Non-lethal booby trap legality?


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Dan Forrester
October 15, 2012, 02:37 PM
Would it be legal to rig up a booby trap using a tear gas fogger such as the one shown in the link below?

http://www.keepshooting.com/clear-out-6oz-tear-gas-grenade.html

Iím thinking of using a pull string devise to set it off as someone enters the door to the room where my gun safe is.

What do you guys think?

Thanks, Dan

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Owen Sparks
October 15, 2012, 02:55 PM
Someone tried to open the safe in the office at our church and they drilled into a tear gas canister and had to leave. I remember that the church office was closed for several days until the fumes to clear out. This was back in the late 1980's.

joed
October 15, 2012, 03:49 PM
Keep in mind that it isn't like the movies where in makes someones eyes water. It will incapacitate you if it's what was used in the service. I imagine it could actually kill someone if they didn't get away.

joed
October 15, 2012, 03:52 PM
And you just brought back some old memories. For awhile I was a jeep driver in Vietnam. We used to take camera boxes if someone bought one, put a cs grenade inside with a wire on the pin. Tape the box up and pull the pin. From there it went on the rear seat of the jeep and you drove on the highway. Eventually someone would come up on a motorcycle, grab the box and take off.

bikemutt
October 15, 2012, 04:27 PM
I think the problem with any sort of booby trap, even one designed with purely comic intentions, is what happens when something much worse than the intended outcome occurs.

I guess drawing a suspension from school when I was a kid for a "harmless" prank that went south taught me to re-think the whole approach :o

Zoogster
October 15, 2012, 04:56 PM
I don't remember the details or whether the need for a permit it was location specific but I know I was reading about the legality in California of such a system.
There was a permit from either law enforcement or the fire department to install such a system, at least for that locality.
It was some sort of alarm system that would set off such things. I recall some that would drop them out of the ceiling.


A big issue with those grenades is many of the ones that work well and deploy the gas quickly enough to have an immediate impact get very hot and pose a fire hazard if next to easily ignited materials.
Lighting your house on fire to stop a burglary is counterproductive. As a result both the type and area it will be deployed must be chosen based on safety and lack of combustible materials. For example if you installed such a system in a hard floored area you would then need to maintain the fire safety in that area, not put new furniture, temporarily set items in the area, or otherwise impact the resistance of fire of that space.
A child's coat and backpack left there in say a hallway so equiped after school for example could render a safe space unsafe by giving material that could allow a fire to start and spread. You would have to be committed to keeping that area empty space or only putting things that were not combustible like metal, stone, and similar items in the immediate space.


However the issuance of a permit and system to obtain one clearly demonstrates it was in fact legal at least in California.
Now if you started a fire that damaged the property of others with that, or otherwise had unforseen consequences, you would be liable.

M-Cameron
October 15, 2012, 05:14 PM
Someone tried to open the safe in the office at our church and they drilled into a tear gas canister and had to leave. I remember that the church office was closed for several days until the fumes to clear out. This was back in the late 1980's.

theres an idea for my gunsafe......just line the walls with tear gas canisters......and then wait for some poor burglar to try and hack saw through the side.....:evil:

Texan Scott
October 15, 2012, 05:36 PM
You will be held civilly liable for any and all damage done or injuries caused. Your insurance absolutely will refuse to cover you for any of it.
Additionally, you will likely face criminal prosecution, even if the person was commiting a crime. Much worse if it's an accident; Much, much worse of they asphyxiate. Expect to hear lots of words like negligence, malice, cruelty, and manslaughter .
Seriously - don't.

zorro45
October 15, 2012, 06:03 PM
I'm envisioning a nice warning sign, bilingual of course, which may have as much deterrent value as an actual "tear gas grenade" installation.

smalls
October 15, 2012, 06:07 PM
All of the laws I've seen regarding booby traps leave out the word "lethal", meaning any booby trap is illegal.

dprice3844444
October 15, 2012, 06:16 PM
make sure you use a cn type gas,not cs.cn will dissipate quicker indoors,cs is nasty and lingers

mister_murphy
October 16, 2012, 02:31 PM
I would advise you to contact a lawyer who can go through state laws, and the local codes and then can explain what can and can not be done, as well as how it needs to be done. It may be wise for the lawyer to have experience in the banking field, as historically speaking, many banks have had a device installed in the vault for theft deterrence.

Chloropicrin seems to be a common chemical used in these devices in the past, and though there are newer devices that use other agents. Its not totally uncommon to see on the news around the country, an older building get evacuated due to one of these older, sometimes forgotten devices, going off.

There are some devices on the market aimed at vaults and home safe rooms. Ive seen them advertised for years under various names.

The issue at hand though, is how does the home-owner safely design the system of an appropriate size/type, and ensure the legality? The banks that have them (or did) have lawyers and engineers on staff, or at least on contract to handle this and other issues legally and correctly.

Hence, this is why I say its best to speak with a lawyer on this first and then go from there on the lawyers advice.

Kendahl
October 18, 2012, 12:04 AM
A "booby trap" that won't get you into legal trouble is a surveillance camera that takes snapshots of an intruder. There are many sources including Walmart and Home Depot at the cheap end. You want something that takes pictures clear enough to identify an intruder. It should store the images on a remote device that the intruder can't find.

Frank Ettin
October 18, 2012, 12:41 AM
Would it be legal to rig up a booby trap using a tear gas fogger such as the one shown in the link below?...Any form of booby trap such as contemplated by the OP is legally highly problematic.

Let's look at some basic legal principles:

In general, one person intentionally touching another in a harmful or offensive way without the consent of the person touched is called "battery." Committing a battery exposes one to at least civil liability, and often criminal liability as well.


The most obvious type of battery would be one person intentionally hitting another -- a direct, physical touch that is certainly offensive, and probably also harmful.


But under the law, intentionally "touching" someone with a noxious or irritating gas, such as spraying someone with pepper spray, would also be a battery.


And you wouldn't have to be there. If you set up a remote device to spray someone with pepper spray, that would also in the law be considered a battery.


So the OP's booby trap, if tripped by someone, causes the OP to have committed a battery on the person who tripped the booby trap. That is prima facie at least a tort (civil liability) and could be a crime.


Of course someone who uses force in self defense also commits a battery. But justification is a defense to both tort (civil) liability and criminal liability.


But it will be difficult to effectively claim justification in connection with the use of a booby trap. A booby trap is indiscriminate. The actor, you, isn't present to make a judgment about whether or not the use of force (which includes less than lethal force) is warranted in the particular situation. Also, you aren't there to be physically threatened.
The bottom line is that at the very least a booby trap creates a significant risk of legal liability to the person who sets it up.

mister_murphy had the right idea. If the OP really wants to do something like this, he needs to consult a lawyer.

Kendahl also seem to be on the right track; opt for a surveillance set up.

Rail Driver
October 18, 2012, 12:59 AM
Any form of booby trap such as contemplated by the OP is legally highly problematic.

Let's look at some basic legal principles:

In general, one person intentionally touching another in a harmful or offensive way without the consent of the person touched is called "battery." Committing a battery exposes one to at least civil liability, and often criminal liability as well.


The most obvious type of battery would be one person intentionally hitting another -- a direct, physical touch that is certainly offensive, and probably also harmful.


But under the law, intentionally "touching" someone with a noxious or irritating gas, such as spraying someone with pepper spray, would also be a battery.


And you wouldn't have to be there. If you set up a remote device to spray someone with pepper spray, that would also in the law be considered a battery.


So the OP's booby trap, if tripped by someone, causes the OP to have committed a battery on the person who tripped the booby trap. That is prima facie at least a tort (civil liability) and could be a crime.


Of course someone who uses force in self defense also commits a battery. But justification is a defense to both tort (civil) liability and criminal liability.


But it will be difficult to effectively claim justification in connection with the use of a booby trap. A booby trap is indiscriminate. The actor, you, isn't present to make a judgment about whether or not the use of force (which includes less than lethal force) is warranted in the particular situation. Also, you aren't there to be physically threatened.
The bottom line is that at the very least a booby trap creates a significant risk of legal liability to the person who sets it up.

mister_murphy had the right idea. If the OP really wants to do something like this, he needs to consult a lawyer.

Kendahl also seem to be on the right track; opt for a surveillance set up.
How do laws such as castle doctrine (ie, the presumption that anybody breaking into your home has intent to do harm to you or your family) interact with that, Frank? Maybe a remote trigger activated by your smart phone could provide that judgment call? *Edit for clarity - the device would require a command sent by you via your smart phone to activate - ideally used in conjunction with a surveillance system

Zoogster
October 18, 2012, 01:03 AM
castle doctrine (ie, the presumption that anybody breaking into your home has intent to do harm to you or your family)


Most of such laws presume you are in the home. They are addressing self defense laws, not defense of the house laws.
If nobody is in the home then the law would say nobody is being protected. As a result it is force being used outside of self defense, and so strengthened self-defense laws often won't have much impact on it.
Some places allow such measures even though they have nothing legally to do with self defense and some may not.


Now a manually activated system may be covered such as one that dispenses gas when a panic button is pressed. Assuming someone is in the home and you want to fill your home with gas. That would fall under self defense use of force in many places.
Even a remotely activated system that you could say operate electronically from another room in the home may be covered under self-defense laws, more so in some states.
A self activated booby trap is not self-defense though because their is no conscious human making the decision to use force, and in the case of nobody home no person is even being protected.

Frank Ettin
October 18, 2012, 01:19 AM
How do laws such as castle doctrine (ie, the presumption that anybody breaking into your home has intent to do harm to you or your family) interact with that, Frank?...If no one is home, a castle doctrine law wouldn't apply.

A castle doctrine law basically provides (1) you don't have to retreat; and (2) if someone breaks in, you are presumed to to have a reasonable belief that you're at risk of great bodily harm. But --

If you're not there, retreat is irrelevant.


Presumptions are rebuttal, and if you're not there you can't reasonably believe you're at risk of great bodily harm.

Rail Driver
October 18, 2012, 01:22 AM
Thanks Zoogster. I can see that, and the panic button sort of thing is more or less what I was picturing when I posted ... Next thing we need to do is come up with an affordable auto-targeting (or remote aimed) taser system that old, invalid, or otherwise disabled individuals could use (when home of course) as a self defense device ... :D

*Edit to add: That brings up another question that just popped into my head - How about in places like Texas where you can legally use force in defense of property? I don't live in a place like that, so I'm not exactly familiar with the ins and outs, but it seems like it could be an option, especially with a non-lethal setup.

tarosean
October 18, 2012, 05:24 AM
How about in places like Texas where you can legally use force in defense of property?



Sec. 9.44. USE OF DEVICE TO PROTECT PROPERTY.

The justification afforded by Sections 9.41 and 9.43 applies to the use of a device to protect land or tangible, movable property if:

(1) the device is not designed to cause, or known by the actor to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury; and

(2) use of the device is reasonable under all the circumstances as the actor reasonably believes them to be when he installs the device.

crossrhodes
October 18, 2012, 08:02 AM
I guess it comes down to the final decision by the judge. We use the commercial pepper spray tripwire type in our shop. They are made and sold from a company in FL.

ZeSpectre
October 18, 2012, 08:06 AM
There are many places where any form of "booby trap" would get you in serious hot water.

bikerdoc
October 18, 2012, 08:19 AM
This is from a well known Virgina lawyers brochure. UN-named as I am not advertising for him only quoting him.

"A booby trap may be defined as any concealed or camouflaged device designed to cause bodily injury when triggered by any action of a person making contact with the device. This term includes guns, ammunition, or explosive devices attached to trip wires or other triggering mechanisms, sharpened stakes, nails, spikes, electrical devices, lines or wires with hooks attached, and devices for the production of toxic fumes or gases.
If a person sets up such a trap to protect his/her property, he/she will be liable for any injury or death even to an unwanted intruder such as a burglar. It is illegal to set a booby trap on one's own property to prevent intruders. "

Carne Frio
October 18, 2012, 11:50 AM
How about a safe and legal type of gas cloud ?
http://www.flashfogsecurity.com/index.php

This one is also safe and legal although it might
take longer to air out.
http://burglarbomb.com/

Frank Ettin
October 18, 2012, 12:07 PM
How about a safe and legal type of gas cloud ?
http://www.flashfogsecurity.com/index.php

This one is also safe and legal although it might
take longer to air out.
http://burglarbomb.com/How do you know those are legal or that the use to which the OP intends to put them couldn't expose him to civil or criminal liability? Just because they're advertised and legal to sell? Many things are advertised and legal to sell (guns, for example), but if you use them inappropriately, you'll go to jail for a long time.

But as bikerdoc wrote in post 22:This is from a well known Virgina lawyers brochure....

"A booby trap may be defined as any concealed or camouflaged device designed to cause bodily injury when triggered by any action of a person making contact with the device. This term includes ...devices for the production of toxic fumes or gases.
If a person sets up such a trap to protect his/her property, he/she will be liable for any injury or death even to an unwanted intruder such as a burglar. It is illegal to set a booby trap on one's own property to prevent intruders. "

Rail Driver
October 18, 2012, 12:33 PM
How do you know those are legal or that the use to which the OP intends to put them couldn't expose him to civil or criminal liability? Just because they're advertised and legal to sell? Many things are advertised and legal to sell (guns, for example), but if you use them inappropriately, you'll go to jail for a long time.

But as bikerdoc wrote in post 22:
I think the PRIMARY concern in this type of situation (and any other where use of force is concerned) is to KNOW THE LAWS IN YOUR JURISDICTION.

We have already illustrated here that the law can be very different from one jurisdiction to the next.

A blanket statement saying "This is Illegal" is just as incorrect as a blanket statement saying "Go for it, it's perfectly fine"

splithoof
October 18, 2012, 09:57 PM
A fireman, in the performance of his official duties, and in good faith, forces entry into your dwelling to rescue potential fire victims and extinguish what may be burning. Your "booby-trap" causes injury or in any way interrupts him in the performance of his duties. You go to jail.

silvermane_1
October 19, 2012, 01:08 AM
i say that your best bet is to with a non-toxic dye pack type device.

Arp32
October 19, 2012, 01:29 AM
I'm glad there is some very high road advice in this thread. I opened it expecting the worst.

I really don't see any good ways this works out. You forget and set it off on yourself. You're messing with it and set it off on yourself. A family member sets it off on accident. It malfunctions/expires/leaks. It doesn't function and you get burgled anyway. The previously mentioned fire risk. It goes off (expectedly or not) and you have to live at a hotel for a day or two due to the stench. It goes off on a burglar and you get sued. It goes off on a burglar and kills/maims/burns him and you get charged. It goes off on a cop who got called when you weren't home. It goes off on a fireman trying to save your house. The possible bad outcomes are endless.

The least likely I see is everything goes according to plan, burglar is scared off and duly embarrassed, and we all have a good laugh at the high jinks here on the Internet and your buddies high five you...

If go with a good safe, a big loud dog, and a camera/alarm.

Dan Forrester
October 19, 2012, 11:59 AM
Thanks to every one for your responses. Iím not sure if I should go ahead with it or not at this point due to the overwhelming consensus here that itís a bad idea.

I have searched but could not find any legislation which pertains to booby traps. Does anyone else have any other search terms I could use on the state of Floridaís website to find anything? I guess what this really comes down to is weather it is legal (or even addressed) in the state of Florida.

Iím not really too worried about fire since the fogger I was planning on using does not generate heat. Itís similar to a bug bomb only filled with OC/CS gas instead. My original idea was two glass bottles. One would contain potassium permanganate and the other would be filled with formaldehyde. The two bottles would break upon forced entry and mix in a metal bucket. A little backyard experiment showed this to produce A LOT of heat.

I like that ďburglar bombĒ link in the post above. The refill cartridges looks like the canisters I linked to in my original post. That burglar bomb is exactly what I was thinking of building. I guess I could just by that if I wanted and save myself from the fabrication.

I would think any firefighters who would be entering my house should be using oxygen masks before entering a burning house so I donít think thatís a concern.

I also donít have any pets or children who could be getting into it.

I also do have a gun safe and am planning on installing some kind of camera system (thinking of the ďdropcamĒ) now that I have an iphone.

What I would really like to do is just gas the house remotely once I have confirmed it is being broken into. Anyone know of any apps that would allow me to do this. Any app which could turn on a motor or send an electrical current upon me entering a password I could modify for my use. This would at least legally not make it a booby trap

Thanks for all the comments, Daniel

Kleanbore
October 19, 2012, 12:29 PM
Search on pepper spray. You may lawfully use a compact container designed to be carried on your person, but only for self defense, and never against a sworn officer. For what you may not do, consult an attorney.

Do not even consider the use of chemical agents to harm anyone or cause temporary incapacitation, unless said chemical is sold and used for personal defense, or if you are using it for law enforcement or military purposes.

230RN
October 19, 2012, 01:12 PM
I've often wondered about Article II, Section 3 in the Colorado Constitution:


COLORADO CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE II
Bill of Rights

Section 3. Inalienable rights. All persons have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.


Section 13. Right to bear arms. The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question; but nothing herein contained shall be construed to justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons.
(Bolding mine)

Seems kind of open-ended with regard to protecting property.

I recall about twenty years ago there was a case where someone had rigged a dead man's trap with a shotgun in his often-burgled warehouse which killed an obvious burglar. Surprisingly, he was not prosecuted, and the details in the press were kind of sketchy, but he was not charged except for something pretty minor. He was, however, asked to leave the state, and did.

He had engaged a rather prominent attorney, and I often wondered whether he claimed constitutional protection under that article to get off the hook because there was no question about his deliberately setting up that trap.

I'm sorry I cannot provide references, but that's my recollection of the whole event. Even the press seemed embarrassed about it and suddenly sort of "hushed up" about it except to note the minor conviction and that he was asked to leave the state. My suspicion in this bizarre case was that the prosecutors were suddenly embarrassed to have that clause thrown at them, despite the actual statutes involved in setting such traps and decided to not get involved in a constitutional challenge to them. This would have opened the door to legalize "dead man's traps" for everyone.

Just my suspicions at the time, in informally following the case as it was reported in the press.

In any case, that's how the Colorado Constitution reads, so I wonder how other states' constitutions read in this regard.

All in all, though, I think in this situation, I'd rather rig a home-built, well-hidden tripwire or something to set off a really loud outside alarm.

Cheaper, simpler, and legaller.

Terry, 230RN

Frank Ettin
October 19, 2012, 01:12 PM
...I have searched but could not find any legislation which pertains to booby traps...It's not enough to just search statute law (legislation). You also need to look for potentially applicable judicial decisions. And you can't limit your research to just pepper spray, booby traps, tripwires, spring-guns or similar devices. You would need to look at general rules regarding the use of force in defense of property. You would also need to look at any statutory law and judicial decisions relating to dangerous conditions on one's property and liability of a property owner to trespassers.

That's why you probably need to consult with a lawyer. He knows how to do that sort of research, and evaluate what he finds.

Frank Ettin
October 19, 2012, 01:17 PM
I've often wondered about Section 3, Article II in the Colorado Constitution:...Which is completely irrelevant here since the OP lives in Florida.

...I'm sorry I cannot provide references, but that's my recollection of the whole event....So this information really isn't much help to anyone. In these kinds of matters, details are very important. What's needed is good documentation, not vague recollections.

230RN
October 19, 2012, 01:52 PM
Which is completely irrelevant here since the OP lives in Florida.
In any case, that's how the Colorado Constitution reads, so I wondered aloud how other states' constitutions read in this regard. Just another aspect of the general question of dead man's traps.

Regardless of the state involved in the OP.

So this information really isn't much help to anyone. In these kinds of matters, details are very important. What's needed is good documentation, not vague recollections.

I apologized for that in advance, thinking it might lead others to do the relevant research for the hard details in their states and in their own states' constitutions. State constitutions are often quite similar in their verbiage. It always struck me that Colorado's seems to leave the question open.

Terry, 230RN

Kleanbore
October 19, 2012, 02:01 PM
Posted by Frank Ettin: It's not enough to just search statute law (legislation). You also need to look for potentially applicable judicial decisions. And you can't limit your research to just pepper spray, booby traps, tripwires, spring-guns or similar devices. You would need to look at general rules regarding the use of force in defense of property. You would also need to look at any statutory law and judicial decisions relating to dangerous conditions on one's property and liability of a property owner to trespassers.Yes indeed.

Note also that when one is dealing with chemical agents other than standard OC sprays, one should also look ito the Federal law pertaining to chemical weapons (18 U.S.C S 229), which regulates the possession and use of "any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals" other than "individual self defense devices using pepper spray or chemical mace".

That's why you probably need to consult with a lawyer. He knows how to do that sort of research, and evaluate what he finds.It is likely also that he will have to consult with specialists in the Federal law.

mister_murphy
October 19, 2012, 03:08 PM
Frank,

If I may, I am curious about something in reference to this thread, and perhaps you can shed a bit of light on it.

Since there are some business around the south east states (I am assuming in florida also probably) that use some sort of a device used in connection with their vault that discharges a less-lethal chemical to discourage forced entry. These businesses are generally such as banks, jewelery stores etc, arent manned 24/7, and generally only have an alarm system, and video as well beyond the vault/less-lethal device.

How are these businesses able to use such a device and stay within the various laws? Its understood that they would probably be using a professionally designed/installed/maintained system, which may be an issue as well.

Im not advocating either side, just looking at this from another view point.

Frank Ettin
October 19, 2012, 03:46 PM
....Since there are some business around the south east states (I am assuming in florida also probably) that use some sort of a device used in connection with their vault that discharges a less-lethal chemical to discourage forced entry. These businesses are generally such as banks, jewelery stores etc, arent manned 24/7, and generally only have an alarm system, and video as well beyond the vault/less-lethal device.

How are these businesses able to use such a device and stay within the various laws? ...I don't know, and that's why the OP really needs to consult with a lawyer if he intends to really do what he has outlined.

This is where professional advice and proper research become very important. Details matter.

Overall, applying basic legal principles, there can be serious legal issues with booby traps, and indeed with creating or allowing dangerous conditions on one's property. There are also cases holding property owners liable for injuries to trespassers.

BUT, in a particular jurisdiction, there may be ways to set up a property defense system that avoids, or at least minimizes, the potential legal complications. Perhaps the courts in a State have made a distinction between businesses and residences. Perhaps, some courts have allowed some businesses because of the value of the property on premises extra leeway. Maybe under some jurisdiction's laws warning signs could be an answer. Maybe segregating a protected vault area from the rest of the premises is key.

But I'm not going to do all the research necessary to come up with a definitive answer.

Teachu2
October 19, 2012, 05:50 PM
Realize that even criminally lawful actions can result in civil liability. It's not hard to spend the cost of a fine collection of firearms on attorney's fees.

It doesn't matter how stupid or wrong the criminal - there will be a personal injury lawyer visiting him in jail to sign him up.

mister_murphy
October 19, 2012, 06:19 PM
Thanks Frank,

I have read various cases starting with Katko v Briney, and going forward. Most of them deal with devices placed in a home or small business. Its rather insightful, though, like the Katko v Briney, many of the cases I have read dealt with what many would consider a known to be lethal device, such as in the mentioned case, a 20 ga shotgun.

It is interesting to note that the case of the Miami business owner, Prentice Rasheed, caused enough stir to bring a bill to the Florida Senate in 1987, SB 519, SB 519. Though as near as I can tell it didnt pass.

Source: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1987-05-19/news/8702160733_1_booby-trap-burglary-attempts-device

I agree its best to sit down with an experienced lawyer and go through everything relevant to the situation due to the liability.

It would be interesting though to see what the restrictions would be.

splithoof
October 19, 2012, 06:50 PM
By the time he spends enough $$$ to research the issue using competent counsel, he likely could have purchased an island and the means to get to it. As stated above more than once, details matter. The smallest, most microscopic single detail may change everything, so why not spend your hard earned dollars becoming more proficient with better training?

Frank Ettin
October 19, 2012, 07:44 PM
...why not spend your hard earned dollars becoming more proficient with better training?It's true that for the cost of a well done legal opinion the OP could take at least a couple of classes at Gunsite. But he's looking for a way to protect his property when he's not around, and no amount of training will help him with that.

Rmeju
October 20, 2012, 12:18 PM
To the OP:

I would strongly advise you to listen very carefully to what Frank is saying. There is a long history in the American legal system of frowning on the use of a booby-trap to protect your property. Even using a booby trap to defend yourself is a serious problem because the booby trap can't think... The entire basis for a self-defense legal defense it that you think you're in danger. With a gun, you can elect not to pull the trigger if it turns out to be a family member or a drunk teenager. The booby trap attacks without thinking.

Probably the best way to think about the advisability of using one is that you will be on the hook for any injury or death that you cause an intruder, even if they're burglarizing you and that as a legal matter, you won't be able to make use of any kind of self-defense justification.

If you don't think your booby trap will hurt anyone, then you're an adult and adults get to make choices. I would simply offer that these things have an odd way of going haywire, and that the people who will be deciding whether or not you should go to jail will probably not think that the use of a booby trap was a wise decision.

Spats McGee
October 20, 2012, 12:25 PM
Realize that even criminally lawful actions can result in civil liability.
This point is important enough that I felt it bears some emphasis. Even if there's no statute that says "Constructing or using a Type X booby trap is a crime," constructing or using same could subject one to significant civil liability. Just because I can't be held criminally liable for an action (by the State) does not mean that I can't be held civilly liable for the same action (by an injured private party).

HorseSoldier
October 21, 2012, 10:37 AM
I would think any firefighters who would be entering my house should be using oxygen masks before entering a burning house so I donít think thatís a concern.

There are scenarios where they wouldn't, but still risk injury or at least exposure to the gas. There's also scenarios where law enforcement officers could be exposed to the booby trap and face injury or have it prevent their performing their duties (i.e. responding to a burglary in progress at your residence). Neither of those is a likely occurrence, but both are potential outcomes that could expose the owner of the booby trap to civil liability and potentially criminal charges depending on locality.

I think the OP would be better served by insuring firearms and looking at an alarm system. If going forward on the booby trap idea, I'd definitely confer with a lawyer to be certain that it complies with all applicable state and local laws.

SEE IT LIKE A NATIVE
October 21, 2012, 11:11 AM
Now you guys have me thinking about putting down a sheet of aluminium diamondplate on the floor , set the gunsafe on the plate with ceramic tile under the corners for insulation and hook a fence charger to the safe with the ground on the aluminium plate . maybe have the charger in another room so you can turn it off when you want to ! Kevin

Sam. Colt
October 21, 2012, 11:28 AM
And then hope you're visited by the barefoot burglar.

I think the best suggestion is a quality surveillance camera and a means to secure the images offsite.

Kendahl
October 21, 2012, 01:45 PM
Having been zapped by an electric fence while wearing rubber riding boots, I have learned that you don't have to be barefoot.

SEE IT LIKE A NATIVE
October 21, 2012, 02:26 PM
Hey maybe I need to add an automatic mister filled with salt water !? Kevin

brickeyee
October 21, 2012, 02:39 PM
'man traps' is a common term in the law for them.

Frank Ettin
October 21, 2012, 03:01 PM
Starting to go off on tangents. The OP's issue has been pretty well covered. Time to stop.

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