Monday, December 12, 2005

Recreating the Wild West

I’ll say one thing for the National Rifle Association (NRA); they never give up on the idea that there is no such thing as too many guns or too many people to use them. On October 1, the Shoot First Law went into effect in Florida, giving the people of Florida permission to use deadly force as the first resort even in a public place. The law grants sweeping criminal and civil immunity to anyone who shoots when they feel threatened. Worse yet, the law specifically denies legal recourse to innocent bystanders killed or wounded in the crossfire, even if the shooter acted negligently.

For the NRA this is only a first small step; they want this type of lawlessness in all 50 states by 2006. This would take the United States back to the days of the Wild West where the only law was at the end of a six-shooter. In fact it would be worse than that, at least in those days innocent bystanders who were hurt or killed could get some satisfaction form the courts, and often the shooter would be tried if innocent bystanders suffered as a result of the shooters negligence.

Just imagine a crowded mall full of Christmas shoppers going about their business when suddenly a fight breaks out over who is going to buy the last hot toy available. This scenario is not improbable and has actually happened in a number of cases. One of the customers feels threatened and pulls a gun and begins shooting and several bystanders are killed including several children waiting to see Santa. Under the NRA proposal no charges could be filed against the shooter. Should this happen, the next probable step would be that the next time citizens shopped they would all carry guns and proceed to carry out immediate justice on the shooter knowing that under the law the shooter would be held blameless but so would they since they could always claim they felt threatened.

I am not anti-gun. I have hunted in the past and understand that under some interpretations of the second amendment, citizens are allowed to own guns. But, this proposed lawlessness is way over the top and should not be supported by law abiding citizens. I urge you to tell your state representatives and governors that you don’t support the NRA’s attempt to recreate the Wild West in your state.

David M. Goldberg