The risk you take defending your own home

The United States is so relaxed at times in matters relating to violence and gun control, that shooting an ‘’intruder’’ is almost considered a national pass time.

It is acceptable for one to protect their home. There is a right to bear arms in order to do so. But innocent people have sometimes been killed during these incidents. 

Laws relating to firearms in Australia are so tight that someone’s license and guns (which might be used in something so benign as target shooting) can be stripped from them if they mistakenly fail to turn the lock of their gun safe on their rural property.

We are such a ‘’safe’’ nation that we don’t permit a homeowner to protect themselves, their families and their castle – even with their bare hands. 

In NSW we are granted the ability to use reasonable force against a would be assailant in the sanctuary of our homes. But does the average Joe even understand what constitutes reasonable force?

It is assumed most would understand it to mean not to be excessive and shoot someone as they enter their property. But while the shaking of the finger at a burglar to shoo them away might be reasonable in some instances its effectiveness is highly unlikely.

Such meager reasonable force might not have been appropriate for the Newcastle man charged with murder recently, after confronting an intruder in his home. He said the man was in his child’s bedroom.

Ljupka Subeska

Regardless of whether he is convicted or not at trial, he will inevitably have to be heavily burdened by the matter as it progresses on a financial and emotional level. 

It is unfortunate that death occurred but had the dead man been more wary of the possibility of an encounter with the occupant, and the ramifications of such an encounter, a life could have been spared and another would not be hanging in the balance. 

Residents have to be cautious not to confront the robber lest they end up in custody themselves. What is the alternative? Watch them walk away with your child or your material possessions or accept an assault?

Providing police with a better understanding and more discretion as to whether charging someone is appropriate is an alternative.

And, as a deterrent to a potential criminals, spreading word that occupants who inadvertently kill an intruder won’t suffer punishment.

* Ljupka Subeska is a Kogarah lawyer

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