Thursday, August 07, 2003

Stop whatever it is that you're doing & go over to The Smallest Minority. The permalink is down so look for a post entitled "Gun SAFETY" = "Gun ELIMINATION." Just Like "Gun CONTROL Used to.

It discusses a Washington Times Op/Ed piece on the newly introduced Corzine-Kennedy bill which would regulate firearms under the guise of consumer safety.

& in case you're wondering - even though the Senate is in the hands of Republicans this bill stands a good chance of passing. How is that you may ask? I discussed this in a previous post on the Mcarthy-Conyers Assault Weapons Ban & Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2003 but I'll reprint the relevant part here.

"...Yes, I know we have a Republican controlled Congress. Yes I know there are more anti-gun Democrats than there are anti-gun Republicans. But there are more anti-gun Republicans than there are pro-gun Democrats & Republicans combined. Look here for the House of Representatives. Look here for the Senate. Anything less than a "B" rating means they are not oppossed to voting for gun control if it suits them. According to my calculations there's 18 pro-gun Senators & 176 pro-gun Representatives. That's counting the B minus among the pro-gun. !8 out of 100 & 176 out of 434.
There are 64 anti-gun senators & 205 anti-gun Representatives. That's counting D, F & Not Rated. 64 out of 100 & 205 out of 434.
In the Senate it would merely take the F,D & Not Rated Senators to vote for the McCarthy-Conyers assault weapons bill for it to pass. In the House it would take 13 C rated Representatives in addition to the F, D & Not Rated Representatives for it to pass. The Senate would have enough votes to negate a presidential veto, but it'd take 261 or so from the Senate, which would mean 56 C rated voters in addition to the F,D & Not Rated."

I'm thinking the guise of consumer safety would swing a lot more votes for this bill. After all, I'm sure a lot of pro-gun people wouldn't see the harm in having guns regulated for safety. This is unfortunate because most pro-gun people would see the harm in the details of this bill should they ever come to light. But politicians count on the people who vote for them to not read in too much detail what laws they vote for or against. So I doubt that any Senator or Representative would think they were endangering the pro-gun vote by voting for a consumer safety bill. Hence this one may have a better chance of passing than the Mcarthy-Conyers bill that was the focus of the paragraph above.

Thanks to The Smallest Minority for being on top of this.

The Charelston Post & Courier has a follow up story on William Gates. For previous posts on Mr. Gates please look here & here.

On to the article...

"Is William Gates a man who did what he had to do to defend himself and his home, or did he take the law into his own hands by gunning down two men in front of his house?"

Let's see... a man who had been complaining to police about the crime in his neighborhood to little effect hears gunshots early in the morning. He believes his wife was hit but said gunshots. He grabs a shotgun to see what is causing the gunfire. He see three men shooting at each other in his front yard. He shoots 2 of them thus ending the gunfire (the third man had been shot by the other two).

Barring any new revelations I'd say that was self defense. Although brownie points should be awarded for the use of the phrase 'gunning down' when the simpler, less dramatic & more accurate phrase 'shooting' should have been used.

"That's up to Charleston County prosecutors to decide and Solicitor Ralph Hoisington hasn't announced his decision yet."

Unless there is some physical evidence that could disprove Mr. Gates claims of self defense then why the hell hasn't the Solicitor made a decision? I would venture to guess that the answer has more to do with politics than the law or the facts.

"Trey Walker, a spokesman for South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, said the state attorney general's office had no comment on this case and that it would be solely up to Hoisington whether Gates faces charges.
'Ultimately, he is the legal authority in that case,' Walker said."

It is correct that in local matters a state attorney general would be right to refrain from interfering with the local prosecutor. However I believe any charges that could be filed against Mr. Gates would be based on state law with the exception of firing a gun inside the city limits. I am not familiar with how South Carolina's legal system is structured so this is just speculation, but since most if not all charges would be based on violations of state law, then I'd think the SC Attorney General could offer an opinion one way or the other, or even decide to take the case over himself. But if any readers could explain to me why this is an incorrect assumption, I'd appreciate it.

"Charlie Condon, the former state attorney general, said the 67-year-old Gates appeared to have been well within his legal rights when he shot at three men Gates said were drug dealers engaged in a shootout in his front yard.
'Generally speaking, you do have the right to defend yourself from danger,' Condon said. 'I think a self-defense case has been made'.

Condon, who as attorney general in 2001 instituted a home-invasion policy that protected citizens from prosecution for defending against intruders, said he hopes Gates won't face charges.
'My sympathies are with the gentleman,' he said. 'I really do admire him for sticking it out and not letting the criminals run him out of his home'. "

Too bad Mr. Condon is retired.

"Police confiscated Gates' shotgun and six other guns inside his home, but he was not arrested. Charleston Police Chief Reuben Greenberg, who caused controversy earlier this year when he encouraged merchants to arm themselves as protection against robberies, said Gates did not take the law into his own hands but was merely protecting himself and his home.
Greenberg declined further comment."

So if Chief Greenberg feels it was self defense then why the hell did he take away Mr. Gates' means of self defense?

"Vance Cowden, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, said state laws provide for self-defense and defense of property.
'Use of deadly force is usually only proper when protecting life and not merely when property rights are at stake,' he said. 'You have to believe you are in eminent danger of losing your life and it has to be a belief that an ordinary, prudent person would entertain.'
Cowden said whether Gates faces charges will likely come down to whether prosecutors believe Gates rightfully feared for his life, a decision that could be swayed by the fact that the neighborhood is known for drug activity and someone had previously shot into his house. Prosecutors could also decide that Gates escalated the situation by his actions.
Cowden said responses to physical threats have to be 'proportional.'
'If someone throws a snowball at you and you shoot them, that's not proportional,' he said."

This is partially incorrect. Fear of losing ones' life is not the only justification for using deadly force. Most state laws allow for the use of deadly force when you feel you are danger of serious bodily harm as well as lose of life. To limit that only to loss of life is a bit misleading.
For example if you were certain you were going to be raped but not killed then deadly force would be inexcusable according to Prof. Cowden's explanation. But most states recognize rape as a crime that does serious damage to the victim & as such the use of force, including deadly force to stop such an attack is justifiable.
& his example of 'proportion' is not entirely accurate. If someone attempts to stab you, you are not restrained to only stabbing them back. The proportion test is usually negated when there is a serious threat to life or limb. So a snowball wouldn't necessarily constitute a threat to life & limb & shooting would be a disproportionate response. However a person threatening you with a thick stick is a danger to life & limb & the use of a firearm in defense from a person weilding a stick or some other such weapon would be justifiable despite it being a disproportionate reaction.
Also most states allow for the use of deadly force to protect someone else's life, not just your own.
So perhaps Prof. Cowden's remarks were condensed by the reporter or perhaps he was in a rush & didn't see the necissity of explaing in more detail. But from my understanding of SC law his statements were a bit misleading.

& while legally a prosecutor could make the claim that Mr. Gates escalated the situation, practically speaking he de-escalated it. After he shot the two men left standing, there was no more violence was there?

"North Charleston defense attorney Michael O'Neal said Gates might have pushed the boundaries of self-defense laws, but did not go over them, by shooting at the men in his front yard. He said people, when confronted by physical threats, are required by law to retreat whenever possible -- everywhere except on their own property.
'A man's house is his castle, that's what it essentially boils down to,' O'Neal said. 'The men weren't exactly attacking him, but they were exhibiting violence on his property.'

For the record North Charleston is a seperate city located (obviously) just north of Charleston, S.C.

"Charleston defense attorney Mike Coleman agreed that the Gates case will come down to whether he was actually in imminent danger of being hurt.
'Each case depends on the actual facts and the individual variables that go along with that case," he said. 'If you have a drug dealer in your front yard and you've called the police and they haven't done anything, that still doesn't give you the right to use deadly force. If he's trying to hurt you, that's a different story'. "

This is not necessarily true. A very strong case could be made that the people shooting in Mr. Gates' front yard presented a clear & immediate danger to the community. A stray bullet could have injured or killed a person within several blocks if not miles. Usually when you take an action to stop someone that presents a danger to someone else that falls under the category of 'defense of self & community'.
For example if you see a truck driving very fast towards a building & you are somehow magically aware that the truck contains a bomb & the object of the driver is to blow up the building, then by taking action to stop the truck you would be justified even if the truck &/or bomb did not present an immediate danger to you personally.

Less common but worth mentioning are various 'citizen arrest' laws in some states. These sometimes provide for the use of deadly force to stop a person who you have witnessed commiting a serious crime & is attempting to flee. The idea is that even though the fleeing criminal does not present a danger to you personally at that moment, his escape will allow him to (based on his actions) be a danger to others. This of course would only apply to the more serious offense such as murder & rape. & this is only applicable in certain states which my memory does not serve me well enough to mention.

So there are other justifiable uses of deadly force that are not based solely on imminent personal danger.

"Regardless, Gates is a hero to many people. Dwight Arrington, a Columbia resident whose daughter is a student at Medical University of South Carolina, said he would help establish a legal-defense fund for Gates if he is charged in the shooting.
'I'm just glad the guy had the backbone to do what he did,' Arrington said. 'I was thinking to myself when I read about it, Good for him, I would have done the same thing'. "

If they do charge him I'll try to track down the contact info for the legal defense fund.

Another thing - the reporter mentions the fact that the police have totally disarmed Mr. Gates, but yet is very specific as to where Mr. Gates' lives. I wonder how the reporter in question would feel if the government took away all his arms after he had shot some alledged drug dealers & then found his location was printed in an article about him?

But aside from a few exceptions the reporter did a fairly unbiased article, if it was somewhat incomplete. I would have preferred a more in depth treatment of SC's self defense laws, perhaps printing the relevant sections of law rather than merely relying on the commentary of lawyers.
Also I would have liked to have seen some kind of explanation as to why Mr. Gates' was completely & totally disarmed by the Charleston P.D. , especially considering thier Chief was urging merchants to be armed some months ago & feels that Mr. Gates acted in self defense.
But I guess that's why there are blogs.

Steve Reeves can be contacted at or 843-745-5856.

I'd urge any & everyone to e-mail or call Mr. Reeves & inquire about the legal defense fund as well as asking him for any details on when Mr. Gates' arms will be returned.

Grass Roots North Carolina is not happy with the NRA. It seems that in addition to supporting a very questionable domestic violence law that would make it much easier to confiscate & register firearms the NRA has decided to file a 'defamation of character' lawsuit against GRNC.

GRNC has said some pretty unkind things about the NRA. Unfortunately those unkind things are factually correct. The NRA did do all the things GRNC has accussed it of. The only thing left to question is whether GRNC's conclusion of the facts is correct.

Personally I don't think there's anything to question at all. Ya see I too have written very very unkind things about the NRA. In fact I've written so many very very unkind things about the NRA that I've set them up in their own archive.

So what appears to be happening is that the NRA is trying to use the courts to stop a non-comprimising pro-gun group from informing people of the NRA's anti-gun activities.

So being a blogger who thinks actually doing something trumps just reading about it & getting pissed, I encourage you to use the following information (courtesy of GRNC) to contact the NRA & ask them - nay, demand that they stop wasting money try to shore up their tattered image through a civil lawsuit & instead shore up their image by actually fighting for the Rights they claim to champion.

NRA Institute for Legislative Action at:
NRA Board of Directors Members using the addresses below or GRNC's automated e-mailer at
For a complete list of NRA Board Members, many emails and phone numbers, go to
Here is a convenience list you may copy and paste into your email. Names with email and phone numbers are below. You will also find a link to find your representative at the end. We suggest using the bcc: field, but the to: or cc: field will work as well.
NRA-ILA phone number: 1-800-NRA-3888 (prompt #1 to resign memberships; prompt #5 for input on state and local affairs).
Copyright © 2003 Grass Roots North Carolina P.O. 10684, Raleigh, NC 27605"

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

More on Mr. William Gates of Charleston, S.C.

I still have not received any replies from the Mayor, Chief of Police or the public relations officer. I know at least a few of you have written &/or called so please let me know if you get any kind of response.

But some interesting questions have been raised & interesting comments made. I'll attempt to wade through them.

From my comments David writes the following

"While I really don't like the logic, if any, behind the confiscation of the fellow's guns, I'm also not entirely at ease with his actions. It's one thing to shoot to defend oneself, or to assist in another's defense. But opening fire on a shootout such as this. . . there was so much room for error. What if one of the three had been an innocent neighbor, being attacked and defending himself? Or, for that matter, an undercover detective?"

Mr. Gates believed his wife had been hit by gunfire. People were on his property shooting. That presented an eminent threat to Mr. Gates as well as the neighborhood. It seems obvious that Mr. Gates did not recognize any of the people as his neighbors who may have been defending themselves. As for the possibility it could have been some other innocent civilian or police officer, yes it could have been.
However, there are times when one must take action based solely on the information one has available. This indeed leaves a lot of room for error but unfortunately that's part of life. Mr. Gates acted on the information he had - people were shooting in his yard & presenting a threat to himself & the community. It would have been unfortunate if one of the people he shot turned out to be an innocent party but I still wouldn't fault him for his actions. He did what he thought was necessary at the time based on what he knew at the time.

Jon writes

"...There's no reason for him not to cooperate with the police - he did nothing wrong. And you can bet after the publicity this is getting, he'll get his guns back."

There are many reasons not to cooperate with the police, the main one being self protection. Police can & will use anything you say against you even if you're just trying to be helpful. The 5th article of the Bill of Rights provides protection against the government compelling any testimony about yourself. It'd be foolish to let a perfectly good amendment go to waste.

& we all hope Mr. Gates will be getting his firearms back soon. Hope. There are many cases that have received far more publicity than this where firearms were not returned despite acquittals or even a lack of prosecution. The main culprits are usually the BATF when it comes to stealing large collections of arms, but local police aren't amateurs at it. But perhaps if we all do keep up the pressure Mr. Gates won't be robbed by his local police department.

Instapundit has this to say

"...The police chief here, Reuben Greenberg, is well-regarded, which makes it likely that either there's more to this story than has been reported, or that swift corrective action will be taken."

I have heard good things about Chief Greenberg as well. But I do not share the optimism expressed at Instapundit. There are many good people who honestly believe that this sort of action is justified & any means of getting 'guns off the street' are justified. I do not know if Chief Greenberg is one of them, but considering he is ultimately responsible for the actions of the department, & that confiscating all a persons' weapons is supposedly a departmental policy, things aren't looking good.

& yes, there may be more to the story than is being let on. But until they press charges against Mr. Gates or produce a search warrant then his property is off limits. I don't understand how it gets so confused, but due process is not the word or actions of a cop. Property should not be taken unless at the very least there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed & the property to be taken bears some relevance to the crime. I see absolutely no connection to Mr. Gates entire firearms collection & his use of a shotgun in defense. Add to that the cops who were quoted as saying Mr. Gates' actions were justified & there goes the probable cause for taking even the firearm he admitted using. & barring probable cause I saw absolutely no mention of any court proceedings that granted the Charleston P.D. the authority to seize Mr. Gates' weapons.

Every wants to believe that cops are on our side & they never do anything they're not supposed to. & don't get me wrong - I think most cops aren't bad people. Most of the bad actions of cops can be traced directly to bad policies set by police departments & courts. But the bottom line is the Charleston P.D. stole Mr. Gates' firearms.

Laylines reports that this incident is even being mentioned by G. Gordon Liddy. Laylines goes on to say

"How does this make sense? It's disgraceful how Charleston Police Chief Reuben Greenberg is treating the citizens in his own city. It makes you think twice about visiting Charleston. If they treat citizens this way how would they treat someone from out of town much less from out of state?"


SayUncle feels if his name were Bill Gates things would have been different. He is also of the opinion that there'd have been two shootings reported if his local P.D. tried to seize his entire collection without a warrant or probable cause.

The Spoons Experience believes that Mr. Gates was smart enough to not mention all of his firearms when the police asked him what else he had besides his shotgun. I hope that's the case.

In the event Mr. Gates was a good citizen & let the police steal all his firearms the good news is they're not hard to find. Despite all the unconstitutional laws that burden citizens when it comes to acquiring guns, there still seems to be a thriving black market in arms as well as private sales that are not illegal (yet). If for some reason Mr. Gates could not buy one over the counter then he could always look for private sellers or in the worse case look for black market sellers.

WeckUptoThees has already thought of appropriate punishment for the officer who did the stealing of Mr. Gates' property

"Cut this the hell out. Give them back now, with an apology to him and termination for whoever made the decision to disarm him.
On second thought: whoever moved to disarm the homeowner, it's now your turn to sit on his porch with nothing but a cordless phone and a flashlight for the next 72 hours. No hardshirt either, asshole. If you live through that, then you're fired."

He also contemplates what he'd do in Mr. Gates' shoes

"I would hope to have the kind of balls this guy has. My first action would be, as G Gordon Liddy has advised, don't hand them over to the cops. If the cops insist that I must be separated from my weapons, I'm transferring them to my lawyer for safekeeping. Possible outcomes:
Worst: I am officially identified as a Bad Person and lose the right to own them. The lawyer sells them and I get the proceeds.
Bad: the lawyer returns them when the bullshit is over.
As if we have an RKBA: the lawyer pushes back hard enough that I don't give them up."

& finally Stop The Bleating says a few things I'd like to address:

"1) In many parts of this country, Mr. Gates would likely have been charged with attempted murder. If you live in a Blue State--or even some of the Red States--think very hard before emulating him, unless you're a risk-loving sort of fellow with lots of spare cash to spend on lawyers. The scenario as described isn't the strongest case of self-defense I've ever heard of. Not only is it arguable whether Mr. Gates reasonably believed that shooting the aforementioned scumbags was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily harm to himself or his wife (the scumbags were shooting at each other, not at him or into his home), but he charged into the fray with a shotgun intending--by his own words--to kill someone. In most states there's no absolute duty to retreat when unlawful violence is offered, but there is a duty not to act as the aggressor in the "affray." Interjecting onesself into the middle of a gunfight amongst strangers, with a Browning Auto-5 and homicidal intent, is the sort of thing that some folks might see as aggressive. (I'm speculating that it's an A-5. It's Browning's best-known auto shotgun, they probably produced more A-5s than any other model of semi-auto, and it's the right "fit" for Mr. Gates's generation.) There are plenty of prosecutors in this country who'd be willing to put Mr. Gates's defense to the test. I'm not saying that's as it should be; I'm simply saying that's how it is. If you want to stand on principle because you're sure you're right, good for you. Just know what the potential consequences are before you pull the trigger."

South Carolina is a very good state to be in if you're on your own property. It's been described as a 'shoot your neighbor' state, meaning that there is no duty to retreat when you're on your own property. I'm not sure what the exact threshold is but I believe that if you feel threatened on your own property by a trespasser then the use of force, including deadly force is justified.

Also what many people neglect is that defense is not limited to yourself. Defense encompasses your family, friends, neighbors, community, country & state. So should there be a threat to your community you should be justified in acting to stop that threat.

I feel Mr. Gates was thinking his life was in peril & that of his wife but even if that were not the case several men were still shooting in a residential neighborhood. Even if they had been on the street solely shooting at each other Mr. Gates should have stopped them if for no other reason than to prevent one of their shots from hitting an innocent bystander. Too many people feel that taking direct action to prevent crime & injury is vigilantism. I feel it is merely doing your civic & moral duty. Every one should do what they are able to stop & prevent crime even if that means getting directly involved. Most reasons against direct citizen action can be chalked up to job security efforts on behalf of the police. If citizens started acting upon this duty then perhaps crime would go down a bit & we wouldn't have the justification for so many cops, which may mean that we're safer not only from criminals but from government looking for something to keep its employees busy.

He continues

"2) It's probably not wise to proclaim to the media, "I shot to kill." It may sound good in movies and on TV, but it's not helpful when a prosecutor (or civil plaintiffs' attorney) gets it in front of a jury. It's probably best to keep one's mouth shut about such things, no matter how "righteous" the shooting(s) may have been. If you shoot someone get a lawyer for God's sake--no matter how sure you are that you were justified--and don't yammer about it to the police or media until you've done so."

I agree - keeping your mouth shut is the best policy. But I don't think the "I shot to kill" statement is as damming as Matt believes. The argument against it would be that he was looking to kill & his actions may not have been in self defense. The counter-argument to that is that he was in legitimate fear of his safety as he attempted to kill rather than wound or to scare off. Further cops are encouraged to shoot to kill simple because shooting to wound is risky at best & may not immobilize an attacker he poses an immediate threat.

He continues

"3) If you shoot someone, expect the gun you used--and perhaps all of them--to be seized as evidence. Publicola thinks this is senseless, because a shotgun can't be ballistically matched to its projectile(s). That's largely true, although the extractor and ejector markings on the shell casings that Mr. Gates presumably left all over his porch or front yard can be matched, with some degree of accuracy, Mr. Gates's A-5. At any rate, it may not really matter: although the motive for seizing the other guns isn't entirely clear, the A-5 is evidence. If nothing else, it's evidence that Mr. Gates owned a 12-gauge shotgun that had been recently fired. And quite coincidentally, two scumbags were found suffering from 12-gauge wounds in the owner's front yard. Is this necessary evidence, in light of the fact that Mr. Gates freely admits to shooting said scumbags? Perhaps not, but consider this. If Scumbag A admitted to dealing crack, and the police thereafter decided, "ah, what the hell--he confessed, so let's flush these rocks down the toilet," wouldn't we all be pretty pissed when Scumbag A's lawyer manged to get the confession suppressed and the cops had no physical evidence to put in front of a jury? Good police work means gathering evidence--all the evidence they can get their hands on. It's prosecutor's job to decide whether to use a particular item of evidence."

This is a good point. However it is not that persuasive to me.

Consider this - the shotgun shells found on the front porch are matched to the shotgun in question with a 90% probability of coming from said shotgun. It is evident that said shotgun was recently fired. Mr. Gates fingerprints are found on the shotgun. That's all they can tell from the shotgun & shells. & that is circumstantial evidence. Not very convincing in & of itself. In fact here's a scenario that would negate any findings obtained from the shotgun & shells:
Mrs.' Gates was suffering from some sort of delusion. She grabbed the shotgun & ran to the front door, firing 3 shots before Mr. Gates could get control of her. He then instructed her to go inside the house & lie down. When the police arrived he told them the story of hearing gunshots & firing in self defense. He lied in an effort to protect his mentally ill wife.

Not the greatest story but it would render any evidence obtained from the shotgun & shell casings mute, albeit opening up various fraud charges against Mr. Gates.

Ultimately though I still see no valid reason for confiscating any of Mr. Gates' weapons. When the officers on the scene attest to the righteous nature of a shooting then unless there is some very compelling evidence to the contrary there won't be a case. & the evidence obtainable from Mr. Gates' shotgun would not provide anything to help a prosecutor.

& it still goes back to probable cause. When the police on the scene state that a shooting was in self defense then any reason to confiscate the weapon used is rendered moot. The 4th & 5th amendments as well as provisions in state constitutions & laws are supposed to protect the citizen against 'fishing expeditions' by the government. You have to believe a specific crime has been committed before you can legally start gathering evidence. Since the cops said it was obviously self defense, & self defense is not a crime, then they had no legal basis for taking his weapons & in fact committed criminal actions by doing so.

He concludes thusly

"It's not uncommon for the authorities--particularly in fascist states like New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, California and Illinois--to refuse to return firearms even after their owners have been cleared of any wrongdoing. Is this lawful? In most cases probably not, although in some instances property may be seized--and kept--by the government on the basis of mere probable cause. (If I'm not mistaken, there are or at least used to be laws that permitted property to be seized--permanently--on the basis of mere reasonable suspicion! What about the Fifth Amendment, you ask? A damned good question . . . Welcome to the wonderful world of the War on Drugs, where the Bill of Rights doesn't count.) But the problem is that the typical firearm is only worth a few hours of attorneys' fees. So the cost of getting the gun back almost always exceeds the value of the gun. It's damned infuriating, but that's the reality."

I wish he were wrong, but he's not.

If I hear anything more on Mr. Gates' plight I'll be sure to post it promptly. If any of y'all hear anything please feel free to contact me either in the comments box or by e-mail at

The Smallest Minority has a nice essay up entitled History Calls - Will We Answer?

"We are living at one of those historical confluences of technology, thought, and opportunity. The possiblity exists that we, the denizens of the internet, the anti-idiotarians, could be the spark of a revival of the rights of individuals in opposition to the creeping statism that we see every day. "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," is the inscription on the National Archives building in Washington. We've fallen down on the job."

Go read the rest of it.
Over at End the War on Freedom I found this interesting link to a piece by Carl F. Worden on Police Contact.

Mr. Worden advises absolute silence in any & all encounters with the police & I generally agree. However the one time you should not be silent is when an officer attempts to violate your Rights. In that instance one should briefly but concisely remind the officer that his actions would be a violation of your Rights & inform him you will use every legal means at your disposal to protect your Rights &/or seek restitution if they are violated. But in no way should you say anything that could incriminate you. Leave out any personal details & stick to the general idea.

Read what Mr. Worden has to say about silence. It may come in handy.

Alphecca has his Weekly Check on the Bias at Yahoo with New & Improved Graphics (August 6th Edition) up.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Rachel Lucas relates the tale of a Charleston, S.C. man who was so fed up with criminal activity in his neighborhood that he took action. Rachel is happy over the initial outcome (3 criminals wounded - 2 by Mr. Gates) but isn't so thrilled with what the police did.

Now here's the gist of it: Mr. Gates had complained repeatedly about drug dealing & other criminal activity that made him feel uneasy about his safety. When 3 alledged drug dealers got into a shoot-out in Mr. Gates' front yard he grabbed his shotgun & wounded two of them. the police aren't pursuing charges - at least as of Friday.

Sounds good so far right? But now enters the hand of all-powerful government:

"While police did not publicly approve of what Gates did, they filed no charges against him Friday.
'We have no plans to arrest him,' Charleston Police Chief Reuben Greenberg said. 'We can't see from where we sit where a crime's been committed. People have the right to provide for their safety, and we believe that is what he was doing."

Official disapproval of a person taking actions that they acknowledge he was justified in taking. But it gets worse:

"Gates...had all seven of the guns he owns confiscated by the police until their investigation is complete."

They admit that Mr. Gates was justified in shooting. They mention that people have a right to provide for their own safety. Yet they confiscate not merely the shotgun Mr. Gates' used, but all of Mr. Gates weapons.

So while they grudgingly admit that Mr. Gates has the Right to Self-Defense, they remove his means of exercising that Right.

South Carolina is a peculiar state as far as self defense goes. In a nutshell the state constitution acknowledges they Right to Arms but it is read to apply only on your own property. Hence you may not legally carry a firearm openly if you are walking down the street. A firearm carried in a vehicle must be in a lockable container, such as a glove box, but it doesn't have to be locked. However they are very lenient in their definition of what constitutes a justifiable threat on your property. So in effect it is a good state to be in for firearms ownership as long as you never leave your house or business on foot.

But this surpises (albeit mildly) me. Confiscating a man's entire inventory of arms because one was used in a justifiable shooting. & even confiscating the shotgun makes no sense as there is absolutely no way to perform any sort of ballistic trace. Not that ballistic traces are effective in rifled arms but in a smoothbore it is worse than useless.

Mr. Gates plans on aquiring another firearm in the meantime & that shows yet more of a very logical mind at work. Mr. Gates realizes that depsite any promise of increased patrols the police cannot protect him & his family. The police took away his means of Self Defense so he simply will go out & purchase another.
Normally I'd be all in favor of any excuse to buy another gun, but not when it is made necessary by the heavy hand of a government, even a local government, who decides it can take away property that is constitutionally protected & practically necessary for an individuals' safety.

I would ask that you contact the Charleston Police Department & express your concern over this idiotic action taken by them.
You may reach the Chief Of Police at 843-720-2401.

You may contact Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. at .

Edit: You may contact Chief of Police Greenberg at

I attempted to call the Chief of Police but was unable to get through (it was after 5 p.m. their time when I called). I did manage to get through to a desk seargant. I explained that I had read a story about Mr. gates' plight concerning the confiscation of all of his weapons despite one only being used in a justifiable shooting & asked whom I should speak with to find out the justification for this action by the Charleston Police Department. His intitial reaction was, "what do you have to with this?". I told him I was a blogger, then explained that meant I am an internet journalist of sorts & he immediatley became a little more friendly. So I would advise that if you can't justify your interest by claiming to be a blogger, you should merely explain that you & your extended family were thinking of vacationing in Charleston but that decision is on hold pending a very good explanation for the very bad treatment of one of Charlestons' own. After all, if a resident gets treated so shabbily what makes anyone believe a tourist would receive better treatment? & Charleston is a tourist town.
Of course you could always simply say that you don't have to justify your 'need to know' & they have to justify their 'need to with-hold information' but I think the internet journalist or tourist answer will produce results quicker.

Update: I just got off the phone with the public relations officer of the Charleston Police Department. A rather interesting chat ensued.
The gist of it is that it is a policy of the Charleston Police Department to confiscate any & all firearms whenever a firearm is discharged by someone within the city limits. I was told that Mr. Gates would have his firearms returned. I asked when & Officer Charles Francis (sp?) said he'd have to consult with the detective in the case & get back to me. He went on to assure me that "'s not like we're gonna keep them forever or anything..." or something to that effect. I didn't bother to inform him of all the times when that's exactly what happens.

A click was heard on the line & he asked if someone was listening on the other end of the phone. He then said something to the effect of talking with him without either someone listening or recording it. I'm not quite sure what he was implying. I assured him it was merely noise in the line.

This is where it gets interesting. He said he'd call me back with the information. I gave him my phone number. he then asked for a name. I told him Publicola. he then asked for my real name. I told him I post under a psuedonym & won't give out my name. he then asked what name my parents gave me, etc...I told him he could call me Publicola. he then started down the "what are you afraid of?" road, quickly detouring onto the "it doesn't matter to me" road making a quick pitstop at the "I'm not gonna tell anyboy" Inn. I told him if he wasn't going to tell anybody & it didn't matter to him then he should just accept Publicola, especially since that was all he'd get. Finally he explained to me that a real American has nothing to hide; that he stands up & states his beliefs under his given name just like George Bush. I couldn't resist bringing up Bush's promise to renew the Assault Weapons Ban but he merely replied that Bush would sign it because he said he would because he does what he says. Our conversation ended with his asurance that he'd call me back & give me the details of exactly when Mr. Gates' property would be returned.

I have dealt with various South Carolina police departments before. In my experience any attempt to gather any information is less than a sure thing. I will say this for Officer Francis (sp?); his was the most interesting side step I've ever heard! (excuse the mixed metaphor). While lacking the finesse I've come to expect from people in any level of government who don't wish to answer your questions but yet want you to believe they've been answered, he gets an A+ for enthusiasm. Hell, I think he actually believes that what he was telling me was accurate, informative & beyond question! Which would mean that one of us on the line did.
He may even call back, though I would be at least mildly suprised if he does.

Update: Suprisingly I have yet to receive a phone call from the public relations officer.
I have added Chief Greenberg's e-mail address, which I should have done earlier. We'll see if he responds.