In a perfect world, no one would commit acts of violence against your person, or acts of theft or vandalism against your property. Such a world has never existed and never will. So what can you do to protect your homestead and yourself in the real world? I wouldn't rely on the police. With no criticism intended of their work, police forces simply aren't designed or capable of substantially preventing crime. There are too few of them and too many of us. If someone breaks into your home in the dead of night intent on murder, and if you are unprepared to defend yourself, the cops can reasonably be expected to arrive at the scene sometime after your death to draw a chalk outline around your body. And that's when their work begins. They'll investigate and, if successful, arrest your murderer. Then the courts take over.

If you'd prefer to stay alive and protect your property, you better be able to defend yourself, most efficiently with a gun. That's why I have one. Fortunately, I've never had to use it. But last summer, LaQuine Thomas did. (Not mine, his.) The Thomas home is located on a secluded 35-acre property in Park County, more than 20 miles from the nearest police station. In the middle of the night, a 19-year-old outlaw with a criminal record broke into his vehicle to steal the stereo. In bed, hearing suspicious noises outside, Thomas and his wife armed themselves and left their house to investigate. A few minutes later the intruder was shot and killed. The details are in dispute, but from what I've heard, my sympathies lie with the Thomas. Especially since a district judge recently ruled that the incredible charge of first-degree murder against him will stand.

The family of the young thief and supporters of the district attorney who has decided to prosecute Thomas to the extreme have argued that, "there is no death penalty for stealing." True, but that refers to a judicial proceeding, a deliberative process where time is not of the essence and jurors' lives are not at risk. In the field, a family under attack doesn't enjoy those luxuries. More is at stake here than LaQuine Thomas' future. The outcome of this case will deliver a message. If Thomas is convicted, law-abiding citizens in perilous home-defense situations might hesitate to act, fearing the courts as much as intruders. At the same time, thieves, rapists and murderers will be emboldened. If Thomas is acquitted, at least some vandals may be deterred and think twice about trespassing on your property. I know who I'm rooting for.

As mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani was a believer in the Broken Window theory of criminology, which maintains that if you tolerate petty crime, it creates a spiral that leads to more serious crime. If, however, you create a climate where even petty crimes, like breaking windows, are prosecuted, criminals get the message and back off. It worked. Crime rates fell dramatically in the Big Apple during Giuliani's tenure. It was even safe to walk in Times Square again. In 1967, an earlier mayor of New York, the very liberal John Lindsay, announced on TV, in the midst of race riots and looting, that he had instructed the police not to defend the property of shop owners. He said, "In New York, we value lives more than property." Needless to say, this was like pouring gasoline on the flames. It was open season for looters.

Let me confess my bias. I make distinctions. And I value some property more than some people. I'd expand Colorado's "Make My Day" law beyond the walls of your home to include the boundaries of your property. I'm less concerned about the imagined excesses of vigilante justice than the all-too-real marauding of social predators. As far as I'm concerned, LaQuine Thomas is on our side.

Mike Rosen's radio show airs daily from 9 a.m. to noon on 850 KOA.

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