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The Right to Self-Defense
Posted by: Dale Franks on Thursday, September 07, 2006

The editors of the Las Vegas Review Journal note that a number of states have passed "stand your ground" laws that allow the victims of violent crime to meet force from criminal perpetrators with force.
The measure says any person "has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm."

This common-sense bill, restoring a right to self-defense which American used to assume was widely understood, has proved so popular that similar measures have now been approved in 15 states including Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, and Michigan — and have been proposed in eight more, including Maryland, Ohio, and Virginia.
In general, I think these are good laws. For instance, California is a "duty to flee" state. Essentially, that means that when a criminal attacks you, you have a duty if possible, to emulate Brave Sir Robin, and run away, rather than defend yourself. As far as I'm concerned, the "duty to flee" proposition is a denial of the right to self defense.

Others, as the RJ editors note, appear to disagree.
Needless to say, the "gunfights after every traffic accident" which were predicted by the gun control advocates have not transpired in any state adopting such "no retreat" measures.

But make no mistake, they continue to fight such legislation. Their latest tactic? Identifying the death of any armed home invader or rapist at the hands of his intended victim as a "murder," they have launched a Web site opposed to these new self-defense laws, dubbed www.licensetomurder.com.
Let me be plain. Self-defense is not murder, in any way, shape, or form. As far as I'm concerned, if you sow the wind, then you're SOL if you reap the whirlwind from your intended victim. It sucks to be you.

So, what does the LicenseToMurder web site look like? Well, when you peruse the main page, one of the first things you see is this:
Hi, I just want to thank you for the information. My nephew John David Knott was murdered by Gary L. Hill, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and now a murderer walks free. I and many others are so in grief– there was no justice for John whatsoever.
Well, that sounds nasty. What horrific set of circumstances caused the murder of poor young Johnny Knott?
Last year, Gary Lee Hill was attacked in his home by four people, including 19-year-old John David Knott. After the attack, the four got into a car, and Knott drove away. Hill, however, grabbed a gun and followed the car down the street. He then shot Knott in the back, crashing the car, and killing him.

Yes, Hill was attacked. But he chased Knott down, and fired on him while he was driving away. This isn’t premeditated murder, but Hill killed Knott all the same. And now, because of the "shoot first” law, Hill gets to walk free."
Here was a lovely, young, tousle-headed lad, little Johnny Knott, whose only offense was to take part in the home invasion and battery of Gary Hill. The evil Mr. Hill apparently sat in his home and viciously, and with malice aforethought, waited until four high-spirited youths burst into his home and assaulted him, after which he was free to cold-bloodedly murder one of them.

I see. Apparently, their position is, "Hey, wait a minute! You mean, if I attack some citizen at random, he gets to shoot me!? That's just wrong!"

OK. Granted, Mr. Hill shouldn't've chased his assailants down the street. Quite apart from the overtones of vigilantism, which we shouldn't condone, it's just unwise on a number of practical levels.

On the other hand, when I learn that young John-John was killed by the man whose home he invaded and assaulted, it's difficult to get past my initial emotional reaction of...f*ck 'im.

I mean, I don't think I'd object if a Grand Jury indicted Mr. Hill on some sort of manslaughter or firearms charge, based on Mr. Hill chasing down his assailants after the fact. After all, even the "stand your ground" law theoretically ends at the threshold of the home, or the immediate area of the assault. But that judgment certainly wouldn't be based on any sympathy for Mr. Knott.

I should think the real lesson here should be, "If you don't want to get shot, you should refrain from home invasions." At the end of the day, these "murders" result directly from the criminal actions of the "victims", not the premeditated violence of their killers. If you don't want to be shot by a homeowner, then not breaking into his home would seem to solve the problem nicely all 'round.

Yes, I'm sure it's a tragedy for Mr. Knott's family, and that's regrettable. But, at the end of the day, I prefer to reserve my compassion for the victims of evil, rather than its perpetrators.
 
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Comments
Mr. Hill was just pooring Clorox in the gene pool. Give him a medal.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
I was under the impression that CA law and
Constitution did not require that you
try to leave when accosted, can you provide
a link to the law you are refering to?
We "gunnies" (gun nuts) refer to such laws as
"duty to retreat" I have a NV ccw permit
& NV is a duty to retreat state.
I have a bad knee however so I can not retreat.
Thank you for your excellent blog.
 
Written By: chris karma
URL: http://
when I learn that young John-John was killed by the man whose home he invaded and assaulted, it’s difficult to get past my initial emotional reaction of...f*ck ’im.
I agree!

I understand that people get nervous that these laws will give people license to kill, but I think our grand juries and prosecutors are bright enough to know when someone is trying to get away with murder, and when someone is defending themselves, even as agressively as Mr. Hill.

How can you NOT love the idea of thugs having to consider the fact that their victims can kill them, and can even get away with the hunting the bastards down.. to some extent.

Go ahead, make my day!

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic (yeah, that one)
URL: http://
A principle as old as self-defense is non-escalation. Force may be met with equal force - no less but also no more. Chasing someone down and shooting them in the back (it’s not even stated that anyone but Hill had used a gun) violates this principle, and is murder. Sorry, but love of guns and violence does not trump sound ethical reasoning.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
A principle as old as self-defense is non-escalation. Force may be met with equal force
That is B.S. What about the "escalation" when the bad guy breaks in or attacks someone?

A guy breaks into my house with a knife or club and by your rule I can not defend myself with a pistol. Or he breaks in with a pistol, does that mean I can not use a shotgun to defend myself?

So you are against drug raids using SWAT teams, the militarization of Police forces or allowing IRS agents to carry firearms?

What are your feeling about the raid to retrieve Elian Gonzalez? The INS bursted in with full-auto weapons.
Or the raids at WACO and Ruby Ridge?

Or should overwhelming force only be allowed by the Government?
 
Written By: Paul L
URL: http://kingdomofidiots.blogspot.com/
The right to "stand your ground" ends when the threat is over. Chasing the attacker down after the fact isn’t part of it.

That said, the death of Mr Knott is probably not a great loss to the community.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
This comment has been removed.

Note to Mr. Ford: You wanna spew your Jew-baiting, do it somewhere else, nazi-boy.

Dale Franks
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
So you are against drug raids using SWAT teams, the militarization of Police forces or allowing IRS agents to carry firearms?
In general, yes to the first two and no to the third. I have nothing against self-defense when it’s defense. When it turns to offense, as in chasing someone down and shooting them in the back, that’s a different matter.
Or should overwhelming force only be allowed by the Government?
Those who are trained and equipped and organized to use appropriate force should have more leeway to do so than some yahoo with a gun. It’s basically the same argument that has always existed against vigilantism, so if you want to support the right of every citizen to escalate the level of violence arbitrarily you’d best be prepared to explain where that right ends and how you solve the obvious problems with its application. Do I get to shoot someone because they jostled me in a ticket line? Is it OK to have armed vigilante squads roaming around, maybe even bounty hunters gunning down felons? I’m sure that’s a cherished fantasy for some, but it’s not sound social policy.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
Oh, and BTW, "ACLU Jews"? Does this site have to imitate LGF that much?
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
You may want to look at the statistics of wrongfull shooting. Cops shoot the wrong person more then people who have concealed carry licences.

And since over a majority of states now have "shall issue" laws regarding concealed carry permits, we should be able to tell if this has led to an increase in "wild west" shootouts on the freeways and ticket lines.

By and large, CC holders are a more upstanding bunch of people then the population at large. Statistically they are less likely to commit a crime.

The use of force ends when the threat to a persons life ends. It isn’t that hard to understand. Some big tough guy, blustering because you jostled him in a ticket line, isn’t enough. If that tough guy takes a swing at you, or pulls a knife, then a reasonable person would probably "fear for his life."

People have the right to defend their lives from imminent threats.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
"ACLU Jews"? Does this site have to imitate LGF that much?
C. Ford is well known for his particularly offensive views on that particular ethnicity.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
And now he’s known as the nazi-boy whose comments get removed.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Platypus,

C Ford’s opinions on Jews are commonly noted and condemned here. As far as I know he is the only regular commenter to spew such stuff, but every thread that he comments on doesn’t need to descend into that argument. Thanks for noting it now so I don’t have to, but this site in no way can be considered a home for such stuff. As a side note, I don’t spend much time there, but LGF doesn’t seem to suffer from that either. Anti-Muslim amongst some commenter’s, yes, anti-semitic, no.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Dale,

Thanks.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
The measure says any person "has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm."

1. I have cirhossis, an enlarged spleen and other health issues. A simple punch to the belly could go well beyond ’great bodily harm’ and over into death. Even a wrestling tussle could wind up deadly.

2. I legally carry (CC) a permitted weapon, nice little .38 SW with a lazer sight. At 20 feet I will not miss.

3. In GA they recently (July 1) changed the S.Y.G. statute to include merely the possibility of a threat of said force is enough to justify the use of deadly force to protect one from harm.

4. Living downtown, whenever an aggressive panhandler or thug refuses to leave the area, or acts in an intimidating manner towrds me, I simply say "you know, I am feeling really threatened." and lift my shirt just enough to show the handle.

5. As a result, I’ve never had to draw a weapon. My only comment (after the "I feel threatened") is "If I point it, I am legally forced to use it."

6. Being a white male in the top 4% income bracket asssures me the best of defense lawyers. My mantra: "I felt threatened"!

Summary: I like these laws. Without them I’d pretty much fear being in any situation where a potential conflict may arise.

With the law, I feel safe in even the hardest neighborhoods.
 
Written By: Rick D.
URL: http://
Being a white male in the top 4% income bracket asssures me the best of defense lawyers. My mantra: "I felt threatened"!
What relevance does your being white have to your argument? Top 4% makes a valid point.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
Force may be met with equal force - no less but also no more.
Perhaps where you live; if so, I do not wish to live there.

How does one person, by the way, equal the force of 4 people? Do you believe that 4 people cannot beat one person to death?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://

"With the law, I feel safe in even the hardest neighborhoods."

Pardon my classism, but if you are in such a high income bracket, why on earth do you go into those neighborhoods? Is that a requirement of being rich in Georgia?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Force may be met with equal force - no less but also no more.
Oh please. If you’re a criminal, you should know that your activities could lead to your untimely death.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
I don’t think we’re all using "equal force" to mean the same thing. If you are threatened with death, it is immaterial whether it’s death-by-knife or death-by-gun. Death is death, and you are allowed to respond with deadly force, again, whether knife or gun. Maybe you’re letting all the "proportional response" crap from the recent Israeli-Lebanon conflict cloud your thinking. I once heard someone argue that if you were attacked in your home by a man wielding a .32, you couldn’t shoot him with your Desert Eagle, because that wasn’t "equal force." That’s not what that concept entails.
 
Written By: jinnmabe
URL: http://
Timactual, we don’t confine our poor to certain neighborhoods in Georgia. You can find trailers parked next door to $500,000 mansions all over the state. Similarly, you can find panhandlers and worse just about everywhere, as well. It has its drawbacks, but then we don’t have ghettos or race riots, either.

I don’t carry, but I feel safer knowing that if something dangerous happens, it’s likely that someone in the immediate crowd has the capability to deal with a situation without having to wait on the cops.
 
Written By: BrianOfAtlanta
URL: http://
How does one person, by the way, equal the force of 4 people? Do you believe that 4 people cannot beat one person to death?

Perhaps Mr. Hill should have summoned three of his friends to make it an even fight. That’s about as logical as "equal force."
 
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://gabbleratchet.blogspot.com
Another point about "equal force" - the victim shouldn’t be forced to determine the intent of a criminal before acting. As far as I’m concerned, if I find a stranger in my house in the middle of the night, he’s as good as dead.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
Platypus: Where’d that "principle" come from and how did it get made binding?

Does that mean that if a gang of men come at me with clubs, I can’t shoot them in self defense?

I assure you that "murder" is not defined legally or morally, at least for most people, as involving "unequal force"; it typically involves premeditiation and intent to kill, without legal justification.

In my ethical view, responding to aggression with disproportionate force is a definite good, in that it acts as a great deterrent to aggression, and protects the weak from the strong.

Like Jordan says, an armed person breaking into my house is presumed guilty of deadly intent - if they’re just here to rob and if they get a chance, rape, well, shucky darn.

If you assert there’s some moral or ethical reason not to respond to such things with deadly force, please make the argument; simply asserting that "equal force" is a binding moral principle is, as you may have noticed, not the slightest bit convincing.

(I would, given my previous statements, argue that it’s an immoral argument that leads to oppression of the weak and destruction of the social order by the lawless.)
 
Written By: Sigivald
URL: http://
"Chasing someone down and shooting them in the back (it’s not even stated that anyone but Hill had used a gun) violates this principle, and is murder."
Complete and utter BS.

We’d have a lot less assults, burglaries, rapes, etc. if these actions were met with deadly force more often. I am sick of people who care more about criminal’s rights than victim’s rights. I am sick of people who are happy to sacrifice my safety for their misguided, bleeding heart sense of cosmic justice. As other’s have plainly stated, if you don’t want to be shot and killed, try a different occupation. Left-leaning people have a childish grasp of risk and responsibility. If you want to risk your own life playing peacenik with thugs and bullies, be my guest; the rest of us prefer a more direct and certain solution to defend our own.



 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Timactual, we don’t confine our poor to certain neighborhoods in Georgia.
We don’t confine them, but there are certainly a number of areas where the poor are concentrated.
You can find trailers parked next door to $500,000 mansions all over the state.
Outside of the city primarily. Most of the trailers you speak of are not in places where people, who don’t know where they are, tend to walk around.
It has its drawbacks, but then we don’t have ghettos
Dude - you need to get out more. Take a wrong turn in any number of places downtown and tell me you’re not in a ghetto.

I have my CC license, but the funny part is I generally leave my pistol at home when I’m going to or through a ’bad area’. I figure in certain places, it is just as likely to cause more problems than solve them. But at home.... ain’t NOTHIN’ like a pump 12 gage for clearing the premises. With the little lady standing right behind me with a loaded 9MM to take care of anything I happen to miss with the double ought buck shot.


 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
"A principle as old as self-defense is non-escalation. Force may be met with equal force - no less but also no more"

Sounds like great material for a Monty Python routine.

*************************

"Timactual, we don’t confine our poor to certain neighborhoods in Georgia."

Then what neighborhoods are you talking about? I have trouble picturing a "hard" neighborhood with $500,000 homes. Unless you are talking about white collar crime, in which case a firearm is indeed an unwarranted escalation.

We don’t confine our poor to certain neighborhoods where I live, either. They are free to live in any neighborhood they wish and can afford. Just wait, though. As soon as you get more densely populated and urbanized your politicians will discover blight, urban renewal, and the wonders of eminent domain, and then they will be confined.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
This was an easy example- a fastball over the middle. No one wants to argue with using force to defend yourself from being threatened with a weapon (whether or not there is a defensible case).

But, as Rick says, " In GA they recently (July 1) changed the S.Y.G. statute to include merely the possibility of a threat of said force is enough to justify the use of deadly force to protect one from harm.

This law if as stated is insane. "The possibility of a threat of force" is an amazingly broad situation. If you’re allowed to use deadly force over the possibility of a threat, you’re allowed to shoot people who knock on your door with an angry-looking face, forget breaking in.

I read an NYTimes or WaPost article along these lines about a guy who was shot in the stomach for putting his foot in the path of a neighbor trying to close a door on him during an argument about stereo volume. The guy was never charged.

Seriously, wait till someone shoots your unarmed teenage child in anger at rude behavior and claims "the possibility of a threat of force". You’ll change your tune.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Another point about "equal force" - the victim shouldn’t be forced to determine the intent of a criminal before acting. As far as I’m concerned, if I find a stranger in my house in the middle of the night, he’s as good as dead.

This is a case in point. The legal penalty for trespassing is not death. If you gun someone down when their behavior upon confrontation is not threatening, you’re a sadist. G*d help the first time your son invites someone to sleep over without telling you.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Those who are trained and equipped and organized to use appropriate force should have more leeway to do so than some yahoo with a gun.
I agree Platypus. If Mr Hill had been better trained he would have been able to shoot all 4 assailants.

For Little Johnny’s mom. If you had beat his @$$ when you caught him shop lifting he might still be around today. He might even have a job.
 
Written By: Mac
URL: http://
The legal penalty for trespassing is not death. If you gun someone down when their behavior upon confrontation is not threatening, you’re a sadist.
Well, you are certainly worse off if you merely wound the target. If they are dead, it’s your story against no story.

The odds of an uninvited guest breaking into my home in the dark of night simply to bring me tea and cookies are pretty low. However, it’s good to know, glasnost, that your home is "free beer" for midnight raids....
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Glasnost, I usually find your opinions very worthwhile, but in this case you’re talking out of a dark hole, and I don’t mean the village well. Find a directory of nonprofit organizations in your area, and look up one that exists to provide support to survivors of homicide. Ask *them* if they support equal force laws or not - and whether, had they been present at the time of their loved ones’ deaths, if the existance of such a law would have made any bit of difference in how they responded.

This world can be truly brutal, and it makes no provision for innocence of the victim. I will accord no benefit-of-doubt to this world if it forces its way into my home. As good as dead. D@mn straight.
 
Written By: Gil
URL: http://
I read an NYTimes or WaPost article along these lines about a guy who was shot in the stomach for putting his foot in the path of a neighbor trying to close a door on him during an argument about stereo volume. The guy was never charged.
sounds like he had intentions of illegally entering his neighbors home.
 
Written By: Mac
URL: http://
However, it’s good to know, glasnost, that your home is "free beer" for midnight raids....
This is glasnost we’re talking about... wouldn’t it be "free vodka"???

I digress.

The legal penalty for trespassing is not death.
The penalty for ILLEGALLY entering my house is. Enter ILLEGALLY at your own peril.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
The legal penalty for trespassing is not death. If you gun someone down when their behavior upon confrontation is not threatening, you’re a sadist.
It doesn’t matter what the legal penalty for trespassing is. I’m well within my rights to kill an intruder. The penalty for rape is not death either, so would you punish a woman who killed her would-be rapist?
If you gun someone down when their behavior upon confrontation is not threatening, you’re a sadist.
First of all, I shouldn’t have to confront someone and determine their intent. Trespassing in my home is threatening. I can’t read minds, so I’m going to assume the worst, and I’m not going to give the guy an on-the-spot psych evaluation. It’s very simple: if you don’t want to risk death, then don’t commit crimes.
I read an NYTimes or WaPost article along these lines about a guy who was shot in the stomach for putting his foot in the path of a neighbor trying to close a door on him during an argument about stereo volume. The guy was never charged.
How is this not threatening? The guy was trespassing, and who knows what his intent was.
Seriously, wait till someone shoots your unarmed teenage child in anger at rude behavior and claims "the possibility of a threat of force".
Oh please, here we go with the scare stories that never materialize. This is the same hysterics that the Brady Bunch has employed for years, and it’s never come true. Spare me your bs hypotheticals.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
Platypus,

"A principle as old as self-defense is non-escalation. Force may be met with equal force - no less but also no more."

That is completely false for most of the US. Washington State is typical of most of the states; here’s an excerpt:
9A.16.050
Homicide - By other person - When justifiable.

Homicide is also justifiable when committed either:

(1) In the lawful defense of the slayer, or his or her husband, wife, parent, child, brother, or sister, or of any other person in his presence or company, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design on the part of the person slain to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury to the slayer or to any such person, and there is imminent danger of such design being accomplished; or

(2) In the actual resistance of an attempt to commit a felony upon the slayer, in his presence, or upon or in a dwelling, or other place of abode, in which he is.
From Washington State’s own web site.


And glasnost, this is not a recent innovation, the law here has been this way for quite some time.
 
Written By: Kirk Parker
URL: http://
Dale,

While I am in wholehearted agreement with your general points about self-defense and celebrate with you the passage of various stand-your-ground statutes, defending the actions of Gary Hill undermines our mutual advocacy of the right of self-defense.

By any standard, what Gary Hill did was not self-defense. It was murder. We may not be sad to see John Knott meet his end; we may not have any sympathy for someone who takes part in a home invasion and an assault. But Gary Hill’s legal and moral right to use lethal force in his defense ended the moment that John Knott and his worthless confederates left and thereby stopped presenting Gary Hill with an imminent danger to his life, health, or property.

If we are to support the legal and moral right to self-defense, we should be exceedingly clear on what that right is. Gary Hill went beyond that right. We may sympathize with him, but we should neither condone nor excuse his actions.

Otherwise, we make the same mistake that the licensetomurder.com site does. The case of Gary Hill and John Knott has nothing to do with the self-defense statutes being passed. Even if you hold out sympathy for John Knott, passing a stand-your-ground law does not make such incidents legal, and sympathy for John Knott should be no reason for opposing self-defense laws.
 
Written By: eddie
URL: http://

 
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