Faria: A solution to the problem of burglaries and home invasions

Charles Richardson's informative column on Macon and Bibb County crime statistics points out that while aggravated assaults have declined in the city and county, residential burglaries are up 6% over last year. These burglaries are associated with drugs and violence. The reality is that police cannot be everywhere all the time to protect our homes. Roadblocks and visible police presence may deter crime briefly, but unless we turn society into a police state even those measures will not suffice. Citizens must take some responsibility for their own safety.

Where Thieves Gain EntryFirearm training and safety courses and general awareness that responsible citizens would be willing to defend their families in their homes do deter crime without turning communities into a police state or fomenting vigilantism.

Burglary and auto theft are crimes that have steadily risen in Great Britain, a country with strict gun control laws where citizens have virtually no legal right to protect themselves from vicious criminals. In England, people are nearly twice as likely to be robbed, assaulted, or have a vehicle stolen than in the United States. Burglaries continue to be a problem in most communities in Great Britain but have declined in many small communities in the U.S, where criminals know that a large proportion of citizens are armed. Ditto for motor vehicle theft, it has risen in England because criminals know Britons are unarmed in their homes as well as in the streets.

In the early 1980s, Professors James D. Wright and Peter Rossi conducted a study funded for by the U.S. Department of Justice. In addition to other interesting statistics, their crime and violence research found that felons feared armed citizens more than the police. In the 1990s, Professors John Lott and Gary Kleck substantiated the findings of Wright and Rossi, whose research continues to be confirmed by a mounting body of data and experience to the present day. Despite the tremendous increase of gun sales and gun availability in the U.S., gun crimes have steadily fallen in the last two decades. The truth is that guns in the hands of the law-abiding citizens deter crime, encouraging a respectful community. Criminals do not know who in the public is armed, and they must be wary of citizens.

Several years ago, Georgia enacted a "shall-issue" concealed carry law. Unfortunately, many good citizens still do not avail themselves of this law because the media and some politicians continue to demonized guns and associate crime rates with "easy gun availability," despite the accumulating evidence to the contrary.Castle Doctrine Sign

In Georgia, as in other states, citizens are legally protected by the “Castle Doctrine” that defines a man's home as his "castle,” where no one can enter without his consent, and he may use deadly force to protect it. According to Georgia statue, a person may use deadly force in defense of habitation and has a right to "stand his ground," with "no duty to retreat from the use of such force and shall not be held liable to the person against whom the use of force was justified or to any person acting as an accomplice..."

Moreover, in Georgia, a car is an extension of a person's home, an extension that he also has a right to defend. Again, self and family protection by law-abiding citizens is not vigilantism, but a duty of citizenship, and a desirable expedient for home and self protection against the increasing rate of burglaries, and potentially more dangerous crimes, such as rapes and aggravated assaults, crimes committed and remaining at rates still too high for comfort.

The truth is the police, despite their motto “to protect and serve,” cannot be everywhere. Let's remember that courts have ruled the police do not have a legal obligation to protect individuals; the police owe a duty to protect the community at large (Bowers v. DeVito; 1982) but not individual persons, homes, or businesses.

One way to decrease this cycle of violence is for the Bibb County Sheriff to announce and publicize the availability of gun training and safety courses for all interested citizens and business owners, so they can more safely do their part toward home, self, and family protection.

Written by Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D. resides in Middle Georgia. He served in an Injury Research Committee of the CDC, 2002-2005. Originally submitted to the Macon Telegraph for publication on February 17 2012 and published on March 4, 2012 under the title "A citizen's solution for the problems of burglaries and forced entries."

Copyright ©2012 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD

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Comments on this post

Women defending themselves in their homes!

Interestingly, today ABC Morning News had a segment on burglaries and home invasions throughout the U.S. Despite the fact that overall crime statistics are down, burglaries and forced entries in home invasions remain high but there is hope on the horizon.

ABC News reported how people, particularly women, are shooting assailants attempting to break into their homes or burglarizing their houses. And, increasing numbers of violent criminals in various states have been put out of commission!

So your article, Dr. Faria, is right on target!

Attempted home invasion...Be on guard!

I received the following from uneed, who regarding this article wrote in the MT the following:

"What a great Article Dr. Faria! And wonderful timing considering the number of residential forced entries we are having.

"I had a terrible experience myself this past year with a possible forced entry into my home while I was there. And I couldn't get my hands on the gun I keep for my safety fast enough but Thank God my trusty Jack Russell Terrier did the job of deterring them until I could call for help. The incident happened around 8:30 in the morning,right after most people had gone to work for the day.

"I have found in and around North Bibb county that mid morning during the week is when they hit, hoping people are at work.

"I am a proponent of all men and women having a weapon available to protect their home. Watch for 'suspicious' vehicles cruising your neighborhoods and if possible get a license number and call your local law enforcement.

"If someone breaks into your home, having no idea whether anyone is there or not, be very cautions. They will kill you...Be on guard.

"Thank you so much for writing this much needed reminder of how important it is to always be on guard. We are living in most troubling times.

"And I learned my lesson; my weapon is always with me no matter which room of the house I'm in...I won't be separated from it again..I let my guard down for only a morning and it could have cost me my life."

Thank you uneed for your excellent anecdote! MAF



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