Open Thread: Justifiable Homicide Or Murder ?

This is a cross-post from Below The Beltway. It doesn’t directly relate to issues of individual liberty, but it raises some interesting questions about when the private use of force is justifiable that should provide a worthwhile discussion here.

A case out of Pasadena Texas raises some interesting questions about when it is justifiable for a private citizen to use deadly force:

(CBS) The 911 call came from a Pasadena, Tex., resident, who alerted police to two burglary suspects on a neighbor’s property. Before he hung up, two men were dead by his hand.

Joe Horn, 61, told the dispatcher what he intended to do: Walk out his front door with a shotgun.

“I’ve got a shotgun,” Horn said, according to a tape of the 911 call. “Do you want me to stop them?”

“Nope, don’t do that – ain’t no property worth shooting somebody over, OK?” the dispatcher responded.

After several minutes on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, during which Horn became more and more agitated, things get more serious:

On the tape of the 911 call, the shotgun can be heard being cocked and Horn can be heard going outside and confronting someone.

“Boom! You’re dead!” he shouts. A loud bang is heard, then a shotgun being cocked and fired again, and then again.

Then Horn is back on the phone:

“Get the law over here quick. I’ve now, get, one of them’s in the front yard over there, he’s down, he almost run down the street. I had no choice. They came in the front yard with me, man, I had no choice! … Get somebody over here quick, man.”

Dispatcher: “Mister Horn, are you out there right now?”

Horn: “No, I am inside the house, I went back in the house. Man, they come right in my yard, I didn’t know what the — they was gonna do, I shot ’em, OK?”

Dispatcher: “Did you shoot somebody?

Horn: “Yes, I did, the cops are here right now.”

Dispatcher: “Where are you right now?”

Horn: “I’m inside the house. …”

Dispatcher: “Mister Horn, put that gun down before you shoot an officer of mine. I’ve got several officers out there without uniforms on.”

Horn: “I am in the front yard right now. I am …”

Dispatcher: “Put that gun down! There’s officers out there without uniforms on. Do not shoot anybody else, do you understand me? I’ve got police out there…”

Horn: “I understand, I understand. I am out in the front yard waving my hand right now.”

Dispatcher: “You don’t have a gun with you, do you?

Horn: “No, no, no.”

Dispatcher: “You see a uniformed officer? Now lay down on the ground and don’t do nothing else.”

Yelling is heard.

Dispatcher: “Lay down on the ground, Mister Horn. Do what the officers tell you to do right now.”

Here’s the problem. There’s no evidence that at the time Horn shot both men there was an threat either to him or his property, or that he could reasonably have said to be in danger of losing his life. What was happening was two men who had broken into a neighbors house were getting away and the police weren’t showing up.

So, what it reasonable and justifiable for Horn to shoot to death two bunglers who had stolen stuff from his neighbors property ?

Apparently, under Texas law at least, the answer is murky:

Under Texas law, people may use deadly force to protect their own property or to stop arson, burglary, robbery, theft or criminal mischief at night.

But the legislator who authored the “castle doctrine” bill told the Chronicle it was never intended to apply to a neighbor’s property, to prompt a “‘Law West of the Pecos’ mentality or action,” said Republican Sen. Jeff Wentworth. “You’re supposed to be able to defend your own home, your own family, in your house, your place of business or your motor vehicle.”

Based on that, it appears that what Horn comes closer to murder than justifiable homicide.

More from YouTube:

  • James R. Hammonds Jr.

    I heard a man on the radio last night reference Texas Penal Code section 9.43, which states:

    Sec. 9.43. PROTECTION OF THIRD PERSON’S PROPERTY. A person is justified in using force or deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property of a third person if, under the circumstances as he reasonably believes them to be, the actor would be justified under Section 9.41 or 9.42 in using force or deadly force to protect his own land or property and:
    (1) the actor reasonably believes the unlawful interference constitutes attempted or consummated theft of or criminal mischief to the tangible, movable property; or
    (2) the actor reasonably believes that:
    (A) the third person has requested his protection of the land or property;
    (B) he has a legal duty to protect the third person’s land or property; or
    (C) the third person whose land or property he uses force or deadly force to protect is the actor’s spouse, parent, or child, resides with the actor, or is under the actor’s care.

    While, on the surface, I don’t think that killing the two men was absolutely necessary, it does appear that he is protected by law.
    Although I do not think that he should have been so quick to shoot, I really can not judge since I was not in his position and did not know how he felt.
    When choosing between sympathy for Mr. Horn and the two thieves, I have to side with Mr. Horn.
    Thanks to him, there will probably not be another break-in in that neighborhood for a very long time.

  • Ben Davis

    They wouldn’t have been shot if they weren’t breaking the law.

  • Mike

    I can’t say I support a blanket statement like the one made by Ben. After all, using that logic, you should be able to go around shooting people for jaywalking. However, in this case I’d like to think the shooting was warranted. Property shouldn’t have the same importance as a life, but it should be damn close.

    Of course, that doesn’t address the legality of the matter at all. If I’m in that situation there’s no way in hell I pull the trigger. I’d like to be able to, but I’m not taking that risk. Depending on where I’m at, I might not even shoot if someone was trying to take my property just because it might not be worth it.

  • Tanker J.D.

    Be careful with that statute you cite. do you see the cross references to Sections 9.41 and 9.42? They specify that the use of deadly force, as opposed to less than lethal force is only justified at nighttime. This incident occured at 2 pm–not nighttime.

  • James V.Meredith, Chicago IL

    I am shocked that people believe this to be justifiable. He was in his own house, watching this crime take place. A burglary, where he never says he’s concerned about harm occurring to anyone in the house being burglarized. So the issue isn’t about saving another person who is in peril, granted. The house isn’t his, so the question isn’t about protecting his own property. He says he doesn’t really know these neighbors, so the “third person” definitely hasn’t “requested his protection of the land or property”. And “legal duty” is highly subjective. Leaning on the crutch of the law is absolutely ridiculous in this situation. “They wouldn’t have been shot if they weren’t breaking the law”??? I guess I better look out for Mr. Horn or Ben Davis next time i’m i’m in Pasadena and steal a caramel from the candy table at the supermarket, or jaywalk, or even write a bad check, because I could be dead. This was premeditated, period. He says repeatedly that he’s not letting them get away with it, that he’s loading his shotgun, that he’s gonna stop them. And he’s saying all of this from inside his house. The police are on the way. He has a loaded shotgun at the ready. I would venture to say he’s pretty safe here. He puts himself in peril by leaving his house, by making his presence known to the offenders. Even the police officer knows he’s making a mistake. And that officer should be suspended. Where’s the immediacy in his conversation with Mr. Horn? You’re not calming down a little child. You’re trying to prevent a grown man from going out with a loaded gun into a situation that he’s already told you he’s within his rights to confront. The officer only gets a little fire in him after this crime–yes, crime–has been committed, and he realizes that the man has flipped, and that his fellow officers are potentially in the line of fire. And the phone call was over 8 minutes long–where were the cops? Why does it take so long to get to this house? If this is such a nice community, you’d think that it wouldn’t take so long for a cruiser to show up. This is just a horrible situation. Yes, there won’t be another break-in in that neighborhood for a very long time. But I would definitely disagree with Mr. Hammonds about the sympathy vote here.

  • Blp

    “Here’s the problem. There’s no evidence that at the time Horn shot both men there was an threat either to him or his property, or that he could reasonably have said to be in danger of losing his life. What was happening was two men who had broken into a neighbors house were getting away and the police weren’t showing up.

    Well there is no evidence to say they did not rush him and onto his property so your point is not worthy of discussion. Bottom line is there are too many unknowns for anyone to make a judgement for or against his actions, these 2 thugs could have raped and murdered already and could have been coming to his house next or another’s house.

  • Scott Phillips

    This seems pretty cut and dry to me, especially if you’ve heard any of the 911 call on the news. Mr. Horn was practically drooling with the desire to shoot these guys. It was sickening to hear. If he’d stayed in the house, the robbers wouldn’t have even known he was there. The suggestion that property should be “damn close” to the equal of human life in value is spiritually bankrupt thinking. And as for the argument that the robbers “could have raped and murdered already,” well, so could have anyone walking down the street. Should we just open fire and hope we’re right? Mr. Horn had only witnessed robbery and he decided to be a cowboy. It was disproportionate to say the least. The man should be in prison for the rest of his life.

  • Lex Luthor

    Being a native Houstonian I can appreciate this law and having neighbors take care of my property. I think he did what the law said he could do and I don’t have a problem with it. Don’t steal, stay in your property, stay alive! The idea of just watching people rob your neighbors and being charged to watch their house at their request and do nothing is ludicrous! I stand behind him 99%.

  • http://Yahoo Martha

    I am a proud Texan, current resident of Houston Texas and am proud of this heroic citizen. We in Texas FIRMLY believe in our Constitutional Right to bear arms and are not afraid to use them to defend our lives or property. God Bless America and God Bless Texas!

  • Matt

    Martha, you and all your fellow vigilantes will have plenty of time to praise God, America, AND Texas when you’re rotting in jail for the rest of your barbaric, uncivilized lives.

  • Nik

    While I have no remorse for the victims in this situation, I will say this. I will be moving to Houston, TX when I graduate from college. I’ve been planning this for some time.

    But for all of you that find right in what Mr. Horn has done, I will say to you that YOU BETTER RASIE YOUR CHILDREN RIGHT! If I EVER see anyone breaking into someone’s car or home, I’m going to kill them. Period! If Mr. Horn isn’t brought up on charges for this. So it can be you son or distant family member that has been locked out by accident. Boom! They’re dead, point blank and simple.

    So this means all of your 10-18 year old children that want to pull childish pranks or get drunk, and anything else will be killed if I ever catch it.

    I shocked at how many ignorant and naieve people there are in this world. For anyone to see ANY right in what Mr. Horn did is completely NUTS!!! And it’s people like you that should suffer the same fate as these theieves did. I think from here going forward I will use this case to determine what people I allow to be apart of my life. Because I don’t want to be around ANY of those that see Mr. Horn actions as heroic. Those that due have some serious mental issues.

  • rusty

    I wonder why the fact that the two burglars were illegal aliens is not mentioned in this article? How many readers are aware of that fact? I live in AZ and time after time we have to deal with illegals killing or hurting people with their cars and then running off! How many Americans need to be killed or robbed by illegals before our government chooses to do something? I would say kudos to Mr. Horn! Our tax dollars won’t be supporting these two illegals, not to mention that the streets will be safer with them NOT on the road! I understand that the news portrayed these guys as “good men, husbands, fathers, etc” and if that’s true, then why the hell were they breaking into someone’s house and stealing their stuff? I would say deport the wives and kids left behind, but I guess that would be useless cuz they’d be back the next day! This is NOT a racial issue! My closest friends are Hispanic Americans and I would lay down my life for them! I love them like my own family. The issue is ILLEGAL immigrants and the damage that is being done to this country- doesn’t matter race or creed- you’re here illegally- IT”S ILLEGAL!

  • Norm Nelson

    I’m sorry but the comparison between j-walking and burglary is way off base. J-walking is a victimless crime.

    It’s unfortunate that our legal system emboldens thieves by protecting them from honest citizens.

    One things for sure it’s gonna be a circus.

  • Pete

    The guy had every right to do what he did, although if i could have I would have aimed for there legs. I wouldn’t want to live with takin anyone life if it wasn’t necessary. White trash, black trash, yellow trash, or any trash tries to rob me or my neighbors and i’ll shoot their trashy, waste of skin lives too..

  • suzyjax

    Their legal status in this country is irrelevant to the situation at hand. Burglary and/or being in this country without documentation are NOT death penalty crimes.
    Joe Horn did not kill these two because they were in the country illegally or otherwise. Joe Horn killed them because he had an itchy trigger finger–evidenced by his statements 18 seconds into the 911 call.

  • Rudy Bega

    Rusty, I’m with you. I wish we could just execute all 12 million illegal aliens. Wouldn’t it be great if we could do it quick and clean, like in a big gas chamber or oven? Then maybe we could offset the cost of heating oil or get them to work as slave laborers to pay off their debt to America before we gas ’em. I’m tired of paying taxes for them to hurt Americans. Let’s go get em!

  • Daniel

    Here’s a similar story also from TX that didn’t end in the thieves getting shot and killed:

    I wonder if everyone who has posted saying this guy is a hero and all that would say that these 3 kids should all have been shot and killed as well or that they themselves would have shot and killed these 3 teenagers if they saw them leaving their neighbor’s property after just burglarizing it.

    Keystone Kriminals Kaught
    After their photos ran on the local evening news, members of the Midgetville Gang – the mental giants who broke into gamer Richard Garriott’s property on Coldwater Canyon in southwestern Travis Co. in February, stole a bunch of liquor and wine, and then dropped a digital camera they’d used to photograph themselves during the burglary – began singing like birds to Travis Co. Sheriff’s Office Detective Don Rios. According to their statements, the group of nine (ranging in age from 18 to 22) was hanging out at the Loop 360 overlook by the Pennybacker Bridge when one of them suggested they take a walk over to “Midgetville,” the name they’d given to Garriott’s property and its “numerous” small buildings. (Get it? Small buildings equals Midgetville. Clever, eh?) Apparently, at least one member of the group, Travis Foxell, told the others he’d been to the property before and allegedly showed off the “tavern pipes and minted coins” that were souvenirs of the experience – interestingly enough, Garriott’s property had also been burgled before. Ignoring the “no trespassing” signs, the gang ambled onto the property, broke into several of the small buildings, and thieved, it seems, whatever liquor they could get their hands on. According to arrest affidavits filed last week, after the partners in crime saw their mugs flashed on the news, they knew the jig was up. Despite an apparent plan to offer a cover story about the reason they were on the property, five flipped, fessing up to the fuzz. All nine have been charged with burglary (a state jail felony) and/or criminal trespassing (a class B misdemeanor).


    There are too many idiot cowboys in TX and there’s probably not a real a shortage of them in any other state either.

  • straight shooter

    There’s no evidence that Mr. Horn ever gave the suspects a chance to surrender. Obviously it was never his intention. Mr. Horn left the safety of his home under the pretence of protecting the property of someone he doesn’t know. Mr. Horn was never in fear of harm to himself. By his own admission he walked out his own home with only one intention “I’m gonna kill em”. He apparently thought this was a get out of jail free card. If I was his neighbor I would be in fear of him.

  • Enroute

    I’m thinking that Joe knew his neighbor, and the story seems to suggest that Joe was still in his own house when he fired…from the doorway. Both of the perps had entered his property. He is an old man, smaller than either one of the perps.

    Joe’s biggest mistake was the timing and language of his 911 call; if perps entered my property like these fellows did, I also would be calling 911…afterwards to have someone retrieve the bodies.

    Criminals deserve no expectation of safety from their victims when in the act of committing a crime against them.

  • 2ndAmend

    The idea that criminals deserve protection from their victims is dangerous and irresponsible to say the least.

    Now, it’s true that a punishment should fit the crime. Had the criminals in this case been caught, they certainly would not have received the death penalty.

    However, rational thinking, responsible, law abiding citizens realize that Mr. Horn wasn’t not administering punishment, but defending himself (the burglars had items that could be considered weapons), his property (the burglars were in his own yard when shots were fired), and third party property (the burglars came out of the neighbors home with tangible, moveable, stolen property), and he was acting in line with the letter of the law that governs the state and county of his residence.

    One of the great things about this country is that we all have a right to disagree with what happened and why and all that. One suggestion… you might want to disagree intelligently. :-)

    If you don’t like the “Cowboy” mentality as it was described earlier, I suggest that you move to a place you might feel more comforatable… a place where it’s illegal to defend yourself in your own home… and while you MUST flee an attack on your life to remain in compliance with the law, I’ll stay right here in Texas where I (at least) have the legal choice to defend my life, my family, my home, and my property. ;-)

  • Michael Torlett

    I get wood each time I listen to him shooting these human garbage. Go Joe Horn!!!

  • Lex Luthor

    If he had just wounded them, they would have sued him and taken everything that Joe had earned in his lawful life! Fix that so the criminal doesn’t become the victim and maybe, just maybe, they won’t get a lethal dose of medicine!

  • Chris Matthews

    I have seen the 911 call mis-quoted several times. Mr. Horn does not say Boom, your dead. He says “Move, your dead”. Don’t read these transcripts. Do a search and listen to the 911 yourself. Also, before you judge Mr. Horns actions learn Texas law and the changes which were made on Sept 1st 07. The facts of this case and a grand jury will determine what happens to Mr. Horn. I would love to have him as my neighbor, and his neighborhood appreciates his action in this case. We need to stand up and let the criminals know that we will not standby and allow them to help themselves to our (or our neighbor’s) property. I’m glad I live in Texas!

  • Chris Matthews

    Straight Shooter — Listen to the 911 call. He gave the CRIMINALS a chance to surrender when he said “Move, your dead” They moved, their choice, they died. Also, when he sais “I’m gonna kill em” he was responding to the 911 dispatcher telling him that if he went outside he could get shot. Mr. Horn is well aware of Texas law and his rights. He is not afraid to excersise them either. Too bad your afraid of a brave old man! Your loss.. I laugh when I picture in my mind what you would have done.

  • UCrawford

    For everybody who thinks it was acceptable for Mr. Horn to go to another person’s property and shoot somebody who wasn’t a threat to attack him, when the neighbor apparently hadn’t requested or given Mr. Horn any authority to exercise lethal force on his behalf…thanks for illustrating so clearly why anarchy doesn’t work.


    Most of the arguments for restricting immigration are based on racism…as well as protectionism, xenophobia, and rationalization for maintaining a welfare state. You don’t want immigrants to benefit from the welfare state, fine, I agree…but as long as all the “legal” people in America are getting the same benefits your argument has no credibility.

  • Johnson

    Killing people is not an easy decision to make in a split second. I have faced it a few times and I am alive because I did not worry about what a bunch of liberal sissy loud mouths would think about me. These dirt bags may or may not have threatened this guy. he may have feared for his life. You self rightous people have no idea what that moment in time was like because most of you will never face it. Most of you will gladly bend over and take it from the animals that rule our streets. These burglers knew the risk of entering a home to steal. They chose a life of crime. Do not cry for them. I worry about the man who stood up and made a stand against evil. The media, courts and cowerdly public will surround and devour him. Thank God I live in a place where we deal with scum the same way. Until this nation starts fighting back the sheep will continue to allow the wolves to rule over them.

    I never call 911. Who needs a bunch of uniformed revenue officers who do nothing but fill out forms when I can help myself.

    This nation is full of pathetic hand wringers who deserve to be victims.

  • UCrawford


    He didn’t have a “split second” to decide to kill somebody, he had several minutes…because they weren’t breaking into his house. Read the transcript and the article, jackass.

    As for the “liberal sissy loud mouths” here, they’re actually libertarians and they’re all as pro-gun ownership as you’re ever going to find (I myself am for unlimited gun ownership). They’re just not supportive of idiots looking for an excuse to run onto somebody else’s property and kill people because they think that their brand of arbitrary justice is better than a court of law. When you kill somebody who’s a threat to commit bodily harm or who’s taking your property, then you’re a citizen acting in self-defense. When you kill somebody who’s not threatening bodily harm because you think it’s your role to squash evil in the world, then you’re just a delusional shitheel with a God complex.

    As for the low opinion that the “nation of pathetic hand wringers” has of you…maybe it’s because you come off as kind of an asshole who likes to brag about shooting people. Wannabe psychopaths are rarely worth having around.

  • Jim Sachsen

    “I wonder why the fact that the two burglars were illegal aliens is not mentioned in this article?” Pardon me, but one of them was from Puerto Rico.

    Do Horn’s actions strictly speaking fall within the boundaries of the law? It’s kinda iffy, and we of course do not know all the facts, but it’s a defense to murder in Texas that the worthless sumbitch needed killin’. It isn’t written down anywhere, but everybody down here knows it’s there.

    No jury in Harris County will convict Joe Horn of murder. Joe will walk. And rightly so.

  • Jlow

    On this day of thankfulness I wish to express what I am thankful for.

    I am thankful I do not live in Texas where people can murder others because they think they are criminals. Sure Horn had very good evidence that those two people were criminals, but what if…

    I am thankful that I do not live in Texas where people support a man who obviously thought out his crime in advance and put not only the lives of the criminals at stake but also his and the lives of un-uniformed police officers at risk against the orders of the dispatcher who warned this guy that those officers might be in the area. Again – what if…

    I am thankful that I do not live in Texas where the teachings of the great prophet of love has been perverted to include support of killing in order to prevent someone from “getting away” with “a bag of loot”. Maybe in Texas they can change the story of the good samaritan to the story of good ole Joe Horn.

  • 2ndAmend

    I am thankful that I live in a country that provides its states with the authority (though it should be far greater than it is at this time) to make its own laws regarding the governance if its citizens.

    I am thankful that Texas laws support and uphold the God given right of an idividual to protect himself, his hard earned property, and his neighborhood, as outlined by the Second Amendment to the United States Constituion, as well as a large number of our founding fathers.

    “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.” – George Washington

    I can only speak for myself, but having been a “victim” of burglarism, I consider the blatant robbing of one of my neighbors to be a direct threat to my home and anyone else living in the neighborhood.

    So, I’m thankful for alot of things, like the fact that I was not home when buglars invaded my privacy, stole $2,500.00 or propery, then walked out my front door like they owned the place.

    I’m thankful that I wasn’t around to shoot them, because that’s exactly what I would have done.

    I’m thankful that I didn’t shoot because I would have been forced to endure endless ridicule from the likes of far left loons who wish to ignore the fact that Second Amendment was ever written, and the fact that all people have a God given right to defend themselves, their families, and their (and their neighbors) property.

    I’m thankful that, at the time of the Revolutionary War, America was composed of fearless, courageous, patrioting men and women, who were not afraid to take up arms and defend what rightfully belonged to them.

    And I’m thankful Jlow doesn’t live in Texas… ;-)

  • Lex Luthor

    To Joe Horn and his family: hope you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving and can now rest assured that your home will not be invaded by those 2 criminals and most likely you will be safe for a long time if these low lifes read a newspaper, watch the news, or talk to their other criminal friends. And for those people who don’t want to live in Texas, then there are 49 other states you can move to. Texas has always been more conservative, thank God, and that has always been a fact. One of the most important messages and lessons from this incident is that would be “criminals” had better think twice about stealing from us Texans, or your loot may shoot! Criminals obviously need to pack up and move to all the states that house nothing but “bleeding heart liberals” that will feel sorry for them and say keep the “loot”, we have insurance and can now get new stuff!

  • Abe

    I am of the opinion, that deadly force should only be used to meet deadly force/threats.

    My reasoning is that having it any other way opens up the possibility of unjustified killings going unpunished.

    Property, in my opinion, is not something to be protected with lethal force…because it is replaceable and/or insurable. Human beings aren’t.

    Joe, in his 8minute conversation, pretty well laid out his thought process. A police officer in the same situation would NOT have fired his weapon…UNLESS he understood that there was an imminent thread to life/safety. Unfortunately, Joe Horn gets his legal training from TV and the NRA and so didn’t understand the nuances of the applicable law.

    PUTTING yourself into a life/death situation…THEN taking action by killing the other…doesn’t, in my understanding, make for a justified homicide. Joe Horn had 2 options and 10minutes to decide, he selected the most dangerous one and found himself in a life/death struggle [according to him.]

    Looking at it any other way, “he’s in TX,” “he’s just a nice old man,” “he was looking out for his neighbor” is just ignoring the facts and clouding them with fluff.

    There’s a difference between what is politically expedient and what is the correct application of the law. no prosecutor is gonna bring charges on this old man because he sees that Texas values vigilantism for whatever reason.


  • Abe

    I am a burglar.
    Walking down the street in Houston, TX USofA

    I see a house with a door open. Let’s say it’s the C. Heston residence.

    I can keep walkin down the street…or i can case the house and maybe stroll inside and take some stuff.

    I CHOOSE to go inside the house where Charles himself is sitting on his couch, shotgun at the ready. He says “i’ve been expecting you.” But, I have a gun I and shoot him first…

    Was this killing justified? Moses himself was about to kill me! I HAD to do it to survive!

    NO WAY JOSE….you’d say. you’d ask me what the heck i was doing in Charles’ house to begin with!

    and I would ask what the hell Joe Horn was doing confronting burglars without a badge and oath to the county/state/locality. Joe Horn is classic “citizen taking the law into his own hands” and we can’t allow that to happen.


  • Abe

    To clarify:

    If deadly force were allowable to meet less than deadly threats…where would you draw the line?

    at what point does shooting someone dead come off the table as an acceptable response to a crime??

    if you go toe to toe with a cop during a traffic stop, 9 times out of 10 u won’t see his gun come unholstered. you’ll get pepper sprayed, tasered, billy-clubbed, beaten, punched, kicked, and choked, and swarmed…unless the officer feels that you are presenting an imminent threat such as u reaching for his gun, or you are stronger/bigger than him…or on drugs..or armed yourself.

    this isn’t black and white…there are different levels of response to perceived threats.


  • Jlow

    I am a Libertarian. You will be hard pressed to find a more stanch supporter of the constitution, states rights, and the second amendment than I am. However, I do not believe that I would deliberately kill two people in order to protect a “bag of loot”. If my life or someone else’s life was endangered (and I did take action on a Hell’s Angel biker to prevent a rape) I would take action. I too have been the victim of theft (as are most people in America). I was even stolen from by my own shipmates when I was in the Navy (ex Gulf War I vet here). As much as I hate theft (although I was indeed at home when the theft happened), I would not kill someone for it (although I hate to admit I would be sorely tempted to take violence on them had I been awake).

    Horn however, took lethal action on a person simply because he did not think the police would get there in time. He put his life, the life of police officers, and the life of the criminals in danger over a “bag of loot”. Had he waited 40 secs, he would have seen the police officers take those idiots down. While Horn was lucky in that only the criminals were killed, this could have easily been a much more tragic circumstance. Horn could have easily been killed, or a police officer, simply because Horn was a typical redneck Texan.

    The second amendment does not give someone the right to take vigilante justice. I would be very careful in extending the second amendment to do so. While I do agree that it is a state’s right prerogative to do so, I would not wish to live in a state that allows a citizen to be arbiter of what is the law in a case like this. Horn obviously thought he was able to be judge, jury and executioner in a case of theft.

  • Eric

    Nicely said Jlow.

  • FEMACamper

    Mr. Joe Horn, I commend you! You are a real American!

  • Taz~

    If I were in the possition that Mr. Horn was, I would have gone for my gun too (I have a shot gun) and i would have fired a few rounds off just to scare the criminals off. I agree that killing the 2 men was not the best decision, but i would not have stood their idle if i knew that people were burglarizing my neighbors house either.

    Mr. Horn had every reason to act as he did because those people were vandalizing his neighborhood and he didn’t know how dangerous they might be. He can’t just sit there and do nothing, and he can’t just go out there and ask if they’re armed or not. I would hope my neighbors would do the same for me. The man is a hero because he acted to defend his neighborhood while a lesser person would have just watched or hid somewhere. Mr. Horn has made an example out of these 2 men, which will hopefully deter other people from burglary and prevent the deaths of other criminals. Back in someone else’s shoes, I am a lot less likely to rob a neighborhood with a trigger-happy red-neck living in it.

  • Jlow

    Funny. I knew someone would use Horn as a method of deterrence as if a criminal in Texas doesn’t already know that there are armed idiots just ‘itchin to kill them.

    What Horn showed me is that many in the state of Texas support vigilante justice. Heck, why have a legal system at all? You could have mob rule! Instead of a legal system that just lets people get away, you could form neighborhood lynch mobs and save the state a great deal of time and money. The fact is that this is a clear cut case of vigilantism. Whether you support that type of ideal is up to you.

    I would rather live in a system of some laws although I will admit that there are lots of times I am not happy with that system. I would rather a few criminals ‘get away’ than run the risk of promoting an environment where really bad things can happen. Horn was lucky. Not only was he uninjured, but the only party that was injured was criminal. The next time might not be the case. The next time, some vigilante might blow away a cop or some kids pulling a bad prank. Heck I would be worried about breaking into my own car that I locked the keys in if I lived in a system that many are supporting.

    Horn was doing the correct thing initially. He called 9:11 and was giving data to the people that are trained and empowered by law to take action in a case like this. Had he waited 40 secs, this would have been a non issue as the cops would have taken the two idiots into custody.

    Be careful of the actions you support because those actions might not be so fortuitous the next time.

  • J Robinson

    Mr. Horn is a murderer clear and simple, and should be treated as one. Neither he nor his castle was threatened. He was instructed by the 911 dispatcher not to leave his house or fire his gun. At best, he might have photographed or videotaped the crime. At worst, he might have apprehended or wounded the robbers. His clear statement that he was compelled to kill the robbers makes his act of violence premeditated. He crime ranks high above that of the men he murdered.

  • TX Citizen


    You quote: “‘Boom! You’re dead!’ he shouts.”

    I read the actual 911 call transcript published in its entirety in the Hou Chron. The quote is “Don’t move or you’re dead.”