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An Oregon veteran had his AR-15 rifle confiscated and was charged with a crime after firing a warning shot at a felon attempting to break into his home. Corey Thompson, of Medford, was alerted to the attempted burglary when the wanted felon tried to enter the home through a back door around midnight.
The 36-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan veteran told the intruder that he was armed and was only going to give him one, and only one, warning shot. Jonathon Kinsella opted to flee after Corey Thompson fired his AR-15 rifle towards the ground. Kinsella was ultimately caught and arrested on outstanding warrants for both assault and burglary.
Thompson’s ordeal should have been over, but it was not. Medford, Oregon law enforcement officers ultimately decided the veteran was not justified when firing his weapon. Police Lt. Mike Budrea stated that nothing Jonathon Kinsella was doing could be construed as aggressive enough to validate the firing of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Oregon’s Castle Law does allow for citizens to use deadly force to protect their home and property.
A wanted felon with a record of assault crimes should have been construed as aggressive enough to warrant the self-defense acts of Thompson. While the Oregon war veteran could not have realized the long list of criminal charges which had been levied against Kinsella during the attempted break-in, he did know that a potentially armed intruder was trying to come through the door.
Corey Thompson had this to say about the gun confiscation during an interview with local news station, KDRV-TV:
“When I’m dealt with a stressful situation, being a veteran from both Iraq and the Afghanistan war, it’s natural. I just jump into combat mode. I told him, ‘I’m going to give you a warning shot.’ I can see where they’re [Medford police] coming from, with those kinds of ordinances and stuff. I understand yes, I did discharge my weapon but I was careful not to fire it at any body’s residence. It was at the ground specifically.”
The veteran’s AR-15 was immediately seized by the Medford Police Department. The law enforcement officers took the gun because they felt it had been used in the commission of a crime. Corey Thompson will only get his semi-automatic weapon back if the local judge throws the case out of court or if the Oregon man is found innocent. Corey Thompson was charged with the unlawful use of a weapon, menacing, and reckless endangering.
While Thompson understands the dangers which come with firing a weapon in the city, he does not agree with the charges levied against him or the AR-15 confiscation. Thompson also stated that when an individual decides to break into someone’s home, there are consequences. The Oregon veteran appears to rightly feel that the winding up on the wrong side of a gun was a choice made by Jonathon Kinsella.
Medford Police Department Lt. Mike Budreau had this to say about the gun confiscation and the charges levied against the Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran:
“They [bullets] just don’t hit something and absorb. Especially if it’s something with that high velocity. It could skip off of objects and wind up going into a house, through a wall, through a window.”
Lt. Budreau is correct that bullets fired towards the ground (or in any direction) could ricochet and harm property of a person. But, if Thompson aimed at the intruder and missed, the bullets could have just as easily hit an unintended target. Oregon’s Castle Doctrine includes a “Stand Your Ground” clause, meaning Thompson was not required to retreat before opting to use deadly or physical force. The Oregon self-defense statute also states that when a citizen feels that another person is going to use deadly force against them, deadly force is permissible.
Corey Thompson had every right to believe that the man trying to break into his home could and would attempt to use deadly force against him. Therefore, the firing of a weapon was justified. The safe firing of the AR-15 was a reasonable response and the least amount of force the veteran could have used to thwart bodily harm. Perhaps if Thompson would have just used his military skills to fire a kill shot at Jonathon Kinsella, he would not be facing criminal charges and would still have possession of his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
Oregon is also an open carry state. Cities and counties within the state are not allowed to approve gun laws which are more restrictive on Second Amendment rights than existing state law. A gun range law also protects firing ranges from proposed municipal ordinances which are deemed more restrictive than state law. Oregon is largely viewed as a pro-gun state, making the actions of the Medford Police Department even more difficult to comprehend.
The Oregon Supreme Court was presented with a self-defense law case in 1982. The court was tasked with deciding whether or not the use of deadly force provision also imposed a duty to first attempt to retreat when faced with a self-defense scenario. Prior case law sated that in a civilized system of law, the supreme value of life must be noted and taken only in conditions when such force was absolutely necessary. The court ultimately decided that citizens did need to attempt to retreat and only use deadly force when there was no opportunity for escape.
The court opted to reverse itself in 2007. The justices termed the analysis in the case, “distinctly odd.” The Oregon Supreme Court decided that the intent of the legislation was not to mandate that citizens try to retreat before using deadly force when faced with imminent danger.
Although the clarification in Oregon’s Castle Doctrine and “Stand Your Ground” law makes the rights of citizens to protect themselves crystal clear, Corey Thompson still had his AR-15 confiscated. Police officers put their lives on the line to protect our communities every single day. These brave men and women should be heralded for their efforts. But, the subjective and erroneous manner in which the Medford police officers chose to apply the Castle Law in the Corey Thompson case was just plain wrong. Since Jonathon Kinsella was attempting to break into the home, the veteran would have been justified with using deadly force; instead, he chose to give the criminal a chance to reconsider his illegal career choice. Thompson does not deserve to face criminal charges or be minus his weapon.