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Prosecutors immediately appealed Roan's ruling. The Colorado Supreme Court upheld the Make My Day law but decided that Roan had misapplied it in Guenther's case. The charges were reinstated, much to the relief of Jim Brandon, who says actions like Guenther's fall outside the scope of Make My Day: "He was out in the yard shooting people. The law doesn't cover that."

Guenther received the news stoically. He was no longer talking about random shots; instead, he told the Rocky Mountain News that he "did what I thought was right" and "eliminated everybody in the yard who shouldn't have been there." He made these remarks from an Adams County jail cell, where he was awaiting trial on another homicide charge — the murder of his wife, Pam, and the wounding of her male companion outside a Commerce City restaurant, ten months after the Volosin shooting.

Pam had obtained a restraining order against her husband in early 1987, claiming that he'd beaten and abused her. David subsequently forced his way into the house and held her hostage at gunpoint for several hours before surrendering to police. Incredibly, he was able to bond out of jail for a mere $10,000. Terrified, Pam fled with her two children to a safehouse. But Guenther caught up with her a week later and gunned her down in front of their children.

Independence Institute research director Dave Kopel says the Make My Day law hasn’t been the “parade of horribles” critics feared it would be.
Wikimedia Commons
Independence Institute research director Dave Kopel says the Make My Day law hasn’t been the “parade of horribles” critics feared it would be.
David Guenther’s shooting of three residents outside his home in 1986 helped define the limits of Make My Day.
David Guenther’s shooting of three residents outside his home in 1986 helped define the limits of Make My Day.

The slaying shocked domestic-violence crusaders, who argued that the delay in prosecuting Guenther for his previous rampage merely encouraged him to spin out of control. A jury eventually acquitted Guenther in the killing of Josslyn Volosin — not under Make My Day, but through a tortured interpretation of established self-defense law. He was not so fortunate with the jury in Pam's death. They found him guilty of first-degree murder, and the judge gave him forty years to life.

The Guenther case became the focus of a 1988 PBS Frontline documentary; it also received detailed attention in a 1990 study of the new law prepared by William Wilbanks, a Florida criminologist. Wilbanks was skeptical of the benefits of Make My Day. His review of the first 23 Colorado cases in which the law was invoked as a defense found that most of them involved domestic violence, feuds among friends and neighbors or disputes among drug dealers — not unknown intruders seeking to rob or assault a homeowner. In fact, in only three of the cases was the intruder a stranger to the home defender, and in all of those, the "intruders" were police officers.

"An examination of the 20 cases involving non-strangers suggests that the homeowners used force (sometimes deadly force) as much out of anger as self-defense," Wilbanks wrote. He urged several clarifications in the language of the bill — including a distinction between intruders making "uninvited entry" and peace officers acting within the scope of their duties — that were never adopted.

At the same time, Wilbanks acknowledged that the law might be having some positive impact. While there are too many variables involved to draw a simple line of cause and effect, the burglary rate in Colorado declined significantly during the first three years that Make My Day was on the books — a slight increase in 1986, then a 13 percent decline in 1987, followed by a 10 percent drop in 1988.

In Denver, where the uproar over the Guenther case was almost impossible to ignore, police were taking nearly a third fewer burglary reports at the end of that period than they had before the law existed.

**********

Over the past 28 years, prosecutors and judges across Colorado have sorted through hundreds of finely nuanced varieties of around-the-house bloodletting, seeking to determine if the actions involved comprise a legitimate Make My Day case. Along the way, the law's limits and its loopholes have come into sharper focus.

Since there are no restrictions on the degree of force a resident may use in defense of home and hearth, even if the interloper is no longer a threat, one defendant was deemed immune from prosecution after stabbing an intruder 32 times. As some DAs have interpreted the statute, the intruder doesn't always have to enter the domicile, either. In 2003 an Ault man wasn't charged after the shotgun slaying of an angry neighbor who was on his front porch, pounding on the door and accusing him of shooting his dog. The neighbor never entered the man's house and was shot through the door.

There's nothing in the law to prevent an alarmed homeowner from shooting an exiting burglar in the back, providing some portion of his thieving anatomy is still in the house. But "hot pursuit" into the mean streets isn't allowed. Rob Coleman found that out in 1994, when his next-door neighbor, state senator and gun-control advocate Pat Pascoe, ran to his house and complained that men were trying to break into her place. Dressed in pajamas, Coleman chased an eighteen-year-old homeless man down an alley and shot him in the spine, paralyzing him. A former San Diego police officer who claimed to be suffering from a head injury, Coleman ended up pleading guilty to first-degree assault.

Judges have struggled with the definition of "unlawful entry," but in 2010, the Colorado Court of Appeals decided that an intruder doesn't have to know he's breaking the law — or, for that matter, to have any evil intent whatsoever — in order to be fair game for Make My Day. In cases where the shooter and the victim have some prior history, that reasoning has left questions about whether some unwitting "intruders" have been lured to their doom.

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84 comments
marcy
marcy

I have no problem determining that my television is worth more than the life of some scumbag who breaks into my house to steal it.



Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

Call them and they will tell you the same... ATFDenver I Field Office Group Supervisor 950 17th Street, Suite 1700 Denver, Colorado 80202 USA Voice (303) 575-7690 Fax (303) 575-7691

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

No, no law directly refers to A64 and removes your right to 2A, however, gun ownership and purchase is FEDERALLY regulated and you cannot own or purchase a firearm if you use drugs scheduled by the federal government of which marijuana is one. It is not that difficult to understand. It has and always will be prohibited if you use drugs that the federal government lists as a scheduled drug. Colorado does not have its own ownership regulations pertaining to firearms. It is ILLEGAL for medical marijuana users AND recreational marijuana users to purchase and own a firearm. If someone comes to the state to purchase marijuana and they live in another state, they still cannot own or purchase a firearm since it is federally regulated.

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

A moronic troll needs hooked on phonics to understand this post. My point is that we should publicize any expansion of the law as much as we have been inundated with the Zimmerman trial by the media. Troll started arguing the finer points of the trial of which the troll was wrong anyway since the troll has taken all liberal media reports as facts.

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

Yes, it should be expanded and publicized to the same extent as the Zimmerman trial. People intent on breaking the law when in someone else's domain need to know there is more than their freedom at risk. I would not condone use of deadly force on anyone fleeing though.

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

And since you can't understand my post, the reason Zimmerman was mentioned was in regard to publicizing any expansion of the law as much as the trial had been publicized you idiot.

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

And since you can't understand my post, the reason Zimmerman was mentioned was in regard to publicizing any expansion of the law as much as the trial had been publicized you fucking idiot.

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

Your comprehension is at a 2nd grade level since you can't understand my post. Go back to trolling, you are the moron with your response to something that wasn't expounded upon. A jury has made the call so build a bridge...Zimmerman's domain according to Florida state law is wherever he has a legal right to be and no evidence was presented to say otherwise. Get off the drugs and get into reality.

woodsnake4462838
woodsnake4462838

I still don't understand where people come up with the idea that it is somehow a morally superior point of view, to be a VICTIM OF A VIOLENT CRIME.  Rape, theft, larceny are all against the law. Citizens  that abide by the laws have the right to own their own wealth, and be secure on their property, or in their dwellings. The police are not charged with, or capable of being present at every law breaking event in the area. (city, county, block, pick a place) An armed society is a polite society! I guess it goes back to child rearing. Discipline, fear of reprisals and consequences appear to be a thing of the past. In a world where every one is a winner, it makes sense that no one else has the right to privacy, or to be successful!

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

I compared many states 'right to defend oneself' w/ that of Florida's, 'Make my day', & I have not been able to come up w/ much of a difference ....

patricia.calhoun
patricia.calhoun moderator editortopcommenter

I'd like to publish some of these comments in our letters to the editor section, ideally with the author's full name. if that's okay, e-mail me at patricia.calhoun@westword.com.

Mark897
Mark897

The logical, and essential, premise of "Make My Day" laws (an extension of common law or statutory principles governing trespass or breaking and entering) is that only a limited number of people, such as family members or police armed with a warrant, may lawfully enter someone's home without express permission.

The obvious problem with extending the "Make My Day" defense to businesses is that the public is not only welcome, but actively encouraged, to enter most businesses.

As "business invitees", their entry into and presence in the business is completely lawful. It therefore becomes much more difficult to distinguish between those who are "fair game" (such as those who attempt to rob a store or bank with a weapon) and those whose actions, even if unlawful, do not justify the use of deadly force.

It would therefore seem that current law, which already, in accordance with traditional "self-defense" standards, permits business owners to use deadly force to defend themselves against an imminent threat of great bodily injury or death (especially with benefit of surveillance video) sufficiently protects businesses.

Of course, my perspective is undoubtedly influenced by the fact I do not operate a medical marijuana or liquor store. :) 

Moreover, there can be no denying that extending "Make My Day" laws to retail businesses might significantly stem the horrendous plague of shoplifting to which retailers are subject, and thereby reduce the "tax" they in turn must impose on law-abiding citizens to cover their "shrinkage".

Against this benefit one must weigh the dangers of a crazed "Soup Nazi", or chef enraged by a complaint about his sole meuniere, getting the drop on a hapless diner.

tahosa65
tahosa65

Fuck em. Break into my home, die. Simple as that. I don't really care what anyone else thinks about it and make my day law or no, I would react in exactly the same way. I am tired of the punks, thieves and miscreants getting all the breaks. They want to show how tough and mean they are? Tell that to Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson. Tough guys aren't tough with a bullet in them. My personal favorite is Mr. Colt. 

vx951
vx951

It is a good law.  people need to be able to protect themselves with out fear of son prosecutor charging them.  Most do not realize the the prosecution has no duty to pay the successful defendant's legal fees which can run into 7 or more figures.  For real criminals that is no a consideration but for the rest of the population it is.  

  Now to over turn the ignorance of the last set of ant-gun legislation.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Remember ... Cowards Shoot First

Ipso facto.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@marcy ... spoken like the vile amoral cunt that you are.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Stephan Reuchlein ... additionally, possession of a Firearm while committing Drug crimes is a separate Federal Offense, which ads a 5 year MINIMUM MANDATORY prison sentence -- consecutive -- to the drug sentence.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Stephan Reuchlein "People intent on breaking the law when in someone else's domain need to know there is more than their freedom at risk"

Apply that to the Zionist Pigs who occupy Palestinian Homelands.


Mark897
Mark897

@Juan_Leg

Hi, Juan: The essential difference is that "make my day" laws extend the common law "castle doctrine" to the use of deadly force against someone unlawfully in your home, regardless of whether the intruder is threatening you with imminent death or serious bodily injury (whereas reasonable perception of an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury is normally required to support a claim of self-defense outside the home).

So, under "make my day" laws, the homeowner or lawful resident is presumed to be entitled to shoot a burglar or other unlawful intruder without proving the intruder was a physical threat.

Prior to the advent of "make my day" laws, lawful residents had to prove a self-defense claim (reasonably perceived threat of death or seriously bodily injury) if they killed a burglar or other unlawful intruder.

Once "make my day" laws were passed, burglars or other unlawful intruders were on notice that merely entering someone's home could get them killed, whether or not they were armed or threatening the homeowner.

Advocates of "make my day" laws contend they help reduce the rate of burglary, though the evidence is clouded by improved police techniques and increased incarceration rates.

They have very occasionally been exploited (often unsuccessfully) by those bearing a grudge or seeking to eliminate competition (for a lover, in the drug business, etc.) to invite a victim into one's "castle" on false pretenses for the purpose of murdering him or her. 

They have also protected numerous homeowners or residents from unjust prosecution by law enforcement (who don't like citizens taking care of business for them) for blowing away an intruder.

On balance, the benefits of such laws, in my judgment, greatly outweigh their undeniable potential for abuse.

Perhaps the most effective means of reducing burglaries and thefts is to reduce drug  addiction, which is the motivation of a huge proportion of property crimes.

One approach is Singapore's, which is death after show trial for the possession of controlled substances.

Another is that attempted by some European countries, which is legalization, even to the extent of supplying addicts with needles and drugs, coupled with intensive counseling/treatment, etc., etc.

Neither is ideal, but either would be better than our current system, which helps sustain huge demand for illegal drugs and restricts supply just enough to keep the profits very high for the domestic and foreign cartels that control the trade. 

That is, given the billions in profits to domestic and foreign cartels (we only hear about the foreign ones, though it should be obvious they could not transport or sell their product without the assistance of very powerful domestic cartels) that can then be profitably laundered through banks, restaurants, real estate developments and other apparently legitimate businesses, a lot of money is thrown at politicians to persuade them to maintain the status quo.  Very bad public policy, but very good for a lot of apparently legitimate businesses and corrupt pubic officials.

Here is a good summary of the origins and operation of the "castle doctrine" and "make my day" laws.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_doctrine

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Mark897  

Thank you for clarifying . It is still very close ....

tahosa65
tahosa65

@DonkeyHotay @tahosa65 Amoral? Homicidal? How about secure in my own home. The Constitution guarantees that. Don't want to die? Don't break into my home. Not much of a "moral" decision there. 

tahosa65
tahosa65

@CloudGang @DonkeyHotay DonkeyHotay says it all. Liberal Democrat trying to protect his "homeys." Mark me down as a "coward," just don't invade my home or I will unleash some cowardice on your dumb ass. 

adam.roy
adam.roy moderator

@Mark897 Hi Mark897, you've been nominated for our 2013 web awards as one of the best commenters of the year. Email me at adam.roy@westword.com and let us know if you can come. Thanks!

Mark897
Mark897

@Juan_Leg@Mark897

You're quite right, "Juan"; it's not always easy to understand the distinction, yet it's REALLY important to understand when confronted with an apparent intruder in one's home.

Given his apparently sociopathic outlook (reflected in his vile personal attacks, e.g., calling "marcy" a "c--t" for disagreeing with him above, one cannot help wondering whether "DonkeyHotay" finds "make my day" laws objectionable because he/she fears he/she may one night, while exploring others' homes, find him/herself the victim of its presumption of justifiable homicide.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@marcy @DonkeyHotay @Mark897 

Marcy prefers to be an amoral homicidal coward, killing other human beings over some cheap, replaceable consumerist crap.


marcy
marcy

@DonkeyHotay @Mark897 

Donkey prefers to be a victim.  Here, take my purse, here take my TV, here take my car, here take my money just please, please, please Mr Badguy please don't hurt me.

After all, it's just a terrible thing if people breaking into your house get shot and killed.  The world would be such a boring place if it ran short of burglars.

Mark897
Mark897

@DonkeyHotay @Mark897 I'm not widely regarded as being afraid of much of anything.

I have no idea who you are, but such personal attacks as a substitute for reasoned discourse are a common sign of inferior intellectual capabilities.

You should really run for office or seek judicial appointment. You have demonstrated you are very well qualified, at least in Denver.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Mark897 "in this nihilistic age in which the probability of burglary, rape or homicide by addicts or predators is MUCH higher than it was 50+ years ago"

Nonsense. That's just your abject cowardice and fear talking.

Mark897
Mark897

@DonkeyHotay @Mark897

With respect, would it be better to expose homeowners, in this nihilistic age in which the probability of burglary, rape or homicide by addicts or predators is MUCH higher than it was 50+ years ago, to the high risk of bankruptcy and/or prison after being forced to defend themselves against a charge of murder by the very State that failed to protect them from criminals?

You may think so. I do not.

We would likely agree, however, that "make my day" laws are an inefficient means of solving the root problems that have dragged our once very safe society into the gutter, and rendered innocent citizens fair game for all manner of predators. 

Until we more forcefully attack the root problems, "make my day" laws will remain a necessary evil in a world increasingly full of evil.

Since vigilantism, though I am inclined to favor it as a means of dealing with rapists, child molesters, and meth and heroin dealers, is for good reason barred by the Constitution (at least to the extent it is perpetrated by citizens as opposed to law enforcement), we must look for other solutions, such as: giving up on the silly notion of "treatment" for sexual predators; early identification through genetic and psychological screening of addictive personalities, and intensive monitoring and treatment to steer them away from abuse; some form of legalization of all drugs, or less dangerous alternatives, coupled with VERY severe penalties (like Singapore's) for going outside lawful channels to sell or obtain them.

tahosa65
tahosa65

@azlefti @DonkeyHotay @tahosa65 You sir are correct. Calling someone a "coward" or using the one single instance of a self defense gone wrong to justify your refusal to recognize that in the real world, you are responsible for your own defense, is laughable. With or without this law, everyone has a right to self defense. It's an "unalienable," right along with "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." I would not seek out the opportunity to exercise that right. On the other hand, I would never hesitate to take another's life to protect me or mine. They make that choice when they come into my home uninvited or accost me without reason. You want to take what is mine? Be ready to give all you have in the effort. 

azlefti
azlefti

@DonkeyHotay @tahosa65 Well since we are not discussing that there is no answer, perhaps if you were to quit trying to make the  subject fit your agenda you would understand that we are discussing defense of self and family.


Funny a moron calling people cowards

CloudGang
CloudGang

@DonkeyHotay @CloudGang Once again you misunderstand me.........There is NOTHING in our home worth losing YOUR life over. You are welcome to come find out, its a free country.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@CloudGang "There is nothing in my home worth dying for....."

Your wife and children must be so proud of you ...

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@tahosa65 ... what part of the Constitution grants you homicidal powers of summary execution ?

Fire away, coward!

Man Shoots and Kills Apparent Intruder ... His Own Son!


A Connecticut man responding to an apparent break-in at 1 a.m. Thursday fatally shot a masked man in self-defense, and later learned that he had killed his 15-year-old son.


According to CBS New York, Jeffery Giuliano's sister, who lives next door, alerted her brother that someone wearing a ski mask was trying to break into her home. Seeing the apparent intruder with a "shiny object" in his hand, Giuliano fired a shot at him that proved fatal.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@CloudGang @DonkeyHotay @tahosa65 @ianbrettcooper 

Americowards have cut and run from every war they've started and lost since Korea ...

... all of them against far smaller, weaker and poorer sovereign nations.



DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@CloudGang @tahosa65 @DonkeyHotay @ianbrettcooper 

HipTip: if you want "rights" and freedom, don't live in the country that has the MOST LAWS, STATUTES, CODES, RULES, RESTRICTIONS and Prohibitions on the books ... and correspondingly the MOST PEOPLE in PRISON in the world.

hth.

tahosa65
tahosa65

@DonkeyHotay @ianbrettcooper I'm an old guy and let me tell you a little secret about old guys. When we are too old to fight with you and you accost us, we will just kill you. Doubt if you call us any name after. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@CloudGang @DonkeyHotay @ianbrettcooper

Another one, filed under Cowards Shoot First !!

Retired Cop Fatally Shoots Own Son, After Mistaking Him For Burglar

CHICAGO — A retired Chicago police officer accidentally shot and killed his son early Tuesday, after mistaking him for a burglar, the officer’s family said.

Michael Griffin, 48, was killed at his father’s home in the 5300 block of North Delphia Avenue. His family said Griffin’s father, retired Chicago Police Detective James Griffin, mistook Michael for a burglar.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said Michael Griffin died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Good Shot !!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@CloudGang @DonkeyHotay @ianbrettcooper

Meanwhile a trigger-happy cowardly cop shoots first -- killing his own son!

OLD FORGE, NY –  State troopers say a police officer in New York shot and killed his son, mistaking him for an intruder.

Troopers say Parry Police Department Officer Michael Leach called 911 to report the shooting early Saturday.

He was staying at the Clark Beach Motel and shot someone he believed to be an intruder. But the man turned out to be his 37-year-old son, Matthew Leach, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Troopers say Leach used his department-issued .45-caliber Glock handgun in the shooting.


CloudGang
CloudGang

@DonkeyHotay @ianbrettcooper ........meanwhile in Columbus," A Ohio woman used her handgun to stop a pair of armed and violent home invaders.

Police say that a pair of robbers went to the home of an acquaintance, where they held that man and his family at gunpoint while demanding money and prescription medication.  The mother of the homeowner, who was in a different room, reportedly realized what was happening and grabbed a handgun.  She then fired in self defense and defense of her family, striking one home invader and sending the other running, police say.  Two suspects, including one with a gunshot wound, were reportedly apprehended by police.  None of the victims were harmed, police say.

Yet again, we have another woman who was able to defend herself and her loved ones with a gun. Had this woman not been armed, she and her family could have been, victimized in their own home by a pair of dangerous attackers. Fortunately, this woman was armed for self defense, and as a result was able to save herself and the rest of her loved ones.  Once again, armed self defense works.

 
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