News & Politics

Good News for British Homeowners: Okay to Use Lethal Force on Intruders

Maybe a man’s home is once again becoming his castle:

Householders can use a “disproportionate” level of force to protect themselves against intruders in their home, the High Court has confirmed in a landmark ruling. Backing the so-called “householder defence”, judges said that the use of violence when challenging a burglar did not breach European human rights laws.

They rejected a challenge to the defence by the family of Denby Collins, 39, who remains in a coma after being confronted and restrained while allegedly breaking into a home in Gillingham, Kent at 3am in December 2013. When police arrived at the scene Mr Collins was unconscious. The following December Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders decided the homeowner involved in the incident, identified only as “B” for legal reasons, would not face prosecution.

The Crown Prosecution Service’s householder defence allows residents to use “disproportionate force” when tackling a burglar, which could include lethal force and the use of a weapon depending on the circumstances. Only “grossly disproportionate” force and a “calculated action of revenge” is illegal.

It’s not quite Texas yet, but it’s a start.

In 2010, the law protected a Houston taco-truck owner who shot a man for stealing a tip jar containing $20.12. Also in Houston, a store clerk recently killed a man for shoplifting a twelve-pack of beer, and in 2008 a man from Laredo was acquitted for killing a 13-year-old boy who broke into his trailer looking for snacks and soda.

Texas law also justifies killing to protect others’ property. In 2007, a man told 14 times by a 911 operator to remain inside during a robbery gunned down two thieves fleeing from his neighbor’s house. (“There’s no property worth shooting somebody over, OK?” the operator said on the call. The shooter’s response: “The law has been changed….Here it goes, buddy! You hear the shotgun clickin’ and I’m goin’!”) He was acquitted the next year.

As much as the Left wishes it weren’t, an assault on property is an assault on person, and the court was right to rule the way it did.