Saturday, January 28, 2006

Wyo. a Battleground
in Deadly Force Debate

By BEN NEARY, Associated Press Writer

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - In the "Cowboy State," where guns are present in more than half of all homes, an unlikely battleground is forming in the fight over the appropriate use of firearms.

Flush with victory in its push for state laws allowing concealed handguns, the National Rifle Association is lobbying lawmakers here and in 11 other states to make it easier for people to defend themselves with deadly force.

The NRA, backed by a growing membership of about 4 million, wants legislation specifying that people have no duty to retreat from an attacker before using deadly force. About half of all states have similar rules on the books.

But in Wyoming, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is taking a stand.

James Brady, the former press secretary to President Reagan who was wounded in an attack on the president, called on Wyoming legislators in a statement last week to oppose the legislation, called it "a sham, a farce, a dangerous solution to a nonexistent problem."

"No one's in jail in Wyoming for acting in legitimate self-defense," Brady said. "The only thing this law might do is keep people out of jail who deserve to be there."

Neither state Rep. Stephen Watt, a Republican sponsor of the Wyoming bill, nor Uinta County Attorney Mike Greer, the president of the Wyoming County and Prosecuting Attorneys Association, could cite a Wyoming case in which someone was prosecuted but would have been spared if a no-retreat law were on the books.

But Watt says that's not the point.

"It's about a right to defend yourself," said Watt, a former policeman. "And that is a right that we all should have, regardless of whether there's been any cases where someone has been prosecuted for using self defense or not. It's something that we should not have to worry about, and this is to give back that right to the citizens of Wyoming."

Twenty-five states have such laws on the books, and the NRA says 38 states now have some provision allowing people to carry concealed handguns, up from just 10 in the mid-1980s.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the group is now pushing no-retreat bills in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, South Dakota and Washington, in addition to Wyoming. He said it was eyeing other states as well.

"It is a priority," Arulanandam said. "In states where the statute calls for victims of crime to retreat, we think that that's wrong." ...

Laws that call for victims of crime to retreat... it's amazing to me that it's even come to this, that the rot has gone this far. You can read the whole article HERE.

An interesting related article:

"Nobody Wants to Take Your Guns."

Yeah, right. An excerpt:

Gun rights organizations are often criticized for not "compromising" or not agreeing to "reasonable" gun controls. Gun owners are chided for being paranoid, after all nobody wants to take away their guns.

First, the word compromise in this context is a misnomer. The term "give-back" or surrender is more appropriate because no guarantee against further erosion of gun owners' rights is ever put into law. The anti-control groups never receive concessions in return for any new gun control law.

Gun owners do have legitimate cause for concern. Although a majority of Americans do not want handguns outlawed, a significant minority does. In nation-wide polls taken over the last twenty-five years around 40% are in favor of banning the civilian possession of handguns. Almost 20% are in favor of banning the civilian possession of any kind of firearm. (Source: Kleck, Gary, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, p 105, 345-46. Walter de Gruyter, Inc., New York 1997) (Civilian handgun possession is outlawed in Washington D.C., Chicago, and in several Chicago suburbs [source].)

It is this significant minority which often makes it difficult for gun rights organizations to put their faith in what may seem like "reasonable solutions". For example, many have suggested firearms be controlled by the same consumer agencies that regulate other products. However the following quotes don't exactly engender trust in such an arrangement: ...

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