vigilante

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vigilante

n. someone who takes the law into his/her own hands by trying and/or punishing another person without any legal authority. In the 1800s groups of vigilantes dispensed "frontier justice" by holding trials of accused horse-thieves, rustlers and shooters, and then promptly hanging the accused if "convicted." A mother who shoots the alleged molester of her child is a vigilante.

References in periodicals archive ?
And that limited recommendation could be enthusiastically endorsed only if there were no other reasons to be concerned about "modern-day vigilanteism.
The crucial weakness in Neely's position lies in his bland assurances that the benefits of modern-day vigilanteism can be had without any risk to civil liberties.
He said: "These comments are quite dangerous and have potential to legitimise vigilanteism.
Ahern said: "Even if the IRA were disbanded, all weapons put beyond use and there was a complete end to vigilanteism and punishment attacks and full support given to the Police Service of Northern Ireland there would be insufficient time to establish confidence for government participation to be realistic.