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Snarky Sack
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Using Deadly Force to Prevent Theft
Aug 31st, 2018 at 8:26am
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Always, or almost always wrong?

I'm not talking about some esoteric philosophical musing about what if you're walking home with medicine to save your dying child and a teenager snatches your purse and starts running and the only way to reliable way to stop him is with a center of mass shot.  That's an easy decision.

I'm talking about a case in which a person steal your wallet and runs and you have some cash in it.  If shooting is the only way to get your money back (which it probably is), is it always wrong to shoot?  Don't bother about shooting to wound, with a pistol against a running man, not even Annie Oakley would try for a leg.

Let me refine this further:

Suppose someone stole your property, like a motorcycle.  You know where it is and you also know that the thief is volatile and often well armed.  Is arming yourself before going to retrieve your property and being prepared to use deadly force if you meet armed resistance the moral or the immoral thing to do?  Or should you back off and say, "life is more important than property.  I'm not going to risk his and my life for a motorcycle."


  

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AlayneLeung
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Re: Using Deadly Force to Prevent Theft
Reply #1 - Aug 31st, 2018 at 11:35am
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In Missouri, there is or perhaps will be a new law that prohibits any person(s) under 18 years of age from getting a driving license or piloting license or hunting license if she or he they commit(s) theft while under 18 years of age; if she or he they steal(s), then she or he or they doesn't or don't get a driving license for a number of years equal to age that she or he or they is or are or was when she or he or they did said theft; that theft has to be video recorded or that theft (such as a car stolen) must be tracked by police.  Missouri has a "No pay, no license" law that prohibits driving license(s) from being given to any person(s) that drive away without paying for fuel she or he or they got from a fuel station.
  
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Re: Using Deadly Force to Prevent Theft
Reply #2 - Aug 31st, 2018 at 11:41am
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Snarky Sack wrote on Aug 31st, 2018 at 8:26am:
If shooting is the only way to get your money back (which it probably is), is it always wrong to shoot?  Don't bother about shooting to wound, with a pistol against a running man, not even Annie Oakley would try for a leg.

Right.  Never shoot to wound. 

The only time someone should wield deadly force is to make another person DEAD.

Snarky Sack wrote on Aug 31st, 2018 at 8:26am:
Suppose someone stole your property, like a motorcycle.  You know where it is and you also know that the thief is volatile and often well armed. 

I would just hire a repo man to get my bike back.   Smiley
  
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GEMorton
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Re: Using Deadly Force to Prevent Theft
Reply #3 - Aug 31st, 2018 at 12:25pm
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Snarky Sack wrote on Aug 31st, 2018 at 8:26am:
Always, or almost always wrong?

Suppose someone stole your property, like a motorcycle.  You know where it is and you also know that the thief is volatile and often well armed.  Is arming yourself before going to retrieve your property and being prepared to use deadly force if you meet armed resistance the moral or the immoral thing to do?  Or should you back off and say, "life is more important than property.  I'm not going to risk his and my life for a motorcycle."


Since you know where it is, statists would universally advise you to summon the cops to retrieve your property.

But to the broader question --- may deadly force be employed to protect or retrieve property --- my answer is "yes."

One winter morning a few years ago a man in my city, a local contractor, had started his truck to warm it up, went back inside to finish his coffee. While watching the truck from his kitchen window a young man approached the idling pickup, climbed in and drove away. The contractor grabbed his pistol, which was nearby, ran outside, and fired one round at the thief, then half a block away. His aim was deadly; the round struck the back of thief's head, killing him instantly.

The local DA rejected his self-defense claim and prosecuted him for manslaughter, citing state Supreme Court decisions indicating that the self-defense statutes do not allow deadly force to be employed to protect property (despite clear language in those statutes stating otherwise).

The jury deliberated less than 2 hours and acquitted him. This state's self-defense statutes also require the state to pay all costs imposed on a defendant acquitted on self-defense grounds. So the State ended up forking over almost $300,000 to the contractor.

"Human life is more valuable than property" is a meaningless statement --- the values of everything, including human lives, are subjective and relative to valuers --- and irrelevant to the issues involved. Whether force is justified in any given situation does not turn on the relative values of a pickup truck v. the thief's life, but whether it is necessary to assure justice in that situation.
  
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Snarky Sack
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Re: Using Deadly Force to Prevent Theft
Reply #4 - Aug 31st, 2018 at 1:39pm
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GEMorton wrote on Aug 31st, 2018 at 12:25pm:
Since you know where it is, statists would universally advise you to summon the cops to retrieve your property.


Of course.  Statists by definition are fine with use of deadly force to take property that rightfully belongs to another, so they would have no qualms about sending an armed police officer after an armed thug to get his motorcycle.  Sure, someone could die.  But it's the principle of the thing!

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But to the broader question --- may deadly force be employed to protect or retrieve property --- my answer is "yes."

One winter morning a few years ago a man in my city, a local contractor, had started his truck to warm it up, went back inside to finish his coffee. While watching the truck from his kitchen window a young man approached the idling pickup, climbed in and drove away. The contractor grabbed his pistol, which was nearby, ran outside, and fired one round at the thief, then half a block away. His aim was deadly; the round struck the back of thief's head, killing him instantly.

The local DA rejected his self-defense claim and prosecuted him for manslaughter, citing state Supreme Court decisions indicating that the self-defense statutes do not allow deadly force to be employed to protect property (despite clear language in those statutes stating otherwise).

The jury deliberated less than 2 hours and acquitted him. This state's self-defense statutes also require the state to pay all costs imposed on a defendant acquitted on self-defense grounds. So the State ended up forking over almost $300,000 to the contractor.

"Human life is more valuable than property" is a meaningless statement --- the values of everything, including human lives, are subjective and relative to valuers --- and irrelevant to the issues involved. Whether force is justified in any given situation does not turn on the relative values of a pickup truck v. the thief's life, but whether it is necessary to assure justice in that situation.


Well stated. 

Rather than stand on justice, I would say that the right to kill to defend property comes from the right to self-ownership.
  

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The Opposition
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Re: Using Deadly Force to Prevent Theft
Reply #5 - Aug 31st, 2018 at 11:42pm
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The answer is indefinite and as always, it will switch every time the best lawyer is hired by the richest person who needs it to switch.

The NAP doesn't answer the question.

It can't.

The idea that defensive force is not force is an ad hoc addendum to the NAP to begin with. How far that ad hoc addition goes is up to whoever added it.
  

This moral relativism of yours is exactly what lets government take this freedom, then that freedom, until we have lost them all.
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GEMorton
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Re: Using Deadly Force to Prevent Theft
Reply #6 - Sep 1st, 2018 at 12:10am
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The Opposition wrote on Aug 31st, 2018 at 11:42pm:
The answer is indefinite and as always, it will switch every time the best lawyer is hired by the richest person who needs it to switch.

The NAP doesn't answer the question.

It can't.

The idea that defensive force is not force is an ad hoc addendum to the NAP to begin with. How far that ad hoc addition goes is up to whoever added it.


You seem to be hung up on the NAP. Though useful in explaining libertarianism, and for settling many political questions, it is not a fundamental ethical principle and requires several qualifications to be reliable universally.
  
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The Opposition
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Re: Using Deadly Force to Prevent Theft
Reply #7 - Sep 1st, 2018 at 1:30am
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GEMorton wrote on Sep 1st, 2018 at 12:10am:
You seem to be hung up on the NAP. Though useful in explaining libertarianism, and for settling many political questions, it is not a fundamental ethical principle and requires several qualifications to be reliable universally.


The NAP is the central principle of libertarian ideology.

I agree that it requires serious MacGuyvering to be functional or useful.

Without sticking to it, though, libertarians lose the moral high horse. This isn't meant to be an insult; libertarians actually have such a horse. Libertarian philosophy is actually more than just "I want" or "give me X now because I want it" or "X will benefit me so I'll vote for it."

Without the NAP, though, your wishes about what government should and should not do are no more or less acceptable than anyone else's.
  

This moral relativism of yours is exactly what lets government take this freedom, then that freedom, until we have lost them all.
-SnarkySack
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GEMorton
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Re: Using Deadly Force to Prevent Theft
Reply #8 - Sep 1st, 2018 at 10:25am
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The Opposition wrote on Sep 1st, 2018 at 1:30am:
Without sticking to it, though, libertarians lose the moral high horse. This isn't meant to be an insult; libertarians actually have such a horse.


All libertarians I know of do stick to it --- with the qualifications.
  
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Snarky Sack
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Re: Using Deadly Force to Prevent Theft
Reply #9 - Sep 2nd, 2018 at 11:25am
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The Opposition wrote on Aug 31st, 2018 at 11:42pm:
The answer is indefinite and as always, it will switch every time the best lawyer is hired by the richest person who needs it to switch.

The NAP doesn't answer the question.

It can't.

The idea that defensive force is not force is an ad hoc addendum to the NAP to begin with. How far that ad hoc addition goes is up to whoever added it.


I've never seen a libertarian say that defensive force is not force, that's illogical.  We do say that defensive force is not aggression. 

If someone is attacking you and force is the only way to stop them, force is justified.  Someone strikes you and runs away, chasing him down and striking him back is not defensive, it's retaliatory.  You could say it is preventative of future attacks, but you're on less firm ground.  The preventative argument could be used to justify finishing off a burglar you've incapacitated with your first shot. 

I have no trouble going to my neighbor's garage and taking back the motorcycle he stole from me so long as I expect no response other than his telling me to "put up your dukes."   

My question is whether it is moral for me to arm myself and go to my neighbor to get my motorcycle, hoping I won't have to use it, but fully intending to shoot him if there is no other way to get my motorcycle. 

Keep in mind in that situation, I have a reasonable explanation that he will be armed and willing to use it or I would not have brought my own gun.

Is it moral to go into a situation like that, or is human life more important than property?


  

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