Being retired and under viral lockdown, I spend a lot of time online. News headlines and comments from people in the public eye, like politicians, get a lot of people upset.
Recently I have noticed an awful lot of people taking umbrage with the politician who suggested a homeowner should retreat and not defend their home or property from burglary or robbery.
In their outrage over this foolish idea, many have posted how, no matter what, they will defend their home and property – even if it requires shooting the offender. I have seen several posts saying it’s better to have a jury of 12 rather than 6 pallbearers, and the cops will find a dead offender when they arrive.
I can understand their positions and in most cases agree with these people. Unfortunately, I think they are making a huge mistake to post this online. Remember what goes online, stays online. Forever!
Imagine this scenario. Tonight, you are awakened from a sound sleep by the sound of your front door being kicked in. You reach into your nightstand drawer and remove your lawfully owned pistol from its biometrically secured safe and prepare yourself to go see what made that sound.
As you step out into the hallway from the comfort of your bedroom you are confronted by two men who you have never seen before. You have no idea how they may be armed but in the dark shadows, you really can’t tell.
These two men crashed the door to look for valuables. They aren’t armed as neither can afford a gun. However, they are career burglars and have been arrested for this crime three times before between the two of them. The first one spent 6 months in jail for his offenses and the other had only received house arrest.
They have gone straight for your bedroom because experience has shown them that is where the real valuables are. They planned to strip a pillowcase off your bed and stuff it with anything of value they find.
They thought the house was vacant because they rang the doorbell and there was no sound from inside. You were in a deep sleep and it stirred you but didn’t fully wake you up. It took the sound of the door frame cracking from their kicks that finally woke you.
You are afraid for your life and, with nowhere to go, you fire several poorly aimed shots at these two offenders. The first shot strikes the first in line. The next two strike the hallway walls. The second offender turns and flees. He high-tails it out and runs down the street.
The offender you shot slumps to the floor. Your shot struck him in his left side, just over his belt. He lays there stunned at what has happened, as are you.
However, you quickly call 911 requesting the police and an ambulance. It isn’t long until you hear sirens approaching. The police quickly assess the situation, secure your weapon, and begin their reports. At the same time, the ambulance stabilizes the offender and transports him to the hospital along with another officer to guard the prisoner.
Even though you are morally and legally justified in shooting this home invader, it is only a few short months later that you are served with a lawsuit for your actions.
In today’s litigious society that is almost to be expected.
What surprises you is that one of the points the offender’s lawsuit brings in is that you were a bloodthirsty gun-crazed homeowner looking for the chance to shoot anyone who steps inside.
How could that be, you wonder. Then, you see the list of online posts where you have bragged you have six .38s waiting for anyone who breaks in and boasted how anyone who tries to take your property will have to make peace with the Lord in short order.
They also have a stack of other posts with similar comments and those that you have even merely LIKED.
They will paint you as a bloodthirsty killer looking to kill anyone while explaining the man you shot was a poor starving victim who was only looking for enough money to get a meal. If you are a hunter, they will have copies of you posing with the game you took and posted for your buddies to see, all the while telling the jury how you had a blood lust.
Yes, of course, you have done nothing wrong. All your guns are legally owned. You have had training. Oh, and the fact you were sound asleep in your bed, in your house behind locked doors isn’t relevant to them. They will point out how you were just chomping at the bit to show how tough you are by shooting someone.
The truth simply won’t matter here.
Remember you are in civil court not criminal. The attorneys only need to show a preponderance of guilt or 51%. It’s not like the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt of criminal court.
The jury of your peers are mostly people who couldn’t get out of jury duty. They are shocked by your horrendous blood lust. And since you have homeowner’s insurance, they will find for the plaintiff, not you. Oh, they probably won’t award the full damages, but it will be plenty.
If you have homeowner’s insurance which covers this sort of thing the insurance company’s attorneys will look to settle early on. Lawsuits are expensive for them. It’s cheaper to settle fast.
The Plaintiff’s attorneys know this and are planning on it. You can count on them not renewing your policy after this. If you don’t have homeowner’s insurance that covers this, you will probably have to sell the house and get a huge debt which follows you around for years to come.
Now should you have done anything different that night you got startled awake? Probably not. I might have done the same. The lawsuit will probably come no matter what, but don’t make it easy for the bad guys.
Just as you shouldn’t post your home address and phone number online or tell the world you keep a spare door key under the red rock in the garden, you shouldn’t give them ammunition to use against you.
Yeah, I know you have the constitutional right to say those things. Just remember the possible consequences of your actions. Perhaps it isn’t fair but who promised you it would be?
Use your head and remember anything you post online may one day have repercussions.
Stay safe, run low and zig zag. Lt. Robert Weisskopf (CPD, ret.)
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
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