Thursday, August 31, 2006

Castle Doctrine In Action

Castle Doctrine is working well in SC. In an incident that occurred recently in the upstate, a man defended his home against two early morning intruders. At 2 am brothers Marshall Leshaun Anderson and Travis Earle Anderson were shot as they were attempting burglarize an occupied home. The homeowner heard noises and grabbed a shotgun to defend himself. He shot both intruders as they opened his bedroom door. A third accomplice was arrested at the scene.

A more recent news report indicates that the homeowner, William Rodney Thomas, will not be charged. Of course, under Castle Doctrine he could not be charged if it was a clear case of self-defense. All the reports I've read indicate that it was. The decision not to charge confirms that Castle Doctrine is working well in South Carolina

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Catch Me on NRA Live!

My Op/Ed that appeared in the Myrtle Beach Sun News and The Aiken Standard today was picked up by my friends up at NRA News. The success of our right-to-carry law is so impressive that NRA Live Radio has asked me to come on tomorrow night to talk about it. I'll be on at 10:20 pm.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Castle Doctrine: Self-Defense Begins at Home

As we taught our first concealed weapons class since the new "Castle Doctrine" law went into effect, Jerry Stoudemire and I were both struck this weekend with the significance of this important measure.

Jerry and I have been teaching together for exactly ten years this month. For the entire time we've carefully drilled our thousands of students on the "duty to retreat" under certain circumstances before using deadly force. For decades, in order to justify the use of deadly force in South Carolina, a citizen would (in many scenarios) first have to make an attempt to flee or retreat. We've always thought that was wrong and unfair, but it was the law.

Well that has all changed with enactment of "Castle Doctrine."

Castle Doctrine is a bit misleading, because it extends the right to self-defense even beyond a man's castle. As I explained in an earlier post, if a citizen has a right to be in a place when he is attacked, he can now legally stand his ground. While that is now indeed a statutory fact, it is also an oversimplification. While the new law is carefully crafted to allow one to protect themselves in most situations, the best news is that it also goes to great lengths to ensure legal protection from unjustified arrest.

That's right. Under the new law a person using deadly force cannot be arrested or prosecuted unless sufficient probable cause exists to support a charge. In other words, if it's clearly self-defense, a good citizen can't be arrested. This is significant because in the past they could count on being arrested anytime a shooting occurred. It didn't matter if it was a clear case of self-defense or not. If you shot someone, you were going to jail.

So, as Jerry and I continue to adjust to the new material we now must teach, we are excited about the improvements our friends in the Legislature have made for good citizens. NRA and GOSC are proud to have been involved with "Castle Doctrine", but the real credit goes to Rep. Murrell Smith and our good friend Rep. Mike Pitts. With Murrell and Mike in our corner we can expect to see even greater changes in our gun laws in the years to come.

Thanks Murrell and Mike!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Anniversary of Right-to-Carry

August 23rd marks the tenth Anniversary of right-to-carry in South Carolina. A mere decade ago we became the 31st state to enact a shall-issue concealed weapons permit law. Under the "Law Abiding Citizens Self-Defense Act," honest citizens were finally given the sensible option of more easily carrying firearms for self-defense.

"Over the last decade the fear mongerers and handwringers have been proven wrong," said Rick Daniel, legislative director for Gun Owners of South Carolina. "Their dire predictions of doom and disaster simply did not come to pass. The indisputable truth is, right-to-carry works and it has made our state much safer," Daniel said.

In the years since the laws passage, South Carolina has experienced a consistent year-to-year trend of lower violent crime rates. Across the country allowing good citizens to arm themselves in public has always proven to be a significant crime deterrent.

Data assembled by Liberal researcher Dr. John Lott of the University of Chicago supports this assertion. Lott’s compiled data conclusively proves that states with shall-issue concealed carry laws (like South Carolina) experience significant reductions in violent crime over the years immediately following the law’s enactment.

"Criminals and thugs are by nature cowards who prey on the weak and defenseless. An armed citizen is not an easy victim," Daniel said. "As more law-abiding citizens take the reasonable step to arm themselves, we’ll see the violent crime rate drop even further."

Since the current law took effect in 1996, well over 50,000 concealed weapons permits have been issued. As we predicted from the very beginning, there have been no reports of serious firearms related violations involving permit holders. Very few permits have been revoked, in fact the number is statistically insignificant with the majority being recalled for administrative reasons such as a permit holder moving out of state.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Eyes Wide Shut:
Giuliani 0n Guns

In an earlier post I mentioned how Rudy Giuliani skillfully avoided talking about social issues on his recent visit to South Carolina. In an article published in "The State" newspaper, political columnist Lee Bandy mentions the potential problem this could present for Giuliani in our very conservative state.

Giuliani was not questioned much about his record on the three G's (God, Guns, and Gays). However, the record will show that Giuliani has supported gay marriage, abortion, and gun control. Most observers would naturally assume that Giuliani won't play well here. But, Bandy seems to think otherwise.

Bandy's flawed assessment is based on his interpretation of the lack of questions on social issues. He surmises that people don't care and are actually focused on other things, namely national security. He may be right about that current focus, but even that won't bode well for an anti-gun Giuliani.

Think about it. What clear thinking person who is actually focused on national security would support someone who wants to take away their guns? If we suddenly find ourselves fighting terrorist here on South Carolina soil, I want every advantage I can have. I'm certain that many people agree.

So, as simplistic as this might sound for the political pundits, the plain fact is, South Carolinians love our guns. And we're not about to let some created "hero" from New York take them away.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

John McCain: Friend or Foe?

I had the privilege of meeting and talking with another presidential hopeful today. Arizona Senator John McCain was in Columbia and this time I did get to ask questions.

And I have to admit I was very impressed with what I heard.

I asked Senator McCain if, as president, he'd sign a national concealed weapons permit recognition law. His answer was quick and unrehearsed: Yes, absolutely!

He said a person with a permit in South Carolina ought not have to worry about problems carrying in other states. He claims to be a strong supporter of self-defense rights.

Senator McCain also extemporaneously expressed great satisfaction with the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" that passed this session. It's the federal version of what NRA and GOSC passed here a few years ago. It's basically a gun manufacturers liability lawsuit protection law. In McCain's view this is one of the most significant pro-gun victories at the federal level in many years.

As always, I'll be doing a follow-up post on Senator McCain. I'll examine his record to help decide:

John McCain: Protector of The Flock or Wolf in Sheeps Clothing?

Giuliani Comes Calling

Another presidential hopeful made his way to South Carolina this week.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani came to Charleston to help raise money for the SC Republican Party. Since he is not currently an elected official he was not afforded the privilege of a state provided security escort. Knowing this I volunteered to put together a volunteer security team to accompany Giuliani from the airport and during his roughly 4 hour visit.

This gave me a unique opportunity to meet Giuliani and spend a little "face time" with him and his staff people. I liked him, but realized going into our time together that he was not at all pro-gun and I'd never consider supporting him for president. So, given my existing knowledge and the circumstances of our meeting, It was not appropriate for me to "needle" him about gun issues.

When asked about gun control and other social issues Giuliani skillfully avoided answering. In fact, he simply said that his positions are consistent. He said that his answers here in South Carolina would be the same as his answers in New York. In other words, he knew those answers wouldn't play well here, so he chose not to repeat them.

In order to understand how he would have answered (if he had half he courage he's attributed with having) we'll have to examine his record. And I'll do just that in my follow-up post:

Giuliani, Schmuliani....Not the Hero He'd Like to Be.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ralph Norman: A Pro-Gunner for the 5th District

I've been impressed with Representative Ralph Norman since the day we first met. He was one of the first to sign up for GOSC's special legislative concealed weapons training class. He joined a couple dozen other legislators for a day of CWP training and fellowship. He enjoyed it so much (and learned so much) that he later sent his own mother to take a class with us.

My fellow instructor Jerry Stoudemire and his wife Faye became fast friends with Ralph. Over the last two years they have remained in touch with him and were truly excited when he announced his plans to run for the 5th District Congressional seat now occupied by liberal democrat John Spratt.

Jerry and Faye, along with thousands of other good gun owners, live in the 5th District. For way too long they've suffered with being represented by one of the worst anti-gunners in the United States Congress. Jerry and Faye are determined to help elect their friend Ralph Norman.

Knowing this, I was not surprised to learn that Ralph was a special guest at the recent Little Mountain Reunion. The Stoudemire's are anchors in the Little Mountain community and have for years helped plan the annual reunion.

Gee, I wonder who invited Ralph?

Anyway, the Little Mountain Reunion is one of the most popular community festivals in South Carolina. In addition to the usual parade, food vendors, and other festivities, during election years the reunion also features an old fashioned stump meeting.

At the stump meeting Ralph gave a rousing speech including references to gun rights. The hundreds listening got a clear understanding of why Ralph is such a good choice. Based on the enthusiastic applause they seemed to agree that we desperately need to elect a real conservative in the 5th District.

Ralph is truly a pro-gun heavyweight who needs our help. In his short time in the state legislature, he has eagerly sponsored or co-sponsored every NRA-backed bill. Rep. Norman has helped take our issues to the forefront and he's gone the extra mile to be a vocal advocate for the Second Amendment.

I'll write more about Ralph in the future, but for now I want to give you a brief explanation of why, why we need to elect him. Or more accurately, why we need to dump the anti-gun Spratt.

The picture I've posted here really says it all. Spratt is closely aligned with our worst enemies.

But to make it even clearer just consider these few facts:

-In the wake of 9/11 Spratt voted against the plan to arm commercial airline pilots. His vote was a slap in the face of pilots who deserve a fighting chance against dangerous terrorists.

-Ironically Spratt seeks to ban firearms in a misguided attempt to prevent terrorism, yet he won't agree to let highly trained and qualified pilots carry guns for protection.

-Spratt won't let residents of Washington, D.C. carry guns for self-defense. Even though the nation's Capitol is also widely known as the "Murder Capitol," Spratt continually votes to deny the good citizens of D.C. the ability to protect themselves.

-Spratt seems determined to heavily regulate gun shows out of existence.

-Spratt wants to ban .50 caliber rifles even though these firearms are never used in crime because of their size, weight, and expense, and are not (as the anti-gunners claim) the "weapons of choice of the terrorists". Afterall, the terrorists brought down the World Trade Center with box-cutters.

These few examples clearly illustrate the need for change. We must replace Spratt this year. I'll have more about Spratt in later posts, but for now I want to encourage gun owners to get out and work for Ralph Norman.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wait Just A New York Minute
The Real Scoop On Pataki

I mentioned in my last post that after meeting with George Pataki I was suspicious about his pro-gun credentials. His answers just seemed too tailored and rehearsed. Imagine that, a politician being disingenuous. Who knew?

The red flag for me was Pataki's full response when Patrick Nolan challenged the term "illegal guns." He recovered quickly, but wandered off into an explanation of how criminals ought to be targeted, rather than legal gun owners. He seemed to think changing a law that hinged on how many guns a criminal possessed was somehow a solid pro-gun issue. It gave me the impression that he felt someone with more than one or two guns was immediately suspect.

The whole concept of permits and illegal possession is so foreign to me that I have trouble wrapping my mind around what Pataki was bragging about. We tend to forget how good we have it here in South Carolina. Our counterparts in many other areas of the country have to endure some pretty onerous hardships just to enjoy a Constitutional right.

So, to help me understand what Pataki was referring to, I contacted Jacob Rieper, my friend and counterpart in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association (NYSRPA). Jacob handles legislative issues for NYSRPA. Here is Jacob's well informed explanation:

He changed the penalties for criminal possession of a weapon. In '05 he changed criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree (Class C felony) to illegal possession of 5+ firearms (originally 10+) and criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree (Class B felony) to illegal possession of 10+ firearms (originally 20+). In June '06 he changed criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree to illegal possession of 5+ firearms or possession of one loaded firearm. NY law originally defined a "firearm" as handguns only. In 2000 Pataki changed the definition of "firearm" to mean handguns or "assault weapons." It has always been a felony to possess a handgun in NY without a license.

Now I suppose that sounds reasonable enough, but when you consider that it would be pretty easy for an innocent visitor (or a resident for that matter) to get wrapped up in an "illegal possession" case, it starts to sound less and less reasonable. You see, in general, it's illegal to possess a gun in New York. Don't misunderstand, I'm opposed to criminals who misuse guns, knives, fist, or feet as assault weapons. But to criminalize guns is just wrong. Does NY law really focus only on criminals as Pataki contends. I very much doubt it.

I'm not interested in dissecting New York gun laws. I've heard nightmares about the things New Yorkers have to put up with. The bottom-line for me is this:

Pataki's had twelve years as governor to fix the problems in New York. He may have made progress on some issues, but the Second Amendment is still getting short shrift. Do we really want Pataki to bring his brand of pro-gun politics to South Carolina and the rest of the country. I think not. So, I'm still shopping around for a presidential hopeful to support.

Next week I'll be spending time with another New Yorker who wants to be president. On August 16th Rudy Giuliani will be in Charleston. I'm helping coordinate his security detail (how ironic). I'll get to ask him some questions. It'll be interesting to see what he has to say.

And, YES, Jacob has already given me the facts. This should be interesting.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Pataki Part Deux

I left my meeting with Governor Pataki on Saturday with mixed impressions. On the one hand, he was very personable and he said a lot of things I liked. Most of these things were not directly related to guns. Some of what he did say on guns was okay, but the answers were very scripted and vague.

So, I left unconvinced about his commitment to Second Amendment issues.

One of the things he talked about was "illegal guns." Well here in South Carolina that phrase sets off alarm bells. So, a fellow NRA member Patrick Nolan quickly asked for clarification. Pataki rebounded pretty well by explaining that he actually meant "illegal possession of a gun."

Governor Pataki said that he had revamped the laws regarding illegal possession to make it easier to target real criminals rather than law abiding citizens. Both Patrick and I still felt a little uneasy with his answer. I'm not familiar enough with NY laws to determine if he was being completely honest with his answer.

Luckily I have some friends who live in New York and they are very familiar with gun laws and gun issues in NY. And these friends helped me better understand exactly why I got bad vibes from Pataki.

I'm fleshing out the details, so I guess we'll have a Pataki Part Three tomorrow.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

New York Governor Visits State

I was recently invited to represent Gun Owners of South Carolina (NRA State Association) at a luncheon and roundtable discussion with Governor George Pataki of New York. While I liked Pataki, I'm not sure he's as pro-gun as most South Carolinians (and probably not most New Yorkers). This is important to know, because Pataki is obviously exploring the possibility of a presidential run on the Republican ticket in 2008.

During the roundtable session I asked Governor Pataki how he'd appeal to pro-gunners who often see New York politicians as unsupportive of our issues? His answer was rehearsed and predictable.

Basically Pataki explained that he was a state's rights conservative and (in his view) the federal government ought not interfere with lawful gun ownership. He would oppose efforts at the federal level to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms. Okay, but not a very strong pro-gun answer.

Pataki also talked about how crime had dropped in New York during his tenure. Tougher sentences, good judicial appointments, and strict prosecution of even small crimes were all cited as contributing to the drop. I agree with that approach and it prompted me to ask about right-to-carry.

I prefaced my question with a brief explanation of how effective our shall-issue CWP law has been at reducing crime. I asked, what (if anything) he had done in New York to move things in a similar direction? Again, he gave a reasonable, albeit rehearsed answer.

After again mentioning the state's rights angle, Pataki went on to say that "what works in one part of the country might not work in others." He said each state should decide. He also said that an effort was underway in New York (with his support) to make concealed weapons permits good statewide.

Apparently such permits are fairly common in New York with the exception of New York City. He said permits issued in other parts of the state should be honored in NYC. He scored a few points by observing, "After all, that's where you're most likely to need one."

My good friends in New York are fortunate to have Pataki in the Governor's Office. As I understand it, he has been a breath of fresh air compared to the liberals that preceded him. I also understand that he's moderated his previously pro-gun state assembly record to have a broader appeal in places like NYC. With that in mind, I'll explain in my next post why I think he has a long way to go if he hopes to gain pro-gun support across the country.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Happy Birthday Heather!

Today, August 4th, is my little girl's birthday. Problem is she's no longer a little girl! My first daughter, Heather, is 19-years-old today. And YES she does own a gun (three in fact) and Dad made sure she knows how to shoot. Anyway, I'm real proud of her and since this is my little space on the Internet.....I'm taking the liberty to say:

Happy Birthday Heather!