The Tonawanda News
Quite a few years ago I wrote a column about bringing the Castle Doctrine to New York State. The Doctrine would empower the individual by recognizing, within the confines of the home, the natural right to self-defense.
In doing so, it would repeal the Duty to Retreat, the morbid rule that requires, in the event of a break-in, homeowners to take a breather and not immediately protect themselves, their family and their property from the offending criminal.
Duty to Retreat demands that you first flee the criminal and then assess if he is a threat to limb or body. Only after the third step in the process — announcing your intent to harm the criminal — can you retaliate with potentially deadly force (handgun, shotgun, etc.) to subdue the individual. It’s foolish, because you are mandated by law to give the degenerate thug friendly consideration that he certainly isn’t giving you or your family. The Castle Doctrine would make everything right and put the power in the hands of the responsible, law-abiding citizen.
As with almost all of my columns, it was written with activism in mind. I believe that the newspaper is a great means by which to educate others and engage your elected officials. So, I did just that, contacting Senator George Maziarz at the time, asking that he develop Castle Doctrine legislation for New York. He followed through and has introduced the bill in each of the past four years, understanding that the protection of home and family is paramount.
Last week, he came under fire for that bill (S.281) when two-dozen Senate Democrats, driven by popularized mass hysteria, got together to use the Trayvon Martin situation to try to score some political points and paint Maziarz as someone who is intent on passing legislation that, in their words, has the effect of justifying murder. Collectively penning and signing a letter that they released to the Albany press and to their constituents through their Senate websites, they asked that Maziarz “withdraw the dangerous bill.”
Showing how intent they were on playing politics and not focusing on the details, their letter kept calling his bill “Stand Your Ground,” referencing the law that they said was responsible for Martin’s death. They’re comparing apples to oranges. Maziarz’s bill, as I mentioned, is formulated on the Castle Doctrine, one that allows reasonable unrestrained protection in the home or in the car (the latter being an extension of one’s castle). Stand Your Ground, on the other hand, allows the right to immediate self-defense anywhere and everywhere (which, by the way, makes sense because you don’t encounter criminals only in the home). So, their weak argument was flawed from the start by misleading any interested parties — and maybe even themselves. Worse yet, their letter also engaged in dangerous race-baiting, something that further brings down their argument and their intelligence.
Looking past their grandstanding, I cannot help but wonder about the ability to reason by anyone so strongly opposed to the Castle Doctrine (or “Stand Your Ground” as they mislabel it). How can those Democratic Senators seriously look their constituents in the eyes and tell them that they don’t have rights — but the criminals do — and we should do what we can to protect all criminals from harm and afford them the chance to commit their crimes untouched by mandating that we cower to them? Only in New York could elected officials think it makes perfect sense to exercise respect for criminals, giving them the extra seconds and minutes they need to steal, maim, rape and kill once they have broken into our homes.
That said, does it really sound like those Democrats have the best interest of the people in mind? No. They have only themselves in mind or else they wouldn’t be playing politics with a boy’s corpse. I will take their bombastic letter for what it is — trash — and continue to support Senator Maziarz’s bill until it becomes law because I’d hate to see yet another teenager laid to waste. Understand that here in New York that death would occur as the result of current law telling the boy’s dad that he has a duty to retreat and protect a criminal before protecting his beloved family … just as those 24 senators want it.
Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. His column runs on Tuesdays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.