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Editor's column: There are some places guns just don’t belong

March 10, 2012
Marshall Independent

Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday night vetoed HF1467, the bill that would've expanded the cases that people could use deadly force and allowed Minnesota residents to use deadly force in places away from their homes if they feared their life was in danger.

It was the right thing to do, even though it wasn't a no-brainer. Something tells me this wasn't a slum dunk decision for our governor.

The state already has a law known as the castle doctrine that allows the use of deadly force in defending a home or dwelling, and there's no need to expand the current law to a person's boat or tent, for example, and this bill would've done just that.

It was too liberal of legislation, plain and simple. The MN Police and Peace Officers Association, the MN Chiefs of Police and the MN Sheriffs Association all were strongly opposed to this measure, so why should we argue?

Dayton made the right call.

The bill would have created the presumption that a person using deadly force believed they were in danger of harm from any intruder in their home or dwelling. Current law says deadly force may be used if it is what a reasonable person would do, and if there is no way to safely retreat. The bill would have removed the obligation to retreat.

There are, of course, two sides to this issue, and if proponents want to continue pursuing it, I think they should; the bill just needs to be tweaked a bit more.

For instance, any legislation shouldn't include a person's hotel room, nor their boat, or tent.

It's nice to think all law-abiding gun owners are responsible, but all it takes is one instance, one 5-year-old wandering into a tent while camping and finding some dude's gun tucked under a sleeping bag. Now you have an unsupervised kid holding a gun with visions of one sweet game of Cowboys and Indians in his head. There's no question this bill would've increased the possibility that someone, somewhere, would've brought a gun with on a family vacation to the lake.

We've all heard horror stories about kids who find daddy's gun in a shoe box in some closet in the house; how is not conceivable that same kid comes across a gun during a camping trip?

Let's not fool ourselves, not all carriers of firearms are as responsible as they should be. That's not even debatable. Assuming they all are is like assuming the safety is on. And say they were, what happens if they get lazy and leave it sitting out? What happens if they're a tad forgetful and misplace it?

Not going to happen? Have you ever lost something on a camping trip? Even if all your bases were covered, what about theft? How hard is it to steal something from someone's tent? Not exactly Fort Knox.

The National Rifle Association said the bill contained "vital common-sense reforms that would have enhanced self-defense laws" for law-abiding Minnesotans. Since when is having a gun on one's boat common sense?

Tackle box, check. Rods, check. Life jacket, check. Glock, check. Cooler, check.

Who fears for their life on a boat to the extent they would need to be packing heat? I know getting drilled in the temple by a jumping Asian Carp is no picnic, but come on.

People, no doubt, should be able to defend themselves and their family by any means necessary at their home, in their garage or in another building on their property, maybe even in their car, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. There's room for reform on current law, but the bill that was vetoed Monday has too much of a "Wild West" flavor to it. No offense, Yosemite Sam.

Call me conservative, but frankly, the bill scared the ba-jeezus out of me. Own all the guns you want, just don't bring them to the campfire.



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