Free-Range Kids

See a Kid in a Car? Get Out Your Crowbar and Start Smashing, Says New Law


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Tennessee has just made it legal to break into a car if you see a child in there and have a "good faith belief" that he or she will suffer harm if not immediately removed.

In other words, feel free to get out the crowbar.

This would make sense if we had a realistic sense of when kids are truly in danger. But we don't. We have been told by the media and the government that kids are in danger absolutely any time they are waiting in the car, even for a single minute. Look at this story, for instance: a mom found guilty of neglect for not hauling her sleeping kid into the store with her on a 10 minute errand. Or this one—a four-minute errand. Or this one, a mom berated by a "Good Samaritan" for a 20-second errand.

I hear from moms who got yelled at for returning their shopping cart to the corral after first getting their kids into their car seats, as if this put their kids in mortal peril.

We have become so hyper sensitized to the danger of kids waiting in cars, we can no longer see the difference between a child waiting while mom picks up the pizza and a child locked in the car all day while mom plays the slots.

But there is a big difference. I can find no instance of a child dying in a car who was there for the duration of a short errand. Of the 30-40 kids who died in parked cars, 86 percent perished because their parents forgot they were in the car and didn't come back for hours, or the children got into the car unbeknownst to the parents and then couldn't get out. (That wouldn't be the case in a parking lot.)


The Tennessee law requires that before a would-be Samaritan crowbars the car they try actually opening the door, and also call 911. But that immediately involves the police in a parenting decision. A far better course of action would be to simply stand by the car for a while and wait for the parent to return.

Smashing the window or prying open the door without waiting a while for the parent is extreme. It's acting as if every time a child is waiting in a car he's in danger, when—thank goodness—that's not the case. We know that because most of us often waited in the car as kids.

That practice simply was not labeled negligence back then, because it wasn't and still isn't. It's a decision that decent, rational parents who love their kids make every day.

Sometimes it makes sense to bring a child in while running an errand, sometimes it doesn't. Parents should be allowed to make that choice without the law breathing down their necks.

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  1. I’m getting my crowbar, forgetting my eyeglasses, and immediately heading to Tennessee.

  2. Nation of bed-wetting, pants-shitting alarmists.

    Congratulations America!


  4. I endorse this course of action. Publically-conscious individuals shouldn’t hesitate to use their crowbars in any number of contexts: for example, smashing out the windows of an insufficiently tolerant business. Smashing apart booths belonging to pro-life or religious advocates. Smashing the glass ceiling by smashing the smug mugs of those white, male 1%-ers. And so on.

    1. +1 Kristallnacht

  5. This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!

    1. I was worried someone wouldn’t make that reference. You make me proud Idle Hands.

  6. “This would make sense if we had a realistic sense of when kids are truly in danger.”

    The same goes for dogs. I stopped at a gas station in Kentucky with my dog in the cab of my truck. The A/C had been going full blast for a good two hours. I really, needed to piss. It was about 80 degrees out. Anyone who knows me is aware that my number one priority is puppy safety and kennel hygiene, so there is no way I am putting my dog in danger. So I get out of the truck, lock the door and then race inside to take a piss. My dog was left alone for LESS THAN THREE MINUTES, and yet when I got back to the truck, a crowd of worried people had already gathered around my truck and were deciding what action they should take to save my dog.

    1. There’s a reason these cases are noteworthy, and it’s certainly not because they’re frequent. It’s an innocuous retelling of the campus rape hysteria: if it’s so pervasive, if there truly exists a cultural imprimatur, why is it reported at all? And with such breathless fervor and righteous condemnation?

    2. when I got back to the truck, a crowd of worried people had already gathered around my truck and were deciding what action they should take to save my dog.

      Shit like this is why I carry concealed on long trips.

      1. I wonder how many ‘good samaritans’ busting into someone’s car are going to get shot because a CCW holder thinks they’re trying to steal their car/kidnap their kid?

  7. I prefer this version.

    1. That is pretty good.

  8. So we want strangers smashing open cars with kids in them?

    If I came out of a store and saw this, I’d draw my weapon.

  9. Tennessee has just made it legal to break into a car if you see a child in there and have a “good faith belief” that he or she will suffer harm if not immediately removed.

    A justification defense is already legally available for situations like this in most states (e.g. in Pennsylvania Title 18 Chapter 5)


      1. I do actually, but that’s beside the point. 😉

        1. But hatred is a product of anger, and anger is the child of fear, and I find it impossible to think any grown person fears children (excepting truly phobic nutjobs sufferers).

          1. Anger is also the child of irritation and annoyance.

          2. Well “hate” is probably too strong a word. I just find I have an extremely low tolerance for normal kid-ly behavior. I actively try to avoid being around them more than absolutely necessary because it become extremly aggravated when I do.

    2. It would be hard to believe that laws like these would not have been on the books for at least a century in Tennessee and every other state.

      What happened was that our idiot state legislature, unaware that such laws already do, in fact, exist, decided to make sure that the media noted that they were DOING SOMETHING about the problem of children dying in locked cars.

      Because without a bunch of words on a piece of paper stowed away in some official building, the good people of the Volunteer State wouldn’t dare break into a locked car if they knew a child’s health to be endangered.

      I feel a Rothbardian rant about the difference between law and legislation coming on.

  10. We have been told by the media and the government that kids are in danger absolutely any time they are waiting in the car, even for a single minute.

    Actually, we’ve been told that children are in danger every second of every day. How we survived is a mystery.

  11. Why is a law necessary for this? If you see a kid locked in a hot car, in obvious distress, of course you can break the window and rescue the kid. This impulse to codify every permutation of permissible behavior is just plain retarded.

    1. That which is not explicitly permitted is prohibited, Warty. You KNOW this.

      So this law was important, to protect the nannies. Er…saviors.


  12. A colleague’s wife, an otherwise rational human being, would get out of her car at stoplights and yell at folks who weren’t putting their kids in car seats.

    No concept of probabilities.

    1. A friend’s mother would roll down her window at lights and glare at gangbangers if their bass was pumping too loudly for her taste.

      1. Did she flash her headlights at them?

  13. Cue the lawsuits for children being injured by flying shards of auto glass.

    1. The whole thing that makes auto glass auto glass is that it doesn’t make shards if you smash it.

    2. Sue the auto makers for not making child-saving glass standard.


    3. Not to mention a child would probably be scared to death if someone started breaking into the car.

  14. Yeah, I have five dogs, two cats, three kids (all grown up now….dogs, cats and kids). I have lots of friends who are dog lovers – and to a person, they seem all in on this new Broken Windows fallacy.

    As Warty noted – if there’s a carbon-based being obviously struggling, BREAK THE FUCKING WINDOW. But I run into the store for five minutes and leave my dog in my Jeep with the soft top and the windows cracked on an 80 degree day – I better not find your hands on my vehicle OR dog, or you may find you need casts.

    Hands. Off.

    The hectoring I can just ignore…but anyone touches my stuff….I’ll kill ya. And any o’ you HOMOS come near….I’ll kill ya….


  15. “BABY ON BOARD!”

    *** smashes window ***

  16. Unintended consequences? Pedophiles starting smashing windows to drag kids out?

  17. Any male who tries this is going to be immediately arrested as a child molester. Best to go into the nearby store and tell the manager and then walk away.

  18. Speaking of critters locked in cars:

    Cop shoots “vicious pit bull” that “lunged” at him through open car window. Photos show us the dog was a lab, and that the window was half up:…..83721.html

    (Sorry is this has already been posted)

    1. “Pit bull” is dunphy-speak for a dog that a police officer shot. It might have been a teacup chihuahua or a slobbering collie in life, but after it’s bled out on private property, it becomes a pit bull.

      1. “Pit bull” is dunphy-speak for a dog that a police officer shot.

        And “lunge” means any movement on a person’s (or dog’s) part that is anything other than dropping instantly to the ground in submission.

        Also, I wonder, if I walked by a parked K9 unit, if the dog inside barked at me and shot I it through the window, I wonder how well I’d fare at trial if I used words like “vicious” and “lunged” in my defense.

        1. I wonder how well I’d fare at trial if I used words like “vicious” and “lunged” in my defense.

          In your trial for killing a police officer? Poorly.

        2. And dead is what you will call the cop who kills my dog or my kid. I will hunt him down like a rabid dog and execute the disgusting creature.

    2. Wow, and one more:

      A SWAT unit serving a search warrant for weapons and drugs shoots a family’s two pit bulls. Recovered in the search? Some weed residue and a bong.…..-swat-raid

    3. Coeur d’Alene OD leaders said the officer who shot the dog was distraught following the incidence.

      Oh, then its OK.

      Authorities also said they believe the child predator who has been spotted in a similar white van is still on the loose.

      Maybe you flatfoots could try to look for this person, rather than shoot black labs?

  19. This law is baaaadddd for so many reasons.

    This is taking ‘for the children’ to a whole new level.

    1. “His window tint was too dark. There mighta been kids in there. We had to smash out the windows and conduct a warrantless search. Exigent circumstances.”

      1. You can count on it.

        1. “We thought we heard a pitbull lunging aggressively at the closed windows, so our weapons discharged 37 times into the vehicle. The occupant, who was asleep in the driver’s seat, was killed during the incident.”

          1. Procedures were followed, weapons were discharged, potential suspects expired.


    Even if the dog still seems OK, however, Peckinpaugh urged, “You should definitely call the police right away.

    “I understand the mindset of ‘My dog likes to go for car rides,'” he said. “I’m not debating whether they love their dog; I’m debating whether they put their dog in danger. You can’t argue with science.”

    1. You can’t argue with science.”

      All evidence to the contrary.

    2. ‘Even if the dog still seems OK, however, Peckinpaugh urged, “You should definitely call the police right away.”

      This only makes sense if you want the dog dead, and don’t want to wait around for it to die of heatstroke.

    3. Uh, the whole premise of the scientific method is to “argue with science.”

  21. People can’t tell real threats from fake anywhere it seems like. Once at my job, someone reported a liguid nitrogen delivery truck having mechanical problems on the side of the road as a “possible chem spill” and was angry that nobody else was worried about it. A family friend was once worried that the unfinished light pole installation in the grocery store parking lot might be a bomb because of the colorful electrical tape on the bolts. It makes you wonder how people will respond when there’s a real emergency they have to deal with alone.

    1. “It makes you wonder how people will respond when there’s a real emergency they have to deal with alone.”

      Soil themselves and die.

      1. For reference see Boston during the hysterical, pants-shitting hunt for the bombers.

  22. Hopefully this trend means that more parents will leave their young spawn at home. What happened to asking a friend or neighbor to look in on your kid for a few minutes while mom does some grocery shopping? Now, parents drag their damn kids every freaking where.

    1. I don’t actually know any of my neighbors.

    2. My 8 year old is less trouble in a store than 95% of people over the age of 60 and 100% of people who ride fat guy scooters.

      If we’re going to campaign to keep people out of stores, let’s start with the people who are the real problem(s).


    A woman noticed a small white dog in a Ford parked in front of PetSmart in the 6500 block of 20th Street about 4 p.m. Monday, according to an arrest affidavit. When a deputy arrived, she told him the dog had been in the car at least 15 minutes and was in distress. The deputy used a tool to unlock the car and placed the dog in his air-conditioned patrol car, he said.

    After the rescue, Schlaich stepped out of the store and said she left the dog in the car because he was exhausted from running around earlier, the affidavit states. She was taken to the Indian River County Jail, while her dog was taken to the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County.

    The State Attorney’s Office later dropped the animal cruelty charge because of lack of evidence


    and Schlaich pleaded no contest to the possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia charges, according to court documents. A judge withheld adjudication and placed Schlaich on one year of probation for the charges.

    So we have a busybody saying (without any substantiation) how long the dog had been in the car and that it was in distress (note the wording that the officer didn’t actually observe either one), officer breaks into the car, finds evidence of an unrelated crime, and charges for the original alleged crime are dropped but not for the unrelated crime.

    1. Fourth Amendment? We don’ need no steenking Fourth Amendment!

  24. Did you ever try smashing a car’s side window with a crowbar?

    It’s not that easy.

    1. That’s why you should always carry a spring-loaded center punch.

  25. I’ve always gone by the rule that if my kid is able to get out of the car by them self, then they are old enough to wait in the car for a few minutes.

    1. Is 11 years old is still too young.

  26. This is a slippery slope. The parent could justifiably conclude that the samaritan was trying to kidnap their child. Deadly force is authorized to prevent a kidnapping.

  27. When you leave the car, board up the windows from inside. It helps keep the car cool and protects the car from nosy assholes.

  28. (1)

    This is insanity!! You are honestly defending locking babies in cars??? REALLY??? I just…. I really honestly and truly don’t understand…. Is there and age limit on this? Leave a 3 day old in the car? Is that cool? If you see a month old baby wailing in a car should you first just stand there for 15 minutes and see if the parents come back?? What if you’re walking by and see a 12 month old unconscious? You don’t know if they are asleep of passed out from heat exhaustion!!

    “when we were kids we waited in the car”
    1. We were all TEENAGERS!! A teenager in a car is MUCH different then a baby, a teenager can roll down the windows or open the door or COME INSIDE if they get to hot or uncomfortable, a baby CAN’T, they can’t even MOVE because they are strapped into a hot cloth and metal prison, those buckles get hot enough to BURN you!!

  29. (2)

    2. It really IS more dangerous today then it was in our day, a woman actually befriended a pregnant woman over the course of her pregnancy and then when she was 9 months along CUT HER OPEN and took her baby!! This is life today. Did you know there is a recipe circling the internet that claims to be for “crystal making” and requires you to mix things and then blow into them with a straw. It’s actually a recipe for mustard gas. People have gone to the hospital over this stupid “prank” which has the potential to KILL you. Kids will collectively bully another kid until they commit subside and then write “thank god she’s dead” on her facebook wall. A woman helped her daughter “catfish” a girl her daughter didn’t like online, they built an entire relationship with the girl acting as a fake boy and then brutally broke up with her and told her to kill herself, and guess what, she did. A GROWN WOMAN did this.

    That’s the kind of world we’re in today. You really don’t think if one of those kinds of people came across a child locked in a car they wouldn’t harass them?? Beat on the windows and yell at them and call them names and berate them?? People do it to dogs all the time. And if someone is so desperate for a baby that they are willing to CUT IT OUT of someone then you can sure as hell bet they are willing to just brake a window. Plus you have the kids that are “accidentally” kidnapped during a carjacking. The sun is not the ONLY danger your child faces when locked in a car.

  30. (3)

    Did you know that when people traveling with show livestock stop to eat they will park their vehicle and trailer somewhere they can see it out the window. People are smart enough not to leave their ANIMALS unattended in a parking lot, because they know people are cruel. I know a family that didn’t have a line of sight to their dairy goats during a restaurant stop and someone feed one of the goats candy until it died.

    “when I was a kid” is just not a good excuse for ANYTHING, we are constantly learning that things we previously thought harmless are actually rather dangerous, like lead painted toys, drinking while pregnant, driving without kids in carseats, heck once upon a time doctors would go straight from doing a AUTOPSY to DELIVERING A BABY without even washing their hands!!!! Thank god doctors didn’t just keep saying “well when I was a kid doctors never washed their hands or tools so, it’s fine”

    This is so totally absurd and you are just leading parents astray to think that it’s totally fine to put your babies and young kids in danger this way, and if anyone says otherwise they’re just “encroaching on your parenting choices” and you should tell them to fuck off. No. Beating your kid for an hour with a leather strap is not a “parenting choice” and neither is risking your child’s life for your own convenience.

  31. (4)

    Please I implore any parent currently doing this unthinkable thing to your kid(s) (and this writer) to take a moment and watch this video: a man locks himself in a vehicle to show parents what it’s like. This madness has to stop.

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