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Intruders in the Night

Jim Jackson

Huntsville, Alabama --Two young intruders broke down a door to get into the home of Reginald Acuff, a Huntsville developer, just before midnight on Dec. 8. They had at least one rifle. Mr. Acuff was able to get to his gun, exchanged shots with one of the intruders and shot the other one as he was being attacked. One of the intruders fled; the other one lay dead on the kitchen floor. Mr. Acuff, although in a state of shock, was not hurt.

In times past, this would have been considered an open-and-shut case -- a burglar killed in the act of trying to steal from a law-abiding citizen. Not today.

In today’s times, Mr. Acuff is a suspect who must be investigated to determine if he had the right to protect himself and his property from intruders. And, Alabama law is, to some extent, on the side of the intruders. Alabama law say Iif these intruders had only intended to steal something from Mr. Acuff, and did not threaten him with bodily harm, Mr. Acuff would now be charged with homicide.

In other words, a home owner must think twice before shooting someone who has broken into his home. He must first decide if he is in mortal danger. And, while he is deciding, he just might be killed himself. In today’s society we seem to attach more importance to the rights of criminals than we do to those of law-abiding citizens.

Rather than emphasizing the potential danger for Mr. Acuff from two armed hoodlums, the report in The Huntsville Times spent most of its article space on whether Mr. Acuff had the right to defend his property and himself. One gets the distinct impression that crime has become the natural order of things, and resisting crime may not be an acceptable response. What a country!

It’s outrageous, but I guess it is just a sign of the times.

Jim Jackson is a retired NASA executive who writes about community matters. Some of his articles are accepted for publication in The Huntsville Times; some are not. This one was not.


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