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Supporters of the move cite cases like that of Christakes Christou, the owner of the Funky Buddha Lounge, who originally faced a charge of attempted murder after shooting a man who'd broken into the bar after closing in 2006. The intruder pleaded guilty to trespassing; Christou pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence — he'd allegedly picked up a shell casing — and received a deferred sentence.

But Morrissey, who's twice testified against Make My Day Better bills, says he hasn't seen one yet that he could endorse. "The problem with the laws I saw was that they were all written too broadly," he says. "They would allow the shop owner to shoot the shoplifter. You have to write it so tightly to make sure that the fifteen-year-old kid stealing a Baby Ruth bar isn't blown across the 7-Eleven."

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Al Michaud has three locks on his door, motion detectors installed around his front and back windows, a video camera in constant use. A sign on his door informs his neighbors that THERE IS NOTHING IN HERE WORTH YOUR LIFE.

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.

You might think that's enough to keep the riffraff out. Michaud doesn't. He sits with a shotgun beside him, a pistol under his arm. "I never leave my house," he says. "It's not a question of if they're going to come back again. It's a question of when."

Michaud knows the law, knows what actions Make My Day allows him to take in his own defense, and what he can't do. That's why he didn't pursue the three home invaders when they fled his apartment last January.

"I don't want to be like Dirty Harry," he says. "But I've always been kind of ready."

Preparedness has been a longtime habit. Twenty-one years ago, on a quiet street in Manchester, New Hampshire, Alfred W. "Junior" Michaud got into a hell of a brawl with Thomas "Crazy Savage" Alden. The two had been friends, neighbors and members of the same motorcycle club, but the relationship had gone sour. According to news accounts, Michaud pulled a hunting knife but dropped it in the struggle, then called for his wife to bring his rifle. He shot Alden in the chest, killing him.

Michaud spent ten months in jail awaiting trial. The prosecutor talked about Michaud's duty to retreat, questioned whether he was in fear for his life, and pointed out that Alden was unarmed. Witnesses gave conflicting testimony about whether a third man pointed a gun — or was it a stick? — at Michaud and taunted him as the battle raged. The jury favored acquittal 10-2 but was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. The case was dropped.

"That's what brought me to Colorado," Michaud says.

The police seem to take a long time to respond to 911 calls in Michaud's neighborhood. They still haven't arrested anyone for the first burglary he suffered last summer, even after Michaud evicted the prime suspect and found his laptop in the perp's apartment when he was cleaning the place. Even after other tenants told him the dude was trying to sell the gun he stole. Michaud's gun.

"To this day they still haven't arrested that guy," Michaud says. "They're all having doughnuts and coffee someplace. They're going to wait until the gun shows up in another home invasion and probably someone gets killed because they can't do their job."

No, Michaud doesn't feel any safer these days. There are still burglaries in the neighborhood. People are still getting hurt. The situation calls for constant vigilance — more so now, perhaps, than before the three men went ahead and made his day six months ago.

"They thought they were just gonna run in on me and beat me up and do whatever they were gonna do," he says. "They obviously didn't know who they were screwing with. And since it happened, just about everybody's armed over here."

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