The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Conference Center > Law and Civil Rights

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old January 13, 2012, 03:40 PM   #1
Bartholomew Roberts
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 12, 2000
Location: Texas and Oklahoma area
Posts: 5,655
Defense of Self/Property Prosecution in MA

Via Instapundit, I came across this opinion piece in the Boston Herald discussing the case of Anthony McKay.

McKay noticed his neighbor, Lynn Johnson, breaking into his vehicle and stealing the tools he uses to make his living and confronted him. The thief responded by shoving McKay in the chest and coming at him. McKay struck him in the face, breaking his jaw, and held him until police arrived. Upon arrival, police discovered the thief had a police baton, heroin, and a knife with a blade over 2.5". The police arrested the thief on these charges.

Swampscott police then charged McKay with aggravated assault and battery (a felony) for confronting the thief.

Due to the firestorm of bad publicity received over this incident, the DA declined to prosecute; but made it clear to both the press and the defense attorney that self-help was frowned upon and that they would continue to prosecute similar cases.

A couple of points about this stood out to me:

1. General confusion over laws of self-defense in Massachusetts. The opinion columnist asked 3 different attorneys for advice and got three different answers, though all recognized that confronting the thief put you in a bad legal position in MA.

2. McKay was very fortunate his thief didn't try to use the knife or baton on him. It goes to show how dangerous making assumptions about another's capabilities can be.

3. Media exposure can get justice when the law won't provide it; but it seems an iffy approach at best.
Bartholomew Roberts is offline  
Old January 13, 2012, 04:48 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
Staff
 
Join Date: June 25, 2008
Location: Central, Southern NY, USA
Posts: 18,537
Sad world we live in where confronting a thief could be illegal. The wisdom is (might be) another matter, the legality is (should be) fundamental.
__________________
Still happily answering to the call-sign Peetza.
---
The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
-The Architect
-----
He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.
-Jim Eliott, paraphrasing Philip Henry.
Brian Pfleuger is offline  
Old January 13, 2012, 05:10 PM   #3
Chris D
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 11, 1999
Location: Franklin, MA
Posts: 187
I live in Ma and have read a bit on this case...

Basically in MA you can only fight or shoot if you have already taken a few rounds/stabs from the perp...

In reality, this is a problem in this state. A lot of mixed advice. The attorney general said basically, "we (the government) discourage self help. call the police".

Sad... Very sad...
__________________
"Improvise, adapt and overcome"
Chris D is offline  
Old January 13, 2012, 05:28 PM   #4
nate45
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 15, 2007
Location: Illinois
Posts: 3,746
Well, you can't hurt poor, misunderstood heroin addicts who have been failed by society.
His right to steal to feed his addiction was violated. Now his brutal assailant must be jailed, fined and sued as an example.


The above would be funny if there weren't people who actually think like that.
__________________
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."- Thomas Jefferson
ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ
(>_<)
nate45 is offline  
Old January 13, 2012, 06:03 PM   #5
mehavey
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 17, 2010
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,815
Which -- having grown up in Falmouth in the halcyon
mid-50's of a true Boy's Life -- is why I will never live
in Massachusetts again.

(...and have I mentioned the usefulness of immediate
Counsel after such events before?)
mehavey is offline  
Old January 13, 2012, 06:07 PM   #6
kraigwy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 16, 2008
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 9,402
Have things changed or was I just lucky? I was in Mass in 68-69 stationed at Ft Devens. I always had a gun I kept in the car.

I was in the 67th MP company, most of them knew but no one ever said anything. Even got stopped one time by a trooper, I mentioned I was had the gun in the car, but all he wanted to talk about was getting on the pistol range and shooting.

Guess it don't matter now, I'm not planning on going back.
__________________
Kraig Stuart
CPT USAR Ret
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
kraigwy is offline  
Old January 13, 2012, 06:38 PM   #7
mehavey
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 17, 2010
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,815
Heck, my father & I used to shoot woodchucks off/out from under the wooden steps of
the abandoned WW-II troop barracks there on Camp Edwards/Otis AFB in`55.

Told ya they were halcyon days....


( ...and yes, they are gone. Freedom--even the memory of it--is never more than one generation away from extinction.)

.

Last edited by mehavey; January 13, 2012 at 06:54 PM.
mehavey is offline  
Old January 13, 2012, 06:58 PM   #8
kraigwy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 16, 2008
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 9,402
Its a shame, Mass is where it started.
__________________
Kraig Stuart
CPT USAR Ret
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
kraigwy is offline  
Old January 13, 2012, 08:09 PM   #9
Frank Ettin
Staff
 
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 6,647
It is useful to remember that there are influential people and groups who specifically oppose, on principle, the right of self defense.

See, for example, Armed by Gary Kleck and Don Kates (Prometheus Books, 2001). On pages 116 - 121, they discuss various liberal, moral objections to the notion that one may be justified to defend himself.

Feminist Betty Frienden is cited as denouncing the trend of women to arm themselves for self defense as, "...a horrifying, obscene perversion of feminism...." Her ridiculous notion that , "...lethal violence even in self defense only engenders more violence and that gun control should override any personal need for safety...." is probably widely held in liberal circles. Indeed, according to Kleck and Kates, Mario Cuomo avowed that Bernie Goetz was morally wrong in shooting even if it was clearly necessary to resist felonious attack.

Kleck and Kates also report that an article was published by the Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church condemning defensive gun ownership. In the article, Rev. Allen Brockway, editor of the board's magazine, advised women that it was thier Christian duty to submit to rape rather than do anything that might imperil the attacker's life.

Kleck and Kates also note that the Presbyterian Church (U. S. A.) has taken a strict anti-self defense view. Rev. Kathy Young testified as a representative of that group before a Congressional Panel in 1972 in support of handgun control that the Presbyterian Church (U. S. A.) opposes the killing of anyone, anywhere for any reason (including, in the context of the testimony, self defense)

While these positions appear to us to be nonsense, they have some following. Note, for example that self defense is not considered in many countries to be a good reason to own a gun. Indeed in Great Britain, the natural right of self defense has been significantly curtailed by law. For an excellent study of the erosion of gun and self defense rights in Great Britain see Guns and Violence, the English Experience by Joyce Lee Malcolm (Harvard University Press, 2002).

The point of the foregoing is that the universal acceptance of the ethics of self defense can not be taken for granted.

(However, the Roman Catholic Church takes a much more sensible view of things. Under its doctrine, one's life is a gift from God and one has a moral obligation to preserve it even if doing so means taking the life of an attacker. Unfortunately, as outlined by Kleck and Kates, this rational perspective is not universally accepted either.)
Frank Ettin is offline  
Old January 13, 2012, 08:28 PM   #10
Brian Pfleuger
Staff
 
Join Date: June 25, 2008
Location: Central, Southern NY, USA
Posts: 18,537
What I can't quite wrap my head around is how these people manage to be taken seriously.

Obviously, there have always been and always will be people with illogical, asinine ideas but it would seem to me that they would be naturally kept in check when people who don't have such idiotic ideas refuse to put them in places of influence or power or when other people realize how ignorant those ideas are and refuse to listen to them.

I mean, there are issues, plenty of them, with widespread disagreement but how ideas of the nature that self-defense is morally wrong could ever get enough foot-hold to even over come the background noise is beyond me.

Yet, our society is replete with examples. I suppose that it may come along with the popular (though not new) notion that truth is relative and the associated belief that intent, such as the intent of written word, is not dependent on the author but on the interpreter. The consequence of which is that even clearly written legal principles no longer mean what they mean.

The same principle is what turns "Congress shall make no law establishing a state religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof." into "Teachers can't pray." and "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" into lists of legal weapons and "may issue" permits based on "need".
__________________
Still happily answering to the call-sign Peetza.
---
The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
-The Architect
-----
He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.
-Jim Eliott, paraphrasing Philip Henry.
Brian Pfleuger is offline  
Old January 13, 2012, 10:37 PM   #11
Aguila Blanca
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 25, 2008
Location: CONUS
Posts: 6,306
Massachusetts is a VERY sad story. Google up their state constitution. You'll find that Massachusetts, the seat of the American Revolution, does NOT recognize an individual RKBA in its state constitution. In MA, the RKBA is only for the defense of the state.

I'm not certain, but I believe MA may be the only one of the original thirteen colonies to NOT recognize an individual RKBA. Not that it matters. Connecticut's constitution guarantees a RKBA ... but the nanny state won't let you do it without a permit.
Aguila Blanca is offline  
Old January 14, 2012, 07:10 AM   #12
icedog88
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 16, 2011
Location: norwich ct
Posts: 737
This is one of the reasons I moved! Left at 17 to join the military, came back after 17yrs gone, stayed two years, left in disgust 3 years ago. The majority of the people there don't get it, or don't care if they get it. Thank goodness the ones in my jury trial did. Close call that one!
__________________
"The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps"-LtGen. Holland M "Howlin' Mad" Smith, USMC,1949
Have you forgotten yet? Look down and swear by the slain of the War that you'll NEVER forget. [Siegfried Sassoon,"Aftermath,"1919]
icedog88 is offline  
Old January 14, 2012, 08:25 PM   #13
Patriot86
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 23, 2010
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 1,293
This is really a sad world, this guy wasn't worried about just property he was worried about someone stealing his livelihood. They HUNG people back in the day who rustled cattle or stole horses, because that was taking away someones livelihood.


IMO we need a national castle doctrine, someone should have the right to defend their property and livelihood to the death if need be.



Honestly, we should just cut MA, NJ, NY, and CA out of the union and let themselves be their own little sissy "pink" states. This is the kind of stuff that happened in the Soviet Union, if you defend yourself YOU are the problem. You should let the junkie steal all of your tools, let the police fail to do any real investigation and then just sit on your thumbs and hope you figure out a way to keep paying the bills.
Patriot86 is offline  
Old January 14, 2012, 10:56 PM   #14
ltc444
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 3, 2011
Location: Vernon AZ
Posts: 1,195
It appears that the citzens of Essex County need to band together and allow the Prosecutor to find other employment.
ltc444 is offline  
Old January 15, 2012, 12:05 AM   #15
Musketeer
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 12, 2005
Posts: 3,731
Makes me glad I live in NY, and that is not an easy thing to do!
__________________
"Religions are all alike - founded upon fables and mythologies." Thomas Jefferson

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." Benjamin Franklin
Musketeer is offline  
Old January 15, 2012, 12:18 AM   #16
Doc Intrepid
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 22, 2009
Location: Washington State
Posts: 831
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peetzakilla
"What I can't quite wrap my head around is how these people manage to be taken seriously.

Obviously, there have always been and always will be people with illogical, asinine ideas but it would seem to me that they would be naturally kept in check when people who don't have such idiotic ideas refuse to put them in places of influence or power or when other people realize how ignorant those ideas are and refuse to listen to them..."
I can certainly accept that they have the right to hold opinions along the line of "self defense is morally wrong". What I can't fathom is their utter conviction that, while their opinions are clearly a minority perspective, they somehow have the right to demand that the rest of US society live by them.


Massachusetts is (and has been for some time) a state where the inmates are in charge of the asylum.

What I'm concerned about is what the fellow who runs that state would do if he had the opportunity to run the country. Imagine the nation with those same sorts of views imposed on it.....
__________________
Treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect....but have a plan to kill them just in case.

Last edited by Doc Intrepid; January 15, 2012 at 12:25 AM.
Doc Intrepid is offline  
Old January 15, 2012, 12:16 PM   #17
icedog88
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 16, 2011
Location: norwich ct
Posts: 737
Well, the one that was in charge, who did nothing for gun owners, is now running for that position.
__________________
"The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps"-LtGen. Holland M "Howlin' Mad" Smith, USMC,1949
Have you forgotten yet? Look down and swear by the slain of the War that you'll NEVER forget. [Siegfried Sassoon,"Aftermath,"1919]
icedog88 is offline  
Old January 15, 2012, 12:22 PM   #18
Pbearperry
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 9, 2008
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 283
In Mass. you have the right to use lethal force only if you have reason to believe you are going to be seriously hurt or killed.You cannot use lethal force to protect private property.However,I don't believe Mass. is the only state that has these guidelines.
Pbearperry is offline  
Old January 15, 2012, 02:06 PM   #19
MLeake
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 15, 2007
Location: Outside KC, MO
Posts: 10,128
Pbearperry, re-read the OP. His friend did NOT use lethal force, he punched the guy, and that was after the guy attacked him when confronted.

That is physical force, and it was physical force applied in response to a physical attack. This would be legal in most US jurisdictions; in fact, physical force to defend property would be allowed in the majority.

Deadly force regulations don't really apply to the example given.

The DA in Essex apparently wanted to send a "don't confront thieves" signal.
MLeake is offline  
Old January 15, 2012, 03:59 PM   #20
telcontar
Member
 
Join Date: January 4, 2006
Posts: 15
The DA is your typical I know what's best and you don't. Plus the cops around here have that I'm the only one that should handle the situation mentality.
The whole bunch are really an arrogant lot. The vast majority of my fellow Essex County members have no idea what is going on. So that is were we are.
I know it is a broad brush I'm painting with but I'm really not off the mark.
telcontar is offline  
Old January 16, 2012, 12:57 PM   #21
hermannr
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 24, 2011
Posts: 730
Well, you know the public schools teach this way of thinking...why should we be surprised that some actually believe it.


Don't think so? Consider: bully pushes another kid around until the person being bullied fights back...who gets suspended from school????

answer in most every case...both kids. No investigation as to who was the bully, and who was bullied...the kids were fighting, they are suspended.
hermannr is offline  
Old January 16, 2012, 01:21 PM   #22
Patriot86
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 23, 2010
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 1,293
@hermannr: That is exactly what they taught me in school, especially after Columbine. I am only 25 so I was going into 8th grade that year after Columbine. If a bully hits you, you are supposed to take it and just scream for a teacher hoping they get there before you are too hurt. If the teacher does not see it, it did not happen. Needless to say that is not how I was raised and not what I did. They are teaching our children to be passive in the face of an agressor, conditioning them to be victims and it just ain't right.
Patriot86 is offline  
Old January 16, 2012, 07:35 PM   #23
Erikbal
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 12, 2012
Location: Olean, NY
Posts: 374
I live in upstate NY and had a friend (am no longer friends with him) that was at a local gas station and a guy punched him and pushed him to the ground so my friend hit him back 1 time in the face and broke his jaw. The other idiots with my friend were drunk and went on to hit and kick the guy while he was down and my friend got charged with gang assault (no prior record and NOT in a gang) and got 5 years probation. All over self defense and some drunk friends. There were even witnesses that stated HE only hit the guy once and had nothing to do with the assault after that. I wish it was like it used to be, someone hits you and you hit them back. Good old self defense.
Erikbal is offline  
Old January 16, 2012, 07:58 PM   #24
Young.Gun.612
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 28, 2010
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 400
I'm only a couple years younger than Patriot86, so I'm well aware of the zero tolerance policy so many schools have adopted. You'd be amazed at how effective an angry mother is at conveying to the school officials that their lack of security forced a kid to defend themselves. Got me out of trouble once or twice.

It really is a sad state of affairs when a kid defending himself from a bully could end up with assault, or at the very least mutual combat charges. The advice my mom always gave me was "if I ever hear you started a fight, I'll kick your *** myself. But you better be sure to finish it if someone starts one with you."
Young.Gun.612 is offline  
Old January 16, 2012, 08:35 PM   #25
Patriot86
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 23, 2010
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 1,293
"I'm only a couple years younger than Patriot86, so I'm well aware of the zero tolerance policy so many schools have adopted. You'd be amazed at how effective an angry mother is at conveying to the school officials that their lack of security forced a kid to defend themselves. Got me out of trouble once or twice. "


That worked at my Jr. High School, they were somewhat understanding. The teachers knew what was going on and mostly took my side. High School was another story, whatever the teacher saw was what happened. If someone kicked your teeth in 20 times, then the teacher came round the corner to see you pushing them away YOU would be the one going to jail PEROID. Thankfully, the only serious fight I got into during Highschool the teacher rounded the corner when the other guy punched me after I broke his choke hold. I got jumped by 3 people and I would have been the one in jail if the teacher had come round the corner a little earlier to see me pushing the first 2 guys away from me.

Really though it did teach me a lot about life, nice guys finish last, bad things happen to good people and justice isin't just. Best to settle things before the police arrive and not be in a compromising position when they do.
Patriot86 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:40 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.18107 seconds with 9 queries