A shooting by reported carry-permit holder in South Minneapolis may just illustrate the problems facing the law-abiding citizen.
We’ come back to that. First, the reported details:
A man was fatally shot Thursday night in south Minneapolis in what may have been a case of self-defense by another man who interrupted a robbery, police said.
Just before 10 p.m., police got a 911 report that someone had been shot in a parking area behind the Super Grand Buffet restaurant about a block west of Cub Foods near the intersection of Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenues, according to police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer.
Among all the shootings that have plagued that neighborhood – which is, by the way, my old neighborhood – over the decades, this one is distinguished by one factor:
When police arrived, a man with a gun who said he had a valid concealed-weapon permit told them he had interrupted the robbery of a woman in her 60s. The man said that he chased the robbers, a male and a female, exchanged fire and killed the male robber.
And if you’re a normal person with a living soul (and, of course, all the facts check out), that’s all it takes; guy interrupts two pieces of vermin not just robbing but (according to some media reports) pistol-whipping an older woman; and gives chase. Robber turns to shoot the good samaritan; samaritan shoots first.
But the Hennepin County Attorney’s office aren’t people – they’re prosecutors. People who not only focus on the letter of the law, but the letters of the law that their bosses want empasized; they work for an office whose tacit purpose, run as it is by a DFL elected official, is to enforce DFL social policy, which is that only
urban thugs and the police should have guns, and that we, the law-abiding, should be disarmed and docile.
Police took both the alleged female robber and shooter into custody while they investigate his account of the shooting. Two guns — one from the slain man, one from the shooter — were recovered, Palmer said.
On the one hand – especially if you’re a resident of a long-blighted neighborhood, or have ever had a grandmother – you can sympathize with the guy chasing the scumbags down. You might even root for the guy – I sure would.
But there are two problems here:
Self Defense Law Starts Our Shooter Out With Two Strikes - The problem with self-defense is that it is an “affirmative defense” – you’re saying “Yes, I killed the guy, but I have an excuse”. In other words, you essentially plead guilty to murder, and spend the trial process fighting that admitted guilt by proving four things:
- You had reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm. No problem in this case (as reported): scumbag, who had just pistol-whipped a defenseless woman, points a gun at the samaritan. It’s reasonable.
- Lethal force was justified under the circumstances - Hello? It’s a gun. Two down.
- You weren’t a willing participant in the incident - This is intended to prevent people from claiming self-defense after, say, bar fights. This wasn’t (reportedly) a bar fight. Any rational person gets this. But some pencil-necked dweeb with big political ambitions who is trying to parlay a U of M Law degree into a political career, sitting in a nice warm office with metal detectors and cops protecting him, can decide “the letter of the law is you can not be involved in the scuffle first”, forcing the samaritan to spend his life’s savings defending himself at trial.
- You made reasonable efforts to avoid using lethal force - And that same pencil-necked lawyer can say “he made NO effort to avoid shooting the alleged robber! He chased the poor disadvantaged fellow!”.
This – if all the facts are as reported, as I am assuming they are – is why we need more reforms to Minnesota’s self-defense laws like those proposed in the past several sessions by Tony Cornish. A key reform would be to do what many states do, with great success; give self-defense the presumption of innocence until proven guilty; make the Assistant County Attorney prove the self-defense shooter didn’t meet the criteria of a self-defense shooting.
“But that’ll make it easy for people to shoot each other over fender-benders! Or because someone thinks they got the stink-eye!” Nope. Think of every non-justified shooting – like, second-degree murder – that you can remember. Find one that that meets the four critera above. Good luck with that.
I’m going to hope that saner heads prevail in this case. Of course, the Henco Attorney’s office has a long record of not having many of them, when it comes to the law-abiding citizen’s right to self-defense.