I try to be civil. I really do.
But it needs to be said; Heather Martens is a liar.
But it is an unassailable fact that virtually everything Heather Martens has ever written about guns, gun laws, gun owners and the Second Amendment is wrong; it seems improbable that she’s unaware of how much of her oeuvre is just plain not so.
Yesterday, Minnesota Public Radio ran a “commentary” column by Martens (entitled, I kid you not, “Bill would encourage citizens to shoot first, even when they could walk away instead”) that may be the richest single trove of concentrated untruth in one place since Baghdad Bob strode the stage.
Lie #1: HF1467 Legalizes Murder!
[Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder] wants to legalize a kind of murder.
It’s hard to count the number of ways this statement screams “stupid”.
- Current law “legalizes” defending oneself with lethal force – under certain, rigidly-delineated circumstances.
- For that matter, the concept of self-defense is a part of Western legal thought going all the way back to the Bible. It’s broadly and correctly recognized as the second-worst possible outcome – but it’s been legal, within limits, pretty much forever.
- Cornish’s law changes nothing about that “legalization”; as we’ve noted in the past few days, it only removes some of the ambiguity from the current law, and gives legitimate self-defense shooters the benefit of the legal doubt.
Either Martens is trying to scare people into submission, or she’s an idiot.
Reading this next bit, I could easily go both ways (emphasis added).
Lie #2: HF1467 Will Legalize Shooting People For No Reason!
I’ve read Martens’ piece at least half a dozen time as this is written. And every time I think “This is the most cynical lie of the bunch”, I remember some other part of the article that’s even worse.
But this one may be the dumbest – or most craven – lie of them all:
House File 1467, which ought to be called “Shoot First,” (sic)
[But it's not. Which doesn't stop Martens from calling it "Shoot First" for the rest of the article. I get it - rhetoric is rhetoric. But it leads her down a factual dark alley later on - Ed]
will be heard in the House Public Safety Committee this Thursday. It would allow the killing of anyone who enters another’s yard, even when the person is unarmed and posing no threat; and it would allow the killing of anyone in a public place who seems threatening – again, even if the person is unarmed, and even if walking or driving away is a safe option.
Cornish’s law “allows” no such thing. Self-defense with lethal force in Minnesota will still rest on four links in a chain; you…
- …must not be a willing participant
- You must reasonably fear death or great bodily harm (and “Great Bodily Harm” means “seriously maimed”; limbs, eyesight, brain damage. “He seems threatening” won’t cut it.
- Lethal force must be reasonable. “If the person is unarmed and poses no threat” doesn’t come close.
- You must make reasonable efforts to avoid using lethal force. This is a gross ambiguity, entirely dependent on County Attorney discretion, and Cornish’s bill adds some black and white to the law.
And the fact is that if your case is missing any of those four elements, you are screwed. And should be. And Cornish’s bill doesn’t change that; as I pointed out Wednesday, it merely removes some ambiguity from current law.
Martens should know this; she’s been getting her head handed to her on this subject for a solid decade. That means she’s lying.
Lie #3: The Out Of State Rabble Will Kill Us!
Martens tries to address some of Cornish’s proposal’s technicalities
Also buried in this bill is a loosening of concealed-carry permit laws to recognize all other state’s pistol permits in Minnesota, even states with lax background checks that issue permits valid for life.
“Lax Background checks?” All states use the same federal government system.
Notwithstanding that, it is a fact that there has never been any empirical link between a state’s acceptance criteria and their carry permittees likelihood to commit crimes. None.
Lie #4: It’ll Be Easier To Buy Guns!
It also makes it harder for local law enforcement to prevent prohibited purchasers from getting permits to buy guns,
On this Martens is 180 degrees removed from reality. While Cornish would make a “permit to purchase” a handgun expire after five years, rather than one – it would also require them to be reviewed and if necessary rescinded for cause during those five years.
Current has no such provision.
Lie #5: It’ll Hurt WomenandChildren!
Martens claims that Cornish’s bill…:
…limits law enforcement’s ability to confiscate weapons in domestic violence situations.
This is just face-palmingly dumb.
The bill bans confiscations after disasters, and establishes consequences if government oversteps its authority.
Domestic Violence is never mentioned in HF1467.
Not only that, but the bill requires the state to provide more data to the Federal database against which background checks are run …
(a) When a court places a person, including a person under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, who is charged with committing a crime of violence, into a pretrial diversion program before disposition, the court must ensure that information regarding the person’s placement in that program and the ordered expiration date of that placement is transmitted as soon as practicable to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. When a person successfully completes or discontinues the program, the court must also report that fact as soon as practicable to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
2.19(b) The court must report the conviction and duration of the firearms disqualification imposed as soon as practicable to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System when a person is convicted of a gross misdemeanor that disqualifies the person from possessing firearms under the following sections:
…meaning that “Domestic violence” convictions, among others, will be more likely to turn up on Carry or Purchase Permit applications than under current law.
Lie #6: Everything You Do Is Deadly!
Martens’ selective cognition is especially on display in this next lie:
The Shoot First bill (sic) includes the words “self-defense,” but it uses obscure legalese and a bizarre redefinition of the common word “domicile” to make the bill apply to much more than self-defense. “Domicile” is redefined to include not just a person’s home, but also the “curtilage” (fenced yard), “appurtenances” (outbuildings or garages), and even occupied cars (or conveyances).
OK, that was actually factual; it may have been the first fully factual significant statement in Martens’ article. It may well be the last.
It is a fact that Cornish’s bill expands a person’s “domicile” to include their yard, their garage, their car and the like. This is a good thing. Because while Minnesota’s “Castle Doctrine” law gives the citizen certain presumptions while in their home, those presumptions end at the door – which is why some ignorant but hopeful homeowners say, sometimes-but-by-no-means-always jokingly, “if someone tries to attack you on your porch, shoot him and drag him inside!”. It will prevent absurdities like being convicted for failing to retreat into their house if they’re attacked in their garage.
Still, kudos to Martens; she managed one true fact.
The lie comes next:
If someone enters “by force or by stealth” — in legal terms, that means as little “force” as turning a doorknob or opening an unlatched gate — then the person is “presumed” to intend to badly hurt someone. In court, a presumption cannot be rebutted, so no evidence would be allowed that showed the dead person had entered the yard by error, by invitation of the homeowner, to rescue a drowning child, or for any other reason.
True, more or less.
Of course, there’d be the little matter of showing that lethal force was justified, and that the property owner had a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm. Absent both of those, the property owner will more than likely be convicted of some sort of homicide.
(And it’s interesting to watch people like Heather Martens come up with scenarios that reflect their view of their fellow human; that an otherwise law-abiding citizen would sit in his back yard inviting strangers into his yard to “legally” shoot them to death. Huh? How many moons orbit Heather Martens’ world?)
A Brief Divergence Into Facts – Which Prove Cornish’s Case, And Undercut Martens’, Anyway
The main rationalization for this bill is the false claim that Minnesotans can’t legally defend themselves [it's a strawman, of course; nobody said any such thing. Merely that there are ambiguities in the law that would be well rationalized before a law-abiding citizen's life is ruined - Ed] and that even if someone invades a Minnesotan’s home, the homeowner must run away. In fact, self-defense is legally protected in Minnesota; we already have “Castle Doctrine.” Here are three examples from recent years:
(For those of you who take Martens seriously, I’ll emphasize the bits that lead you to where she undercuts herself).
Minneapolis: Vang Khang shot two police officers who had invaded his home by mistake. Khang was not prosecuted and collected over half a million dollars from the city.
Coon Rapids: Gerald Whaley shot and killed an unarmed teenager who entered Whaley’s home, apparently believing it to be a vacant house. Whaley was not charged.
Rockford: Eric Cegon shot and killed his partner’s ex-boyfriend, who was armed and breaking into the couple’s home. Cegon was not charged.
One wonders if Martens thinks the cases above were mistakes; Khang’s home was assaulted by a SWAT team carrying out a no-knock raid on the wrong house. Don’t think Khang was in the right? How often do you think you can shoot cops and have it stand up in court. The Cegon case was a blazingly legitimate shoot (I covered it when it happened). And the Whaley case (I’m not intimately familiar with it) was dismissed by a county attorney who has shown himself not to be especially friendly to citizens and self-defense.
And all three are a digression – because, as I emphasized, all three occurred in the citizens’ houses.
So what if Samantha Simons’ (Eric Cegon’s girlfriend) ex boyfriend had cornered the two, and their child, in the garage rather than the bedroom?
Probably nothing; Wright County is good GOP territory; the law-abiding can catch a break.
Proponents of Shoot First (sic) laws have no examples of Minnesotans who have been sent to prison for defending themselves.
Had they lived in Susan Gaertner’s Ramsey County at the time? Gaertner would have had every means (and likelihood!) of prosecuting them for murder, because they didn’t retreat as fast and far as they could. She might have lost – but Cegon and Simons would have had to prove their innocence in court, against the full weight and budget of the Ramsey County Attorney’s office, even though the shoot was in every possible way legitimate.
And that is, in fact, just plain wrong.
Lie #7: State Boundaries Make A Difference
Martens mixes up her laws in the next bit:
But in states that passed Shoot First laws [I keep asking lefties who use that terms - "does it make sense to you to shoot second when your life is legitimately in danger? They never, ever answer - Ed] (over law enforcement’s objections), [to be accurate, "big law enforcement" is a political, not ethical, organization] unintended consequences abound.
But will Martens favor us with any?
As Paul A. Logli, president of the National District Attorneys Association, pointed out, such laws “basically giv[e] citizens more rights to use deadly force than we give police officers, and with less review.”
That is a completely absurd statement, presented without the faintest support; police in every jurisdiction have deadly force rights that are vastly more lax than private citizens.
There are some states who passed “Make My Day” laws which moved some presumptions of innocence in favor of citizens…
…but not in Minnesota. Because Minnesota’s criteria for legal self-defense aren’t changing; not under Cornish’s bill, or any other!
In Minnesota, the associations of police chiefs, peace officers and county attorneys all opposed Shoot First (sic) in 2008, when it was rejected by the House Public Safety Committee.
And I showed where at least one of them – Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom – was a liar in doing so, too.
Lie #8: If I Repeat A Strawman Over And Over, It Becomes Fact!
Undeterred by the fact that Minnesota has no “Make my day law“, and Cornish isn’t proposing one, Martens presses on with a trail of irrelevancies:
One consequence of Shoot First (sic) laws in other states has been the shooting of unarmed people in incidents that go uninvestigated or unprosecuted. For example, Jason Rosenbloom of Clearwater, Fla., was in his neighbor’s yard – unarmed and wearing a T-shirt and shorts — when the two were disputing how much garbage had been put at the curb. Kenneth Allen shot Rosenbloom once in the stomach and once in the chest. There was no investigation.
And this could have happened for a lot of reasons; facts in the case that Martens doesn’t know (or bother) to report, vagaries of Texas law, even error on the part of law enforcement (it happens). We don’t know…
…and it’s irrelevant, because the criteria for legal self-defense in Minnesota aren’t chanaging.
Lie #9: The Biggest, Reddest Herring There Is!
Another consequence has been to encourage people to take a life, even when they face no danger. Joe Horn of Pasadena, Texas, called 911 from inside his house when he saw two apparent burglars leaving his neighbor’s house. The 911 operator told Horn to stay inside. But Horn said, “The laws have been changed in this country since September the first, and you know it,” referring to the passage of Shoot First (sic) in Texas. “I’m going to kill them.” He did, shooting both men in the back, and he was cleared by a grand jury because of the Shoot First (sic) law. Afterwards, Horn himself told the Houston Chronicle, “I would never advocate anyone doing what I did. We [human beings] are not geared for that.”
Maybe it’s not a lie – provided that Martens truly believes Minnesota is somehow governed by Texas law.
I don’t know the details of the Horn shooting – and it’s for damn sure that Martens doesn’t, not really – but reading the text of HF1467 that Martens herself quoted above, and Minnesota law, shows that Martens is just raving; Horn was outside his “domicile” as defined in the bill; if you shoot two people in the back, the odds are good that they presented you no danger of death or great bodily harm, and lethal force (under Minnesota law, present or proposed!) would not be reasonable! It doesn’t look like the kind of shooting that’d fly in a Minnesota court.
Martens either doesn’t know that, or doesn’t want you to know it.
Diversion Into Illogic: All Killing Is The Same!
Martens next indulges in the logical fallacy of “questionable cause“:
Horn said it well. Normal people don’t take another person’s life unnecessarily. People who are inclined to do so are considered sociopaths. Shoot First (sic)laws encourage normal people to act like sociopaths, and provide a way for sociopaths to kill with impunity.
“Sociopaths kill. The Cornish law makes it (ostensibly) easier to kill in self-defense. Therefore, self-defense shooters are like sociopaths”.
You don’t even have to approve of the Second Amendmente, like guns, or believe in self-defense to see that this is just plain twaddle.
Lie #10: We Don’t Need To Match No Steenking Causes And Effects!
Martens continues to romp and play in the world of law:
According to an Orlando Sentinel article, in the first five months Shoot First (sic)was in effect in Florida, 10 central Florida people were shot in cases where Shoot First (sic) came into play. All but one of the people shot were unarmed.
Unmentioned – quite possibly because it’s inconvenient to her case, but more likely because she’s parroting chanting points from a national anti-gun group; no details about any of those ten shootings. Were the “unarmed” people ex-spouses stalking ex-wifes? Were they in a kitchen, surrounded by knives that were one thrust away from becoming a deadly weapon?
Is an unarmed ex-boyfriend harmless and innocent because he’s not carrying a weapon? Ask your local feminist advocate.
We don’t know whether the ten casesd Martens cited were legitimate or not. Martens wants you to think they weren’t – but she doesn’t know. And in any case
Lie #11: Minnesota is not Florida!
Minnesota is not adopting Florida law. no matter now much Martens tries to obscure the difference!
Lie #12: Minneosta’s current system is the model of uniformity!
Martens continues babbling about Florida:
A clear result of the Shoot First law (sic) in Florida is wide disparity in the way cases are handled by different police departments. In some shooting cases, there was no investigation at all, while in others, detectives investigated for up to 20 hours. Uninvestigated cases in Florida and Texas included ones in which drunk or disoriented people went to a stranger’s door and were shot.
Which is, by the way, exactly how things work in Minnesota. A shooting – any shooting – in Ramsey County will be investigated to a fine sheen, and will almost inevitably result in an arresat. A shooting in Kandiyohi County that looks like a legit self-defense case will likely be off the books before the ink is dry.
Lie #13: If Only We Banned Anger!
I almost feel too sorry for Martens to continue – but principles are principles!
In Shoot First (sic) states, disputes between neighbors have turned deadly.
As they do in Chicago, where civilians gun ownership is still effectively banned. And in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, where it’s strongly legally discouraged. And in Newark, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Flint, which have more restrictive laws that Minnesota has now.
“Shoot First” laws don’t kill people – people do!
Lie #14: The Law Is Still The Law!
Martens steers for the big conclusion:
People can now shoot others over small provocations.
As we’ve shown, over and over – no, they can’t. It is simply not true. Under Minnesota law, self-defense with lethal force does, and shall continue, to require reasonable fear of mortal danger, and must be reasonable under the circumstances. This remains utterly unchanged.
For the last time; all Cornish’s bill does is remove ambiguity in favor of people whose self-defense shootings are blazingly, obviously legitimate.
That is all.
Not A Lie, But Just Stupid
Any legislator who votes for Shoot First (sic) places a very low value on human life.
Heather Martens places no value whatsoever on honesty and integrity.
It’s nothing new – except, perhaps, to Minnesota Public Radio.
So Before We Go…:
Why does Minnesota Public Radio publish crap like Martens’ chain of lies – which is all she ever has to say about the issue of firearms – without question?