Is this a law that needs to be refined?

In many jurisdictions, if anyone is killed during the commission of a felony that involved a firearm, that death counts as first degree murder and is laid at the feet of the perpetrator of the original crime.

At one level, I understand and agree with it. If you commit an armed robbery and actually start shooting, anyone and everyone you kill, whether uncooperative clerks, bystanders, hostages, police, even accomplices should be considered victims of murder.

But how do we justify charging a person with murder when they never touched the gun that killed the person(s) who died?

Full disclosure: this is an anti-cop rant. I think this law is being used to get cops off the hook for crimes that (if committed by anyone other than a cop) would be classified as reckless, negligent homicide showing a callous disregard for the consequences of their actions.

Case in point:

Synopsis: Police open fire on a guy who seems to be pulling a gun. They hit him 5 times but don’t manage to kill him. However, one of the bystanders in the background is hit once and dies from her wounds. The guy they intended to shoot is charged with her murder.

I’ve only provided one example here, but this is not an isolated incident.

TL;DR I think this law enables trigger happy cops by pinning the blame for their collateral killings on someone they’ve already identified as a “bad guy.”


The felony murder rule is really stupid. Especially when it’s applied to any felony. I can see the logic in it in a case of a bank robbery where one of the robbers kills someone. I doubt it prevents much crime though. Here’s an even more egregious example of the rule.


And here’s another; an old one, but a specific exemplar of a cop doing the killing.

In this case, as in the one I described to start the thread, the only person who died was killed by the cops.

I don’t know how much of this to blame on the felony murder rule (which has been abolished in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland) vs. how much to blame on US cop culture of shoot first, ask questions later.

But if the felony murder rule makes it even incrementally easier for the cops to get away with killing people, especially innocent people, then I think it needs to be revised.


US barbarity at it’s finest, this. It boggles logic to charge anyone other than the trigger-person with murder. I hadn’t heard of cops using it to cover their own misdeeds before. That’s utterly sick, and very likely violates the spirit of the law (not that the spirit of the law is any more just than the letter in this case). This rule sounds like an invention of the “tough on crime” era, and it definitely needs to be relegated to the scrap bin of history.


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