A reason is a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action, and often depends on who is attempting to justify an action or belief. When the Founding Fathers included the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights that one right of the people was to keep and bear arms, they wisely included the reason to avoid any misinterpretation then or in the future; “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” However, for gun fanatics, anti-American extremists, and the National Rifle Association, the reason for the 2nd Amendment is everything from overthrowing the United States government to intimidating other citizens or to stalk and kill young African American males. There is a troubling new justification for the right to keep and bear arms the NRA supports and it is entrapping suspected burglars and gunning them down in cold blood with impunity as part of the NRA-written and ALEC proposed “stand your ground” or “Castle Doctrine” laws.
Last week in Montana, a German exchange student was gunned down and killed after a man set a trap for intruders by deliberately leaving his garage door open with a purse in plain sight. The man-hunter, Markus Kaarma, set up motion detectors in the garage and upon after they detected someone in the garage, Kaarma calmly grabbed a shotgun and walked to the front of the garage and fired four times in a sweeping motion hitting 17-year old Dirin Dedes twice killing him instantly. The man was rightly charged with first degree murder and he immediately invoked a new NRA-backed Montana Stand Your Ground defense However, Kaarma may not succeed in convincing a jury that firing indiscriminately into his garage was defending himself especially with no clear idea there was anyone inside, or if they presented a clear and present danger. The idea of vigilantes setting traps for human beings is an increasing use of the NRA’s so-called self-defense laws meant to make gun fanatics into judge, jury, and executioner.
The Montana vigilante is not the first, and certainly will not be the last, to claim he was justified in murdering a human being after setting a trap. Last week a Minnesota jury rejected another man’s assertion he was “standing his ground” when he went to great lengths to make it appear his home was unoccupied and waited in what the prosecutor likened to “deer hunting from a tree stand” in his basement with a supply of food and water until two unarmed teenagers descended the stairs where he executed them. The “hunter” made an audio recording of the killings that depicted him toying with the dying victims after he shot them. Prosecutors asserted that the man appeared to take pleasure in murdering the two teens, and the 15-minute clip of the shooting included the sounds of the 17-year old boy and 18-year old girl getting gunned down and the man firing into the wounded teens saying “you’re dead” before dragging their bodies in a tarp to prevent his carpet from getting blood-stained. The man did not tell his neighbors he murdered the teens until a day passed; likely reveling in the human trophies before turning the bodies over to the coroner.
The Montana vigilante’s entrapment and subsequent murder of the German teenager provoked state Representative Ellie Hill to propose legislation to repeal parts of the NRA’s Defense of an Occupied Structure statute that was added in 2009. The NRA championed House Bill 228 because it “expanded the circumstances under which anyone can use a firearm for deadly force and call it “self-defense;” code for indiscriminate murder. Hill said “What the castle doctrine has done in this country is it has created a culture of gun violence and vigilante justice, and it’s created a culture that it’s OK to shoot first and ask questions later.” Montana’s NRA law granted the use of lethal force to anyone who believes shooting will stop an intruder from entering an occupied structure, even if it is an unoccupied garage with the door open.
Before the expanded stand your ground defense was enacted, a person could only use lethal force against an intruder if the assailant acted in a “violent, riotous, or tumultuous manner” that the man writing stand your ground laws claims was too confusing, and gun owners needed a simpler justification for killing. The new law allows an individual to use deadly force if they “reasonably believe” force is necessary to prevent assault or a forcible felony, and automatically presumes the shooter is innocent and shifts the burden on the dead victim to prove they were not intending to assault the shooter or commit a felony. It is an NRA license to kill.
The father of the 17-year-old German exchange student shot dead departed America on Thursday after criticizing the nation’s gun culture saying, “America cannot continue to play cowboy.” The distraught father, Celal Dede, told the German news agency dpa he never imagined his son could be shot and killed for simply entering somebody’s property. Dede said he hoped Kaarma would receive a fair punishment and that he would not have allowed his son to participate in the exchange at Big Sky High School if he had known “that everyone here can kill somebody just because that person entered his backyard.” His son was due to leave for home in a few weeks after the school year was finished. Obviously, Mr. Dede has not kept abreast of American gun culture or the preponderance of gun fanatics looking for any reason to open fire; even in an darkened and open garage without even knowing if someone was inside or if they were threatening someone’s life. The attorney for the murderer said his client was afraid for his life even though he admitted not knowing if the teenagers was armed, his intentions, or if anyone was inside.
There is no end to the myriad justifications gun fanatics find for using firearms to kill other unarmed citizens, at least according to the National Rifle Association. They claim vehemently that gunning down other Americans, whether they are posing a threat, unarmed, or entrapped into entering a wide-open garage is precisely the reason the Founders wrote the 2nd Amendment; or for waging war against the government, or for stalking and killing unarmed African American boys. Doubtless, the NRA will marshal support from other gun zealots for the Montana man who set a trap for Dirin Dede, and pressure Montana legislators to oppose rolling back any part of the expanded stand your ground statutes. Because no matter the circumstances, including vigilante justice, the NRA will never run out of justifications for gun-wielding Americans to shoot unarmed citizens and they have their handy copy of the 2nd Amendment to prove it.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.