Should Colorado's Make My Day Law be expanded? That was one of the questions posed by Alan Prendergast's cover story this week, which looks into the almost-thirty-year history of the 1985 law that helped shape Colorado's favorable approach to defensive gun use in the home, even as state lawmakers have sought to impose a battery of other restrictions on gun capacity and purchases in the wake of last summer's Aurora theater shootings. Once considered controversial, Prendergast notes, Make My Day is pretty tame compared to the sanctioned mayhem arising from more freewheeling interpretations of self-defense that have come after it, such as Florida's "stand your ground" statute -- currently the subject of much national debate, thanks to the George Zimmerman trial. But that could change if Colorado's law is extended to confrontations outside a person's residence.
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.
For more memorable takes, visit our Comment of the Day archive.
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