How Not To Solve A Property Dispute: Guns

“The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property.” –John Locke

As a corollary to the above, “fences make good neighbors”. What happens when contentious personalities, a dubious understanding of the law, and years of resentment collide? One Virginian man recently found out. Despite the tragic nature of the event, it does provide an excellent case study, and, more importantly, warning of how things can rapidly escalate and result in a tremendous loss for all parties involved.

Although no one can begrudge you exercising your 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, the legal alternative for resolution, though perhaps less thrilling, will prevent you from a lengthy stay in jail. The victim in the above incident had been accused of cutting down trees and encroaching on the owner’s property over a number of years. Ultimately, what should have otherwise been a resolvable issue developed into a poisonous dispute resulting in a preventable, horrific event. Though this took place in Virginia, Ohio state law has a rather robust section of criminal statues dedicated specifically to partition fencing between owners as well as suing for damages after a tree has been intentionally destroyed. Though first degree murder over an invisible division of property is an anomaly, had either sought counsel, we may have seen an entirely different outcome.

Many people assume pursuing legal action for what they perceive to be a ‘small’ (but personally meaningful) issue will be costly and exhaustive. There are always exceptions, but many disputes can be swiftly and affordably resolved with a little bit of research and outreach.

Full disclosure – yes, the process at times can be chaotic, as raw emotion and elements of false entitlement are often involved. However, taking steps to peacefully reach resolution and cement your claims as valid in the eyes of the law can be extremely cathartic and considerably less messy than committing homicide on your front lawn.

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