Friday, April 29, 2005


"It is either a Wild West revival, a return to the days of "shoot first and ask questions later," or a triumph for the "Castle Doctrine" -- the notion that enemies invade personal space at their peril. Such dueling rhetoric marked the debate over a measure that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) could sign as early as Tuesday.

The legislation passed so emphatically that National Rifle Association backers plan to take it to statehouses across the nation, including Virginia's, over the next year. The law will let Floridians "meet force with force," erasing the "duty to retreat" when they fear for their lives outside of their homes, in their cars or businesses, or on the street. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in an interview that the Florida measure is the "first step of a multi-state strategy" that he hopes can capitalize on a political climate dominated by conservative opponents of gun control at the state and national levels. "There's a big tailwind we have, moving from state legislature to state legislature," LaPierre said. "The South, the Midwest, everything they call 'flyover land' -- if John Kerry held a shotgun in that state, we can pass this law in that state."

The Florida measure says any person "has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm." Florida law already lets residents defend themselves against attackers if they can prove they could not have escaped. The new law would allow them to use deadly force even if they could have fled and says that prosecutors must automatically presume that would-be victims feared for their lives if attacked. The overwhelming vote margins and bipartisan support for the Florida gun bill -- it passed unanimously in the state Senate and was approved 94 to 20 in the state House, with nearly a dozen Democratic co-sponsors -- have alarmed some national gun-control advocates, who say a measure that made headlines in Florida slipped beneath their radar".

More here


A remote Cape Cod farmhouse became the scene of a bloodbath early yesterday after two masked gunmen burst into a West Barnstable home and pistol-whipped its occupant, only to have the victim's son beat one intruder to death with a baseball bat, sources said. Barnstable police responded to 56 Boxwood Drive after a panicked 911 call saying the suspects had forced their way into the home and began to beat Pete Somers with the butt of a handgun and attempted to tie him up, sources said.

Somers' son, Joel, who was upstairs, grabbed a baseball bat and rushed downstairs to help his father. By then, the elder Somers had fought off one attacker, who then fled. The younger Somers apparently began to beat the second masked gunman, Osnel D. Azor, 23, with the baseball bat. Azor died a short time later at Cape Cod Hospital.

Law enforcement sources said it is unlikely that Joel Somers, who was recently released from jail, will face charges for the fatal beating. Yesterday, Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe confirmed Azor was an intruder. ``He did not belong on the property - had no authority or right to be there,'' O'Keefe said. Another law enforcement source said Azor, who lived in Dennisport, had a long rap sheet. Still, it remained unclear why the gunmen targeted the Somers family, police and prosecutors said. ``Police are conducting a series of interviews and they will continue to do so until they have a clear picture of what went on,'' O'Keefe said.

The Somers' neighbor, Arnold Eliason, called the rental ``a party house,'' saying: ``My gut feeling was there was monkey business going on.'' Both men told neighbors they worked in construction. The Somers, formerly of Franklin, had moved to the dead-end street in September, according to their landlord, J.E. Vandell of Yarmouthport. ``They seemed like good tenants,'' Vandell said. ``They maintained the house nice and paid the rent on time.''


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