Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Saturday, October 23, 2004
It comes too late for Robert Symons, but the Conservatives have launched proposals to reform the law so as to give more rights to homeowners defending themselves against burglars. The Telegraph approves.
The law as it stands puts the home-owner defending his property and the burglar violating it on exactly the same footing: anyone who, in the course of defending his home, kills or injures the criminal invading it, is treated in the same way as the criminal.

The intruder can even sue the home-owner for damages if he injures himself climbing over the home-owner's fence, or if a punch from the home-owner leads to an injury. But if a home-owner kills a burglar the onus is on him to prove that his use of force was reasonable.

This is presposterous. Those who break the law - as John Locke, one of the earliest proponents of natural rights, pointed out - do not have the same rights as those who keep it.

Added later: Having started this post with the words "It comes too late", I got to wondering: how late is that? I believe that the number of burglaries that take place when the householder is present would decline to American levels if British laws resembled American laws on home defence. (Yes, I know laws vary between States. Generalise.) Let us assume that the Conservatives win the next election (Ha!), do not water down these proposals into uselessness (Ha-ha!), but rather make them make them into law as fast as the system allows (glass of water, please, someone, and note we're still not talking them being allowed pistols, just the right to actually use whatever weapon comes to hand.) How many years would it take for the effect to show? It took several decades for the criminal community to fully appreciate how determinedly the State would fight for their rights. On the other hand, a front-page photo of a dead burglar in the hall might be a more memorable lesson that the slow trickle of newspaper reports about householders being prosecuted by aggrieved burglars who grazed their knuckles gaining entry.