Case tests Colorado's "Make My Day" Law

Discussion in 'General Weapons Discussion' started by Bill Mattocks, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Feb 8, 2009
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    In the USA, the laws regarding self-defense and use-of-force, including deadly force, are the domain of the individual states for the most part. So each state defines what they consider legal self-defense in their own set of statutes and interpret them in their own court systems.

    Some years ago, there was a movement in the various states to extend protection from both civil and criminal liability to homeowners defending themselves in their homes. It seemed at the time that quite often, a homeowner would find themselves subject to criminal investigation, even indictment and subsequent trial, and a civil trial by either the person they injured or the family of the person they killed in what many considered to be a common-sense defense of their home from an intruder.

    Colorado was one of the first states to push the previous boundaries, and the law they passed became known as the "Make My Day" law after a famous line in a Clint Eastwood movie.

    Castle doctrine - Wikipedia

    "Current position[edit]
    Today, the majority of American states have construed their statutes of forcible entry, both penal and civil, in such a manner as to abrogate the common law privilege to use force in the recovery of possession of land.[15] A minority of states, however, have taken the view that their forcible entry statutes have not deprived a defendant with the right to immediate possession of land of their common law privilege to use reasonable force to regain possession thereof.[16]

    The term "make my day law" came to be used in the United States in about 1985 when Colorado passed a law that shielded people from any criminal or civil liability for using force against a home invader, including deadly force.[17] (The law's nickname is a reference to the line "Go ahead, make my day" uttered by actor Clint Eastwood's character "Dirty Harry" Callahan in the 1983 police film Sudden Impact.)"

    So as we see from the Wikipedia entry above, the Colorado "Make My Day" law is more commonly known as the 'Castle Doctrine', which is meant to indicate that 'A man's home is his castle', and that anyone who intrudes unlawfully into a person's home is assumed by law to be there for the purpose of injuring or killing the occupants. The fact is that many trespassers or burglars are not armed and don't actually intend to kill anyone - but it happens, and not rarely. A homeowner can't be reasonably expected to know when their door is kicked in whether or not the person kicking it in actually plans to kill them; or at least this is what the law presumes.

    Castle Laws are also extended by removing the 'Duty to Retreat', meaning the person being attacked has no duty to try to retreat first, before defending themselves. Some states extend this beyond the confines of the home or domicile - meaning that if a person is where they have a legal right to be, and they are not actually breaking the law, then they do not have the legal duty to run away if attacked; they can legally defend themselves without so doing.

    Laws, however, get tested. In the below example, a man shot a burglar to death who was in his detached garage and was not armed with a firearm, and according to prosecutors, he shot the retreating burglar in the back as he tried to flee.

    Trial of Green Beret in Colorado Springs burglar's killing expected to test limits of 'make my day' law

    So now we will see how far the "Make My Day" law extends in Colorado.

    Personally, I have always advocated NOT going outside armed to confront an intruder into an outbuilding, legal or not.

    It violates the basic principle of self-defense. A burglar in a detached garage poses nearly zero threat to one's safety. Call 911, be a good witness, arm yourself, but wait inside your house. We're talking about possessions here, not lives. I've read too many stories (and recently) of people going into the night to investigate someone breaking into their car, etc, and being shot dead by the guy who was merely stealing their car stereo, but was willing to kill to avoid capture. IT'S NOT WORTH IT!!!

    However, presuming one does go outside armed, and comes across a burglar, again the basic rules of self-defense would tell us that a fleeing bad guy can't hurt you unless he's literally shooting at you as he runs away. If you can't clearly identify the threat, you probably should not be shooting at the person.

    Well, all of this to say that self-defense laws are complex and can be difficult to understand, but as I've said many times before, if you live in the USA and you intend to arm yourself, you should learn the laws where you live regarding self-defense and use of deadly force. If you can't understand the laws, pay an attorney for their time to explain it to you. I don't see any alternative; ignorance is not only deadly, it can be expensive.

    I realize that this thread can drift into political discussions; and that is not my point here. No matter what anyone thinks about Castle Doctrine or "Make My Day" laws, the laws exist. The purpose of this thread is to discuss this particular case and the facts surrounding it. Please don't say something political and get the thread locked.
  2. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

    Feb 23, 2014
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    The other aspect of this is if you can avoid not killing or maiming somone. You can go back about your buisness a lot more quickly.
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