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Knowing when to shoot – Understanding Missouri’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Supporters say it gives law abiding citizens a better chance to defend themselves. Opponents say Missouri’s new Stand Your Ground law will turn the state into the Wild Wild West.

Clayton-based criminal defense attorney Joel Schwartz says the change eliminates the requirement that someone run away from a threat they believe to be deadly.

“As long as one is in a location where they are authorized to be, you no longer have the duty to run away,” said Schwartz. “You can use deadly force as long as you reasonably believe deadly force will be inflicted upon you.”

St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lomar announced charges against a Lake St. Louis man Wednesday for shooting a suspected car thief.

Police say the suspected thief was backing the car out of a driveway and away from the owner when shots were fired. Investigators say there was no evidence to suggest the owner believed he was facing a deadly threat.

Schwartz says it’s up to the state to prove shooters do not have a reasonable belief they face a deadly threat in these types of cases.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson expects to see more of these types of shootings in the future.

“A gentleman who shot and killed a 13-year-old in defense of his car was put on probation. We saw a couple weeks ago that a gentlemen in his garage approached by two young people, killed two young people,” said Dotson. “Neither one of those individuals face serious criminal charges or jail time. I think we’re going to see a lot more of that.”

Another change in Missouri’s gun laws will eliminate the need for a concealed carry permit and weapons training. That change begins January 1, 2017.

Lake St. Louis Police Chief Mike Force encourages all gun owners to become familiar with the new law and when deadly force can be used in Missouri.