Changing the home security equation

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06/23/2008
A new law in Ohio changes the home burglary dynamic more than a little. Before, residents who defended themselves in a potentially deadly way had to prove they feared for their lives. Now, burglars have to prove they didn't intend to harm the residents. Um, hard to prove you weren't going to harm anybody from six feet underground. Normally, I'd side with the crowd who argues that if you don't want to get shot, don't break into anyone's house, but I do sympathize with the great number of meth addicts, for instance, that clearly aren't in their right mind when they commit crimes, and I know that desperate children make extremely bad decisions. Further, this article notes that the Ohio Chiefs of Police don't agree with the law change either. Here are some good points: Galion police Chief Brian Saterfield said he sees no need for the law. "I don't see how it wasn't working," he said. "I hate to say this creates a free-for-all, but it changes the scenarios. (Before) you had to be in fear for your safety or physical harm (to use deadly force). Now you can think it. I'm not sure that's a good thing." ... Local defense attorney Ralph Bove said there are different kinds of burglaries, that they don't always involve a masked man entering a house under the cloak of darkness. "In juvenile court, you have kids going through windows in the middle of the day," he said. "I am concerned about how homeowners would view that and if they would feel they could do whatever they wanted." When you couple this kind of law with the nascent push for self-monitored systems, I think you start getting into a weird place. So, you get a video clip of some kid breaking into your house. You're at work, just down the street. You're angry, because this is the second time this month someone's broken in, so you grab your gun. Arriving home, you sneak in the door and corner the kid. He's scared and lashes out. Bam. Maybe that's overstating things, but I think law enforcement should be left to professionals whenever possible and a law like this shifts public thought in a meaningful way, not necessarily for the better.