Thursday, August 21, 2003

Mr. William Gates will not be prosecuted. Mr. Gates, if you recall is a resident of Charleston, S.C. who shot two men that were having a gunfight in his front yard with a third man. Mr. Gates' firearms have been returned, except for the shotgun he used to defend his home & community.

But let us move on to a closer examination of the Charleston Post & Courier article which relays this good news:

"Solicitor Ralph Hoisington said Tuesday he will not seek criminal charges against a West Ashley homeowner who shot two men waging a shootout in his front yard earlier this month.
Hoisington said he concluded that 67-year-old William Gates did nothing illegal Aug. 1 when he stepped onto the porch of his Tripe Street home and opened fire with a shotgun. Gates thought a shot had been fired in his direction, and he was defending himself and his home, he said

Sounds alright so far, although why it took 19 days to figure this out is a bit curious.

"While I'm not necessarily encouraging this type of action, I do not intend to prosecute in this case,' Hoisington said."

Not necessarily encouraging justifiable self defense?

"Gates, a semi-retired brick mason, said he was pleased by the decision 'because I know darn well I didn't go on the other side of the law.'
'I'm sorry it happened, but I feel I did the right thing,' he said."

It seems that everyone but the Solicitor knew damn well that Mr. Gates was within the limits of S.C.'s self defense laws.

"Hoisington's announcement came the same day Charleston police filed assault and weapons charges against one of the men Gates shot.
Christopher Hampton, 22, is accused of wounding 27-year-old Kevin Hazel during the initial 4:40 a.m. shootout outside Gates' home.
Police say Hampton shot Hazel in the back after the two argued. Hazel's brother, 24-year-old Montez Hazel, then reportedly opened fire on Hampton, said Detective Sgt. Barry Goldstein
The gunfire woke Gates, who grabbed his 12-gauge Browning automatic shotgun, stepped outside and fired three blasts at the men, wounding Hampton in the abdomen and Montez Hazel in the torso, police said

hmmm. Interesting. It is unfortunate that the other gentleman, Mr. Hazel, seemed to be defending himself & perhaps his brother & this was undiscernable to Mr. Gates. But when you believe you're being shot at, & you see two people with guns drawn it is not always wise to play 20 questions before you start to defend yourself.

"Hampton, who was released from the hospital last week, surrendered to authorities Monday night at the Charleston County jail, Goldstein said.
He is charged with assault and battery with intent to kill and possessing a firearm during a violent crime.
Magistrate Jack Guedalia denied bail Tuesday on the assault count and set bail at $200,000 on the firearms violation."

I'm hoping there was some kind of mistake. Mr. Hampton, who shot someone in the back & thereby instigated this whole incident, was released on his own recognizance? He voluntarily turned himself in when he thought it was proper? Not that I'm saying they should have held him w/o specifying charges, my point is they should have charged him before he was released. especially considering that at the time the Charleston P.D. had disarmed the man who had shot him.

"The Hazel brothers remained hospitalized in fair condition while recovering from their wounds, Goldstein said."

Hopefully they'll recover quickly.

"Two of the three men have previous drug convictions, according to Charleston County court records.Police confiscated Gates' shotgun and six other guns inside his home, but he was not arrested. Charles-ton Police Chief Reuben Greenberg said Gates merely was protecting himself and his home."

This is the part that bothers me: they took all of Mr. Gates weapons. All. After he had just shot two people that are believed to be involved in the drug trade in a moderate to high crime neighborhood. The Charleston P.D. Chief even said at the time it was self defense, but yet they still disarmed Mr. Gates.

"South Carolina case law historically has upheld the use of deadly force as a defense when a person's life and home are threatened.
In 2001, former attorney gener-al Charlie Condon instituted a home-invasion policy that protected citizens from prosecution for defending themselves against intruders.
Hoisington said the Tripe Street case caused him "a little concern" because Gates was outside his home when he fired on the men. The case would have been more clear-cut if Gates had been threatened inside his home, he said.
'I think there is a fine line between defending your residence and defending your property,' he said."

So it took him 19 days to figure out which side of the self defense laws Mr. Gates was on? I wonder if he is stressing the part about defending ones' property being distinguishable from defending your residence so there'll be no question by a citizen should he wish to take someone elses' property?

"Today's guns, however, have the ability to pierce walls, increasing the threat to those inside a home, Hoisington said. Gates also was entitled to go out to his porch to see what was happening, even if that might not have been the prudent thing to do, he said."

Yep. todays guns are far more powerful than those old, antiquated cartridges that were used in the ballistic dark ages. I mean who could really be satisfied with the 2914 foot-pounds of muzzle energy generated by a 165 grain bullet from the almost 100 yeard old .30-06 cartridge? I mean how can that compare to anything we have today? Just because it has killed everything on the planet that walks is no reason to even think about comparing it to the wondeful cartridges we have today. For example let's look at the military's choice of (ahem) rifle cartridge - the 5.56x45mm NATO (Actually we're looking at data for the .223 Remington which is virtually identical to the 5.56x45mmNATO Catridge): How can that almost century old cartridge compare to the whopping 1285 foot-punds of energy that a 55 grain bullet in this just over thirty year old cartidge generates at the muzzle?

Disregarding the solicitor's ignorance of external ballistics I am glad he felt that Mr. Gates was 'entitled' to go on to his porch & see exactly who the hell was shooting at him. Very generous of him.
Although I don't think the solicitor realizes that it may have in fact been the prudent thing to do. Granted, the situation wasn't quit what Mr. Gates thought it was at the time, but suppose those men had been firing at the Gates home with the intent on killing Mr. Gates. Then suppose that they decided to enter the home & make sure that Mr. Gates was dead.
I realize that Mr. Gates probably would have defended himself inside his home as he did outside his home, but things change just a bit in close quarters. A shotgun will throw a decent pattern at 20 yards, but withing 10 feet & the shot is still compacted together. just a little over .75 in diameter. Now if that shot would hit someone it would be devastating, but the chances of missing are greatly increased as oppossed to shooting at a distance that would allow the pattern to open up. Then again, perhaps Mr. Gates' aim wouldn't be a concern at that distance. But shooting at two men with a shotgun when they are shooting at you at fairly close range is far more dangerous than shooting at two men who are shooting at you from a distance. In short I have no doubt that Mr. Gates would have shot at least one person had they chose to enter his home, but the odds of him shooting both & emerging unscathed are greatly increased when the distance is close.

So when confronted with a direct & immediate threat as Mr. Gates believed at the time, it is best to engage them at a distance. I feel his actions may have been the most prudent he could have taken given the information he had to work with.

"When there is a perception that you are being fired upon, I think it's fairly clear you can return fire,' he said."

Then why didn't he just say that & leave the other BS alone?

"Gates said police have returned all of his guns but the shotgun, and he expects to get that back soon. He said no one has sought retribution against him for the shooting and that the drug dealers have stayed clear of his property."

Imagine that...shoot a couple of people in your front yard & criminals avoid you! Although not as common as it would seem from watching TV, retaliatory crimes do happen & should be of a concern to anyone involved in such a situation. especially when the local PD completely & totally disarms you.

I am glad that The Charleston PD returned 6 of Mr. Gates' firearms. I wouldn't be surprised if that had something to do with all the people calling up the Charleston PD & writing e-mails to the mayor. For that I thank all of you who put forth the effort.

But Mr. Gates is too kind. He expects he'll get his shotgun back soon? If I were him I'd have demanded the second they decided not to prosecute that the cop who actually confiscated it immediately go retrieve it & drop it off at the house. There is no justification for holding the shotgun now that charges are not going to be pursued. Not that there was justification for confiscating all of his firearms in the first place. They should return the gun immediately, if not sooner.

"The place is clean since it happened,' he said. 'I just hope they be cool and stay away from my place with that stuff.'
Gates said he has received more than 200 calls -- some from as far away as Canada and Germany -- from people congratulating him for taking a stand.
'Every one of them has been supportive,' he said."

I have a feeling Mr. Gates will be alright, even if someone foolishly decides to attempt to harm him. But it is also encouraging to know so many people heard about Mr. Gates' plight & have been supportive. Maybe the concept of Self Defense isn't as antiquated in this country as the anti-gun types would have us think.

& thanks to all the bloggers & readers out there who wrote about Mr. Gates & spread the word. It's not completely over yet, as they still have his shotgun, but I do believe that the interest generated by Kim du Toit, Rachel Lucas & Instapundit when they respectively posted about Mr. Gates got a lot of people to call & let Charleston know that a lot of people didn't like the idea of Mr. Gates being disarmed, let alone charged for doing what he thought was necessary. So thanks to you all.

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