I’m getting tired of hearing about shootings in which the shooter successfully claims self-defense because he or she thought the victim had a weapon. Thinking is not enough. The burden of proof should be on the shooter. He or she should be required to know that a person has a weapon, if that is their stated reason for the shooting. If you shoot someone and claim that is was because you thought they had a weapon that they intended to use against you, and no weapon is subsequently found on that person, then you should be charged with voluntary manslaughter.
Now this should not apply if you shoot someone on your own property. A man’s (or woman’s) house is their castle, so they should be given the benefit of the doubt in that case. But before someone shoots another person in a public place or on someone else’s private property, they should be required to prove that they were put in fear of their safety because of one of two reasons: (1) the other person definitely had a weapon or (2) that person was on verge of beating them with their bare hands. If they originally choose reason number one, they must stick with it. They can’t come back later and conveniently switch to reason number two as a fallback position after no weapon is found.