Comments: Denver Discedere Ad Inferos

Leaving the issue of whether it was a good shooting or not aside for a second, I think that its worth pointing out that English common law (and our version of it) has always treated businesses and residences differently.

Burglary is traditionally accorded a higher level of punishment than merely stealing from a business. That is, Burglary is traditionally ONLY nighttime entry into an occupied dwelling for the purposes of committing a felony.

So the distinction between residences and businesses isn't some sort of weird contrivance by the Denver DA. Hell for that matter, no matter what one thinks is moral or correct, there's precious little tradition to support a shooting to protect property from theft alone.

Posted by Bob at October 23, 2006 05:44 PM

Bob,
I would make arguments that using force in defense of property is not necessarily a bad ting & in some cases may be constitutionally protected. But that's another argument.

Burglary is not just unauthorized entry into an occupied dwelling &/or a private residence. A lot (if not most) burglaries occur when the premises is unoccupied. Least in the states it seems to lean that way.

I can understand the rationale behind treating businesses differently than residences during business hours. After business hours however the reasons for the different treatment evaporate.

It may be legally correct that the "make my day" law applies only to residential dwellings. My beef is that the Denver DA's office is not concerned with it being a justifiable shooting in general. It seems they just wish to use this to A: remind folks that they're (the .gov) the only ones who should use force & B: try to test & constrict the possible limits of the "make my day" law.

Posted by Publicola at October 24, 2006 12:44 AM

You're ocmpletely correct that most states have defied burglary to encompass more than just the common law version I mentioned. I guess part of my opoint was just to throw some context on why the law would have any differences between residences and businesses.

I actually agree that force to protect property can be morally/ethically ok in some situations, but the vast majority of states don't see it that way (and haven't historically). I mainly threw that into the discussion just to point out that the shooting a guy that's stealing from the till in your bar has some legal issues of its own.

The way I read the Colorado castle doctrine/make my day law is that you do have to have a reasonable fear of physical harm for a shooting to be justified in your home. So, in essence, the bullets better enter from the front, not the back of the guy as he's running for the door. Do you have any idea if there's been any cases on that topic yet?

I honestly don't know enough from reading the news reports to have any idea what the bar shooting was actually good or not. I am pretty suspicious of the Denver PD/DA since they've done a lot of illicit gun confiscation in the past.

Posted by Bob at October 24, 2006 09:59 AM
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