Debate Magazine

Wisconsin Homeowners' Right to Kill Intruders

Posted on the 01 September 2011 by Mikeb302000
TMJ4 reports on the controversy over homeowner rights in the aftermath of a supposed DGU.
In Okauchee, Mike Fitzsimmons claims Babe broke into his garage in the middle of the night, that there was a confrontation and Fitzsimmons felt threatened.
"He told me he had a gun. He came at me with a gun. I told him to drop it, backed up, shot him, killed him," Fitzsimmons said of the shooting early Saturday morning.
In their investigation, police found Babe actually didn't have a gun. He did have a cell phone in his hand.
Current law states that a person may use deadly force only if they "reasonably believe" that doing so will save them or another person from death or serious injury.
The problem is when a homeowner unnecessarily kills someone, even if he realizes it, he always claims to have been justified. "I felt my life was in danger," is easy to say.
There are three possibilities:
1. In other cases it's true that he felt that way, and he was right, his life really was in imminent danger.
2. In some cases it's true that he felt that way but he was mistaken.
3. And in still other cases, he knew damn well his life was not in danger but being so outraged that some punk would dare to break into his home, he shoots and kills the intruder.
In all three, his description of events is more-or-less the same. The guys in the 3rd category are certainly not going to admit something that would work against them. The guys in the 2nd category, although they may be telling the truth about how they felt at the time, they've committed an unnecessary killing.
The current debate is to expand the rights of homeowners, as have many other states, pertaining to the requirement to retreat. In this case for example, it happened in the garage, the homeowner might have been able to retreat into the house. Some say they shouldn't have to.
To me this sounds like adolescent school-yard posturing, not a serious consideration of a life-or-death decision. If retreating is possible and would have reasonably diffused the situation, then wouldn't that mean the homeowner's life was not truly in jeopardy?
And, naturally you have the real fanatics, for whom it's very simple.
"I think the current law is ridiculous," said Kallay. "I should be able to do anything to protect my home my belongings and my family."
You get that, even "belongings." To protect belongings, these guys want the right to kill.
What's your opinion? Where's the right place to draw the line on the homeowner's right to use lethal force?
Please leave a comment.

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