The choice of a split-second can forever change the course of your life, and in the case of a making a decision to shoot or not during a break-in, it will. With the increasing social acceptability of firearms, as well as the recent legal support for things such as the Castle Doctrine, self-defense is increasingly viewed—even by non-gunowners—as the God-given right that it is. Unfortunately, when considering how to defend your home and family, there are nuts-and-bolts questions to be answered that go far deeper than simple acceptance of the principle. We’ve all heard the gunshop cowboys proudly announce that they’ll simply kill anyone who breaks into their house, but this is a dangerously simplistic view.
Every state’s law is different, and every situation is different: therefore, what follows is not legal advice, but general guidelines to consider as you think about what acting in self-defense could mean. If you have specific questions or have a home defense plan in mind, contact a licensed attorney in your area who specializes in this kind of law.
Defending The Homefront
Recent years have seen several states pass versions of the so-called Castle Doctrine. Based upon the English Common Law idea that a man’s home is his castle and may be defended against any who try to enter it unlawfully, up to and including the king himself, it basically means you have the right to use force to defend your residence. While an excellent tool to protect innocent citizens who have to defend themselves, what’s often lost on self-defense advocates is that the same statutes that protect what the law refers to as “righteous defenders” can also serve to shield raw murderers. After all, when they can’t deny having committed the act, the most common defense for the crime of murder is that the killer acted in self-defense.
Our legal system is f