From the Kansas City Star online:
Missouri has passed it’s own version of Texas’ “castle doctrine” law, which allows deadly force to defend one’s home and stuff, and it appears to have all the bells and whistles of it’s predecessor. TheZoo’s nwmuse did a story earlier this month entitled, “Murder? Or self-defense?” about the Texas man who shot two men to death who had just burglarized his neighbor’s house.
We had a lively debate on TheZoo, and Missouri is debating the new law as well.
A similar Missouri law enacted this year appears to allow killings like those [in Texas], according to judges and lawyers. Advocates praise it as allowing innocent people to defend themselves against criminals. Opponents fear it could cause unnecessary deaths, such as killings of petty thieves.
Under a most basic reading, it allows carte blanche to kill anyone unlawfully entering a house or a car or committing a forcible felony, such as kidnapping, armed robbery, burglary, arson, assault, rape or sodomy.
You know, if someone is committing a violent crime against me or mine, I can get behind doing what it takes to stop them — hopefully short of killing the person. But if someone is just stealing my possessions or money, and trying to get away, I would gladly allow that person to get as far away from me as possible.
Advocates praise [the law] as allowing innocent people to defend themselves against criminals. Opponents fear it could cause unnecessary deaths, such as killings of petty thieves.
Just how far can Missourians go? Shoot a drunk who staggers into your home? Probably. Kill the teen burglar who raises his arms in surrender? Possibly.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has helped push through laws such as the “castle doctrine” in 15 states over the last couple of years. Why is the NRA interested in laws which actual criminals can use to cover their murders?
Already, the 2007 law helped prompt Jackson County prosecutors to drop a murder charge against a Kansas City man and accept an involuntary manslaughter plea instead.
Prosecutors also fear the law will make it more difficult to file and win cases against even hardened criminals, who may twist the law to help them kill others legally.
“Bad people are going to get away with murder because of this statute,” said assistant Jackson County prosecutor Bryan Krantz. “A lot of people are going to get away with murder.”
The Missouri law has a “reasonableness” clause in it, “meaning you had to believe that you, or another person, was in serious danger before using deadly force.” That’s pretty wide-open, isn’t it? People talk themselves into believing all manner of ridiculous things on an everyday basis.
In my opinion, laws such as these allow ordinary people to become legalized murderers. Such as in the case of the Texas man, Mr Horn, who observed his neighbor’s house being burglarized, and called the police — that’s all that was necessary. His life was not in danger, and these men were not threatening his family or property, and the 911 operator was telling him over and over again to stay inside his home. Mr Horn made a conscious and premeditated decision to shoot the men in the back, as they ran away from him. Legal murder.
Read the whole article here.