Monday, November 08, 2004

Self defense: A right not a privilege

The law must be changed to give citizens rights against police who interfere with self-defence, lie to them, or prevent them from helping each other, ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today in commenting about the nightmare attack on the Bentleys last weekend.

"The Government has long forgotten the founding principle of policing: that constables have no more powers or privileges than ordinary law-abiding citizens - they merely do full-time what any citizen can do part-time," Mr Franks said. "The police have to work within the Government's culture of hostility towards self-reliance. When the police don't want to charge people who've successfully defended themselves, Attorney-General Margaret Wilson's officials in the Crown Law Office will overrule the police and insist on a prosecution. "Last weekend, the police prevented the Bentleys' neighbours from exercising their right to make a citizen's arrest, from being called to shoot the intruders, and from ever again believing in police reassurances.

"I have a law amendment which would direct judges to recognise that self help is the only effective help for most rural people. Accordingly, it would encourage them to exercise the right every New Zealander was comfortable with until the 1970s. That is, the right to expect praise, not condemnation and bankrupting prosecutions for successful self defence.

More here

How awful! A soldier with toy guns: "A 22-year-old soldier from Darwin's Robertson Barracks has been fined $600 for firearms offences involving replica pistols that were found in his house in October last year. Geoffrey James Brotherton was cooperating with a police search for drugs at the Barracks when the firearms were found. The Darwin Magistrates Court heard Brotherton was not licensed to handle the replica pistols. His lawyer told the court the firearms had small plastic pellets and his client had used them to shoot at figurines when he was a teenager. Magistrate Daynor Trigg heard the soldier had served in Iraq and East Timor and was an exemplary soldier. He was fined
$600 and no conviction was recorded."

Court ponders gun control law: "The Supreme Court considered Wednesday whether people convicted of a crime overseas can be barred from owning a gun in the United States, with the argument at times centering on how the absent Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist might rule. .... U.S. law forbids felons from owning guns, with a few exceptions for antitrust and trade violations. At issue in the case is whether Congress meant to include foreign convictions when it criminalized firearm possession by anybody convicted in "any court." 'I''m going to ask a question the chief justice would ask if he were here because he always asked it," said Justice Antonin Scalia. "If you had to pick your best case in interpreting the word 'any,' what would it be?"

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