Friday, June 02, 2006

Self-Defense and the "Castle Doctrine"

Work is not leaving me a lot of time for blogging—I came back from vacation and found even more stuff on my desk. Don’t get me wrong; I like vacations a lot more than I like work, but sometimes they lead to more work. I even got “volunteered” for a couple of things that I would‘ve dodged had I been here. Oh well.

I did stumble on one thing while working. It made me wonder why smart people are so often dumb. The Harvard Journal of Legislation has an article on the “stand your ground” law (.pdf file) in Florida, also called the “Castle Doctrine.”

Virtually all states allow self-defense in the face of an attack; however, many of them require you to retreat if at all possible. Florida’s law removes the duty to retreat although it doesn’t give anyone carte blanche to kill a person (as anti-gunnies want you to think).

According to the journal, retreat requirements were recognition of the value of life. I agree that life is precious, but when someone attacks another person, they risk death. It’s that simple and I don’t need fourteen pages of text and a multitude of footnotes to state it.

But, I’m not here to debate legal issues with a law student. I don’t know enough about law in general or Florida’s new law specifically to win. However, I do know about self-defense and those who would deny it to the rest of us.

Here’s a statement that illustrates a problem with the article's argument and betrays an anti-self-defense mentality. The author states that the new law “…allows a person outside of his home to stand his ground in the face of an attack and inside of his home or vehicle against an intruder, even if there is no threat of harm.”

First, in an attack there is, in fact, a threat of harm. That’s what a freaking attack is. Second, if you have an intruder in your home you're probably under threat. Now, I don’t advocate shooting someone if you find them in your home, if they show empty hands, and if you can tell they’re not a threat. But, in most cases an intruder is a serious threat.

There are people, who don’t understand just how dangerous certain criminals are. They believe that one can reason with them, reach an empathetic understanding, or just give them the property they want and they’ll go away. They don’t realize that there are monsters out there who’ll kill you for the thrill of it. They may also face a thug who wants more than any person should give—a rapist, for instance.

I think the law student who wrote this article is someone who’s lived a sheltered life although I bet he thinks he’s world-wise and experienced. He’s probably always been safe and has never met someone whose eyes lack all human warmth or empathy.

I’ve met such people and I thank God I survived my encounters with them. In one case, I escaped death or harm only because I had a gun to enforce my shouted “No!” It’s amazing how fast bad guys can run when they look down the barrel of a 9mm.

I’ve never had to shoot someone, but I still carry a gun often and keep one loaded at home. I only wish New Hampshire had passed its version of the Castle Doctrine (I understand Governor John Lynch vetoed it while we were on vacation). I never want to be in a position again when I have to defend myself and wonder if I will be arrested for it no matter how much I feared for my life.

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