To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Moral question here.

Suppose there were frequent break-ins in your neighborhood. Somebody is going into houses when no one is home and cleaning them out. You notice a car whose driver you don't recognize, going up and down the street and slowing down when it passes your house. You believe your house will be next. The police don't seem interested in having a visible presence in your neighborhood.

On a weekend, you send your family to a relative's house. Park your car around back. Keep the lights off. Don't collect the newspaper or the mail. And sit silently in your dark house with your shotgun, waiting. When the thief breaks into your house, you shoot to kill. Then you turn your lights on and call the police. While you're waiting for the police to come, you pick up your newspaper and your mail.

Legally, you are allowed to use deadly force if you are in fear of your life. If someone breaks into your house it is usually assumed that you are, although it would probably be frowned upon if your housebreaker was shot in the back ... although not necessarily. So putting law aside, is this scenario morally OK?


Jeffrey said...

The scenario is a deathtrap for a simple burglar, and if my own life were in danger it would be because I consciously put myself in that position.

And while prior knowledge of the break-in might not ultimately prevent the use of lethal force in defense, it would provide some opportunity to defend my home through other means.

So, I say the scenario as morally unacceptable.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Yeah, that's what we thought. I told a bunch of people this little story when I thought of it, and I was amazed at the number of people who said the homeowner in the story would be justified in setting this trap and shooting to kill; bleeding-heart liberals, I would have said some were.

Homer said...

This happened in England a few years ago. The homeowner, a farmer called Tony Martin, went to prison for several years which caused a public outcry. But one major difference is that the householder in your story is actually setting a trap, rather than reacting in the heat of the moment. I don't think Tony Martin should have gone to jail, but it sounds like your guy just wanted an excuse to shoot somebody.