Hunter Gilbert is a freshman data journalism major at MU. He is an opinion columnist who writes about rights and tech for The Maneater.
Near the end of March, a burglary in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma caught the media’s attention. While burglary isn’t that uncommon in the U.S., the end result of this specific burglary was just that. Three teenagers in black masks, brandishing a knife and brass knuckles among the three of them, broke into a home with the intent to steal. Two of them were shot and killed before leaving the house by the homeowner’s son, and the third died in the driveway from a gunshot wound received while in the house.
Legally, the son, who is 23, was within his rights to shoot the three. Had he done it outside of his home, it would have been considered criminal homicide. The only two reasons this event made headlines were that the son used an AR-15 pattern rifle to kill the three burglars and the event relates to the highly debated Castle Doctrine.
A Castle Doctrine, or a defense of habitation law, gives a person with the legal right to be in an abode, car or home the right to use deadly force on an invader. The state of Oklahoma recognizes that the citizens of the state have a right to absolute safety within their own homes or places of business. This is recognized under a state statute pertaining to “Physical or Deadly Force Against (an) Intruder,” the origins of which can be traced back to the Oklahoma Firearms Act of 1971.
Furthermore, if a person or employee of a business feels their life is in “imminent peril of death or great bodily harm,” they are within their right to use defensive force as they see fit. Whether it be deadly or otherwise, the individual has the right to defend themselves against intruders or perceived threats.
The homeowner’s son was in the right to shoot the three teens. It doesn’t matter how nice the teens were in their day-to-day lives, and it doesn’t matter how well they were raised. In the moment in which they were shot, they were breaking the law. Plain and simple. If the man felt as if he could die or be greatly harmed, which he could have been, given the circumstances, he was in his right to shoot them. This is one of the reasons people own a gun in the first place.
The AR-15 is incredibly common, so it comes to no surprise that this is the kind of rifle the son used to defend himself. But you are still more likely to be killed by a knife than a rifle, let alone a self-loading rifle such as an AR-15, according to the FBI.
I own one, and I wouldn’t use any other gun I own to defend myself had I been in his situation. When your life is on the line, why would you settle for anything less than the perfect tool for the given situation?
The man was within his right to defend himself.