Check local laws before brandishing a samurai sword

Early Tuesday morning at Johns Hopkins University, an undergraduate student heard noises coming from behind his off-campus residence, and noticed the door to his garage was open. The student then grabbed his samurai sword and investigated.

Discovering an intruder in his garage, the would-be ninja threatened to call 911. According to police, the suspect then lunged at him, and the sword-wielding student sliced the suspect’s left hand, almost severing it. The intruder was mortally wounded with an upper-body cut, and was dead when police arrived.

Because the intruder was later identified as a habitual offender only three days out of jail, it’s likely the student won’t be charged. In Maryland, where the confrontation occurred, home invasion self-defense reports are evaluated on a case-by-case basis before deciding to prosecute.

But reading this story got me wondering what would happen if such an incident happened near St. Thomas. Residence halls don’t allow weapons, but burglaries, break-ins and robberies occur regularly both on-campus and off-campus.

And while students who pack heat are probably in the minority, most do have some kind of sharp blade in their homes. And to a charged-up defender, every room is full of objects that could become deadly weapons.

Minnesota doesn’t allow homeowners to defend their property with deadly force the way Texas does. But we’re an impulsive group of young people with a poor understanding of local laws, and few of us have the experience to think clearly in a crisis. We’re around a lot of alcohol, and if I know anything about St. Thomas students, they don’t like people messing with their stuff.

The student in this story had been burglarized the day before, so it’s understandable if he was a bit edgy. But few college students have the money to survive a trip through the courts on manslaughter charges; it’s definitely not worth a MacBook.

I know you may be scared when a stranger is in your house without permission, but it’s better to call Public Safety. And make sure not to startle your friends if they own anything from The Rising Sun.

9 Replies to “Check local laws before brandishing a samurai sword”

  1. A man’s home is his castle. Indeed while MN unfortunately does not have the strict standards of respect for private property that TX does it does have laws allowing self-defense. If someone breaks into your home and you kill them, it is likely you will not be charged. After all there will only be one side to the story.

  2. If you are off campus, and there’s an intruder in your house, call 911 first, and get the police. Then call Public Safety.

  3. “The Rising Sun” most likely refers to “The Land of the Rising Sun”, which is a nickname for Japan. It received this nickname due to its placing on the globe (one of the countries that is the furthest east from the prime meridian). Since the weapon was a “samurai sword”, the last phrase refers to Japan, of which the sword either originated from or the types of swords from that country of which it may have been modeled after.

  4. Not entirely sure why the reference to Texas was made at all, but as Jack pointed out Minnesota does allow taking of ones life in your abode if you are attempting to prevent a felony.

    2009 Minnesota Statutes

    The intentional taking of the life of another is not authorized by section 609.06, except when necessary in resisting or preventing an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm or death, or preventing the commission of a felony in the actor’s place of abode.

    1963 c 753 art 1 s 609.065; 1978 c 736 s 1; 1986 c 444

  5. The reference to Texas was about this statute concerning Use of deadly force to protect property
    Sec. 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:

    (1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and

    (2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

    (A) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or

    (B) to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property; and

    (3) he reasonably believes that:

    (A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or

    (B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

  6. Thank you, just showing that I am checking up after commenting and appreciate you taking your time to find that. Forgot to say it earlier, but this was an interesting story and thank you Zack for bring it to Tommiemediad

  7. The Rising Sun is a store on the corner of Marshall and Cleveland that sells samurai-esque items.

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