On New Year’s Eve, a young Oklahoma widow and mother Sarah McKinley shot dead an armed intruder breaking into her home. But it’s all good. She was protecting her three-month old baby and the circumstances were in her favour as confirmed by local detective, Dan Huff:
“You’re allowed to shoot an unauthorised person that is in your home,” he said.
“The law provides you the remedy, and sanctions the use of deadly force.”
This young lady did what she felt she had to do to protect herself and more importantly, her infant child.
I would have done the same, only I don’t have a shotgun. But I do have a menacing carving knife and an iron bar somewhere in the shed. I would have employed either, if it were necessary.
Somehow I don’t think my local law enforcement agency would forgive me if they were called to remove the body of a once armed, mutilated intruder from any number of rooms in my house. In this country the invaded are encouraged to offer no resistance, even though the number of murders from home invasions are now regular features on the evening news. Perhaps those people resisted, and died because of it. Perhaps they were targeted to die regardless.
Nonetheless, the laws in Australian states are explicitly clear on how you entertain your unwanted guests. If you are a resident of South Australia you may feel free to do away with an intruder and the law will show mercy for doing so. But it would be more advisable to murder him or her with a carving knife than a firearm. Firearms are more affective but you need to have one close by. In South Australia you don’t have that luxury. Writing in Adelaide Now, John Goldberg provided a follow-up on an article he had earlier penned on the legal acceptance of killing a home intruder. Like me, you may find the follow-up rather humurous.
[Since my earlier article] I have been contacted by the police firearms branch and it has been pointed out to me that I was in error, not on any of the matters that I have just mentioned, but in the hypothetical scenario in the column where I wrote that you killed the intruder with a loaded shotgun that you kept in your bedroom, yet you committed no offence.
It has been pointed out to me that it is a breach of the law to keep a loaded gun in your bedroom, even if you hold a firearms licence and your firearm is registered.The regulations say that firearms must be locked up in the prescribed manner (generally a gun safe or strongroom) and all ammunition must be stored in a locked container separately from the firearm. A firearms licence is endorsed with the use to which the holder of the licence can put the firearm.
Now the use might be target shooting or hunting, but self-defence is not normally an approved use.
Even if you had the appropriate licence and kept your gun in a locked safe with the ammunition locked up separately, you would still not be able to use your gun to defend yourself in your own home unless there was an endorsement on the licence by the Registrar of Firearms specifically approving that use.
The Firearms Act says that you commit an offence if you use a firearm for a purpose not authorised by your licence.
An unsecured gun in your bedroom could cost you a maximum fine of $2500 and the use of the shotgun in breach of your firearms licence could incur a maximum fine of $20,000 or imprisonment for four years. This is so even if the intruder was armed and was threatening you.
In order to avoid breaking the law, you may need to beat the intruder to death with the unloaded shotgun.
I think I prefer the Oklahoma law. They allow you the option of using either end of the rifle in order to avoid being a homicide victim.
Not all laws are completely stupid like the South Australian law. Some are actually worse, as I found on this question and answer forum about home invasions in Australia. Look at these two:
Q. If I come face to face with a burglar in the middle of the night,what can and can’t I do?
A. You can use force to defend yourself, however the force must be equal or less than the force being used by the intruder.
Q. Can I attack them until they leave the premises?
A. Not unless they are attacking you.
Does anybody else agree that such laws protect the assailant ahead of the victim? And what is equal force? Do you take it in turns of hitting each other over the head with a brick? Again, I prefer the Oklahoma law.
Certain aspects of this case ‘amused’ me, where a Gold Coast man, after grappling with an armed intruder secured the firearm and shot the intruder in the leg who later ventured out into the street and bled to death. It was this statement from the police that particularly amused me:
“I spoke to a couple of residents out there this morning and they were quite shocked that such a thing had happened in their quiet suburban street.
“To wake up and find a deceased male person laying in the middle of your street, who had allegedly been the victim of a gunshot, is obviously of serious concern.”
Really, I would have thought that coming home to find a pistol being waved at your head was far more concerning. The lesson learned, is that if you want to grapple with an armed assailant, keep in mind the affects it might have on your neighbours. Spare no thought as to what they might think if the assailant actually empties the gun in your head. That is of no significance. Nobody cares.
Again, the Oklahoma law wins me over.
I do support the right to defend myself in what I perceive to be a life or death situation. Especially in my own home. I don’t keep a firearm – I actually hate them, the knife in the kitchen is too far out of reach, as is the iron bar in the shed. In future I’m going to have feathers lying around the house. I intend to tickle the intruders to death. It might be legal.