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Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am probably the least violent person on the planet. I rarely lose my temper, and when I do my anger is far more likely to be directed against myself than anyone else. But I cannot see why people should not be able to defend their own property in any way they see fit. Once you have broken into my house, you have crossed a line. You have already broken a law, and if you do that, you lose the right to claim the law in your favour when things go wrong for you. You either obey the law, or you don't. Cross over into my territory uninvited, and the laws are mine.
I think the current laws on defence of property have it about right, actually. You are allowed to use 'reasonable force' to defend yourself and your property. If you wake up to find an intruder in your bedroom, the law accepts that you will be very frightened and may not act with the degree of proportion you may exercise in the cold light of day. The law would not allow you to blast a shotgun at someone taking a pee inside your garden gate at closing time, and rightly too. But if you did the same to someone who was on your upstairs landing and heading towards your children's bedroom, the law would look much more leniently on your actions. What I think goes wrong is in the way these laws are interpreted by the Police and the Courts. Often, we have seen law-abiding householders arrested and put through the mill simply for defending what is their own. It's not right, but that's a matter of the interpretation of the law, not the law itself. In every case where a householder was convicted that I have read about, there has been a significant element of revenge and punishment, or lack of due care, in the retribution exacted by the householder. Tony Martin, for example, shot a young man in the dark without knowing who he was or why he was there. Munir Hussain followed the intruder down the street and with the help of a number of relatives subjected him to a ferocious attack which left him brain-damaged. You might feel very sympathetic to those convicted, and say the intruders got what was coming to them, but both cases are difficult and complex. It is always foolish to make cast-iron judgements from cases like these. These are, if you like, on the edge of what is reasonable and what is not, and no-one will ever agree on the rights and wrongs. But, put simply, if you are in fear of your life or your property, the law allows you to take reasonable steps (and even, in extreme cases, unreasonable ones) to defend yourself and your stuff.
The best advice I have had on the subject came from a serving Police officer:
Always sleep with something big and useful under the bed. Don't ever keep a baseball bat for things like this. Unless you are a baseball star, it will be easy for a slimy lawyer to argue premeditation. Non-players only keep baseball bats for one thing. Make it a torch (a "big, fuck-off 5-cell Maglite" was his choice of words). Hold it by the bulb end in your cupped hand, and have the length resting on your shoulder with a finger on the button. When you see the intruder, snap the light on, blind him, and then bring the blunt end down on his head with all your force. No court in the land would convict you for taking a torch to investigate a strange noise in the night.I have the 5-cell Maglite, and I would use it exactly as recommended. I am not a violent person, but if you do violence to me or the people or things I care about, I will use maximum force against you. As I am even-tempered and not used to being angry, I will probably not stop until you were no longer moving and no further threat to me. I would regret it afterwards but, as the saying goes, I would rather be judged by twelve than carried out by six.
This right of attack on intruders can't be absolute. I have heard of cases from the US where someone has knocked on the door of a house to ask to use the phone after a car breakdown and been shot on sight. That's not right. But neither is rolling over and according 'rights' to people who by their deliberate actions have demonstrated that they don't care a scrap for yours.
The right to live without harm from others, and the right to keep the things you have worked hard for, are probably the most basic rights we have. We need to make this completely clear to those who govern, who enforce and who judge.