Monday, March 26, 2012

Some Considerations For Personal Security

The Second Amendment still, to this day, brings debate not only over the rights guaranteed but the intentions of the Amendment. The issues are further argued over supporting state laws such as the Castle Doctrine, Stand Your Ground, and Shall-Issue Concealed Carry Permits. Gun Control Advocates will pose the question "Why do you need a gun, since the police will protect you?". Let's examine the right to defend your life, family, and property.

The shooting of Treyvon Martin by Jorge Zimmerman has brought national attention to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. The law was written to bolster people to protect themselves without having first to run until exhausted or trapped in an area where collateral effects are an issue. It is designed, primarily, to enforce an individual right to protect yourself against severe bodily harm against criminals and bullies. The law protects a potential victim from repercussions in using any weapon to normalize the impacts of facing an overwhelming force. For example, if a 19 year old 105 pound college student faces a 210 pound man intent on raping her, she has the right to NOT have to run into a theater yelling "fire". She can pick up a lead pipe and beat her attacker unconscious to protect herself. She can use Mace to protect herself. She can use deadly force to protect herself from that overwhelming force intent on inflicting harm.

Opponents of the law and the Second Amendment use the Martin-Zimmerman case to oppose a good law. The facts indicate the law doesn't apply to Zimmerman's defense. However, that is for the courts to decide, if enough evidence from the investigation warrants this going to court. Zimmerman got out of his SUV and followed Martin. I was 17 once. If, when I was 17, some strange dude was staring at me from his car on a rainy night, I might be a little worried. I probably would have picked up my step a little. I was not very skilled at counter-surveillance techniques back then. So my instinct would have been to take a quick detour through a neighbor's yard (providing we got along with that neighbor) and into my parents' house. It's basic instinct, fight or flight. A bobcat will bolt and run for its den, until you corner it. If you corner it, expect to be scratched up. That bobcat is going to fight for its life. From the very limited evidence of the case, it seems that was what Martin did. If Martin was, indeed, in the process of committing a crime, Zimmerman was not protecting his own life in going after him. Once the physical altercation ensued, the facts could have changed. The fact is, we don't know.

However, this case does not change the vital fact that Florida's Stand Your Ground Law is an important law that bolsters a key part of the intent behind the Second Amendment:  the inalienable right, by Natural Law, to protect life, liberty, and property.The law makes it possible for an 80 year old grandmother to protect herself from the three large thugs intent on stealing her medications and social security check doesn't have to attempt to flee on her arthritic legs. It enhances the individual right to protect one's life.

Here in Cochise County, Arizona, the Castle Doctrine came under fire last summer. An older gentleman was at home. He heard strange sounds in his backyard. He shot a young man, killing him. There was an outrage over the killing. The home owner was accused of unjustly killing a kid who was taking a shortcut. However, law enforcement determined he was defending himself and his property. Some normally conservative leaning acquaintances of the young man even rose against the Castle Doctrine, claiming it was abused. They knew this kid.

Obviously they didn't know the kid all that well. The kid had a record of assault and breaking and entering. The kid experimented with drugs, and not just the occasional joint, either. the story is that he was on his way back to a party and went to the wrong house. The police investigation found fresh marks on the back door indicating he was attempting an illegal entry into the older man's house. There were no sounds of a party. There weren't the crowd of parked cars you'd expect around a house hosting a party. The kid was attempting to break into this man's house. The man protected his property. The criminal faced the consequences of attempting his crime.

How does the Second Amendment apply to personal protection? Let's examine the amendment as it is written: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

The Amendment discusses a militia. If we recall, most of those who fought in the Revolution were citizens. In addition, the founders recalled the abuses under the British Army. The Army had weapons, and attempted to take away those of private citizens, disarming them, then imposing its whims onto the now defenseless colonists. The right to bear is intended to allow private citizens a means to protect themselves from tyranny, should the militia of the country intend to enforce tyranny, thus dissolving a "free state".

If you look further into the amendment, you will see the words "keep and bear arms". Let's pay attention to that phrase. "Keep" means that if you can lawfully own a weapon, then the government cannot take it away. "Bear" means if one legally owns a weapon, they are allowed to carry it without being hindered from doing so.

Yes, we have a Constitutionally guaranteed right to carry our firearms. Neither the Federal nor the State governments have the authority to stop you from carrying your weapons. One thing of note is that the Second Amendment does not grant the right to carry them concealed. Concealed Carry falls to the individual states to legislate. However, according the the US Constitution, they cannot legislate against openly carrying.

Rocker and law enforcement official, Ted Nugent, disagrees. He has stated "The Second Amendment IS my concealed carry permit". While I agree that should be the case, it isn't. In today's society with a large anti-gun lobby in conjunction with the 10th Amendment makes it more and more imperative that states determine their own laws in regard to concealed carry.

40 of the 50 States currently have state-level "Shall Issue" laws, 18 of which will issue to non-residents of the states. Gun Control advocates argue against concealed carry permits and attempted to stifle a federal law that supported reciprocity of these permits. If the right to carry cannot be infringed, per the Second Amendment, why do states issue concealed carry permits? Why do people need to carry concealed?

First of all, open carrying can be a magnet to become the first victim of an armed attack. Let's say you are a criminal intent on robbing a bank, liquor store, or the local grocery store. You walk in, guns drawn, masks in place. Who will your first target be? If you see somebody with a 1911 on his hip, you probably are going to shoot that person or put your gun in his face and disarm him, stealing his weapon. It's common sense. So, if you reverse that scenario and you are making a deposit at your local bank and criminals enter intent on robbing, who do you think they are going to shoot first? You. However, if concealed, that weapon won't draw that immediate attention. It gives you the chance to defend yourself before you are shot, beaten and/or disarmed. If you choose not to draw your weapon, it is concealed and holds a lowered chance it will be stolen and used in other crimes later. It keeps that weapon in the hands of the law-abiding citizen.

Another scenario, you are sitting in a restaurant with your family. Let's say you are a tourist visiting Bisbee, Arizona and you are from a state that loves to violate the Second Amendment:  Illinois. You and your family are probably less accustomed to people wearing weapons as the local Arizona residents. A mean-looking man covered in dust walks into the restaurant. He is wearing a Glock Model 30 on his hip. It is lawfully holstered, but very visible. The mans seems slightly irritated at something as he and his friend, also openly carrying a pistol, sits at the table next to your family. Your pulse will probably jump a bit. You will feel rather uncomfortable. You may even consider leaving the restaurant. Yes, this exact incident happened to me. I was the one openly carrying. A smile and explanation quickly allayed the family. I even offered to lock the weapon up in the car, if it bothered them.

This was before I obtained a concealed permit. Yes, I was irritated. I was dusty from the range. I was thirsty. A slightly crazed individual had almost hit us in the parking lot and threatened my companion. (He backed up at a high rate of speed, didn't check his rear, hit another  car, and continued back towards our car, stopping only when my companion leaned on his horn. The horn disturbed the man who decided to approach our car waving his hands violently and uttering threats peppered with vulgarity. No, we did not un-holster our sidearms. We attempted to reason with the man who sped out of the lot, almost hitting a police car. He was pursued and arrested by those police, for hit and run, driving under the influence, and assault. The self-proclaimed "hippie" had just assaulted a local store owner.

Let's return to that family, though. If we had been carrying concealed, that internal alarm of "Oh no! They have guns!" would not have intruded on that family of tourists meal. They would not have seen the guns. I would not have had to volunteer to suspend my Second Amendment right to make these guests comfortable.

So there you have but two cases that justify carrying concealed. The third is that inherent right to self-defense, defense of family, defense of innocent potential imminent victims, and defense of property. Not only is that right to bear to not be infringed, it should not infringe of people's peace of mind. Gun Control advocates attempt to argue that the police are supposed to protect these things. It is, after all, their job, right? "To serve and protect"? Wrong.

First of all, in many areas of the country, police response time is far too slow to effectively save a life in imminent danger from attack. "When seconds count, the police are minutes away". This is true in small towns, cities, and rural ranch areas. The police do not have the ability to respond in seconds. There are not police on every corner. There are very few places with walking neighborhood beat cops anymore. In fact, most locales could not afford that large of a police force. Even if we could, do we really want an armed militia of two police, per shift, to every 10 families? That is just a recipe for tyranny. Yes, a police force is a form of an armed militia.

I love most police officers in my area. Those I have had the opportunity to meet and speak with are great people. They do a tough job. Here, we have sex-slavery, human trafficking, weapon and drug smuggling, plus your ordinary crimes. the police have their hands full investigating these crimes. I support them wholeheartedly. It is no slight against them when I state that I cannot count on them to protect me. I shouldn't have to, either. It is my life, and my individual responsibility to protect it. It is also my individual right to be allowed to do so.The vast majority of law enforcement professionals I know agree with that.

Common sense aside, there exist multiple precedents that the police are not required to protect individuals. Put another way, the police have no duty to protect you. It is not their job. The US Supreme Court has ruled this multiple times. The cries of Gun Control Advocates that the Second Amendment is outdated are false. They are outright lies. They will tell you that it is the job of the police to protect you. They will claim you are "taking the law into your own hands" and impinging upon law enforcement's job by exercising your Second Amendment rights.

In the case of self-defense and protection of property, the job of the police is to investigate crimes and pursue the criminals the commit them. It is not their job to play bodyguard to the populace. The most recent case, 2005, proving this is Castle Rock v Gonzales. Gonzales had a restraining order against her estranged husband. The SCOTUS ruling stated that, even with the restraining order, police had no obligation to stop the husband. They only had documentation to enhance prosecution of the husband once he violated the order and committed  his crime.

In DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, the SCOTUS made a similar ruling back in 1989.

In other cases, the SCOTUS has ruled that federal, state, and local police have no obligation to provide personal protective services to private citizens. Such cases have been ruled upon when candidates for various offices as well as more affluent business owners and Hollywood celebrities demanded police protection. This is why many such people employ private security firms to provide bodyguard services. Take anti-gun activist Rosie O'Donnell for an example. She wants stricter gun control laws and restrictions to the point of calling for amending the US Constitution. Yet she employs an armed private security service to protect her. She has that right. However, so do we, the private citizens, have the right to defend ourselves. We have the option to hire somebody to do so. We have the option to do so ourselves, taking personal responsibility for our lives.

Our nation was founded upon the principles of individual rights and responsibilities. The US Constitution is designed to limit the authority of the federal government. The Bill of Rights is not a list of limited rights of the people. It is a guarantee of the rights the founders thought most important to enumerate among the rights reserved by the states and the people. The inclusion of the 10th Amendment drives that intent home. The limits to governance, be it federal or individual, are contained within the main document. If one reads the US Constitution, they will quickly discover that most of those restrictions are placed upon the federal government. Those imposed upon the states involve states imposing levies upon good imported from other states. They limit the individual states from impeding the free travel and transportation of private citizens among the states, increasing individual liberty.

The Supreme Court has ruled that personal protection is not a duty of police forces. They uphold the Second Amendment as a primary advocate of safeguarding the inalienable individual Natural Rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. It is not only and individual right to protect your life, home, family, and property. It is a necessary individual obligation to do so to the limits the individual desires that protection. That is, as long as the individual is the defender and not a criminal aggressor infringing on those rights of others.

That means you have a right to protect yourself. You have the right to arm yourself and carry those armaments. If necessary to protect your life, the lives of your family, and your property and no other recourse is available or pragmatic, you have the right to use deadly force as a last resort. No, you do not  have the right to shoot a Jehovah's Witness for knocking on your door, no matter how annoying they may be. If you ask them to leave, they will. No force is necessary. No, you do not have the right to pull a gun and shoot the crazy, drunk dude who hits your car. No, you do not have a right to shoot the teenager that gives you the "stink-eye". Those are not reasonable and necessary reasons to employ deadly force. Law-abiding citizens recognize that you must be in a situation that a reasonable person would deem a case of imminent endangerment from a deliberate threat. SCOTUS decisions state in those cases, defense and protection are an individual responsibility, not the duty of the local police force.

Common Sense, reason, and logic therefore dictate that open carrying is a lawful right guaranteed by the US Constitution. Further examination reveals that logically, concealed carry is an even more responsible and reasonable application of the Right to Bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment.