divegeek wrote:What you're saying, though, is not that you'd use deadly force to defend property, but that you'd use it to defend life. You're constructing a situation in which the property being lost/destroyed is essential to life.
But if loss of property doesn't lead to loss of life -- and honestly, it doesn't, except in extremely rare and strange situations -- then there's no justification for using deadly force in defense of property.
Deadly force should only be used to protect people from death or serious injury. Period. If one of those really rare and strange situations arise, then the defendant's attorney can explain in court how the defendant's action to defend property was the only reasonable way to protect life and limb.
Why only death or serious injury?
Do you oppose the Utah legal presumption that allows you to use deadly force against a home invader in most cases? In other States the presumption is that you are obliged to flee if you can do so safely (and assuming that no one else is at risk and requires you to stay to protect them). Honestly, would you fault a lone man who chooses
to use deadly force against a home invader rather than fleeing out the back door?
Let me construct another scenario.
The thief begins the act of stealing the beer and the owner steps in to demand he stop. The thief continues and the owner stands between the thief and the door with the intent only
to prevent the theft. The thief gets physical and the owner responds with some moderate physical force. The thief escalates, so the owner escalates. This continues in quick succession until the thief engages in some conduct that requires the owner to either allow the theft to continue, or to submit to grave harm, or to use deadly force. Legalities aside, is the owner justified morally in using deadly force?
And morally, what makes this situation any different than simply using deadly force when the thief refuses to stop his thievery when confronted with the first verbal command? The owner made a very deliberate decision to start down a road of physical confrontation when he could have just let the thief take the property.
Would you say a man is morally required to step aside and take no physical action to stop a simple theft of his property in progress?
A 200 pound, fit man, trained or experienced in fighting, scrapping, or even formal non-lethal retention methods has a much better chance of physically preventing someone from walking off with his property without resorting to deadly force than does a 90 pound, 90 year old woman. But does he have a greater moral claim to defend his property than does the little old lady? We say guns are the great equalizer. Does that only apply to preventing death and grave injury? Or does it also apply to defending one's property?
Even if loss of property won't result in an immediate or relatively soon and mostly unpreventable loss of life, it can often result in loss of ability to earn income in the case where a craftman's tools are stolen. Any particular item may be the difference between hanging on one more month or a business going bankrupt. We've all seen the heartbreaking cases of the handicapped person's wheelchair or specially modified car being stolen leaving the person unable to get around, go to work, etc.
Do the physically small, slow, weak, or lone have less moral right to effectively defend and retain their property than do the large, fast, strong, or group? All here would staunchly defend the equality of defending life and limb. We all understand that a 90 year old, 90 pound lone female is going to be morally and legally justified in using deadly force to prevent injury or death under a much broader range of circumstances than would a 25 year old, 200 pound, 6'4" healthy man with his two equally proportioned buddies at his side.
I trust all here would be perfectly comfortable with the 200 pound man tackling the would be thief to prevent the loss of his property. The 90 year old woman can't
tackle the thief who steals her property. As we look deeply at this, whatever discomfort we may have with using deadly force to defend property, are we not also at least a little bit uncomfortable with the inherent disparity (legally and for some morally) in the ability of the old lady to defend and retain ownership of her property against criminal theft?
I'm not advocating that anyone start looking for excuses to use deadly force. I would not criticize another who made the decision that he'd rather live with the loss of some property than live with the knowledge he took another man's life to defend that property. I'm certainly not suggesting anyone should go a shooting spree.
I'm just looking for some deep introspection about what our values are and why we hold them.
Honestly, you're home all alone near the back door when someone kicks in the front door. You can slip out the back door and have a reasonable expectation of safely escaping without ever confronting the home invader. Or, you can defend your home. What do each of us do?