At the risk of causing fainting spells among my liberal friends, three cheers for "the adult son" of Peter and Mei Chin who dispatched an intruder inside their home in Fitchburg's Seminole Hills Tuesday.
Dispatched as in "shot and killed."
Now could we please have a few more breakers and enterers made to feel unwelcome in a most lasting way? Just think of the headlines: "Intruder interrupted, interred - 4th in as many days."
Think of the deterrent effect - not only on the perp himself but on all would-be perps. Ever heard of the headquarters for the National Rifle Association getting broken into?
Now, we do not know (as of the time of this writing) if the intruder was armed. My guess is that "the adult son" of the homeowners did not know if the intruder was armed, either. Perhaps he was. Perhaps he intended to leave no witnesses, however unexpected they were.
The adult son could not be certain. Why, therefore, take a chance? Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that "detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife."
Fair enough as far as it goes. But what if it is dark and you cannot see whether a knife is uplifted or not?
There is a principal of law that a citizen is not held to the same standards as professional law enforcement. That a shopkeeper or homeowner can blast away even as the miscreant flees. Opponents call them "shoot first laws." Proponents call them "stand your ground."
The New York Times reports:
The Florida law, which served as a model for the others, gives people the right to use deadly force against intruders entering their homes. They no longer need to prove that they feared for their safety, only that the person they killed had intruded unlawfully and forcefully. The law also extends this principle to vehicles.
In addition, the law does away with an earlier requirement that a person attacked in a public place must retreat if possible.
"In effect," (a Brooklyn Law School professor) said, "the law allows citizens to kill other citizens in defense of property." [15 States Expand Right to Shoot in Self-Defense]
Can you prove you were in danger?
Unfortunately, Wisconsin is not among the 15 states where "stand your ground" is the law.
In general, Wisconsin now allows a citizen to use force only in the defense of his home if that force was reasonable to the threat involved. This is what is called Castle Doctrine, as in "a man's home is his …" Unlike "Stand Your Ground," one must prove he was in danger. In real life, in real time, you've got seconds to decide whereas the courts have years to second-guess your decision. The cops are used to that but when did you or I receive police training?
Should you call the police? Yes, you should. But perhaps that phone call alerts the bad guy. Maybe the bad guy would just as soon not have company. And how long does it take for the police to arrive? Let's say the police are only five blocks from your house. Didn't help 20-year-old Brittany Zimmermann, did it?
Bill Cosh, spokesman for Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, tells Blaska's Blog there is a bill pending in the State Assembly (AB 193) and the State Senate (SB 129) called "Privilege of Self-Defense" that approximates a stand your ground bill. The Assembly bill has had a public hearing in the Assembly before the privacy committee, which has not reported it out. No action has been taken on the Senate bill, Cosh tells me.
The proposed legislation would shift the court's presumption so that the court must assume that the victim - at least in the case of a home break-in - "reasonably believed that the force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm."
Well, that is a start, but the bills seem very incremental. It is legal to carry a weapon openly (well, we'll see about the Madison PD's arrest of the State Street walker) but it is a high crime to conceal a weapon in your purse as you walk through, let's say, W. Hammersley Road! Does that not strike you as strange?
And Slim just left town
The principle sponsor of the Assembly version of is Ann Hraychek, a Democrat, of all things. She is the former two-term sheriff of Polk County. In fact, five of the Assembly sponsors are Democrats and four of the state senators. But all of those Dems are of the northern variety, except for Andy Jorgensen of Jefferson County.
I spoke to one of the co-sponsors, Sen. Glenn Grothman of West Bend. "I'm not sure if it will move," the senator told me.
A Democrat(ic) sponsor, State Sen. James Holperin, put the chances of passage as slim - in the Senate it is stuck in Left Liberal Lena Taylor's committee. And Doyle would probably veto it, Holperin told me. Nonetheless, he co-sponsored the bill because:
"I think it is the right thing to do. I come from a rural area where there are occasional break-ins and people use guns to protect themselves."
Hey, not just the rural areas, Senator. Just ask the Chins or Mary Chvala on Hammersley Road here in my neck of the woods.
A spokesman for State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, one of the co-sponsors, told me: "I believe citizens have the right to be safe in their homes and should have the ability to protect themselves and their families if they believe their safety is threatened. Similar legislation has succeeded in at least 20 states, and I think it is reasonable to offer homeowners this legal protection."
"It's the same with concealed carry," Holperin added. "Voters are saying 'just trust us.'"
Now, there's a concept!