Question about premeditation.


April 28, 2003, 05:57 AM
I have a question about premeditation.

OK, I'll pick on someone that I know.. let's say Tamara..

Say, someone breaks into her house, in the middle of the night, armed with a knife.. He tells her "I'm here to kill you." He raises the knife, gets 2 holes in the head from a P7.

OK, seems to me, pretty straight forward, and if you ask Tamara what she would do in a situation like that, she'd probably do something close, kill the SOB. Ask Oleg, Runt, Art, etc... and the answers come back consistant and generic. Shoot until the threat is no longer a threat.

Since we can presume this to be the answer; isn't that premeditation?

I ask this, as it stems from a discussion I had with a friend here in Taiwan; she said that those with guns pretty much have premeditated intent on murder in certain situations.

I'm hoping someone will tell me about premeditation, not just from a "legal" point of view, but a "moral" point of view..

Tamara, what's on your nightstand this week? :D

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Apple a Day
April 28, 2003, 06:34 AM
There's a difference between saying," If attacked by a generic person then I will defend myself" and "When Apple a Day comes over I am going to shoot him dead at 8p.m. this coming Tuesday." I believe there's an order of specificity.
Also, because you have the capability to do something doesn't mean you must do it. I ain't no lawyer but I think there has to be motive and opportunity:
Just because you take a martial arts class it doesn't mean you are going to go out and beat someone to death. You could extend this to buying a set of steak knives, baseball bat, rat poison, etc...
Just because you were born a male doesn't mean you are going to go out and rape a woman.
Just because a woman dresses a certain way or wears makeup doesn't mean she is a prostitute or "wants it".
Lots of examples.

April 28, 2003, 06:35 AM
It's not premeditation because she was reacting to the actions of the BG. When he raised the knife in a threatening manner, she fired in self defense. If he had dropped the knife or turn and ran, she would not have plugged him.

The thing you friend is confusing is premeditation and preparedness. In the scenerio, Tamara was prepared to protected herself by being armed, being trained with that weapon and having the mindset to use the weapon if needed. The BG was the one that decided on which course of action she would take.

April 28, 2003, 07:11 AM
premeditated intent on murder Not a lawyer, but the phrase above conflicts the concept of murder.

As I understand "Law 101" :D , the defense of own life is not even considered a "pre-meditated intent". It is an instinct, common to all living organisms, "the instinct of Self-preservation" as it's commonly known. It is as basic and as compelling as finding where the next meal will come from, or seaching for your mate: "the instinct of Propagation". Try pulling out the food from even your pet dog, you'll be lucky to get warned with only a snarl. No premeditation there as far as Wolfy is concerned. ;)

Our "fight or flight" mechanism is built upon millions of years of evolution, and in no way could be categorized as "pre-meditation".

In defining "murder", I believe there is a need to prove not only prior intent, but also an ulterior motive as to why the killing is to be done - to eventually result to a "benefit" to the perp/s. (Result of watching too many Colombo/Hardy Boys :D:D:D ). Insurance, love triangle, inheritance are some of the more common angles the law tries to establish to determine if murder has been committed.

In your example, Tam simply resorted to her basic instinct to preserve own life. Your friend could argue that Tam's owning and training with a gun gave her much more lethal 'teeth' to exercising her right to defend life than necessary.

There lies the enigma: if the bad guy is not even deterred from attacking somebody else, despite the knowlege that such action may cost him his life, then he really is in need of shooting.

Just my thoughts :cool:

Jim March
April 28, 2003, 07:42 AM
That sort of "premeditation" (which is NOT the sort of "premeditation" people get charged with!) is actually built into the laws on self defense.

Example: the California standard is that deadly force can be used "when one is in reasonable fear of suffering death or great bodily injury" (or somebody else is under similar threat, you CAN help out in Calif). It's very important to remember that; I use it as a "trigger" and that's perfectly all right: the moment a criminal threatens me with that level of force, and has the ability to carry out that threat right this minute, I'm going to pretty much blow up in his face. It won't be pretty.

I consider this "setting of mental limits" to be a KEY factor in successful self defense: when the balloon goes up is a bad time to have that internal debate on morality you've been putting off!!! You must counter-react RIGHT NOW, with no qualms, no hesitation. In a fight, such fast action before the other guy is ready is critical; even if you make tactical mistakes in doing so, "speed kills" (the other guy).

This is what the US/Brits/etc did in Iraq: MOVE like hell, go so fast the other side can't react, even if weird stuff happens, screw it, KEEP MOVING. If they hadn't, Saddam's morons would have had time to lob SCUDs full of VX or similar toxins at 'em.

Standing Wolf
April 28, 2003, 05:03 PM
...she said that those with guns pretty much have premeditated intent on murder in certain situations.

Self-defense is never murder. Murder is a crime and a great moral wrong. Self-defense is a crime in some parts of the world, but a great moral right.

El Tejon
April 28, 2003, 05:22 PM
two, different categories of homicides, not all homicides are murders. If Tamara is hauled before the bar of justice and is found to have killed in self-defense, then the homicide is a justifiable one, premeditated or not.

April 28, 2003, 06:14 PM
A friend gave me a sign. It says "Bogie's Apartment - Trespassers Will Be Shot."

And he doesn't understand why I didn't proudly display it in either a window or on my front door. It's magneted to my fridge (guarding the Shiner!).

April 28, 2003, 08:19 PM
A person in your scenario would be shooting to "stop" the intruder from further aggression.

She was in fear for her life since this person was armed and clearly stated intent to do harm.

The fact that it took x-many rounds to do so was in order to end this dangerous confrontation on her residence.

What part of this can be called 'premeditation'?

El Tejon
April 28, 2003, 08:41 PM
CWL, the purchase of the firearm before hand. The painstaking care to research gun rags to ascertain the ubercoolness of the P7. Selection of "manstopper" ammo and dozens of other magazines ready to spray bullets to put our children at risk. The fact that she had a flashlight in order to identify her victim. The fact that she admitted planning out, with a sand table no less, this attack upon this poor, lost jogger.

Of course, if it is determined to be a justifiable homicide, it is all moot anywho.:)

April 28, 2003, 11:00 PM
I think the posts above answer the question:

1. it's not murder because it's self-defense


2. it's not premeditation because it is in response to an unplanned event

Here in Arkansas, the law pretty much says that you have to try to "flee" or "retreat" before shooting someone (ie, you can't run out and chase them into the yard and shoot them)... but if the person actually made it into the room where I was, I sure as heck would shoot them!

April 28, 2003, 11:13 PM
El Tejon,

Since you put it that way, of course you are right!

I will immediately sell my guns, kitchen cutlery, have my dogs defanged, and sell my house (so as not to entice lost joggers)!

I will give my proceeds to Micheal Moore so that he can make more movies and I will immediately move to a homeless camp in San Francisco. ;)

April 28, 2003, 11:52 PM
Well, as long as your getting rid of any and all tools of defense, what ya got that I'd like?:D

April 29, 2003, 12:02 AM
two-blink: you're right to an extent in that it's a premeditated attempt to STOP THE ATTACK. Thats why we teach people over and over that you are to continue shooting until the attacker no longer poses a threat. We do NOT teach them to continue shooting until the guy is dead, just NO LONGER A THREAT.

surprisingly a fair number of such perps actually do end up standing trial - remember if you shoot him once, he runs away and is later arrested when the emergency room calls the cops about a gunshot wound (and they will ALWAYS call the cops about a gunshot wound) then you still continued shooting until he was no longer a threat, ni zhidao bu zhidao? (no tones and it's been a l-o-n-g time)

April 29, 2003, 04:36 AM
OK, I see the "self defense" part as playing most of the answer I'm looking for.

CWL, what she said was something to the effect, "You bought jacketed hollowpoints from someone like Corbon (that part I added for emphasis and example) with full intent on maximizing damage i.e. KILL someone, and that is premeditation."

I think what she fails to understand is, if the choice is my family and my friends dead, or some unknown perp dead, the choice isn't all that hard, I will use whatever force is neccessary..

Of course, the best quote has got to be from a friend of mine.. "Bad guys just need shootin'... if they didn't, they wouldn't be called "bad guys" right??"


April 29, 2003, 09:10 AM
The definition of premeditation isn't simply contemplating how to perform something. That something must be a criminal act before planning becomes premeditation legally.

El Tejon
April 29, 2003, 12:28 PM
buzz, yeah, but you can have premeditated self-defense (arguably legal at Tamara's trial) or murder (illegal or legal forms of homicide) without premediation.

April 29, 2003, 01:31 PM
Murder is never a legal form of homicide. As for non-premeditated murder, that's usually voluntary manslaughter. The second degree murder statutes were aberrations IMHO used for situations where voluntary manslaughter wasn't seen as severe enough or where only special circumstance cases (i.e. cop killings) were considered as first degree.

As for "premeditated" self-defense, I really think it's an inappropriate use of the term. Premeditation really focuses on the intent to commit a particular act with a particular target, and usually with a criminal goal. If someone were to "premeditate" how to use lethal force in a particular circumstance against a particular person, that begs the question of why lethal force was necessary if you got into that circumstance.

I also firmly believe that mixing "premeditation" into the self-defense arena is a bad idea as premeditation has an absolutely negative connotation.

El Tejon
April 29, 2003, 01:52 PM
buzz, well sure, murder is not legal, but no one said it was. However, murder is a subset of homicide, but not all homicides are crimes. "Criminal homicide is murder, manslaughter or negligent homicide." Model Penal Code § 210.1. As for second degree homicide or manslaughter (or 3d degree in Minnn-ehhh-sooo-tah), check local listings for use of premeditation in the definition of the offence or as aggravator in area near you.

I do not believe it is inappropriate to use premeditation as to self-defense. Deliberation upon a contemplated act or a decision to do something before it is done is exactly the raison dead tree of training, no?

However, I do agree, I would never use such a term in opening or closing!!!:eek:

April 29, 2003, 03:52 PM
it is very interesting that premeditation has a "negative/criminal" connotation and that connotation changes in different cultures...which is the root of many disagreements.

premeditation is simply meditating upon a course of action before pursuing it...which is what i think the GF is refering to.

the confusion arises with the inclusion of the word murder...which is a crime and a moral judgement. it is in fact a sub-set of homicide, which can be legal or illegal. other sub-sets include self defense, war and capital punishment. committing a homicide is a ethical decision, which is often and unfortunatly judged morally

April 29, 2003, 10:38 PM
Twoblink, I think you have also and quite unknowingly raised the issues of "duty to retreat", "right to keep arms" and "right to proactive defence", which has been argued since the battle of Lexington and Concord.

Does Tamara have the right to announce to the world she will not be attacked in her pajamas? Does she have the right to wear said pajamas in her living room then plug the guy who attacks her or must she barricade herself in the bedroom first? Does she have the right to go out in the morning to get the newspaper and plug him there is he is lying await in the bushes or must she run back onto her porch or living room first?

If the guy attacks her first, then runs off before she gets a shot at him, does she have the right to shoot him the next time he sticks his nose into her yard? Does she have the right to prepare herself ahead of time, going out to practice on Sunday afternoon or must she just trust in blind luck when she shoots him?

April 30, 2003, 01:13 AM
There is a vast difference between determining how you respond to an event and planning to create an event.

The problem I am having with responding to this is how fundamental the question is. "Do we have a moral right to excercise up to lethal force to protect innocent life from a criminal aggressor?" The tool we choose to excercise this moral right has no bearing at all upon the morality of it. Be that tool a gun, knife, bat, fist, or a heavily swung lamp in the middle of the night.

There is, in my and many other's situation, not an intent to use the tool any more than I intend to use my airbag. That many of us here choose the firearm as our contingency tool for the most undesirable of potential circumstances does not indicate an intent to murder. The simple fact remains that it is the single most effective tool for these circumstances. The potentially lethal effect is a potentially unfortunate result.

If a tool were introduced that was in every way just as effective at dealing with the same situations as a firearm is but with no lethal effects, I would immediately use that instead of a firearm as my means of defense. Now, this doesn't mean I would give up my firearms....

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