The Dorchester County Council has introduced a new law, slated for its third reading at tonight’s council meeting, that will make it illegal for a person to discharge a firearm within 500 feet of a county road. If this measure meets no opposition at tonight’s reading, it will become law.
The county council meeting is at 7 p.m. in council chambers at the Kenneth F. Waggoner building in St. George. Click here for a map.
Many heart-wrenching examples have been given by the County Council as to why this new law is needed. As is always the case, there are tragic stories of bad things that have happened to people – leading to the false conclusion that we must pass this new law, or else. A story was told of a mailbox that was blown to smithereens and a more serious story was told of a child that was hit with a bullet from a neighboring home which was shot accidentally during gun cleaning. Those things are awful, indeed, but does that mean we throw the second amendment out the window?
The fact is that this new law is completely unnecessary, it blurs the line on self defense, and it is an encroachment on the second amendment to the US Constitution that can (and will) be used to further strip gun rights from the law abiding citizens of Dorchester County.
First off, the law isn’t needed because there are already laws on the books to deal with these situations. Shooting holes in a mailbox is not currently legal. It’s called vandalism, and the punishment can be pretty steep. If the prosecutor can show evidence that vandalizing with a firearm also posed a threat to the neighboring households, they can also prosecute for reckless endangerment. No new law is needed.
In the case of the accident during gun cleaning – it was an accident! No new law is going to prevent accidents from happening. If so, why not just pass a new law against traffic accidents? We’d have the safest roads in the world, right? Yet again, if the prosecutor has evidence that the person cleaning the gun was acting criminally reckless, they could have tried the person on charges of attempted murder via criminal negligence. No new law is needed.
Secondly, in matters of self defense the law should be the same as reality: Black and White. When you’re dealing with a life or death situation you only have fractions of a second to respond and make the appropriate decision. If you don’t, you die. It’s already difficult enough to make the decision to fire a weapon on another human being in self defense, but now lawmakers are muddying the waters with this new ordinance. Sure, it contains an amendment providing for self defense, but is everyone who hears about this law also going to know about the amendment? Or do you think some people might just hear: “New law against firing a gun near roads” and mistakenly believe they are handicapped in matters of self defense?
Or, more seriously, couldn’t this new law be used by the police to arrest someone in cases of self defense where the police have their doubts about the merits of the person but don’t have any evidence of murder? Now they can just use this ordinance to hold the person in jail because the burden of proof is on the self-defender. This new law will add hesitation to people who are acting in self defense, and in such cases, hesitation is deadly.
Finally, the worst part of this new legislation is that it goes directly against the natural, unalienable right of people to have and to use firearms. It only slightly violates this right, but that is how all rights violations start: small. Next month we will hear sob stories about how guns in cars mistakenly fired and hit small children, so guns will be banned in cars in parking lots. Then next year we will hear stories about how guns in houses mistakenly fired and hit the neighbor’s pets and so guns in houses will be banned, and so on, and so forth. This law might not seem like a big deal right now, but it will turn out to be the proverbial crack in the dam that eventually allows the tyranny of government to flood the people of Dorchester County.