“Defensive gun use” in practice

Since when seconds count the police are minutes away, a brave and self-reliant West Virginia homeowner engaged in the sort of defensive gun use that proves the value of an armed citizenry. Seeing two strangers breaking into his shed, he acted like a real American and blew the perps away with a scoped rifle. (Remember, the best form of gun control is a steady aim.) He then called the police to report his heroic deed.

Alas for Rodney Bruce Black (and the two DOAs) he was – like Rick when he went to Casablanca to take the waters – misinformed. The shed was not, in fact, on Black’s property, but on the property the two dead men had just purchased. So now we have two corpses and one man in jail for murder.

Three queries for lawyers:

1) To what extent does the right to use deadly force to defend one’s home extend to out-buildings?

2) Am I correct in thinking that, for a householder dealing with an intruder, there is no legal obligation to make a verbal challenge before shooting?

3) Mistake of law is, of course, no defense. But mistake of fact is. Assuming what appears to be true – that Black had a good-faith, though mistaken, belief that he was defending his property – can he offer that as a defense and try to get what looks as if it will be a second-degree murder charge (though the news story reports that the arrest charge was first-degree, which doesn’t seem right in the absence of premeditation) broken down to manslaughter?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

115 thoughts on ““Defensive gun use” in practice”

  1. Not a lawyer, but as a gun owner, it’s obviously in my interest to be informed on this subject.

    These are rules which vary by jurisdiction. You can find West Virginia’s rules here.

    “Castle Doctrine

    West Virginia has a self-defense law based on the castle doctrine, and is a “stand your ground” state, meaning persons under attack do not have a duty to retreat before using physical or deadly force.

    The state’s statute specifies that deadly force can be used within the home or in any place a person has a legal right to be. However, the force must be proportionate and there must be a belief that the attacker or intruder may kill or cause serious bodily harm to oneself or others. Within the home, physical or deadly force can also be used, proportionately, to prevent a felony from being committed.”

    My interpretation of this is that the guy with the rifle is screwed, and rightfully so, as the yard shed wouldn’t have been his home even if it had been on his property, and he couldn’t satisfy the “kill or cause serious bodily harm” language if he was far enough away he needed a scope, absent some pretty unusual circumstances.

    So, I’m not in the least surprised by the charges.

    1. What Brett said.

      “Stand your ground” is a doctrine fraught with complexity in individual cases, but this case is not one of them. Stipulate, arguendo, that the shed was his own, on his own property. There’s nothing in the description that makes any case for fear of harm, so what the guy did was kill two men who might steal his lawnmower.

      Hang ‘im!

      1. Hang ‘im!

        Lots of laughs.

        The “upshot” of all this will be a light sentence,– no where near approaching double sentences given for cold blooded murder.

        The reason for the light sentence?

        We live in a country full of paranoid gun nuts and the last thing a judge and jury will want to do is threaten the ability of a “man” to defend his double-wide “castle” from predators. Judge and jury would probably have their lives threatened if they were to rule otherwise.

        1. I know of no “gun nut” who’d want this guy to get anything less than a long prison sentence. Creeps like him give us a bad name.

          1. If gun nuts would do this:

            HOUSTON — A small meeting of a group seeking tougher gun laws was interrupted Saturday at a suburban Dallas restaurant when the woman who helped organize it saw something outside that startled her: at least two dozen men and women in the parking lot with shotguns, hunting rifles, AR-15s and AK-47s…

            You can bet they will try to lessen the sentencing of this fellow defending his “castle”. The two best ways to get away with murder in American these days are:

            1) Driving while sober.
            2) Defending your “castle” or “cattle” with an itchy trigger finger.

            I stand by my claim: He’ll get a very soft sentence. Akin to killing a small family on bicycles with your 4X4 while reaching for the radio dial.

          2. How horrible, they stood around peacefully protesting somebody proposing to attack their civil liberties.

          3. Brett, weren’t you of the opinion that two guys standing near a polling place while carrying nightsticks were engaged in unlawful intimidation? I find it quite amusing that you think a nightstick is terribly intimidating while semi-automatic rifles are not.

          4. I’m not a gun nut, but there are plenty in my part of the country, so I’m friends with many of them. I agree that none of them would defend this idiot- whether it’s his shed or not.

          5. I think in fairness to Brett, weapons at a polling place is different from weapons as a protest of attempts to curtail carrying weapons. In the first case the intent would have to be intimidation, but in the second it’s reasonable to see carrying the weapons as symbolic because of the context.

          6. In the first case the intent would have to be intimidation . . .

            Really? You can’t come up with any other reason why two people might stand around with nightsticks? Note that no one ever claimed that those two guys said anything that was intimidating. They just stood there.

            If you really think that that would HAVE to be intimidation, you’re some combination of not very imaginative and pretty cowardly.

      2. What the guy did was kill two men who were on their own property attempting to access their own shed. It’s just unfortunate that they were black. They certainly should have known better and had someone more “property-owning” appearing go and check that shed for them.

        1. “It’s just unfortunate that they were black.” – Where’d you see that? It’s not in any of the reporting I’ve seen.

          1. The photos at the link in the OP make them appear black. Mr. Black, however, appears white.

            Judging only from the photos, of course.

        2. You are an idiotic piece of white trash. What the hell does “more property owning appearing mean” mean?

      3. what the guy did was kill two men who might steal his lawnmower.

        The shooter is white.

        The deceased were both black.

        Prediction: the shooter will get a light sentence.

    2. I’m with Brett–not a lawyer, but pretty familiar with this area of law.

      There’s absolutely no chance that this was legal.

      There’s nowhere a right to defend your property with deadly force–only yourself or others. It’s (in most locations) assumed that an intruder in your home is a threat to your safety–this doesn’t extend to your garden shed. (In most jurisdictions, it also doesn’t extend to your home if you come home and see someone in the house unless familiy members should be there.)

      This goes to the reason there’s no requirement for a verbal challenge; if you are hiding from someone who is intending to hurt you, you don’t tell them where you are. Again, verbal challenge or no verbal challenge, you can’t use deadly force to protect your car, or your lawnmower; you can only use it to protect yourself or another person.

      1. Check out Texas Penal Code Title II, Chapter 9.42 “Deadly Force to Protect Property” (http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/SOTWDocs/PE/htm/PE.9.htm).

        I’m not a lawyer so I won’t hazard to guess whether this guy would be able to claim self-defense in Texas if he had shot someone he thought was about to burglarize a shed on his property, but it’s worth noting that Texas does recognize a right to use deadly force to protect one’s property and, under some circumstances, the property of a third party.

        1. In this case, he was protecting someone else from their own property. Still an idiot.

  2. First degree murder in W. Va is defined in part as ” any willful, deliberate and premeditated killing”, which is clearly the case here. Premeditation can simply mean a moment of deliberation and a decision to kill. Mr. Black almost certainly did that as he retrieved his gun, took aim at his targets and pulled the trigger.

    1. Yes! Premeditation is very easily established in most states, including West Virginia. Essentially, almost any intentional killing is considered premeditated, as long as the defendant had some interval, however short, to reflect on his intent to kill. See State v. Guthrie, 461 S.E.2d 163, 181-83 (W. Va. 1995). Here, acting as a sniper would very likely qualify as predmeditation. But, odds are the defendant will plead guilty to second degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.

        1. PS: I mean loading the gun AFTER he saw the brothers rather than having a loaded gun at the ready.

  3. To add one other detail, lets anyone envision the guys near the shed as hulking young brutes, the two victims were just a few years shy of being senior citizens.

    1. Which is not legally relevant. My cousin’s bar once got robbed by a pair of stickup artists, who were going around holding up whole bars full of people at gun point…. They were in their 70’s. Which would not have stopped them from pulling a trigger.

      If you encounter a septagenarian in your home at night, they’re just as liable to being shot as a home intruder as some hulking 20 year old. The legal issue here is that he had no justification for plugging them, no matter what age they were, as they were no threat.

      1. If you encounter a septagenarian in your home at night, they’re just as liable to being shot as a home intruder as some hulking 20 year old.

        Consider that straw man burned, if that makes you happy (and at this point, we all know that it does). But back to reality: He sighted two old guys through a sniper rifle scope. He had plenty of time to call the police (or just stroll away out the back door) before they toddled to his front door, taking frequent pee breaks along the way.

        1. Quite right. The point being, he’d have been just as legally in the wrong if they’d been a couple of twenty something mixed martial artists.

  4. I wonder if Second Amendment absolutists will join prosecutors in condemning the shooter as a criminal.

    1. Thought I already had, and I’m about as absolutist about the 2nd amendment, (The entire Bill of Rights!) as it gets.

    2. I wonder if Second Amendment absolutists will join prosecutors in condemning the shooter as a criminal.

      You mean will the NRA file a friend of the court briefing stating this perp should be treated as a cold blooded murderer?

      No. That would be a faux pas for them. It would ratchet down their intimidation factor. Instead various members will act aghast in blog comments and demand full punishment. Yawn…..

      1. Why would they bother? He IS a cold blooded murderer, both in actuality, and black letter law. Since he’s not wearing a badge, he’ll get treated as one, too.

        Does the ACLU have to file an amicus brief urging conviction every time somebody commits fraud, just because speech was involved?

        1. Can you cite an instance of the NRA publicly offering a statement of nonsupport for a shooter?

          No snark — I’m not particularly familiar with the details of incidents like this.

          1. “Shooter” would include spree killers and mass shootings – which are definitely cases where they condemn the shooter.

    3. I’m not comfortable with that framing. As I read it, it seems as if you are implying that if you don’t hear condemnation from gun rights activists, that it means there’s tacit approval. In fact, this story probably won’t get much national attention, so silence doesn’t indicate anything.

      I just found a somewhat similar story about a store owner who shot and killed someone for not paying for a case of beer- but it was from September and this was the first I’d heard of it.

      1. you wrote: As I read it, it seems as if you are implying that if you don’t hear condemnation from gun rights activists, that it means there’s tacit approval.

        Well, that’s how it works with Muslim rights activists when it comes to terrorist attacks. They must condemn early and often.

      2. Welcome to the Hobbsian world of maximum guns. Look at the guy that got killed for texting in a movie theatre. It’s only just begun and it’s going to keep getting worse.

  5. As others have said, it’s not remotely a case of “defensive gun use.”

    The shooter probably had some issues, but the unfortunate thing is that there’s a small but real vein running through America’s gun culture that does see a gun as the solution to many of life’s problems. (I live in rural California’s 2nd Amendment country, and these folks are my neighbors. I hear about the tactical home defense courses they’re taking and wonder what planet they live on.) To what extent can a cultural meme inspire someone to shoot two guys at a shed?

    1. Try googling “Police shoot down unarmed man” some time. Wrongful shootings aren’t restricted to civilians, the difference is, THIS guy is charged with murder.

      If he’d had a badge, he’d have been in for some serious paid time off, instead.

      1. Happens all the time, of course. If a police officer shot two men in those circumstances, though, he’d face a lot worse than administrative leave.

      2. “If he’d had a badge, he’d have been in for some serious paid time off, instead.” – Hmmm… trying to remember now the earlier post explaining the difference between horse s#it and bulls#it… I think this is the former.

          1. If you had just said that when a cop shoots an innocent person, he usually escapes punishment, I’d have agreed. then I’d agree, You said that if Black had had a badge he wouldn’t have been prosecuted. I’m agreeing 100% with Bruce Ross: generally, cops often get away with shooting innocent unarmed people, but not in THESE circumstances!

        1. Sorry, this time BB is right — it’s SOP for a police department’s internal investigation to clear all badged shooters.

          1. It’s not uncommon to hear of an officer shooting an unarmed person. It’s rare indeed for the police to shoot two prowlers from across a field for no particular reason, on their own property.

          2. For me it boils down to something simple: cops claim that they perceived themselves to be in danger – and then they’re excuse if a flashlight could have looked like a gun or they believed someone was reaching for a gun.

            Black shot and killed men who weren’t aware of his presence! No one- cop or not- could get away with that.

  6. It is worth the effort to look at the comments the locals are making on that website; none of them show the least bit of sympathy toward the shooter.

  7. People in the comments here are talking about self-defense, Castle Doctrine, and Stand-Your-Ground, and are unanimously agreeing that these notions are inapplicable in the circumstances and offer the shooter no legal defense here.

    Fine; but what about simple Trespassing? I was warned growing up that if a property were posted as “No Trespassing” the property owner gained significant legal immunity in how they dealt with transgressors. Trespassers had been warned, and if they stepped on a bear trap, were mauled by dogs, or were shot by the property owner it was legally all their own fault.

    I’m not saying this was accurate necessarily (even if wrong, it could have been a sincere repetition of an urban legend, or a deliberate campaign to scare people into not trespassing), but this is what I was taught about American trespassing law, and it has nothing to do with the self-defense topics raised above.

    So, since we’ve got all these commenters so well-informed about gun law: is it legal to shoot trespassers, just for trespassing, so long as the land is posted “No Trespassing – Violators Will Be Shot”? If so, what if you’re honestly mistaken about whose land they’re on?

    1. No. I t is not legal to shoot trespassers just for trespassing, no matter how many signs you put up, any more than it’s legal to put up a sign that says “Trespassers will be fined $10,000,” and then try to collect the money.

    2. Nope, it is not. In fact, I’ve heard that having a “tresspassers will be shot” sign on your property can be used against you, to show some degree of premeditation.

    1. What an eccentric comment! Surely even Republicans believe that owners of property should be allowed access to it without being shot.

  8. No, the age (and race) of the two victims isn’t legally relevant, but if they’d been young black men wearing hoodies the reaction might have been different.

    Update I hadn’t guessed this from the original story, but the photos of the victims now posted appear to be of African-Americans.

    Just remember this case the next time you see a reference to defensive gun use surveys. The killer in this case was completely convinced he was simply defending himself.

    1. And you know this by conducting a Vulcan mind meld on him?

      Myself, I’d be guessing he saw what he mistakenly thought was an excuse to shoot somebody without legal repercussions, and decided to use it.

      We’re both guessing, but I know it.

      1. Maybe he thought they were varmints. A very large raccoon or groundhog can do real damage to a shed if they gain access. What were the men wearing?

      2. He doesn’t seem to be claiming any kind of self defense- so I think we can dismiss that. My guess is that either he stupidly thought it was legal, or he’s senile.

        1. Which raises the question about you take the guns away from otherwise decent people when the age and personal circumstances are such that they shouldn’t be around guns.

          How do you “abridge” an absolute

          1. Based on cause, and with a proceeding which protects their interests at least as much as a jury trial would. With them GETTING a jury trial, if they demand it. That’s my bottom line for taking somebody’s civil liberties away: If you’re going to treat them like a felon, give them a trial.

            None of this nonsense of letting doctors take people’s liberties away on their own say-so.

    2. For the love of all that’s holy, defending himself from what!?! Two sixty year old black men who were 50 feet away (by the shooter’s own admission), who had neither spoken to the shooter or confronted him in any way(also by the shooter’s own admission). So again, just what was he defending himself from?

    3. How could he possibly believe he was defending himself by shooting men at a distance who weren’t aware of him?

      1. The gun enthusiasts I’ve known would talk at length about the relevant law, and the consensus view was that any crime against person or property morally, if not legally, justified the use of deadly force. I’ve known at least half a dozen guys who, if you take their statements at face value, wouldn’t hesitate to shoot at someone breaking into their tool shed.

        As to the finer points of the law, they’d generally talk about how it’s important to kill anyone you shoot at, so that you don’t have to deal with conflicting stories about how it went down. And, they all felt, better to be safe than sorry: “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six” was something of a mantra for that crowd.

        So far as I’m aware, only one of them actually went on to murder someone with a firearm. But I’ve lost track of most of them over the decades, so who knows.

  9. Your title is disingenuous.

    This was not a defensive gun use, therefore it was not a “defensive gun use” in practice.

    This was a pest-control use, and an outrageous and illegal one at that.

    1. My question is how many of the “defensive gun uses” self-reported by gun owners to pro-gun survey teams were of the same kind. The killer in this case clearly thought he had acted defensively and lawfully, or he wouldn’t have called the cops.

  10. Brett, weren’t you of the opinion that two guys standing near a polling place while carrying nightsticks were engaged in unlawful intimidation? I find it quite amusing that you think a nightstick is terribly intimidating while semi-automatic rifles are not.

    Apparently, this attitude is de rigeur amongst the gun nuts: Virginia State Legislature Bans American Flags On Sticks, But Lets Guns In

    How horrible, they stood around peacefully protesting somebody proposing to attack their civil liberties.

    Alternatively, they stood around offering a quiet but implicit threat to a group of people exercising their rights to assembly and to petition the government for redress of grievances: “Do what we say, or we will shoot you.”

    1. I think the question is whether both cases involve implicit threat. If someone was organizing to ban food carts and you responded by having a bunch of carts and lunch trucks gather, that’s symbolic protest. One can argue the same applies with organizing to ban open carry and there was only an inferred threat.

      1. “One can argue” that there’s no relevant difference between a food cart and an AR-15. But guns carry an implicit threat that food carts don’t because the primary purpose of a gun is to kill. Everyone knows this, especially gun owners. That’s why the buy them. If a gun couldn’t kill, they wouldn’t buy it.

    2. Lacking any evidence that the armed protesters were shouting threats and racial epithets, the way the Black Panthers were,I don’t see how they’re comparable cases.

        1. Fortunately, we live in an era where most pedestrians carry video recorders. There should be ample video, with sound, documenting the shouting of racial epithets. I’m curious to see it too. I didn’t know about that.

          1. There have been a few people that claimed racial epithets were used but to my knowledge no other evidence has surfaced. The video I’ve seen of it has the two guys standing around getting grilled by a guy with a camera phone.

            It should also be noted that the whole thing doesn’t make a lot of sense. The accusation was that they were yelling racial slurs to try to intimidate the voters but it is an overwhelmingly black precinct so it’s not exactly a prime target for intimidating white voters. Granted, the New Black Panther Party is a lot closer to the stupid end of the spectrum than the evil so I don’t discount the possibility that they’d do something pointless.

            The Justice Department dismissed most of the charges because there wasn’t credible evidence of intimidation.

          2. That’s odd. Mr Bellmore sounded pretty sure of himself. Where did he get the idea that these guys were shouting racial epithets? I mean, you don’t go saying things utterly without regard to whether it’s true or not simply because it’s fun to say. So what gives?

          3. Got it from Wikipedia, most recently, but I’ve seen other accounts before that agreed about the threats and epithets. The accounts also said that a number of would be voters turned away on encountering them.

            And I would think a mostly black precinct is the ideal place to threaten the occasional white voter. It’s easier to bully minorities, isn’t it?

          4. I call shenanigans.

            Ubiquitous. Video. Recording.

            If these guys had been doing what you claim they were doing, in front of large and at least in part hostile crowds, there would be video, and plenty of it. If there isn’t, then the story is implausible on its’ face, and you need to spend some time thinking about why you’re so eager to believe it.

  11. I had thought that lethal force could not be used in defense of property, but only in defense of people from the use or threat of force. I’ve seen that principle thought that was just a legal principleGenerally that appears to be true, but Texas is an exception.
    PENAL CODE § 9.42 : Texas Statutes –

    I’ve looked at some different state laws and it appears that many states extend the castle doctrine beyond your just your home to your workplace and your car if you’re occupying it.

    1. Texas is always the exception. There are probably people in the Taliban who laugh at Texans as to primitive, superstitious bigots who refuse to be dragged into the real world of the 14th century.

  12. What is the evidence “that Black had a good-faith, though mistaken, belief that he was defending his property”.. After killing two men, he said so?

    If that’s the gist of it, it would appear more likely to me that he’s conjuring up a defense.

    1. Texas Lethal Force to Protect Property…

      For $20.29 stolen from the tip jar of a Houston taco truck, 24-year-old Benito Pantoja was shot with a .357 Colt and killed. The owner of Tacos Del Indio, parked near the Ship Channel, ran him down as he tried to escape with the cash, fired into the getaway car and hit Pantoja in the back.
      The death was ruled a justifiable homicide.Texas law always has allowed deadly force against intruders and thieves to protect lives and property.

      A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect property and to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing theft from escaping with the property

      1. The colloquial version I’ve heard is that the law in Texas is, “Don’t kill nobody who don’t need killin’.”

        1. I personally think Texas goes a bit too far, but I understand the reasoning: “Is that minor an offense really worth a man’s life?” is a question they think the criminal needs to ask, not his victim.

        2. texas is a very odd place. i’m a 7th generation native and even i can’t explain it sometimes. we had a case last year where a man killed a prostitute because she took his money but wouldn’t have sex with him. he argued that he had justification because of her theft. the jury agreed and acquitted him.

    2. In the absence of any other motive, his version of the story is certainly plausible.

      On the other hand, at least one report states that no property belonging to the shooter was found in the outbuilding, which rather undercuts his claim to have believed it to be his.

      If I were investigating this crime, I’d be looking carefully for any kind of beef the shooter may have had with the victims, either personally or generally.

  13. The NRA, and gun defenders generally, are frequently guilty of a No True Scotsman fallacy. They want to present this Glorious Vision where Anonymous Gun Purchases are simply How Honest Americans Defend Themselves.

    But a random suburbanite gets spooked, thinks he’s spotted two criminals, and shoots them? “Oh, no, THAT wasn’t defensive gun use, that was murder, don’t bring this up when you talk about gun regulation.” A drug dealer kills another drug dealer? “Oh, geez, that’s ILLEGAL gun ownership, don’t bring that up when you talk about gun regulations.” A preschooler kills herself accidentally? “Well, that’s the parent’s fault, the gun store had nothing to do with it.”

    They want to narrow the discourse. Any event with the slightest whiff of armed-suburbanite triumphing over unspecified-menace is accepted an data point against gun regulation. Any other event is micro-parsed into a non-data point, in its own category, obviously irrelevant, already illegal, unregulateable anyway, etc., etc., etc., until a country with 10,000 murders, 20,000 suicides, and 500+ accidents, doesn’t have a single pro-gun-regulation anecdote.

    1. Tsk. We need better mental health something something. Of course, better mental health detection means the NSA is watching everyone, but never mind that – we need better mental health something in this country. We’re taxed enough already and SocialismCare, but mental health.

        1. Actually, if you read carefully, they’re not opposed to mental health care. They’re opposed to a specific law which would centralize medical records in a way which would further their use as an excuse to deprive people of the civil liberties.

          Did you not read your own link?

    2. Yes, and what they’re doing in this case is engaging in what Dietrich Bonhoeffer characterized as “cheap grace.” It’s easy for them to condemn a case like this without burdening themselves at all; when they think they might have to carry any part of the burden, suddenly it’s excuse-making time.

  14. In my opinion, all of these comments stating the logical, and, rational, reasons why Mr. Black’s shooting was indefensible are simply irrelevant. And, furthermore, I find the circumstances in this case somewhat similar to the Zimmerman travesty.

    Throughout the Zimmerman investigation, and trial, many commenters offered the opinion that his rationale for the shooting was intellectually implausible. Yet, the legal rationale, the only one that counts, was, “what did HE “honestly believe” to be the case? If HE “believed” his life was in danger he was legally empowered to use deadly force.

    So (and, stranger things have happened in courts) if Mr. Black can convince a jury that he, “honestly & truly,” BELIEVED his property was being violated, the verdict just might be somewhat different than what appears today to be a foregone conclusion.

    1. You find a man who shoots through a scope, at range, two people minding their own business, similar to the case of a man who shoots his assailant after being viciously beaten? What’s the common thread, they happened on the same planet?

      1. mr. bellmore, you’ve been surprisingly restrained throughout this set of comments but apparently you have a hard time making your way through an extended discussion without using at least a little straw, or in this case some creative editing of the circumstances. you left out a great deal of detail such as the part where the man who was beaten had spent some time stalking the “assailant” who was doing nothing more sinister than walking home.

      2. Well, the two cases have at least this in common: The murderer silenced his victim and is free to make up any story he likes about how it went down.

        Looks like he missed an opportunity. As we’ve seen here, there are plenty of people who are eager to give any shooter the benefit of the doubt, and accept any story, however implausible.

        1. Actually, note that the gun owners seem capable of distinguishing this case from the Zimmerman case, and are conspicuously NOT defending Mr. Black.

          This may have something to do with the fact that Zimmerman got the crap beaten out of him by Martin before being shot, while Mr. Black was utterly untouched.

          Which does, naively, strike me as a significant difference between the two cases.

          1. you’re still eliding 2 things–first, the part of the narrative wherin zimmerman tails someone who is, let’s remember this clearly, doing nothing more suspicious than walking home. at this point martin is already a target of zimmerman’s suspicions and hostility this is the part of the narrative that most resembles what happened in west virginia where two men are doing nothing more suspicious than trying to get into their storage building. i’m not surprised you insist on ignoring it but you don’t get to choose what’s already happened. the second thing is that ny paul was pointing out that if mr. black can convey “reasonable belief” to the jury he may be acquitted and pointed out the similarity of situations there as well.

            and, by the way, the only reason zimmerman got beaten was because he finally decided to stalk his game that night on foot rather than continuing to stalk him in his car. i don’t want to relitigate the zimmerman case but zimmerman had many opportunities to go home unscathed and choosing to take advantage of one of those opportunities would have left martin alive as well.

          2. I haven’t elided anything legally relevant.

            One of the revelations of the Zimmerman case, for me, has been just how little liberals seem to think is necessary to legally justify initiating violence. At least, if you’re a member of one of their client groups.

          3. “legally relevant”

            so that’s your way of putting distance between the two cases because you clearly hope no one will see the similarities. keep on spinning.

  15. Since nobody here has said it I feel I must point out: The idea that anyone could mistake a neighbor’s shed for his own is ridiculous on it’s face.
    Further, I can’t see how anyone could do the described act without being mentally impaired in some way. Did he shoot the second guy as he bent down to help his friend? Or was he just that quick to reaim and fire? Gawd, the images won’t go away.
    Brett is right. This gun nut gives all gun nuts a bad name, along with all the other gun nuts who do “nutty” things with guns. Like blowing away their neighbors. Or shooting themselves in the leg. Or…

    1. “The idea that anyone could mistake a neighbor’s shed for his own is ridiculous on it’s face.”

      I’d differ with you on that. If the shed predated the guy’s ownership of the property, and there were no fences, it’s quite easy for him to have thought it was on his property. Property lines can get kind of vague in rural areas.

      That he had nothing in it, though, renders that dubious in this case, and somewhat irrelevant. Even in the outlier Texas, you’d be hard put to justify killing somebody for looking into an *empty* yard shed.

      1. Concur with Brett on this one. The previous owner of my property put a shed over the line on my neighbor’s land. Probably happens a lot.

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  17. And even if they do, it doesn’t count if Joe Sixpakk hasn’t heard of it…

    And our “liberal” media have done such a great job promoting the many condemnations by Muslim individuals and organizations…

  18. Here's a novel idea for anyone in that situation. After looking through the rifle scope and seeing that the men were not armed as was presumably the case here why not just go and ask them what they are doing???? First degree murder seems reasonable to me.

  19. I will shoot any rag-heads that approach my property without my permission!

  20. May I ask the most glaringly obvious question? How can you not know whether an outbuilding is yours or not? He was shooting into someone else's property. How did he think the outbuilding was his, if it in fact was not?

    1. I was thinking something similar, and it made me think of property line disputes that are very common. Having an outbuilding on what one landowner claims is their property and another claims is theirs is not unusual. It has me wondering whether there is any aspect of a property dispute in this.

      On the other hand, according to the linked article, the shed contained no belongings of the shooter, so we're to believe that even though he didn't have anything in the shed, he still considered it "his" property". This sounds criminally careless at best.

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