The story of Markus Kaarma shooting 17-year old German national Diren Dede is international news , and neither Kaarma himself nor his online commenting ‘defenders’ are doing much for Montana’s reputation. Here at ID, we’ve discussed the Castle Doctrine several times, and as a result of my own experiences, I don’t agree completely with Don’s opposition to the law as written. However, it is clear that Markus Kaarma, even if we accept his statement that he was afraid there were armed criminals in his garage (which is not unreasonable), acted not to defend himself, his family, or his property, but instead in a manner that suggests his number one priority was shooting someone that night.
First, where Kaarma is correct. While it appears Diren Dede didn’t understand the fact, burglary and theft are inherently dangerous, and whatever the verdict, people, especially teenagers, need to understand they danger they put themselves in for a couple hundred bucks car hopping. Many people, including kids Diren’s age, do, an accordingly carry knives or other weapons when they go car or garage hopping. To the extent that Kaarma thought the person or people in his garage might be armed, he was apparently wrong but certainly not unreasonable.
However, the possibility that he was facing armed people in his garage makes Markus Kaarma’s subsequent actions eve more unconscionable. First, he was not acting in the interest of his own safety – he left his own, presumably locked or lockable house. He then proceeded to silhouette himself outside a dark garage. He not only ensured that the incident would end in violence, he also put himself at an extreme disadvantage if the intruders were armed, as he couldn’t see what he was firing but they, had they been armed with guns, would have been able to see and shoot him quite clearly.
Moreover, Kaarma was not protecting his child or his partner. He went from a location from which he could both monitor the situation (via the cameras and baby monitor he had installed) and protect his partner and baby, to a position where he could do none of those things. If the people in his house had been armed, he could not have defended his family from outside the garage. If the door between the house and the connected garage was untrustworthy to the extent that burglars in his garage made him fear for the safety of his family in his house, he should not have left his family alone in the same structure as potentially armed intruders. Kaarma’s actions were thus not those of a man fearing for his family’s safety – either he didn’t perceive intruders in his garage as a threat to his family in the house, or he did but chose to prioritize shooting a couple of thieves over staying in the house and defending his family.
Finally, Kaarma didn’t even effectively defend his property. Leaving a garage door open 5+ feet for ‘ventilation’ when you’ve been burglarized twice before would suggest that either he was luring burglars in or the burglaries didn’t fill him with enough fear to close the door a couple more feet – either way not good for his case. Moreover, what on earth was in that purse that was so valuable it was worth filling your garage with flying buckshot? A man who fires randomly into his own garage is a man willing to wanton destruction to his own property as long as he gets a chance to shoot someone. He belongs in jail.