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The Sixth Commandment vs. the Eighth

Gun Rights activist Dave Workman reports that his on-line (and unscientific) poll, conducted on various gun forums, found that overall 62.7 percent of those responding to the question "Should shooting auto thieves be considered justified?"? answered "yes."

Gun Rights activist Dave Workman reports that his online (and unscientific) poll, conducted on various gun forums, found that overall 62.7 percent of those responding to the question, “Should shooting auto thieves be considered justified?” answered “yes.”

The poll was in response to last month’s shooting in Spokane of Brendon Kaluza-Graham, who had stolen Gail Gerlach’s SUV and was driving off when Mr. Gerlach took aim and killed the thief with a single shot to the back of his head.

The SUV crashed into a garage a few blocks away.

The last day of the poll coincided with the Friday morning shooting in Maple Valley, where a homeowner caught a man and woman prowling a cargo container in his backyard and opened fire — killing the man.

Although a strong majority in Workman’s poll voted “shoot,” it varied depending on the forum. Shooters Northwest posted the widest margin, with 88.24 percent in favor. The smallest was the Defensive Carry forum, where only 50.56 percent voted yes.

And now… into the weeds:

The homicide statute (RCW 9A.16.050) states that deadly force is justified…

(1) In the lawful defense of the slayer, or his or her husband, wife, parent, child, brother, or sister, or of any other person in his presence or company, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design on the part of the person slain to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury to the slayer or to any such person, and there is imminent danger of such design being accomplished; or

(2) In the actual resistance of an attempt to commit a felony upon the slayer, in his presence, or upon or in a dwelling, or other place of abode, in which he is.

I read that as a green light only when some innocent person is actually being threatened “in his (the gun owner’s) presence,” or a dwelling “in which he (the gun owner) is.” There also must be “imminent” danger of “great personal injury” or you must be engaged in “actual resistance” defending yourself inside your home.

I’d doubt any of us would hesitate one tick of a cesium atom to defend a family member. But personally, I’d have a hard time killing someone over a car, or anything in my backyard cargo container — although I can see how someone who’s been repeatedly ripped off would get fed up.

Workman points out that the Second Amendment Foundation sells a window decal that reads: “The owner of this property is armed. There is nothing inside worth risking your life for.” Of course a thief who has no intent of assaulting you could also wear a sign saying “This thief is not armed. There is nothing I plan to do worth risking a manslaughter conviction for.”

When an imminent threat to life and limb isn’t involved, the moral dilemma is whether a Bad Guy breaking the Eighth Commandment justifies a Good Guy breaking the Sixth.

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