Can You Shoot An Intruder In Your Home And Get Away With It?

A young Oklahoma mother is being called a hero for shooting and killing a man who broke into her home and threatened her and her baby with a knife.

That was in Oklahoma, here in California, the law does allow people to shoot intruders under certain circumstances.

Single mother, Maggie Lopez, sharpens her shooting skills at the Range Pistol Club in Northwest Fresno. She says she almost had to pull the trigger inside her own home.

"Somebody broke into my apartment when I was giving my 4-year-old a bath. They broke the door and they broke the handle. I think they heard I was in there with my son and they took off.{} It was late at night and I do own a weapon," said Lopez.

She says she has a .45 caliber that she now keeps close to her bed and she wouldn't think twice about using it on an intruder.

"The quickest way would be shooting him and getting it over with. And not giving him the advantage of hurting my son or myself," said Lopez.

"If you believe that your life is in danger, then you have the right to protect yourself, and use whatever force you have available, including a firearm," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

But that doesn't give fearful gun owners license to shoot, all the time.

The law doesn't protect you if you shoot someone, trying to defend your property.

"If someone broke into your home and grabbed a television, and was running out of your home with that television, to shoot that person in that point in time would not, in the eyes of law enforcement, be reasonable. But if that person was breaking into the home and advancing...then it would be reasonable for that person to assume they had a fear for their safety, that's the difference," explained Chief Dyer.

Lopez says she empathizes with the Oklahoma mother's maternal instinct - she would do anything to keep her son safe, even if it meant taking someone's life.

"You feel kind of proud that a lot of females nowadays are able to feel confident enough to use a weapon and defend themselves now," said Lopez.

Chief Dyer says the number of applications for a concealed weapons permit in the city of Fresno has nearly tripled in recent months.

He says before anyone tries to use a gun in self defense, they should have the proper training, so they don't hurt themselves or someone else, by accident.