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Sat Dec 22, 2012, 08:07 AM

A few words about armed citizens.

I've seen quite a bit written here recently about the dearth of examples of armed citizens stopping a violent crime from occurring. I don't question the statistics or lack thereof, but I do have one possible explanation as to why this may be the case.

Here in Massachusetts, where we have some of the strictest gun laws in the country, in a hypothetical scenario where an armed civilian draws his or her weapon and even so much as points it at another human being, regardless of the circumstances or the outcome, this is what will happen when the police arrive...

You will be handcuffed and arrested.
You will be taken to jail and deprived of your freedom.
You will be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
You will be forced to hire an attorney to defend you.

And this is the absolute best possible outcome. You may be found guilty and heavily fined or even imprisoned.

In Massachusetts, every person who applies for a concealed carry permit is required to attend a police-sponsored firearm safety course, where all of this is explained to you. By the time you leave that course, you're pretty much committed to never, ever rely on that handgun to intervene in what you think may be a crime in progress.

There is some sound reasoning behind this aggressive prosecution of any potential Wild Bill Hickocks out there.

1. You may blunder into a situation that you perceive to be life-endangering to a third party, but really isn't.
2. When the cops arrive on the scene they might shoot you by mistake.
3. An off-duty officer might either shoot you or be shot by you by mistake.

I recall two examples of armed intervention by a civilian that made the newspapers. Both happened a long time ago and I can't find the links. In the first incident, a Shirley, MA police officer was grappling with a suspect and had his weapon taken away from him. An armed civilian stopped his car, shot the suspect, got back into his car and drove off. He most likely saved the officer's life, but declined to fill out all the paperwork or be identified.

In the second incident, an armed civilian intervened in what appeared to him to be a violent assault of a woman by her husband. The civilian ordered the husband to desist and held him at gunpoint until the police arrived. The civilian was arrested, taken to jail, charged with deadly assault, and had to retain an attorney defend himself, at considerable expense.

Speaking only for myself, I would never, ever point a firearm at another person unless my life or the life of an immediate family member were in imminent danger. I would certainly never intervene to assist a stranger. I would not even shoot a coyote who was attacking my dog or cat, because under Massachusetts law even that will get you hauled off to the pokey. I looked this up to make sure. You can't even throw a rock at a coyote here.

So, in summary, Massachusetts laws make it very, very difficult and perilous for armed civilians to even so much as brandish a weapon, and this policy is hammered home before you are even granted a permit.

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Response to Flatulo (Original post)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 08:17 AM

1. So the coyotes know you're powerless, and will eat your cat.

We need to arm all cats.

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Response to Flatulo (Original post)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 09:34 AM

2. One who plays judge, jury, jesus, and executioner, should be thoroughly investigated.

I doubt in the extremely unlikely event of a home invasion, the home owner would be treated unfairly. Walking around armed in public is a different situation.

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Response to Hoyt (Reply #2)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 10:02 AM

3. Yes, home invasion is a special kind of

crime, and I would think the homeowner would be given the benefit of the doubt. Still, there would be a thorough investigation to discourage homeowners from shooting solicitors or poor souls who just rang the wrong doorbell.

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Response to Flatulo (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 10:26 AM

4. Yes definitely. And to make sure homeowner didn't blast away at unarmed teenager running away

with worthless CD player or something.

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Response to Flatulo (Original post)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 11:03 AM

5. The "posse" only arrives in cowboy movies...

 

When an assassin critically wounded Gabby Gifford and killed nine other victims in front of a shopping mall, at least two conceal/carry permit holders were located nearby. But, as one of them later explained to a reporter, the massacre took place in a matter of seconds, BEFORE he realized what was actually happening.
When asked if they may have missed an opportunity to save at least a few lives, both admitted that even a military "sharpshooter" couldn't accurately target one individual in a crowd of panic-stricken people.
Apparently, the only thing an armed, "wannabe" cop can easily do is stalk, harass and murder any black teenager who looks "suspicious".








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Response to notgoinback (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 12:52 PM

6. Every situation is unique. Gabby's would be assassin waded into a crowd of people, making

any counterattack risky. The Columbine security man was 180 feet from Harris. Maybe Buffalo Bill could have struck Harris at that distance with a pistol, but most untrained shooters would have difficulty hitting a human-sized target at 20 feet. If he had been able to wing him, it would have been pure luck.

The Sandy Hook shooter may have been a more vulnerable target. We won't know until the chronology is released. Suffice it to say that lunging at a gunman, however heroic, has a low probability of success. I'd rather have the opportunity to ambush him from a safe position.

But it is ridiculous to think that armed resistance to a shooter is always foolhardy. If it were, we'd give cops and soldiers flutes or axes but not guns. Training and fearlessness help, but a gun is the best defense against a gun.

I am not advocating stationing police in every school, but I do believe that it would be the best chance of repelling an armed attacker.

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Response to Flatulo (Original post)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 03:30 PM

7. Actually...

 

thousands of American law enforcement officers are now gratefully using "taser" guns to temporarily disable violent and/or fleeing suspects. These non-lethal devices can be employed in almost any situation that once required "deadly force". And, ironically, many criminals seem more unnerved by the prospect of being "taser zapped" than the threat of getting shot with .45 caliber handgun.
Since tasers became the "weapon of choice" for cops, sheriffs and highway patrolmen and women, the number of "wrongful death" lawsuits filed against their employers has declined dramatically, saving taxpayers millions of dollars
every year. They have also helped significantly decrease the number of serious injuries that resulted from previous arrest procedures.
You seem to suggest that conceal/carry laws are too restrictive, but consider what happens to a police officer
who fires their weapon on duty. First, they are automatically suspended, pending a thorough, sometimes month-
long investigation. Then, even if they are deemed innocent of careless or improper conduct, the inquiry remains
in their personnel file, possibly denying them a future promotion.










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Response to notgoinback (Reply #7)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 06:44 PM

8. I wasn't really trying to suggest that concealed/carry laws are too restrictive. In Massachusetts

they seem about right to me. In fact, it's even more involved than I described. We have two classes of carry permit, A and B. Class A holders can legally carry more firepower than Class B. Only your local CEO can issue you a class A.

I was hoping to address the remarks of other posters that CCW holders were all spineless cowards who flee at the first sign of trouble. In fact, the authorities prefer it this way and actually take extraordinary measures to prosecute those who behave otherwise.

The Taser is an interesting development, but I think the cops are way too quick to tase people who pose no risk or threat to them. No doubt some are sadists who just enjoy doing it, but it really lowers the bar for police to use force that while not quite deadly, is certainly mighty unpleasant. We've all seen videos of cops tasting people who are being fully compliant.

As far as the rest of the gun control debate goes, I am fully on board with banning magazines with greater than 5 round capacity, including those currently in circulation. A ban in the possession of new high capacity clips will leave tens of millions of existing magazines in circulation, which would render a ban useless.

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