take the law into one's hands

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take the law into (one's) own hands

To act outside the scope of the law to achieve one's own sense of justice, typically by killing, punishing, or passing judgment on wrongdoers. Shopkeepers in the area have begun taking the law into their own hands, arming themselves with guns to fend off would-be thieves. I know you're frustrated by how long it's taken the police to respond, but you can't just take the law into your own hands.
See also: hand, law, own, take

take the law into one's hands

Also, take the law into one's own hands. Replace the established authority with one's own, as in While the captain was on shore the sailors took the law into their own hands and sneaked the prisoner off the ship . Generally indicating disapproval of doing something forbidden, this idiom was first recorded in 1606.
See also: hand, law, take
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