While the rest of the country is busy giving homeowners more leeway, it would seem the Buffalo, New York media is trying to stir a debate about whether home defense with deadly force should be allowed at all:
Cherry, a soft-spoken and polite Army veteran, said he was protecting himself from a home burglary at about 11:20 a.m. Jan. 21, when he fired 15 shots from a military-style assault rifle at the vehicle of a fleeing intruder.
OK, that’s a legitimate prosecutable offense, and the fact that it was his step-daughter probably isn’t going to play well in front of a jury. But this shouldn’t be a debate, and I see no reason to drag other, legitimate home defense cases in with this one:
â€¢Â Willie J. Carson, 52, shot Parrish C. Spencer Jr., 22, in the chest Jan. 20, after the younger man broke into Carson’s 25th Street home and went upstairs, Niagara Falls police said.
No charges have been filed against Carson, but police have said the case has been turned over to the Niagara County district attorney’s office for further investigation.
â€¢ An 82-year-old Niagara Falls man, apparently scared and confused after a group of teens attempted to break into his home Jan. 15, fired one shotgun blast at police after they entered the home and found him hiding behind a closed door.
No one was hit, and the elderly man was not charged.
â€¢ Charles E. Gidney Sr., an off-duty Buffalo police officer, shot and killed one intruder, Reno D. Sayles, 36, and seriously wounded another inside his Buffalo home last April 22.
In his statement to police, Gidney said he grabbed his handgun, pointed it at the two men, one wearing a ski mask, and ordered them to “freeze.” Instead, they rushed at him, and he fired several shots, he said.
With the exception of the old man mistakenly shooting at police, all of these look pretty legitimate, even for New York. Fortunately, the Buffalo News goes on to describe the legal distinctions when it comes to using deadly force to defend the home. I think it’s OK for papers to cover this, but it’s not really a “debate” per se. I would find it hard to believe juries even in New York will convict people for shooting home invaders. Shooting at someone fleeing is a different matter.