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You Can't Shoot Sneak Thieves
Man Convicted of Manslaughter for Killing Battery Thief.

“A Turlock, (CA) man who claimed he was “in fear for his life” when he shot a thief trying to steal old car batteries was just sentenced to seven years in prison after being convicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm on a person.”

An illustrative case from Bob Owens at Bearing Arms. Yes, claiming you were in fear for your life doesn’t necessarily make it so. There must be some evidence that it was a reasonable fear under the circumstances before a person is justified in using lethal force. Otherwise you’re going to prison.

Jeremy, try as I might I cannot convince people that they do not have the right to use lethal force to defend property. However, isn't this unreasonable in America? Has their ever been a more materialistic, property-centered society? It occurs that asking an American not to defend his property "no matter what" is like asking a devout Muslim not to defend his faith.


Sneak thieves are a hateful nuisance, but you don’t get to shoot them. The courts take the position that since there is no death penalty for theft you don’t get to kill people for trying to steal your stuff. In the courts’ estimation it isn’t worth someone’s life to protect mere property (Texas being an exception). In most states you may use force to prevent the theft of property, it just cannot be lethal force. Unless of course the thief threatens you lethal force when you try to prevent his escape with your property. If the thief is inside your house or about to break in then he can be assumed to pose a lethal threat to you. Especially in states with the Castle Doctrine law. The Castle Doctrine law makes the statement that a person’s dwelling is and should be a sacred safe space, so it’s the burglar who should be compelled to flee when encountering the home owner/occupant, not the other way around. You are not obligated to give a warning to an intruder before you shoot if he is inside your home or in the process of entering it. Keep in mind though that even with the Castle Doctrine law you can still be prosecuted if the authorities discover evidence you acted without just cause. Like say the burglar turned to run away and you shot him anyway, or you dragged his body inside the house and put a knife in his hand. Yeah, these days even in Wanker County the investigators are all too likely to be able to figure it out if you altered the crime scene, and once they catch you in one lie the detectives generally don’t believe anything you say after that.

Like Bob Owens says a lot of tough guys flippantly maintain it’s better to be “tried by 12 than carried by 6”. That is true to a point. If and when your life is threatened you must act to preserve it and worry about the legal consequences later. However, have no doubt that you WILL be tried by 12 if those investigating the incident determine you acted outside the law. So don’t be foolish. Be well aware of what the law requires for you to be allowed to act, as well as how you will be allowed to act in various circumstances.

Like people living in places New Mexico, California and along the border with Mexico tell us, when you live in an area with a high Hispanic population this kind of sneak thievery, stealing batteries or anything and everything else that is not nailed down, is constant. Victor Davis Hanson living on a farm in the Stockton CA area has written frequently about how his irrigation pumps are stolen all the time. Like one Anglo guy from New Mexico wrote they even stole his stinky gym clothes at school. But as annoying and frustrating as this kind of endemic thievery is the law still doesn’t allow you to shoot the thieves. You have to figure out other ways to deal with them if you want to stay out of prison.

“I Feared For My Life” Defense Fails Again

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Jeremy BenthamMarch 15, 2017 4:02 PM GMT+4

You bring up an interesting point James. Yes, where does this instinct to kill to protect property come from? I rather think it has deep and ancient roots. For example in the past the implements and supplies one needed to produce food were extremely expensive and extremely difficult to replace. Like a horse and plow. If you lost them you and your family would likely starve. There was no insurance or emergency loans from the bank or credit union to acquire the funds to replace such things in ancient times. Your only survival option might have been to sell yourself and your family into servitude to some aristocrat. It's why horse theft was at one time a hanging offense. I suspect then that people who did not hesitate to kill to prevent the loss of their property many years ago survived and reproduced in greater numbers than those who were reluctant to kill. The past was a time of severe resource scarcity. Today we live in a time of previously unimaginable resource abundance where property and supplies are relatively inexpensive and easily replaced. So this makes the Liberal rabbit people who rule our society and sit in judgement of our actions believe that there is absolutely no reason to kill anyone to prevent them from stealing mere property. Thus we have a severe clash of philosophies on the relative value of property in our society today. But regardless of what one might wish for and believe is right, you have to deal with the way things are. And the way things are today is that the Powers-that-be steadfastly refuse to countenance killing someone just to prevent the theft of property. Shoot a thief just for theft then and you're going to prison.
responds:March 16, 2017 3:08 PM GMT+4

Yes, your primal theory carries more weight than my inclination to blame the more recent past.