February 19, 2008

• A Sure-Fire Argument on the Second Amendment

Posted in From The Blog-O-Sphere, Politically Speaking at 1:10 pm by Rid

by Rick Lynch<!– put date below, before tag –>, February 18, 2007 With the Supreme Court’s decision to examine the constitutionality of D.C.’s gun ban, the nation once again turns to an intense examination of the wording of the Second Amendment. One way to understand an amendment whose words have confused generations is to study its somewhat confusing text. But another way is to examine at whose request the amendment was written.

For example, if 200 years from now constitutional scholars are trying to determine whether the Smith Tax Act of 2008 increased or decreased the taxes Social Security recipients paid on their retirement income, knowing that the act came into being as the result of pressure from AARP would pretty much end that debate. This, then, is a vital question when seeking to understand the Second Amendment. For if you know the context in which the Amendment was written, if you know for whom it was written, if you know who was clamoring for it and what were their concerns, then that can help settle any argument of individual rights versus collective rights. The Bill of Rights was written by Congressman James Madison to fulfill a promise made to the Anti-Federalists after pressure from that group had cost him a Senate seat — pressure brought to bear because of his opposition to amending the Constitution with a bill of rights. The Bill of Rights, then, as any history book will confirm, came into being to satisfy the single most suspicious, vociferous, and relentless foes of the new federal government. That is the all-important context in which the Bill of Rights was created. The Anti-Federalists, men filled to varying degrees with fear, mistrust, and loathing of the new federal government, insisted on a bill of rights as additional shackles imposed on that new government. Knowing that alone, knowing that the famous Bill came into existence only to please those most apprehensive of the new government, definitively ends any confusion or debate surrounding the meaning of the Second Amendment. There is simply no way on Earth the Anti-Federalists would have surrendered to the new and mistrusted government the right to own any gun they wanted at any time they wanted in any number they wanted. To believe differently, to believe that the Second Amendment actually gives the federal government the authority to regulate firearms, one must believe the absolutely unbelievable. One must believe that the Anti-Federalists, fearing and loathing federal power, compelled Madison to compose this laundry list of rights, this list of things over which the government was to have no authority and, very near the very top of the list, these people in fear of the federal government desired a clause that reads, “Despite the fact that Article I, Section 8 does not empower you federal government people to infringe our firearms rights, we hereby correct that mistake and surrender to you a right which we previously held, but wish now to give away.” We must further believe that James Madison was such a monumentally incompetent and abysmal writer that, when trying to give the federal government this new authority to regulate the private ownership of firearms, the last fourteen words of the Amendment read, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” We must also believe that revolutionary American history conceals some hitherto unknown and utterly undocumented groundswell of public desire for gun control. Picture in your mind for a moment the rough-and-tumble individualist who gave birth to this nation, a man who had tamed a wilderness, fought Indian wars on and off for 180 years, and successfully faced down the world’s mightiest empire. Hold a picture of that man in your head for a moment and then try to imagine his being told that this new federal government would have the power to regulate his ownership of firearms in any manner it saw fit, including imprisoning him for possession of any firearm for any reason at any time. No honest or serious person could ever claim to believe that any part of the American electorate in the 1700s desired federal gun control, let alone the Anti-Federalists who forced the creation of the Bill of Rights. Rick Lynch is an author living in Virginia. He is finishing a book on constitutional issues entitled They Are Vicious. Send him email.

January 21, 2008

• Solicitor General’s Bizarre Amicus Brief

Posted in Case Reports, From The Blog-O-Sphere at 2:40 pm by Rid

The Second Amendment a second class right?

By Charles Bloomer
web posted January 21, 2008

The Solicitor General has issued a truly bizarre amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the case of Heller vs. District of Columbia, the case that is challenging the District’s ban on handguns.

The Solicitor General’s Office represents the administration in cases before the Supreme Court and, as in this case, presents the administration’s position.  Needless to say, the Solicitor General’s Office has considerable influence before the court.

The brief presented by the Solicitor General makes some valid points upon which Second Amendment supporters can agree.  The brief states the administration’s opinion that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, and that laws restricting that right should be subject to “strict scrutiny” – meaning that legislators must weigh the proposed benefit of the law carefully before infringing on a Constitutionally guaranteed right.  Additionally, the brief expresses the opinion that the District of Columbia’s strict gun ban should be overturned.  So far, so good.

The Solicitor General’s brief also takes a bizarre turn.  While the Solicitor General calls for “strict scrutiny” for gun laws in general, he calls on the Supreme Court to apply only “intermediate scrutiny” as it determines Heller vs. DC.  The Solicitor General also argues that the Second Amendment is not a “fundamental” right.

So what the Solicitor General seems to be saying is that, well, sure, the Second Amendment calls for individual rights, and those rights should be afforded “strict scrutiny” most of the time, but the administration does not believe that gun rights are “fundamental” rights, and so, therefore, Your Honor, you don’t need to be too strict in your decision-making process in this case.  In fact, we don’t think you should really decide this case, but you should send it back down to the Circuit Court for more study, and while they are at it, tell them they only need to use “intermediate scrutiny”.

In essence, the Solicitor General is saying that our Second Amendment rights are second-class rights that don’t rise to the level of “fundamental” rights as do really important rights such as the First Amendment, or the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.  Truly bizarre.

One needn’t be a lawyer to recognize the esoteric nonsense in the Solicitor General’s argument.  Let me provide some esoteric sense.

First, the argument that the Second Amendment is not a “fundamental” right is blatantly false.  As I have written before, our gun rights are inherent in our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness– rights endowed by our Creator.  Gun ownership gives us the tools for self-defense so that we can exercise those rights.  The concept of inalienable rights is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, a foundational document.  The Declaration gives us the big picture, philosophical ideas that serve as the foundation of our nation.  The Bill of Rights is a more specific declaration of those rights – rights to be guaranteed, not granted, by the government.  The Bill of Rights is a restriction on government, not citizens.  The tone of that restriction is embodied in the First Amendment – “Congress shall pass no law….” – and repeated in the Second Amendment – “shall not be infringed”.

Further, the idea that the Second Amendment rights are not “fundamental” is not consistent with earlier Supreme Court rulings.  For instance, in U.S. vs. Cruikshank (1876) the Court ruled “the right [to keep and bear arms] was not created by the [second] amendment, neither was its continuance guaranteed, except as against congressional interference.”  This means that the right to keep and bear arms was not created by the Second Amendment, the right pre-existed the Second Amendment, and that right would continue to exist even without the Second Amendment.  The right to keep and bear arms is, indeed, a fundamental right.

The argument the Solicitor General makes that Heller vs. DC should only be afforded “intermediate scrutiny” is pure governmental arrogance.  Anytime any law is considered that potentially restricts any of our Constitutionally guaranteed rights, whether in the legislative process or in judicial review, the principle of “strict scrutiny” should apply.  Legislators need to be absolutely sure that whatever benefit they propose is worth the cost of restricting our inalienable rights.  The same cost-benefit analysis must be applied when judges review contested laws.

The Solicitor General appears to be playing a bit of CYA here.  The Solicitor General is a government functionary whose job is to protect the government, especially in a case where a perceived erosion of government power and authority may occur.  The government, and this is the case no matter which party is in charge, wants to maintain its grip on authority.  (I realize this sounds cynical, but how many cases can you think of where any government voluntarily gave up power?  I can only think of two cases – the collapse of East Germany, and the voluntary split of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.)  The current government, represented by the Solicitor General, is afraid the Supreme Court’s decision, if based on strict scrutiny, will nullify a great majority of the current gun laws in affect – federal and state, not just in Washington, D.C. – and result in a tremendous loss of government power.

The Bush administration needs to withdraw the Solicitor General’s amicus brief for further review, research, and study.  The Solicitor General’s advisors and staff need to hit the books and review a significant concept that they have previously missed – The Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights, are specific limits on government, limits adopted by the consent of the governed.

And in the process of re-educating themselves, they need to look up the definition of “shall not be infringed.” ESR

Charles Bloomer is a Contributing Editor for Enter Stage Right.  His website is Liberty Call U.S. © 2008 by Charles Bloomer

• Move to Texas!

Posted in From The Blog-O-Sphere at 2:34 pm by Rid

For gun owners, added protection

Some worry new castle law will make people quicker on trigger

12:00 AM CST on Sunday, January 20, 2008

By MICHAEL E. YOUNG / The Dallas Morning News

The shootings came fast, a bang-bang-bang cluster of cases starting in early autumn that quickly had police, prosecutors and the media wondering about the sudden impact of Texas’ new castle law.

Salvador, Dennis Baker’s Mexican red-headed parrot, tipped him off to a burglar at his Dallas home in October.

A business owner who lives at his West Dallas welding shop killed two men in three weeks as they tried to break in.

A 79-year-old homeowner in east Oak Cliff, awakened by his dog, struggled with an intruder before grabbing a shotgun and wounding the man.

A retired Army warrant officer managed to kill a gun-wielding robber at a Far East Dallas dry cleaners after his wife surprised the intruder and handed her husband their own 9 mm handgun.

Texas has long had a reputation as a shoot-first-ask-questions-later place, dating back to its frontier days.

But the spate of shootings begs the question: Did the castle law – which gives people the right to use whatever means necessary to protect themselves and their property without fear of civil liability – unleash a flurry of gunfire?

Perhaps just as important, has the law changed people’s perceptions about fighting back? Are they more likely to shoot first even when safe retreat may be an option?

“I think the castle law has more citizens thinking about fighting back, knowing they’re protected from being sued later,” said Dallas homeowner Dennis Baker.

He shot and killed a burglar in October after seeing the man enter the garage where he stored thousands of dollars worth of tools.

But Dr. Gary Kleck, a professor of criminology at Florida State University, doesn’t think the castle law governs someone’s thinking when they hear a window softly opening late at night, or the crash of a door coming down in a home invasion.

“In situations in which people would be making a decision to use defensive violence, it’s very unlikely they’d be thinking about laws and penalties,” he said. “That would be the furthest thing from their mind.”

Certainly the castle law has become a high-profile addition to the Texas statutes since it took effect Sept. 1, but police and the district attorneys association argue that it brought little substantial change.

While it appeared to apply to each of these cases, so did a batch of other laws, along with the tradition of Texas juries giving people every benefit of the doubt when protecting themselves, their families and their property.

None of these property owners was charged. Police referred a few cases to the Dallas County grand jury, which declined to indict. In others, police determined that the shootings were justified.

Police’s take

And they see the rash of shootings as part of a normal cycle, not a trend.

Dallas police homicide investigators said they’ve yet to encounter a self-defense situation since the castle law took effect that would have been barred under previous laws.

“There may come a time when that’s not the case,” said Lt. Craig Miller. “But I would have to look at each of those under its own merits.”

Shannon Edmonds, director of governmental relations for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said he didn’t know of a single Texas case in which the castle law would have made a difference.

“The reality is Texas grand juries routinely no-billed deadly force cases under the old law, which was very lenient,” he said. “Many of the cases that you read about center on defense of property laws, which were always very, very lenient in the use of deadly force.

“That’s just how Texas is.”

Dr. Kleck said some states, including Texas, have legal systems with broad definitions of self-defense.

“There was a study of homicides in Houston sometime back,” he said, “and a huge percentage of those cases were defined as justifiable.

“But in the Northeast, another study showed that almost none of the cases there were justifiable under the law.”

Neighbor fights back

One Texas case in particular has attracted national attention, in part because of the circumstances: It was a neighbor, not the homeowner, confronting and killing a pair of burglars Nov. 14.

And the neighbor mentioned in a 911 call that a new law gave him the right to protect himself if he confronted the burglars.

The 61-year-old Pasadena man, Joe Horn, told the police operator: “The laws have been changed in this country since September the first, and you know it.”

“You’re going to get yourself shot,” the operator warned.

“You want to make a bet?” Mr. Horn said. “I’ll kill them. They’re getting away!”

“That’s OK. Property’s not worth killing someone over, OK?” the operator said. “Don’t go out of the house. Don’t be shooting nobody.”

The burglars emerged from the house, carrying “a bag of loot,” Mr. Horn said.

“Which way are they going?” the operator asked.

“I can’t … I’m going outside, then I’ll find out,” Mr. Horn said.

“No, I don’t want you going outside,” the operator said.

“Well, here it goes, buddy,” Mr. Horn replied.

Seconds later, Mr. Horn can be heard saying, “Move, you’re dead,” followed by two shots and then a third.

“I had no choice,” Mr. Horn said in a second 911 call. “They came in the front yard with me, man.”

Was the castle law designed to cover those circumstances?

No, said the law’s author, state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio.

“You’re supposed to be able to defend your own home, your own family, in your house, your place of business or your motor vehicle,” he said – but not your neighbor’s.

But Mr. Edmonds said other property laws could provide a defense for Mr. Horn, whose case is under investigation.

“The laws governing the use of force to defend property instead of a person are very broad and very favorable to someone who wants to use that force,” Mr. Edmonds said.

Chapter 9 of the Texas Penal Code describes deadly force as justified to prevent arson, robbery, theft or criminal mischief at night, or to prevent a suspect from fleeing if the property owner “reasonably believes the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.”

“You hear someone stealing something off your front porch. You come out there with a gun, and they’re running off. It’s nighttime. The law in Texas allows you to shoot them,” said former Dallas County prosecutor Toby Shook.

Juries’ leniency

Texas grand juries have traditionally given people carte blanche to take whatever steps they need to keep their property, Mr. Edmonds said. “In the Pasadena case, as egregious as the facts may be,” he said, “the law may still excuse that person’s conduct.”

He pointed to a case near Waco in the 1990s when the owner of a car saw a group of teenagers stealing his hubcaps late one night.

“He shot at them from his apartment and killed one of them” Mr. Edmonds said. “The grand jury no-billed it.”

Jim Cornehls, an attorney and professor of urban and public affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington, said he defended a man a few years ago in similar circumstances.

The man lived in an apartment complex where kids left their bikes in a central courtyard.

“There had been a rash of bike thefts,” Dr. Cornehls said, “and when this man got home from work late one night, he saw a guy out there purloining a bike.

“He whipped out his .22 and shot him. He didn’t kill him, but he wounded him, and the prosecutors let that one slide. In his case, it wasn’t even his property. It was a random bike.”

Law necessary?

But if Texas law already allowed people to defend themselves, their families and their properties against a whole array of crimes, did the state really need the castle law?

Absolutely, Mr. Wentworth said.

“I read in the newspaper a couple of years ago that Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, was signing the castle doctrine there to allow residents to defend themselves in their own homes,” the senator said. “And I thought, ‘Isn’t that silly? We in Texas have always had that right.’

“But when I checked, I discovered that through legislative and judicial action in the 1970s, we’d changed the law. Before that, there was no fear of indictment or civil suits if you defended yourself in your home. But we lost that in 1974.”

Rather than using whatever means necessary to protect yourself and your family, he said, Texans “didn’t have a right to stand and defend themselves, but an obligation to retreat.”

And if that was impossible, he said, the resident had the obligation to ascertain whether the intruder was armed – and with what – and respond only with the appropriate level of force to match the threat.

“I believe you have the right to defend yourself with any means necessary without fear of being indicted or sued by the intruder or his or her survivors,” Mr. Wentworth said.

Tried every measure

Mr. Baker believes that, too.

He had lived in his modest neighborhood just north of Dallas Love Field for 15 years without a problem when burglars began stealing his equipment – five times in two months.

He stored his tools in his garage, protected behind a locked six-foot gate and next to a back yard bathed by a light so bright that a friend said it looked like the Texas Rangers’ ballpark.

It wasn’t enough to deter the thieves.

On an early October morning, Mr. Baker heard a noise – his Mexican red-headed parrot, Salvador, had squawked an emphatic “Hello,” something he does whenever someone passes by. Mr. Baker flipped on a closed-circuit monitor and saw a man walk into his garage.

Mr. Baker said he had seen the man before, on tapes of the earlier burglaries.

“If he needed a fast fix, he’d go into my garage and grab something and take it to his drug connection,” Mr. Baker said earlier this month.

That night, he decided to confront the intruder, identified as John Woodson, 46, of Dallas, who had a criminal record for various offenses, including burglary.

“I went out the front door and came through the gate, and when he started walking from the back of the garage toward me, that’s when I shot him,” Mr. Baker said.

When police arrived, a homicide detective watched the video and told Mr. Baker, “This is by the book.”

The case received international attention, largely because of Salvador, the parrot. But Dallas grand jurors treated it as Texas juries usually do: They declined to indict.

That’s one of the reasons county prosecutors argued against the castle law in committee hearings before it was approved. It really wasn’t necessary, they said, because more than a half-dozen self-defense provisions already existed in Texas law. And Texas juries almost always sided with the person protecting his own.

“In 25 years, I’ve never known a Harris County court to prosecute a homeowner or businessman for killing a burglar or robber,” Harris County Assistant District Attorney Bill Delmore told legislators. “We don’t do that.”

Jana McCown, an assistant district attorney for Williamson County, echoed that in her remarks.

“I can assure you that we don’t try to arrest homeowners or crime victims for protecting themselves against crime,” she said.

But the Legislature overwhelmingly supported Mr. Wentworth’s bill, and it was quickly signed into law.

In the courtroom

Now judges and prosecutors need to figure out how to deal with it in the courtroom.

“Prosecutors who were concerned about the law were concerned about how it will operate in court, not in the street,” said Mr. Edmonds of the district and county attorneys association.

The castle law says the use of force or deadly force is presumed to be reasonable if someone unlawfully and with force enters an occupied home, business or car. Further, if the force used against the intruder was reasonable according to the statute, the occupant is immune from civil liability for injuries or death.

For Mr. Baker and many in Texas, the right to defend family, home and property only makes sense.

But others, including Marsha McCartney of Dallas, a member of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, say the law becomes a death sentence for criminals who would never face that in court.

In practical terms, Ms. McCartney said, there doesn’t even need to be an explicit threat of attack to justify a shooting over property. In several local cases, she said, property owners didn’t appear to be in any danger, yet shot and killed unarmed intruders.

“I find that shocking – killing people over things,” she said. “The question you have to ask is: Does the punishment fit the crime?

“People don’t get the death penalty for breaking and entering. Defending your family, defending yourself against someone who is armed is one thing. But now it’s like we don’t need to call the police anymore.”

Steven Jansen of the American Prosecutors Research Institute in Alexandria, Va., said the so-called “no-retreat” castle laws largely take away discretion from local district attorneys, even in cases with questionable circumstances.

“The law always was that you had a right to defend your home and your person, and the prosecutor had discretion at that point to look at the facts and decide what a prudent person would do,” said Mr. Jansen, a former prosecutor in Detroit.

“But the castle doctrine laws extend that right to self-defense to places outside the home – almost anywhere a person has a legal right to be – and providing for criminal and civil immunity for the person using the lethal force.

“That isn’t even extended to police officers who use their guns in the line of duty.”

Emotional backlash

Still, there can be a price to pay for taking the life of another.

Dr. Heidi Vermette, medical director for mental health at the Veterans Administration in Dallas and an assistant professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center, said a person who shoots another human could suffer from acute stress disorder, or even post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Acute stress disorder lasts for a few days to four weeks or so,” she said, “and people with it tell you they feel numb as they recall the event. They say things like, ‘I was in a daze,’ or ‘It was as if time was standing still.’

“And afterward they might not be able to remember the event. Or they re-experience the event. Nightmares are common and feeling distressed.”

Mr. Baker said a friend, a child psychologist, called him after the shooting at his house.

“She talked with me for hours, and she said, ‘When this is over, when the attention is gone, this will work on you mentally,’ ” he said.

“But then another friend of mine told me that every occupation has an occupational hazard. A fireman can die in a fire. A coal miner can die in a mining accident. And a burglar can die in someone’s garage in the dark of night.

“I guess I was his occupational hazard.”

But a few minutes later, he sat quietly in an office chair, looking down.

“It’s hard to look at some things because he was a human being,” Mr. Baker said. “But he had a drug problem.

“The people closest to him should have gotten him some help.”

January 18, 2008

• Self Defense Shooting and the Aftermath

Posted in From The Blog-O-Sphere, Legal at 4:44 am by Rid

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Hat Tip: Law Dog

Meditations on aftermat

If you spend any time at all on the various gun forums of the World Wide Web sooner or later the conversation will come around to “What to do after a shoot”.

The advice given by anonymous figures riding the electron waves of the Internet can be … amusing. At best. At worst, some of the advice given will guarantee that the shooter will be hip-deep in legal trouble for the next lifetime.

I will tell you right up front that any comments made by your Humble Scribe are worth exactly what you paid for them.

First off — and I cannot stress this enough — anyone who carries, or owns, a gun or a knife needs to know a lawyer.

First thing tomorrow — or as early as possible — find yourself a lawyer who is familiar with self-defense cases and the weapons laws of your state.

Now, folks. Not at 0-dark-thirty with a critter bleeding out on your carpet and red-and-blue lightbars screaming down the road.

Ask the regulars at your gun range/club who they’d recommend. Use your NRA, GOA, JPFO, KABA, LEAA, or SAF membership services and find out if they can point you at an attorney in your area.

Once you have the name of an attorney, go talk to him (or her). It usually doesn’t cost much — or anything — to introduce yourself, sit in his office and talk about What May Come.

If you like him (or her), get a couple of his cards and put one in your wallet and another under the bedroom phone where you can find them after the bodies quit bouncing.

If you should find it necessary to help a critter into his next incarnation, hopefully you or a family member will have called 911 prior to the Grand Finale — so to speak — and the whole fandango will be recorded. However, if (for whatever reason) it was not possible to call 911 prior to the critter starting his trip to room temperature — please call 911 as soon as possible.

You will note that I don’t have any advice to give as to what you should tell 911 when you call them. Seems like everyone on the Internet has (legal) advice as to what you should tell the 911 operator, how you should say it, how many words to use and how many seconds to spend saying it.

In my experience, when your ears are ringing, the smell of powder and blood and various human secretions are clogging your nose, adrenaline is rampaging up-and-down your spine and a man — critter or not — that you just killed spent his last moments in this life in your presence begging God for another chance, or calling for his mother, or crying in denial and disbelief as he died …

… you are not going to be thinking of what your anonymous Internet buddy told you to say. You’re not even going to remember grabbing the phone, and if you are conscious of your conversation with the 911 people you have my admiration.

So. You have called 911. The very next thing you should do is pull out that lawyer’s card and call him (or her).

I don’t care how justifiable the killing was. I don’t care if you’re in Deepinahearta, Texas and the deceased is laying in the middle of your living room floor with an axe in one hand and a detailed murder list in the other.

Call your lawyer.

Like it or not, guns — and self-defense itself — are political. And District Attorneys are political animals. Trust me, you don’t want to be caught without a lawyer if Mike Nifong’s evil twin Skippy decides to make his political bones with your case.

You have called 911 and you have called your lawyer. Now — probably sooner rather than later — the scene is going to be crawling with cops.

Whatever you do, please, please, please do not greet the police while holding a pistol in your hand. Or a knife, bludgeon, broken bottle, chainsaw or whatever else you used to shove your critter in front of his Eternal Maker.

You, standing over a dead man, with a weapon in your paw when the cops show up is a recipe for an unpleasantness. Trust me on this one.

Again, there are thousands of folks on the Internet, each one with advice on what to do with your pistol, knife, or whathaveyou.

And — again — if you have the presence of mind to do something complicated with your gun, I salute you. But I doubt it.

Just remember not to have the weapon in your hand, on your body or with-in arms reach when you get face-to-face with the police. The officers are going to take custody of whatever you used to chlorinate the gene pool, and when they do — tell them where it is, but, please God, don’t go grab it yourself to give to them.

Last, but certainly not least, if there is any subject in which every-single-body on the Internet has advice for, it’s what to tell the cops about your shooting.

Folks, what you should or should not tell the cops is based completely upon the unique circumstances of your personal incident.

I can tell you that it’s never a Bad Thing to not make a statement to the police before your lawyer is present, but let’s talk Real Life here:

You have just ended the life of some mother’s child. You may have stared into the eyes of this person as the life drained out of them. You may have listened to the death rattle as they took their last breath. You may have heard this person’s last words, or you may have simply watched them kick until they were still.

Whichever, you have just breached the most sacred of Man’s taboos. You have done something that cannot be taken back, and you have done the single most powerful, awful thing one human being may do to another.

In addition, you’re going to be so jazzed on adrenaline that your teeth will hurt. Endorphins will mask any pain — and failing to find pain, they will be tweaking your inhibitions in 23 different directions. Your mind will have played tricks on you — sounds will have gone squirrelly; time will have done wierd things.

And worst of all, you probably won’t remember entire sequences of what just happened. Self-doubt is going to jump on your back like an 800-pound gorilla with cold feet and clammy hands.

And you will want someone — anyone — to understand that you were forced to do this terrible act. You will want someone — anyone — to know, to understand, that you had no choice in breaking the ancient taboo against killing.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the average self-defense shooting, it’s not getting the shooter to talk to us that’s hard — it’s getting him to shut up that’s difficult.

I can tell you to assert your right to have an attorney present during any interview with the police, but in the last 13 years of police work, I’ve never seen a justified Average Joe self-defense shooter who was capable of doing so.

Again, you may be different. I salute you if you are, but — again — I wouldn’t bet anything important that you won’t be like everyone else I’ve seen in that position.

So — my advice to you is to sit down with your attorney before the Fit Hits The Shan and discuss what your attorney wants you to do in that situation. Find out what your attorney wants you to tell the police, and try to stick with that.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself unable to stop talking, though. Prepare for it, and you will probably be able to limit any damage done.

LawDog

January 17, 2008

• Cassandra, Politeia, Realativism and The 2nd Amend

Posted in From The Blog-O-Sphere at 8:17 pm by Rid

The folks from AllAmericanBlogger just sent me a masterful expose written by Cassandre from her blog, Politea. Many of my core beliefs were formed from my contacts and reading of Melanie Phillips, her marvelous blog and her book, “Londonistan.
Cassandre, like Melanie, delves into the harsh realities of contemporary thought and in particularly the social disease of “relativism.” Relativism has everything to do with the American Constitution and the Second Amendment. The constant attacks on the Second emanate not from different interpretations of its meaning, but a pronounced bifurcation of our society and the belief that our Constitution is only “relative” with context to specific periods of time. We have “evolved” to the point we no longer need to concern ourselves with self-preservation and self-defense. “Concealed”

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

Cassandra

The author Douglas Murray wrote the book on neoconservatism. In his 2006 illumination “NeoConservatism: Why We Need It” he writes that the intellectual father of this philosophy, Leo Strauss posited in his work “On Tyranny” – a commentary on Xenophon’s Hiero (or Tyrannicus) – that he (Strauss) …

“maintains that in his own time, ‘when we were brought face to face with tyranny – with a kind of tyranny that surpassed the boldest imagination of the most powerful thinkers of the past – our political science failed to recognize it’, (…) one of the clearest allusions (…) to the early lessons observed by the philosopher in Weimar Germany.”

solvitPolitical scientists may not have been particularly observant, neither is humanity as a whole. After having past a century of great wars and tribulations resulting in the deaths of over 100 million lives sacrificed upon the altars of relativist ideologies, they still appear not to have learnt the lesson that Murray puts forward: that relativism is democracy’s disintegrating component..

But then, the result of relativism is invariably a (deliberate) confusion of ideas and definitions, imprecision and fallacies against reason; revisionism and the erasure from the collective memory of pre World War II history, coupled with the debilitating influence emanating from generations of people rendered permanent wards-of-state: they would not recognize an ukase if they were to fall over one.

As a consequence we fail to see the ominous signs that are taking place before our very eyes: people being made subservient to ideas, legislation casting surrogate morality into law at the expense of freedom and true equality, resulting in the criminalization of the most unlikely categories of persons: grannies taking an office at bare gay posteriors, clergy refusing to perform same sex marriages with an appeal on the freedom of conscience, which is increasingly seen as second class liberty, the list goes on.

Groups of people are emerging whose ends are so vile they must be stopped whatever the means, justifying even violence against them. To be specific, against rightists of various hue: neocons, Classical Libertarians, neo Nazis, nationalists (often no more than good patriots), Stop Islamization activists, what have you, they are equivalenced to the same subhuman level. Where did we hear that again?

Good intent producing bad results, the absurdity and injustice of it all, nothing sets off the alarms bells! This is happening while bullying and intimidation, repeated threats and (minor) acts of terrorism against private citizens, officials and scholars go with impunity. The police seem to be unwilling or unable to guarantee safety. The result is toleration of the intolerant: a message that in Strauss’ book equals nihilism. Indeed cynicism and nihilism are enshrined today. The mad man never recognizes his own folly.

The political Left have reverted to the radical mode, only selectively defending freedoms and rights when at the expense of the ‘Power Structure’: the classical Marxist dialectic expressed in repressive tolerance. Just in the nick of time they’ve restored contact with their totalitarian memes, triggering the realisation of the roots they share with a theist branch of relativist thinking, Islam; timely bringing to semi subconsciousness the recollection that the unremittant promotion of permissiveness and self-indulgence was just part of the same strategy to undermine Western civilization’s hegemony.

Through the remarkable rationale that is the Left’s pecking order of victimhood, they have managed to throw overboard without hesitation or any cognitive dissonance the former position of serving the minority interests of women, blacks and gays. That is because the victimhood detection apparatus is minutely fine-tuned to recognize the superior social mileage that can be sqeezed out of the new gays: Muslims. Every prior held conviction and moral highground has by now been jilted in favour of furthering the causes of the intolerant.

That it is proving increasingly difficult to distinguish the well-willing innocents from the radical bullies is through another pernicious peculiarity that calls relativism home. On the basis that it isn’t fair to lump the innocents with the radicals, the moral choice between the two has been abdicated: the terrorists have now become lumped with the innocent. As a consequence they don’t get the support they need to distance themselves from Islamist influence: not a gratuit process by any means, but one wrought with personal danger and hard choices. They are left behind, caught in the multicultural ghetto. Perhaps even more importantly, any chance there is of reforming Islam from within may hence been forfeited.

The refusal to make the moral choice for the good has the effect of getting the radicals a free pass: the Left’s abdication of passing judgment even extents to blatant evil. In fact, all things being equivalent evil isn’t even recognized when at stares them in the face, let alone that it is condemned for what it is! And so we are left defenseless in the face of real danger. At this point the hammer on moral bankruptcy finally falls.

Westerners who take an opposing stance, taking up their duty to defend the values of liberal democracy against encroaching Sharia type laws and Muslim privileges, are harassed by the radical elements as well as criminalised by their own political representatives. In Europe the pernicious peculiarity has been cast into law, thus insulating terrorists and radicals even from verbal critique. Like innocent Muslims lumped with the radical camp, the defenders of Western values are cast into the Right-wing asylum for the ultimately vile.

The current tendency is blaming the victim. The reasoning goes along lines like “as it is well known that Muslims are a temperamental lot, why speak your mind and offend them?” The next position will be that freedom of expression must be punitively curtailed to prevent provocation! From the looks of it, far from conducting a war on terrorists, Europe has unleashed a wave of repression on the critics of the Third Jihad!

The theme of this assignment is, why should we care about politics and involve ourselves in the political process. I would say that the preservation of the state of liberty is about as good as it gets. We must realise that freedom isn’t free, that ideas have consequences (especially bad ones), and that liberty requires a permanent state of vigilance against forced and unforced error.

America waits a difficult task. On her shoulders rests the responsibility to choose a new leader of the free world. His is not an ordinary job. It takes a person of outstanding character to perform this task with dignity, wisdom and courage. The world is facing some tough choices. He may be facing crises of importance and magnitude not seen since 1962. Please choose wisely.

• • •Cassandra is a Dutch national, currently blogging from Greece. Her co-author at Politeia, Jack is of Italian descent and is based in Brussels. They aspire to provide an open forum to all who want to contribute to democratic societies within safe national borders … a fresh political alignment based on freedom and equality, and a re-statement of the values of the rule of law: the continued vigilant preservation of Western values. Politeia’s Mission Statement.

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