I’m a supporter of the 2nd amendment – there I’ve said it, it’s out there now, in the open and I cannot take it back…even if I wanted to. As a gun enthusiast and competitive trapshooter, who also happens to be a female resident of Minnesota, I was elated that an important piece of Minnesotan legislation with respect to the 2nd amendment, HF1467 – Defense of Dwelling and Person Act of 2011, (sometimes referred to as The Castle Doctrine) recently passed the Senate by a vote of 40 to 23; with the Senate version being quickly concurred by the House.
I’ll admit, I don’t have much of a life…I know this because sadly on February 23rd, I was watching the live streaming of debate regarding HF1467 from the Minnesota Senate floor. One of the things I found highly entertaining was the litany of bizarre, extreme examples employed by three Democratic Senators who seemed determined to win their rousing game of “gotcha” with Senator Gretchen Hoffman. The game was played out unsuccessfully and filled with awkward moments that showcased their not so veiled attempts to try to get the sound bite to beat all sound bites.
In particular, I enjoyed Senator Mary Jo McGuire’s (DFL, SD66) anecdote. Her story told the very sad tale of a woman sitting peaceably on a park bench when suddenly “someone walks by and looks at me in a “funny” way…such a way that I’m afraid…I can use lethal force, shoot to kill…right?” I found myself asking the Senator (by way of that imaginary bat phone attached to my TV) “Did you not read the bill?? It says things like “law abiding” along with “legally present”. By my way of thinking, this certainly means that if you take part in using lethal force against someone for “looking at you the wrong way”, you aren’t engaging in an act that constitutes being a law abiding citizen. I feel pretty confident that action would be defined as equating to a little thing called murder, or at the very least negligent homicide.
I found it alarming that Senator McGuire was quite comfortable in her implication that, with the passage of this legislation, I somehow would immediately cease being a law abiding gun owner with a legal permit to carry. That I would instead walk out of my house, shotgun in hand, and suddenly start behaving something akin to the Wild West all over again…shooting willy nilly like the OK Corral was a normal, every day occurrence. All I can say is, uhm – okay…really??
While there was much debate surrounding the efficacy of this legislation, my understanding is that this bill impacts the rights of the individual in three primary areas (based upon detail found at http://www.nraila.org/legislation/state-legislation). So let’s ponder a little bit of truth as to what this legislation will or won’t do – Wild West or otherwise:
FICTION: An armed citizenry will take to the streets wringing their collective hands in anticipation of pulling the trigger when someone gives them the “stink eye”.
FACT: First and foremost, the law expands the definition of ones “castle” and allows for “law-abiding citizens to stand their ground and protect themselves or their family anywhere they are lawfully present.” It creates the presumption that an individual who forcefully enters or attempts to enter your home or vehicle where there is cause to believe that substantial or great bodily injury or death is imminent, the occupant may use force, including deadly force, against that individual. It would also provide protections against criminal prosecution when justifiable force is used.
FICTION: Throngs of people from across the nation will crowd Minnesota’s streets, guns in hand.
FACT: This legislation will work to expand reciprocity arrangements with the other permit-to-carry states beyond the 15 states currently recognized by Minnesota. Bear in mind, this refers specifically to where permit-to-carry already exist and is being administered in accordance with the given State’s laws.
FICTION: A civil emergency will have marauding, looting gun owners taking to the streets; pilfering with wild abandon from their neighbors versus protecting their families, friends, and homes.
FACT: It will prohibit a government agency from suspending your constitutional right during a civil emergency by way of confiscation or regulation of the lawful possession of firearms or ammunition. It would also prohibit the seizure of your gun by government officials unless you are being arrested for a crime or the gun is material evidence from a crime. This legislation means “hands off” to government officials…a “No You Don’t” clause if you will.
So what’s the end game in all of this? Well, in my opinion, the people of Minnesota have spoken – very clearly – but Governor Dayton vetoed this bill anyhow. A bill that passed by significant margins in both the House and Senate…with, yep you guessed it…the help of Democratic votes! Thankfully, our state constitution allows for correction by way of an override to a gubernatorial veto by a 2/3’rds vote; and based upon the initial passage of this bill – we would only be scant votes away in both chambers. I urge you to pick up your phones today, make the call your local Senate and House Representatives to ask for another vote so we can reverse this error in judgment on Governor Dayton’s part by not signing into law the bill that was agreed to and passed by both sides of the aisle. Remind our Senate and Legislative brethren that HF1467 is not a Republican only issue; it is a 2nd amendment issue, it is an American issue.