Maybe it's because Dimitri had lived in a country where firearms ownership was denied that he came to appreciate a right that asshats like the author of the second article would like to take away from us.
First duty is to yourself
By Dimitri Vassilaros
Sunday, February 5, 2006
The law says you must act like a coward. In your own home. Even when your life is threatened.
Many states have criminal-friendly "duty to retreat" laws. A victim in his house is mandated to retreat from an attacker until he is cornered. Only then is the prey allowed to use lethal force on the predator. Prosecutors in those states have been known to victimize the victim (such as charging him with manslaughter) who prefers to fire back rather than to back off.
The National Rifle Association has been trying to end the insanity state by state.
Florida came to its senses last year. It enacted a law based on the "Castle Doctrine" -- that one's home is one's castle. A person now is not legally required to be hunted down room by room by an intruder before the victim pulls the trigger. The law allows the victim to shoot back without fear of being prosecuted for being overzealous about protecting his life. And it prohibits criminals from suing their more aggressive victims. All their victims, actually.
"Somebody should not be twice victimized, first by the assailant and then by the legal system trying to destroy his life," says Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, the largest organization representing gun owners after the NRA.
But the Florida law does more.
Car-jackers beware; now one's car is his mobile castle. And better still, if a victim is not in a home or car, now he legally can use deadly force. Sunshine State criminals without a death wish might want to consider career counseling. Or take Horace Greeley's advice to go west. But if they do, they had better hurry.
Wyoming is the latest battleground. The NRA is lobbying there and in 11 other states to repeal duty-to-retreat laws.
Pennsylvanians have that so-called duty if they are attacked outside the home, according to Kim Stolfer, legislative committee chairman of the Allegheny County Sportsmen's League. House Bill 2213 takes aim at the "duty" and prohibits prosecution for defending yourself. It also prohibits lawsuits by a criminal who was injured while attacking the victim. And it prohibits lawsuits by the criminal's survivors if the victim gunned him down.
Arthur C. Hayhoe, executive director of the Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, essentially spoke for liberalism when he said in published reports that "What they've done is legalize manslaughter here in Florida. It (the new law) promotes irresponsible, aggressive and even illegal use of firearms."
Why are we even having this debate?
How could anyone actually believe that you should not defend yourself until you've run out of room to flee? When did it become a person's duty to scurry into the basement like a cockroach fleeing the exterminator?
A duty-to-retreat law is the ultimate debasement of man.
It means that your life is not worth protecting except as a last resort. It also means that your intruder's life is worth protecting except as a last resort. You are little better than your tormentor.
The Castle Doctrine rightly says that your bricks and mortar are sacrosanct. But is there an equivalent doctrine for your flesh and blood?
You have no "duty" to retreat when threatened in your house, car or anywhere else. Your life is no less precious when you are outdoors. A man's home is his castle. A man's duty is to himself.
The loving arms of arms lovers
Sunday, February 5, 2006
I have joined the NRA.
Some well-meaning reader has paid $35 to buy me a one-year membership in the National Rifle Association, no doubt as a remedy for all the misguided, pro-consumer sentiment that's come to characterize this column.
(The NRA won't say who bought me the membership, but I'm pretty sure it's one of you because The Chronicle was given as my home address.)
So now I can proudly say my name is attached to safeguarding an industry with about $2 billion in annual sales and 150,000 employees, according to the Professional Gun Retailers Association.
That means I enjoy a connection to the main product of this industry (guns) and to what researchers say is this product's undeniable economic impact on the United States -- a price tag of at least $100 billion annually in medical, legal and judicial costs.
At last, I can boast that I'm part of efforts to protect people's access to a product that the federal government says is responsible for more than 30,000 deaths each year, including murders, suicides and accidents.
Yes, my name is now associated with a commercial good that's responsible for the killing of at least eight children and teenagers every single day (a record of product efficacy, as far as young people go, that not even the tobacco industry can touch).
Best of all, I can enjoy the full power and prestige of being one of 4 million members of what lawmakers surveyed by National Journal call the most powerful lobbying organization in Washington.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NRA has contributed more than $15 million to political interests (mostly Republican) since 1990. It reportedly spends millions more annually on so-called issue ads and other forms of propaganda.
That investment paid off for the NRA last year when President Bush signed into law a bill protecting companies that make and sell guns from civil-liability lawsuits, including companies that negligently sell guns to criminals.
Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president, called Congress' passage of the legislation "a historic day for the NRA and also for the Second Amendment."
I checked. There doesn't seem to be anything in the Second Amendment about shielding negligent gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits.
But let's not get bogged down in details.
As a new NRA member, I received a letter from LaPierre welcoming me to the pro-gun fold. "Your support for the NRA is a very important commitment to the future of the Second Amendment," he says.
It also entitles me to apply for an NRA Platinum Edition Visa Card and to receive discounts on hotel stays, rental cars and prescription drugs.
I get a $10,000 accidental-death insurance policy for any mishaps "that occur during the use of firearms." (Not that guns kill people. People kill people. Providing they have a gun handy, that is.)
On top of that, I get $1,000 in insurance to protect my guns against theft or accidental loss, even though it's inconceivable that a legally owned firearm could possibly end up in the wrong hands.
Oh, wait -- here's a report from the Americans for Gun Safety Foundation showing that about 170,000 guns are stolen annually and that a study done by the Department of Justice found that 10 percent of prison inmates used a stolen gun to commit their crimes.
Well, never mind that. The NRA's Web site tells me that "the most important benefit of NRA membership ... is the defense of your Constitutional right to keep and bear arms."
That's what this is all about -- me.
That's the NRA way.