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Frank Gray

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Police don't clean up crime scenes, and many homeowners don't know how to find the right lawyer.

Shooting a burglar? It’s a mess

For $11 a month, this group will post bail, hire a lawyer

About 20 years ago a northeast Indiana man shot and wounded a burglar who had broken into his home.

The man was convicted of burglary and went to prison, but in an odd twist, he then turned around and sued the homeowner – and he won.

The events outraged a lot of people, and the state legislature soon passed a law that prevents people convicted of a crime from suing over injuries suffered while they were committing the crime.

The lesson to be learned is that when you do shoot someone in self-defense in your home, there’s no telling what is going to happen when it’s all over.

That has inspired an organization that has been pitching a new product in the Midwest, including Indiana.

The organization is called Second Defense Alliance.

It’s not a business or an insurance company, according to the organization’s chief operating officer. It’s more of an alliance, or cooperative, that will help members handle all of the unexpected results of shooting – and killing – someone during what it calls home invasion robberies.

Tim Brennan, the COO of the Cincinnati organization, can toss out a lot of figures and other information concerning burglaries.

There are 85 million gun owners in the United States and 67 percent of them, according to some polls, have guns for self-protection.

Brennan says that according to government figures, there are thousands of burglaries a day in the United States, and in about half of those burglaries there is someone home at the time of the burglary.

Also, Brennan says, robbers are getting more brazen, knocking on the door and crashing in when you come to the door.

The problem is, Brennan says, very few homeowners have pondered what would happen after they shoot and kill a burglar who has entered their home.

So for $11 a month the organization is offering to provide various services, ranging from hiring a cleanup service (insurance often won’t cover that and the police don’t clean crime scenes, he says), to hiring a lawyer and even posting bail, up to a limit of $50,000.

When you think about it, it isn’t that often that people shoot and kill burglars or home invaders. In Fort Wayne, for example, most of the killings that have taken place so far this year have taken place in cars or on city streets. But it is doubtlessly terrifying when someone does break in when you are home.

Laws concerning whether one is justified in shooting a burglar or home invader vary from state to state, Brennan said, and the organization points to various websites that can explain the laws.

Brennan has been promoting the organization in the Midwest, including at home and garden shows in Indiana, and has gotten varied responses.

In a telephone conversation, Brennan offered a handful of stories about people who have been charged after shooting burglars and the result of their lack of familiarity with laws.

Whether one needs membership in an organization like this – it’s only a few months old and has 2,000 members so far – really depends on your state of mind, I imagine.

If nothing else, this Second Defense Alliance might cause people to stop and ponder what does happen after a person makes the split-second decision to shoot a burglar.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.