THE BLOG

Why Can't Canadians Defend Themselves in Their Own Homes?

09/06/2012 05:15 EDT | Updated 11/06/2012 05:12 EST
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The Toronto Star has raised an interesting question, how much force is too much when a stranger attempts to steal your property or break into your house?

It has raised the issue in reference the ongoing court case of aggravated assault where Mr. Moses Mahilal is charged for wounding an intruder with a kitchen knife. In light of the intruder's guilty plea, Mahilal's lawyer, Daniel Brown, is perplexed why the Crown is proceeding with its case, as indicated in the newspaper.

"We give people like this medals, not criminal records," Brown said in an interview this week. The intruder "may have been armed or may have been violent or had accomplices. My client acted appropriately, under the circumstances."

The law should be changed to create a sense of deterrent and to send a strong message to the would-be intruder. The sky should be the limit as to what could he or she should expect for violating the sanctity of other people and terrorizing their homes.

The law should clearly address the intruder that, if you willingly enter someone else's house to cause harm, steal something that does not belong to you -- you should expect the unexpected including losing your own life.

The moment you cross the boundaries and invade someone else's territory, you have committed a misdemeanour that deserves anything in return and you should blame no one but yourself.

It is beyond anyone's imagination to see someone uninvited into your house, in the middle of the night when your children are all asleep. He certainly did not come in out of goodness. He meant evil in the highest order and harm to you and your loved ones.

You, as the property owner, should have the right to do everything -- including killing the person, if necessary. The intruder would not hesitate to kill you and your children if he had the chance to do so.

How can you asses the situation, as the law requires, and what kind of force to use when you are confronted in such terrifying situation?

Does the law make any sense when it requires the use of proportional force in this regard?

Are you going to wake up your family and create around-the-table discussion and request the thief to excuse you for a minute while you are discussing with your family what kind of force to use against him?

Should you be courteous and ask if he needs a cup of tea of coffee while he is waiting until the family reaches a decision? Since he came in uninvited anyway, you can probably ask him to help himself to the kitchen.

What nonsense is this?

As the Toronto Star indicated, the Canadian government recently passed legislation designed to expand the legal powers of a private citizen to make an arrest.

The Citizen's Arrest and Self Defence Act permits "the reasonable use of force, taking into account all the circumstances of the particular case," says a backgrounder posted on the Department of Justice website. However, "a person is not entitled to use excessive force in a citizen's arrest."

The new law was nicknamed the Lucky Moose bill, after the case of David Chen, the owner of the Lucky Moose food mart in Toronto's Chinatown. He was charged with forcible confinement and assault after he and colleagues tied up a career thief and tossed him in a delivery van.

A person found guilty of aggravated assault is liable to imprisonment for up to 14 years. As the U.K. Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said, a householder who knifes a burglar will not have committed a criminal offence, our laws should also say the same thing. He told the BBC people were entitled to use "whatever force necessary" to protect themselves and their homes.

Asked about what this would mean in practice, he said: "If an old lady finds she's got an 18-year-old burgling her house and she picks up a kitchen knife and sticks it in him she has not committed a criminal offence and we will make that clear."

He added: "We will make it quite clear you can hit the burglar with the poker if he's in the house and you have a perfect defence when you do so."

An intruder had forfeited his life the moment he steps in to someone else's house. As the situation becomes a matter of life and death for the terrified family inside, they should not be blamed for any action they might take to defend their honor, their dignity and their lives.