Night Moves: The Law of Burglar-Killing

If a man breaks into your house while you and your family are sleeping, intending to steal your things, and you catch him, you have the right to shoot him dead.

Seems simple, no?  Everyone but a grasshopper-worshiping Hindu would agree, wouldn’t he?  After all, “A man’s home is his castle.”  Clearly, that widely accepted maxim, which serves as the basis for today’s “Castle Laws,” does not mean that every homeowner actually lives in a large estate house complete with a moat and a mead hall.  Castles are fortified against those who seek to violate the lord of the manor, whether by inflicting bodily harm upon him and those sheltered under his roof, or by stealing his goods.  And if physical barriers are not enough to keep out the enemy, the man whose home is his castle would naturally resort to the use of deadly force, if necessary.

What, after all, is the purpose of having a home to begin with, if not to dwell in a place of sanctuary?  Yes, we have police, those privileged by society to enforce the law immediately and violently (although that is a relatively new situation vis-à-vis the history of civilization).  But our homes are not rooms in a large police station, in which armed officers are the only ones who possess the moral authority to decide who may enter and who may leave.  That would be a prison.

The old one-liner...

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