Rendell’s Retreat

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“What more sacred, what more strongly guarded by every holy feeling, than a man’s own home.”
— Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife."
— Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in
Brown v US, 1921.

“I do not believe that in a civilized society we should encourage violent and deadly confrontation when the victim can safely protect themselves (sic) [through retreat].”
— Outgoing Governor Ed Rendell (D-Pa.)

If your home is your castle and is so sacrosanct that 2 millennia worth of brighter lights than Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell believe you have the right to defend it, then is it not reasonable to extend the same protections to your person as your property?

Rendell thinks not, expecting “detached reflection.” Thus, he used his waning authority to veto a bill expanding Pennsylvania’s Castle Doctrine to include the right to use deadly force to repel attackers, even if the potential victim is outside his or her home.

The bill, which passed with overwhelming majorities in both houses of the state legislature, would have guaranteed Pennsylvanians the same rights held by the citizens of more than 30 states. By vetoing it last Saturday, Rendell ensured that the bill couldn’t be rescued from the clutches of liberalism before a state assembly veto-override deadline.

Unfortunately for the good people of Pennsylvania, they may have to wait a minute for a rescue from the clutches of an armed felon. Rendell, who spends his days surrounded by a State Police security detail, is highly unlikely to experience the sort of moment for which the bill was intended. Perhaps a stroll through South Philly after 3 a.m. might change his perspective.

And perspective is the key to the “stand your ground” philosophy of self-defense. Liberals like Rendell, irrationally terrified of firearms because of what they MIGHT represent, prefer to encourage flight over fight. But the proud citizen, imbued with the spirit of freedom tempered with responsibility, knows that flight is not only sometimes impossible, but ALWAYS illogical.

Why should a law-abiding citizen be forced to run for his life when he is perfectly capable of defending himself? For liberals like Rendell, the response is simple: The law-abiding citizen is easier to control through legislation. The armed felon isn’t likely to simply give up his life of crime and get a day job because the Governor of Pennsylvania wants him to.

In 1895, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Beard v US:

“A man assailed on his own grounds, without provocation, by a person… apparently seeking his life is not obliged to retreat, but may stand his ground and defend himself …” (emphasis mine)

A liberal would read that quote and remark that 1895 was a far different time; armed confrontations were more frequent, and less likely to draw a timely response from Pennsylvania’s finest. I would remark in turn by suggesting the liberal visit gang-ridden Allentown late on a Saturday night.

Anti-Bill of Rights Groups like the Brady Campaign and the Violence Prevention Center presume that WE can’t be trusted; that stand-your-ground laws would cause American society to degenerate into a Wild-West dystopia. The fact that society has certainly not done so is immaterial. We’re easier to effect laws upon, because we’re more likely to observe them. Perhaps the next time a Pennsylvanian is staring down the barrel of a mugger’s or rapist’s gun, he or she can call the Violence Prevention Center to ride out and leaflet the assailant into submission.

According to the Department of Justice, violent crime in the United States has dropped precipitously in the last 30 years — a decline which coincides with a rise of States adopting laws which allow the use of deadly force in self-defense. In fact, since 1993, the number of total violent crimes in the U.S. has dropped from more than 4 million to fewer than 2 million. I somehow doubt “midnight basketball” deserves the credit.

In the Constitution of the United States, the 4th Amendment states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

What more unreasonable seizure of the aforementioned security exists than the attempted taking of it by a criminal? And since the 2nd Amendment guarantees us the right to bear arms, why should any of us, from Philadelphia to Phoenix, immediately start looking for the exit when such seizure is threatened?

As for Rendell, the Brady Campaign and the Violence Prevention Center, I am fortunate to live in a state which does allow me to stand my ground. And for the thugs who might consider testing me:

“Go ahead, make my day.” — SFPD Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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