The Hazards of Expressing Opinions in Amerika

Tim May tcmay at
Thu Aug 21 20:45:43 PDT 1997

At 5:27 PM -0700 8/21/97, William H. Geiger III wrote:

>Somthing is seriously wrong when a home owner is more afraid of the
>consequences of defending his home than his is from the criminals
>attacking it.

Or when he is afraid of even expressing his opinion about defending his home!

Let me explain. A well-respected expert on self defense, Massad Ayoob,
writes for the various gun magazines. He's either a current or former New
Jersey cop, obviously of Arabic heritage. A very knowledgeable guy. He
often testifies in court cases involving a homeowner or shopkeeper
defending himself or his family.

Well, in recent years he's been increasingly strident about warning readers
not to do certain kinds of things, as these have been shown to affect jury
outcomes and have resulted in long prison terms for some of his employers.

I don't have a list of his "don'ts," but here's the idea, paraphrasing,
from memory:

* Don't use hollowpoints or any other politically incorrect ammunition,
even though these hollowpoints penetrate through walls less and are hence
safer to use in urban areas. Juries have been swayed to find for the
plaintiff, usually a perp who survived the self-defense, or his family, now
suing for everything the homeowner has.

* Don't use a self-loading rifle, and self-loading handguns are probably
best avoided, too. A plaintiff's lawyer will hold up a self-loader and
refer to it as an "automatic assault rifle," or, in the case of a
self-loading pistol, will scare the jury with tales of how "this gun can
fire a bullet with every pull of the trigger, spraying bullets." Best to
use an old-looking rifle, like an old side-by-side shotgun, or an old
Winchester 1894 lever gun, as the jury may be reminded of old Grandma and
her shotgun, or of John Wayne and his lever gun.

* Don't use any caliber of ammunition that has the word "magnum" in it.
Thus, no .357 Magnum, no .44 Magnum, etc. The word "magnum" makes a jury
think you were trying to kill the perp, which is bad.

(* Oh, it is best to say that you were only trying to "wing" the perp. If
he survives, say that this was your intent. If he dies, and his family is
pressing the damage claim, say it was an accident that he died. Of course,
all reputable self defense expert scoff at the notion of trying to "wing"
someone, and say that you shouldn't aim a gun at someone unless you plan to
shoot, and you shouldn't shoot unless you are aiming to kill, but don't say
anything about this to the jury. The jury wants to believe that shots can
be aimed to "wing" perps.)

* Don't fire more than one shot, as this may be argued to be "excessive
force." (Even though it is only apparent later, often much later, which
bullet incapacitated the intruder or robber. Firing just one shot and then
waiting to see if the perp stops shooting, or approaching, is rarely a wise
thing to do. When you have to shoot, you want to PUT HIM DOWN!! With as
many shots as you think it takes.)

* Don't publicly express opinions that a plaintiff's attorney could dig up
and use to show a "state of mind." No letters to the editor about cracking
down on criminals, no posts to the Net or mailing lists. (Ayoob hasn't
mentioned DejaNews, but one can imagine his reaction.)

* Don't belong to any militias, self-defense organizations, survivalist
groups, or even Community Watch programs. These have all been shown to
affect the nitwits on juries to find fro the poor innocent kid gunned down
in cold blood by the gun-toting right-wing Nazi.

* Don't subscribe, or purchase, gun magazines, survivalist literature, etc.
(Ayoob writes for gun magazines, ironically.)

* Don't use, or even own, a gun which a plaintiff's lawyer can hold up in
court and use to scare the jury members. This includes nearly any rifle
with a visible scope, visible detachable magazine, or one which is "black."
Even if this gun was not used in the action in question, all guns at the
residence will be seized by the authorities and made available to the other
side for use in their case.

* If possible, join left-wing organizations like the Sierra Club,
Greenpeace, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Jury members
will see one is a softhearted liberal, and maybe conclude that the intruder
was the one who deserved to be screwed, instead of the other way around. If
at all possible, register as a Democrat, as everyone knows Democrats aren't
gun-crazy killers like right-wingers are.

* Be careful what one writes in letters, in journals, or in other private
writings. These may become accessible under the "discovery" rules, and a
plaintiff's attorney may be able to find a quote or two which will make the
homeowner seem heartless or bloodthirsty.

(I'm not sure Ayoob has made all of these points. Some may be my own
contributions. But the gist is that civil damage cases are the real threat
to someone defending himself. And many homeowners insurance policies are
being changed to exclude protection for any situation involving the
discharge of a firearm.)

Ayoob was not always advocating such lamb-like, deceitful behavior. But
apparently he's seen too many cases where the political views and actions
of his employers undercut them in court and the perp who broke in or tried
to rob a store got multimillion dollar judgments from the person who used
"deadly force" to try to defend himself, his family, his employees, or his

Another reason to use pseudonyms, of course.

(It's too late for me. A band of Hispanic home invaders could hit my house,
and I'd be the one found liable...all those posts their lawyers could find
with DejaNews or with other search engines. Including this one, which the
lawyer scum would use to show that I set out to "trick" the jury by
appearing to be mild and meek.)

--Tim May

There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number of laws.
Only one response to the key grabbers is warranted: "Death to Tyrants!"
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay at  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1398269     | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."

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