Patterico's Pontifications


The Joe Horn Ripple Effect (Updated x2)

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 4:51 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Once is a fluke.

Twice could be coincidence.

But three times suggests a pattern:

“The owner of a small Texas City mom-and-pop grocery store shot and killed a gunmen during a robbery Friday night, authorities said.

A man, whose identity was not available, entered Jones Grocery in the 600 block of 9th Street North around 8:30 p.m. dressed in black and armed with a shotgun, Texas City Police Department Captain Brian Goetschius said. An employee outside smoking a cigarette was able to alert store owner Joe Kainer Jr. before being ordered away by the gunman, Goetschius said.

The gunman entered the store and demanded money at Kainer’s back counter, police said. After putting the cash in a bag, he demanded more money from the front register. At the front counter, Kainer was able to pull his gun out, police said.

“As (the gunman) was opening the door to leave, which is within arm’s length of the counter, still in possession of the shotgun and money, he was shot,” Goetschius said.

[T]he robber was pronounced dead on the scene.”

Authorities believe the owner acted within his rights under Texas law and do not plan to file charges.

I suspect many Houston-area robbers and burglars are thinking seriously about a career change.

UPDATE 1 – 12/15/2007: Here’s number four. The Houston Chronicle published this report regarding a botched robbery at a Houston grocery store that killed 68-year-old Janette Dominguez, “who was caught in the crossfire Friday night between the would-be robbers and the store’s security guard.” A 27-year-old man believed to be one of the gunmen also died from a gunshot and the store security guard was seriously wounded:

“At the Fiesta at Fulton and Patton, two men — one armed with a shotgun and the other with a handgun — entered the store about 9 p.m. Friday, said Sgt. Robert Odom with the Houston Police Department’s homicide unit. Wearing hoods and ski masks, the gunmen threatened a male employee to try to gain access to the store’s courtesy area. “They apparently walked in and grabbed the nearest employee and demanded to be let into the courtesy booth,” Odom said.

The armed security guard was taking a break in the coffee shop near the back of the store when he heard the disturbance and went to investigate, Odom said. When one of the suspects saw the security guard come around the corner, he opened fire, said Odom, noting that the guard’s uniform closely resembles an HPD uniform.

The gunmen and security guard exchanged gunfire. Dominguez, who was waiting to check out in the first express lane near the entrance, got caught in the crossfire, authorities said.

“There was a bottle of cold medicine still sitting there,” Odom said.”

How very sad, especially in the death of Ms. Dominguez. It will be interesting to see if this case changes public opinion regarding the use of deadly force in a robbery.

UPDATE 2 – 12/16/2007: The bullet that killed Ms. Dominguez did not come from the security guard’s gun:

“Janette Dominguez, 68, was buying cold medicine at the supermarket in the 4100 block of Fulton about 8:45 p.m. when she was caught up in the crossfire between the robbers and a security guard, police said. She later died at Ben Taub General Hospital. Police said an autopsy report showed that the bullet that struck Dominguez did not come from the security guard’s gun.”

This is small comfort for Ms. Dominguez’ family but I’m sure it matters to the security guard.


83 Responses to “The Joe Horn Ripple Effect (Updated x2)”

  1. It’s not a pattern (related to Joe Horn anyway). It happens all the time in Texas. People defend themselves.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  2. I agree with your suspicion.

    Paul (2ca51d)

  3. Christoph,

    I know it seems that way, especially after these cases and the publicity from the Rebecca Aguilar interview in the Dallas case. However, this doesn’t happen all the time in Texas … at least it didn’t until recently.

    DRJ (09f144)

  4. In the immortal words of Larry Niven: “Just think of it as evolution in action.”

    M. Scott Eiland (113229)

  5. I happens all over the country, all the time. However the socialist media message is always that guns only cause problems. So they under report such situations.

    Now, they are hitting us with a barrage of it, so people will be under the impression that the castle doctrine is being pushed where it wasn’t meant to go, self defense is being used as a justification for murder, and people will become minority-killing vigilantes unless something is done about it. It is all part of the plan.

    Smarty (7a2278)

  6. I suspect many Houston-area robbers and burglars are thinking seriously about a career change.

    The various states’ Republicans should put ballot measures on the 08 ballot to adopt the Texas law. It can’t lose since defeating it would be like begging violent criminals to come to your state to ply their trade. The Democrat candidates will be campaigning against these measures which will piss off everyone cept the felons…and they can’t vote.

    j curtis (8bcca6)

  7. Smarty, I agree that’s what they think they’re doing–see this editorial in the local Houston Chronicle, for instance–but I believe they’ve seriously misjudged their audience.

    There are over thirteen hundred (!) comments on Ms. Falkenberg’s article, and the quick sample I took is mostly supportive of Horn.

    djmoore (226886)

  8. Considering the number of crimes in Houston (FBI Crime stats, Jan-Jun 2006: Violent-12,216; Property-58,251) not very many criminals are getting the word that they may be shot plying their trade.

    [tmac – I think we’ll have to wait a year to analyze crime statistics since the change in Texas law (altering the duty to retreat) took effect 9/1/2007 and the Joe Horn incident did not occur until 11/14/2007. — DRJ]

    tmac (5408eb)

  9. What kind of an idiot robs a Fiesta (for those who don’t know, it’s a huge grocery store like Harris Teeter or Safeway).

    You’re going to be noticed, and this is texas. I thought robbers stuck to the small shops.

    That poor woman. This is not the fault of any gun laws, and it’s insane and vulgar to suggest it was. An armed security guard can be used in the most restrictive gun law states. The robbers shot at the guard; it isn’t as though the guard were killing robbers to protect the property. He was being shot at.

    No, that poor woman’s death can only be blamed on the robbers. No law in Texas made this tragedy more likely, and this would have played out the same in Washington DC.

    Dustin (9e390b)

  10. whats wrong with the use of deadly force when being robbed by an armed robber?

    james conrad (7cd809)

  11. The death of Ms. Dominguez is horrible, and if the security guard had opened fire at robbers with customers in the way, he should never work as an armed guard again, and the grocery’s insurers would have a bad day.

    HOWEVER, from the report it seems that the robbers fired first, putting the guard into a necessarily defensive mode. The reasonable, and I think mandatory, hope that refraining from deadly force would leave the customers in less peril ended the moment the robbers opened fire. At that point the most reasonable hope for a peaceful outcome was with the robbers incapacitated, however accomplished.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  12. Give Joe Horn and this guy a medal. People are sick and tired of being sick and tired and afraid.

    Increase Mather (098c33)

  13. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s more of a location change effect than a career change one; I’m guessing that there will be some of both.

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  14. The same thing happens here in Pennsylvania. In eastern PA, criminals come across the Delaware from New Jersey, and get shot. I suspect that’s why New Jersey abolished their death penalty: The can just export their thugs here, and we’ll take care of the problem for them.

    rightwingprof (73c889)

  15. rightwingprof: When Penn. fries Mumia, then we will talk.

    tired (2e7c68)

  16. There’s a serious difference between Joe Horn’s actions and these other cases. In these other cases, the burglars or robbers intruded into a building where other people actually were and were visibly armed. Nobody went looking for a gunfight, the bad guys with guns came upon them. Nobody left a place of safety to start shooting at unarmed criminals leaving the scene.

    I think Joe Horn should be convicted of manslaughter. Save the medals for the people like these other folks.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  17. To seriously suggest that no action be taken during an armed robbery is intellectually dishonest…..might you want to ask the dead people from robberies who were sheparded into back rooms and killed?

    I guess you should just take your chances that any particular robbery will be just that as opposed to someone wanting to kill everyone so there are no witnesses.

    I personally say shoot the robbers preferably dead so they cannot do it again.

    Jaded (c8d596)

  18. I know of a number of instances where no resistance was offered and the gunman left, only to immediately return and shoot an innocent person dead.

    tired (2e7c68)

  19. Regardless of who shot the bystander (or even the dead robber), it looks to me like the surviving robber should be good for a felony murder charge.

    htom (412a17)

  20. Would “no action during an armed robbery” also apply to massive cash transfers via armored car? If not, where is the cutoff point?

    great unknown (c36902)

  21. Joe Horn: Precedent-Setter

    Leviticus (12184d)

  22. Why is it that “THE LAW” has to break everything down into every conceivable situation? I am sick to death of reading how people attempt to criminalize common sense actions.

    An armed robber steals cash, fires upon a person, and is killed. An innocent is killed in the gunfight. Where is the crime? Why, it must belong to the person who was first fired upon! Bull.

    Maybe Gomer was right to be hyerkinetic when he famously “citizen arrest(ed)!” Barney. He obviously knew there would be severe repercussions. Thank goodness his sense of right and wrong prevailed.

    Ed (fa0851)

  23. Ed, who in the world has said that there was a crime committed in that gunfight? I don’t see that in the article or any of the comments.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  24. PatHMV –

    Manslaughter by definition involves an unlawful taking of life.

    Given Texas laws 9.41, 9.42, and 9.43, on what basis should Joe Horn “be convicted of manslaughter”?

    jim2 (1e0118)

  25. jim2, you may well be correct about Texas law. I believe that particular law, if it does in fact allow what Joe Horn did, to be immoral. Obviously, if Texas law allows the shooting of unarmed individuals in order to protect property, then Horn cannot be prosecuted. But I believe that to be unjust.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  26. PatHMV,

    I don’t know what will happen in Joe Horn’s case but Texas law clearly allows the use of deadly force to protect property. I’m curious if you believe any use of deadly force to protect property is immoral, or do the specific facts in Joe Horn’s case bother you?

    DRJ (09f144)

  27. Morality does not impose itself on others. When it does, it stops being morality and becomes law. It may very well have been immoral for Joe Horn to have shot those burglars. But it is not immoral that he will not be deprived of his freedom because of it. It is, in fact, within the same morality of clemency that you demand for the burglars.

    nk (6061ba)

  28. DRJ… where property is currently in your possession or immediate vicinity, then I’ve got no problem with the use of deadly force to protect that property, because the odds are that any attempt to protect your property short of deadly force may result in your own death or injury. But when you are in a place of complete safety, I don’t believe it is moral to leave that place of safety in order to kill another human being simply to protect property.

    nk… I’m afraid I really don’t understand your comment. There can be immoral laws, I’m sure you’d agree. I don’t demand “clemency” for the burglars. I demand that somebody sitting in the safety of their living room not leave the room with a pretty clear intent to kill them over a TV set. I’d be happy to have those burglars serve 10 years in prison for their crime. But they didn’t deserve to die for it, and I don’t want to live in a neighborhood where the residents are that quick on the trigger.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  29. PatHMV,

    It may be immoral to gratuitously take another person’s life, even if it is legal to do so. However, it seems to me that the point of having laws that protect property (especially laws that allow people to protect the property of a third person) is that society as a whole benefits when citizens stop lawless behavior.

    DRJ (09f144)

  30. You say the burglars should not have been killed. Even if I agree, it is not inconsistent or immoral to say that Joe Horn should not go to jail for it. The same clemency/forgiveness/tolerance/acceptable losses, (use your favorite term) that tells me the burglars should not have been killed tells me I should not deprive the man who killed them of his freedom because of it.

    nk (6061ba)

  31. You’re certainly entitled to your own opinion on the subject, nk. My own morality teaches me otherwise, is all I’m saying. Plus, I don’t want to live in a place where the law allows killing to protect property… particularly somebody else’s property. I DO NOT want some future Joe Horn risking his own life, and taking someone else’s, to protect MY property.

    DRJ… I’m sure that’s the intent of such a law, but I consider it both immoral and unwise. I feel much more endangered by Joe Horn’s attitude than burglars. The dead guys here were obviously, in fact, burglars. But what if they weren’t? What if they were the neighbor’s friends or relatives breaking into the house at the request of the neighbors? What if it was a junkie son of the neighbors, breaking into mom and dad’s house? He’d still be a criminal, but the neighbors would hardly thank him for killing the boy. For that matter, what if these particular neighbors were pacifists who don’t believe in killing, certainly not killing over property. I wouldn’t want somebody defending MY property in that way. I’d be horrified.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  32. I would add that I have no particular objection (if Horn’s actions are not actually protected by Texas law) for a sentence of probation. I believe that Mr. Horn is experiencing sincere and profound regret about what he did now. I imagine that he’s fairly horrified at the cavalier attitude toward killing a man that he exhibited on that telephone call. If so, that’s punishment enough for me, and I simply would like a conviction (if provided for by Texas law) on the record to voice society’s formal condemnation of those actions.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  33. PatHMV, forgetting Texas law for a second, and going to the law of the land in every state as far as I know, a person has a right to intervene to stop a crime and attempt a citizen’s arrest. To do so may be unwise. But it’s certainly lawful and moral.

    If in the process of doing so, you reasonably feel it risk of serious bodily harm or death, you do have the right to use force to defend yourself.

    So even if this particular Texas law is wrong as you maintain, Horn may have been justified if the facts are as his lawyer maintains. And whether you want someone to intervene in an attempt to make a citizen’s arrest to stop a crime or not is irrelevant. They have the right to do so and, in fact, if that’s their motive, it’s commendable.

    One of the principles behind the criminal justice system is it protects society, not just the victim. You as the victim may not care so much. But Mr. Horn as a potential future victim or as someone who cared for his community as a whole may have felt a moral obligation to attempt to stop a crime. Even if a victim would prefer otherwise, the attempt to make an arrest is at least justifiable.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  34. PatHMV,

    I agree with Christoph. Following up on that, Pat, your focus is subjective: “What would I want in this situation?” but the law is objective: “What should happen?” What should happen is we need to discourage people from robbing and burglarizing others. Prison apparently isn’t enough to deter some thieves so we allow deadly force.

    The alternative is to treat thieves like they do at Wal-Mart, e.g., lost property is simply a cost of doing business. As a society, we can let people get away stealing property. However, the danger of doing that is we end up with a culture of lawlessness that makes it less safe for people, too, and not just their property.

    DRJ (09f144)

  35. *at risk

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  36. But society already spoke. What it said is in Section 9.43.

    nk (6061ba)

  37. PatHMV, a conviction for what offense? And what offense would be convicted for without a custodial prison sentence attached?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  38. Well, nk, the law is always subject to change, should society change its mind after seeing the effects of a particular statute in action.

    My opinion on whether I want MY property defended by deadly force by my neighbors is entirely relevant. I have the right to give my permission, even retroactive, to anybody else, even total strangers, to simply take my property. You do not have a right to stop me from giving my property away, and you do not have a right to kill those who take it without knowing whether I have given my permission to those individuals to take my property.

    Remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry’s dad has a neighbor of his in Florida break into his garage to get some raincoats? That sort of thing actually does happen. My own brothers occasionally stop by my house. They know the combination to the key lock, but I don’t know if some of my neighbors would necessarily be able to tell the difference between breaking in and unlocking the door.

    As I said, I’m not for lawlessness, and I’m all for stiff prison terms for property offenders (juveniles, in particular, are let off way too easy for their first two or three property offenses). I do not, however, believe that we will be better off if we declare open season on apparent burglars. Note the “apparent” there. The guys that Mr. Horn killed were actually burglars. But the law, as DRJ notes, will apply to allow killing of people based on not the actuality of whether they turned out to be burglars or not, but on a more objective standard, of whether a reasonable person might have believed they were burglars. I want a higher standard to be required before we open up the shooting gallery.

    So there are other alternatives between the two extremes. Indeed, in the particular case of Mr. Horn, the police were not ignoring the crime but were rapidly responding, arriving only moments after Mr. Horn opened fire. We can protect society and enforce the rule of law without turning our streets into a free-fire zone.

    Christoph, that may be a proper analysis. But I’m not buying Mr. Horn’s lawyer’s explanation, based on his comments to the 911 dispatcher. Even if he didn’t walk out the door intending to kill them (which is pretty much what he told the dispatcher), he put himself into a situation where ANY action they took would appear to him, a 61-year-old man already very emotionally agitated, as threatening.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  39. Christoph, I’d argue manslaughter (again, leaving aside the issue of the applicability of the Texas defense-of-property statute). It was the intentional killing of a human being, but in the heat of the moment, before his blood had time to cool. And quite a few offenses do not have mandatory prison terms required, leaving it up to the judge whether to impose a prison term or not.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  40. “But I’m not buying Mr. Horn’s lawyer’s explanation, based on his comments to the 911 dispatcher.”

    In this specific case, I tend to agree with you as I’ve stated elsewhere.

    “Even if he didn’t walk out the door intending to kill them (which is pretty much what he told the dispatcher), he put himself into a situation where ANY action they took would appear to him, a 61-year-old man already very emotionally agitated, as threatening.”


    “My opinion on whether I want MY property defended by deadly force by my neighbors is entirely relevant.”

    Only insofar as a part of the statute refers to you requesting a third part protect your property, but even at that it doesn’t always matter depending on the nature of crime, fixed or moving property, etc. (i.e., other parts of the same statute).

    “I have the right to give my permission, even retroactive, to anybody else, even total strangers, to simply take my property.”

    As a practical matter at least if you’re willing to give a false statement to the police this may be true. As a matter of law, it isn’t. Theft is theft — burglary is burglary. If a victim didn’t want to press charges, but the evidence was there, the prosecutor can and must proceed with charges when there is a substantial likelihood of conviction and where the crime was grievous enough that a conviction is in society’s best interest.

    Imagine for a second the crimes of rape or domestic violence. Can a victim in either case retroactively give permission for her own rape or beating? She cannot — her own feelings to the contrary notwithstanding.

    Society has an interest in seeing even “willing” victims† aren’t victimized and that criminals are reformed and/or punished for their actions. And, in theory, the criminal justice system serves society at large even more than a given victim emotions notwithstanding.

    † Beyond the broader issue of the criminal justice system’s responsibility to society at large, many victims wouldn’t support prosecution for reason of intimidation or for psychological causes like “Stockholm syndrome.” This is one of many good reasons why victims can’t retroactively choose to allow crimes against their person or property.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  41. Well, one can in fact give consent to being beaten. It happens all the time, in the boxing ring among other places.

    And as a former prosecutor myself, I’m certainly familiar with the reasons for not always following the post-hoc desires of the victim. But I’m not talking about retroactive consent in this instance, I’m talking, perhaps, about conditional consent. If I were present in Mr. Horn’s house, and it was my property being stolen, I would have told Mr. Horn that I was at that moment giving them permission to take my stuff if the only other alternative was Mr. Horn shooting them.

    And purely property crimes are generally treated differently even when it comes to “retroactive consent.” Armed robbery has an immediate impact on many others besides the victim himself. Domestic violence is a particular societal problem with unique emotional components requiring special handling. And while there are plenty of examples which support prosecution of criminals over the objection of the victims, I can also point to quite a few examples where such a prosecution is nothing more than government interference into truly private, family matters, causing more problems than it “solves.”

    But that’s taking us rather far afield. I am quite happy to give conditional permission to burglars to take my stuff, to the extent necessary to avoid giving any legal justification to the likes of Mr. Horn. I do NOT authorize the killing of any person taking my stuff when my and my family’s lives are not endangered. In those circumstances, anybody who seems to be stealing my stuff has my permission to be on my property and to take my stuff.

    I come at this perspective through both reason (I believe such actions make society more dangerous, not more safe) and because I believe it is required by my Christianity. While I support the death penalty and killing in self-defense, I think that any other killing, killing to protect mere property, runs afoul of the commandment not to kill and the commandment to love my neighbor, and my enemy, as I love myself.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  42. “But that’s taking us rather far afield. I am quite happy to give conditional permission to burglars to take my stuff, to the extent necessary to avoid giving any legal justification to the likes of Mr. Horn.”

    Unless you’ve clearly communicated this to Mr. Horn, it doesn’t mean Jack Sh–. And as the 911 tape we both listened to at length clearly indicates, he didn’t know these neighbors well. This is something that potentially hurts his 9.43 defense, but equally, shows no one asked him to do squat. Reasonably, a person could assume a neighbor wouldn’t retroactively give some type of complicated former prosecutor Christianity inspired legalise permission for burglars to break into their home and take their stuff.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  43. “runs afoul of the commandment not to kill”

    Most modern translators agree the King James version was mistranslated to “kill”, which clearly makes no sense or David of David and Goliath fame was a horrid person, and actually should have read “murder”. And as others have pointed out to me, it’s not been established Horn murdered anyone, although I’ve made the case, less than convincingly thus far since the reports of the eye witness undercover officer came out.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  44. “the commandment to love my neighbor, and my enemy, as I love myself”

    I believe that commandment was meant only for a moral and righteous person to follow. (A sexual sado-masochist wouldn’t be justified in using it, for example.)

    As a person who aims to be moral and righteous, I would expect to be tried and punished for burglary and I would expect there’s a reasonable chance a homeowner or neighbor with a shotgun might try to stop me. Therefore, I wouldn’t consider a police officer or concerned neighbor attempting to stop to be a violation violation of this principle and neither would Jesus, I think.

    Peter wore a sword after all. Jesus on one occasion told him not to use it, but not to take it off. Why? Swords like shotguns serve a moral purpose.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  45. PatHMV –

    Who defines “morality” or what conduct is “immoral”?

    Is morality living in accordance with the rules of society? Are not the rules of a society defined by the laws established by a society? Is not the Great State of Texas empowered by the US Constitution to make laws just as long as they are not unconstitutional? Are not Texas laws 9.41, 9.42, 9.43 legal? Do you believe those laws to be unconstitutional? If so, on what basis?

    I interpret your position to be – and I certainly could be wrong – that Joe Horn’s actions violated your personal “morality”.

    jim2 (1e0118)

  46. “Is morality living in accordance with the rules of society?”

    No. Not as such.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  47. Actually, Christoph, the King James “thou shall not kill” is not a mistranslation. It is a case of language drift. In 17th Century English, “kill” meant today’s ‘murder’ and “slay” was used to mean what we would call ‘kill’ today.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  48. Thanks, SPQR. While I didn’t know that, it’s a good explanation. It was interesting too. And I like it more because it still supports my point!

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  49. Peter wore a sword after all. Jesus on one occasion told him not to use it, but not to take it off. Why? Swords like shotguns serve a moral purpose.

    See also Luke 22:36 where Jesus commands his Disciples:

    He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.

    See also Exodus 22:2

    “If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed;

    bonhomme (e94eca)

  50. The central fact is all the liberals here who are decrying the use of deadly force against criminals are not putting up signs saying that no force will be used against people committing crimes against myself and my family.

    PCD (09d6a8)

  51. Christoph –

    On your #47, how else would you define “morality” without some sort of prefix like: “Islamic Morality” or “Christian Morality”?

    For example, see:

    Or, are you asserting there exists an “absolute morality” to which all would agree?

    Absent an “absolute morality”, why would those who choose to live in Texas subject to the legal and publicized laws of Texas within the USA with its own publicized laws and Constitution be entitled to consider living in accordance with anything else other than laws “morality”?

    Do you feel that folk should be entitled to disregard the laws passed by society and choose their own morality codes? For example, that they should be able to live in the US under sharia law and defend their actions such as “honor killings” as “morality”?

    If your views of what should be an “absolute morality” are self-evident, why is it that there never seems to have been a universal agreement on them?

    jim2 (a9ab88)

  52. What liberals, PCD? I’m pretty darn conservative. As I noted initially, I support the use of deadly force in all those other instances, and I support hefty prison sentences for burglars. If trouble comes looking for you, then I’ve got no problem if you use a gun to defend yourself and your property. But I do have a problem with leaving a place of complete safety in order to kill someone who is taking somebody else’s property when no one is currently in any physical danger at all.

    As for the Bible, again, it’s a free country, and you may interpret it as you will. You are correct about the proper interpretation of the word “kill” in the commandment. But establishing the definition does not clarify the issue. It simply leaves the question, was Mr. Horn committing an unjust killing?

    Myself, I think this passage is relatively clear:

    But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

    I freely confess that I am not a good enough Christian to follow this totally, and I have not gone and given all that I have to the poor. But I do think that pro-life conservatives should be just a bit more reticent about taking a human life without benefit of judge, jury, or even hearing the other side first.

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  53. “As for the Bible, again, it’s a free country, and you may interpret it as you will. You are correct about the proper interpretation of the word “kill” in the commandment. But establishing the definition does not clarify the issue.”

    No, but it does show how you, an educated woman, left a modern commonly misunderstood definition of your quote unexplained to further your point, a point which you utterly failed to justify with the 10 commandments because of your willful or other oversight.

    Anyway, I’ll accept you may not have known the correct meaning behind this most critical passage until recently and SPQR educated you, rendering my above criticism off target. Accepting that, let’s move on.

    I agree with you more or less that this Texas statute for protection of third party property is over broad and may grant a license to kill in some questions. I could construct a theoretical scenario based on reading one subsection of the statute where you could shoot a fleeing child in the back — as long as the child was faster than you — who stole someone else’s chocolate bar — as long as it happened at night. I admit it’s unlikely to happen, but the law shouldn’t legally allow for the possibility. Forward…

    … allowing for the Texas statutes being morally justifiable in every respect, I do believe the 911 tape showed Horn left his home determined to kill someone and that he’d been working himself up to this state for quite some time. He should have sat his ass down unless he was calmly in charge of himself enough to leave the door with various options in his mind, including how to end the situation short of lethal force.

    Then, once outside, if this option didn’t pan out and he had to use lethal force, so be it. The tape clearly shows to me, however, than when he stepped outside this is the only outcome he could visualize. Police were on the way. The dispatcher begged him not to go outside. He shouldn’t have.

    Whether one could ever convict him for manslaughter as you feel he should be, PatHMV, however, is very doubtful.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  54. “Myself, I think this passage is relatively clear”

    And so it is. And is also contradicted by other passages elsewhere as, on matters large and small, the Bible contradicts itself relentlessly. Paul is my favorite master of contradiction. In my opinion, it is not the revealed word of God because there is no such thing. Our Creator created the world. I don’t see any evidence he engages in fireside chats with people and directs them to write certain religious scriptures or do certain actions: The moral laws of the universe are written across men’s hearts.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  55. “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

    That might work for Jesus, assuming he’s quoted accurately there, but it isn’t much of a basis for a criminal justice system. If you want to do that, fine. Joe Horn isn’t obligated to, at least not under the laws of Texas.

    I’m curious, PatHMV. I happen to have legitimate and real financial need right now. Would you give me money to help me out from my problems based on the above passage, which is indeed relatively clear? I do believe I qualify under “everyone”.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  56. PatHMV,
    I’m very glad you’re a former prosecutor. If you made decisions based on your personal morality rather than the law, you should return the pay you received. Many people sincerely believe homosexuality is immoral. Should a prosecutor who thus believes prosecute gays? Others believe that either white racists or minority activists are acting immorally. Should they bring them to trial? In Mile Nifong’s universe his reelection was the highest good. Should we ignore his misconduct because he believed it was moral?

    Our morality belongs in our personal behavior. If it conflicts with professional duty then maybe we ought to find a new profession. Joe Horn may have to answer to God for any immorality. He does not and should not have to answer to you or to the people of Texas.

    Ken Hahn (7742d5)

  57. Pat,

    Where did I refer, cite or comment upon the Bible?

    PCD (09d6a8)

  58. It the first place, while I am educated, I am not a woman. In the second place, I was fully aware of the meaning of the word “kill” in the Commandment and frankly assumed that most people who are intelligent enough to engage in a discussion like this are also aware of that. I was not trying to fool anybody. As I said, that definition doesn’t resolve the issue; we must still resolve whether the killing was unjust or not.

    As for the basis of the criminal justice system, all laws are ultimately the product of morality. The law against murder is based on morality. We decide what laws to pass by arguing amongst ourselves about how the world ought to be structured, how it ought to work, and our arguments are generally colored by our own sense of morality.

    Ken Hahn, you seem to be misunderstanding what I am saying. Were I a prosecutor in Mr. Horn’s jurisdiction, I would decide whether or not to prosecute him based on the statutory definition provided in Texas law. As I said at the outset, if that law allows Mr. Horn to do what he did, I consider that law immoral, but that would have no bearing on my decision whether or not to prosecute. As for the absolutist rule you seem to be advocating, that a prosecutor’s own morality has no legitimate role to play in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, you should be careful of what you ask for. We’ve got A LOT of laws on the books, many of them held over and little used from 100 years ago, that are often best not enforced, or not enforced rigorously. It is entirely appropriate for a prosecutor to consider his own morals when deciding whether or not to bring charges, where the law allows for prosecutorial discretion. That does not, of course, allow for the insane examples you bring up; where the law does not make an act a crime, it is always improper to bring charges based on that act.

    And Christoph, as I said before, I’m not a good enough Christian to give all that I have to the poor. But I believe death is such a serious and final consequence that it should be a very, very, very last resort, not a first instinct.

    And if you don’t care for Jesus’ words, how about Gandalf’s? “Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.” Notice he does not say “do not” deal out death, simply do not be “too eager” to do so. That’s all I’m advocating here.

    PatHMV (bd82a6)

  59. PCD, the Bible comments were aimed at those who did quote from the Bible. Only the first paragraph of that remark was addressed to you.

    PatHMV (ca7f25)

  60. And Ken, why doesn’t Horn have to answer to the people of Texas? They pass the laws of Texas, don’t they? If I kill somebody because I believe he needed killin’, and you agree with me that he needed killin’, then are you saying that regardless of the laws of Texas, I shouldn’t be prosecuted for that?

    PatHMV (bd82a6)

  61. PatHMV, I apologize for thinking you’re a woman.

    My point is you won’t even live by the passage you quote. How is Joe Horn morally bound by it?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  62. How is anybody bound by any morality, Christoph?

    PatHMV (ca7f25)

  63. “And if you don’t care for Jesus’ words…

    I find Jesus’ moral teachings fascinating, particularly in what is my view the more likely to be accurate Gospel of Thomas (published nearer his life). I object to Paul’s distortion of Jesus’ teachings more than anything, plus the council of Nicaea, St. Augustine, etc., and etc. But anyway. I believe Jesus was a man and moral philosopher, not omniscient. Gandalf is cool too.

    “How is anybody bound by any morality, Christoph?”

    That’s an interesting question. Morality is pretty much an inner-decision so any binding upon him would have to come from inside.

    Just like you don’t feel bound to follow Jesus’ teaching and give me money, maybe Joe Horn doesn’t feel bound to let people steal from him. The laws of Texas allow him to defend not only his own property using force (in accordance Exodus as quoted above), but also his neighbor’s… which almost seems an extension of the love thy neighbor doctrine.

    In any case, I think that’s how the Texas legislature interpreted morality in this case when they crafted the state laws.

    Put another way — you, like Joe Horn, are ignoring Jesus’ words hear, at least in the passage you chose to quote.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  64. *here

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  65. Christoph –

    On the definition of morality:

    It would seem that Texas – as long as there is no conflict with the US Constitution – establishes Texas morality within its borders by its laws.

    Otherwise, all other “morality constructs” would be equally valid, including so-called “honor killings” by those asserting Islamic morality under sharia law.

    Or, are you asserting there is an “absolute morality” set that all can agree to live by? If so, how would one reconcile sati, honor killings, eye-for-an-eye, and turn the other cheek?

    jim2 (a9ab88)

  66. Well, I guess I just place a higher value on human life in my own personal moral code.

    PatHMV (ca7f25)

  67. Jesus seemed to place a higher value on charitable works.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  68. And I have even bothered yet to bring in the bit about let he who is without sin cast the first stone bit. Horn shot the first bullet here, condemning these men to death for the sin of burglary.

    PatHMV (bd82a6)

  69. Well, I don’t see many places in the Bible where Jesus commanded folks to kill those who do them wrong, who take their neighbor’s property, etc.

    PatHMV (bd82a6)

  70. PatHMV, another other point is you can’t just selectively “bring in bits”, which is what you seem to do, when you ignore other contradictory passages and other injunctions within the passages you quote. There is no death sentence for burglary, you are right. Not even Texas law gives one license to shoot people because they are burglars.

    It does, under some circumstances, give one license to use force including lethal force to stop a burglary where a person believes there is no other reasonably safe nor effective method of doing so.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  71. In any event, PatHMV, the voters of the state of Texas, through their legislature, decided what was just according to the law. I decide what is just according to myself and it may not always correspond with what Jesus said. You have proved you do likewise.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  72. Having read the relevant statutes, Horn can most certainly be indicted for manslaughter. His actions in leaving his home to confront the burglars were not within the allowable deadly-force-in-defense-of-property exemptions in the law. He announced his intention to kill before leaving his place of safety.

    Convicting him is a different story. He is sure to claim that regardless of his intent before going through that door, once through it he was legally on his own property when confronted by the burglars, that the burglars made threatening motions, and thus his killing them was legitimate self-defense under Texas law.

    Since he killed the only other witnesses, the physical evidence will be key. But he’s certainly indictable, and he cannot use the defense of his neighbor’s property as the excuse unless his neghbor had previously given him express permission to defend it.

    No matter how you slice it, Joe Horn is a dumbass.

    Tully (e4a26d)

  73. I agree with your analysis, Tully.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  74. I never claimed otherwise, Christoph. While I believe that there is a universal morality, it is not susceptible to objective proof, and we must thus argue for our own points of view as best we can. You seem intent on pointing out some hypocrisy on my part, I don’t know why.

    PatHMV (bd82a6)

  75. Because for you to use Jesus’ teachings as an example of where what Joe Horn did was immoral, and in the very same passage you quote, you won’t follow a much easier teaching, which could have been satisfied with a dollar, strikes me as typically Christian. I don’t mean that in a complimentary way. I find it amusing.

    When you say we all have our own moral code, we’re correct. And if Horn’s actions offend you, well, they offended me too. But why bring Jesus into it if you don’t do what he said, but want it instead to be applied to Joe Horn?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  76. Pauline† Christian I should say. Not Jesus of Nazareth Christian.

    † Paul of Tarsus

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  77. I was asked the basis of my own moral judgment in this case. As I noted earlier, it is based on both reason (I think the streets are safer if Horn’s conduct is illegal) and religious teachings. I also believe that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Lord, so my own personal inability, willingly confessed, to comply with all of His teachings is immaterial to the issue under discussion.

    I’ll leave the theological debates over the very nature of Christianity to another day.

    PatHMV (ca7f25)

  78. PatHMV:

    I think the streets are safer if Horn’s conduct is illegal.

    That’s what I’ve tried to address, too. Is it really safer to avoid one moment of violence if it encourages many future moments?

    DRJ (09f144)

  79. “we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Lord”

    According to whom? Paul?

    The Old Testament says different.

    If this is a revealed “every word is true” text, I find that highly interesting.


    Christoph (92b8f7)

  80. DRJ… To what extent does not shooting unarmed burglars leaving an uninhabited dwelling encourage many future moments of violence? In my profession, I’ve dealt with a lot of criminals. Some are deterred by fear of death and prison, many are not. They’re not all committing crimes because they don’t believe they’ll suffer no consequences; they just don’t care. Moreover, while any burglary poses a risk of a violent encounter, most burglars I’ve come across are very adverse to violence. They want to rob a place where nobody’s home, don’t want to hurt anybody and don’t want to be hurt. That one has committed burglary is not an accurate predictor of one’s future likelihood to do violence against a person.

    Beyond that, I am concerned that future Mr. Horns may be very likely to wrongly judge what’s really going on. What looks like a break-in might be a resident who forgot his keys. Or it may be part of some domestic quarrel. Perhaps the property being taken away really belongs to the person breaking in, and they are retreiving it via “self-help.” Maybe the neighbor is renting and refusing to allow the owner onto the property, and the owner is taking the law into their own hands to seize some collateral for payment of the rent.

    Besides, as I’ve stated earlier or elsewhere, finding Mr. Horn’s actions to be responsible and appropriate because of the risk of future killings and violence by the burglars means, logically, that it is ok to shoot people leaving a bar and driving off in their cars, while intoxicated.

    PatHMV (ca7f25)

  81. In the early 70s, the court struck down capital punishment. While the states were rewriting their statutes to comply, there was an increase in violent crime, especially murder. In Florida, the pan handle was experiencing a series of convenience store robberies in which the lone clerk was killed. The gunmen wore masks. The midnight cashier, usually a woman, did not resist, but after taking the cash, the robbers killed her. On sheriff realized the armed robbers developed a cynical calculus.

    If the criminals were caught and convicted of armed robbery they got 18 years, making them eligible for parole in 6 years. Absent the death penalty, murder was punishable by life, a 24 year sentence making parole at 8 years. If the clerk were dead, there would be a much lower probability of detection. Answer: Pop the clerk and roll the dice.

    The sheriff had a brilliant plan. He asked for volunteer auxiliary deputies with a clean records, a 12 gauge, a parka and the ability to pass a weekend course in ROE, safety and marksmanship. In the front window of each was posted a decal warning that armed robbery would be met with deadly force. The newly minted deputies hid in the beer cooler with clear line of sight to the checkout counter. If a robbery occurred, the clerks were told to drop to the floor. The deputy was told shoot. Bubba showed up in droves.

    An unusual week went by without a robbery, then it happened. Dead perp. In the local paper there was a picture of plate glass everywhere, teenaged clerk and sheriff beside a smiling, bearded hero with a shotgun on his hip. There were two more criminal fatalities in this abbreviated justice system before the pattern ceased. For those who might consider this vigilante justice, remember, it was all on videotape.

    I love Florida, Alabama, Texas.

    arch (2fee36)

  82. Regarding the Pasadena shooting,

    The two guys that Horn shot were NOT armed, and furthermore he shot them in the back while they attempted to flee.

    The 911 transcript of his call that was released shows that Horn commented that he fully intended to shoot the two before he even got outside. This shows a premeditated mindset….and is a far cry from self defense.

    Therefore why is he a hero? I thought shooting unarmed people in the back was a cowardly act…why is it now called heroism? Why are people calling for this guy to get a medal?

    Why have the rules changed? The police were clearly on the way, he was on the phone with 911, and the dispatch told him to remain in his house. But he took it upon himself to go kill those guys. They deserved to be stopped, yes, but killed?

    I think criminals rightfully deserve to be arrested and put in jail. But unless they are threatening your safety or your life……I don’t think shooting to kill is warranted. He shot them in the upper body and neck area…he wasn’t trying to simply wound them or prevent them from escaping. Had he run them off with the shotgun this wouldn’t be an issue. Again, they were fleeing. But he didn’t want them to get away with it so he killed them. This is definitely not one of those “it was either them or me” situations. It’s not like he didn’t have a choice. Hell, he pretty much won as soon as he showed up with the gun.

    We’re talking about the definitions of premeditated murder on the one hand and heroism on the other. When you truly know the facts of the case I think you will be inclined to at least be consistent with your morals/values/principles/etc and not make exceptions just because the people he shot were (insert your reasoning for why they needed to die rather than be stopped).

    If it’s wrong to shoot an unarmed person in the back, then it’s wrong to shoot an unarmed person in the back. Why is Horn exempt from this? Why is his community suddenly hypocritically shirking their values all of a sudden and blindly backing this guy’s actions despite knowing the details which suggest premeditated murder rather than self defense? And why is he not being charged for violating the letter of the law?

    MrSidewayz8 (1909cd)

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