Ok, if I shouldn't _shoot_ the intruder, then...?

How does one deal with the following hypothetical scenerio? You’re a legal gun owner. In the middle of the night, you’re awoken by noise from downstairs. You go downstairs with your gun. You surprise a burglar holding your wife’s purse or an expensive piece of electronics. At the sight of you and your gun, the burglar bolts for the door.

Now YMMV, but here in Minnesota I’m pretty sure that I would NOT have the legal right to gun them down in the back as they’re fleeing. Minnesota is not a “Castle Doctrine” state; in fact, trespassing is only a misdemeanor, and then only after the intruder has refused a verbal order to leave(!) A home owner is allowed to use “appropriate force” to prevent a felony. Breaking and Entering is a felony, but by some interpretations once they’ve broken in it’s done, so you’re not “preventing” it anymore(!) Ok, they’re stealing my goddamn Tivo, that’s a felony, what’s appropriate force? Let’s say I give chase. Am I allowed to pistol-whip them in the back of the head? Tackle them? If they fight back, then am I justified in shooting them? If they make it past my property line have they legally crossed the “goal line”?

Broadly speaking then, when armed how does one de-escalate to a lesser degree of force? And puhleeze don’t say “it’s just a possession, it isn’t worth someone’s life”. Frankly I think it ought to be worth their life, but for now the law is what it is.

States vary but in California as I understand it, as long as he presents a threat(facing you or advancing, showing a weapon or he heads for, say, your child’s room) you have the right to use deadly force. If he turns away and heads for an exit, you must break off the engagement, you are no longer in fear of your (or anyone else) life.

May I put a round through the Tivo so he can’t pawn it? :slight_smile:

Personally, if they’re in my home I think they probably pose an imminent physical danger to myself or my family.

If they’ve turned for the door, or are on their way out the door (more likely because they’re afraid of my dogs barking than me), I’d never know. I refuse to leave my room to go downstairs if I think there’s an intruder in my home. It puts me in harms way, when I could just as easily avoid it.

Stay in your room, call the police, tell them you’re armed and tell them that you believe someone has broken into your home. Tell them you’re staying in your room and tell them to announce themselves when they come in.
You’ve covered every possible legal base, and if someone peeks their head around your doorway, blow their fucking head off. They can be assumed to be dangerous if they’ve stolen from your home and are continuing to do so.

I don’t know about the law, but if someone breaks into your home you have my blessing to shoot him. While I won’t go so far as to say they deserve to die, they certainly have lost all right to complain if it happens.

Dead people rarely complain.

You shouldn’t have the right to shoot him in the back. Let him get away with the TiVo, that’s what home-owner’s insurance is for. Something tells me that you wouldn’t be able to live with the fact that you killed someone over a TiVo in the long run. As long as they are leaving, let them go.

That was the joke. Anyways, i’m not going to make someone who has an intruder in their house figure out the body language of the intruder and what they intend to do. If you break into someone’s house, you shouldn’t be surprised to get yer ass shot.

Of course having said that I should point out that I am not a gun owner and I wouldn’t do it. But I sure wouldn’t have a problem with someone who did. Unlawful entry into someone’s home is messed up.

Heh, well, you don’t shoot a man in the back. That’s just kind of a general rule. It’s dishonorable.

Certainly the safest way out. I’d hate to call the sops and have them find the cat knocking over furniture, but I’d rather be embarrassed than dead.

“Heh, well, you don’t shoot a man in the back. That’s just kind of a general rule. It’s dishonorable.”

Dishonorable? Perhaps in a cold-blooded murder sense, but not in reality.

What if the burglar (a felon) has a weapon, and shoots while running away? I say shoot in self defense.

BTW–I had an experience at 2:00AM, 12-12-09. A drunken/doped-up man was beating on my door, shouting expletives, threats, and trying to get in. 911 was called and the guy was arrested while leaving my home, and charged with criminal trespass. I had my pistol in hand, and the thought going through my mind was, “My God, I may have to shoot a person!” A very, very unpleasant experience.

Yea, and you didn’t shoot him.

Obviously there are situations where you shoot someone. Running away with your TiVo isn’t one. If he’s shooting at you that’s different. The original scenario offered was that he was trying to leave and had his back to you.

Dishonor only matters in reality.

I decided long ago that if I could catch the guy, I’d strangle him and throw him in the river. No cops. Just a person found in the river in a day or two.

In a darkened room, in YOUR house, an invader deserves NO options! There is no honor among thieves, and they deserve none. It ain’t like in the movies.

BTW–Under Texas law I could have shot through the door because of the threats and attempts to invade my home, and been exempt from prosecution. The man was 24 years-old, and I am 67. He should count himself lucky that I kept my composure.

Funny, I was about to post “God bless Texas.”

What does honor have to do with it? It’s not a game.

It’s better than that – you could have shot him if you saw him stealing a CD from your car in your driveway.

And the “dishonorable to shoot someone in the back” notion applies to single combat, or the Wild West. If someone is in your house, with your family there, at night, they are (or can be treated as, AFAIC) presumptively a dangerous marauder, on the order of a jackal or cobra. Is the cobra headed toward the door? Let’s see where the mountain lion’s going with this whole thing.

Sorry – tie doesn’t go to the jackal, in my house.

*depending on where you live, please don’t act in reliance on the above and come crying to me; some jurisdictions are not as bloody-minded as I am.

Five times I had a gun in my hand to stop someone from breaking into my house in North Minneapolis from roughly 1995 to 2002. Never fired it, never even pointed it at them. None of them actually got in through the steel core back door, try as they might.

What has been said above is true. The moment the person runs away, you’re no longer “threatened” and you don’t have any right of self-defense.

That being said, you DO have the right to place the person under citizens arrest and hold them for the police. In doing so, you have the right to use “appropriate” force in restraining them. This DOES NOT include deadly force.

However, that being said, you’d be a damned fool to try to wrestle a burglar in the middle of the night while packing a gun. There’s too much of a risk that he will either have a weapon and use it on you (like a knife, screwdriver or crowbar that he used to get through your door), or take the gun away from you and use it on you.

Your best bet is to follow the person out the door at a safe distance, take as many notes about them and the direction they went as you can, then go back and call the police.

Well, HOW do you do THAT then? ask nicely?

Stop. I am placing you under citizens arrest!

I think I’ll just go, thank you very much.

No. You cant, your under arrest!

What are you going to do? Shoot me?

Well, no, legally I can’t do THAT…but I can use (cue dramatic music here ) “appropriate force”

thats funny mister…be seeing you!
yep, yet more retarded “help” from the legal system.
As much as some people hate the idea of big brother recording and seeing everything, I almost look forward to it so stupid shit like this will finally be over.

I could shoot a guy inside my house in Arkansas because “my back is to the wall”. I’m not sure I could shoot him if he is going out the door with my TV. Neither may I shoot someone for backing into my car and costing me money, nor for giving me the finger. But then, I wouldn’t want to. :slight_smile:

As a non-lawyer, please don’t take any of my advice, without actually getting with someone that really knows. My laws in Texas are different than yours, but this is how some of my friends, some of them cops, who may or may not know have explained it to me.

It seems the magic words in most states that don’t have the castle law, are, “you feared for your life.” You’ll need that and a sympathetic jury that will believe you. You have several things going for you. If it’s in the middle of the night, and in your home, I think most will realize how fearful you were for yourself and family. But, the fact that you didn’t see any gun, and he does bolt, well, it’s probably best not to send him to his maker in your state.

I’ve also been told that if you shoot them, you really don’t want to just wing ‘em, but shoot to kill. That’s to keep the sorry piece of shit from coming back and suing you. But also I’ve been told, even if you are legally justified in a shooting, and do absolutely everything right, and shoot the man in self-defense with him having a gun and all, you still need to have about $50,000 in legal fees standing by. If the person you shot lives, he’ll sue you; if he’s dead, one of his loved ones will most likely sue.

In Texas we don’t take too kindly to thieves at all, and are not overly sympathetic to any of them. I came close to testing out these new castle laws back in December at my self storage facility. I was broke into 4 times in a three and a half week period after having eight years without an incident. It has cost me thousands of dollars to upgrade to a new boltcutter proof lock and latch system. I had already made up my mind, that if I catch him on my cameras breaking off one more lock, and he was hauling the stuff out, when I approached him, he was going to have one chance and one chance only not to move. If he bolted, I would have unloaded and not think twice about it after the damage he has done to me, and would have just taken my chances that Texas and the new castle laws would have found it justifiable.

I’ve been told the castle law is supposed to help protect from both criminal and civil lawsuits in instances such as these, but I’m still learning myself. I understand some can still try to sue you, but it’s very difficult to do so.

Now, I’m hoping a good lawyer that really knows will help set us all straight. The thief breaking into my units was caught while the cops were doing surveillance at another self-storage facility, and has been in jail since the 2nd of January, so finally I’ve been getting some sleep again. He’s damn lucky he isn’t getting any permanent sleep. Damn near had him one night.