Saturday, February 19, 2011

Castle Doctrine Laws: Make My Day

Last  week in Kansas City, MO, a homeowner was awakened during the middle of the night with someone dragging a go cart out of his back yard.  In his "less then alert" state of mind, he grabbed his shotgun and fired into the dark. Well, I probably don't have to tell you where this is headed.  The robber was shot and killed.  The homeowner called 911 and reported the incident and when the police arrived he was promptly arrested.  Lately, I have been noticing a rash of these arrests where a homeowner is being charged with shooting an intruder.  The difference with this one is the burglar was out in the yard.

There is no debate that the robber was robbing him.  In fact, this homeowner had been robbed 3 times in the recent  weeks.  The initial newspaper article said that the prosecutor was going to indict with Murder in the 2nd degree.  I was surprised by that.  I would have guessed that would only warrant an involuntary manslaughter count. Shows what I know??? Clearly the guy would have not been thinking clearly under these circumstances.  Probably shouldn't pick up a gun when you are half asleep, just a thought.

I suspect that in any state in the union, under these circumstances the  shooter would be  in a big heap of trouble.  The intruder was not in the house, was not armed and didn't threaten the homeowner.  He was just stealing stuff.

All of this got me thinking, of course....ya knew it would.

What are the laws in my current state??  Why I felt the need to know is any one's guess. As I don't own a gun and wouldn't know how to use it.  Just more trivial junk I need to stow in the nether regions of my brain.

 I looked up the laws in Kansas concerning the Castle Doctrine Laws.  Generally, the “castle doctrine” provides that someone attacked in his home can use force, which can include deadly force, to protect his or an other's life without any duty to retreat from the attacker. It is defined differently in different states. 

 At the present time there are 31 states that have some version of the Castle Doctrine Laws. In recent years, a number of states have adopted or considered bills referred to as “castle doctrine” bills. These bills expand the circumstances where a person can use self-defense without retreating and contain other provisions, such as immunity for someone who legally uses force in self-defense.

Each state's laws vary in wording and intent. Turns out this is the tricky part.  Just in case you are planning on shooting an intruder anytime soon.  You better read your law clearly.

 Some states have added provisions such as the  "No Retreat Laws" which add the clause that you don't have to attempt to remove yourself from a threatening situation. Another version is some states is "Make My Day Laws".  (I am serious here).  These laws are based on the attitude that Dirty Harry had in the Clint Eastwood movies.  (in this version someone for sure is going to get hurt) and my personal favorite is the "No need to retreat anywhere" law.  This is the Texas version that says they don't expect you to retreat at all.  (it's nearly daring you to blow someone to bits) Here are a couple of web sites that break down the laws by states and do a pretty good job of clarifying the extent of the Castle Laws in that state.

Now some of you are jumping to the conclusion that I would want to shoot an intruder.  Not so fast on your jumping there folks.  First of all, I have already noted that hubby and I don't own a gun.  Hubby was in a branch of the military,  so I guess he could figure it out but we are pacifists (whooses if you will) so you can jump to the conclusion we will just be scared S***LESS  if we wake up to a robber.

With that being said, for you guys and gals that have legal weapons and someone is breaking in your place, I guess given the right circumstances I am ok with you shooting them. (not that you need my permission, so shoot away) 

 I hesitate to endorse shooting someone that is burglarizing your place but basically these dumb asses need to not be in your house messing with you and your things. Further more if they do break in, they need to take on the risk that they might get shot.  I don't want to hear them whining about their injuries (if they survive).  I especially don't want to hear about them suing you, which seems to happen from time to time.  If I am on your jury, I might be the tie breaker in your favor. (Well unless, you were doing something outrageous and mean spirited to your burglar. Let's assume he was asking for trouble.)

I liked the Texas attitude as far as home invasions go.  Back on the blog post where I  was talking about good neighbors, I failed to mention that my immediate next door neighbor in Texas was a Texas Ranger.  Roland  was a really good neighbor.  Neat guy. 

Shortly after we moved in and got to know each other a bit, he came over.  He asked me if I had a gun in the house and of course, I said no.  He said " I know your hubby travels a lot.  If he is out of town and you have any trouble you just call."  He proceeded to tell me about the "no need to retreat law".  Roland said he would be glad to shoot someone for me if they broke into my house.  How sweet is that???  Now there is a neighbor that has your back.

Anyway...Back to the fact that I now reside in Kansas.  Turns out Kansas does  have a version of a Castle Doctrine Law but it was updated in 2010 by a Castle Doctrine Bill.  I have read it and reread it and just don't get it. Doesn't it sound (see link below) like if you threaten your intruder, you had better carry through or you are breaking the law.  If you don't warn him you better not hurt him.  I am totally confused.  If you kill him, how is he going to tell anyone "Hey he didn't warn me."

I can't help but think of the little old lady that was trying to get out of Cairo, that said she had an arsenal comprised of hot water, rolling pin, knife and a pan.  Perhaps that is the safest approach if you don't want to get charged with shooting someone.

The good for the day....Our homes are "Our Castles"

The bad for the day....There are idiots out there that have no respect for your castle. 

The WEIRD for the day ....speaking of gun rights (and wrongs) I always find Tom Lehrer's takes on subjects pretty funny.

No comments: