Reading my mind

It seems that Sebastian has been practicing reading my mind again, with this current piece on the Castle Doctrine.

This isn’t something I can get behind.  Even under castle doctrine laws, it’s illegal an immoral to execute someone (and that is what you are doing, make no bones about it) for stealing your property.  I am entirely in favor of people being able to use, and using deadly force to protect themselves and others.  If you confront a car stereo thief, and he threatens you with a weapon, you are within your rights to use deadly force on your attacker.  If he runs away with your car stereo, that’s a job for the police.

The entire entry is well worth reading, but the gist of it is that there are times where lethal force should not apply.  There is a huge legal difference between someone being in your house at 2am, and someone stealing your car stereo in the light of day.

To cut to the meat of it, I don’t have any property that I am willing to take another person’s life over.  End of discussion.  I accept the possibility that I might have to shoot someone, but only in a situation where I believe that myself, my family, or Person X is in danger of death or grievous bodily harm.

Never over property.  A stereo, TV, or pool table is not worth killing anyone, miscreant or otherwise.


  1. I totally agree. One exception comes to mind. If somebody is trying to steal on of my guns, a shot might be warrented. I don’t store my guns loaded, so the risk that I have of being killed isn’t very high…but why do crooks sell guns? The Chance that one of my guns will be recovered at a murder scene is high enugh to warrent a stopping shot.

    But that’s really it.

  2. A lot of this depends on the situation, as well. Like I said, someone in my house at 0200 is a completely different situation from someone smashing the windows on my SUV. Even if they were stealing my gun bag from my car, I don’t know if I’d shoot. A lot would depend on the circumstances.

    But for a general rule, a car stereo, a TV, or my car itself isn’t worth killing.

  3. Dry, carefully posited pretend situations are all fine and well, Ladies and Gentlemen, but one has to take into account the time and place where you live.

    I, for instance, live in a gated 55+ community here in Palm Beach County, even though I’m not yet 55. Based on what I can see by looking out my windows, I can say no TV or stereo is worth another’s life.

    Looking several blocks north of here, there are frequent shootings, armed robberies, bank holdups, the whole shebang. That changes everything for me. As I alluded to earlier, I’m the youngest man in the community by a quarter-century. If I see a robber crawling into anybody’s window, I’m shooting the [email protected] Period. The only care I’ll be taking is to ensure the entry wound is in the Deceased’s front hemisphere.

    Me + the folks I protected + local public opinion versus the DA’s Office? I’ll take that one any day.

  4. Someone trying to steal a gun from my person isn’t going to get the courtesy of me assuming he just wants to run off with it. That’s a clean shoot. A reasonable person would assume an attacker is trying to get the gun because he intends to shoot you with it. In that scenario, draw and fire. For the same reason, if an armed robber ever trys to control your physical person, draw and fire.

  5. Peter, like I’ve said – a home invasion is hugely different from someone trying to steal a stereo out of my car; and that includes invasion into another person’s home.

    That’s actually one of the key points behind the Castle Doctrine laws – that someone who is in your house at 2am isn’t there to bake you cookies. That’s why in that situation, I would feel that it’s a clean shoot, as opposed to plugging someone in the street for making off with your prize Tom Brady jersey.

  6. Though I probably wouldn’t shoot someone for stealing, I feel no sympathy for them whatsoever; the biggest percentage of thieves are junkies, and they have no conscience at all about stealing from people, and will do it until they are caught. Just remember that the guy that “only stole a stereo” has probably stolen several of them and who knows how many other possessions of people who worked hard for their goods. Most junkies and thieves end up dead or rotting in prison, so I don’t see where there lives are worth thousands of other peoples’ dollars. I’m sorry, but I don’t see a thief as any different from other vermin like raccoons and coyotes, and I don’t see any reason to change that viewpoint.
    Just my opinion.

  7. Ahab, assume for the sake of argument that you and your family were in the neighbor’s back yard at a barbecue. Now assume that you look over at your house and you see a man dousing it with gasoline. You brace him and he says he is going to burn your house to the ground.

    You are only looking at the loss of property. If he would not desist and took a lighter out of his pocket and walked toward your house, would you shoot him?

  8. To be perfectly honest to your question, I don’t know. I can say that if I believed that Mr. Fire presented a credible threat to me or my family, then yes, I would shoot. But if nothing but my house was at stake, I don’t know.

    The problem exists in that you can’t argue highly situational decisions in a vacuum, nor can you even hope to accurate game all the possible permutations in a hypothetical situation such as those.

    It actually comes down to a question of morality – inasmuch as all of actually need to make the decision as to what we’re willing to use deadly for, and under what circumstances.

  9. Everyone has their own line in the sand regarding lethal force and as long as its within legal guidelines no one should find quibble with anyone else’s beliefs on the matter. Few can say precisely what they’d do SHTF time anyway, and at the end of the day it’d be downright silly to opine in a blog comment that the person who tries stealing what is mine is dead but hasn’t been made aware of it yet.

  10. Ahab, he would be murdering you. He would be murdering your family. He would be killing at least that part of your life and the lives of your family that did without things and worked for that home. He would have stolen or destroyed that part of your lives spent in gaining a home. Does he, at that point, deserve any consideration? I say no, he does not. I do not say it is not your right to extend that consideration, but he has no right to expect it, nor has anyone else the right to expect you to extend it.

    Would you shorten the lives of your daughters or your wife by five years? Five days? five minutes? If not, why not?

    That is what the arsonist would be doing. So would the thief be so engaged. Are you less responsible because he did it, but you could have stopped him and didn’t? Would you really trade a portion of your life and the lives of your loved ones to be able to say you were considerate of the man who would steal those portions?

    If you look at it in that light, does it not dictate your reaction?

    We are not talking vacuum here, at my age, I know what I believe. I have known since before I was your age. I have not much patience for people who say “No one really knows what they will do under _________ (fill in the blank) situation.” If they don’t, it is because they haven’t set their principles yet. Or they have and aren’t sure they have the courage of their convictions. I am suspicious of their ability to responsibility to carry arms, and I sure don’t count on them to have my back or anybody else’s.

    I apologize for the confrontational sound of this comment, I do not mean it as a personal attack against anyone, even those who disagree with me. But, I promise you it is the true reflection of my opinion.

    Having said all that, I would not shoot a man stealing my car. But, that is because of me, not him, nor some misguided concept of humanitarianism. He would survive to rob another and possibly graduate to killing to get what he wants. If that would be the case, I would share his guilt. I just wouldn’t lie to myself about it.

    My position is not entirely principled, because it is based partially on my comfort. However, with me it is a matter of haggling over price, because I would do what is necessary to keep him from destroying my home or seriously negatively impacting the lives of my family. Again because of me and what I believe, with no consideration given to a man who has relinquished any right or claim to consideration.

  11. Consider:

    The two men who stand accused of the rape and murder of the doctor’s family in Connecticut had extensive records AS BURGLARS.

    Had someone ended their career early, either by life imprisonment or by Castle Doctrine, it is possible that a young girl and her mother would not have died as sexual assault victims.

    The guy stealing your car stereo today might never become worse. Or he might be slicing your daughter’s throat tomorrow.

    HE crossed the line. He should realize that there is not safe crime to engage in.

  12. In Kentucky, we not only have Castle Doctrine, but also the enumeratied right in our state constitution to protect our property. This is a mixed blessing. In rural areas, it has been upheld. In some areas, you would be taking a chance with your freedom if you exercised this right. You would probably win on appeal, but…
    As observed above, this is not so much a legal decision as an individual moral decision. It’s good to discuss it.
    Unless I’m in the car, I’m not worried about a car stereo, battery, or even my car for that matter. But if an intruder is in my home, well, there is a thin line between crimes against property and crimes against person, and within my four walls…

  13. straightarrow – the hell he is murdering me. Destroying my property is not “murder writ small”, it’s theft. And while murder is certainly theft of life, it is not a two way street.

    Similarly, I am really tired of statements like this:

    I have not much patience for people who say “No one really knows what they will do under _________ (fill in the blank) situation.” If they don’t, it is because they haven’t set their principles yet.

    At the risk of sounding confrontational, it’s utter horseshit. Even if you set your principles, all you can do then is hope that you act based on those principles. No one rises to the occasion, what you do is default to your training. Until a person has actually been in a violent, dynamic confrontation; the best they can do is guess how they would react.

  14. Minnesnowta law is explicitly clear on the use of deadly (or potentially deadly) force. Four factors must be in place, uninteruppted, for the use of lethal force to be justified in self-defence:

    1) You must be a reluctant participant;
    2) You must be in immediate danger of death or grave bodily injury;
    3) No lesser force would suffice to stop the immediate threat;
    4) You must have no practical retreat.

    In Straightarrow’s house-burning scenario, here in Minnesnowta, should you shoot the arsonist, knowing that no one’s life is in immediate danger, you WILL go to jail for a long, long time for murder.

    The only time that you are not required to retreat from an immediate threat is in the inside of your home…otherwise, if it’s possible to run away, you are required to by law.

    Of course, these rules apply not only to yourself, but to others. If you see that someone is being placed in immediate danger of death (or grave bodily injury…note the “grave”…just plain old injury that doesn’t cause permanent damage or disability, like a broken arm, doesn’t qualify) you are legally able to go to their defence as well as your own.

    This was made painfully clear through examples of case law during our CCW training.

    And while Minnesnowta law is somewhat over-constrictive, I do have to agree with the premise that almost no property loss is worth taking a life. My own line in the sand for a home invasion is the landing of the stairs to the 2nd floor, where our bedrooms are. They can ransack the 1st floor to their hearts content, while my wife is on the line to 9-1-1 and I’m at the top of the stairs with the bedside .45, flashlight, and spare magazine. We’ll wait for the police to show up and catch them…I’m NOT heading down there to save the stereo. But if one of the mutants is stupid enough to come up the stairs while I’m screaming, “STOP…DROP YOUR WEAPON. PLEASE, STOP”, he’ll only make it to the turn at the landing. That’s where I’ve decided that my life, and my wife’s life, are now in immediate danger from a deranged lunatic will to advance into the muzzle of a pistol.

    YMMV, and different states have different laws.

  15. Good discussion. Would I shoot? Yes. One in the ground. If no joy, another aimed LOW (lower leg). Center of mass? No. Not just for property. (Now if it was my car, I’d kill in a New York minute. I’ve got a year’s pay and ten year’s time in her!)

  16. ” No one rises to the occasion, what you do is default to your training. Until a person has actually been in a violent, dynamic confrontation; the best they can do is guess how they would react.”_Ahab

    You are wrong. Simply wrong. I have been in more than one of those situations, way more than one. I reacted just exactly as I had said I would, I did it the first time and I did it all the times in between, and I did it the last time. I never had to guess, I knew exactly what I would do and I did it.

    And theft is murder writ small. That you don’t recognize it doesn’t make it untrue.

    Blackwing, you are talking about being more afraid of law enforcement than you are criminals. Ok, that’s your right and probably smart. It has nothing to do with principle or the tenets of liberty and individual responsibility to provide security yourself or your loved ones.

    I refuse to be victimized by a criminal because I am more afraid of a third party than I am of him. If you don’t, that is your right, but I will never let you watch my back. In fact, I will never let you behind me.

  17. Oh, I do agree with one thing. No sane man would be anything but a reluctant participant in anything of that nature. No sane man would want to be any kind of participant in anything of that nature. But often you are not given the choice.

    Blackwing, throw away your CCW and your guns. You don’t need them. You can always jump out the second story window and run away. If you do not, it sounds like Mn. would send you to jail. I don’t have your home or your family, it is not up to me to value them beyond the value I place on all innocent human life. So I would commiserate should bad happen to you or them. You’re the only one who should value them above all others. Just keep the window open for a quick getaway.

    Although this isn’t really the time of year for it. I know, I used to live in Mn. My youngest daughter was born there. It was -38 degrees F. the night I took her home from the hospital in December some 30+ years ago.

  18. I have been thinking about my last two comments since I wrote them. It occurred to me that some might get the impression that I am a Rambo wannabe. Let me assure you, that is not the case. I am one of the most peaceable men you will ever meet.

    Anyone who has known me for any length of time tends to describe me as gentle. I had never thought about it much, until I kept hearing it from others. I suppose I could be. I know that almost all dogs like me.

    I do not transgress others and I won’t tolerate them doing it to me. That seems to me to be reasonable. My statement about knowing what I would do and have done in a given situation is true, but what I forgot to emphasize is that I am not unique. There are many men who do and have done likewise. I learned from my elders who would have nothing but disdain for a man who was so unsure of himself that he would not live up to his stated beliefs and duties. I was not even unique in that, as most of the people I grew up with were so endowed by those same elders and a society that admired them for it.

    I am not now, nor have I ever looked for trouble, but due to my work (when I was still healthy enough to work) and some of the locations it took me to, I was often in unfriendly environments or a target of unfriendly people. I was not unique in that, either.

    I was once jumped by four men, one of whom had an unacceptable interest in my wife. He drew courage from the fact that he knew his three companions would back him when he attacked me. He did, they did.

    I was unarmed and thankfully so were they, well except for the six pack of beer bottles they broke on my head. But I got them all. I was the only one standing when the sheriff got there. There were twenty people who watched and said after it was all over that they wanted to help me, but were afraid of getting in trouble. As you might imagine, I didn’t manage to retain a lot of respect for any of them. Turns out these four were known for this, just nobody had ever whipped their asses before.

    Another time three young men jumped me late at night. My mistake was stopping when they indicated that I had a tire going flat. These were the same three who had attacked three other of the guys who worked with me. Each of them was jumped when alone and late at night. Each of them went down and stayed there and tried to cover up. They all got stomped pretty badly.

    This time, it so happened that I was carrying a handgun. I never even thought about using it. I just beat them down. I am not really large, I am not specially trained, but I don’t allow myself to be trespassed in this manner without consequence to the trespasser(s). As I said I had a gun on me at that time, after I put these guys down I pulled one of them aside and showed him the gun. I asked him if he really thought he ought to be doing that, that he might run into someone not as patient as I. I had some pretty severe evidence on me that I had been to see the elephant, still I didn’t shoot them or even threaten to shoot them. That did, however, stop the attacks on workers from our project.

    I am merely trying to keep you from getting an impression of me as a violent man who is eager to harm other people. Or as someone hoping for a chance to kill someone. It just isn’t so. Knowing how to dispense violence and having a proclivity for doing so are usually two entirely different things.

    All the really tough guys I ever knew were peaceable. Most of the guys with a proclivity toward violence I have known tended not to be tough,only mean, and almost always required an edge, either in numbers or weaponry.

    The second instance described above might have a different outcome today, simply because of age and a dying heart the physical attributes are gone and it may well be that I would have to use the maximum force at my disposal to save myself. But given an option, I would not.

  19. Straightarrow:

    I’m not sure why you are stating that I should “…throw away your CCW and your guns”. You’ve made your position quite clear: You’re willing to use lethal force in a situation where (in my state) it is unlawful. That’s your choice, if, as a mature, responsible adult, you have chosen to live with the consequences of your actions. Those consequences, should you pursue that course of action in Minnesota, will result in a lengthy jail term.

    I’ve also made my choice. My line in the sand is drawn exactly where the law will allow it…and I WILL use lethal force (or at least, the threat of it) should it appear that my life, that of my loved ones, or even that of a complete stranger is in immediate danger.

    But being a person of very small stature, and even smaller since I had the cervical vertebrae fused (which also limits my choices of mode-of-defense to a large extent), I don’t understand why you are advocating that I render myself defenseless. Choosing a vastly higher threshold of willingness to use lethal force doesn’t mean I might not have a hostile encounter, or that I might not need the better tool for self-defense that a firearm offers to me.

    Would you please explain your logic to me? I’m unable to understand your reasoning, which appears to be that, “If you’re not willing to shoot a car radio thief, then you’re not ever going to shoot any other type of attacker”. I don’t understand how one follows the other.

    Unless you were just using hyperbole, in which case I’ll bow out of the discussion, and simply say that I disagree with you in this instance.

  20. Here’s my reasoning. You are willing to allow criminals almost free rein because you are more terrified of the state than you are of criminals. Is that really what you equate with liberty? Is that a society that respects you? Your answer to that should be “no”. But, it isn’t. Your answer is I will do what they will allow me to do and no more, no matter how much suffering it causes me or mine, because I might get in trouble.

    My reasoning on throwing away your gun and you CCW was based on your line in the sand. The stairway landing to the second story of your house. I assume it is because you think it would be defensible in court. “Yes, your honor I shot them, but I let them have everything downstairs because I didn’t want to get in trouble for stopping them.” What do you do, when the new higher threshold is “you could have fled through your upstairs window, and since you did not retreat when you could have you are guilty of murder.”

    What is the moral difference between your staircase landing and your doors?

    I was not engaging in hyperbole, I was merely extending your reasoning to its destiny when others don’t give a damn about you. Criminals and courts alike.

    I don’t understand all these CCW holders, who carry guns but are willing to abide victimization to keep out of trouble. What? Is it just for show? Is it a secret ego thing? What? I really don’t get it.

    Hell, I don’t even carry a gun. I don’t have a CCW, either. Although for about ten years of my life I carried a gun everywhere I went. I didn’t ask permission, I already had that right.

    I haven’t carried a gun anywhere in a very long time. And I have been shot twice in my life, neither time was I armed. But I assure you “getting in trouble” with the law was not on my mind when I went after the shooters. Yeah, I know, not smart to chase an armed man with only your bare hands, but I did it both times. My point being that even though that wasn’t smart on my part, I was at no more of a disadvantage than you are presently and I had no option and you do but fear exercising it.

    Laws should never trump justice. When they do, I ignore them. If everyone did, it would soon not be a law. A law which cannot be enforced, forces the authorities to revisit the issue if for no other reason than to avoid the appearance of impotence. Allowing laws that do not serve and protect the rights of the people, only encourages the next predation on your liberty.

    Not for me. I don’t play those rules.

  21. BTW, was it whiplash that caused your spinal trouble? My neck was broken at the third cervical vertabra in 1966, the doctor looked right in my eyes and said I would be dead by morning. I got up and left the hospital. I didn’t need anyone that was so intent on burying me. I’m still kicking 41 years later, although in these last few years I have started having a lot of neck pain on occassion. I hope you do not experience any downside to your fusion. Good luck with it.

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