They say that if a shark stops moving forward, it will die. Something about the design of its primitive gills that requires the constant movement of water over them in order to allow the fish to breathe. Not sure if that’s a true statement or one of those myths that’s sorely in need of busting, but I have been thinking a lot about it in light of a recent begging letter mailer I got from the NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action, the NRA’s political lobbying arm.)
In the letter, ILA Executive Director Chris Cox warns me in typically strident NRA fashion that my assistance (pronounced “cash”) is needed to help the NRA establish the “Castle Doctrine” for Colorado.
Now, for those of you living under a rock, “castle doctrine” refers to the concept that “a man’s home is his castle” (and presumably a woman’s home, too, to be properly PC.) “Castle Doctrine” laws generally are those that allow a person to use deadly force against a burglar without the necessity to establish that the burglar intended to do them harm. The laws also generally do not require the homeowner or resident to attempt to retreat or flee before using deadly force. Essentially, it is a law that says that if a homeowner uses deadly force against a burglar or other unlawful intruder, it will be presumed to be justified and the state will have to overcome that burden in order to prosecute the homeowner.
There’s nothing wrong with Castle Doctrine laws, like many people I support them. However, there is something deeply wrong with the NRA’s letter, because in its fourth paragraph, the letter states that “…your state is among those that have not enacted a Castle Doctrine law to provide you and your family with these vital protections against violent criminals.”
Well, sorry Chris, but that’s bullshit. Not only does Colorado have a “Castle Doctrine” law, it has a very strong one. Colorado’s law was passed in the early 1980’s, and reads as follows:
18-1-704.5. Use of deadly physical force against an intruder.
(1) The general assembly hereby recognizes that the citizens of Colorado have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes.
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 18-1-704, any occupant of a dwelling is justified in using any degree of physical force, including deadly physical force, against another person when that other person has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, and when the occupant has a reasonable belief that such other person has committed a crime in the dwelling in addition to the uninvited entry, or is committing or intends to commit a crime against a person or property in addition to the uninvited entry, and when the occupant reasonably believes that such other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant.
(3) Any occupant of a dwelling using physical force, including deadly physical force, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall be immune from criminal prosecution for the use of such force.
(4) Any occupant of a dwelling using physical force, including deadly physical force, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall be immune from any civil liability for injuries or death resulting from the use of such force.
The law was passed in 1985, just two years after the release of “Sudden Impact”, the fourth installment of the “Dirty Harry” series of Clint Eastwood movies, and because of this, the law bears the name of that movie’s tagline: It’s called the “Make my day” law (insert rolling eyes icon here.)
As the law has been in place for a quarter of a century, it has been well tested and well proven. Notice that it not only gives the lawful shooter immunity from criminal prosecution, it gives him immunity from civil suit as well.
To hear Mr. Cox tell it, though, you would get the idea that Colorado residents must cower in their homes before any armed intruder for fear of being arrested by “the man” should they use deadly force.
Of course, if you read the fine print of the NRA letter, you can see that what they really want to do is extend the “make my day” law (which only covers dwellings – that is, places where people live and sleep) to cover automobiles and businesses, too. So what Mr. Cox undoubtedly meant to say was not the Colorado doesn’t have a “Castle Doctrine” law, it is that Colorado doesn’t have as much of a “Castle Doctrine” law as the NRA would like it to have.
And yet…as a Colorado gun owner and shooter, I haven’t heard anything that would lead me to believe that such an expansion of the law is either necessary or desired by any significant number of gun owners in the Centennial State.
Keep in mind that Colorado already allows people to carry loaded, concealed guns in their cars and businesses – without a permit. Hey, don’t take my word for it, here’s the statute you can read for yourself:
18-12-105. Unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon – unlawful possession of weapons.
(1) A person commits a class 2 misdemeanor if such person knowingly and unlawfully:
(a) Carries a knife concealed on or about his or her person; or
(b) Carries a firearm concealed on or about his or her person; …
(2) It shall not be an offense if the defendant was:
(a) A person in his or her own dwelling or place of business or on property owned or under his or her control at the time of the act of carrying; or
(b) A person in a private automobile or other private means of conveyance who carries a weapon for lawful protection of such person’s or another’s person or property while traveling;
Not only does Colorado allow you to carry a loaded weapon in your car, but the state actually has a law that prohibits municipalities from restricting that right, which states in part:
18-12-105.6. Limitation on local ordinances regarding firearms in private vehicles…
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no municipality, county, or city and county shall have the authority to enact or enforce any ordinance or resolution that would restrict a person’s ability to travel with a weapon in a private automobile or other private means of conveyance for hunting or for lawful protection of a person’s or another’s person or property while traveling into, through, or within, a municipal, county, or city and county jurisdiction, regardless of the number of times the person stops in a jurisdiction.
The fact is, Colorado is probably one of the most gun-friendly states in the entire country. Our “shall issue” permits allow us to carry anywhere in the state except for public K-12 schools, the state legislature, and courthouses or other government facilities that have metal detectors and screening procedures (the law specifically requires these – if they’re not present, concealed carry is explicitly allowed.)
So what to make of this NRA letter? It should come as no surprise that the NRA was at its fattest and most happy when it was under attack – that is, during the Clinton years when the president and his cronies were attacking the NRA at every opportunity (and the NRA,of course, was returning the favor.) As Robert has pointed out, the NRA now seems to be floundering around to establish its relevance after it has essentially “won” most of its political battles. Having rolled back the “assault weapons” Home Defense Gun ban, having established “shall issue” concealed carry in 40 of the 50 states, and having essentially succeeded in defeating the image of gun owners as reckless rednecks, the NRA is faced with an existential crisis: Where do they go now? How do they keep moving forward, and how do they stay relevant, when their enemies have grown so weak as to no longer be a threat?
If Chris Cox’s letter is any indication, they seem to be thrashing around trying to find issues to rile up gun owners. The letter states that “Castle Doctrine” laws are necessary to prevent malicious prosecutors from going after hapless gun-owning citizens who shoot intruders in self defense. And yet…that just isn’t happening, at least not here in Colorado. In fact, not only has the “make my day” law prevented prosecutions in cases where innocent homeowners righteously shot criminals, it has also prevented prosecutions in cases where homeowners mistakenly shot intoxicated or mentally impaired intruders, and even in cases where there were serious questions raised about the motivations of the shooter.
Cox warns us that the Obama administration is stacked with anti-gunners – a point that is as true as it is irrelevant when it comes to Colorado laws. He warns us that gun banners want to license gun owners, shut down gun shows, and force us to register guns – all points which have nothing to do with the “Castle Doctrine.”
Are the NRA’s days as the premier political lobby in DC done? Not yet. But certainly, the lack of a good enemy has been more devastating to the NRA than any broadside attack from the White House, the Mainstream Media, or “Law and Order” on NBC ever could be. And this dishonest and deceptive NRA beg letter seems to show a level of desperation that the NRA has never before demonstrated. It wouldn’t be surprising if it was now the sworn enemies of the NRA who smell blood in the water.
DISCLOSURE: The author has been an NRA Annual member for over 25 years, and is still an active member.
Source: Colorado Revised Statues