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“A man fired his gun twice and scared away a burglar on Wednesday at his home on East Austin Avenue near Martin Luther Kind Avenue,” reports. It seems a fairly routine news item—until you look closer. “The man was repairing damage to the home made during a previous burglary when he heard what sounded like someone breaking into the home again, according to the [police] report. He then observed a man, described as 6-foot-2, between 30 and 40 years old and wearing all black clothing, climbing into a hallway window at around 8:30 p.m. He told the suspect to put his hands in the air, warned that he had a gun and then fired one shot into the air and one toward the suspect using his 9mm Taurus handgun.” To quote Brian Griffin: Wait. What? No . . .

A certain gun guru of my acquaintance says if he sees someone in his house who’s not supposed to be there (e.g. someone standing in his hallway at 2am), he’s going to shoot first, ask questions or issue commands later. That’s . . . hardcore. And, it must be said, illegal.

State rules vary a bit here and there, but a “good shoot” is one where the defender believes that he or his loved ones are in imminent danger of death or grievous bodily harm at the moment he or she pulled the trigger. While the ultimate determination of what’s acceptable in a self-defense shooting comes down to a jury’s determination as to what a reasonable person would do in the circumstances, warning shots are off the menu.

As they should be. Tactically, either shoot or warn. Warning shots are a waste of valuable time and ammo. Not to mention the fact that a warning shot is a negligent discharge; who knows where that bullet’s going to go? Ideally, a home owner would draw their weapon, keep it at a medium ready, issue a verbal warning (if there’s time/space) and hold off firing until the invader moves towards them, preferably with a weapon.

Anyway, there are plenty of gun owners who share the aforementioned gun guru’s belief that a bad guy in their territory is all the proof they need of imminent danger. And you may agree. But the outpouring of sentiment below this story clearly reveals a blood-thirsty desire to, well, assassinate home invaders. And one of them is a political candidate, no less.

This is another good example of the power of the armed citizen!

It’s just too bad the homeowner didn’t shoot to kill.

The perp could have been justifiably and legally put down for good. Now he will probably be breaking into another house very shortly.

Any armed homeowner who confronts a criminal inside their residence should not hesitate to shoot to kill. He who hesitates often ends up dead.

With the breakdown of law enforcement in Flint, citizens need to arm themselves to protect themselves. The City of Flint should be sponsoring free CPL classes for its citizens, since it cannot provide any meaningful police protection. And if the City fails to act, the business community and civic groups should step forward to make it happen.

Pat Clawson
Libertarian Candidate
Michigan State Senate
27th District

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  1. I had to split this, as the post is too long.
    Illinois statute on home invasion type crime:

    Sec. 7 2. Use of force in defense of dwelling.
    (a) A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate such other's unlawful entry into or attack upon a dwelling. However, he is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if:
    (1) The entry is made or attempted in a violent,
    riotous, or tumultuous manner, and he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent an assault upon, or offer of personal violence to, him or another then in the dwelling, or

  2. Just an observation, but Robert, you spell out in excruciating detail the fact that we don't know what we'll do in a real gun fight all the time. We'll stumble, forget our most basic training, drop our gun, forget to reload, fumble our draw, freeze, panic, sweat, miss at point blank range, and generally be so hopped up on this adrenaline that you speak of that any training basically goes right out the window.

    And then you get to these types of posts, where you critique every last detail and decision of someone who's actually been in a gunfight.

    Sorry, but it kind of throws the whole blog off-kilter. I agree that warning shots are not the best move, but I wasn't in the house so I don't know what went into his decision making process. And I think a review of real events is needed to help understand what's good versus what's bad – which is what the above could be. Maybe it's just the overall tone that bothers me.

      • Show you how what should be done? Your critique, or the home invasion defense?

        I agree with dodgeman — hindsight and criticism are always 20-20. The home invasion was stopped. Mission accomplished. Everything else is moot discussion.

        • Hindsight is instructive. It teaches us what we can and can not, should and should not do, in a similar situation. So yes, what's wrong with my critique and what was wrong with the way homeowner dealt with the situation, if anything?

          • First, you are critiquing the homeowner's conduct based upon a newspaper report. Are you kidding me? What could be less reliable than a newspaper report, except maybe CNN. Second, even if there was a "warning shot," what makes that more dangerous than any other miss? Third, a home burglary at night is a felony everywhere, and shooting an intruder in your own home during the commission by the intruder of a felony is, in most jurisdictions, a lawful act of self defense. Night burglaries are more dangerous than daylight break-ins because the bad guy reasonably expects someone to be home in the evening. Finally, according to the report, the home owner had been burglarized before, warned the robber to put his hands up, and told the bad guy that he, the homeowner, was armed. That is completely responsible conduct. Finally, when the villian withdrew, the homeowner did not continue to fire. Stellar!

            Robert, you have a great blog, but this time you are simply wrong.

  3. I think you guys are assuming that I am second-guessing the homeowner. Not so. ‘m pointing out the issues involved and suggesting that there’s more than a little blood lust in the comments section underneath the post. For example,

    “Ideally, a home owner would draw their weapon, keep it at a medium ready, issue a verbal warning (if there’s time/space) and hold off firing until the invader moves towards them, preferably with a weapon.”

    Ideally. And my anti-warning shot remark also means that if he was in imminent danger, he should go ahead and shoot the invader. Verbal warning is more than sufficient.

  4. Robert – I saw this as a column against warning shots, not commentary on comments. Every comments section in newspaper pages is covered by idiots. Your link to another case about warning shots is what nailed this as an anti-"warning shot" critique. The second link does not support your case. It details a guy who brandished a firearm and fired at fleeing parties, then lied about it. That one case does NOT take warning shots off the menu. Sorry. I also emailed a better viewpoint for comparison.

  5. Fair enough. I didn't take the time to fully read the linked-to article. See what happens when you cut corners? I've taken the link out. Thanks for keeping me honest.

  6. What horrifies me is that a person holding a public office speaks so openly in favor of killing the intruders without hesitation. Or am I misinterpreting something? Looks like good judgement doesn’t live here anymore, as most people just want to imagine good guys wearing white hats and bad guys wearing black ones and from there it becomes very simple – shoot anyone with a black hat, right?

  7. Vlatko, in these cases, it is pretty clear cut. “Good guys” don’t crawl through your windows at night. I see no problem with encouraging home owners to “shoot to kill” if someone tries to break into their home. The person breaking into the home cannot have any possible justification for doing so other than that they are a “bad guy” and are trying to do harm to you (taking your possessions, or worse). These kind of people are the scourge of soceity and if they have turned to lifestyle of crime then IMO they have forfeit their right to live amongst soceity (and to live in general). I would rather see these kind of people shot dead than let go only for them to come back to try again later, or to go harm another innocent person instead. It can be especially dangerous to let them go because in the future they could come back seeking “revenge” as well.

  8. In July 2010 my family, experienced a home invasion,and i was shoot,but our dogs forced the two home invaders back out, the door,which gave me time to get my gun, and return fire, hitting one in the head ,and one in the stomach ! no charges where ever filed on any one,i don’t even think it was investigated .
    The Detective handing my case got cancer and died!
    we live in the heart of Flint Michigan the worst city ever!

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