I feel that I must address what I believe is the #1 epidemic of incorrect thought in the gun culture: the idea that property is worth killing for and/or dying to protect. There are a lot of people over the years who I have interacted with both in person and over the internet who are one unfortunate opportunity away from making a deadly mistake in defense of their mere possessions. Let me say at the outset that I am not here to address the legality of using deadly force to protect property. Different states have different statutes that give property owners varying levels of legal justification for protecting property with deadly force. This post is not about what you as a property owner “can” do legally, but rather addresses what you as a responsible armed citizen “should” do.
As a Christian who values human life above all else, I own nothing that is worth killing someone or sacrificing my own life to protect. My purpose for owning a firearm is not defending my earthly possessions, which can always be replaced. I own a firearm to give me an efficient means of defending my life and the lives of my family members if they should ever be threatened. I hold all human life in higher regard than I do my earthly possessions. My gun exists to protect life, not stuff. When I express that conviction, I am sometimes accused of sympathizing with criminals who are killed or injured in the process of attempting to take property, but that could not be farther from the truth. I don’t need to have sympathy for the bad guys to properly value their lives above material possessions. It’s not that I believe that that a bad guy has been victimized when they get shot while trying to steal something, it’s just that I don’t believe that the gun owner is making a good decision in escalating to deadly force if property is all that is at stake. There are a lot of moral and simply rational reasons why this is a good policy for self-preservation.
When you decide to use deadly force, you are making a risk vs. benefit decision even if only subconsciously. Morals aside, if you are a practical person; you should want the benefits to outweigh the risks for your decision to be a good one. The only benefits of using deadly force to protect property are the possible retention of that property in good working order and/or avoidance of having to deal with an insurance claim if the property is insured. That’s it: you just might get to keep your stuff. However, the risks of using deadly force to defend property are numerous and severe.