Mental Excercise on Self Defense

It’s 1875, Dodge City, KS. You shoot and kill an unarmed man in the streets. When the Sheriff rides up, you calmly explain, “Well, we got into a fist fight and I was losing real bad so I had to shoot him.” Do you hang?


I doubt the simple set of facts presented would decide the case one way or another. You don’t mention if there actually was a fight, witnesses, or evidence the sheriff could see. Also, your actions might be viewed in a standard of common behavior at the time more than a literal reading of the law. So if you and/or the dead guy is seen as the drunken cowboy troublemaker passing through on the cattle drive, you might get different treatment than a local.

Now if the dead guy was carrying some Skittles and wearing a hoodie, things would be completely different. But you’re probably not interested in that aspect of it.

Do we really need another self-defense thread? Don’t we already have enough to fill their own forum?

Are you related to or friends of the Sheriff? Is your victim? Are you wanted on other charges? Is he? Do you appear rich or to be a cattle baron? Was he a sheep herder?

All valid concerns from the westerns I’ve seen.

In that case you get a reward for killing him. But then why make up a story about a fist fight?

You are both cattle punchers of equal rank. Neither of you has any relation to the Sherriff. There were 3 witnesses from a distance, all three arrived after the fight had started but can testify that they did see a fight and that you shot the unarmed man and that is all. Neither of you is drunk or intoxicated.

then hang him.

Wait, wait, don’t tell me… the sheriff is the patient’s mother, right?