The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Volokh Conspiracy

Self-defense limited when defender 'has a history or reputation for violence among civilians'


From Alaska Stat. § 11.81.330:

(a) A person is justified in using nondeadly force [or deadly force, if the threat from the other person is sufficiently grave -EV] upon another when and to the extent the person reasonably believes it is necessary for self-defense against what the person reasonably believes to be the use of unlawful force by the other person, unless …

(4) the force used was the result of using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument the person claiming self-defense possessed while …

(C) acting alone or with others in revenge for, retaliation for, or response to actual or perceived conduct by a rival or perceived rival, or a member or perceived member of a rival group, if the person using deadly force, or the group on whose behalf the person is acting, has a history or reputation for violence among civilians.

Can that be right? Is it really proper to reduce a person's self-defense rights simply because he or she - or the group for which he or she is acting - has a "reputation for violence"?

Note that some of this conduct would otherwise be legal (or else subsection (4)(C) would have no purpose). For instance, if Vic threatens you, and in response to this you legally carry a gun, which you then use when Vic actually tries to kill you, that would normally be quite legal - but, under (4)(C), not when you have "a history or reputation for violence among civilians."