Friday, January 15, 2010

Self Defense in Ted Kennedy Country

I still see the bumper stickers: Ted Kennedy's Car Has Killed More People Than My Gun.

In Massachusetts, self defense doesn't mean what it means in Texas. A business owner confronted by a man who broke into his business to steal at night (in Texas, this is a "state jail felony" and witnesses have a right to use force to put a halt to it) has a right to use force to protect his property, including deadly force to prevent the flight of a burglar at night if he thinks use of other force would present too unreasonable danger to himself.

But in Massachusetts, trying to stop a string of serious crimes by firing warning shots to get the compliance of a burglar found inside at night gets you charged with discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling (not to mention aggravated assault). Just carrying a weapon with a permit is enough to be threatened with criminal charges by police who assert boldly but falsely that they are the only people entitled to possess weapons.

What is the meaning of a right to own weapons for the constitutionally-protected purpose of defense if local government makes it a felony to discharge them in that same defense? Crazy. What is the right to self-defense if local government can make its exercise a felony?

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