Our gun culture reared it's ugly head in Maple Valley, Washington. From the Seattle Times (04/05/13):
A homeowner in Maple Valley fatally shot a man and wounded a woman he said were breaking into a shipping container on his property about 4 a.m. today.The woman was charged with burglary, the shooter was questioned and released.
King County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West said the man made two calls to 911: the first at 3:49 a.m. to say he had intruders on his property, and a second call a few minutes later to say he had shot them.
One would think that you can't just go and shoot someone dead in order to protect your property. One would be wrong. In theory you can't kill merely to protect property, but in practice, it is a different manner. There is this convenient little escape hatch in the stand your ground laws that lets you get away with murder if you "believe" you are in danger.
More from the Times:
Sheriff’s Detective Jason Stanley said under Washington law, use of deadly force by a homeowner is typically justifiable only if the resident believes that they or others around them are in imminent physical danger, and typically does not include someone who is simply protecting propertyIn this case the shooter called 911 from his house and reported the attempted burglary taking place on his property. He was clearly in no imminent danger at all. He then when outside, approached the unarmed prowlers, and shot them. There would not have been a way for him to know for sure they were unarmed. Therefore, having confronted them, he very well could have "believed" he was in imminent danger. The fact that the shooter made a decision to remove himself from a position of safety and place himself in a potentially dangerous situation is not relevant. The relevant issue is whether, at the time he pulled the trigger, he had a reasonable expectation that he was in danger.
Imagine you are the prosecuting attorney. Do you think you could unanimously convince a jury that this man had no cause to believe he was in danger as he confronted burglars on his property at 4:00 in the morning? Of course you couldn't. This is why the shooter will almost certainly not be charged, and if charged, will likely never be tried.
In Washington State, as with most states, if someone trespasses on your property, you can legally shoot them dead, because it would be nearly impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you had no reasonable cause to believe you were in danger. (In the Maple Valley case, I don't have enough facts to determine the shooter committed a crime. That is not important. The point is that he could have, without fear of prosecution, and without believing he was in any real danger, simply shot them because he was mad at them and didn't want them to steal his shit.)
Ingrained in our gun culture is the notion that it is okay to murder someone if you think you have a good reason, and that idea has made its way into public policies like stand your ground laws, capital punishment, and even pre-emptive war. The legal killing of a person for attempted burglary is state sanctioned murder every bit as much as the death penalty. If we want to change our culture in a way that moves us away from unnecessary violence as a means of solving problems, a good start would be the abolition of stand your ground laws and capital punishment.