Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Moron Mail

If you are a proponent of self defense like my Northern alliance colleague Mitch, a law-talkin' guy like myself, or a person who can read like my 6-year old, you will find plenty to hate in this letter:

Your March 20 editorial missed a very important provision in the proposed "Shoot First" bill, perhaps because it is obscured by legalese.

As you are about to find out, to today's moron "legalese" = "words".

The bill redefines the "domicile" to include the fenced yard (curtilage) and adds the legal presumption that anyone who enters the "domicile" by "force" -- which in legalese includes the amount of force needed to open a gate -- intends to kill you.

What? You shouldn't be allowed to defend yourself in your own yard? (And also, the term curtilage includes out buildings like unattached garages, sheds and barns. So if a guy breaks into your garage while you are changing the oil in your car, Moron would insist you let him kill you. Nice.)

This means the bill would legally justify the killing of anyone who opens the gate and walks into the yard. That means it would be legally justifiable to kill the teen who comes over to toilet paper the trees, the drunk or disoriented person who comes to the wrong door, and anyone else who knocks on the door -- including a political candidate.

Ladies and gentlemen...LET' GO TO THE BILL!

Subd. 2. Circumstances when authorized. The use of deadly force by an individual in self defense is authorized by this section when
the act is undertaken: (1) to resist or prevent an offense
or attempted offense by an assailant, which the individual
reasonably believes constitutes an imminent threat that exposes the individual or another person to substantial or great bodily harm or
death; or (2) to resist or prevent the commission, in the
individual's dwelling or occupied vehicle, of an offense
or attempted offense that the individual reasonably believes is a felony.

OK, so here we see that the old rule remains intact - the person defending herself must still be in immediate apprehension of imminent, severe bodily harm. Meaning, as Moron asserts, you can't legally shoot someone merely for entering your yard. There has to be a perceived threat. Now let's look at Moron's assertion about "force" being "merely opening a gate":

Subd. 4. Presumptions. (a) A person who enters or attempts to enter by force or
by stealth the dwelling or occupied vehicle of another
person is presumed to do so with the intent to commit an
unlawful act involving a life-threatening level of force.

See, the great thing about laws is that they give you elements. To the untrained whackjob community activist, the above-quoted graf is merely a bunch of words on a page. But to the trained eye linked to a functioning brain (with a little legal expertise) there is so much more. Or, rather less than Moron asserts. To wit: when construing statutes, if a word is undefined in the statute, that word is given its ordinary, everyday meaning. So let's go to the dictionary:

force: 3. violence, compulsion, or constraint exerted upon or against a person or thing

So merely opening a gate does not constitute force. Nor does "violently" dislodging a stuck but unlocked gate in an otherwise innocent situation (a neighbor coming over to return a borrowed tool, for example) as that interpretation would obviously do violence to the subject matter of the law: citizen self-defense against violent attack on the person.

And really, the import of this law is not to encourage people to shoot intruders as your bed-wetting perpetually paranoid activist types appear to believe, but to protect from liability or prosecution those who do reasonably defend themselves (see subd. 2 quoted supra).

To call this bill "self-defense" is inaccurate.

So in conclusion (rereading to make sure this Moron Mail is in proper IRAC form), blow it out your ass, you overwrought, panic-stricken, nanny state pissant alarmist.



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