In an essay by Marko Kloos on March 23, 2007, Marko eloquently lays out the case for “why the gun is civilization”. For those who have never read this and often have it falsely attributed to a fictitious Marine, L. Caudill USMC (Ret), it should open a few eyes and ears.
His essay starts off with the following premise:
Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.
Thankfully for a larger majority of the human population on a daily basis, our everyday activities between one human and the other are of reasoning, persuasion, logic and incentive. We all strive to interact this way because we like it when others treat us this way, so we treat others in this same manner out of mutual respect in order to avoid using the alternative – force. This doesn’t mean, however, that everyone in society subscribes to this point of view as witnessed on a daily basis in the media.
Force can take many shapes and forms. i.e. Laws (Obamacare) that are enacted with the threat of monetary fines or jail time or worse, for example, but force can also be physical in nature.
The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gangbanger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats.
Given these statements as a basis for dealing with each other in society and the value we place on our own and the lives of others it follows that we have an inherent if not duty to protect ourselves from those who seek to do us irreparable harm. This is the essence of Self-Defense and can take many forms as well both lethal and non-lethal.
Non-Lethal forms could simply be verbal, but could also be non-verbal such as chemicals like pepper spray. Lethal forms include physical contact with the assailant and take many forms including hands and anything at our immediate disposal to defend ourselves.
The main goal of self-defense is to cause the assailant to immediately stop their attack and reconsider their immediate actions. In order to do so one must often use at least equal if not greater force than the assailant as well as be in control of ones own emotional response. A difficult thing given that situations and decisions often must be made in less than seconds rather than minutes.
What happens after an encounter whereby someone is forced into using equal or greater force is the subject of current Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 278, Section 8A which reads:
Section 8A. In the prosecution of a person who is an occupant of a dwelling charged with killing or injuring one who was unlawfully in said dwelling, it shall be a defense that the occupant was in his dwelling at the time of the offense and that he acted in the reasonable belief that the person unlawfully in said dwelling was about to inflict great bodily injury or death upon said occupant or upon another person lawfully in said dwelling, and that said occupant used reasonable means to defend himself or such other person lawfully in said dwelling. There shall be no duty on said occupant to retreat from such person unlawfully in said dwelling.
This statute, as written, has several flaws that many feel need to be corrected in order to protect the law-abiding citizens of the Commonwealth from events that may occur as a result of being forced (i.e. no other alternative) to use equal or greater force. This is the essence of the Senate Bill 661, An Act relative to the common defense, filed by Senator Steven Brewer and supported by 27 others.
The proposed changes are as follows:
SECTION 1. Chapter 278: Section 8A. Killing or injuring a person defense of self or others;
Section 8A. It shall be an act of lawful defense if a person, who is an occupant of a dwelling or in any place that they have a right to be, used deadly force, or less than deadly force, if he or she acted in the reasonable belief that an assailant was about to inflict great bodily injury or death upon themselves or upon another person who also had a right to be in the location. There shall be no duty on a person to retreat from any place that they have a right to be. An act of lawful defense as outlined in this section shall not be cause for arrest or prosecution. Further, an act of lawful defense under this section shall not be cause for the revocation of a license issued under sections, 122, 123, 129B or 131 of Chapter 140.
SECTION 2. Chapter 231: Section 85U. Death or injury to assailants; liability of defender
Section 85U. No person who has committed an act of lawful defense as outlined in section 8A of chapter 278 shall be held liable in an action for damages for death or injuries to an assailant.
Today this statute only applies to a person charged with killing or injuring another person inside a dwelling. This does not apply to the killing or injuring of another person outside the dwelling in which that person has a legal right to be.
That is the first point of the amendment being proposed and seeks to expand this beyond a dwelling to anywhere you are legally allowed to be. Note that this doesn’t specify the actual means – only reasonable means.
Secondly, the changes seek to protect a law-abiding citizen from having their hard earned firearms license suspended or revoked, should a firearm been used as the means of self-defense. It also doesn’t apply to places that a firearm is currently prohibited from like Schools and Post Offices.
Thirdly, the changes proposed attempt to avoid the victim’s life (person having been attacked) being further ruined through litigation from the assailant or remaining living relatives of said assailant. The results of which could be extremely costly and only benefit the assailant or assailant’s relatives as a form of revenge.
The choice today, as Section 8A is written, is either become a victim (perhaps a non-living one) or not, but be financially ruined by the assailant or assailant’s relatives for what any human being justifiably had the right to do. Senator Brewer and 27 others feel the time has come to rectify this situation in favor of the victim. Notice, it does not prohibit the State from charging either person or person(s) involved. Note too that there is no current protection for the victim of such an attack outside a dwelling as Section 8A exists today.
The Patriot Ledger quoted State Sen. John Keenan of Quincy in OUR OPINION: ‘Stand your ground’ puts self-defense on hair trigger
“…rightfully noted that the bill is too vague.”
I invite the Senator John Keenan and the Editorial Board at the Patriot Ledger to help make these proposed changes less vague rather than hiding from reality, as well as posturing for ideological, and political reasons. For if it were not for the exploitation of the Zimmerman/Martin tragedy, the Patriot Ledger would have avoided giving this bill a second thought. And as Executive Director, Jim Wallace of GOAL clearly pointed out to the Boston Herald this law does not apply if Zimmerman did indeed pursue Martin.
These changes would, however, send a clear message to those who use force; that we the people will no longer be the victims and the law will not and cannot be used to your advantage in such cases.
These changes are necessary not only for the common defense from those who use force daily, but indeed brings some level of common sense back to the Commonwealth and it’s law-abiding citizens in terms of Public Safety.