A headline caught my eye recently: “No charges for Oklahoma teen mother who called 911 to ask permission to kill burglar“. The story is about a woman who called police to ask if she could shoot an intruder if he entered her home. He entered; she killed him with a shotgun. In a country where gun ownership is prevalent, and in some communities even encouraged, you would think that would be a deterrent to burglars and other intruders. But with 215 justifiable homicides in 2009, it would seem not.
But what is a deterrent? The death penalty? Abolition of hanging in the UK didn’t appreciably increase the murder rate, and death row is overflowing in the USA.
Perhaps people living in a great environment are less inclined towards crime? The government of the Seychelles would disagree,
Fear of being caught maybe? Anecdotal evidence suggests that, rather like Norman Stanley Fletcher, imprisonment is simply viewed as an occupational hazard – and for some even an educational opportunity.
So, if there is no adequate deterrent, should we be allowed to shoot burglars – or, in the UK where we can’t own guns, perhaps politely berate them with golf club? Continue reading