AirTalk for June 27, 2013

Is shooting a home intruder a justifiable use of deadly force?

James Thompson/Flickr

How much of a threat should an intruder pose in order to justify using deadly force?

Police said an apartment resident in Ontario shot and killed a man who broke into his home early Monday morning. The intruder has been identified by police as a 24-year-old Barstow man, who was drunk and mistakenly went to the victim’s apartment unit and broke into the home.

"The issue is really whether the homeowner has an honest and reasonable belief that their life or someone else in the home's life may be in jeopardy...you don't need a stand your ground law." said Laurie Levenson on AirTalk. "If you do you're entitled to use self defense, even lethal self defense if you think you're facing some serious bodily harm or death."

While there is no “stand-your-ground” legislation in California per se, the state does have laws in place sanctioning the use of deadly force against home intruders.

The shooter is a legal gun owner. “Obviously [the victims] have the ability to protect themselves in their home with reasonable force," Ontario police Sgt. David McBride told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

"Each situation has to be evaluated independently, and I do fear that people say I'm protecting my home so the first and only thing I'm going to do is shoot," said Levenson. "But the law is really realistic...if somebody's in your house and they're attacking you, they'd rather you be safe and take the life of the attacker than vice versa."

What would you do in this situation? 

Guest:
Laurie Levenson, Professor of Law and the David W. Burcham Chair in Ethical Advocacy at Loyola Law School


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