L. Neil Smith's
Number 347, December 11, 2005

"So You Actually Have to be Able to Think"

Protecting Ourselves
by Charles Stone, Jr.

Exclusive to TLE

I'm not sure when it started, perhaps it was with the old western movies when the upstanding citizens of "Drygulch", fearful of the local land baron and his evil minions sent the town fathers to the state capitol to ask for help in maintaining law and order in their town and especially to do away with the "vigilantes" who were of course under the direction of nasty folk who ran the town.

Somehow we got the idea that it was up to someone from the government with a badge and gun to protect us from the evils of the world and that an ordinary person who harmed a bad guy while standing up for himself or his property was in the wrong It all fiction of course, but that is what we are faced with today. Disarm the people, don't let them have weapons to protect themselves. Jail the shopkeeper who sets up a boobytrap to foil the twentieth person to rob his place. Make a person in his own home justify his action in blowing the guts out some ne'er-do-well who has broken into that home.

The fact is that the police aren't meant to protect us and the Supreme Court has admitted as much. Their function is only to write up reports when we are victimized, provide body bags for the deceased and try to frighten an increasingly aggressive criminal element into leaving us alone. The only person who can protect you is you. In most cases the best the cops can do is write the history and hope to catch the bad guy.

The highest courts of the land have determined that you have to give a criminal his legal rights, despite his violation of yours. You have to prove his guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. The state is required to follow the Constitution and local laws in investigating, arresting and prosecuting criminals although the scumbags have no such stricture. Aren't these are all reasonable goals? If we were criminals, we'd like to have these protections, right?

But then the justices of the law, arrayed in fine robes, in oak paneled chambers within marble edifices, stepped a realm they couldn't really understand. They said that the citizen, the homeowner, the apartment dweller must cleave to the same standard in protecting their own life. Never mind that an average citizen, awakened from a sound sleep by the sound of an intruder, has a problem figuring out who he is, that a person awakened in his own home by an intruder might automatically feel that his rights had been violated.

Don't you see the dichotomy? Is it so hard to understand that the primary protector of a person has to be the person himself? Doesn't an individual who goes out to commit a crime, by his action, strip himself of the protection of the law? Hasn't he broken the law and in so doing diminished his right to call upon that law to protect him from having his head blown off? He hasn't lost his rights to a fair trial and due process after the fact, but while he is committing the act shouldn't he be vulnerable because he has removed himself from legality.

After a criminal is apprehended he is due all the rights of any citizen because at that point his guilt has not been proven in a of court of law, but while he is committing the act should he be protected from the possibility of falling afoul of a victim who is not bound by judicial niceties? For better or worse, the very act of committing the crime has probably caused the victim to be in fear of deadly harm.

It should not be up to the victim to prove that he feared for his life but up to the villain to prove that he was just trying to make a phone call or borrow a cup of sugar and thus not a threat to the victim. The State of Florida has recently passed a law that gives the citizen the right to protect his person, family and property if he just believes he is under threat. About time! (Predictibly, the gun-grabbers saw blood in the streets. Nothing so far.)

Most of our courts have decided to place the burden upon the wrong people, and even have sentenced those who only sought to preserve their lives or property to prison while setting criminals free. They have found a way to equate the criminal and the victim. They perceive no difference between the criminal having "chosen" his course and the victim being "subjected" to the terror of criminal behavior. It is really scary when bad guys are given the same rights as those they victimize but that is course our judicial system seems to have taken.

There is an absolutism rife in the land, a feeling that all rules must all be upheld and enforced regardless of their value to to the society. We like to see ourselves as living in the land of the free and home of the brave, yet we as a nation throw more of our own into jail than any other "civilized" country. There has to something wrong, somewhere. Are we just a more vicious people have we just produced a legal system that makes more things illegal to provide work for the overabundance of lawyers we have spawned?

Should a homeowner or a businessman be required to provide the same profile of perceived danger as does a police officer? Can you as a homeowner or a businessman, trained to deal with the neighbor or the competitor down the block, be required to respond in the same as a trained police officer? I don't think so. If a person, whatever their motive, forces themselves into my abode in the middle of the night, I reserve the right to turn them into dogfood and worry about the niceties later. I also expect the system to understand my plight and treat me accordingly.

In the long run, I guess the question is; How much proof does average schlump have to have in order to prove that he was in blowing away a slime-ball who was trying to rob him? Does Joe-homeowner have to prove to the system that he was in fear of mortal danger in order to be allowed to protect his family and property? How far is the judiciary willing to go in pursuit of "rights" of criminals?

© 2005 Charles Stone, Jr.


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