Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Incoherence Can Get You Killed

Here's an interesting legal hypothetical: if you have an inalienable right to own guns and an inalienable right to fire on intruders into your home, BUT the police have the legal right to break into your home without knocking or identifying themselves, what should the law decide when the inevitable happens and a citizen shoots dead a cop, mistaking them for an intruder.

If your answer was depends if the shooter is black, then congratulations! You are now qualified to practice law in Texas.

It's genuinely impossible to overstate how horrifically assembled this situation is. This isn't one of those terrible cases where some white guy shoots a black person for the crime of knocking on their door late at night.  This is about actual intruders trying to break in through your window en masse whilst armed with weapons. How can that possibly not result in someone legitimately fearing for their lives if they've no idea who's behind it?
(Hell, you'd have to be higher than a Himalayan goose on heroin to think your average black American would stop fearing for their life once they realised just who was coming for dinner, and coming strapped.)

This is then compounded of course by the barbaric Texas sentencing rules, that have helped lead to a situation where the same action can lead to either not so much as a slap on the wrist or being sentenced to death depending on the most minute differences - real or imagined, or it would seem entirely cosmetic - in circumstance. This is the kind of legal result we should give law students to try and argue their way out of, not something to be handed out to society to see who dies and who we choose to kill for it.

The law of the land in Texas now is that no-one can take your guns from you, and no-one can take the guns from the people who might be coming to kill you, but you'd better not use the guns that can't be taken from you to defend yourself against the people who might want to kill you armed with the guns that can't be taken from them, not unless you politely ask them whether or not they're police officers. Of course, by that point they might have shot you dead if they're not police, or they are police and think you've got a gun - which the state of Texas just cannot ever stop telling you you should be proud to own, though if the police come knocking you need to put it down and hope no-one in the raiding party murders your dogs or tosses a grenade into your baby's crib - but hey, you should have thought of that before you became a criminal, right?

The officers were looking for drugs, yet none were found in the home. 

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