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What warrants the use of deadly force for self-defense?

Any person with a loaded firearm can shoot to kill. We have the ability to do that with very little effort. I think that's the point - and also the hazard - of having a gun around for self-defense. The question here is, when may we?

Pistol
Here's looking' at you. Almost ready for use ...
This is a Study Series on the Use of Deadly Force.

Part 1 summarizes the principles of self-defense in one's home and how they have changed over time. Part 2 will cover Stand Your Ground statutes, a development since 2005. Part 3 will present a selection of recent cases that do and don't "prove the rules." Based on comments and your input, I'll conclude with observations about these cases and some questions for "the other side of gun issues", whichever side that may be for you.

These diaries resort to broad generalizations. State laws vary, as you'd expect, and cases depend on their own facts, not to mention the prosecutor, judge and jury. Careful readers may object that I didn't cover this aspect or that, and they would be correct. That said ...

... let's talk about guns at home and deadly force beneath the Byzantine bullseye.

Disclaimers. What follows is general information on a law topic. Nothing in this diary constitutes legal advice and it is not to be acted upon as legal advice. Criminal law and procedure is a law practice specialty. If you need advice, get it from a skilled professional.
The Beginning ...
from the Barbarism of Every Man for Himself to a More Civilized Society

In civilized societies (as opposed to some hypothetical “state of nature” or the Wild West), governments empower police to protect citizens and provide a system of laws and courts to administer justice. The tradeoff in English law - which was the origin of American laws on this and many subjects - was to limit the situations when individuals may use deadly force to take law into their own hands. Shooting puts innocents at risk, constitutes "vigilante justice” and bypasses the courts.

And it's not just a matter of the state allocating power between it and its citizens. No matter how engagingly movies and video games portray it, "every man for himself" is contrary to the personal values of civil people.

Throughout time, constables received special training. The law didn't give law enforcement officers ("LEO's") open-ended authority to use lethal force either, for they must not become the public's judge and jury. LEO's are expected to be peacekeepers first and foremost. Their mantra is to reduce conflict through negotiation without anyone getting hurt. They get elaborate training to recognize and defuse unknown and potentially dangerous situations whenever possible, to act with caution and restraint, unusual patience, a clear mind and a cool head. None of these are traits associated with causing or encountering a sudden dangerous situation. They are skills, reactions learned from training and experience.

So, what room was there for a civilian to use deadly force? Historically, very little.

Even for defense of the most sacrosanct aspects of life - self-preservation and the safety of loved ones - common law (which is law derived from court decisions, not legislated in statutes) imposed many conditions:

- The case, after all, is murder. Taking the life of another human being is final. It couldn't be lightly excused or justified. The risks were great of making a mistake in the tension of a moment, a momentary lapse of judgment, the understandable rush of adrenalin. So, self-defense developed as only a defense and the burden of proving it rested entirely on the wielder of a deadly weapon.

- The threat must be present and immediate or as sometimes phrased, imminent and unavoidable. Note, these terms do not describe the same things! Belief that there will be harm in the future was not enough to justify the use of force. Nor - under most circumstances - was harm done in the past. (To get ahead of ourselves, such considerations are critical when battered women raise claims of self-defense. Part 3 of this series deals further with domestic violence.)

- Proportionate Response. The rule was to use only such force as necessary to repel an intruder or trespasser, and deadly force only when deadly force was palpably threatened. Pointing a gun at someone is such a threat. Whether displaying a gun is such a threat may be another matter, but it is enough to turn a crime into an "aggravated offense" in most states.

- Even though being in imminent peril of severe bodily harm or death is a subjective reaction, the burden was to justify force by objective standards: what would a reasonable person have done under the circumstances?

- Except in extreme situations, one may not provoke an attack and may not pursue someone who is fleeing. (That's pretty sensible advice apart from the law!) The law was to the contrary. It imposed an affirmative duty to retreat, an understandable concept for a society which moved beyond "Every man for himself." However, as to the issue of a duty to retreat ...

Where There is No Place to Retreat - the Castle Doctrine

Against intruders in one’s home, there may be little if any room to retreat. Over time, the strict legal approach yielded to another classic principle of English law – that a man's home is his castle. The rightful occupant of the premises had a right to exclude others, including the King's constables (except under very circumscribed conditions).

With that tenet in mind, many jurisdictions largely relieved the duty to retreat within one's home or workplace.

Still, the risks of taking someone else’s life were no less. After all, the "intruder" might be a family member unexpectedly returning home or a neighbor in need of aid. To justify using deadly force, an occupant still must fear for his life or that of loved ones. The burden to justify one’s conduct by objectively reasonable standards remained on the one who took a life.

Over time, some jurisdictions began relaxing aspects of these matters, too, such as allowing force against a home invasion (like a burglary - entering a premises to commit theft) where there was no immediately observable threat of bodily harm. A few presaged SYG laws and went beyond the home adding - when occupied - one's vehicle and/or workplace. Yet the core of these principles remained.

An underpinning of self-defense in the home was often not acknowledged explicitly in the cases, even though it was fundamental:
-  the self-defender was in a place he or she had a right to be, and
-  the "intruder" was not, and
-  both knew it!

The danger of a forceful response to a perceived threat is just that - the threat is perceived. Police training emphasizes that at night or when people are tired or slowing down, we don't see as well or think as straight. And faced with a threat of danger, our nature-driven fear response to sudden and acute stress triggers adrenalin and other chemical and neurological changes in the brain. We get tunnel vision and a very short-term focus. For law enforcement officers, training for emergency conditions kicks in, or should. Most of us, however, have had no such training and no opportunity to practice.

As Lilith Gardner cautions:

Just buying a gun and having it in the house does not make someone capable of threat assessment in the middle of the night.
So, Officer, This is What Happened ...

The best situation – and by far the most justifiable - is not to use deadly force in the first place. But if we're in such a situation, we'll probably say, as most accused say … “I had to! I had no choice! I ...”

Of course, being an honest person, you relate the facts as truthfully as you can and as favorably as you deserve, hopefully after you have had time to think clearly. In describing the incident in terms of self-defense, you are attempting to decriminalize your response to the perceived threat.

COMING UP NEXT in Part 2 of this series: Stand Your Ground and how it changed the law.
Thanks to ClevelandAttorney for reading this and his wise counsel.

The Daily Kos Firearms Law and Policy group studies actions for reducing firearm deaths and injuries in a manner that is consistent with the current Supreme Court interpretation of the Second Amendment. If you would like to write about firearms law please send us a Kosmail.

To see our list of original and republished diaries, go to the Firearms Law and Policy diary list. Click on the ♥ or the word "Follow" next to our group name to add our posts to your stream, and use the link next to the heart to send a message to the group if you have a question or would like to join.

We have adopted Wee Mama's and akadjian's guidance on communicating.  But most important, be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.

Originally posted to Firearms Law and Policy on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 03:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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Comment Preferences

  •  What is a permissible response when (10+ / 0-)

    you are in your home and you are clearly threatened with rape (for instance, the rapist has stated "I'm not going to hurt you, you know you want it, I'm going to take it whether you say yes or no" or some such) and are being beaten but do not see a gun?

    What is the permissible response when the rapist has his penis in you and you can reach a gun?

    Are you allowed any defense against an imminent or occurring rape?

    •  Rape is a forceable felony, so far as I know. (7+ / 0-)

      And we'll see in the next diary in this series that the law - by statute in some states, by judge-made law in others - gives latitude to respond to threats like rape that do not involve a firearm being the threat. A brutal, physical attack, no matter what the attacker says, is the threat of serious bodily harm.

      That said, one of the great chasms in the law of self-defense - in my view - is domestic violence. (I recognize rape may not fit into this category.) Somehow, the law has not recognized the threatening, intimidating atmosphere that surrounds domestic relationships. And very importantly, law enforcement has not responded to it as it has to other situations of violence.

      2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

      by TRPChicago on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 04:51:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Can't speak for every jurisdiction (9+ / 0-)

      but in NY, the law would allow use of the justification defense in the scenario you describe.

      NY Penal Law Article 35  

      2. A  person  may  not  use deadly physical force upon another person under circumstances specified in subdivision one unless:
        (a) The actor reasonably believes that such other person is  using  or about  to use  deadly  physical  force. Even in such case, however, the actor may not use deadly physical force if he or she  knows  that  with complete  personal safety, to oneself and others he or she may avoid the
      necessity of so doing by retreating; except that the actor is  under no duty to retreat if he or she is:
        (i) in his or her dwelling and not the initial aggressor; or
        (ii) a police officer or peace officer or a person assisting a police officer or a peace officer at the latter`s direction, acting pursuant to section 35.30; or
        (b) He or she reasonably believes that such other person is committing or attempting to commit a kidnapping, forcible rape, forcible  criminal sexual act or robbery; or
        (c) He or she reasonably believes that such other person is committing or attempting to commit a burglary, and the circumstances are such that the use of deadly physical force is authorized by subdivision three of section 35.20.
      (Bolding added)

      I suspect that other state laws have similar provisions.

      I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man... Steve Mason, 1940-2005

      by Wayward Wind on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 04:52:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Kitsap River: it's a threat to your bodily safety (7+ / 0-)

      therefore you are entitled to defend yourself with appropriate force. A rape victim is justifiably in fear for his or her life throughout the attack.

      LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

      by BlackSheep1 on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 05:36:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A few points (4+ / 0-)

      There are very few juries that would convict you if a STRANGER was killed during a rape.

      It gets more complicated if it involved a spouse or boyfriend.  Only because motives would have to be explored at that point.  What's to say that a wife didn't want to kill her SO and used a rape accusation as cover?  

    •  I used 911 successfully a couple of times (4+ / 0-)
    •  The bigger question to me is not can but should. (3+ / 0-)

      You seem to be asking for permission to kill somebody. Yes, you CAN execute someone if they are raping you in your home. But should you? Isn't it a more civilized approach to use only the amount of force necessary to stop the rape? That may require deadly force. Or not.

      I know it is fashionable in America now for Zimmerman's to gun down teenagers because they're losing a fight. And for police to shoot senior citizens reaching for a cane or a kid answering the door with a game controller in his hand.

      Is that really what we want for our society? Extrajudicial death penalties applied for real or imagined offenses?

      If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

      by edg on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 06:35:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you could end the attack with less than (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kasoru, LilithGardener

        deadly force, the use of deadly force wouldn't be justified.  You only "get permission" to use lethal force if it is needed to end the attack.

        •  This is incorrect in many states. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FrankRose

          Lethal force can (and likely should) be utilized even if substantially less force would have sufficed, in the situation described above. Keep in mind that this takes place in the home. Mere trespassing, if at night, covers the use of deadly force in many cases.

          Direct threat of rape, much less actual rape, would be open and shut.

          •  The key is the home, isn't it? A stronger response (0+ / 0-)

            ... is typically tolerated there, I think, even if "disproportionate", where it might not be at other locations, at least for some types of crimes.

            These seem to me to be cases that are very fact dependent. The specific threat, the surroundings, the nature of the assailant, (and the nature of the assailed, for that matter), the availability of alternative courses of action - all come into play.

            It's hard to derive principles, yet easier to call particular cases when the facts are reasonably settled.

            2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

            by TRPChicago on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 02:49:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  edg, would you give any weight to the size, age, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LilithGardener

        ... physical condition, gender, etc., of the person being threatened?

        2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

        by TRPChicago on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 09:31:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Of course. (0+ / 0-)

          Most men are stronger than most women. Most adults are stronger than most children. Most twenty-somethings are stronger than most eighty-somethings.

          But the goal of self-defense should not be retribution, it should be using the amount of force necessary to stop the attack.

          If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

          by edg on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 11:49:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed, but I wouldn't call it retribution. (0+ / 0-)

            It's the nature of the response, given that one person typically belongs there (I'm assuming home) and the other doesn't.

            I'm thinking the keys are (1) the threat reasonably perceived and (2) the response that the person assailed (for want of a better term) reasonably feels necessary under the circumstances to prevent bodily harm. I personally cut a lot of slack - in home situations - to respond proportionate to the attacker. (My informal rule, I grant you. I didn't promote that in the diary!)

            2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

            by TRPChicago on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 02:56:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  who's civilized while theyre being attacked? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LilithGardener, salmo, TRPChicago

        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 05:36:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is an extremely important aspect that (4+ / 0-)

          gets far too little attention, IMHO.

          In the stress of potentially lethal conflict (which includes rape) everyone is afraid, including the attacker. Under those circumstances the conditioned fear response kicks in and people will do whatever their survival training thus far in life has taught them to do.

          Freeze, fight, flee. There are always those options. Which one is optimal for survival depends on the circumstances and self awareness of both parties.

          This is one of the problems with a system that allows individuals to arm themselves for self defense without requiring training and competency testing in selecting a threat target.

          IOW, under stress conditions, what is the applicant's reaction time and accuracy when selecting which potential threat is an actual threat.

          Such parameters can be measured, for example, by using video game style training, and once known problems, such as race based target selection, can be corrected through continued training.

          "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

          by LilithGardener on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 06:59:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The vast majority of people. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          i saw an old tree today

          I've been attacked multiple times. I've lived in some very rough neighborhoods, in Detroit and elsewhere. I've never killed somebody to respond to an attack.

          If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

          by edg on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 11:51:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Very Nice - Thank You for This Series (9+ / 0-)

    This is a great diary for a series of diaries, and your introductory piece is wonderfully well written and clear.

    I look forward to reading your follow-on articles.

    I don't know for a fact, but I am guessing that the gun industry plays a large role in the passing of "Stand Your Ground" laws in many states.  I would be interested in learning more about the role of money in the passage of these laws (if you are thinking expanding the series).

    I am particularly interest in the "common law conditions" necessary for self-defense: a present and immediate threat; a proportionate response; the absence of provocation; etc.  It seems to me that in the Michael Dunn shooting in Florida, the considerations of an actual threat to Mr. Dunn's life was simply thrown overboard in the judge's instructions to the jury and from what we know of the jury deliberations.  Certainly, there never was any actual threat to Mr. Dunn's life, and yet he was found innocent of murder charges.

    Perhaps you will give this some review in your next segments.

    Thanks again for this series.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 04:04:58 PM PDT

    •  Thanks, HJB! The Dunn case was a mistrial ... (7+ / 0-)

      ... on the murder charge. Last I read, they'll re-try him on that.

      One of the criticisms of that prosecution was that the focus was on the first degree murder charge and the jury might have thought it was the only alternative. First degree usually means premeditation. That might be hard to pin on Dunn on the facts. (The "thug music" comment, for example, was made after the fact when he was in prison. As such, it couldn't be used as an aggravating factor like a hate crime, which might have boosted the charge depending on state law.)

      In my own personal view, if you are carrying  gun, you know you can use it. That alone should raise the bar for judging whether your conduct is reasonable under the circumstances - defensive or offensive. But that is a controversial approach. I intend to tee that up in Part 3 as a proposition for vigorous, er,  debate.

      2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

      by TRPChicago on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 05:01:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Arrgh..my comment was full of errors (5+ / 0-)

        So that first line should read..."This is a great idea for a series of diaries, and your introductory piece is wonderfully well written and clear."

        And of course, you are correct - Mr. Dunn was not found innocent of murder, but rather the jury deadlocked on that charge (and if I remember correctly, the 4th charge of attempted murder, as well).  Thanks for setting the record straight on that.  I guess I was so outraged that the jury did not find Mr. Dunn guilty, I overlooked the failure to reach an actual verdict.

        I sure wish I would do a better job of proofing my comments  :)

        So yes, I am looking forward to your upcoming segments.

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 06:06:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I feel that responsibility (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LilithGardener

        I carry a firearm daily.  I look to avoid confrontation more than most.  I hold opinions that most gun owners disagree with.  I'm not EVER pulling out and using my gun in defense of ANYONE who doesn't share my last name.  Sorry.  You're on your own.  I know what happens when a citizen uses a firearm in self defense.  It's usually life shattering and bankrupting.  I'm not willing to do that for anyone but my own.  And only then, its a last resort.

        •  You make an important point (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Glen The Plumber, TRPChicago

          I (among many) never asked some random stranger to kill someone on my behalf.

          There are many ways to de-escalate and I don't want some yahoo with a gun jumping to escalate any situation involving me or my family. I'm not in any position to verify whether they are competent to select a deadly threat and to avoid other threats.

          "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

          by LilithGardener on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 07:09:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm more focused on different scenarios (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LilithGardener

            Like being in a convenience store with a violent armed robber.  I'm walking out the door if I can.  Or I'm hiding.  I'll pull out my pistol only if he's coming my way.  I'm not interested in inserting myself on the behalf of strangers.  Again, sorry.  That's NEVER going to happen.

    •  Quick note: Dunn's jury hung on the (3+ / 0-)

      murder charge—he wasn't acquitted!

  •  NB: it is killing, not necessarily murder (8+ / 0-)
    - The case, after all, is murder. Taking the life of another human being is final. It couldn't be lightly excused or justified. The risks were great of making a mistake in the tension of a moment, a momentary lapse of judgment, the understandable rush of adrenalin. So, self-defense developed as only a defense and the burden of proving it rested entirely on the wielder of a deadly weapon.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 04:33:08 PM PDT

  •  The entire subject is fascinating.... (7+ / 0-)

    from an abstract perspective. The Law and its evolution over time can be very illuminating regarding how we see ourselves and how society has changed with the centuries.

    However, I can't shake the suspicion that even the most abstract discussion of the use of lethal force, of 'self defense', encourages and validates it. Conditions us to consider it a normal, even admirable response to a confusing, stressful, uncertain challenge in the middle of the night. Lowers the bar for violent behavior just a little bit more by making it (albeit under limited and defined circumstances) acceptable. Encourages all those vengeance fantasies burbling around in our lizard brains since being bullied in middle school.

    But that's just me.

  •  I object to the headline (5+ / 0-)

    There is a bright line between self-defense and vigilantism, and it can be easy to see.

    If an attacker runs away and escapes unhurt, then a vigilante has failed but a self-defender has scored an absolute victory.

    "Taking justice into your own hands" is only a description of vigilantism and doesn't fairly describe keeping yourself alive. If an attacker escapes, that's unjust, but driving him off was  self-defense. Law-abiding people in a civilized society stop using force as soon as they're safe and before justice is carried out.

    Anyone considering a dog for personal safety should treat that decision as seriously as they would buying a gun.

    by Dogs are fuzzy on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 05:08:25 PM PDT

    •  I wasn't equating the two directly, but I see ... (6+ / 0-)

      ... your point.

      But ... we'll see (in Part 2) the relaxation of these old common law principles and the burgeoning Stand your Ground laws. If you think the traditionally constrained view of self-defense was vigilantism, just wait!

      Without disagreeing with you, consider what you said - "Law-abiding people in a civilized society stop using force as soon as they're safe and before justice is carried out" - matched with a case we'll see in Part 3, an attempted home invasion in Huntington Station, NY, where one occupant chased an intruder into the yard and shot him as he fled in the neighbor's yard.

      When can we be sure the intruder las left ... for good? Can we rely on law enforcement to discourage home invasions in time? I hope so ... but there are home owners who might not agree.

      (By the way, Brandy and Max, two German Shepherd dogs, were all the security my wife and I felt we ever needed. Both dogs would agree! So, for that matter, would our six-pound toy poodle Puff, but she was another story.)

      2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

      by TRPChicago on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 05:25:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There's also the fact that sometimes the best (7+ / 0-)

      course of action is for us to escape.

      I've yet to kill another human being in my life, and I have reasonable hopes of keeping it that way through the end. How many times does killing kill the killer also? So many of us seem to have the capacity to be so cavalier about that concept. There's something wrong with anyone for whom there is no difference between the day before and the day after, in my opinion.

      There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

      by oldpotsmuggler on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 06:00:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Self Defense is explicitly NOT an example (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    valion, Angryallen, Sharon Wraight

    of taking justice into your own hands.

    I'm afraid I didn't go any further than the title.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 06:12:08 PM PDT

  •  Well.... (4+ / 0-)

    "In civilized societies (as opposed to some hypothetical “state of nature” or the Wild West), governments empower police to protect citizens and provide a system of laws and courts to administer justice."

    In our civilized USA, the Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement has NO duty to protect us.  Essentially, they investigate.  So, who else could/should be responsible for our own safety?  Our inalienable right to life is not given by man, nor will it ever be righteously infringed upon by man.  The right to self defense is a natural right, given to all people's at birth.  Therefore, each individual is responsible for their own self preservation.

    •  Protection is not always what police do (4+ / 0-)

      I have on two occasions been told by my local police, "You are on your own."  Violence had already begun.  The police force was engaged in what they considered a bigger problem, and they thought I could handle mine.  I did.  It isn't always true that our police expect to protect the persons and property in our town.

      •  I'd say (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        salmo, FrankRose

        "Protection" is a feel good placebo for an apathetic society.  

        Again, law enforcement are not legally compelled to protect citizens.  If their only value is investigative, that means "after the fact".

        I'm sorry you had to go it alone.  If the cops only respond after, then that's when they can expect to get a call from me in a life threatening situation.  When seconds matter, the police are only minutes away.

      •  I have never been told any such thing. (5+ / 0-)

        In my 58 years, living in varied places from the inner city of Detroit to manicured suburban communities, I have always found the police responsive and responsible.

        If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

        by edg on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 07:06:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Perhaps I should have explained a little (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LilithGardener, Glen The Plumber

          Yes, but I live in a very small town, in a rural area.  Average police response times are on the order of 45 minutes.  Most of the time there is only one officer on duty, although occasionally there are two.  Sometimes they have to prioritize.  Much as the response made me angry and fearful, I did appreciate not being strung along.

    •  We're just plain not always (or even very often) (5+ / 0-)

      in danger. And sometimes we're even "the danger", from the perspective of others, no matter how convinced we are that we're in the right.

      Which brings us back, thankfully, to that we're pretty much never in true danger.

      There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

      by oldpotsmuggler on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 07:02:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wrong on several fronts. (3+ / 0-)

      First, you fail to understand what the SC said and why they said it.

      Second, invoking religious mumbo-jumbo regarding some "sacred" right to self-defense is just plain silly.

      Third, not every individual is capable of being responsible for their own self-preservation. Children generally lack such capacity. The elderly and infirm do as well.

      Your Limbaughian rhetoric may win you points on Red State and other rightwing sites, but it carries little weight here.

      If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

      by edg on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 07:04:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Typical, knee jerk reaction (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FrankRose

        You read into my comments exactly what you had hoped I said, but did not.  First of all, you can read up about the supreme court's decision on this ultra right wing site - http://www.nytimes.com/...

        Also, would you please show me where I invoked religion?  Or even God for that matter?  Maybe you mistakenly think a natural right invokes religion?

        I'll also add that I find it enlightening and disturbing that you equate constitutional protections with red state and Limbaugh.  Lets see how you feel when this democratic administration, or the next one run by the repukes, moves to codify SOPA or any number of "restrictions" on the Internet.  We will see if the likes of you scream about constitutional infringement.  People like you make me sick.  

  •  I think you're wrong ... (3+ / 0-)

    to use inflammatory language such as "home invasion". It diminishes the impact and value of your diary. I think we would be better served if you used accurate language rather than Fox New terminology.

    If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

    by edg on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 06:24:51 PM PDT

    •  What's your preferred 'accurate' terminology? n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      misslegalbeagle
      •  Perhaps (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        misslegalbeagle, valion, FrankRose

        Uninvited citizens with undeclared intentions?

      •  Legal definitions. (3+ / 0-)

        An "invasion" is defined as the incursion of an army for conquest or plunder.

        OTOH, unauthorized entry into a home is breaking and entering or trespassing. If property is stolen, it's burglary or larceny. If an occupant is injured, it's assault and battery.

        Language is a gift. Use it sparingly and wisely.

        If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

        by edg on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 06:56:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  An "invasion" doesn't have be in volume. (4+ / 0-)

          My dictionary uses invasion to deal with armies, true, but also this: "an unwelcome intrusion into another's domain." By common parlance, one person can "invade" the privacy of another.

          BTW, I have been known to quote Fox, but not in this instance and never authoritatively.   ; - )

          2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

          by TRPChicago on Mon Mar 24, 2014 at 08:24:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is worth noting that the new term "home (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Glen The Plumber, salmo

            invasion" does muddy the story and makes any story scarier than it need be.

            Breaking and entering - that story of one guy seeking to break in while his co-theives waited behind the shed is an attempted burglary carried with on person breaking in and then other joining to carry away the loot.

            The term "home invasion" implies multiple armed criminals gaining access in more than one place, such that there is really no possibility of escape. The inferences of scale of the attack, number of attackers, and detemination of their attack all draw on the military term invasion.

            None of it has to do with the personal pop psychology of culturally comfortable boundary issues, "invading my space."

            When "home invasion" is used to describe a crime it give almost no information about the incident. Who benefits from such vagueness in crime news? (Answer the people who want a higher police budget, the people who want to sell more guns, the people who want to sell you kevlar backpack for your kids).

            "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

            by LilithGardener on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 07:32:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I have to disagree, LG, on "invasion." (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              valion, FrankRose, Glen The Plumber

              The story is often muddy and scary at the Get Go, whatever term we use for the situation.

              One's home has the largest, highest, biggest, strongest boundaries the law can create. British Prime Minister William Pitt, The Elder, in 1763:

              The poorest man in his cottage may bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail. Its roof may shake, the wind may blow through it. The storm may enter. The rain may enter. But the King of England - he cannot enter.
              When those walls are breached - conceding all the horrible potential of an unforeseen kid returning home, a drunken housemate, lousy judgment at night half asleep in the dark - the occupant doesn't know what's coming.

              "Invasion" works for me in these situations, mushy as it is.

              2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

              by TRPChicago on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 08:33:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  So a term differentiating as to whether the home (0+ / 0-)

              was occupied or not is needlessly inflammatory? I have never heard 'home invasion' used when a dwelling is unoccupied.

              •  March 24, 2014 (2+ / 0-)
                Home Invasion

                Police in Bloomfield Township say a man thinks he was the target of a home invasion because he tweeted he was going to be out of town for a few days.

                While he was away, thieves broke into his home Feb. 17 on Cambridge Way and stole more than $3,000 worth of items, including cash, designer athletic shoes and headphones, according to police.

                If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

                by edg on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 12:02:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The man thinks he was. What did the police think? (0+ / 0-)

                  Is that your best shot?

                  •  You, sir, are amusing. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    LilithGardener

                    Your said in YOUR comment "I have never heard 'home invasion' used when a dwelling is unoccupied."

                    I provided a link. So now you have, clown.

                    If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

                    by edg on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 09:33:10 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Getting reality on the table, 1 gap at a time. (0+ / 0-)

                      Thank you! In your perfect example, we see the profit motive driving inflation and conflation of the ordinary every day crime of burglary into "victim of a home invasion."

                      While $3000 is not a trivial sum, the burglary risk of tweeting your travel plans has been well-known for many years. This man was obviously proud of his travel plans, and he's the one who posted a huge, "No on is home" sign on his front door.

                      The term "home invasion" is the new "if it bleeds, it leads."

                      "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

                      by LilithGardener on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 05:07:42 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

        •  Home invation: (0+ / 0-)

          "Home invasion is generally an unauthorized and forceful entry into a dwelling. It is a crime governed by state laws, which vary by state. The following is an example of a Michigan statute dealing with home invasion:

          750.110a Definitions; home invasion; first degree; second degree; third degree; penalties."--Link

          Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

          by FrankRose on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:40:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Here's more. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            i saw an old tree today

            A Review of State Home Invasion Laws

            While I agree that it sounds cool to relabel breaking and entering as "home invasion", it is also needlessly inflammatory. Of the millions of burglaries committed in the U.S. each year, only a tiny fraction occur while the home is occupied.

            Lumping the offenses together diminishes the seriousness of a murder or rape or armed robbery that occurs when a building is occupied and aggrandizes simple burglary when no one is home.

            If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

            by edg on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 12:35:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  "Invasion of privacy" (0+ / 0-)

              But, I can see your point, if nobody is home.

              When someone breaks into an occupied home I think " home invasion" isn't inflammatory at all.

              Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

              by FrankRose on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 01:06:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Agreed, when occupancy is known. (0+ / 0-)

                Many "home invasions" are perpetrated by drug gangs robbing, beating, or killing their rivals. Others are by drug users seeking drugs from real or suspected suppliers. Some are by men seeking to sexually assault women. Some are by people related by blood or marriage. Comparatively few are committed by total strangers.

                If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

                by edg on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 01:41:56 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  "home invasion" = GOP/NRA phraseology? (2+ / 0-)

          There was some discussion of this in a diary and comment I wrote more than a year ago, in January 2013. Scroll down to "Update 1" in the diary, or see the comment for the discussion.

          I've pasted the nGram chart below (# of references in Google Books from 1945-2008), for a quick view, and a few highlights:

          * Before 1982, such incidents were typically referred to as breaking and entering combined with assault with a deadly weapon, armed burglary, murder (if it occurred), etc. What's happened to the 'weapon' in the new meme? Gone!?

          * Since 1992, the use of 'home invasion' as a meme has skyrocketed.

          * Perhaps the number of such armed burglaries with a deadly weapon has also increased to match the use of the new phrase? If so, it strikes me as plausible that this is in part a result of the increasingly widespread availability and ownership of guns. Another, non-exclusive hypothesis is that 'home invasion' is a political slogan adopted by the NRA, the GOP, and spread via Fox 'News', in order to spread fear and advance their political agenda(s).

          * Words an symbols matter a great deal, in politics. We all know about Frank Luntz' focus groups that came up with phrases like 'death tax', 'Clear Skies Initiative', 'Contract for America', etc. Is 'home invasion' another one, pushed by the NRA/GOA/SAF and their ilk, to pursue a political agenda?  

          Frequency of use of the phrase "home invasion," 1945-2008.
  •  Not just about guns (3+ / 0-)

    Other deadly weapons should be considered too.  We should note that the diary could apply equally to the use of knives, axes, bows and arrows, baseball bats, and I suppose any number of martial arts weapons.  Despite some defensive uses of guns, the closest I ever came to killing someone was when I was set upon by a gang of four in an alley behind a college bar.  One of them had a hatchet.  With that, out came my knife.  I opened the big guy's jeans, the one who initiated the attack, from midway up his thigh to his groin with a razor sharp Buck folding hunter.  The cut must have been superficial because he was jumping back.  I fully intended to open his femoral artery.  That strategic retreat was not an end to the attack.  With the space that gave me, I was able to break away.  I ran like hell for about 100 yards, when I noticed that only one dumb bastard was chasing me (and I was a Division 1 athlete, in training, at the time).  I left him unconscious on the sidewalk, no weapon needed.  He lived too.  

  •  Important series, Thank you! (4+ / 0-)

    Disclaimer: I am a strong advocate for the right to armed self-defense, including the current interpretation of the 2A by this Supreme Court.

    I am also for universal training and licensing appropriate to the individual who wants to keep a gun for the purpose of armed self defense.

    My beef is with proportionality. With awesome lethal power, available at an instant with a simple pull of a trigger comes awesome responsibility. Our current laws don't place responsibility for mistakes where they belong.

    If I'm keeping my gun locked an loaded next to my bed at night, and I kill someone who didn't mean to to me any harm, let along pose a deadly threat, than I should bear responsibility for taking a life.

    Examples: If my college kid comes home in the middle of the night, without calling first, and I mistake them for an intruder, and I kill them, I deserve to go to jail for negligent manslaughter, because I failed to take reasonable steps to assess the threat.

    There are many possible reasonable steps including,
    calling out, "Johnny, is that you?"

    The reason this is so important is that even if it's not Johnny, and is infact a would be burglar, that simple de-escalation step can often be enough to scare off a theif in the night.

    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

    by LilithGardener on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 07:41:37 AM PDT

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