't imagine myself as someone who would fire first and think later, as my post may have wrongly suggested and possibly causing you to post concerned for me (which I appreciate).

    I've been in two situations where I was legitimately threatened. In both I had a pistol. One case, I fled (was in my car when my window shattered due to what I thought was a gunshot and a man standing there yelling who I knew of and who made threats against my life previously)
    and in another I used pepper spray on someone who was kicking a person on the ground and approached me with a knife (I had been videotaping the unbalanced fight on my phone which provoked him). The pepper spray was amazingly effective on this BIG guy; he held his eyes, walked over to his truck and asked the passenger to get his gun (provoking another "fleeing" reaction... I came back ten minutes later to get my gas I had prepaid for, and the police only asked if I had the video). I usually carry pepper spray for that wide gray area you quote, between a kind word and bullet.

    In both of those situations, it seems my instinctive reaction (when everything except the situation and motor control, all background fades into a distant dim, quiet "movie", muscles feel tight and ready, time slows down significantly,
    etc) is to flee. That is my first choice always. If I can't, I believe I'll do the right thing.