2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Castle Doctrine

James over at Hell In A Handbasket posts a story about somebody who tried to gain entrance into his apartment without permission. Thanks to a locked door and loud dog James did not have to use the loaded gun he keeps close at hand and the result is that nothing happened and nobody got hurt.  In another local story, a burglar is caught breaking into a man's house and the homeowner apparently beats him to death.  Ouch.  Two totally different outcomes there.

There is no info available on the person(s) who attempted to open James' door but the deceased in the other incident pleaded to felony burglary charges in 2010.  How much you want to bet whoever was (unwisely) testing the waters at James' apartment probably had a similar record.  In both cases the use of force is or would of been probably justified by the use of what is commonly referred to as "The Castle Doctrine".  Going back to the Magna Carta and English Common Law which proclaimed that "every mans home was his castle" it was a trade off at the time for the English crown to renounce some power over its subjects and lower lords in return for being able to remain in power.  Many of the concepts were passed onto the "New World" and indeed are found in our own Constitution this very day.  In modern times the "Castle Doctrine" has evolved into a law based on the basic premise that a man has a right to defend his home and family by any means necessary against persons intent on doing them harm by trespassing and any other egregious acts.  I am not a lawyer and there is no single federal law covering the "Castle Doctrine" as it applies to the US, so please check your local state laws in regards to specifics in your home state.

Recently the Castle Doctrine received significant coverage when an 18 year old widow shot and killed a intruder armed with a knife to defend herself and infant son.  Notice how Oklahoma is a "red" state in the above map....castle doctrine tested and approved.

In Ohio, in basic terms it means that the homeowner/resident of a property has the right to use any force deemed necessary to protect themselves from a person who unlawfully presents themselves as a threat to the safety of the owner/resident or their family. It also provides civil protections to the owner/resident from prosecution in civil court for damages inflicted to the attacker on his or his families behalf.  In Ohio we have a "stand your ground" clause that also means that the person defending themselves has no duty to retreat from the confrontation.  In other states there is sometimes a duty to remove yourself from the attacker, if possible, before using force.  For example, attacker breaks down front door, you lock yourself in a bedroom and retrieve your handgun and tell them to leave, they break the door to the bed room and come at you with a knife...at that point the duty to retreat would of been sufficed in order to utilize deadly force.

This is not, contrary to popular belief, a "shoot first, drag them over the threshold" law as some would seem to want to have you believe.  You still must show that a reasonable threat was presented and also that the person present was their illegally and that you were not engaged in illegal activity at the time...so you can't shoot the guy that tries to rob you in a drug buy at your crib when he pulls out a knife...sorry...well, no not really.  I am 6' and about 250lbs and have had training in some self defense techniques. I would be hard pressed to show a judge and jury why I needed to shoot an unarmed,  120lb, 69 year old man who shows up at my door and will not leave, insisting he lives there.  Again, use your brain and look up your local laws to be sure you know what you can/can't do when employing the castle doctrine to defend yourself, your family and your home.

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