December 17, 2004

"Live Free Or Die"? Doesn't Ring A Bell...

You'd think after all those years of running license plates that a New Hampshire cop would at least be familiar with the concept.

"We don't want gun battles in the street over this,' Lt. Tim Brownell said. 'It's better if the employee and everyone else give up the money."

That comes from this story about adult stores being robbed & some employees of such stores deciding to arm themselves.

At least the employees & owners are showing more sense than the cops:

"I'm not going to use it without reason,' employee Shawn Watkins said. 'I just suggest someone not come in with ski masks on."

& before the cries of "damn right" die down...

"Watkins said he is ex-military with gun training, and Paone said his other employee was also in the military. Both said they believe they can handle themselves.
'We're prepared to fight,' Watkins said. 'We're not going to sit by idly and let someone get away with this."

& in contrast to certain national pizza chains, the owner of at least one store has the right attitude:

"Although Moonlight Reader has never been robbed, employees decided they need sidearms to protect themselves."
"I said, 'Absolutely. If you feel more comfortable carrying, have a blast. Don't do anything foolish,' Moonlight Reader owner Del Paone said."

Hmmm. Maybe someone should inform him that all employees are just a weapons reach away from becoming immoral homicidal maniacs? Or that he's greatly increasing the risk of suicide by encouraging firearms possession? But it seems like you'd have an easier time convincing him that no man wants to look at pictures, let alone videos, of a 20 year old blonde lady in a cheerleader outfit. In other words he sounds like he is capable of using logic rather than some variant of leftist emotion-think.

Oh, what prompted this?

"Police warned adult stores to be on alert after the two recent robberies. On Tuesday, a masked man with a semi-automatic weapon held up Spaulding Book and Video. Two weeks ago, a similar heist was reported at the 5th Wheel. Both incidents happened at night around closing time."

So the cops warned adult stores that someone seemed to be targeting them, then this asshat of a cop spouts off some bullshit about gun battles in the street & it's better to just comply? I hope this hypocrite has turned in his sidearm, lest he gets involved ina gun battle in a street while trying to arrest someone when he should just concede to the criminals demands that he back off.

Now the motto "Live Free or Die" comes from Gen. John Stark. Here's the full quote:

"Live Free Or Die; Death Is Not The Worst of Evils."

Gen. Stark sent this as a toast when he had to decline attendance at the 32nd anniversary of the Battle of Bennington, Vt. The battle took place in 1777. So I'm sure that the intent was not specifically to address freedom from armed robbery - well, at least by non-government actors. But the sentiment should be taken generally, as freedom can be threatened by government & non-government entities alike.

I could be way off base on this (& if so please correct me) but I'd think that Gen. Stark would not take kindly to an agent of the government advising New Hampshire citizens to just throw themselves on the mercy of thugs & comply with whatever demands they make at the point of a gun. In fact I'd go even further & wager good Confederate money that General Stark's boot would be firmly inserted into the rectum of one Lt. Tim Brownell if the good General were alive & in the room when the asshat spewed his asshattery.

Now to give you the full context of what Brownell said:

"According to New Hampshire law, carrying a gun is legal as long as it's not concealed. Legal or not, police said they are concerned about citizens potentially taking the law into their own hands.
'We don't want gun battles in the street over this,' Lt. Tim Brownell said. 'It's better if the employee and everyone else give up the money."

I'd also assume that "police" refers solely to the illogical opinion of Lt. Tim Brownell rather than a consensus of law enforcement officers spoken to. I may well be wrong, but if I'm correct it wouldn't be the first time that a reporter labeled the musings of one cop as a police consensus.

& NH law allows for carrying concealed with a permit. You probably know how I feel about permits by now (also look here), but still it's inaccurate to claim that open carry is the only legal means.

But again I must take issue with the phrase "taking the law into their own hands". If New Hampshire is a government of the people, then how can they not "take the law into their own hands"? Are the NH police (or more likely Lt. Tim Brownell) anti-voting? Are they anti-lobbying? Are they anti-litigation?

What the phrase usually means is that ordinary people would act directly in apprehending suspects & presumably punishing them after determining their guilt. Now bypassing the judicial process is something I'd be opposed to, as a fair trial is essential to any open judiciary system, but there is a distinct difference between what the phrase means literally, what it's common usage denotes, & most importantly the situations it's used in reference to.

I think I've covered what it means on its surface as well as what is implied by it in common usage. But what situations does it usually refer to? Very rarely will someone use the phrase "taking the law into their own hands" to denote apprehension, trial & punishment outside the course of government sanctioned entities. Were someone to use the phrase to denounce a lynch mob who attempted to hang a man based on less than concrete evidence then I'd agree it was used appropriately (at least according to its common, not literal, meaning).

But more often than not, in fact I'd say the vast majority of the time, its used to deflate the value of a non-government agent either enforcing the law (i.e. stopping a crime in progress) or in defending himself & his property from unjustifiable actions by another.

I think that would apply here; the asshatted cop in question isn't worried about adult store employees catching a crook then hanging him (though if crooks had that concern I'd think there'd be less active crooks in that area) but rather he's worried about the employees relying on themselves & not him for protection against armed thugs.

& " or not..."? I hope that's just the reporter badly paraphrasing, but if it's not then what that particular qualifier means is that it's irrelevant if something is in fact legal. Now don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things that are legal that I wouldn't recommend doing or encourage others to do, but for an agent of the state to discourage a legal activity is offensive & should be offensive to anyone who hears of it. The government (including its agents while on the clock) should take no position one way or the other as to a action that is legal.

So more or less what the cop is saying is that he doesn't care if it's legal, he doesn't think citizens should protect themselves even after the cops warned them that they're in danger.

I've often thought about having an Asshat of the Week series. But the more I read I realize it'd have to become an Asshat of the Day series to narrow down the choices. Lt. Tim Brownell would definitely be a contender in either category.

But at least the adult stores in NH have more sense than say, a certain national pizza chain. They realize that an armed employee won't likely be a dead employee after a robbery. & again unlike a certain national pizza chain the adult store owners probably wouldn't fire an employee who used a weapon in justifiable self defense. Don't you find it a little odd that a company that makes food feels its employees are not to be trusted with arms whereas an adult book store does? < sarcasm > No, I'm not saying the next time you feel like a pizza go buy a porn vid instead, but then again you'd at least be doing business with a company (in NH at least) that doesn't employee unstable people who are just a weapons' reach away from going on a shooting spree. < /sarcasm >

But it's good that some people do realize that death is not the worst thing that can happen to you, & that "Live Free Or Die" is not just some old words on a license plate.

Posted by Publicola at December 17, 2004 07:24 PM
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