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Shoot First, No Questions Asked?
December 5, 2007 8:04 AM   Subscribe

"I've got a shotgun. Do you want me to stop 'em?" On November 14, 61-year old Joe Horn saw two men breaking into his neighbor's home. He called 911, told the operator what he could see through his window. As Horn watched the men, he grew more and more agitated, saying he was going to go outside and shoot them. When the men left the neighbor's home, Horn went outside and did just that.

Now, Texas gets to argue over the hero or villain status of Joe Horn in the public square (a debate made more volatile by concerns that race was been a factor), while weighing the merits of that state's recent adoption of Castle Doctrine (aka "Stand Your Ground" Law). First adopted by Florida in 2005, Castle Doctrine is now law in 19 of 50 states. So what does this mean for Joe Horn? Public accusations of vigilantism aside, what Horn did is arguably legal under Texas law ... or, at least, it would be had he shot the two men after dark.
posted by grabbingsand (181 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
He'll walk.
posted by docpops at 8:13 AM on December 5, 2007


How does the castle doctrine apply here? They were not in his castle, they were in the neighbor's castle.
posted by caddis at 8:13 AM on December 5, 2007


Man, this was on the Stern show a couple days ago. He's a fucking menace—let the police do their jobs.
posted by klangklangston at 8:17 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


He was white and they were black, but that doesn't mean race was a factor. None of these articles have any evidence of that, except an anti-Horn protestor's vague assertion that he "wouldn't be surprised." I mean, normally I am pretty sensitive to these issues, but in this case I think the shooting was more over the bags of stolen goods and less over skin color.
posted by schroedinger at 8:18 AM on December 5, 2007


So, (according to the last link) I guess in TX if you shoot and kill someone accidentally (or not) after night has fallen, make sure you put your fingerprints on some knick knack and drop it by their body. "But officer I am allowed to kill someone if they take my watch". Ayeah.
posted by edgeways at 8:19 AM on December 5, 2007


That 'after dark' link is pretty stupid. Horn would need to have met one of these tests:

(2) the actor reasonably believes that:

(A) the third person has requested his protection of the land or property;

(B) he has a legal duty to protect the third person's land or property; or

(C) the third person whose land or property he uses force or deadly force to protect is the actor's spouse, parent, or child, resides with the actor, or is under the actor's care.


None of these apply to this guy; this law is for night watchmen and family.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:21 AM on December 5, 2007


Good luck getting an indictment from a Texas jury.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:22 AM on December 5, 2007


I'm taking bets on how this ends. What am I bid for "well"?
posted by DU at 8:22 AM on December 5, 2007


Agreed about the castle doctrine - doesn't apply if it's someone else's castle. With regard to the police, though - there is almost no way they would get there in time to do anything but sift through the wreckage, as it were.

I sympathize with this man's situation; if my neighbor was being robbed, I would feel compelled to do something about it, if for no other reason than to let people know that you don't pull that shit in my neighborhood. I don't know that I'd have gone and shot them, though. Esp. considering I don't have a gun. I don't know what I'd have done, this is a tough spot to be in. If my wife & kids were home, I think I'd have called the cops and locked the doors, but if it was just me? I don't know, maybe I'd try to scare 'em off and get myself shot for my trouble. Really, this is a tough spot to be in.
posted by Mister_A at 8:23 AM on December 5, 2007


Tell that to the 300-plus pound leather-clad Horn-supporter with a detailed Confederate flag painted on the back of his neck and skull. It was all over cable news yesterday. But your point stands, schroedinger. Circumstantial? Yes. Helping Horn's case? No.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:24 AM on December 5, 2007


Yeah, that last link seems to just ignore something.... Maybe the passages they quoted refer specifically to nighttime, but they did not pay attention to this:

§ 9.42. Deadly Force to Protect Property

A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or
tangible, movable property:

(1) if he would be justified in using force against the
other under Section 9.41; and


If you lookup Section 9.41, you see this:

§ 9.41. PROTECTION OF ONE'S OWN PROPERTY.

(a) A person in
lawful possession of land or tangible, movable property is
justified in using force against another when [...]


You don't get to protect your neighbor's property. Case closed.

On preview: what anotherpanacea and Mister_A said.
posted by splice at 8:25 AM on December 5, 2007


While I appreciate mr. klangklangston's confidence in the police force I would respectfully remind everyone that your protection and the security of your homes and neighborhoods is your own responsibility.
posted by ewkpates at 8:25 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Fuck 'em. I wish more homeowners would execute thieving trash.

I may be biased because I was almost killed alongside my sister by some guys who robbed our house when we were little kids. Almost twenty years has passed since then and I still wish the police had shot those fuckers to death during arrest.
posted by autodidact at 8:26 AM on December 5, 2007


Well, shit. Joe, I don't watch much television so I didn't see that. The fact he's an old white dude in Texas and has supporters like that doesn't speak well, yeah, but that still doesn't mean we should stand in immediate judgment. The guy can't choose the what supporters come crawling out of the woodwork from the publicity--though if the dude was his best friend or something that would say a good deal.
posted by schroedinger at 8:34 AM on December 5, 2007


Also, I am pretty much in the "Fuck 'em" camp. I think he should have aimed for the knees, preferably disabled them over killing them, but I'd show a similar inclination towards protecting my neighbors' homes and would hope they do the same.
posted by schroedinger at 8:36 AM on December 5, 2007


Regarding the idea that Mr. Hornwould have been legally justified to shoot the two men after dark, the Popclicks article gives this:
(2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

(A) to prevent the other's imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the
nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or
Now, IANAL, and I think this point is mooted by some earlier comments, but doesn't the fact that the clause "during the nighttime" occurs twice in 2A imply that "during the nighttime" doesn't apply to the list of offenses as a whole? In other words, wouldn't it imply this?
(A) to prevent the other's imminent commission of arson at any time of day, burglary at any time of day, robbery at any time of day, aggravated robbery at any time of day, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or
Just wondering. I can't say I'm too supportive of what this man has done.
posted by cobra libre at 8:38 AM on December 5, 2007


What do you expect from a state whose unofficial motto is a threat?
posted by wfrgms at 8:41 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tell that to the 300-plus pound leather-clad Horn-supporter with a detailed Confederate flag painted on the back of his neck and skull.

Picture here (from the "after dark" hyperlink in the FPP).
posted by ericb at 8:43 AM on December 5, 2007


burgalized...?

in English we say burgled.
posted by monkeyJuice at 8:43 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, I'm sure race was a factor. It's very likely this armed Texan would have called 911 and said "Hey, some guys are breaking into my neighbor's house, I'm gonna go shoot them... oh wait, they're white guys. Nevermind. I'll go help them carry the shit to the curb."

Some people look for racism everywhere, and I mean everywhere.

Do people even realize how ridiculous they sound when they play "the race card" in situations like this?
posted by Ynoxas at 8:46 AM on December 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


I wish more homeowners would execute thieving trash.

Even if they don't happen to own the home being robbed? If I see guys robbing someone else's house, I should walk up and kill them? That's just loony. Are all crimes punishable by death? Stealing a car? Making off with a bicycle? Picking an apple off someone's tree? What if I catch someone about to cheat on his taxes?

That dickhead shouldn't have gone outside and shot people who didn't need to be shot. The burglars were leaving, he was hidden inside his home with a gun in his hand, and the cops had already been called. As he announced to the 911 operator, however, he was set on killing them from the start.
posted by pracowity at 8:50 AM on December 5, 2007 [13 favorites]


I hope my neighbor never sees me lose my keys and break through my own rear window.
posted by null terminated at 8:52 AM on December 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


Are all crimes punishable by death? Stealing a car? Making off with a bicycle? Picking an apple off someone's tree? naming your teddy bear Muhammad.
posted by caddis at 8:52 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


What do you expect from a state whose unofficial motto is a threat?
Referring to a certain anti-littering campaign, I suppose? For the love of god, please do not start that up again. The constant anti-South/anti-Texas crowing and chauvinism here are wholly unjustified.
posted by cobra libre at 8:52 AM on December 5, 2007


Massive Burgalation on the Hi Ho!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:53 AM on December 5, 2007


I would be less than appreciative towards my neighbour if he killed someone stealing some of my stuff. In fact, I would go over to his driveway with all the things the late burglars were trying to steal and I would smash them all and leave them there, because I'd want nothing to do with those tainted items ever again.

How is it even a fucking question that inanimate objects are not worth the lives of two people, even if they were criminals?
posted by picea at 8:54 AM on December 5, 2007 [27 favorites]


I think he should have aimed for the knees, preferably disabled them over killing them...

I agree. Is the taking of two lives over some stolen loot -- and not your own -- justified? No.
posted by ericb at 9:02 AM on December 5, 2007


Or, what picea said!
posted by ericb at 9:02 AM on December 5, 2007


I'd have shot em too! And don't go for the kneecap; if they live they will sue, so it's better to just shoot to kill.
posted by prototype_octavius at 9:03 AM on December 5, 2007


Pracowity, of the offenses you listed above, only bicycle theft warrants the death penalty.
posted by Mister_A at 9:04 AM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Execution is a stronger penalty than chopping off the hand of the thief. Whatever the penalty for the crime, shouldn't everyone get a trial first? In a court? etc.

Hell I should avoid helping my friend move some furniture out in the middle of the night. While wearing a balaclava.
posted by nervousfritz at 9:07 AM on December 5, 2007


You know it really is an ugly thing that two men lost thier lives like this. But I really don't know they could complain much. If you don't want to get shoot don't break into homes steal people's shit. Hell I don't know, I'm no fan of guns or violence but if people are breaking into homes in broad daylight I don't fault an old man for lowering the boom on them. The fact they did this in broad daylight shows how little they feared retaliation.
posted by nola at 9:08 AM on December 5, 2007


Fuck 'em. I wish more homeowners would execute thieving trash.

Prosecutor: Your Honor, I move under voir dire, that potential juror autodidact is clearly biased. Defense counsel agrees.

Judge: Mr. autodidact, thank you for your time in the jury pool. You are free to go.

Autodidact: Fuck 'em all. Let all alleged burglars die! Fuck 'em.
posted by ericb at 9:09 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Seems like premeditated murder to me. He tells the operator he's going to kill the burglars ("I'm gonna kill 'em"), then shoots the guys two seconds after saying, "Move, you're dead." How did they have time to stop? Were they even armed?

Referring to a certain anti-littering campaign, I suppose?

According to the USS Texas, "'Don't Mess With Texas' is a well known state slogan and a warning for those who attempt to prevent Texas from carrying out her mission." Sounds pretty threatening to me.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:11 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


The burglars were leaving, he was hidden inside his home with a gun in his hand, and the cops had already been called. As he announced to the 911 operator, however, he was set on killing them from the start.

Listening to the call, this guy was looking to shoot these guys. He was anxious to blow their heads off, even after they hadn't posed an immediate threat and the 911 call had been placed.
posted by Mikey-San at 9:13 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just playing some Devil's Advocate here....

What do we all suppose would have happened had Joe Horn attempted to defend his neighborhood / neighbor's house by confronting the two burglars without a shotgun? What would the burglars have done if someone came home unexpectedly? If they were surprised by an unarmed witness? Perhaps a woman? Or for that matter, if Horn had been spotted by the burglars as he was calling the police?

We'll never know of course, but it's food for thought.

These criminals didn't just randomly pick a house. In situations like this there was almost always recon to choose the best target. They study entrance and escape routes, comings and goings of the homeowners, signs of weak security, affluence, etc. They're looking for easy, high payoff targets. If I lived next door, I'd be thinking "that could just as easily be my house." And maybe next time, it would be.

I must say I have mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand, vigilante justice and summary execution is not an appropriate punishment for burglary. On the other hand, who's to say it wouldn't have been more serious crimes than burglary but for opportunity or grim "necessity"?

Either way. I can't honestly gin up any sympathy whatsoever for the burglars. As much as I know that's wrong, I just can't. That's two fewer scumbags invading people's homes and robbing honest people. Dead or in jail, they have no place in our society. Maybe those scumbags just got what was coming to them.

Statistics show that capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime, and I believe the statistics. But I can't help but wonder that if the risk of summary execution was this visceral and immediate, if that wouldn't become a deterrent of sorts. I can't help but think that no one will be robbing houses in that neighborhood until the memory of this incident is long faded.

I'd probably aqcuit. If found guilty, you could sentence Joe Horn to community service, but many would argue he's performed that already.
posted by edverb at 9:14 AM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


I hope my neighbor never sees me lose my keys and break through my own rear window.

A year or so ago I was outside my building when I heard the sound of breaking glass from somewhere down the street. I walked down the block a bit and saw that there was someone up on a 2nd floor fire escape, kicking in a window. It was dark, and I couldn't see much else. I went back to my house and called 911, and then went and stood just inside my door, peeking out. The cops came, drew weapons, and got the person down from the fire escape. Then everyone left my line of sight, so I waited a few minutes and went back outside and down the street.

I found cops and "perp" at the door to the building where I'd seen the "perp" on the fire escape. Turns out she'd locked herself out; they were waiting for a roommate to come home and confirm she lived there.

"Sorry," I said. She shrugged. On the one hand, I was glad I'd called the cops, and hope that my neighbors would do the same for me if they saw someone apparently breaking into my place. On the other hand, I was kind of embarrassed about seeing the "perp" again, so for some months I would walk a block out of my way to avoid passing her door.

Sure am glad I didn't think I had the right to shoot her.
posted by rtha at 9:15 AM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


While I hesitate to favorite it, octavius has a point. Better hope they're not two men with big hearts.
posted by anthill at 9:18 AM on December 5, 2007


[   ] Hero
[10003;] Villain

posted by Ricky_gr10 at 9:22 AM on December 5, 2007


I once smashed a windowpane in an apartment building door to get in when the lock was jammed at 2 AM or so. A random guy from the building who was also locked out volunteered to clean up while I cleaned my glass wounds. No one shot either of us.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:22 AM on December 5, 2007


More like FRANK Castle Law...
amirite?
posted by Faux Real at 9:23 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I see the checkmark doesn't work. Damn.
posted by Ricky_gr10 at 9:25 AM on December 5, 2007


In the Texan criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate but equally important groups: homeowners who shoot burglars, and the police who show up to tase the survivors. This is their story.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:26 AM on December 5, 2007 [27 favorites]


rtha--would you have asked her to "Move or you're dead" first? Because Horn did give the guys the chance. Furthermore, where it sounds like even if you had seen the girl you wouldn't recognize her as a neighbor, Horn saw what was very clearly a burglary in progress. Two completely unknown men who were not his neighbors breaking in a window and carrying out sacks full of what was presumably not recycling.

I listened to the recording, and sure it is possible they stopped right there after he told them to and he blew them away anyway, it is also possible they booked it, or started coming towards him, or looked like they were about to pull a weapon, at which point Horn took a shot. Neither you nor I know. It is not my impression that these events happen slowly, which would explain the short break on the recording.
posted by schroedinger at 9:27 AM on December 5, 2007


And, as in so many of these cases, I don't feel too much sympathy for the burglars, but the problem with the case is the precedent it sets. How soon before a trigger-happy geriatric blows away someone's house-sitter?
posted by Krrrlson at 9:27 AM on December 5, 2007


First off, although I had heard of this, I missed the fact that it was his neighbor's house.

Second, I view stuff like this as essentially being the byproduct of having a Second Amendment.

The more guns you have around, and the more freely available they are, the higher the chances they'll end up in the hands of god-fearing, salt-of-the-earth Americans, or Kip Kinkle.

I have a number of relatives that are very much of the god-fearing, salt-of-the-earth American kind, and although I haven't talked to them about this, I'd bet you ten bucks that the vast majority of them are agreeing with what Joe Horn did.

Essentially, I see stuff like this as being a part of American life for the foreseable future.
posted by Relay at 9:28 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am not saying these guys deserved to die for burgling a place, but there isn't a solid line between crimes against person and crimes against property. You can really mess up a poor person's life by stealing their car or robbing their house. In particular, being poor means you might get to live in a place where you can potentially get robbed in such a manner frequently.
posted by erikharmon at 9:32 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's not about the inanimate objects. It's about the feeling that you were violated. After my house was robbed and my sister and I were almost run over by the PCP-addled burglars at twelve years old, neither of us truly felt safe in that house ever again.

So the robbers didn't just make off with a bunch of our stuff. In addition to inanimate objects they stole our childhood sense of security, and replaced it with constant anxiety, hallucinations, misplaced guilt, and nagging fear of something like that happening again.
posted by autodidact at 9:36 AM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


schroedinger, excellent points all: and I agree with you. it's just that, after viewing the video of the confrontation/protests, i think it'd be reasonable to infer that race *may* have had something to do with how Horn conducted himself, but that - more importantly - race will have an awful lot to do with how the story is covered, how folks react to it, etc. i'm not out to bash the south or whatever, it's just that this particular individual (who Horn may not have even known, to be fair) thought it necessary and/or relevant to paint a confederate flag in full-color on the back of his skull before grabbing what looks like a street-sign and heading down to Horn's house to protest. that's all.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:37 AM on December 5, 2007


This reminds me of the time that I came home to find my neighbour calmly chatting with the guy trying to kick my front door down.

To be fair to the guy who was doing the kicking, he really thought the cat sitting on my windowsill was his. He believed it so much so that he was prepared to call me a thief when I had his arm up his back and his face pressed into the gutter.

In my limited experience, guns should be reserved for use on neighbours.
posted by vbfg at 9:41 AM on December 5, 2007


i stand corrected: the flag in question is apparently a tattoo.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:41 AM on December 5, 2007



I can't agree that shooting these guys was a moral choice. I can't condone it. But I sure as shit understand it.

Minus the shotgun and fatality I HAVE been in this spot. And the cops did not do much.

Yeah. They show up twenty minutes later after the kids looted and vandalized my neighbors house. It was me and another neighbor... we chased them off. The cops took descriptions and canvased the area. And then the case gets stacked under the two hundred other cases. even though we KNOW who these kids are.

Three weeks later the kids are back again. This time I'm not home and my 71 year old neighbor with MS IS. So they kick the shit out of him for shits and giggles.

When you live in a blighted area that is "under serviced" (Cops call it 'de-policed' unofficially) by the authorities and is constantly the harvesting ground for predatory criminals it wears on you.

Until you and your neighbors have been victimized repeatedly it's hard to understand the sort of instinctual territorial homicidal reaction you get when you confront the actual perpetrators. I don't know if this mans area was mined by criminal like this or not. But if it was I understand the reaction.

It's a very bourgeois and privileged position to say "Let the cops do their job." Yeah. Living in an all white middle or upper middle class neighborhood that is an easy thing to say. That shit doesn't fly in poor neighborhoods. Because the cops "job" is to make sure these criminals don't move to the upper tax bracket neighborhoods. The tactics they use essentially contain the crime in YOUR neighborhood.

It is fact that cops are no there to "protect" you from crime. The supreme court has upheld this notion. Cops are there to keep the lanes of commerce open and to catch criminals after they commit crime.

Cops have zero obligation to protect you. And in many many places 911 response times are over half an hour to an hour. You are subject to the capricious whim of the criminals schedule. If he decides he's gonna break in and ass rape you... hey, he's got time.

I can't condone shooting these fuckers. But. Yup. I understand it.
posted by tkchrist at 9:42 AM on December 5, 2007 [14 favorites]


I think he should have aimed for the knees, preferably disabled them over killing them
posted by schroedinger at 11:36 AM on December 5 [+] [!]


Honestly, the shooter would probably be worse off if he did this. Look at what happened to Bernhard Goetz; one of the "victims" sued Goetz for paralyzing him and won a million-dollar lawsuit. He'll never collect on it though since Goetz is poor, but Goetz won't ever be able to make a decent living legitimately.

Dead criminals can't file civil lawsuits.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 9:44 AM on December 5, 2007


autodidact: Fuck 'em. I wish more homeowners would execute thieving trash... I may be biased because I was almost killed alongside my sister by some guys who robbed our house when we were little kids. Almost twenty years has passed since then and I still wish the police had shot those fuckers to death during arrest.

The law needs to be utterly and coldly impartial, caring very little about individuals involved and caring completely that things are done rightly. It is not intended to be warmly personal and passionately involved. The point of punishment is to better those punished, not to get revenge.

Also, and this a point many responding to this case on the rest of the internet seem to be missing, it is for very good reason that the coldly impartial law draws a big, bold line between "burglary" and "attempted murder." The dead in this case are guilty of exactly one of those, and this fact has never been in doubt, not even in the mind of the fellow with the shotgun, who I believe should be censured but not punished. The criminals in the case you describe are guilty of two.
posted by koeselitz at 9:55 AM on December 5, 2007


rtha--would you have asked her to "Move or you're dead" first?

No. I wouldn't have confronted her - that's why I went and called 911.

My flat (when I lived in DC) was broken into once. It was about 3 in the morning and we were home - asleep, and awakened to the sound of the window shades in the kitchen rattling. I think we both assumed that it was one of our cats, trying to look out the window. The shades were new, and we didn't want our landlords mad at us for breaking them, so my girlfriend got up to make the cat stop.

I woke up fully when I heard her screaming. I don't really remember the next few minutes, but she told me I came roaring out of the bedroom - I was actually roaring, she said - in time to see a foot disappear out of our sink and back out the window.

We called the cops and our landlords (who lived upstairs). The cops took a report and made stupid jokey remarks about fingerprinting things (which they didn't), and our landlords put bars up on the back windows the next day.

I slept with a crowbar next to my side of the bed for the next six months, and every night before I went to sleep I imagined myself using it. You know how athletes use visualization techniques to help them win? I visualized smashing someone's head in. Every night. In my head, the guy was always partway into our flat - in through the front door, or climbing in a window - and I was swinging that crowbar through - not just against, but through - his head. It was a year or so before I fell asleep just thinking about normal falling-asleep things.

So, autodidact, I totally understand the sense of terror and violation, and I completely grok the idea of damaging the guy(s) who breaks into your home.

But the Texas guy didn't have his own home broken into, and he saw the guys on their way out of the neighbor's place. He didn't have a good or even okay reason for shooting them. He was not the one violated - it was not his castle they broke into, and not his stuff or his life they threatened, and not his call to kill them.
posted by rtha at 9:56 AM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


That's nice, autodidact. If you had been nearly killed by a neighbour dead set on shooting burglars who were not threatening anyone, and that after reporting them to 911, you might have a different opinion. Namely that any jackass willing to escalate a situation to deadly levels when there is no reason to do so ought to be jailed.

But I guess since you were traumatized as a child we should just shoot any robber on sight. What, a teen just put a playboy in his coat and made for the store exit? Hope you have a shotgun handy, cuz that's a shootin'.
posted by splice at 9:58 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Reredrum
posted by hortense at 9:58 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's not about the inanimate objects. It's about the feeling that you were violated
I agree. My house was robbed one christmas night. The next christmas, of course we stayed home. It felt a bit stupid, because we knew that the chance that there would be burglars again was small, but still, we did not feel comfortable leaving. The burglars came back. We scared them away. It was awful, I never felt really safe in that house as well. For a while after the burglaries I had violent thoughts that I never thought I had in me. I always thought of myself as a peaceful person. (on preview: what rtha said)

The stuff the burglars stole was much more than stuff to me. They also took my computer AND the backups and I lost almost a year's worth of work, which effectively meant my new business. I also was pregnant at the time. It was all much harder than I ever thought something like this would be.

But still, I agree with picea. Two wrongs don't make a right. I don't think I would have been able to live with myself now if I had killed the scumbags.
posted by davar at 10:10 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


So the robbers didn't just make off with a bunch of our stuff. In addition to inanimate objects they stole our childhood sense of security, and replaced it with constant anxiety, hallucinations, misplaced guilt, and nagging fear of something like that happening again.

Yes there is also that and if your poor your "stuff" represent a fuck load more than this high minded materialism philosophical construct. They represent LABOR. That iPod took you three maybe four MONTHS of working ass off to save for— poor people don't have credit cards. You don't insurance. Scum bags stealing your stuff are essentially indenturing you.

I knew a family in Oakland that had this little tailor business and a convenience store. A college buddy of mine. They got robbed at one or the other location at least once per month. Because, at this time in the eighties, they were Korean in a black neighborhood they got ZERO support from the neighborhood associations or the cops. In fact they were met with open and racist contempt from the black neighborhood associations. Even though they employed kids in the 'hood.

Eventually becuase of the losses and fear they had to close the convenience store which led to my friend having to quit college and go home and work in the tailor shop.

He was the first in his family to go to college and this represented a complete collapse of the families hopes for the future.

He bought a gun against the wishes of his father. And during a robbery he shot at the bad guys the second they came in the shop. Though nobody died there was still a big uproar about this in the neighborhood. They wanted a boycott of the shop. These people were victimized repeatedly for years. They fight back out of fear and fatigue and get shit on.

But you know they never got robbed again.
posted by tkchrist at 10:11 AM on December 5, 2007 [7 favorites]


It's not about the inanimate objects. It's about the feeling that you were violated. After my house was robbed and my sister and I were almost run over by the PCP-addled burglars at twelve years old, neither of us truly felt safe in that house ever again.

Just link to this so we don't need to parse the details.
posted by Mikey-San at 10:11 AM on December 5, 2007


But I guess since you were traumatized as a child we should just shoot any robber on sight. What, a teen just put a playboy in his coat and made for the store exit? Hope you have a shotgun handy, cuz that's a shootin'.

splice, stop being such a shithead.
posted by docpops at 10:11 AM on December 5, 2007


"Dead criminals can't file civil lawsuits."

Thanks to the "Castle Doctrine" law (which I like quite a bit) the live ones would have less of a chance of filing a civil lawsuit as well. Here in California, criminals (and "their estate") can still slap you with a huge civil suit just because you defended yourself.

These two thugs would still be alive today if they weren't running around breaking into houses and stealing stuff. Perhaps they should have considered their lifestyle choices a little more carefully. I have no sympathy for thieves at all.

"Castle Doctrine" laws are not a 'license to murder' either. I still haven't read one way or another if they found any weapons on the crooks. Sounds like they charged at the guy when they saw him, probably thinking "2 of us, 1 old guy, we can take him.." and lost.
posted by drstein at 10:13 AM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


I don't wish it was legislated that we ought to shoot all robbers, I'm just saying I have no sympathy whatsoever for the guys who died. In fact I think the guy in Texas maybe ought to serve some time. Doesn't change the fact I'm glad those two idiots he shot are dead.
posted by autodidact at 10:14 AM on December 5, 2007


Here in Florida, "Stand Your Ground" has gone to juries recently in several cases, and they've found a number of defendants to murder and assault charges not guilty under its provisions. But still, we have home invasions and burglaries of the type that took the life of Sean Taylor.

What we need now is a "must own" firearms law, similar to what Kennesaw, GA has had for the last 25 years. In the wake of the Sean Taylor incident, it might be coming.

High time, as far as I'm concerned. And I hope Joe Horn gets a fair trial, and then gets a medal after he's found not guilty.
posted by paulsc at 10:15 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Junichi needs some reading comprehension lessons:

(A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means;

Even at night this is not justified, there's this obscure means of property recovery called police investigation.
posted by betaray at 10:24 AM on December 5, 2007


"I am not saying these guys deserved to die for burgling a place, but there isn't a solid line between crimes against person and crimes against property."

Yeah, there kind of is. No matter how much your life may be messed up by losing your car, would you really rather be dead?

"It's a very bourgeois and privileged position to say "Let the cops do their job." Yeah. Living in an all white middle or upper middle class neighborhood that is an easy thing to say. That shit doesn't fly in poor neighborhoods. Because the cops "job" is to make sure these criminals don't move to the upper tax bracket neighborhoods. The tactics they use essentially contain the crime in YOUR neighborhood."

Uh, no. Having grown up in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood, you're full of shit again. Letting the cops take care of it is the prudent solution when you see someone breaking into your neighbor's house. I can understand armed resistance in some neighborhoods, but Joe Horn's doesn't seem to be one of them, and that is better handled by increased community organization, not vigilante macho bullshit.

How do I know? Our neighborhood went from being the most dangerous in town to the safest over the course of about 15 years, due to that dedication to community organizing, and working with the police. To pretend this is only a bourgeois concern is to condemn the poor to an unending cycle of violence based on idiotic bluster and a lack of evidence.

What works is engagement, not murder.
posted by klangklangston at 10:27 AM on December 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


I don't understand the confidence of those who say, "They were just robbers, they weren't armed" or those who say, "They were just armed robbers, they wouldn't have shot anyone."

When in the commission of a felony you must assume that the potential felon is willing to use deadly force. To assume otherwise is both irrational and foolish.
posted by ewkpates at 10:30 AM on December 5, 2007


OK, so, in my story above - saw what looked like someone breaking into a neighbor's place, went and called the cops, cops showed, turns out the "burglar" was a locked-out resident - let's say that I saw someone breaking into a neighbor's place. I go, I call the cops, I get my gun. I come back and say "Stop. I've called the police. Stop right now, or I'll shoot you." She doesn't stop. I shoot her.

I don't know if she was armed. I don't know if the place was unoccupied at the time or if two small children and an invalid grandmother were inside. I don't know if the person apparently breaking in lived there or not.

So. Now I've shot her. The cops come. It emerges that the "burglar" lived there, and was locked out, and was just trying to get back into her house.

My question to all of you who would see this as a righteous shoot: will you send me cookies and books while I'm doing my 10-15 years?

Data point: my neighborhood is way, way far from bourgeois middle-class white.
posted by rtha at 10:30 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Uh, no. Having grown up in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood, you're full of shit again.

Said the middle class college graduate WHITE guy.

I can understand armed resistance in some neighborhoods, but Joe Horn's doesn't seem to be one of them, and that is better handled by increased community organization, not vigilante macho bullshit.

Like I said I don't KNOW what his socio economic situation was. And I don't condone his actions.

Klang never relpey to me again. Okay. Never.

No matter what you come off with insulting inflammatory language.
posted by tkchrist at 10:33 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm glad those two idiots he shot are dead

And all it took for you to feel warm inside was two dead men, neither of which was threatening anyone. I can only hope these two deaths have started making up for your bad experience as a child.
posted by splice at 10:38 AM on December 5, 2007


"Dead criminals can't file civil lawsuits."

One caveat for this line of reasoning is that while the dead can't sue you, the dead's next of kin can (think of the civil case against O.J. Simpson).

So, um, yeah, don't bet on getting away scot free just because the person you shoot dies.
posted by daq at 10:41 AM on December 5, 2007


I'm down with the "I understand and don't condone it" crowd. My home was broken into a couple of weeks back and I had a murderous rage burning for a several days.
posted by zzazazz at 10:44 AM on December 5, 2007



This woman
was just defending her home, too.

Someone pin a medal on her!
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:45 AM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


And all it took for you to feel warm inside was two dead men, neither of which was threatening anyone.

Yeah I'm sure these were two harmless individuals who would have been kind and caring during a confrontation with the homeowner. I'll say it again: GOOD RIDDANCE.
posted by autodidact at 10:46 AM on December 5, 2007


rtha, in Texas, it would still be illegal for you to shoot her because you obviously did not know the owner of the property and had obviously not been asked to protect her property. In Horn's cases it's not unreasonable to assume that he knew the owner of the property and that they had an agreement to watch over each other's property. In that way he was, in fact, justified under the law.

As I pointed out above, though, even here in Texas we regard deadly force as the last possible option, and that's where I feel that Horn becomes unjustified. There's a lot of speculation on in this thread about the neighborhood Horn lives in, but if these protest were near his home, then it's a fairly nice subdivision in Houston.

These laws are there to service those who live in areas where they could reasonable expect that neighborly intervention is the only way to recover property being stolen.
posted by betaray at 10:47 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would say that Joe Horn seemed a little too eager to kill them, however few people here have been in a situation like this and don't understand the effects of adrenaline and territorial feelings at such a time. Condemning his actions outright is foolish and ignorant.

I live in New Mexico the police in Albuquerque do very little for us.

I witnessed a young girl get a half full liquor bottle get broken over her head, the first few blows didn't break the bottle, the last broke the bottle and severely cut her face. My friends and I got the license plate number of the car full of thugs who did this. We called the cops. Instead of pursuing this crime, they told us to forget about it and that the "party was over!" even though we weren't involved in whatever festivities brought this about, we merely saw it happen and tried to help. They didn't care and left.

One of my friends had a psychopath girlfriend that waited for him to walk home from another friend's house. I was unlucky enough to be walking with him. He and I were jumped in the middle of the street and beaten by 4 guys. We had phone numbers and license plate numbers of these guys. Once again, the cops did nothing and brushed us off.

A close friend of mine delivers Pizzas and was jumped by some kids randomly. Eventually, he drew a very large knife from his car and the thugs were deterred from continuing. The cops did nothing to track these two down. He now carries a pistol.

I would never get a gun for protection, but those who want to, I understand. If the cops never do anything when something happens that is potentially life threatening, you can't blame people for taking action on their own to protect themselves, friends, neighbors, and family.
posted by hellslinger at 10:48 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hellsinger, so rather than work to have a trust worthy police force, you're advocating just scrapping the whole system in favor of vigilantism? Maybe you should, consider running for sheriff if you and so many others in your area are upset by the quality of your police force.
posted by betaray at 10:55 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Said the middle class college graduate WHITE guy."

Yep. Who lived in a predominantly black neighborhood (over 50%) and served on the board of the co-op that comprised the neighborhood, after living there for roughly 15 years, including a stint as the radio coordinator of the neighborhood watch.

"Klang never relpey to me again. Okay. Never. "

Don't trot out stupid rationalizations and I won't.
posted by klangklangston at 10:56 AM on December 5, 2007


paulsc: What we need now is a "must own" firearms law, similar to what Kennesaw, GA has had for the last 25 years.

And crime goes down while accidental shootings go up? Seriously, are there any statistics on this?
posted by malaprohibita at 10:56 AM on December 5, 2007


neither of which was threatening anyone

What? I would say unlawfully breaking into somebody else's HOME is threatening by it's very nature.

If you mean threatening to the guy that shot them? Well. No. Not an imminent threat surely.

If I'd have been him I would have shot into the air and just yelled at them. But maybe there was some history of reprisals or something? Criminals in some neighborhoods are very vindictive. In my wifes old neighborhood in Savannah if the gang-bangers even THOUGHT you called the cops on them they would take revenge. Things like arson were not uncommon.
posted by tkchrist at 10:56 AM on December 5, 2007


Ynoxas: Some people look for racism everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Do people even realize how ridiculous they sound when they play "the race card" in situations like this?

Associated Press: After Sunday's counter-protest, he said he doesn't know if the shootings were racially motivated but said he "wouldn't be surprised."
"Wouldn't be surprised," is hardly a strong or ridiculous position on Horn's motivations, racially motivated or not. Especially considering your average reporters' leading questions. Since we can't possibly know what was going on in Mr. Horn's head and he, with clear, stated intent, undertook actions that put him in the public spotlight, it seems fair to question his motives. Hero or vigilante, one clear consequence of killing others without due process is that people will question your motives.

Nevertheless, a lot of intelligent people of all backgrounds would argue that racism is everywhere. Fish don't know they're in water. Who the heck is any one of us to erase and ignore history and others' personal, intimate experience to say that racism isn't a day-to-day occurrence? It may or may not be the case in any individual circumstance, but it sure as hell is a valid question to ask.

Okay, so what if we don't consider unknowables like an individual's motives? Another way to ask the question is, would a non-white person have the same "freedom" of vigilantism as Mr. Horn, if the race roles were reversed? Considering the continuing history of institutional racism in law and enforcement, or at least the common perception of it*, I think it would be a very different situation. What does it mean to a society if vigilantism is okay and sanctioned, but only some races can participate in it?

*(That is to say, whether or not you believe that the law is racist, there is a shared story in our mainstream and minority cultures that the law is racist. That alone has a chilling effect on equality of freedom. Why does this story exist?)
posted by Skwirl at 11:01 AM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine was killed less than 6 hours after the Castle Law was instated this year for banging on the neighbor's door in the middle of the night.

The homeowner said he "aimed high" and "fired a warning shot."

Except the top of the door was glass, and my friend was 6 foot 4.

He's dead. His girlfriend is suicidal because they were having a fight when he went next door, and she feels responsible for his death.

It's almost certain the shooter will go free.

Another really good friend owns a gun store; I myself have handled guns, and wish my shop-owner friend a long and successful life in that business, but don't feel comfortable having one in my own home.

That is all I have for commentary. Guns are a slippery slope, in my opinion.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:07 AM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Klang,

I never said what does or does not work in the LONG run.

Yes. You want to be pedantic and state the obvious dialog can be one of things that work. It's along term thing. And I endorse that far and above any kind of vigilantism. which should be obvious and a qualification that should not be needed.

I'm not rationalizing anything. I'm stating fact.
In the mean time constant victimization creates a siege mentality. A fact that many privileged people who the cops DO listen and respond to becuase of their racial social status are often unaware. Yes. People like you, bro.

The fact your neighborhood HAD a coop and a watch at all is symptomatic that it was NOT blighted and could mean it was likely well on it's way to being gentrified or at least economically stabilized.

That is not the situation I am addressing.

Sorry if you take umbrage to being bourgeois. But you ARE. Like I am. Like most MeFites are. And with most people this is a desirable status. But one that lends itself to a certain amount of narrowness of perspective. One you make all to obvious.

It is not necessary for you to use personalized insults like"you're full of shit again" and "idiotic bluster." In your emotional frenzy to insult you simply do not listen to other people at all.

From here on out consider all your posts ignored.
posted by tkchrist at 11:08 AM on December 5, 2007


I understand it, and in the circumstance of someone climbing out of my neighbors' house with a box of stolen goods, I would confront the burglars.

If they made the choice not to comply with my directives to ensure my safety, they'd be just as dead as the two in this case.

But the bottom line is, I came out of my house not to kill them, but to stop the commission of a crime, and detain them for the appropriate authorities. THEY made the call to die when they jeopardized my life by not following my reasonable instructions.

*Stupid is still a fatal disease, and not complying with the demands of someone who a) has a firearm, and b) has the drop on you is... well... dead stupid.
posted by Cathedral at 11:11 AM on December 5, 2007


rtha, in Texas, it would still be illegal for you to shoot her because you obviously did not know the owner of the property and had obviously not been asked to protect her property. In Horn's cases it's not unreasonable to assume that he knew the owner of the property and that they had an agreement to watch over each other's property.

Well now, hang on - why is it "not unreasonable to assume" that Horn was asked to protect his neighbor's property (if it's in one of the links that he was explictly asked to watch the property, I missed it), but it's "obvious" that I wasn't? I didn't say that I wasn't asked - what if the (nonresident) landlord had asked me to keep an eye on it, but given that I didn't recognize (in the dark) a tenant breaking into her own apartment, I shoot her? If this is in Texas, do I go to jail? Should I?
posted by rtha at 11:12 AM on December 5, 2007


What? I would say unlawfully breaking into somebody else's HOME is threatening by it's very nature

Say what? If someone breaks into your neighbour's house it's somehow a threat to you? Get real.

I'm not at all arguing that you should not resist when threatened. However, when the situation is that two burglars exit your neighbour's house with no obvious violent intent, you call 911 and tell them that you're going to go kill the men, get told not to do that and stay safe, and then step out, confront the men and shoot them, well goddamn. That's a whole different situation, innit?

Someone breaks into your house and threatens you? All bets are off. Two men get out of your neighbour's house with a bag? You call it in and for fuck's sake you don't escalate the risk by running after them with a shotgun. That's just a dumbass move, and if they have guns of their own you just created a shootout in the neighbourhood for no reason other than showing others what big brass balls you have.
posted by splice at 11:15 AM on December 5, 2007


Okay, so what if we don't consider unknowables like an individual's motives? Another way to ask the question is, would a non-white person have the same "freedom" of vigilantism as Mr. Horn, if the race roles were reversed? Considering the continuing history of institutional racism in law and enforcement, or at least the common perception of it*, I think it would be a very different situation. What does it mean to a society if vigilantism is okay and sanctioned, but only some races can participate in it?

I think this is a good point. And it also illustrates this middle class perspective that can be very narrow.

By this I mean vigilantism happens in minority and poor neighborhoods all the time. Not that often shooting I don't think. But people get the shit kicked out of them when they are busted car prowling and breaking in. Most of the time this occurs with in the same racial group. But not always.

Though I don't know what the statistics are of one racial group criminally victimizing another are I do know between Latino and Black communities in LA there is a significant amount of criminal activity from one to the other. And still vigilantism is pretty common. Though I don't have stats.

I would wager in cities where populations are so segregated by class the comparative percentage of caucasians burglarizing minority neighborhoods is small so I don't think the reverse can be measured very well.

My point is vigilantism DOES happen. It usually only makes the news when it's a white person. Which could be read as racist in terms of media perspective when only those cases are exemplified as "heroic." I guess.
posted by tkchrist at 11:21 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]




Hellsinger, so rather than work to have a trust worthy police force, you're advocating just scrapping the whole system in favor of vigilantism? Maybe you should, consider running for sheriff if you and so many others in your area are upset by the quality of your police force.


Betaray,

I don't want/have to ability to be in law enforcement any more than a cop wants to/can do what I do... Specialization is important in society.

You're right; don't scrap the system, make it better. Vote and lobby or become a public servant. I vote and lobby.

While I'm waiting for all those nice things to happen, I'll buy some mace because randomly getting the shit kicked out of you in the middle of the street sucks almost as much as the cops not caring afterward.
posted by hellslinger at 11:25 AM on December 5, 2007


Say what? If someone breaks into your neighbour's house it's somehow a threat to you? Get real.

Did you read the rest of my comment at all? When I said "If you mean threatening to the guy that shot them? Well. No. Not an imminent threat surely. "

No. I didn't think you did.

The point is in the eyes of the law unlawfully breaking in to a house does constitute a threat TO THAT homes occupant. Each situation is a matter of degree.

To separate out the act of unlawful entry from the potential for assault or physical violence is naive.
posted by tkchrist at 11:25 AM on December 5, 2007


tkchrist, I misread part of your reply.

If you believe that someone breaking into a neighbour's house is no direct threat to you then we agree. I also hope that we can agree that going off with a shotgun after someone who's not threatening you is quite simply wrong and potentially deadly to you and those around you and thus should not be done.
posted by splice at 11:36 AM on December 5, 2007


klangklangston, joining neighborhood associations and stuff doesn't seem to work for Baltimore unless you are lobbying for economic revitalization and driving out the crack houses as a result. If you're in a rough neighborhood and decide to start working with the cops you better poison your pets, set fire to your house, and shoot yourself at the outset because it's going to happen anyway. Whole families have died because one of the parents reported a drug dealer and their house was set on fire. God, I wish that was an exaggeration, but the fact is Baltimore has a terrible problem with witness protection.

Of course, vigilantism practiced on the wrong guy without the right guys to back you up will have the same result.
posted by schroedinger at 11:41 AM on December 5, 2007


^^ I think it's wrong too, but I'm still glad those two assholes are dead.
posted by autodidact at 11:43 AM on December 5, 2007


"The fact your neighborhood HAD a coop and a watch at all is symptomatic that it was NOT blighted and could mean it was likely well on it's way to being gentrified or at least economically stabilized."

Uh, no. The fact that my neighborhood was a co-op was because in the early '70s, HUD set up a program to create low-income housing through large-scale co-op developments. It was built like a project, and essentially functioned as one for over a decade, just like many other housing co-ops around the country, predominantly focused in the Midwest and Northeast.

The watch came about after a series of violent, gang-related crimes that surged in the mid-90s, after several years of decline (due mostly to demographic aging).

I do believe that having a co-op gave us a better chance of success in our neighborhood, because we had tools to remove endemic troublemakers without needing an outside authority, but it was also helped by a community full of both black nationalists and religious folks (Muslim and AME, primarily), who were used to organizing.

But this relentless ad hominem from you about my background is bullshit, though I suppose you've already taken your toys and gone home. I grew up below the poverty line, and never had anywhere near median income. I made it through college by taking out a lot of loans and doing work study. I recognize that I've had advantages, like white skin and two parents, but your Friend of the Poor act is onerous and stupid, and I hope you can understand that just as you feel insulted when I tell you so, I feel insulted to have to read it.
posted by klangklangston at 11:44 AM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


lol usa
posted by blacklite at 11:44 AM on December 5, 2007


Welcome to Dick Cheney's America
posted by Flashman at 11:46 AM on December 5, 2007


Another thing to consider is shooting guns in the city or suburbs. Just recently not a half mile from my house a homeowner shot a kid in the back when he caught him sneaking around his property. Not even in his house. What makes me mad is that there are houses all around the area that the incident happened. An innocent bystander could have easily been hit all because this guy didn't want his four wheeler getting stolen. His life was not in danger.

Life isn't like the movies. The good guys do not always hit their targets. Also when this kind of things happen the family or friends of the deceased usually take out revenge of some sort.
posted by Justin Case at 11:47 AM on December 5, 2007


"klangklangston, joining neighborhood associations and stuff doesn't seem to work for Baltimore unless you are lobbying for economic revitalization and driving out the crack houses as a result. If you're in a rough neighborhood and decide to start working with the cops you better poison your pets, set fire to your house, and shoot yourself at the outset because it's going to happen anyway. Whole families have died because one of the parents reported a drug dealer and their house was set on fire. God, I wish that was an exaggeration, but the fact is Baltimore has a terrible problem with witness protection."

First off, like I said upthread, I recognize that armed resistance can be justified. But Baltimore's not where Joe Horn lives, is it? And neighborhood organizing is a long-term solution, but that doesn't mean that shooting your neighbor's burglars is the short-term solution.
posted by klangklangston at 11:51 AM on December 5, 2007


um, kirkaracha ?

That link, and that quote, both pretty much sum up what cobra libre was saying. TEXAS is in italics, as in it's the SHIP's motto, not the state. The "well-known state slogan" and "warning for those who attempt to prevent Texas from carrying out her mission" are mutually exclusive... One talks about the slogan, on talks about the ship, which is one of war, and yeah, threatening.

Jesus F. Christ...
For the last time,

"DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS" IS FROM AN ANTI-LITTERING CAMPAIGN.

The Texas state motto is "Friendship".
posted by Espoo2 at 11:56 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I can't believe this would happen in this neighborhood."

"I can't take a chance on getting killed over this, ok?"

Please, people, don't be surprised, much less outraged when people conclude that race plays a part in a decision to use deadly force against black men. it's not one thing and one thing only that would cause a person to shoot burglars.

The prevailing racial tension of black folks coming into the 'white' neighborhood undoubtedly played a large role in psyching up this guy to use deadly force.

Maybe he would have still declared an intent to kill them if they were white, it does happen; but the whole white-flight, "they're-coming-right-for-us!" attitude of this guy demonstrates the fear of his society implicit in his actions.

He felt a need to protect his "neighborhood" because black people were violating it.

If race isn't the main reason this guy shot to kill, it's certainly the reason this is in the news, and will undoubtedly have a presence at the trial.

on preview: thanks, skwirl.
posted by eustatic at 12:05 PM on December 5, 2007


What we need now is a "must own" firearms law,

That would be a violation of the Second Amendment, just as surely as a ban on firearms would be a violation of the Second Amendment. The right to do something automatically implies the right not to do that thing; otherwise, what you have is not a right, but an obligation, and rights and obligations are two very different things.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:13 PM on December 5, 2007


What we need now is a "must own" firearms law

I was on the fence until I read that. Then I realized that, unlike those in the opposite camp, a good number of Horn's supporters are batshit fucking insane, and I don't want to be lumped in with them.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 12:14 PM on December 5, 2007


AFAIK they'd broken into his neighbor's house but they were in HIS front yard when he shot them, from the last article I read on the subject.

I don't agree with his "I'm gonna go shoot them! *bang* bang*" vigilantism at all - if I was in the same situation (behind locked doors in my home, on the phone to 911) the correct response is "wait for police to arrive" not "go chase them down with a shotgun".

HOWEVER if two guys were observed breaking into my neighbor's house, then entered MY property AND I felt threatened, they're going to get 9mm FMJ applied to their center-of-mass as necessary.

(disclaimer: moved to Texas 12 years ago, gun owner, grew up with cops as parents)
posted by mrbill at 12:14 PM on December 5, 2007


Well, reading here I see there is no danger that the culture of violence is going to go away anytime soon. Good luck with that.
posted by Bovine Love at 12:16 PM on December 5, 2007


The right to do something automatically implies the right not to do that thing

For to express oneself, by doing a thing, is the very essence of Freedom Day!
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:20 PM on December 5, 2007


I also hope that we can agree that going off with a shotgun after someone who's not threatening you is quite simply wrong and potentially deadly to you and those around you and thus should not be done.

Like I said I can't condone it. But given MY experiences — NOT this guy is Texas— but mine, I understand the visceral homicidal reaction.

Given the information posted I'm not sure what I feel about his going to jail. I would have sit in that jury to make up my mind becuase I can't, in this forum with my biases, judge his absolute guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are some people who cannot conceive of physical violence as ever justified except in some sort of Disney fantasy of clear cut realties where a check list of moral choices are methodically tallied. This is not the world we live in. It's a construct of privilege. A blessing.

Some of us have the luxury of being on the right side of of the justice equation more often than not just by the color of our skin or the circumstances of birth. Some of us do that fact will always have an out and dire circumstances are then largely temporary. Count your self lucky if you have the luxury of that reality.

Most people on the planet don't. Most people feel they have no hope of changing their reality. Whether they really do is another matter. But they perceive themselves in a hopeless situation. And falling victim to criminals only exacerbates that isolation. The reality for them is that law enforcement does not work well in any functional sense.

Where as to us crime is only an annoyance or at worst passing phase and we can address it systematically.

I don't know where this guy falls. Since he is white it's somewhat more likely he is this side of the justice equation. But who knows.
posted by tkchrist at 12:23 PM on December 5, 2007


If race isn't the main reason this guy shot to kill, it's certainly the reason this is in the news, and will undoubtedly have a presence at the trial.

This is true.
posted by tkchrist at 12:25 PM on December 5, 2007


What we need now is a "must own" firearms law,

Must own? Then the government should pay for it. And if you don't want a gun you should get cash value tax deduction for turning in your government issue and then sign waiver to ever getting another.
posted by tkchrist at 12:30 PM on December 5, 2007


Reading this thread is like watching the evolution of a slow motion textual diorama of why America is fucked. Everybody seems to come in swinging their emotional baggage, everybody is imprinting their own anecdotal experience onto the mostly unstated "facts" of the case. Did he shoot them in the front or the back? Doesn't say. Were there any witnesses? Doesn't say. Were they armed? Doesn't say. Was this a nice neighborhood or a rotten one? Had the shooter or people he was connected to had recent issues with crime? Do the presumed criminal records of the shooting victims reveal anything about their proclivities? Doesn't say. I'm supposed to have an opinion on this?

That's fine because I'm sure of one thing: it's all a red herring if the topic at hand is the problem of crime. This is just the freak show at the fringes of a big, intractable problem, which nevertheless has pretty obvious and understandable causes, namely poverty, drugs, people being one or another kind of crazy and the radical failure of the corrections system to rehabilitate seem chief among them. Degree of legal/social acceptance of armed vigilante confrontation does not make the list of significant issues affecting the prevalence of crime.
posted by nanojath at 12:32 PM on December 5, 2007 [7 favorites]


I'm a bit surprised by people here gloating over the deaths of two people. I understand that people get angry when they have stuff nicked, but the law is there to PREVENT us acting on our murderous impulses, not to encourage us. For all they were not good people, the two dead criminals were still people, and had the right to a trial, the right to repent and the right to be rehabilitated into society. No chance of that now, alas.

I'd also like to ask the happy shooters here, what level of innocent deaths is reasonable collateral for the prevention of burglary? One innocent death per iPod? Or do we put a slightly higher value on human life, like $500?
posted by athenian at 12:35 PM on December 5, 2007


I found the audio chilling.

I don't agree that shooting them was necessarily the correct or prudent path to follow, nor can I say that I feel it was racially motivated. I just don't have these facts. Hopefully he will get a fair trial.

A couple of point on some of the comments here though:

rtha : But the Texas guy didn't have his own home broken into, and he saw the guys on their way out of the neighbor's place. He didn't have a good or even okay reason for shooting them. He was not the one violated

How do we know this for sure? Perhaps his reaction is based on his own house having been broken into. In this very thread, we've seen strong reactions to people who have experienced this first hand, and their desire to see some modicum of justice done, even if it's vigilante justice.

I'm not saying this is the case, or that this is what happened, but would it change people's opinions if he had been victimized?

splice : Say what? If someone breaks into your neighbour's house it's somehow a threat to you? Get real.

I disagree. If someone breaks into your neighbors house, and gets away with it, it is very much a threat to you. It has demonstrated to the criminals in the area that, in terms of police response, your area is a fairly soft target. This could very much put you at risk.

All that said, I do think that based on what I heard, this guy really wanted to shoot the two buglers. There is almost no time between his warning and the subsequent shots. What I don't know is if, in that small space of time, he watched someone reach for a weapon. Or if, because of some prior experience, he was terrified and angry and seeking revenge.

Based on what was reported, I can't know these things, and as such, I don't feel qualified to judge him as having been right or wrong, but like I said; listening to that recording is a frightening experience.
posted by quin at 12:50 PM on December 5, 2007


athenian, as a number of people have already stated, it is not about the stuff. It is about the violation of your home, your privacy, and your sense of safety. If you are impoverished, depending on the item stolen burglary can amount to a cut in wages--if your car is stolen and you can't afford another, how do you get to your job?

If someone broke into my house and stole nothing but banana peels from my trash, I would still be incredibly upset knowing my home had been entered without my permission.
posted by schroedinger at 12:53 PM on December 5, 2007


Not comparable to the Joe Horn situation, but I couldn't help but recall the shooting death of Yoshihiro Hattori
"Yoshihiro Hattori was a Japanese exchange student residing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at the time of his death. Hattori was on his way to a Halloween party when he mistook the address and entered the wrong suburban property. The property owner, Rodney Peairs, mortally wounded Hattori with gunfire, thinking he was trespassing with criminal intent. The controversial homicide, and Peairs' subsequent acquittal in the state court of Louisiana, received worldwide attention....Two months into his stay in the United States, [Hattori] received an invitation along with Webb Haymaker, his homestay brother, to a Halloween party organized for Japanese exchange students on October 17, 1992. Hattori went dressed in a tuxedo in imitation of John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever. Upon their arrival in the quiet working class neighborhood where the party was held, the boys mistook the Peairs' residence for the intended destination due to the similarity of the address and the Halloween decorations on the house, and proceeded to step out of their car and walk to the front door. Hattori and Haymaker rang the front doorbell but began to walk back to the street where Haymaker had parked receiving no response to the ring. Inside the house, however, Bonnie Peairs had peered out the side door and saw two boys whom she did not recognize. Mrs. Peairs, startled, retreated inside, locking the door, and turned to tell her husband, 'Rodney, get your gun.' Hattori and Haymaker were still pondering the situation as they neared their car when the carport door was opened again, this time by Mr. Peairs, armed with a stainless steel revolver, yelling 'Freeze.' Simultaneously, Hattori stepped towards him saying 'We're here for the party,' unaware of the imminent danger. Haymaker, seeing the weapon, shouted after Hattori, but in vain as Peairs had already fired his weapon and run back inside, locking the door again. Hattori was shot in the chest at close range...[and subsequently died from the wound]."*

In a separate civil trial " [a] judge...awarded more than $650,000 in damages and funeral costs to the parents of a Japanese exchange student, saying there was 'no justification whatsoever' for the killing of the 16-year-old boy who approached a suburban homeowner's door in a Halloween costume..."*
posted by ericb at 12:53 PM on December 5, 2007


And while I have no idea if this was racially motivated, it's really unfortunate that it will become a rallying point for all the different sides.

I'd prefer this was seen as a homeowner vs. criminal rather than black vs. white issue, but that wouldn't give people something to fight about, I guess.
posted by quin at 12:53 PM on December 5, 2007


There are two kinds of people in this world: those with loaded guns and those who Digg.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:58 PM on December 5, 2007


To everyone who feels like this killing was justified, or understand the motivation to do so...

The urge to kill is not the point of this. His urge to kill might very well be justified. What allows us to use words like "civilization" and "society" is our ability to repress that urge in all but the most dire of situations. Even in the most obvious situations of defense of self and/or property, Killing another human should be a remorseful act.

There was no remorse here. This man had decided to kill before the fact. He was told repeatedly that this was not the appropriate course of action, and he did it anyway. This was murder. That the two dead mean were criminals does not change that fact, even if the law says otherwise, then the law is wrong.

We have agreed upon punishments for the crimes that these men committed, and death is not one of them.

"To say, when these thing happen, I feel like killing" is ok. If we say "when these things happen, killing is justified" then we are failing miserably as a society.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:59 PM on December 5, 2007 [8 favorites]


I'm not saying this is the case, or that this is what happened, but would it change people's opinions if he had been victimized?

Nope. He was told numerous times by a police dispatcher not to go outside and wait for the police. Instead, he took the law into his own hands -- he acted as self-appointed "judge, jury and executioner."

The murder of my brother does not give me "permission" to fall prey to my emotions and gun down his murderer. As has been said above, that's what the purpose of laws are.
posted by ericb at 1:00 PM on December 5, 2007


And --- what billyfleetwood just said!
posted by ericb at 1:01 PM on December 5, 2007


If someone broke into my house and stole nothing but banana peels from my trash, I would still be incredibly upset knowing my home had been entered without my permission.

Would being upset justify you killing them?
posted by ericb at 1:02 PM on December 5, 2007


First: race is an issue because the shooter and shootees are of different races, which may impact people's views of the incident (esp. in the jury), *not* necessarily because the shooter used race as a reason to make his decision (although he might have.)

Second:

I sympathize with this man's situation; if my neighbor was being robbed, I would feel compelled to do something about it...

Let's assume they were either driving, or were not driving. If driving, shadowing them to obtain at least a make/model of the car (and even better, a license plate) would have been helpful. If not driving, one could theoretically discreetly follow them at a safe distance and give the police a running commentary on location.

Either way, he had time to get a really good look at them, their clothes, etc. in order to describe them to the police. Perhaps grab a camera if he had one, and get the best pictures he could. And so on, and so on, and so on.

We're not talking about a split-second decision here; as someone who once chased and tried to tackle a guy to get a stranger's laptop back (I did, yay me, but I'm lucky I didn't get beat up or shot), I can tell you that sometimes people do stupid things in those moments. In this circumstance, however, the guy had time to think, so he had time to gather information and come up with a better plan.
posted by davejay at 1:06 PM on December 5, 2007


Would being upset justify you killing them?

No. But suppose it happened all the time. Like once or twice per week? And the law simply didn't protect you from it. How long could you go without resorting to some sort of direct personal action.

Take the victims of stalkers for instance. The law for great while had no recourse for victims of this crime other than restraining orders. Not until people either got killed by stalkers. Or enough of them shot the stalker.

We have to careful about dismissing what accumulative fear does to a victims life and how it effects their perceptions and behaviors. We should take all that into account.
posted by tkchrist at 1:18 PM on December 5, 2007


I just hope I can shoot anyone who is committing any crime that I personally find heinous. Fuck 'em. The law, including the right to act as executioner, belongs in the hands of outraged neighbors with shotguns.

There's someone double parked in front of my apartment right now. I'm a go shoot em.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:20 PM on December 5, 2007


Now ... instead of shouting: "Fuckin' kids get offa my lawn," I'm a-gonna rush out wielding my shot-gun. If the little fuckers aren't offa my lawn 'pronto,' I'ms-a-gonna 'shoot-to-kill' the bastards. Fuckers! Yeah -- you. Dare try to walk across my lawn again. Fuckheads!
posted by ericb at 1:25 PM on December 5, 2007


And AZ -- I've a-got-mys-eyes-on-youse! Now get offa my lawn, fucker!
posted by ericb at 1:26 PM on December 5, 2007


rtha : But the Texas guy didn't have his own home broken into, and he saw the guys on their way out of the neighbor's place. He didn't have a good or even okay reason for shooting them. He was not the one violated

quin: How do we know this for sure? Perhaps his reaction is based on his own house having been broken into. In this very thread, we've seen strong reactions to people who have experienced this first hand, and their desire to see some modicum of justice done, even if it's vigilante justice.

The possibility that he had previously experienced a break-in at his own home doesn't justify killing two people breaking into a home not his own, especially when the dispatcher has told him to stay inside.

If someone breaks into your neighbors house, and gets away with it, it is very much a threat to you.

An imminent, shoot-worthy threat? Really?

Someone breaking into my house (while I'm home) certainly presents an imminent threat. Are you saying that that is really the same threat - in which I am (legally) justified in harming them to make them stop - as what is presented when I witness someone breaking into a house that is not mine?
posted by rtha at 1:33 PM on December 5, 2007


I think that inadequate law enforcement is a poor reason for taking the law into your own hands, no matter how bad you feel. As others have said - we have the institutions of state to prevent this stuff from happening.

There was a similar case in the UK a few years back (which divided opinion). The Guardian report of the trial contains two quotable bits.
'[the teenage burglar who was killed] had pleaded for his life, shouting: "I'm sorry. Please don't. Mum."'

'Peter Tidey, the chief crown prosecutor for Norfolk, said: "Actions such as that taken by Tony Martin cannot be tolerated in a civilised society. When people break the law it is for the law to punish them, not for individuals to take the law into their own hands, whether acting out of revenge or their own individual system of justice."'
posted by athenian at 1:49 PM on December 5, 2007


"When people break the law it is for the law to punish them, not for individuals to take the law into their own hands, whether acting out of revenge or their own individual system of justice."

Yeah, try explaining that to someone in Texas- or most of America, for that matter.
posted by wfc123 at 2:28 PM on December 5, 2007


we have the institutions of state to prevent this stuff from happening

Can you clarify?

We? Who is "we?" And what to you mean "prevent." Prevent what?

We certainly have no institutions of state to "prevent" crime. We have some to deter crime. Of dubious effect. And we have institutions to sentence and incarcerate criminals after the fact.

But we have zero institutions of state to prevent criminals not yet caught from doing anything.

The problem is these state institutions, in the US anyway, are in no way effective or equal in their ability or intent to do justice across class and racial lines.

These institutions only fairly represent a fraction of our so called state.
posted by tkchrist at 2:31 PM on December 5, 2007


Excerpts from the 911 transcript via CBS News:
“‘I've got a shotgun,’ Horn said, according to a tape of the 911 call. ‘Do you want me to stop them?’

‘Nope, don't do that - ain't no property worth shooting somebody over, OK?’ the dispatcher responded.

‘Hurry up man, catch these guys, will you? 'Cause I'm ain't gonna let 'em go, I'm gonna be honest with you, I'm not gonna let 'em go. I'm not gonna let 'em get away with this.’

‘…I don't know if they're armed or not. I know they got a crowbar 'cause that's what they broke the windows with. ... Man, this is scary, I can't believe this is happening in this neighborhood.’

‘…I can go out the front [to look], but if I go out the front I'm bringing my shotgun with me, I swear to God. I am not gonna let 'em get away with this, I can't take a chance on getting killed over this, OK? I'm gonna shoot, I'm gonna shoot.’

‘Stay inside the house and don't go out there, OK?’ the dispatcher said. ‘I know you're pissed off, I know what you're feeling, but it's not worth shooting somebody over this, OK?’

‘I don't want to,’ Horn said, ‘but I mean if I go out there, you know, to see what the hell is going on, what choice am I gonna have?

‘No, I don't want you to go out there, I just asked if you could see anything out there.’

The dispatcher asks if a vehicle could be seen; Horn said no. The dispatcher again says Horn should stay inside the house.

Almost five minutes into the call, police had not arrived.

‘I can't see if [the suspects are] getting away or not,’ Horn said.

Horn told the dispatcher that he doesn't know the neighbors well, unlike those living on the other side of his home. ‘I can assure you if it had been their house, I would have already done something, because I know them very well,’ he said.

Dispatcher: ‘I want you to listen to me carefully, OK?’

Horn: ‘Yes?’

Dispatcher: ‘I got ultras coming out there. I don't want you to go outside that house. And I don't want you to have that gun in your hand when those officers are poking around out there.’

Horn: ‘I understand that, OK, but I have a right to protect myself too, sir, and you understand that. And the laws have been changed in this country since September the First and you know it and I know it.’

Dispatcher: ‘I understand.’

Horn: ‘I have a right to protect myself ...’

Dispatcher: ‘I'm ...’

Horn: ‘And a shotgun is a legal weapon, it's not an illegal weapon.’

Dispatcher: ‘No, it's not, I'm not saying that, I'm just not wanting you to ...’

Horn: ‘OK, he's coming out the window right now, I gotta go, buddy. I'm sorry, but he's coming out the window. ‘

Dispatcher: ‘No, don't, don't go out the door, Mister Horn. Mister Horn...’

Horn: ‘They just stole something, I'm going out to look for 'em, I'm sorry, I ain't letting them get away with this --. They stole something, they got a bag of stuff. I'm doing it!’

Dispatcher: ‘Mister, do not go outside the house.’

Horn: ‘I'm sorry, this ain't right, buddy.’

Dispatcher: ‘You gonna get yourself shot if you go outside that house with a gun, I don't care what you think.’

Horn: ‘You wanna make a bet?’

Dispatcher: ‘Stay in the house.’

Horn: ‘There, one of them's getting away!

Dispatcher: ‘That's alright, property's not something worth killing someone over. OK? Don't go out the house, don't be shooting nobody. I know you're pissed and you're frustrated but don't do it.’

Horn: ‘They got a bag of loot.’

Dispatcher: ‘OK. How big is the bag?’ He then talks off, relaying the information.

Dispatcher: ‘Which way are they going?’

Horn: ‘I can't ... I'm going outside. I'll find out.’

Dispatcher: ‘I don't want you going outside, Mister...’

Horn: ‘Well, here it goes buddy, you hear the shotgun clicking and I'm going.’

Dispatcher: ‘Don't go outside.’

On the tape of the 911 call, the shotgun can be heard being cocked and Horn can be heard going outside and confronting someone.

‘Boom! You're dead!’ he shouts. A loud bang is heard, then a shotgun being cocked and fired again, and then again.

Then Horn is back on the phone:

‘Get the law over here quick. I've now, get, one of them's in the front yard over there, he's down, he almost run down the street. I had no choice. They came in the front yard with me, man, I had no choice! ... Get somebody over here quick, man.’

Dispatcher: ‘Mister Horn, are you out there right now?’

Horn: ‘No, I am inside the house, I went back in the house. Man, they come right in my yard, I didn't know what the -- they was gonna do, I shot 'em, OK?’

Dispatcher: ‘Did you shoot somebody?

Horn: ‘Yes, I did, the cops are here right now.’

Dispatcher: ‘Where are you right now?’

Horn: ‘I'm inside the house. ...’

Dispatcher: ‘Mister Horn, put that gun down before you shoot an officer of mine. I've got several officers out there without uniforms on.’

Horn: ‘I am in the front yard right now. I am ...’

Dispatcher: ‘Put that gun down! There's officers out there without uniforms on. Do not shoot anybody else, do you understand me? I've got police out there...’

Horn: ‘I understand, I understand. I am out in the front yard waving my hand right now.’

Dispatcher: ‘You don't have a gun with you, do you?

Horn: ‘No, no, no.’

Dispatcher: ‘You see a uniformed officer? Now lay down on the ground and don't do nothing else.’

Yelling is heard.

Dispatcher: ‘Lay down on the ground, Mister Horn. Do what the officers tell you to do right now.’”
It appears that Horn hardly knew the neighbors and that he was surprised that a burglary was going on in his neighborhood. I say emotion and irrationality got the best of him -- and that this was a rare event for him to experience. He should of listened to the dispatcher.
posted by ericb at 2:32 PM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Praise for Dispatcher
“Experts who reviewed a recording of the call at the Chronicle's request said the dispatcher handled the call professionally and did all he could to defuse the situation until police arrived.

‘He was doing everything he could to 'normalize' the conversation and not agitate the caller any further,’ said Sue Pivetta, a training consultant from Sumner, Wash. ‘Trust me when I say that he was indeed showing professional control at the highest level.’

Charles Carter, a former police executive in Atlanta who has trained dispatchers for two decades, said the officer who handled Horn's call used proven techniques to dissuade him from leaving his home.

‘We teach a technique called repetitive persistence,’ Carter said. ‘It needs to be at a level lower than the person calling to try to get him to calm down and listen to you. ... He did an outstanding job and needs to be commended.’”
posted by ericb at 2:36 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


rtha: The possibility that he had previously experienced a break-in at his own home doesn't justify killing two people breaking into a home not his own, especially when the dispatcher has told him to stay inside.

I don't disagree. But I was responding to this point:

He didn't have a good or even okay reason for shooting them. He was not the one violated

We don't know that. More specifically, my thinking is that if he had been victimized previously, seeing this happen so close to his own home might have been enough to set him off into some kind of adrenaline fueled rage. Where, despite it happening on someone else's property, he did feel impotent, like a victim; the sort of thing that they argue is temporary-insanity or something. This doesn't make him innocent, but it might make him not-guilty.

Again, this is all just rampant speculation on my part. For all I know he was just itching to waste someone, but listening to that call, he really seems to become enraged when the intruder is leaving the house. I don't know what that means, but when I heard it, it struck me as him taking it personally.

If someone breaks into your neighbors house, and gets away with it, it is very much a threat to you.

An imminent, shoot-worthy threat? Really?


I never said that. I only observed that someone successfully burglarizing your neighbor's house definitely increases the possibility of the same thing happening to you.
posted by quin at 2:41 PM on December 5, 2007


"September The First?!?"

That guy is obviously deranged or imparied.
posted by tkchrist at 2:42 PM on December 5, 2007


We certainly have no institutions of state to "prevent" crime.

Not until we have "Pre-Crime" Police Departments guided by psychic "pre-cogs!"
posted by ericb at 2:45 PM on December 5, 2007


That dispatcher SHOULD be commended. My goodness, what else could have been said? Mr. Horn was determined to shoot those burglars. I call that premeditated.
posted by agregoli at 2:46 PM on December 5, 2007


"September The First?!?"

He wasn't referring to Rudy Guiliani's and George Bush's favorite date, but to the change in Texas law that recently took effect.
"Horn tells the dispatcher that he understands his rights and even makes reference to the September 1 expansion [i.e. Texas signs new self-defense by gun law] that gives homeowners greater protection from prosecution should they choose to confront someone breaking into their home."*
posted by ericb at 2:50 PM on December 5, 2007


*He should have listened to the dispatcher.*
posted by ericb at 2:51 PM on December 5, 2007


He wasn't referring to Rudy Guiliani's and George Bush's favorite date, but to the change in Texas law that recently took effect.

Too bad. I think he had a case for Section 8 there.
posted by tkchrist at 3:10 PM on December 5, 2007


The 2 men shot were not simply garden variety burglers.

According to Texas Law, at least one (perhaps both) was guilty of "Felony Murder"

A Person was killed as a direct result of their felony burglary, therefore they were both murderers as soon as one of them died.
posted by Megafly at 3:14 PM on December 5, 2007


Also, I am pretty much in the "Fuck 'em" camp. I think he should have aimed for the knees, preferably disabled them over killing them, but I'd show a similar inclination towards protecting my neighbors' homes and would hope they do the same.
posted by schroedinger at 11:36 AM on December 5 [+] [!]

The penalty for burglary is not death. How in the world is this man justified? I listened to the tape of the 911 operator and this guy talking; he was repeatedly told not to go out and shoot at the guys; he did it anyway. Sorry, while it's tempting to take action, what's the justification for shooting? He's judge, jury and executioner. Unacceptable.
posted by etaoin at 3:27 PM on December 5, 2007


"A Person was killed as a direct result of their felony burglary, therefore they were both murderers as soon as one of them died."

Christ, that's Kafka-esque.

But I predict no charges filed against the burglars, y'know?
posted by klangklangston at 3:28 PM on December 5, 2007


"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

I think that would allow a law such as, "you must own a gun." Because there isn't mention of a right not to keep and bear arms. That's an interesting question though.

Is the right to remain silent in arrest connected to the right to free speech?
posted by SomeOneElse at 3:53 PM on December 5, 2007


Is the right to remain silent in arrest connected to the right to free speech?

No, it's connected to the Fifth Amendment. The relevant part is " No person [...] shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself".
posted by vorfeed at 4:03 PM on December 5, 2007


Is the right to remain silent in arrest connected to the right to free speech?

Actually, Miranda is taught in most First Amendment textbooks. The Bill of Rights has a lot of overlap, but the right to speak clearly contains the right -not- to speak: the founders appear to have spelled it out in an effort to combat coerced confessions and star chambers.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:13 PM on December 5, 2007


there isn't mention of a right not to keep and bear arms
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
posted by Flunkie at 4:21 PM on December 5, 2007


SomeOneElse I'm not a Constitutional lawyer, or any kind of lawyer, but I'd guess that the remaining silent is part of the 5th Amendment and the whole not being required to incriminate yourself deal.

As for the situation, and speaking as a gun owning liberal Texan, Horn should be charged. I know people who sound exactly like him. He wanted to kill someone, plain and simple, and he's using the insane Castle laws as a shield. That kind of cowboy mentality is endemic to my part of the world, and it often goes hand in hand with racism. "I'll teach them niggers to burglarize!"

I own guns, I like guns. But I swear the most potent argument against private ownership of guns is my fellow Texans...
posted by sotonohito at 4:28 PM on December 5, 2007


tkchrist: Sorry for being unclear. I didn't mean that the institutions of state are there specifically to prevent crime (although that's part of it). I meant that the neutral arbiter of the State is there to ensure that individuals are given proportionate punishment for their offences after a proper trial, not subjected to the whim of any gun-toting nut.

Leviathan 28: People in states promise to support the sovereign power in the punishment of criminals, but that does not give them an individual right to punish others. The right of the state to punish is not founded in a grant of authority from individuals. Rather, when individuals lay down their right to punish others (as they must in the making of a state), they strengthen thereby the right of the state to punish people on their behalf. "Neither private revenges nor injuries of private men can properly be styled punishment, because they proceed not from public authority".
posted by athenian at 4:30 PM on December 5, 2007


I just read that transcript. Our Mr. Horn couldn't wait to waste him a burglar, could he?

OK, he's coming out the window right now, I gotta go, buddy. I'm sorry, but he's coming out the window. ‘

I read that as: If I don't hurry, my chance to waste this guy is getting away!!!!!

Thanks, Mr. Horn, for being on the case!
posted by John of Michigan at 4:30 PM on December 5, 2007


The Bill of Rights has a lot of overlap, but the right to speak clearly contains the right -not- to speak

Except that you don't have the right not to speak when subpoenaed, unless the answer would incriminate you. To me, it seems clear that the 5th Amendment adds specific protection against self-incrimination (and thus, allows one to remain silent when arrested), above and beyond the "right not to speak" implied by the First.

At any rate, you're right, there's a good deal of overlap here.
posted by vorfeed at 4:34 PM on December 5, 2007


And the two burglars' prior criminal offenses? Drugs!

Shoot the fuckers on sight!
"The identities of the men killed were released Friday. They are Miguel Antonio Dejesus, 38, and Diego Ortiz, 30. Official records show that each of them had a prior arrest in Harris County for drug offenses."*
posted by ericb at 4:37 PM on December 5, 2007


Pasadena Wants To Block Neighborhood Protests [with video].
posted by ericb at 4:38 PM on December 5, 2007


Oh, please think of the children. Please, oh, please!

Those who live in the Pasadena neighborhood where the controversial shooting occurred want protesters to stay away.
"They want to ask a judge for help in blocking future protesters...neighbors say that playgrounds like this one here in their neighborhood were empty Sunday afternoon...neighbors complained that they had to keep their children inside."*
'Free Speech Rights' vs. 'Rights to Swing on the Monkey Bars.'

Which should prevail?
posted by ericb at 4:53 PM on December 5, 2007


A Person was killed as a direct result of their felony burglary, therefore they were both murderers as soon as one of them died.

Is there a link with more info about them murdering someone? I don't see anything like that in the story.

Even if they did, that still wouldn't make him judge, jury, and executioner, and there's no indication in the transcript that he knew about them killing anyone.

He murdered those guys. He said he was going to kill them, then went outside and did it. I don't excuse his actions as self-defense, even though he says "they came in the front yard with me," because he created that situation when we went outside over the repeated instructions of the dispatcher (who did do a great job).
posted by kirkaracha at 4:58 PM on December 5, 2007


I meant that the neutral arbiter of the State is there to ensure that individuals are given proportionate punishment for their offences after a proper trial, not subjected to the whim of any gun-toting nut. [...] The right of the state to punish is not founded in a grant of authority from individuals. Rather, when individuals lay down their right to punish others (as they must in the making of a state), they strengthen thereby the right of the state to punish people on their behalf.

And if there is no "neutral arbiter of the State", no "proportionate punishment", and no "proper trials", then what? When the state shows, over and over again, that they have no interest in punishing people for these sorts of crimes, what's left?

IMHO the social contract is a two-way street, and I don't see much traffic on one side of it anymore. On the one hand, you've got a growing underclass of citizens who've lost their rights, property, physical freedom, and anything else the system can get its hands on, and on the other, you've got a government that's increasingly too busy taking cash from drug dealers and speeders to bother with non-revenue-generating crimes like theft and murder. It's becoming more and more obvious that our legal system is nowhere near fair, and that its primary aim is not to protect or serve the citizenry, but to perpetuate itself. Under these circumstances, anyone who leaves his or her personal protection up to the system is likely to get burned. I'd rather be a living "gun-toting nut" than a dead "model citizen"... or, as they say, "better judged by twelve than carried by six".

That said, this guy should pretty obviously be charged, and I think he gives gun owners a bad name. The first thing they teach you in self-defense class is that you are not to use lethal force unless your life is in immediate danger. At the same time, I can understand how he probably felt. The folly of sitting on your hands waiting for non-existent "arbiters" becomes painfully evident the first time this sort of thing happens to you. Horn's error is that it didn't happen to him, and he still went out of his way to get involved.
posted by vorfeed at 5:05 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


The folly of sitting on your hands waiting for non-existent "arbiters" becomes painfully evident the first time this sort of thing happens to you. Horn's error is that it didn't happen to him, and he still went out of his way to get involved.

This all I am saying.

It's spooky the LEO attitude and response differnce living in one of "those" (the highest crime rate census tract in King County) neighborhoods and where we live now. Which is one of the wealthiest areas in Seattle. If not THE most.

In our old neighborhood the precinct was closer but "average" response time was a good ten to fifteen minutes. The cops were simply overwhelmed by the needs of the community.

To now where the cops show up with in a minute or two. Even on a parking infraction call.
posted by tkchrist at 5:32 PM on December 5, 2007


To me it's less and issue of gun control/ownersip than the issue that he fucking killed these men. There were a thousand different things he could've done--okay, half a dozen, anyway--and this guy blew them away? Not good. Why not maim, aim for the legs, scare the shit out of them with a blast over their heads, force them to drop to the ground as a responsible cop would...I can think of a lot. I guess he didn't, and that's the problem.

But murder? No. And yes, I would call it so.
posted by zardoz at 5:36 PM on December 5, 2007


Is there a link with more info about them murdering someone? I don't see anything like that in the story.

Neither had any prior arrests or convictions -- and none relating to murder. "Official records show that each of them had a prior arrest in Harris County for drug offenses."*
posted by ericb at 5:42 PM on December 5, 2007


Race time is a factor in this, so please pay attention. Now, answer as quickly as you can.
Sure.
One-one-eight-seven at Hunterwasser.
That's the neighbor next door
What?
Where I shotgunned some burglars.
Nice place?
Yeah, sure I guess--that part of the test?
No, just warming the thread up, that's all.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:50 PM on December 5, 2007


Yeah, I'm not a fan of Mr. Horn's by any means, but I probably wouldn't charge him, both for the pragmatic reason that I think it's going to be hard to get a conviction - though God knows that transcript doesn't make him look good - and because I have kind of a hard time feeling too bad about the burglars.

Horn should have stayed in his house, and the cops should have shown up and arrested the two guys with no more violence than was absolutely necessary, and they should have been given some jail time. But we don't always get the best outcome in a situation and maybe the two people who set that situation in motion should have considered that beforehand.

Sure, the sentence for burglary isn't death. The sentence for jaywalking isn't death either, but if I walk out into the middle of traffic I can't claim to be too surprised if I get run down by a car.
posted by Naberius at 5:52 PM on December 5, 2007


Oh, as for the whole racial angle, the only funny thing on an otherwise execrable new season of My Name Is Earl (in some ways, the strike was a mercy...)

Randy on being told he scored fifty percent on the aptitude test to become a prison guard: "I'd like to play the race card... how do I do that?"
posted by Naberius at 5:55 PM on December 5, 2007


So glad I don't live the US.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:57 PM on December 5, 2007


CNN | November 19, 2007:
“GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On September 1, Texas strengthened a law giving civil immunity to people who defend themselves with deadly force, not only in their homes, but in their cars and workplaces. But this was a neighbor's house, and the 911 operator warned Horn 13 times during the call to stay inside his home.

…TUCHMAN: Miguel Antonio Dejesus and Diego Ortiz, two men who had previous minor scrapes with the law, were killed.

…JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Joining me now, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor.

Jeff, let's start from the beginning. This is fascinating stuff, when you listen to these audio recordings. But Joe Horn has not been charged. Do you think he will be? And, if so, does he have a defense?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, on the letter of the law, it sure looks like he's guilty of probably something, and perhaps even just murder, because think about what he did.

He had -- warned repeatedly not to use his -- not to go out and use his gun. He's told that these there -- there are non-uniform, there are plainclothes officers in the area. And he takes a shotgun out there, which sprays, you know, shot all over the place.

I mean, he engaged in incredibly dangerous behavior, and he killed two people. But, you know, I hate to engage in regional profiling, but this is Texas. And you can see, a lot of people are going to be sympathetic to him.

KING: You mentioned, this is Texas. It's an American tradition, but certainly a frontier tradition; you have the right to protect your own property. Have you ever heard of a right to protect your neighbor's property?

TOOBIN: I never have, but this is why there are grand juries, because grand juries can decide, under all the circumstances, that there's not a -- there's no right to -- that -- that -- that there's no case to be made here.

Certainly, on the facts of these cases, this does not appear to be anything like self-defense, which Texas law and every state's law allows. But, again, the grand jury may say, hey, let him go.

KING: You mentioned the -- the operator at the top. The operator was one cool customer.

TOOBIN: Right.

KING: He repeatedly said, don't go out there, sir, repeatedly said, there are police officers out there, repeatedly said, don't get your gun. Do not do it.

If this case were to go to trial, how much of a problem would that be, the cool and repetitive nature of the warnings?

TOOBIN: You know, we -- we often, in the press, sometimes criticize 911 operators. But, boy, I have to say, I was so impressed by -- by this operator here.

I think it's a big problem for Joe Horn, because this operator is giving precisely the rational, intelligent advice that you would hope someone like this would give.

…KING: And we talked about the operator's demeanor on that call. You just heard Joe Horn there. His attorney has suggested his client was afraid for his safety.

Do you get that sense from listening to the call? And, even if so, is that a defense?

TOOBIN: No. I mean, I read the full transcript, heard this call. He does not appear to be someone who's in a panic. It's a very cool and rather chilling determination to go out and use his gun, against the instructions of the 911 operator.”
posted by ericb at 5:57 PM on December 5, 2007


So glad I don't live the US.

Yeah -- like Canada doesn't have cases involving controversial 'deaths-by-shooting' - 1, 2, 3.
posted by ericb at 6:10 PM on December 5, 2007


kirkaracha: "Is there a link with more info about them murdering someone? I don't see anything like that in the story."

I think you misunderstood. When a person is in the act of committing a felony crime, and another person dies as a result of the commission of that crime, the person committing the crime is legally considered to have murdered the person who died.

So in this case, it could be argued that Mr. Horn's shootings were a result of robbery. If this is taken to be true, then each of the robbers would be guilty of murder for causing the death of the other as the result of their crime.
posted by CrayDrygu at 7:05 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I never said Canada is controversial-death-by-shooting-free. Sorry if my comment gave you that impression.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:16 PM on December 5, 2007


finally heard this. kinda freaks me out that you hear 3 shots, and there's only two of them. wonder who warrented a second shot?
posted by lester at 7:32 PM on December 5, 2007


Meanwhile, Rebel-Flag-Tattoo-On-His-Head Guy is wondering who didn't deserve a second shot.
posted by Flunkie at 7:45 PM on December 5, 2007


A friend of mine was killed less than 6 hours after the Castle Law was instated this year for banging on the neighbor's door in the middle of the night.

[...] my friend was 6 foot 4.

He's dead. His girlfriend is suicidal because they were having a fight when he went next door, and she feels responsible for his death.


Your physically imposing friend gets in a fight with his girlfriend in the middle of the night and winds up banging on his neighbour's door?

The fah?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:33 PM on December 5, 2007


I am getting a kick out of tkchrist's posts.

My 5c worth: I reckon the world has about 3 billion too many people. So I'm firmly in "fuck 'em" crowd. Like, this morning, I was in traffic (100km/h zone) stuck behind this DOPEY FUCKING BOZO doing about 68.

When I finally did pass, I checked my mirror and had a bit of a chuckle to see the mass havoc Mr Bozo was causing around him. But I'm sorry, in my world that's an instant DEATH SENTENCE. Too many people. Inconsiderate morons and thieves get to die first.

Erm, this only works if I am the sole arbitrator of my Star Chamber.

"Everybody gotta die some time, Red." – Sgt Bob Barnes
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:55 PM on December 5, 2007


Don't mess with Texas. That place is messed up enough already.
posted by azpenguin at 9:44 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Isn't this just a microcosm of US foreign policy? Shoot up whoever you feel deserves it on neighbours' soil?
posted by marvin at 10:10 PM on December 5, 2007


I am getting a kick out of tkchrist's posts.

The moronic content or the near illiterate grammatical mistakes?

Eh. Either way I aim to please.
posted by tkchrist at 11:23 PM on December 5, 2007


1. The guy who killed them was a murderer, plain and simple. He wanted to kill some folks, he made it clear, and he did.

2. It's hard to be totally sympathetic to the dead people. I've been mugged once, burgled twice. There's no question in my mind that I would *not* have shot any of these people, no matter how angry I was -- but I thought about it...

3. If the police did their fucking jobs then there would be no ambiguity at all.

4. If the police weren't spending a huge percentage of their time busting African-American pot dealers, they'd have much more time to deal with actual crimes.

5. If corruption and malfeasance in government and in the police were dealt with far more sternly, police would respond much better to real crimes.

6. If Americans didn't believe that morality comes from the mouth of a gun, the whole world would be a much better place.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:25 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


The moronic content or the near illiterate grammatical mistakes?

Self depreciation. I like the cut of your jib.

You would fit in well in Oz.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:50 PM on December 5, 2007


vorfeed: And if there is no "neutral arbiter of the State", no "proportionate punishment", and no "proper trials", then what? When the state shows, over and over again, that they have no interest in punishing people for these sorts of crimes, what's left?

Then, as you live in a democracy, you need to change the way in which the laws are enforced. There is no get-out that lets you shoot whoever you like, no matter what opinions you have about how well the state is carrying out its job.
posted by athenian at 11:59 PM on December 5, 2007


uncanny hengeman: Yeah, he did. It wasn't his house, it was hers. They did not cohabitate. He went next door because she didn't want to talk to him any more, so she locked him out of the house (he had already put keys and cell phone on her kitchen counter, and was on her porch smoking a cigarette). She refused to open the door again to give him his stuff, so he went next door to borrow the phone. Probably knocked a little hard because he was drunk and angry... can you relate?

I know going next door and knocking to ask if you can use their phone to call your roommate for a ride home warrants a shot to the forehead and instant death, right?

wait, AMIRITE???

Sorry if nobody has ever had to rely on the kindness of strangers after a car accident/fight/physical illness in public/blowout with your significant other.

I can think of a lot of reasons to bang on someone's door in the middle of the night...

- I just got raped
- I was attacked on the way to my car
- I was mugged, and need help
- My car broke down and my cell phone is dead

I guess I don't see the reason why he should have automatically been killed for knocking, but maybe you do. We assume the worst of people, always, and not without reason; but sometimes being a good samaritan is preferable to murder. Maybe I'm naive.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:17 AM on December 6, 2007


Oh, and by the way, the police came over and reported no damage to the door; no kick marks, scratches, dents, or signs that he was "kicking in the door" or "trying to break in." It was determined that yes, he was ONLY KNOCKING. Maybe a bit loudly. The man who shot him said his wife woke him up and said "someone is trying to break in through the front door" and he got up, grabbed his gun, yelled "get away from the door" and shot once.

Would it have been better for him to wake up, walk to the front door and realize that my friend's entire head was visible through the glass instead of shooting blindly and killing him?

I ask myself that every day.

I'm willing to bet that guy does, too.

I KNOW Ryann, the girlfriend, does. She has to live with the idea that locking him out got him killed for the rest of her life.

Do you think he deserved it?
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:23 AM on December 6, 2007


He didn't deserve it, of course. And legal systems are (in an ideal world, anyway) equipped to deal with the nuances of these cases. In the case of Joe Horn, I feel his reaction was justified. In the case of your friend's boyfriend, his neighbor was a trigger-happy crazy person who should be banned from gun ownership.

I would hope that these defense cases be brought to trial and handled in a way that acknowledges the gray area of these situations. Not all situations are created equal. When homeowners use force to defend their (or others') homes, the circumstances of the situation should be carefully examined to determine whether the use of force (and the degree of force used) was justified. But this isn't anything new, right? If a guy tries to rape me and I kill him, there is a difference between in the midst of a scuffle me knocking him over and him breaking his neck in an especially awkward fall against a wall, and and me knocking him unconscious and then proceeding to curb-stomp him.
posted by schroedinger at 9:40 AM on December 6, 2007


Then, as you live in a democracy, you need to change the way in which the laws are enforced. There is no get-out that lets you shoot whoever you like, no matter what opinions you have about how well the state is carrying out its job.

I was speaking of self-defense, which is a "get-out", and has been since the first days of the Republic. Oddly enough, even our screwed-up laws recognize that a citizen has the right to defend him or herself, even if the "state arbiters" aren't around. Though I should probably say, as long as the arbiters aren't around -- the funny thing is, they do get to shoot whoever they like, don't they? And I don't have the right of self-defense against them, do I? hmm.

As far as "democracy" goes: don't make me laugh. There's an elaborate, self-perpetuating, armed and deadly prison system that keeps people like me from "changing the way in which the laws are enforced". For example, there are many barriers which ensure that you don't get to be in a position of power in the prison & police system unless you're right for the system. If you don't believe me, try running for sheriff with no law enforcement experience, and see how far you get. Hell, we can't even stop something relatively new like the War on Drugs, much less touch the deeper, systemic problems (like, for instance, gang activity and widespread rapes and beatings) in the prison system. The oversight for the prisons and police is so well-insulated from democracy and the people, it's scary.

We're talking about a self-selecting system, one that will fight at every turn to keep its gravy train chugging along. In my opinion, we've got exactly the police force we asked for in the 1970s. The problem is, in doing so we lost the power to ask for a new one again.
posted by vorfeed at 10:46 AM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


"One caveat for this line of reasoning is that while the dead can't sue you, the dead's next of kin can (think of the civil case against O.J. Simpson).

So, um, yeah, don't bet on getting away scot free just because the person you shoot dies."

No, not with the Castle Doctrine laws. In California, their 'estate' (family) can sue you.

OJ is a different case entirely. Self defense/etc covered under Castle Doctrine is one thing, premeditated murder is another. Totally different world, man.

An interesting followup. The two guys that were shot were illegal immigrants with criminal histories. (Also note that the headline of that article has changed from what it was yesterday, to a more 'omg poor victim' type of headline.)

Either way, fuck them both.
posted by drstein at 5:07 AM on December 8, 2007


From drstein's linked article:
"Also, for the first time, investigators revealed the Nov. 14 shooting was witnessed by a plainclothes Pasadena detective, who had pulled up in an unmarked car seconds before Horn fired three shots from his 12-guage shotgun."
Interesting.
posted by ericb at 8:43 AM on December 8, 2007


Thieves are there
I see the loot
Hear the click I'm goin'
Said the robber of life.
posted by phoque at 4:48 PM on December 8, 2007


An interesting followup. The two guys that were shot were illegal immigrants with criminal histories.

I thought the interesting followup from that story was that he shot both of them in the back.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:08 AM on December 11, 2007


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