Booby-Trapped Weapons and Intruders Essay
The main question in the Katko v Briney case was whether a landlord could defend his personal property in an uninhabited, locked farmhouse against thieves and trespassers by placing a spring gun competent of causing serious injury or death. The Supreme Court of Iowa confirmed by holding that the law did not authorize spring guns to be employed on such occasions.
At this juncture, I wish to bring the attention of a British case law namelyIlott v. Wilkes (1820) which set forth the principle in England that where notice of the presence of spring guns has been made, if a trespasser treads upon the hazardous premises at his risk and the defendant (owner) cannot be held liable for consequential injury or harm. It is to be noted that though the judges were somewhat firm in finding a valid reason for their judgment, the judgment can be considered as arising out of their and is proper and appropriate. This decision confirms that the peril should be placed on the individual who wantonly treads into a place of danger on a forbidden premise.
However, if one reads the law in between the lines, no one has the right to shoot a person because he carries on against warnings, in trespassing on ones premises. This decision had in England and currently paved to a statutory abridgment of the privilege to set spring guns. The down inIlott v. Wilkeshas not been welcomed with delight in some American jurisdictions.
InKatco v. Briney,it was held that an owner may safeguard his property from trespassers employing reasonable force. In his attempt to safeguard his premise, a defendant cannot kill or seriously injure a trespasser. Thus, reasonable force can only be used either in defense of others or in self-defense.
The American law and court do not give due cognizance to a potential trespasser who engages in activities that are intrinsically dangerous not only to others but also to his own person or property. In this case, the failure to observe due not only others but also the trespasser himself to the peril of serious injury.
The main contention of the defendant in these cases was that the law authorizes the employment of a spring gun in a residential or warehouse for the purpose of forbidding the unlawful entry of a thief or burglar.