Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Non-lethal booby trap legality?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Dan Forrester, Oct 15, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Dan Forrester

    Dan Forrester Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2003
    Messages:
    665
    Location:
    FL
    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

    I’m 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
     
  2. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2007
    Messages:
    4,524
    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.
     
  3. joed

    joed Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    Messages:
    2,154
    Location:
    Ohio
    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.
     
  4. joed

    joed Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    Messages:
    2,154
    Location:
    Ohio
    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.
     
  5. bikemutt
    • Contributing Member

    bikemutt Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    Messages:
    4,104
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    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 :eek:
     
  6. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Messages:
    5,095
    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.
     
  7. M-Cameron

    M-Cameron member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2009
    Messages:
    2,865
    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:
     
  8. Texan Scott

    Texan Scott Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2012
    Messages:
    3,184
    Location:
    The Texas Hill Country
    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.
     
  9. zorro45

    zorro45 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Messages:
    355
    Booby Trap

    I'm envisioning a nice warning sign, bilingual of course, which may have as much deterrent value as an actual "tear gas grenade" installation.
     
  10. smalls

    smalls Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2011
    Messages:
    2,433
    Location:
    Macomb County, MI
    All of the laws I've seen regarding booby traps leave out the word "lethal", meaning any booby trap is illegal.
     
  11. dprice3844444

    dprice3844444 member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Messages:
    4,264
    Location:
    se fla i love claymores 01/sot
    make sure you use a cn type gas,not cs.cn will dissipate quicker indoors,cs is nasty and lingers
     
  12. mister_murphy

    mister_murphy Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Messages:
    104
    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.
     
  13. Kendahl

    Kendahl Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2012
    Messages:
    74
    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.
     
  14. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2006
    Messages:
    10,518
    Location:
    California - San Francisco Bay Area
    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.
     
  15. Rail Driver

    Rail Driver Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2010
    Messages:
    2,525
    Location:
    Quincy, FL
    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
     
  16. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Messages:
    5,095

    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.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2012
  17. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2006
    Messages:
    10,518
    Location:
    California - San Francisco Bay Area
    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.
     
  18. Rail Driver

    Rail Driver Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2010
    Messages:
    2,525
    Location:
    Quincy, FL
    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.
     
  19. tarosean

    tarosean Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2010
    Messages:
    5,335
    Location:
    TX


    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.
     
  20. crossrhodes

    crossrhodes Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    624
    Location:
    Northeast Kingdom
    Only the Judge will know

    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.
     
  21. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2006
    Messages:
    5,503
    Location:
    Deep in the valley
    There are many places where any form of "booby trap" would get you in serious hot water.
     
  22. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Messages:
    16,784
    Location:
    Southern Virginia
    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. "
     
  23. Carne Frio

    Carne Frio Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    Messages:
    745
    Location:
    Near Fairbanks
  24. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2006
    Messages:
    10,518
    Location:
    California - San Francisco Bay Area
    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:
     
  25. Rail Driver

    Rail Driver Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2010
    Messages:
    2,525
    Location:
    Quincy, FL
    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"
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page