Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Private Property vs. Public Places: What's Worth Protecting?

I came across thee two stories from the same newspaper that show a contrast between the values that individuals in the same community can hold.

The first story is the about an old-timer -- a 92 year-old old-timer to be exact -- who shot and killed an intruder in his home early Labor Day morning. The story is well worth the read, if for no other reason than to see pictures of the mature homeowner himself. Wearing a dingy white V-neck t-shirt wrong-side out and his WWII Retired Veterans cap, the wily Northern Kentucky gentleman makes no bones about the reason he shot the intruder -- to protect himself and his property. Here's how the story from the local newspaper begins:
Earl Jones had just turned off his new TV shortly after 2 a.m. Monday when he heard a bang in the basement. 
The 92-year-old Boone County farmer walked eight paces to get his loaded .22 caliber rifle from behind the bedroom door. He unwrapped a beige cloth and returned to the living room, sitting in a chair with clear view – and shot – of the basement door, waiting with the gun across his lap.

Some 15 minutes later, when he heard footsteps moving closer up the stairs, he raised the rifle to his eye. The intruder kicked open the door. Jones fixed his aim on the center of the man’s chest and fired a single shot. The Boone County Sheriff later announced the death of the intruder, Lloyd (Adam) Maxwell, 24, of Richmond, Ky.

“These people aren’t worth any more to me than a groundhog,” Jones told the Enquirer. “They have our country in havoc. We got so many damned crooked people walking around today.”
This was the third time that Jones has been the victim of theft in less than six months. One of those times he was burglarized and lost his TV and other items from the house. So he was not about to let these intruders get away with their crime. What Jones did in defending his home and property was legal in Kentucky.
Kentucky, like at least two dozen states, has a “Castle doctrine” enshrined in its laws. That’s the right to defend one’s home with deadly force.

Kentucky law allows the use of physical force if someone believes it’s needed to prevent criminal trespass, robbery, or burglary in their house.

Some states, including Kentucky, have expanded the Castle doctrine in recent years, giving people the right to use deadly force outside of their homes.

Called “no retreat” or “stand your ground” laws, they do not require an individual to retreat before using force and allow the individual to match force for force, including deadly force, in public places. Florida’s “stand your ground” law is at the core of the Feb. 26 shooting death of black teen Trayvon Martin by crime-watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
Jones, a veteran of the Air Force (and its predecessor branch of the Army), was not happy that the local authorities took his rifle while the investigation of the shooting is ongoing. “How am I going to protect myself if they come back looking for revenge?” he said. His private property is currently being held in a public place -- the police station.

If I had to make a prediction, I would bet that no charges will be filed against Mr. Jones. He was exercising his Second Amendment right to bear arms and his right to life, liberty, and property, all three of which were in jeopardy when the three young thugs broke into his private property we can call his "castle." I for one would like to meet Mr. Jones, shake his 92 year-old hand, and thank him for showing Americans that our right to live free from fear in our own homes is precious, priceless, and imperiled.

The second story in that same news is briefer than the first. It involves public property rather than private property. Quite simply, it is the report of an order that a judge issued requiring an ad company to remove about 30 or so benches that it erected at bus stops around Covington. It seems the benches, which have been around for quite a few years, have ads on them, and these have been deemed an eyesore by "city leaders."

Some of the hideous eyesores 

So, while the city leaders will get their wish -- they do not have to look at ads on the bus stop benches (nor the benches themselves) as they drive by in their personally owned vehicles -- the people who actually use the buses will have to stand while they wait for the public transport vehicles to arrive.

Naturally there will not be anyone standing there with a rifle to protect the bus stop benches when the ad company comes to remove them. The benches are private property located in a public place, so the city gets to make the call. But it sure sounds like the city leaders are playing out the old adage about throwing the baby out with the bath water. I cannot say there is anyone on the city council in Covington whose hand I would want to shake on this one.

And don't get me started on the whole Free Speech argument!

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