The Spirit Over The Letter

Last month I wrote post on the troubling trend of legislators tripping over themselves in the pursuit of sponsoring bills that adds ever more rules and laws into our lives. Not only are there too many laws now (many are just goofy) but the trend for their increase in numbers keeps rolling along. The impetus behind this is obvious, legislators have to justify their existence to get reelected, and the states/municipalities need the money garnered from fines.

But when justifiable laws/laws that make sense are enforced stupidly or without due regard for common sense, the damage is doubled because now you loose the support of the folks, that know better:

A New Hampshire man who fired his handgun into the ground to scare an alleged burglar he caught crawling out of a neighbor’s window is now facing a felony charge — and the same potential prison sentence as the man he stopped.
Dennis Fleming, 61, of Farmington, was arrested for reckless conduct after the Saturday incident at his 19th century farmhouse. The single grandfather had returned home to find that his home had been burglarized and spotted Joseph Hebert, 27, climbing out of a window at a neighbor’s home. Fleming said he yelled “Freeze!” before firing his gun into the ground, then held Hebert at gunpoint until police arrived.

This whole incident is troubling on a number of levels. Not only (in my mind) does this not meet the elements of the crime (where was this in any way reckless?) but they arrest a guy that is helping the police apprehend a burglar, then they take away all of his firearms, leaving him defenseless for future attacks and telling him even before his trial (whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?) that he cannot be trusted with his existing firarms, and depriving him of his Constitutional Second Amendment protections without due process.

Granted, this is not Texas, where The Castle Doctrine allows it’s citizens liberal interpretations concerning the protection of life and property, but even in left wing NH, the elements of the crime must be met.

Looking at the particular statute supposedly violated:

I. A person is guilty of reckless conduct if he recklessly engages in conduct which places or may place another in danger of serious bodily injury.
II. Reckless conduct is a class B felony if the person uses a deadly weapon as defined in RSA 625:11, V. All other reckless conduct is a misdemeanor.

Firing a weapon, on his own property and into the ground/not at the suspect, does not meet the definition of “reckless conduct”, sorry, but it doesn’t. Now I am assuming that the ground was dirt/grass or made up of some substance that would not cause a ricochet, where the bullet could not be controlled.

“I think it’s outrageous,” Pelkey told “He did the community a service here. We ought to thank him for it.”

Could not agree more, this whole episode just stinks to high heaven.

Now since I am familiar with the process, I am somewhat hopeful that:

1) The arresting department will drop the charges, knowing that the elements were not met and the public will not be served going forward with the charges.
2) The District Attorney’s Office will not file the charges, for the above reasons.
3) And if the above two reasons fail, the presiding judge will dismiss the charges on the spot, since he is the lone voice of reason and tasked with injecting common sense and fairness into his courtroom.

I would bet a large sum of money that this case will not go forward, I can’t imagine any sane juror thinking Fleming did wrong. When the electorate loses confidence in the judicial system and it’s ability to interpret the law and protect the law abiding citizens out there, governments get overturned. Here is hoping that cooler heads prevail.

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  1. TxAg94

    The police simply can’t and won’t tolerate competition. If we protect ourselves then how will they justify spending more and more money on brand new police cars and SUVs every year, new computers and fancy gadgets, and more and more guns for themselves? Besides, it’s always easier to find a way to go after the otherwise law-abiding citizen who may have some money in his pocket versus a criminal who can’t be changed or fleeced for cash.

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