Should you ever use a weapon to defend your home?

There have been 677 reported burglaries in the UK in 2011/2012. These figures released by the police have fallen from 958 in 2001/2002.

Everyone would agree that one of your biggest fears is an intruder entering your home.  At this point you would want to protect your home at all costs as the intruder is trespassing on private property.

The current law within the UK states that you can use ‘reasonable force’ to defend yourself. The term reasonable force is one that is up for debate as one person’s understanding of reasonable force can differ from another.

Therefore this law is very unclear about how far you can go to defend your home.  David Cameron had this to say on the matter on 9th October 2012:

“When that burglar crosses your threshold, invades your home, threatens your family, they give up their rights,”

David Cameron here is stating that the law will be on the homeowner’s side in this situation. He has said that if you were to stab a burglar if he was unconscious then that would be grossly disproportionate. However, what else is defined as reasonable force? Should burglars be subjected to such brutal force if they have broken into a home?

In 2010 Munir Hussain, a millionaire businessman, was jailed for 30 months after attacking a burglar with a bat after his family were threatened by burglars. A month after his conviction he was freed by the Lord Chief Justice. His message was clear and simple; a householder has the right to defend his family.

Even more recently, in September this year, Andy Ferrie and his wife were held for three days on GBH charges, after they shot two burglars. They were eventually not prosecuted against.

These two cases raise a startling issue. Both used what most people would deem to be unreasonable force.

Personally, I feel you should use a weapon to defend your home, as I have the view rather them than me. If they have trespassed into my home I believe they would have the intent to cause harm, whether It is physical or mental.

 

In addition,  how can we ever really define reasonable force, especially when the two case studies I have highlighted have used excessive force, when this sort of act would be prosecuted in normal day to day life.

Has the law just opened up a situation where unless the burglar is killed any sort of force would be acceptable? 

Share any views you may have with us.

By Daniel Lifton

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7 thoughts on “Should you ever use a weapon to defend your home?

  1. You raise good point here. Reasonable force is a very loose term. Even myself find it hard to ascertain what the definition of this term is related to this issue. From the cases you have highlightes it shows that you can use what i would think is an excessive amount of force.

    To answers the questions posed, I agree that you should be able to use a weapon to defend your home. As soon as somebody steps foot inside your house that isn’t welcome you should defend your home and your family. Its a case of rather them than me.

    I do feel however the law needs to be clarified more as it is opening up a lot of trouble for future cases.

  2. The ethical question is about right and wrong – and of the wider benefits to society.

    While it’s logical to argue for homeowners to be protected by the law if they take violent action against intruders, this may not be in society’s (ie our) best interest. Here’s why.

    If burglars know that they are likely to be savagely attacked if discovered, then they are more likely to arm themselves and escalate the aggression if apprehended. This means a non-violent home owner is more likely to be attacked whether or not they offer up any resistance.

    Commonsense does not always indicate the best course of action for society.

    The same thinking has been applied to national defence, of course. The Cold War philosophy was of ‘mutually assured destruction’ (MAD), with the hope that a guarantee of strong retaliation (through threatened use of the nuclear deterrent) would prevent a preemptive attack. History judges it to have worked, though at huge cost. Pacifism has been a much less attractive policy for states (neutral states like Switzerland are among the most heavily armed on the planet).

    • Thank you for your comments Richard. You raise a good point about burglars feeling that they will need to arm themselves if they feel homeowners will defend their home with a weapon.

      Therefore, do you feel David Cameron’s statement on the 9th October (see blog post) was ill-advised and actually as you said, have a negative affect for society.

      Maybe it had something to do with his personal experience of previously having an intruder in his home that sparked this comment.

      Furthermore, do you feel more clarification of the term “reasonable force” is needed?

  3. The popular stance on this question (just like the popular stance on capital punishment) would not necessarily reduce the level of violence in society. As I argue above, it might increase the fear of attack and could even lead to an escalation of violence.

    As Prime Minister David Cameron has to choose his words carefully; but he’s also leader of the Conservative Party and a MP for Witney so he also has to respond to press and public clamour on issues like this.

    • I agree. Also with the current gun crime and knife crime culture in society around young people, allowing the use of weapons to defend your home may somewhat socialise children with the accepted use of weapons therefore encouraging crime away from the home.

  4. Reblogged this on Wanderjahre's Blog and commented:
    I was considering a similar post mysefl, but Daniel’s posting sums up the issue. The law is still unclear on this and I suspect that is because no one is entirely how the right to defend law will actually work in practice. If I have few improvised weapons around the house, I wonder how the police will view that if and when an incident occurs. But with everything taken into consideration and with incidences of violence increase it may well be better, as an American friend pointed out “to be tried by 12 than carried by 6!”

    • You make a very good point. I would assume most homeowners whould choose to defend their home with a weapon to guarantee their safety for them and their families, rather than be on the recieving end of an attack by an intruder.

      However, as previously mentioned by Richard, by condoning defending your home with a weapon, in the the grand scheme of things, could actually result in a detrimental effect for society as a whole.

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