Something is wrong…

Posted by: Phineas on January 5, 2012 at 2:31 pm

**Posted by Phineas

When someone is breaking into your house and is armed with a big knife, and you feel you have to ask permission of the police to protect yourself and your baby:

A young Oklahoma mother shot and killed an intruder to protect her 3-month-old baby on New Year’s Eve, less than a week after the baby’s father died of cancer.

Sarah McKinley says that a week earlier a man named Justin Martin dropped by on the day of her husband’s funeral, claiming that he was a neighbor who wanted to say hello. The 18-year-old Oklahoma City area woman did not let him into her home that day.

On New Year’s Eve Martin returned with another man, Dustin Stewart, and this time was armed with a 12-inch hunting knife. The two soon began trying to break into McKinley’s home.

As one of the men was going from door to door outside her home trying to gain entry, McKinley called 911 and grabbed her 12-gauge shotgun.

McKinley then got on the phone and called 911 for help and inquired if it was okay to shoot the men if they got inside. Kudos to the 911 dispatcher who told her to do what she had to do to protect her infant, and to McKinley for having the presence of mind to overcome her hesitation and fire.

But why in Heaven’s name is it even a question one should think to ask? Two big, armed men breaking in are obviously not there for tea and cookies.

The article notes that only roughly 30 states have enacted into statute the common law “Castle doctrine,” under which a person has the right to protect his home and life from invasion. The other 20 or so states require the soon-to-be-victim to make a reasonable effort to flee before using deadly force, otherwise he or she may face prosecution (1). Surely I’m not the only one who thinks this is (to be polite) dumb?

Thankfully, Oklahoma is not one of those 20 states, but it’s still disturbing that we’ve so bred into our society a sense of dependency that, even in the most conservative, self-reliant regions of the country, there are people who feel they have to ask if it’s okay to protect themselves… or their baby.

via Legal Insurrection

(1) The news report notes that they could find no instance of anyone in the US being prosecuted for similar self-defense shootings. But, while I can’t find a citation at the moment, I’m sure I’ve read of homeowners in the UK being prosecuted for shooting housebreakers.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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6 Responses to “Something is wrong…”


  1. Tex says:

    Here in Texas, several years ago, the state legislature left no ambiguity as to this particular area of the law because it was ambiguous. Now, if someone is breaking into your home or your property, you can use deadly force to not only protect your life, but also your property, if using a means other than deadly force, would expose you to a substantial risk of death or serious injury.

    So we’ve had several cases here in San Antonio in the past 3 years where the homeowners upon just hearing someone trying to quietly force open the front door at night have shot through the door and killed the wannabe intruders out on the front porch. The cops just come out, haul away the dead wannabe intruders, and say the homeowners were within their rights to have done what they did.

    As a consequence, breaking into someone’s home, especially at night, is not a popular pastime here in Texas.

  2. ST says:

    Word, Phineas.

  3. Fleeing two larcenous thugs with a three-year-old is tricky at best. Living in Texas also, I’d blow their asses back out the door twice as fast as they walked in.

  4. Tom TB says:

    “I’d rather be judged by twelve, than carried by six”. Once there is forced entry into one’s home, the invader deserves what they get, and no jury would convict.

  5. MissJean says:

    At the same time, the law should be clear about the point at which you are allowed to shoot. Many years ago, a Japanese exchange student was gunned down by a homeowner standing in his open doorway because the student mistook the address of the house and didn’t understand the phrase “Freeze.” (As I recall, this was in the early ’90s because I was teaching ESL to Japanese workers.)

    The homeowner was not charged in his state but would have in mine; I can’t shoot someone on my front lawn unless they’ve shot or thrown a malotov cocktail into my house. On the other hand, if they break into my house and I shoot them, I can empty all chambers while they’re trying to climb back out.

  6. Carlos says:

    “Once there is forced entry into one’s home, the invader deserves what they get, and no jury would convict.”

    Au contraire, Tom. In a state that continues to send the upstanding patriots and treasury drains of Pelousy, Babs and such, I would not be surprised to see a jury (or even just a judge) send someone to prison for such an occurrence as this in that state.

    Not that the two are related in any way, except through the inept incompetence of those judging, judging by their competence in voting.

    And in the UK, Phineas, they were charged with unlawfully discharging a firearm or possession of a handgun, both felonies there. In a land of castles, there is no such thing as the “Castle doctrine” because firearms are, you know, way too dangerous for commoners to have.