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  • OK or not OK to shoot?

    I've searched but couldn't find anything in specific unless I am blind.

    Anyway, my dad and I were having an argument earlier about whether or not it is OK (legal) to fire a gun at a burglar. I am under the impression unless you feel your life or another's life is threatened, then it would not be OK to use any such force that could kill the intruding party (such as firing a gun, whether wounding or killing him). However, he feels that it is perfectly OK based on the fact they are illegally entering onto your private property. He is saying that the moment someone breaks into your house and steps foot inside, you may shoot and kill that person and no legal action would be held up in a court. However, I again think that would be wrong.

    I would guess it varies state to state...soo .. what would be the truth?

  • #2
    Depends on what state and how you articulate yourself. Is someone just inside the house or are they forcibly entering the home while you are inside? Do you feel like your life is in danger? Lots of "what ifs" with this type question.
    Perseverate In Pugna

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    • #3
      Basically - You are sleeping, hear somebody break in. They are stealing your things, you point your gun at them and fire.

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      • #4
        In general, unless you feel that you are in immediate risk of serious physical harm or death, deadly force is not approprate. You can't shoot and kill a person simply for a property crime.

        Now, would most people feel threatened and fear for their lives if they were awoken in the middle of the night and found someone in their residence? Probably. So, it could be relatively easily articulated that, under those circumstances, you feared for your life. But, the reasons your father gave (illegally entering a private residence) would not justify the use of deadly force.

        Tell your dad to search for "shotgun booby trap" in Google. There are several instances of people who set up booby trapped their properties with firearms who were later tried and convicted when their booby traps wounded or killed intruders. That indicated that there has to be more than just a intrusion into private property to justify deadly force.
        "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
        -Friedrich Nietzsche

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        • #5
          Bing Oh is 100% right in my opinion. While your Dad may feel "threatened" (or not) & feels it's perfectly reasonable to shoot someone the fact is, a man's home is no longer his castle. When such things occur the police will look at ALL the circumstances and decide whether to present it to the County Atty for filing. Things such as lighting, location of shooter & suspect, prior experiences of the shooter, other possible options (such as fleeing) are all taken into consideration. Then assuming the shooting is good the shooter STILL has to contend with possible civil lawsuits from the suspect and/or his family. Long ago there was a case in Florida where a woman fled from her bedroom into another part of the house & was still forced to shoot the burglar threatening her. At the time the STATE still filed charges against her because she could've fled the house with her children instead of remaining inside! As I recall she was convicted, although I don't remember how it all ended up by the time appeals,etc. were filed. My recommendation to you &your Dad is to take a home defense course at your local gun club or range & get the straight info from someone in your State.

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          • #6
            Florida modified that how that law works not too long ago, didn't they?
            "First of all, then we have to say the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama." - Al Sharpton, March 21, 2010

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            • #7
              Originally posted by equinox137 View Post
              Florida modified that how that law works not too long ago, didn't they?
              Florida and Georgia both adopted the same law, which was based on a Supreme Court decision. Basically, if you can articulate a belief that your life is in danger, you can go to deadly force withotut looking for an alternative. "No duty to flee" which there never was in GA, but now it's codified. Some states required you look for alternatives before using deadly force, even in the face of deadly force.

              Doesn't mean you can shoot a burglar. That's a simple statement, but basically it's the truth.

              Georgia has a forcible entry law, that you can shoot anyone who forcibly enters your house, but that's more of a "home invasion" situation.

              To tell the truth, there are VERY, VERY few nighttime home burglaries, at least where I live. I would suspect someone who entered my home to have other reasons for doing so. The MO for home burglaries is a daytime thing; the guy knocks on the door and if he doesn't get a response, he breaks down the door.

              Generally, burglars are burglars, and don't cross over. Not always true, and there are some murders/rapists who also burglarize, but someone comes into your home at night, he's not automatically paid for, but you do have some stronge presumptions working in your favor.
              "Say hal-lo to my leetle frahnd!"

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              • #8
                isnt there some other legality that you cant aim at the intruder? i always heard that if something like that went to trial, and you said " i aimed at the suspect", as opposed to "i pointed my weapon at the suspect", it COULD be then considered pre meditated??? may be just a myth. dont know.

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                • #9
                  New York allows the use of deadly physical force to terminate the burglary of premises you occupy. NY Penal Law Section 35.20 (2&3).

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                  • #10
                    Some states have laws where a person has no duty to retreat anymore. The difference between someone being on your property unlawfully and someone breaking into your house is enormous.
                    "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything!"-Wyatt Earp

                    "You never know when crazy will show up!"-Irishdep

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                    • #11
                      Yes, it is. In some states, burglary in an occupied building carries a heavier penalty than burglary in an unoccupied building.

                      Lots of states have laws that read you can use deadly force to protect "life or property" but the reality usually it's interpreted as to protect your life.

                      There's nothing in my house worth shooting someone for, except me and my family. But at night, someone in your house who has entered by breaking and entering is pretty much a done deal, unless you shoot the DA's brother or something.

                      Edited to add: it is extremely important how you articulate what went down. It can mean the difference between a manslaughter charge and a justifiable homicide.
                      Last edited by Gene L; 07-02-2007, 09:22 AM.
                      "Say hal-lo to my leetle frahnd!"

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jvegas View Post
                        isnt there some other legality that you cant aim at the intruder? i always heard that if something like that went to trial, and you said " i aimed at the suspect", as opposed to "i pointed my weapon at the suspect", it COULD be then considered pre meditated??? may be just a myth. dont know.

                        I think it's a myth.
                        "Say hal-lo to my leetle frahnd!"

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                        • #13
                          Mississippi has a castle doctrine. No duty to retreat and deadly force is allowed. It also applies to your vehicle to.

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                          • #14
                            I have posted it several times in the past.

                            In TN, lethal force is justified if someone is in your home while you are there. I would not shoot the guy on the way out of the home or in your yard, but the statute specifically states that:

                            ....(b) Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury within the person's own residence is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or serious bodily injury to self, family or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence, and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred

                            In TN, breaking into a commercial building is burglary, while breaking into a residential building is aggravated burglary. The suspect must be breaking in with the intent of committing a felony or theft.
                            I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

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                            • #15
                              I guess that begs the question, "What if he breaks the door down with his shoulder?" Nothing in that to indicate force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury within the person's own residence .

                              I curious about that; you see, in my state, him breaking in using force, regardless of whether the force is suffiicient to cause bodily injury, justifies the shooting. It's under a separate statute from the "Castle" law and has been around a lot longer.

                              My state makes no differentiation in burglary of a house or a business. I would suspect we're in the minority in that.
                              "Say hal-lo to my leetle frahnd!"

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