We highlight defensive gun uses here because they happen so often. According to the CDC, people use firearms to defend themselves in this country anywhere from 60,000 to 2.5 million times every year, depending on who’s doing the counting. Most of those defensive uses happen without a shot being fired and the total dwarfs the number of gun deaths in the U.S. every year, not that you’re likely to hear that stated in many other places.
Wednesday night, according to KHOU in Houston, a home owner discovered a man trying to break into his van.
Police said a homeowner reported that he heard someone breaking into his van. He went outside and confronted the suspect.
The suspect went into the van, and the homeowner opened fire.
The wounded perpetrator left, but collapsed and died not far from the scene.
Texas is unique in its allowance for the use of deadly force in defense of property. But the law isn’t an unlimited license to shoot or kill if someone is found breaking into your car. There are conditions in the law the defender must meet in order to be considered justified in the use of deadly force.
Even in Texas, the question quickly becomes whether a prosecutor will view a particular situation in which deadly force was used to protect property as justified. How will the homeowner in this case be viewed by the police and district attorney? There’s no way to know, especially from a brief media report. It’s possible the perp had a gun or a knife. It’s possible he threatened the home owner.
But relying on a prosecutor’s decision regarding a defensive gun use isn’t a risk most people would or should be willing to take. Especially in defense of property. That’s what insurance is for. The consequences of being charged with manslaughter or even second degree murder are not inconsiderable. And defending yourself against such a charge is a long and financially crippling ordeal.
All of which is to say that shooting someone who is breaking into your car is a huge risk to take. Putting your life on the line by confronting a car thief outside your home — or risking your freedom and possible financial devastation — simply isn’t worth it.