You can shoot cops in Indiana

The state of Indiana has passed a law that allows citizens to shoot police officers if they reasonably believe the cops have entered their home illegally.

PJ Media » Why the GOP-backed Indiana Gun Law Is a Terrible Idea.

Conservatives used to make a point of saying, “I support my local police.”  Is anti-government and pro-gun sentiment so strong now that it’s all right to shoot police officers who have made a mistake?  Aren’t there legal remedies that will click in when cops enter the wrong house, which is much different than when a criminal breaks in.  This will surely endanger policemen.  In my day, it was the SDS and other hard left groups that fantasized about killing “pigs.”  Now alleged conservatives have actually, under certain circumstances, legalized it!

UPDATE:  Thanks to Bike Bubba for linking to the actual law.  Here is the summary of Indiana SB0001:

Specifies that a person may use reasonable force against any other person in certain circumstances. Provides that a person is justified in using reasonable force against a public servant if the person reasonably believes the force is necessary to: (1) protect the person or a third person from unlawful force; (2) prevent or terminate the public servant’s unlawful entry into the person’s dwelling; or (3) prevent or terminate the public servant’s criminal interference with property lawfully in the person’s possession. Specifies that a person is not justified in using force against a public servant if: (1) the person is committing or is escaping after the commission of a crime; (2) the person provokes action by the public servant with intent to injure the public servant; (3) the person has entered into combat with the public servant or is the initial aggressor; or (4) the person reasonably believes the public servant is acting lawfully or is engaged in the lawful execution of the public servant’s official duties. Provides that a person is not justified in using deadly force against a public servant whom the person knows or reasonably should know is a public servant unless: (1) the person reasonably believes that the public servant is acting unlawfully or is not engaged in the execution of the public servant’s official duties; and (2) the force is reasonably necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person.

So it isn’t just about a cop entering your house.  It also allows shooting a police officer who is using “unlawful force” and interfering with one’s property.

Most of the comments so far are defending the law on the basis that an individual has a greater authority in his own home and, above all, that police officers can’t be trusted and abuse their power.  Which kind of proves my point that conservatism has changed.  This is the kind of thing that SDS members and Black Panthers were saying back in my day. Or has the country or the government or police officers changed, to the point that we fear them as the “bad guys”?

Shall we throw off all lawful magistrates and legal systems in favor of free market principles applied to the social order, in which individuals just take care of themselves, including protecting their own property and avenging their own wrongs?  That’s what those Anarchists in masks and hoodies who riot at international gatherings are advocating.  I guess they are conservatives too.

Certainly, the police don’t like this law, either the one I linked to initially or the one who says,  “It’s just a recipe for disaster.  It just puts a bounty on our heads.”

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Dan Kempin

    I think the analysis of the story you cite is flawed. Portraying this as the legalizing of cop killing and the endangering of police officers is unfair.

    Police officers do not have the right to enter a home without a warrant or probable cause, and they must identify themselves. Suppose someone breaks into your house with a gun and does not identify himself as police. Yes, that is a mistake, and it would be tragic for the officer to die because of his mistake. On the other hand, how can you turn around and prosecute the homeowner for being a “cop killer” if he had no way of knowing?

    Nobody wants a police officer to be killed, and they face that risk every day they wear the badge, (for which I am personally grateful.) But this is a legal protection, plain and simple. I don’t see any circumstance in which this law endangers officers. It just provides clarity in the aftermath of a possible tragedy.

    I’m not saying I want to argue for this law. Maybe it IS a bad idea. I just think the characterization is ungenerous.

  • Dan Kempin

    I think the analysis of the story you cite is flawed. Portraying this as the legalizing of cop killing and the endangering of police officers is unfair.

    Police officers do not have the right to enter a home without a warrant or probable cause, and they must identify themselves. Suppose someone breaks into your house with a gun and does not identify himself as police. Yes, that is a mistake, and it would be tragic for the officer to die because of his mistake. On the other hand, how can you turn around and prosecute the homeowner for being a “cop killer” if he had no way of knowing?

    Nobody wants a police officer to be killed, and they face that risk every day they wear the badge, (for which I am personally grateful.) But this is a legal protection, plain and simple. I don’t see any circumstance in which this law endangers officers. It just provides clarity in the aftermath of a possible tragedy.

    I’m not saying I want to argue for this law. Maybe it IS a bad idea. I just think the characterization is ungenerous.

  • SKPeterson

    While this may be viewed as extreme, it is an understandable reaction to the relative impunity with which police may abuse the rights of private citizens. There have been instances when police have invaded the wrong home, or acted upon poor information, busted in, accosted people in their beds, and then arrested or killed people who thought their homes were being broken into. Then the police have left the home semi-destroyed and the owners uncompensated. When you have enough police doing things like this, on a regular basis, in many parts of the country, accompanied by the increasing militarization of our police forces (tanks, assault rifles, combat armor being regular features of “police work” nowadays) citizens finally have enough and decide that the police shouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt in every instance, that they should be held accountable for their actions, and that maybe they should try to be a lot more careful before they go busting down people’s doors in the middle of the night.

  • SKPeterson

    While this may be viewed as extreme, it is an understandable reaction to the relative impunity with which police may abuse the rights of private citizens. There have been instances when police have invaded the wrong home, or acted upon poor information, busted in, accosted people in their beds, and then arrested or killed people who thought their homes were being broken into. Then the police have left the home semi-destroyed and the owners uncompensated. When you have enough police doing things like this, on a regular basis, in many parts of the country, accompanied by the increasing militarization of our police forces (tanks, assault rifles, combat armor being regular features of “police work” nowadays) citizens finally have enough and decide that the police shouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt in every instance, that they should be held accountable for their actions, and that maybe they should try to be a lot more careful before they go busting down people’s doors in the middle of the night.

  • Econ Jeff

    In some states, killing an officer is one of the remaining capital offenses or one that carries the maximum penalty by statue. This seems like a safeguard against applying that rule in a manner that would prevent the harshest penalties from going to those who happen to kill an officer when a mistake is made (as Mr. Kempin suggests in his comment).

    That said, perhaps the wording is not clear. Does it define “reasonable”? Is it true that proper redress can already be had in court? (Quasi-relevant side note: In Prince George’s County, MD, cops have busted into the wrong house, killed the owner’s dog, among other things, all by mistake. [Not sure if they identified themselves, I can't find the story right now.] The owner didn’t even get an apology from the department or a new front door.)

  • Econ Jeff

    In some states, killing an officer is one of the remaining capital offenses or one that carries the maximum penalty by statue. This seems like a safeguard against applying that rule in a manner that would prevent the harshest penalties from going to those who happen to kill an officer when a mistake is made (as Mr. Kempin suggests in his comment).

    That said, perhaps the wording is not clear. Does it define “reasonable”? Is it true that proper redress can already be had in court? (Quasi-relevant side note: In Prince George’s County, MD, cops have busted into the wrong house, killed the owner’s dog, among other things, all by mistake. [Not sure if they identified themselves, I can't find the story right now.] The owner didn’t even get an apology from the department or a new front door.)

  • kerner

    I don’t know exactly what this Indiana law says, but it sems to me that it may not be a substantial change from what the traditional law has been. The law has always recognized a basic human right of self defense. That is, a person has the right to defend himself, his home and his family (even strangers as well, but we aren’t talking about than now) from the unlawful interference of an agressor.

    The kind, and degree, of force that the defending person can use depends on what is reasonable under the circumstances, and is usually tied to the kind and degree of the unlawful interference.

    Traditionally, the police have not been exempt from these principles. Under traditional. common law, principles, any citizen has the right to defend himself from an unlawful threat from any other citizen. And the threat of unlawful deadly force can be repelled with deadly force. Whether one, or both, of the persons involved is a police officer does not alter the basic principle, although it usually is one of the “circumstances” that form the basis upon which we determine whether the defense was “reasonable”.

  • kerner

    I don’t know exactly what this Indiana law says, but it sems to me that it may not be a substantial change from what the traditional law has been. The law has always recognized a basic human right of self defense. That is, a person has the right to defend himself, his home and his family (even strangers as well, but we aren’t talking about than now) from the unlawful interference of an agressor.

    The kind, and degree, of force that the defending person can use depends on what is reasonable under the circumstances, and is usually tied to the kind and degree of the unlawful interference.

    Traditionally, the police have not been exempt from these principles. Under traditional. common law, principles, any citizen has the right to defend himself from an unlawful threat from any other citizen. And the threat of unlawful deadly force can be repelled with deadly force. Whether one, or both, of the persons involved is a police officer does not alter the basic principle, although it usually is one of the “circumstances” that form the basis upon which we determine whether the defense was “reasonable”.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I think it remains a very bad idea to shoot at the police. Best to submit to the indignity for now, and hope for an apology later. Maybe the city will pay to fix your door (maybe not).

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I think it remains a very bad idea to shoot at the police. Best to submit to the indignity for now, and hope for an apology later. Maybe the city will pay to fix your door (maybe not).

  • WebMonk

    Well Lars, the situation under consideration here is when someone you don’t know is a policeman comes into your house. I agree it’s a bad idea to shoot at the police, but that isn’t what this is talking about – it’s about shooting at a home invader.

  • WebMonk

    Well Lars, the situation under consideration here is when someone you don’t know is a policeman comes into your house. I agree it’s a bad idea to shoot at the police, but that isn’t what this is talking about – it’s about shooting at a home invader.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Or maybe we can ban the so called no knock raids. There problem solved, nobody has to worry if the guys busting in are cops or folks doing a home invasion. If they break down the door they are up to no good.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Or maybe we can ban the so called no knock raids. There problem solved, nobody has to worry if the guys busting in are cops or folks doing a home invasion. If they break down the door they are up to no good.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Police like to remind citizens that rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad–and rightly so. But perhaps they likewise need to be reminded that those given this authority over their own homes and families are similarly a terror only to bad conduct on the part of the police.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Police like to remind citizens that rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad–and rightly so. But perhaps they likewise need to be reminded that those given this authority over their own homes and families are similarly a terror only to bad conduct on the part of the police.

  • Jon

    @8 Matt– +1

  • Jon

    @8 Matt– +1

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Dan, the article I link to is a response from a police officer, describing a case he was involved with and the kind of mischief this law can do. You don’t think actual, criminal cop killers would use this as a defense? (“Well, he broke into my home and I didn’t know who he was, so I shot him.” Even if the police officer identified himself and acted properly, no one would know.) Of course policemen must have a warrant and must be careful to enter the correct house, and sometimes they don’t. But when they do, as when they shot that family’s dog in Maryland, they get in trouble and we are at least in the realm of the legal system. That’s not the same as when a burglar breaks in and the individual must defend himself and his family. If the policeman is not in uniform and gets shot by mistake, I suspect the existing self-defense laws would come into play and likely exonerate the shooter. But laws like this that specifically permit–I started to say “target”–the shooting of police officers are surely anti-police (that’s how police officers are taking it, at any rate), and they don’t deserve that.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Dan, the article I link to is a response from a police officer, describing a case he was involved with and the kind of mischief this law can do. You don’t think actual, criminal cop killers would use this as a defense? (“Well, he broke into my home and I didn’t know who he was, so I shot him.” Even if the police officer identified himself and acted properly, no one would know.) Of course policemen must have a warrant and must be careful to enter the correct house, and sometimes they don’t. But when they do, as when they shot that family’s dog in Maryland, they get in trouble and we are at least in the realm of the legal system. That’s not the same as when a burglar breaks in and the individual must defend himself and his family. If the policeman is not in uniform and gets shot by mistake, I suspect the existing self-defense laws would come into play and likely exonerate the shooter. But laws like this that specifically permit–I started to say “target”–the shooting of police officers are surely anti-police (that’s how police officers are taking it, at any rate), and they don’t deserve that.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Here’s a link to the text of the law:

    http://legiscan.com/gaits/view/347918

    I’m in support of this one; all too often (practice of “SWATting” conservative bloggers, no knock raids based on questionable evidence), the police are using “can’t shoot back” as cover for some really bad practices. I don’t want to see officers (or anyone else for that matter) dead, but I do hope that the prospect of the same would temper enthusiasm for no knock raids based on questionable evidence.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Here’s a link to the text of the law:

    http://legiscan.com/gaits/view/347918

    I’m in support of this one; all too often (practice of “SWATting” conservative bloggers, no knock raids based on questionable evidence), the police are using “can’t shoot back” as cover for some really bad practices. I don’t want to see officers (or anyone else for that matter) dead, but I do hope that the prospect of the same would temper enthusiasm for no knock raids based on questionable evidence.

  • Dan Kempin

    Dr. Veith, #10,

    No, I don’t think criminal cop killers would use this law as a justification to shoot at cops, because the bad guys ALREADY shoot at the cops. I really have a hard time believing that anyone would choose to enter into armed combat against trained professional officers because of this law, and anyone whose feels their life is imminently threatened is not going to be cogitating about the state of current self defense laws.

    In the author’s example, the police broke into the wrong apartment with a lawful warrant. The owner did not shoot at them–presumably because they were yelling “POLICE!” and wearing the word emblazoned on their chest. It is a complete non sequitur to conclude that if this law HAD been in effect, the police would have been met with a hail of gunfire. I don’t blame him for having a cop’s perspective, but I just don’t buy it.

    On the other hand, consider the scenario of an officer abusing his position to stalk a young lady. Suppose this armed officer forces his way into her home and she uses force against him. Should she then be prosecuted as a “cop killer?”

    I just think you are over simplifying this.

  • Dan Kempin

    Dr. Veith, #10,

    No, I don’t think criminal cop killers would use this law as a justification to shoot at cops, because the bad guys ALREADY shoot at the cops. I really have a hard time believing that anyone would choose to enter into armed combat against trained professional officers because of this law, and anyone whose feels their life is imminently threatened is not going to be cogitating about the state of current self defense laws.

    In the author’s example, the police broke into the wrong apartment with a lawful warrant. The owner did not shoot at them–presumably because they were yelling “POLICE!” and wearing the word emblazoned on their chest. It is a complete non sequitur to conclude that if this law HAD been in effect, the police would have been met with a hail of gunfire. I don’t blame him for having a cop’s perspective, but I just don’t buy it.

    On the other hand, consider the scenario of an officer abusing his position to stalk a young lady. Suppose this armed officer forces his way into her home and she uses force against him. Should she then be prosecuted as a “cop killer?”

    I just think you are over simplifying this.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Dr. Veith,

    I think the trouble you’re having reconciling this “shift” in conservative thought is that your anti-police/pro-police categories are inadequate to describe the situation. I contend that no shift has taken place.

    Conservatives tend to recognize authority as both a legitimate moral category and as a necessity to restrain wickedness. As a result, while they recognize that authority can be abused, they are still willing to trust the exercise thereof–they believe it is both right and helpful to do so. They trust the police to exercise it, and still do. However, they also trust those given authority over a home and family to exercise authority for the same reasons. They do not support this law because it is anti-police, pro-gun, anti-government, or any combination of the three. They support it because they respect the authority of heads of family just as they respect the authority of the police.

    In contrast, liberals tend not to recognize authority as a legitimate moral category–just as a necessary evil to restrain wickedness. Because they distrust authority (as one does any necessary evil), they instead prefer systems that are abstracted from any personal authority. They distrusted the police back in the day because they were seen in society as authority-bearing officers. They are, however, perfectly content to use police as part of a system to restrain social wickedness–police simply need to be adequately regulated to serve as an appropriate cog or gasket. On the other hand, they distrust authority when it’s given to those responsible for house and home just as they distrusted it in the police. Heads of household are not regulated as tightly as the police are–they are not part of a system (or at least not in the same way). Without a system in place to make heads of household safe, liberals do not trust them to bear lethal force–especially against the very system that’s in place for their own protection.

    Pro/anti police simply isn’t an adequate set of analytical tools to explain reactions to this law. I think a social tension between authority and engineering does a better job of it.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Dr. Veith,

    I think the trouble you’re having reconciling this “shift” in conservative thought is that your anti-police/pro-police categories are inadequate to describe the situation. I contend that no shift has taken place.

    Conservatives tend to recognize authority as both a legitimate moral category and as a necessity to restrain wickedness. As a result, while they recognize that authority can be abused, they are still willing to trust the exercise thereof–they believe it is both right and helpful to do so. They trust the police to exercise it, and still do. However, they also trust those given authority over a home and family to exercise authority for the same reasons. They do not support this law because it is anti-police, pro-gun, anti-government, or any combination of the three. They support it because they respect the authority of heads of family just as they respect the authority of the police.

    In contrast, liberals tend not to recognize authority as a legitimate moral category–just as a necessary evil to restrain wickedness. Because they distrust authority (as one does any necessary evil), they instead prefer systems that are abstracted from any personal authority. They distrusted the police back in the day because they were seen in society as authority-bearing officers. They are, however, perfectly content to use police as part of a system to restrain social wickedness–police simply need to be adequately regulated to serve as an appropriate cog or gasket. On the other hand, they distrust authority when it’s given to those responsible for house and home just as they distrusted it in the police. Heads of household are not regulated as tightly as the police are–they are not part of a system (or at least not in the same way). Without a system in place to make heads of household safe, liberals do not trust them to bear lethal force–especially against the very system that’s in place for their own protection.

    Pro/anti police simply isn’t an adequate set of analytical tools to explain reactions to this law. I think a social tension between authority and engineering does a better job of it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    What was that 2nd Amendment again? Smething like, “… the right of the people to spend massive amounts of time and money to file a civil rights lawsuit against oppressive government forces after the fact shall not be infringed.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    What was that 2nd Amendment again? Smething like, “… the right of the people to spend massive amounts of time and money to file a civil rights lawsuit against oppressive government forces after the fact shall not be infringed.”

  • DonS

    From the summary of the law:

    Specifies that a person is not justified in using force against a public servant if: (1) the person is committing or is escaping after the commission of a crime; (2) the person provokes action by the public servant with intent to injure the public servant; (3) the person has entered into combat with the public servant or is the initial aggressor; or (4) the person reasonably believes the public servant is acting lawfully or is engaged in the lawful execution of the public servant’s official duties. Provides that a person is not justified in using deadly force against a public servant whom the person knows or reasonably should know is a public servant unless: (1) the person reasonably believes that the public servant is acting unlawfully or is not engaged in the execution of the public servant’s official duties; and (2) the force is reasonably necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person.

    As you can see, the concerns Dr. Veith is raising are unwarranted based on the actual language of the law, if the summary is accurate. The law specifically excludes those who are in the act of committing a crime, or who are escaping from the law because of the commission of a crime from its provisions. Clearly, the purpose of the law is simply to allow a law abiding citizen to protect himself from rogue officers, or those who are acting recklessly (i.e. by negligently executing a no-knock raid against the wrong residence, as happened in Georgia last year, resulting in the killing, by officers, of an 80 year old woman). As Kerner says above, the law is intended to state explicitly what is already part of the common law in most states. But, its explicit statutory existence strengthens the protection of citizens placed in these unfortunate circumstances, against the sometimes overwhelming bias of the judicial system in favor of law enforcement.

  • DonS

    From the summary of the law:

    Specifies that a person is not justified in using force against a public servant if: (1) the person is committing or is escaping after the commission of a crime; (2) the person provokes action by the public servant with intent to injure the public servant; (3) the person has entered into combat with the public servant or is the initial aggressor; or (4) the person reasonably believes the public servant is acting lawfully or is engaged in the lawful execution of the public servant’s official duties. Provides that a person is not justified in using deadly force against a public servant whom the person knows or reasonably should know is a public servant unless: (1) the person reasonably believes that the public servant is acting unlawfully or is not engaged in the execution of the public servant’s official duties; and (2) the force is reasonably necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person.

    As you can see, the concerns Dr. Veith is raising are unwarranted based on the actual language of the law, if the summary is accurate. The law specifically excludes those who are in the act of committing a crime, or who are escaping from the law because of the commission of a crime from its provisions. Clearly, the purpose of the law is simply to allow a law abiding citizen to protect himself from rogue officers, or those who are acting recklessly (i.e. by negligently executing a no-knock raid against the wrong residence, as happened in Georgia last year, resulting in the killing, by officers, of an 80 year old woman). As Kerner says above, the law is intended to state explicitly what is already part of the common law in most states. But, its explicit statutory existence strengthens the protection of citizens placed in these unfortunate circumstances, against the sometimes overwhelming bias of the judicial system in favor of law enforcement.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Hey, thanks, Bike Bubba, for looking up the actual law. I’ll add it to my post. It sounds to me that it is even more anti-police than I thought, giving all kinds of leeway to a person’s “reasonable” assumptions. Certainly police officers are finding this law unconscionable.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Hey, thanks, Bike Bubba, for looking up the actual law. I’ll add it to my post. It sounds to me that it is even more anti-police than I thought, giving all kinds of leeway to a person’s “reasonable” assumptions. Certainly police officers are finding this law unconscionable.

  • SKPeterson

    It seems that this law affords to homeowners and or individuals with some legal protections in the advent of an accidental or mistaken situation involving force. Right now, a homeowner may awaken to the noise of someone breaking into his home, and takes what he deems to be adequate efforts to repel this invasion of his property and possible threat to the lives of his family. In some cases, those entering are police officers, who are mistaken as to the situation. The issue is that the homeowner may awaken after an announcement that it is the police or in the absence of such notice, i.e. “no knock”. In the past, homeowners acting in ignorance and under perceived threat may have shot at police officers and then suffered severe legal consequences as a result, essentially through no fault of their own. Police officers who make such a mistake are often not even given a reprimand; this law evens some of the disparity in addressing the consequences of a police-initiated action – liability should be greater on the part of the police who are initiating force than on those who are responding to a threat.

  • SKPeterson

    It seems that this law affords to homeowners and or individuals with some legal protections in the advent of an accidental or mistaken situation involving force. Right now, a homeowner may awaken to the noise of someone breaking into his home, and takes what he deems to be adequate efforts to repel this invasion of his property and possible threat to the lives of his family. In some cases, those entering are police officers, who are mistaken as to the situation. The issue is that the homeowner may awaken after an announcement that it is the police or in the absence of such notice, i.e. “no knock”. In the past, homeowners acting in ignorance and under perceived threat may have shot at police officers and then suffered severe legal consequences as a result, essentially through no fault of their own. Police officers who make such a mistake are often not even given a reprimand; this law evens some of the disparity in addressing the consequences of a police-initiated action – liability should be greater on the part of the police who are initiating force than on those who are responding to a threat.

  • DonS

    The reason why this kind of law is becoming increasingly necessary is because of the increasing prevalence of no-knock raids, usually in drug cases, for the purpose of preventing the destruction of evidence. According to this Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-knock_warrant there were 3,000 no knock raids in 1981 and 50,000 in 2005. Innocent people are sometimes killed or grievously injured in these kinds of raids, because they don’t have the opportunity to tell the police they have made a mistake.

    As governments have vastly increased in size and scope, law enforcement is sometimes misused and abusive. We have a constitutional right to be free of governmental interference in our homes, as law abiding citizens, and the government has an overarching obligation to not invade the homes of innocent people, unannounced, putting our lives and liberties at undue risk. This kind of law provides a necessary protection for the innocent citizen.

  • DonS

    The reason why this kind of law is becoming increasingly necessary is because of the increasing prevalence of no-knock raids, usually in drug cases, for the purpose of preventing the destruction of evidence. According to this Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-knock_warrant there were 3,000 no knock raids in 1981 and 50,000 in 2005. Innocent people are sometimes killed or grievously injured in these kinds of raids, because they don’t have the opportunity to tell the police they have made a mistake.

    As governments have vastly increased in size and scope, law enforcement is sometimes misused and abusive. We have a constitutional right to be free of governmental interference in our homes, as law abiding citizens, and the government has an overarching obligation to not invade the homes of innocent people, unannounced, putting our lives and liberties at undue risk. This kind of law provides a necessary protection for the innocent citizen.

  • Dan Kempin

    “The first of its kind in the United States, the law was adopted after the state Supreme Court went too far in one of its rulings last year . . . [ruling] that there was “no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.” ”

    (From the link above that quotes the police officer.)

  • Dan Kempin

    “The first of its kind in the United States, the law was adopted after the state Supreme Court went too far in one of its rulings last year . . . [ruling] that there was “no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.” ”

    (From the link above that quotes the police officer.)

  • DonS

    Good catch, Dan @ 19. The statute is correcting a grievous error made by the Indiana Supreme Court, denying citizens the right to protect themselves in their own homes.

  • DonS

    Good catch, Dan @ 19. The statute is correcting a grievous error made by the Indiana Supreme Court, denying citizens the right to protect themselves in their own homes.

  • Joe

    Given that we live in a world where states are passing laws making it illegal to record the police while they are arresting, harassing, beating or whatever else to you, I am not sure that this law is the worst idea.

    Also, lets not pretend that “reasonableness” is some strange concept in the law. Reasonableness is one of the most basic and fundamental concepts in our law — including our law of self-defense.

    You are allowed to use that force which you reasonably believe is necessary to protect yourself, others and your property. This law does not introduce some new and fuzzy concept, instead it relies on an ancient concept and merely clarifies that it applies to police officers too.

  • Joe

    Given that we live in a world where states are passing laws making it illegal to record the police while they are arresting, harassing, beating or whatever else to you, I am not sure that this law is the worst idea.

    Also, lets not pretend that “reasonableness” is some strange concept in the law. Reasonableness is one of the most basic and fundamental concepts in our law — including our law of self-defense.

    You are allowed to use that force which you reasonably believe is necessary to protect yourself, others and your property. This law does not introduce some new and fuzzy concept, instead it relies on an ancient concept and merely clarifies that it applies to police officers too.

  • Joe

    Radley Balko writes often about the state of law enforcement in the US. Here is a fairly recent article he did that is kind of a general overview of the state of the militarization of your local police department and other agencies. Its worth taking a look.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/radley-balko/police-militarization-use-of-force-swat-raids_b_1123848.html?page=1

  • Joe

    Radley Balko writes often about the state of law enforcement in the US. Here is a fairly recent article he did that is kind of a general overview of the state of the militarization of your local police department and other agencies. Its worth taking a look.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/radley-balko/police-militarization-use-of-force-swat-raids_b_1123848.html?page=1

  • Joe

    If your in for a longer read, here is a White Paper on the topic he wrote for the Cato Institute in 2006:

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/balko_whitepaper_2006.pdf

  • Joe

    If your in for a longer read, here is a White Paper on the topic he wrote for the Cato Institute in 2006:

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/balko_whitepaper_2006.pdf

  • kerner

    Until 1998, Wisconsin recognised the common law right of a citizen to forceably resist an unlawful arrest, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court abrogated that right in the case found here:

    http://www.wicourts.gov/html/sc/96/96-0914.htm

    The basic rationale for abrogating the common law priviledge of forceably resisting an unlawful arrest was that today society is more civilized, the police are more professional, and legal recourse is more available and resistance is more dangerous than when the common law priviledge was developed.

    But I still think the court made the wrong decision.

    On the other hand, Wisconsin citizens retain the right to forceably resist an unlawful arrest if the police are using unreasonable force to effect the arrest. So we still have something.

  • kerner

    Until 1998, Wisconsin recognised the common law right of a citizen to forceably resist an unlawful arrest, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court abrogated that right in the case found here:

    http://www.wicourts.gov/html/sc/96/96-0914.htm

    The basic rationale for abrogating the common law priviledge of forceably resisting an unlawful arrest was that today society is more civilized, the police are more professional, and legal recourse is more available and resistance is more dangerous than when the common law priviledge was developed.

    But I still think the court made the wrong decision.

    On the other hand, Wisconsin citizens retain the right to forceably resist an unlawful arrest if the police are using unreasonable force to effect the arrest. So we still have something.

  • kerner

    Joe:

    That’s a really good article. I appreciate the work of the Cato Institute.

    Another thing that fascinates me is the way the police have changed the language. The police are trained in methods that would sound brutal in every day language.

    I once cross examined a police officer who had testified that he had “decentralized” my client and then administered “focused strikes” until she complied with his lawful orders.

    I asked him “So you tackled this 110 lb. woman and then repeatedly beat her with your closed fist until she stopped struggling?” He admitted that was true, but insisted that his methods were consistant with his training, and I am sure that was true as well.

  • kerner

    Joe:

    That’s a really good article. I appreciate the work of the Cato Institute.

    Another thing that fascinates me is the way the police have changed the language. The police are trained in methods that would sound brutal in every day language.

    I once cross examined a police officer who had testified that he had “decentralized” my client and then administered “focused strikes” until she complied with his lawful orders.

    I asked him “So you tackled this 110 lb. woman and then repeatedly beat her with your closed fist until she stopped struggling?” He admitted that was true, but insisted that his methods were consistant with his training, and I am sure that was true as well.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Simple: don’t come in without a warrant, and there’s no issue. Abiding by the law applies to the law enforcement officer as well as the citizen.

    I certainly do not advocate the shooting of police, but at the same time I don’t like the fact that I’ve seen more than one police officer see his badge as a license to throw his weight around and bend the law.

    Police ask of citizens to follow procedure and there will be no problem. We’re just asking them to do the same. What’s wrong with that?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Simple: don’t come in without a warrant, and there’s no issue. Abiding by the law applies to the law enforcement officer as well as the citizen.

    I certainly do not advocate the shooting of police, but at the same time I don’t like the fact that I’ve seen more than one police officer see his badge as a license to throw his weight around and bend the law.

    Police ask of citizens to follow procedure and there will be no problem. We’re just asking them to do the same. What’s wrong with that?

  • Patrick Kyle

    “I once cross examined a police officer who had testified that he had “decentralized” my client and then administered “focused strikes” until she complied with his lawful orders.

    I asked him “So you tackled this 110 lb. woman and then repeatedly beat her with your closed fist until she stopped struggling?” He admitted that was true, but insisted that his methods were consistant with his training, and I am sure that was true as well.”

    If the police follow the law regarding searches and entries, then they have nothing to worry about, do they?

  • Patrick Kyle

    “I once cross examined a police officer who had testified that he had “decentralized” my client and then administered “focused strikes” until she complied with his lawful orders.

    I asked him “So you tackled this 110 lb. woman and then repeatedly beat her with your closed fist until she stopped struggling?” He admitted that was true, but insisted that his methods were consistant with his training, and I am sure that was true as well.”

    If the police follow the law regarding searches and entries, then they have nothing to worry about, do they?

  • Patrick Kyle

    I was acquainted with several LAPD officers some years ago. I accompanied them to a gun show and observed them pursuing their hobby, the collecting of WWII Nazi uniforms and memorabilia. One guy even went so far to build a secret room in his house in which to display his prized uniforms on life sized mannequins and other memorabilia. This same officer recruited me to help him pick up a vehicle parked at his in-laws house. We had been drinking, and when I mentioned that fact, he flashed me his badge and said ‘It’ll be OK.’

    Several divisions of LAPD have reputations as ‘gangs with badges’. So do the OC Sheriffs. I know a man who was beaten by the sheriffs for asking why he was being handcuffed.
    The brother of a woman I dated years ago was forced into gladiatorial combat by the guards in the LA County Jail. He would call me collect, weeping after losing several of these matches.
    Needless to say my view of police has been colored by this and several other incidents that I will decline to elaborate upon.
    It is good to see a law that keeps them honest.

  • Patrick Kyle

    I was acquainted with several LAPD officers some years ago. I accompanied them to a gun show and observed them pursuing their hobby, the collecting of WWII Nazi uniforms and memorabilia. One guy even went so far to build a secret room in his house in which to display his prized uniforms on life sized mannequins and other memorabilia. This same officer recruited me to help him pick up a vehicle parked at his in-laws house. We had been drinking, and when I mentioned that fact, he flashed me his badge and said ‘It’ll be OK.’

    Several divisions of LAPD have reputations as ‘gangs with badges’. So do the OC Sheriffs. I know a man who was beaten by the sheriffs for asking why he was being handcuffed.
    The brother of a woman I dated years ago was forced into gladiatorial combat by the guards in the LA County Jail. He would call me collect, weeping after losing several of these matches.
    Needless to say my view of police has been colored by this and several other incidents that I will decline to elaborate upon.
    It is good to see a law that keeps them honest.

  • http://koivwvia.wordpress.com jb

    This argument is silly, Gene.

    A right we Americans have always had (intrinsically) (even the King of England could not transgress the doorstep of a peasant), has gone by the wayside in the present American march toward both socialism and overt marxism.

    I have never been arrested, cuffed, or tasered (thank God!), but I have had to deal with cops about to do so for absolutely no reason whatsoever. They were acting like idiots.

    Gene – read Balko’s site. Cato Institute has taken over another site that listed 15-20 incidents of police illegalities per day. A mere perusal of sites on line will tell you that illegal police taserings, and shootings and “Judge, jury and executions” happen with great regularity.

    I should mention that “law enforcement bad shoots” greatly outnumber those among the citizenry.

    That is not constitutional, American, nor does it resemble the first thing “Christian.” You are, as am I, duty-bound to be aware, even though we are of the Kingdom of the right, to understand the actions of the Kingdom of the left.

    The police in this country, becoming as militarized as they are, no longer really care what your reasoning or excuse is. If they pull you over, you are semi-convicted on the spot, and if you object, you are simply guilty. Many who object (which is their right to do), are either tasered, or beat upon physically) then arrested. Some are shot on the spot. That is not isolated, and if you would go googling, you would find that there is a serious problem with police and law enforcement that needs be looked at, and for the Church to hide its head in the sand and play Romans 13 in some guiltless fashion without qualification shatters the 8th Commandment.

    We are not given such luxury.

    I could fill your e-mail box daily, one-by-one, with examples of what I am saying. This decision was made in favor of the people (those who the constitution says are first and in charge!), as a response to the state Supreme Court obviously overstepping its bounds, and granting a right to law enforcement that simply does not exist. Police are hired by their localities for specific chores, much as I hire a contractor. Their authority doe not extend beyond those matters about which I charge them. Hitting anyone with some serious theological charge for objecting to that is beyond the pale!

    Cops are employees. That is a fact. They are not judge, jury, or executioner, and they have zero business pretending they are.

    If you think differently, go ride with several each week for a month, and you will come away with a far different opinion. Or, let’s rock and roll on Church, State, and the Gospel.

    Uncle Lenny (did Shaker Heights outside Cleveland for 30 years) put it quite succinctly: “Jeff, never had to pull my gun; had to wrestle a few down, but the new cops shoot first and ask later. They never would have made it in my day.

    My first Cong Prez was a cop – he used to joke that they were paid to be assholes. His very words.

    Look at the armaments being gathered by police departments (even tiny Montgomery county north of Houston has armored vehicles and drones). Sorry, crime is not that bad. And cops have ZERO authority to trample upon citizens’s as they do. That should be your focus.

    It would make for a great post, and wide distribution in the welfare of your fellow citizens.

    Rev. Jeff Baxter
    Palacios, TX

  • http://koivwvia.wordpress.com jb

    This argument is silly, Gene.

    A right we Americans have always had (intrinsically) (even the King of England could not transgress the doorstep of a peasant), has gone by the wayside in the present American march toward both socialism and overt marxism.

    I have never been arrested, cuffed, or tasered (thank God!), but I have had to deal with cops about to do so for absolutely no reason whatsoever. They were acting like idiots.

    Gene – read Balko’s site. Cato Institute has taken over another site that listed 15-20 incidents of police illegalities per day. A mere perusal of sites on line will tell you that illegal police taserings, and shootings and “Judge, jury and executions” happen with great regularity.

    I should mention that “law enforcement bad shoots” greatly outnumber those among the citizenry.

    That is not constitutional, American, nor does it resemble the first thing “Christian.” You are, as am I, duty-bound to be aware, even though we are of the Kingdom of the right, to understand the actions of the Kingdom of the left.

    The police in this country, becoming as militarized as they are, no longer really care what your reasoning or excuse is. If they pull you over, you are semi-convicted on the spot, and if you object, you are simply guilty. Many who object (which is their right to do), are either tasered, or beat upon physically) then arrested. Some are shot on the spot. That is not isolated, and if you would go googling, you would find that there is a serious problem with police and law enforcement that needs be looked at, and for the Church to hide its head in the sand and play Romans 13 in some guiltless fashion without qualification shatters the 8th Commandment.

    We are not given such luxury.

    I could fill your e-mail box daily, one-by-one, with examples of what I am saying. This decision was made in favor of the people (those who the constitution says are first and in charge!), as a response to the state Supreme Court obviously overstepping its bounds, and granting a right to law enforcement that simply does not exist. Police are hired by their localities for specific chores, much as I hire a contractor. Their authority doe not extend beyond those matters about which I charge them. Hitting anyone with some serious theological charge for objecting to that is beyond the pale!

    Cops are employees. That is a fact. They are not judge, jury, or executioner, and they have zero business pretending they are.

    If you think differently, go ride with several each week for a month, and you will come away with a far different opinion. Or, let’s rock and roll on Church, State, and the Gospel.

    Uncle Lenny (did Shaker Heights outside Cleveland for 30 years) put it quite succinctly: “Jeff, never had to pull my gun; had to wrestle a few down, but the new cops shoot first and ask later. They never would have made it in my day.

    My first Cong Prez was a cop – he used to joke that they were paid to be assholes. His very words.

    Look at the armaments being gathered by police departments (even tiny Montgomery county north of Houston has armored vehicles and drones). Sorry, crime is not that bad. And cops have ZERO authority to trample upon citizens’s as they do. That should be your focus.

    It would make for a great post, and wide distribution in the welfare of your fellow citizens.

    Rev. Jeff Baxter
    Palacios, TX

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  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    I disagree with you, Dr. Veith, rather strongly, for the following good reasons:
    1) Last year the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that the way Indiana law was written, it was illegal for citizens to use force against any unlawful arrest, search, or seizure. This law is attempting to correct this foolishness.
    2) Almost every state has specific clauses which allow citizens to resist unlawful police action.
    3) Why would anyone in their right mind think that police always act lawfully?
    I agree with jb above, and many other posters here. This is a good law which can protect citizens against armed illegal intruders.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    I disagree with you, Dr. Veith, rather strongly, for the following good reasons:
    1) Last year the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that the way Indiana law was written, it was illegal for citizens to use force against any unlawful arrest, search, or seizure. This law is attempting to correct this foolishness.
    2) Almost every state has specific clauses which allow citizens to resist unlawful police action.
    3) Why would anyone in their right mind think that police always act lawfully?
    I agree with jb above, and many other posters here. This is a good law which can protect citizens against armed illegal intruders.

  • SKPeterson

    And then you have things like this that begin to try people’s patience:

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/06/police-stop-handcuff-every-adult-at-intersection-in-search-for-bank-robber/

    The justification? “We made an arrest.” Sure we illegally detained 40 people for several hours, but we made and arrest. Yeah, us.

  • SKPeterson

    And then you have things like this that begin to try people’s patience:

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/06/police-stop-handcuff-every-adult-at-intersection-in-search-for-bank-robber/

    The justification? “We made an arrest.” Sure we illegally detained 40 people for several hours, but we made and arrest. Yeah, us.

  • Maccabeus

    As several have pointed out, it sounds like Indiana established such a law based on the actions of their Supreme Court. In that circumstance, the law seems reasonable and necessary. Generally, I would argue that the better approach would be eliminate no-knock warrants and entries nation-wide. These entries are not necessary to carrying out law enforcement actions, they are merely convenient. When I was single and went on no-knock entries, I was never overly comfortable with the whole idea. Years later with a family and no longer in law enforcement, I see even more clearly the invasive nature and inherent dangers of such entries.
    And, it isn’t just about police entering the wrong home or doing so in a way that doesn’t clearly identify who they are. Home invasions often involve the criminal(s) shouting “Police” as they enter to confuse the homeowner and to discourage any return fire. I can”t protect my family if I have to worry about if the people announcing themselves as police really are or not.
    As for the comments and people’s experience with mean, sadistic, violent, power-hungry cops, yes, there are some out there. And, yes, it is more problematic when such a person holds a position of authority; however, having worked alongside fellow officers for years, most of them are well-intentioned and try to do their job well. (Some, because they are just good folks, others, because they are afraid of getting reprimanded, sued, or fired for some accidental screw-up). Maybe from an outside perspective cops appear to be cut from the same cloth, but they are as diverse in the attitudes, skills, and personality as the general population.

  • Maccabeus

    As several have pointed out, it sounds like Indiana established such a law based on the actions of their Supreme Court. In that circumstance, the law seems reasonable and necessary. Generally, I would argue that the better approach would be eliminate no-knock warrants and entries nation-wide. These entries are not necessary to carrying out law enforcement actions, they are merely convenient. When I was single and went on no-knock entries, I was never overly comfortable with the whole idea. Years later with a family and no longer in law enforcement, I see even more clearly the invasive nature and inherent dangers of such entries.
    And, it isn’t just about police entering the wrong home or doing so in a way that doesn’t clearly identify who they are. Home invasions often involve the criminal(s) shouting “Police” as they enter to confuse the homeowner and to discourage any return fire. I can”t protect my family if I have to worry about if the people announcing themselves as police really are or not.
    As for the comments and people’s experience with mean, sadistic, violent, power-hungry cops, yes, there are some out there. And, yes, it is more problematic when such a person holds a position of authority; however, having worked alongside fellow officers for years, most of them are well-intentioned and try to do their job well. (Some, because they are just good folks, others, because they are afraid of getting reprimanded, sued, or fired for some accidental screw-up). Maybe from an outside perspective cops appear to be cut from the same cloth, but they are as diverse in the attitudes, skills, and personality as the general population.

  • Joe

    Maccabeus — I agree there are good and bad cops just like there are good and bad everything else. My problem is that the vision of a cop “shouting stop or I’ll shoot” ala Barney Miller is long gone. Today’s good cop is trained in military assault tactics that teach you to eliminate the threat instead of control it. The video below shows this in action in two instances: 1. the cops burst in to a suspected Meth House a guy comes around the corner with a golf club and is immediately gunned down. 2. A cop approaches a homeless man with a legal knife and shoots him when the homeless man dies not put the knife down within 4 or 5 seconds of the cop having given the command. Both cops were cleared of any wrong doing:

    http://reason.com/blog/2011/03/28/reasontv-radley-balko-on-the-3

  • Joe

    Maccabeus — I agree there are good and bad cops just like there are good and bad everything else. My problem is that the vision of a cop “shouting stop or I’ll shoot” ala Barney Miller is long gone. Today’s good cop is trained in military assault tactics that teach you to eliminate the threat instead of control it. The video below shows this in action in two instances: 1. the cops burst in to a suspected Meth House a guy comes around the corner with a golf club and is immediately gunned down. 2. A cop approaches a homeless man with a legal knife and shoots him when the homeless man dies not put the knife down within 4 or 5 seconds of the cop having given the command. Both cops were cleared of any wrong doing:

    http://reason.com/blog/2011/03/28/reasontv-radley-balko-on-the-3

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Regarding the claim that this throws off the doctrine of lawful magistrates, it really doesn’t; the Scriptures in Romans 13 give the right to the king to punish the wicked and commend the just, which presupposes that the king actually have a good idea that….someone is wicked, no?

    In short, it presupposes something akin to our system of issuing warrants on probable cause, and entry only upon reasonable suspicion. Also, if believers are to respect the agents of the king, then that presupposes that the agents of the king can be readily identified, no?

    So really, what this does is simply “reins in” police to use the methods that are specified in the Constitution–and to a degree, in the Bible. Yes, some police officers are used to no knock raids justified by the verbal testimony of anonymous witnesses and such, and therefore understand that if they’re involved in such, they’re going to be in more danger than before.

    That said, is the problem that citizens can shoot back at police behaving badly, or police behaving badly in the first place?

    In short, this is true conservativism–holding to the Constitution–and not the imitation type presented by “law and order, give the police what they need and don’t ask too many questions” types.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Regarding the claim that this throws off the doctrine of lawful magistrates, it really doesn’t; the Scriptures in Romans 13 give the right to the king to punish the wicked and commend the just, which presupposes that the king actually have a good idea that….someone is wicked, no?

    In short, it presupposes something akin to our system of issuing warrants on probable cause, and entry only upon reasonable suspicion. Also, if believers are to respect the agents of the king, then that presupposes that the agents of the king can be readily identified, no?

    So really, what this does is simply “reins in” police to use the methods that are specified in the Constitution–and to a degree, in the Bible. Yes, some police officers are used to no knock raids justified by the verbal testimony of anonymous witnesses and such, and therefore understand that if they’re involved in such, they’re going to be in more danger than before.

    That said, is the problem that citizens can shoot back at police behaving badly, or police behaving badly in the first place?

    In short, this is true conservativism–holding to the Constitution–and not the imitation type presented by “law and order, give the police what they need and don’t ask too many questions” types.


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