When Erin McCoy awoke from a Saturday afternoon nap to the sound of glass breaking, she grabbed a shotgun. Seeing a hand trying to open the window in her kitchen, she tried to warn him off, but he kept coming. That’s when she sent an ounce or so of persuasion toward the uninvited guest. Pretty much your standard issue DGU. Woman defends herself, suspects flee and one presents at the local ER with a sucking chest wound claiming he was “shot while playing basketball.” But in a post-Trayvon world, something has changed . . .
Check out the report of the burglary interruptus from WRAL, Fayetteville, North Carolina, above. Notice the feigned surprise of the talking head, Jackie Highland, as she intro’s the story and throws it to Brian Mims.
“So Brian, state law protects the homeowner in this case?”
That’s when Bri gives the camera a gravely concerned look and a heavy, world-weary sigh before launching into an extended – well, for TV news, anyway – description of North Carolina’s Castle Doctrine law for the uneducated masses who still actually look to local broadcasts for anything more than the weather report. He even throws in a reference to Jolly Ol’ England, citing the law’s origins. Impressive.
Anecdotally speaking, this seems to be the new normal. Almost every account of someone using a gun to defend himself now carries a much more detailed description of how the Castle Doctrine applies and the fact that, when used as written, the gun user is protected from prosecution.
The more disapproving accounts (no matter how clear-cut the DGU may have been) go to great lengths to explain that police and prosecutors’ hands are tied in these cases by the Machiavellian machinations of the state legislature that enacted the statute. Others give a more straightforward rundown of the protections afforded a self-defender. YMMV depending on locality and the J-school the reporter involved attended.
It’s hard to tell whether all the added explication comes from sincere effort to provide more news you can use in the wake of Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin or if it’s just thinly veiled lamentation over our increasingly gun-friendly society. If Isaiah Witty and Deshawn Smith has been wearing hoodies last weekend, it seems a good bet that Mims would have reported that crucial fact. Thank God there were no Skittles found at the scene.