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Interesting Citizen's Arrest Incident, Involving Former Congressional Candidate:

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports on an interesting incident involving former Democratic congressional candidate Paul Hackett, who was also an Iraq War veteran:

Indian Hill lawyer and former congressional candidate Paul Hackett -- armed with a loaded assault rifle -- chased down three men in a car after it crashed into a fence at his home in the early morning hours of Nov. 19.

The driver was charged with failure to maintain reasonable control, driving under suspension and carrying a concealed weapon -- a pair of brass knuckles found in his pocket -- according to the Indian Hill police.

Indian Hill Rangers consider the matter closed, but a Hamilton County grand jury two weeks ago took testimony from the three men in the car and the ranger who investigated the incident, according to an Indian Hill police report....

Ohio law says guns can be used in self-defense in cases to repel deadly force. Criminal damaging is a misdemeanor and would not be considered a crime of deadly force....

[Indian Hill Ranger Paul White] ... arrived at a driveway in the 8700 block of Keller Road to find the three men lying face down near their small, black car and Hackett's pickup truck. With a flashlight, White saw a strap on Hackett's right shoulder and "what appeared to be an assault rifle hanging along his right side," White's report said....

During the investigation, Hackett told police Nov. 30 that he was carrying an AR-15. He said one round was in the chamber and that he usually has 28 rounds in the magazine. He also told police that he did not point the weapon at the three men, the safety was on and he never put his finger on the trigger.

Hackett said he had followed a trail of fluid left by the car, and the vehicle stopped in a driveway. Hackett told police that he hopped out of his truck and that he was armed.

"He told the boys to 'Get the ---- out of the car and get on the ground.' ... He said he did not touch the vehicle with the rifle and maintained his distance. 'I knew they saw I was armed,' he said. He said he had done this about 200 times in Iraq, but this time there was not a translation problem," the Indian Hill police report said....

I take it that the legal question here, on which I'm not up, is whether it's permissible to threaten to use deadly force -- not necessarily use it, but threaten it -- in order to make a citizen's arrest in a situation such as this.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. No Charges in Citizen's Arrest Incident:
  2. Interesting Citizen's Arrest Incident, Involving Former Congressional Candidate:
George Lyon (mail):
I remember something from law school about being able to threaten more force than you can lawfully use
1.12.2007 1:00pm
Dan Schmutter:
The other issue is that, as usual, the press gets the gun nomenclature wrong. An AR-15 is not an "assault rifle," since it is semi-automatic only. If it were an M-16 it would be an assault rifle.

Dan
1.12.2007 1:00pm
carpundit (www):
More interesting to me is why the law allows citizen arrests for misdemeanors. In Massachusetts, the general rule is that a misdemeanor not committed in an officer's presence is not arrestable even by a police officer, and certainly not by a citizen.
1.12.2007 1:01pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Dan: "Assault rifle" is an ambiguous term. The federal assault weapons ban, for instance, specifically defined "assault weapon" as being limited to semiautomatic weapons. It may well be confusing for newspapers to talk about "assault weapons" this way, but the problem is that the term is confusing, not that there's a clear definition and the newspaper's use is contrary to that definition.
1.12.2007 1:10pm
Ellen:
I think that Dan Schmutter's point is that the article uses "assault rifle," which most of us regard as a term of art, and not "assault weapon," which is defined in the federal and several state laws, and is, admittedly, a pretty hazy term.
1.12.2007 1:21pm
Hamilton Lovecraft (mail):
"I take it that the legal question here, on which I'm not up, is whether it's permissible to threaten to use deadly force -- not necessarily use it, but threaten it."

It seems to me that another important question here is whether the carrying of an assault rifle constitutes a threat to use deadly force.
1.12.2007 1:24pm
Dan Schmutter:
Eugene -

The term "assault weapon" is an ambiguous term used in politics to mean whatever scary looking firearm one wants to ban.

However, the term "assault rifle" is a fairly well understood term of art typically referring to intermediate caliber, select fire military rifles such as the M-16 and Ak-47. The term originated during WWII with the German SturmGewehr 44, (which apparently translates loosely as "Assault Rifle 1944"), that rifle being the first so-called "Assault Rifle." The development of the assault rifle represented the general movement away from heavier "battle rifles" such as the Garand and toward a lighter infantry weapon.

The term "assault weapon" naturally gets confused with "assault rifle" which is largely what gun control advocates wish to accomplish. Since "assault weapon" literally means nothing ex ante, you can define anything you like as an assault weapon, make it sound scary and then ban it.

Dan
1.12.2007 1:25pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
I think it could be productively argued that Hackett carried the rifle out of an expectation that he may have encountered resistance that DID qualify as deadly force. If I'm going to confront a criminal, I don't know how he's going to react. If he produces a large knife and attacks me, that's deadly force, and in most jurisdictions I can legally shoot him. It's prudent to recognise this risk and prepare for it, and there shouldn't be a problem with that - provided no actual deadly force was used outside the boundaries of the law.
1.12.2007 1:26pm
godfodder (mail):
Is it only me, or does Mr. Hackett seem a few bullets short of a clip? I gotta question the judgment of someone who behaves like this.
1.12.2007 1:27pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
If he was a candidate or otherwise public figure at the time... if the fence was not acres away from his personal residence... if he was carrying the weapon while he went out to investigate, his state of mind or expectations at a citizen's level are relevant. That is, he could not assume it was merely low level property damage, a misdemeanor, at the time.

He could have been confronting something worse, and reacted competently and properly here. Don't necessarily fear warriors with weapons, even if they're Dems.
1.12.2007 1:31pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
Lol @ godfodder.

Why don't you tell us what you know of weapons, protection, or being a public figure? Until then, hold your snarky fire?
1.12.2007 1:32pm
Stacy (mail) (www):
"He also told police that he did not point the weapon at the three men, the safety was on and he never put his finger on the trigger."

Technically that isn't actually pointing a weapon at something you don't plan to shoot, but it strikes me as having the same risk associated with it. No, I don't think he's "a few bullets short of a clip", though I wouldn't personally chase the perps after they left my property.

If the previous commenter's statement about a misdemeanor not being arrestable unless an officer saw the act is true, would that open Hackett to a civil suit for false arrest or equivalent?
1.12.2007 1:45pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Dan: "Assault rifle" may be a well-understood term of art in certain circles; but for the meaning to the public at large, the dictionary is probably the best source, and it notes "a nonmilitary weapon modeled on the military assault rifle, usu. modified to allow only semiautomatic fire" as one definition. So again I agree that the term is ambiguous and thus shouldn't have been used -- but the error is in using a confusing term, not using it contrary to its clear definition.
1.12.2007 1:49pm
Huh:
Wait, Dan. So semi-automatic weapons are NOT scary? But automatic weapons are?

These guys should have just gotten up and left! If only they had known they were dealing only with a SEMI-automatic rifle.
1.12.2007 1:52pm
Lior:
An AR-15 is not an "assault rifle," since it is semi-automatic only. If it were an M-16 it would be an assault rifle.


Actually, an AR-15 and an M-16 are one the same weapon. The first is the name given by the manufacturer, the second the US Army designation. Some variants of this rifle have a fully automatic mode, some don't (e.g. the commonly used M16A2), but this isn't relevant. I have no idea if the AR-15 qualifies as an "assault weapon" under federal or state law, but it sure is a standard infantry weapon.
1.12.2007 1:57pm
Archon (mail):
I litigated a citizens arrest case a few years ago. My client had been sued for using excessive force when placing the plaintiff under arrest for aggrevated assault (he had just punched his brother in the face repeated without provocation.) The plaintiff resisted and my client forced him to the ground, elbowed him in the head a few times, then tied his hands behind his back.

At common law a citizen is allowed to use reasonable force to execute the arrest, just like a police officer. The caveat is though that the regular citizen doesn't enjoy immunity if they overstep that authority even slightly. I would assume from the article that the use of force in this case was reasonable as all the citizen did was brandish a firearm. A police officer would have done the same thing in a similar instance. Unless a court were to hold that the statute trumped common law, I believe the Congressman is off the hook.

On another note, there is some case law that suggests while a citizen can use reasonable force to execute an arrest, the arrestee may use whatever force necessary to extricate themself from arrest if they have reason to believe the arrest is unlawful. The bottom line - initating a "citizen's arrest" is risky and dangerous.

In the end, I managed to get an appeals court to agree that my clients use of force was reasonable and ultimately had the suit dismissed. But, it cost him $10,000 in legal fees.
1.12.2007 1:58pm
carpundit (www):
ReVonna,

I agree with godfodder that Hackett's judgment is questionable, although I would have said "magazine" rather than "clip."

It seems poor judgment to prone out three people for leaving the scene of a property damage accident. Follow them? OK. Note their plate or address and description, and tell the police? OK. But chasing and capturing people -while armed- in the middle of the night carries grave risks of escalation and is best left to professional law enforcement.

CP
1.12.2007 1:58pm
Random Commenter:
"Is it only me, or does Mr. Hackett seem a few bullets short of a clip? I gotta question the judgment of someone who behaves like this."

Look, it was 4:30A when these idiots plowed their vehicle into Mr Hackett's property. He probably had no idea what degree of crime had been committed, but he knew one had, and being a person of action he ran down the perpetrators. There's no indication that he was drunk or crazy, and he says he never actually threatened them with the weapon. When the police arrived, they told him to put the rifle away, which he did. One has to believe that if he were acting strangely or actually appeared ready to use the weapon, his interaction with the police would have been much more tense than it apparently was. The guy is a combat veteran who is presumably an expert user of this type of weapon, and it probably seemed natural to him to carry the weapon in a safed condition while pursuing three potentially dangerous men.

Exactly why is Mr Hackett's judgment subject to ridicule here?
1.12.2007 1:59pm
Jeek:
Anytime you hold someone at gunpoint, is that considered a "citizen's arrest", or is there something more to it?
1.12.2007 2:00pm
Jeek:
Exactly why is Mr Hackett's judgment subject to ridicule here?

The part where he chased them down and held them at gunpoint seems extreme - I wouldn't do that. If they were still on my property, I'd hold them at gunpoint until the cops arrived, but if they took off, I wouldn't go after them.
1.12.2007 2:02pm
Pete Freans (mail):
A good starting point, statutorily, would be Title XXIX section 2935.04 of the Ohio code which allows any person to effectuate a citizen's arrest when a felony has been committed or there are reasonable grounds to believe that a felony has been committed. The statute permits a private person to "detain" the accused "until a warrant can be obtained". An arrest, but its very nature, is an aggressive act which inevitably involves some use/threat of force. My first question is whether the actions of the accused constituted a felony. Assuming that they did, did the circumstances warrant the threat of force? My sense (without further research) is that the question is not whether it's permissible but to what degree, i.e., was it excessive given the circumstances?
1.12.2007 2:03pm
Triangle_Man:
Since the responding officer thought it "appeared to be an assault rifle", perhaps the press can be forgiven for thinking that it was?
1.12.2007 2:08pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
CP, Jeek: You are concluding without all of the facts, I believe. What if ... he was awoken by the crash in the fence, which is located close to the residence where his family was sleeping ... grabbed the loaded rifle and went outside to investigate, noted and followed the fluid trail down the street where he apprehended the men still in the car parked in a nearby driveway, right down the street? It's not everyone's suburban instinct just to go inside and wait behind locked doors and not follow up immediately as to what is going on while your spouse phones 9-11.

If it's an immediate sequence like that -- having the gun and coming upon the men in the parked car -- then your assumptions may be out of line -- instinctually correct for you, but not the "average person in his situation". This is for a grand jury -- with all the measurement facts, timeline, and face-to-face character judgment -- to decide. He apparently responded cooperatively when the officer immediately reached the scene. But as a public candidate, how can you put yourself inside his mind that night, and automatically conclude it was just minimal property damage from someone leaving the scene? You can't necessarily conclude this

:It seems poor judgment to prone out three people for leaving the scene of a property damage accident. Follow them? OK. Note their plate or address and description, and tell the police? OK. But chasing and capturing people -while armed- in the middle of the night carries grave risks of escalation and is best left to professional law enforcement.

I found this part of the story, the legality of it, more interesting:

"Paul is distressed, however, that his privacy has been invaded and that the secrecy of the grand jury has been violated," said Greg Moore, a lawyer who works in Hackett's office.

Indian Hill Ranger Paul White appeared Dec. 27 before a Hamilton County grand jury, according to an Indian Hill police report. The three men Hackett chased down - Anthony Leonaardi, 19, of Delhi Township, and Robert Lawall Jr., 18, and Eric Fee, 18, both of Green Township - also appeared before the grand jury, the report said.

Charges are not always immediately brought when it comes to grand jury testimony. A case can remain under investigation in order to bring other witnesses before the grand jury, or other evidence might need to be gathered.

Grand jury proceedings are considered secret. Prosecutors and grand jurors are not allowed to discuss cases or investigations. However, witnesses called to the grand jury can speak freely. They can confirm that they appeared, say what they were asked and even discuss their answers. Leonaardi, Lawall and Fee did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

Moore said Hackett hopes that Deters will investigate whether the law was broken in regard to the grand jury investigation being discussed.
1.12.2007 2:12pm
Waldensian (mail):
There may well be a number of legal questions in play here. I don't know much about Ohio law. But for example, in Virginia, I think one question would be whether Hackett had violated the "brandishing" statute, which provides in relevant part:

It shall be unlawful for any person to point, hold or brandish any firearm or any air or gas operated weapon or any object similar in appearance, whether capable of being fired or not, in such manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another or hold a firearm or any air or gas operated weapon in a public place in such a manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another of being shot or injured. However, this section shall not apply to any person engaged in excusable or justifiable self-defense.

Don't know if OH has a similar statute; if it does, it's not clear to me that Hackett violated it -- although he might want to quit making statements to the police. Nobody talks, everybody walks, etc.

Meanwhile, again in Virginia,18.2-287.4 might well prohibit Hackett from walking around with this particular rifle loaded, since it was capable of holding 20 rounds or more -- all depending on exactly where he is doing all this.

Meanwhile, Dan Schmutter has it right, and Prof. V. makes what I think is a common error -- confusing "assault rifle," a well-known firearms term about which there is little real disagreement, with "assault weapon," which is pretty much entirely meaningless at this point. Kind of like "Saturday Night Special," "assault weapon" is roughly translated as "a firearm that I don't like and want to ban."
1.12.2007 2:23pm
Jeek:
It's not everyone's suburban instinct just to go inside and wait behind locked doors and not follow up immediately as to what is going on while your spouse phones 9-11.

That's as may be, but if your true objective is to defend yourself and your family, waiting inside the house with a weapon is the smart move, and the one most easily defensible in front of a jury. Justifying the use of force if they break in and attack you, easy. Justifying the use of force if you go outside and confront them, not so easy.
1.12.2007 2:29pm
Waldensian (mail):
I should add that, in general, chasing property crime suspects and then detaining them while carrying an AR-15 seems like a very, very poor idea in most states. I'll hold off judging Hackett for now, since media reports of this kind of thing tend to be wildly inaccurate, particularly at first.
1.12.2007 2:29pm
wooga:

My first question is whether the actions of the accused constituted a felony.

Pete,
Indian Hill is one of the more expensive parts of Cincinnati, and the homes tend to have nice fences. If these guys drove on his landscaped lawn and ran into his fence, they probably caused enough damage to easily pass into felony land.

That's not even getting into what I think actually happened... this sounds suspiciously like mailbox-baseball gone horribly awry.
1.12.2007 2:35pm
Shelby (mail):
This story was extensively discussed at Hit &Run (Reason Mag.) a few days ago.
1.12.2007 2:37pm
Nikki:
I didn't know that there was actually a name for mailbox baseball. Three year sentence, huh? Interesting.
1.12.2007 2:41pm
Archon (mail):
Here is a very interesting citizen arrest case from TX:

Young v. State, 957 S.W.2d 923 (Tex. App. 1997)
1.12.2007 2:41pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
That's as may be, but if your true objective is to defend yourself and your family, waiting inside the house with a weapon is the smart move, and the one most easily defensible in front of a jury.

I disagree.
You hear a noise, you call... and go outside to investigate. If someone crashed through the fence and you were physically capable and curious, you wouldn't open the door and go outside, leaving your family safely locked inside while you investigated the disturbance? What if you just heard -- and didn't know yet it was your fence that had been broken. You didn't know what was coming at you?

Then, are you supposed to just stop where your property line ends? What if you can see a car parked down the street, idling, and what appears to be a trail of leaking fluid?

Use some common sense, and it is plausible that he acted quite rationally and not Rambo-esque in protecting his family. What if they turned that car around and came back at the house? Why not stop the probability while you're able, while also waiting for the police to respond?

I just don't like the idea that property owners should override what may be their good instincts and self control, knowing that others perhaps do not have the same safety concerns, physical capability and training as your average police officer, and self discipline. That may work for your house, your family your neighborhood, your expectations of what will disturb you ... it's not necessarily the same for a public figure.
1.12.2007 2:42pm
K Parker (mail):
Jeek,

I missed the part in the account where he held them at gunpoint. Merely having a fiream in one's possession is not the same as holding someone at gunpoint.

Did I miss something, or did you?
1.12.2007 2:45pm
Svenson:
"On another note, there is some case law that suggests while a citizen can use reasonable force to execute an arrest, the arrestee may use whatever force necessary to extricate themself from arrest if they have reason to believe the arrest is unlawful."

The same case law applies to arrests made by the police. There has long been the common law right to resist arrest arrest, using as much force necessary to resist, if the arrest would otherwise be illegal. One should note that there has been a recent trend to limit this right.
1.12.2007 2:47pm
David in NY (mail):
The other site linked to indicated that Hackett chased the guys (on foot?, in car?) to a different location where he detained them. Make a difference?
1.12.2007 2:48pm
Archon (mail):
I think everyone is missing the point here. If Hackett was executing a valid citizens arrest then applicable common law would allow him to use reasonable force to detain the suspects. This would trump the more general language in the brandishing statute.

So it doesn't matter whether he was pointing the gun or had 30 bullets in the clip as opposed to 28. It was a lawful use of force under statutes and common law which would render the more general statute inapplicable.
1.12.2007 2:50pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
I find this story highly disappointing. I was hoping the congressional candidate was the one who'd been arrested, perhaps for not taking down all his campaign signs.
1.12.2007 2:52pm
Pol Mordreth (mail):

A good starting point, statutorily, would be Title XXIX section 2935.04 of the Ohio code which allows any person to effectuate a citizen's arrest when a felony has been committed or there are reasonable grounds to believe that a felony has been committed.


Pete, I don't know for sure in Ohio, but in PA this would qualify as reasonable suspicion of felony DUI. As a military vet myself (prior to Iraq) it's pretty close to the same reaction you would see from me. I see nothing wrong with the congressman other than his socialist tax tendancies... (lol)
1.12.2007 3:08pm
abe (mail):
Seems legal, but as to his judgement, get real. Protecting his family by leaving the home in the middle of the night? pathetic. His family was safe with him on the property, armed. When he left they were not, period.
1.12.2007 3:10pm
Greg S. :

with "assault weapon," which is pretty much entirely meaningless at this point. Kind of like "Saturday Night Special," "assault weapon" is roughly translated as "a firearm that I don't like and want to ban."

That may be.

What I find perplexing about all of these assertions of sloppy journalism and Prof. Volokh being in error is that the article never used the phrase "assault weapon." Initially, the article said that Hackett was "armed with a loaded assault rifle" and later reported more precisely that Hackett said the weapon was an AR-15 with a round in the chamber.

How exactly is an AR-15 with a round in the chamber anything but a "loaded assault rifle"? Perhaps Hackett and/or the police misidentified the weapon or its condition, but that's not the reporter's fault. The reporter reported what participants purported. That's what reporters do.

When challenged on the meaning of terms, Prof. Volokh pointed on one authority (federal law on "assault weapons"). And later metioned a dictionary definition. My preferred dictionary for general-purpose journalism (Merriam Websters's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Ed.) defines "assault rifle" as:

any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles designed for military use with large capacity magazines

The AR-15 as designed by Armalite clearly fits that definition. The civilian model that we're apparently talking about, whether built by Colt or some other firm, isn't so far removed from that definition that there's room for meaningful criticism of the words used to describe it.

Casting about criticism for things folks here imagined someone wrote strikes me a disingenious at best.
1.12.2007 3:17pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
Protecting his family by leaving the home in the middle of the night? pathetic. His family was safe with him on the property, armed. When he left they were not, period.

Why are you assuming Mrs. Hackett couldn't lock and load herself, eh?

You take care of your family; respect others to do the same for their own. If you fail to protect yours, no charges or criticism here. The man did nothing wrong. It's silly to force your judgment on others, absent evidence of law breaking. No story here, just political muckraking ... move along folks
1.12.2007 3:22pm
r78:
I don't know OH law, but wouldn't their fleeing the scene of a misdemeanor traffic accident perhaps amount to a felony of hit and run? Or must there be personal injuries?
1.12.2007 3:22pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

So it doesn't matter whether he was pointing the gun or had 30 bullets in the clip as opposed to 28


That would be 30, or 28 in the magazine, not clip.


Some variants of this rifle have a fully automatic mode, some don't (e.g. the commonly used M16A2), but this isn't relevant. I have no idea if the AR-15 qualifies as an "assault weapon" under federal or state law, but it sure is a standard infantry weapon.


Not irrelevant- a "standard inantry weapon" is full-auto capable, as the M16/A2's, and variants; the AR 15, and clones, are semi-auto only. They are not the same weapon- an AR15 is not an infantry weapon. Neither is a Remington semi-automatic hunting rifle- something that accomplishes the same thing an AR15 does, but is not capable of filling the M16's role.

The term "assault weapon", as the term "undocumented worker", is something foisted on the public to either 1)demonize, or, 2)make the subject more acceptable.
1.12.2007 3:28pm
Tully (mail) (www):
I'll leave the law to the lawyers, but some clarifications on firearms. An "assault rifle" is any selective-fire (full or semi-auto) auto-loading rifle of intermediate caliber (between pistol and heavy rifle) designed for military/infantry use. An "assault weapon" is any weapon of any kind, makeshift or manufactured, with which you assault someone--a "wide" definition as valid as any other.

An AR-15 can be either semi-auto or selective fire. AR-15 is the original designation for the ArmaLite Model 15 assault rifle. The AR = ARmaLite, BTW, not "Assault Rifle." The "civilian model" AR-15's are semi-auto, save for a few selective-fire models made for law enforcement agencies. "M16" is specifically the military-issue milspec designation for the selective-fire AR-15 models used by the US military, just as "M9" is the military-issue milspec designation for the Beretta Model 92F and 92FS model pistols.

The AR-15/M16 uses a detachable box magazine, not a clip. "Stripper" clips can be used to load AR-15/M16 magazines. They cannot be used to directly load the rifle.
1.12.2007 3:29pm
Dan Schmutter:
Eugene -

That's the first time I have seen any dictionary define assault rifle as a semi-automatic rifle patterned after a military assault rifle. I question how many dictionaries apply that definition. It is thoroughly contrary to the widespread understanding of the previously well defined term "assault rifle."

Huh -


Wait, Dan. So semi-automatic weapons are NOT scary? But automatic weapons are?


Yes. That's exactly correct. When people hear the word "assault weapon" they picture a machine gun spraying bullets at a rapid rate of fire mowing people down like in the movies.

A semi-automatic rifle does not do that no matter how "military" it looks. Most hunting rifles are more deadly than a semi-automatic AR-15 in the sense that they fire much more powerful ammunition, yet they look "friendlier," because they aren't black, don't have protruding pistol grips or folding stocks, etc.

Your comment reveals an unfamilarity with firearms, if I am not mistaken. I don't mean that to be derogatory, I simply mean that people familiar with guns don't regard them as scary. People unfamiliar with guns tend to fear them, and they fear the military looking ones more than the non-military looking ones without regard to what they can actually do.


Lior -


Actually, an AR-15 and an M-16 are one the same weapon. The first is the name given by the manufacturer, the second the US Army designation.


Ok, you are technically correct; however, most people when they say "AR-15" they mean semi-automatic AR-15, and when they mean military AR-15 they say M-16. I was using the terms in their common usage, though I suppose I should have been more precise in my language.

Dan
1.12.2007 3:36pm
Archon (mail):
I really don't see a problem with a private citizen such as Hackett brandishing a legal firearm and chasing down crooks, especially when they have special training and experience. If it weren't for his actions the perps would have probably gotten away with the crime.
1.12.2007 3:39pm
Dan Schmutter:
Greg S. -


My preferred dictionary for general-purpose journalism (Merriam Websters's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Ed.) defines "assault rifle" as:

any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles designed for military use with large capacity magazines


I would be interested to know when these dictionaries adopted that definition of assault rifle. That was NEVER the definition of assault rifle before. I wonder if these dictionaries have fallen victim to the deliberate assault rifle/assault weapon obfuscation of gun control groups and politicians. If so the English language has suffered for it, since the term assault rifle used to be very well defined and understood.

It would be interesting to know when the first dictionary included semi-automatic rifles in the definition of assault rifle.

Dan
1.12.2007 3:45pm
Tully (mail) (www):
I was using the terms in their common usage....

Eh. True 'nuff. If we really started gun-geeking over all the design variations and designations, we'd be able to hear the eyeballs glazing from here to Somoa.
1.12.2007 3:45pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
The Grand Jury will not return an indictment against Hackett in my opinion. Nothing terrible happened. If he had shot them, it might be different. Based soley on the article, the arrest was probably unlawful.

They were charged with failure with "maintain reasonable control, driving under suspension and carrying a concealed weapon"

Failure to "maintain reasonable control" is a misdemeanor only. That is the only offense arising from the fence episode itself.

The other charges (driving under suspension and carrying a concealed weapon) may or not be felonies. Even if they are, in my opinion, Hackett could not have "reasonable grounds" since they could only have been discovered after the police checked the driver's record and searched him. Hackett merely heard a noise and saw a banged fence and fluid trail. He could not have known or even reasonably guessed that the license was suspended or he had a concealed weapon. (Unless such facts are always reasonably assumed from a 4:30 AM incident, which I doubt. Even if it was drunk driving, that is only a misdemeanor.)
1.12.2007 3:47pm
Jeek:
You hear a noise, you call... and go outside to investigate. If someone crashed through the fence and you were physically capable and curious, you wouldn't open the door and go outside, leaving your family safely locked inside while you investigated the disturbance? What if you just heard -- and didn't know yet it was your fence that had been broken. You didn't know what was coming at you?

As it happens, a very similar scenario once happened to me. Some drunk guy crashed into my garden wall in the middle of the night. I came out (armed with a pistol on my belt but under a jacket) to investigate. He crawled out of the car, said "oh man, I f***ed up", and ran off full speed up the street. Did I try to run after him and make a "citizens arrest"? No. I went inside and called the cops, and waited until they came.

Use some common sense, and it is plausible that he acted quite rationally and not Rambo-esque in protecting his family. What if they turned that car around and came back at the house? Why not stop the probability while you're able, while also waiting for the police to respond?

There is just no upside to chasing after these guys. The best, worst, and most likely outcome if you go back in the house and wait is NOTHING.

The best thing that can happen if you chase them is you make a "citizens arrest" on some lame misdemeanor charge, and get to thump your chest at the water cooler the next day. Whoopee do, I'm impressed.

The worst things that can happen if you chase them is either you shoot them, and stand trial for murder, or they shoot you, and you're dead. It was dumb, dumb, dumb to risk these outcomes.

I can't help but think you're only sticking up for this irresponsible jackass because he's a Democrat.

I missed the part in the account where he held them at gunpoint. Merely having a fiream in one's possession is not the same as holding someone at gunpoint.

If someone armed with a rifle told me to get out of the car and get on the ground, I would absolutely consider that I had been held at gunpoint, even if it was never directly pointed at me.
1.12.2007 3:48pm
Henri LeCompte (mail):
Why would anyone question Mr. Hackett's judgment? Well, just look at this incident from the perp's point of view:

You're out with your buddies, doing what you always do-- getting drunk. On the way home, goofing around, you lose control of your car and "bump" someone's fence. Not like that's never happened before. You get home, and are getting out of the car, when some nutjob with what looks like an M-16 comes screeching up in his car, screaming at you to "Get the bleep out of your car!!" You think, "What the Bleep! That guy looks like the BTK Killer's picture! He's gonna rape and murder us!!" You reach into your glove compartment for the .38 you have stashed there....*

And that's how Mr. Hackett gets shot to death in the street in front of this man's house. Or how he shoots someone else. I was taught long ago that you don't carry a gun unless you are prepared to use it. And nobody should have been prepared to use a gun just because some drunk kid hit their fence driving home!

*Yes, I know that they didn't have a .38 in the glove compartment. But Mr. Hackett didn't.
1.12.2007 3:51pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
Just FYI, the AP Stylebook defines an "assault style weapon" as "any semiautomatic pistol, rifle or shotgun originally designed for military of police use with a large ammunition capacity. Also, firearms that feature two or more accessories such as a detachable magazine, folding or telescopic stock, silencer, pistol grip, bayonet mount or a device to suppress the flash emitted while shooting in the dark."

It doesn't delineate between assault weapon and assault rifle.
1.12.2007 3:51pm
Joel Rosenberg (mail) (www):
In Minnesota, where I live, the law is very gray (read: no cases I can find) as to when threatening somebody (with or without a firearm) is lawful when resisting an offense, or performing a citizens arrest. Under Minn. Stat. 609.06, we're allowed to use "reasonable force" to resist an offense, but when, say, threatening somebody with a handgun is "reasonable" is up to the jury, with very little guidance, if any.

There is a bill in the MN lege to fix all that -- it's the Minnesota version of the NRA "Stand Your Ground" legislation, which has a bunch of other stuff wrapped up in it -- but in the present legislative climate, it's not going anywhere. IIRC, it specifically authorizes somebody who is reasonably in fear of serious bodily harm (in Minnesota law, basically anything greater than slight bodily harm that you'll eventually recover from) to threaten to kill if it should become legally permissable. (It isn't permissable if you're "only" in fear of serious bodily harm here; in addition to other requirements, you have to be in fear of death or great bodily harm.

Without knowing more about the situation that Mr. Hackett found himself in, I'd suggest a couple of notions: firstly, that it's a good thing that people who appear to have perpetrated serious crimes be arrested; secondly, that there's both physical and legal risks about getting involved in the combination of a pursuit and detaining somebody while armed.

Among other things, I teach handgun permit classes in Minnesota, and strongly suggest to the folks taking them that they avoid holding somebody at gunpoint, or anything similar; there's just too many ways it can go horribly wrong.
1.12.2007 4:04pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
As it happens, a very similar scenario once happened to me. Some drunk guy crashed into my garden wall in the middle of the night. I came out (armed with a pistol on my belt but under a jacket) to investigate. He crawled out of the car, said "oh man, I f***ed up", and ran off full speed up the street. Did I try to run after him and make a "citizens arrest"? No. I went inside and called the cops, and waited until they came.

Not comparable.
Were you a public figure, in a partisan time when there is hatred out there and kooks who might have incentive to harm you and/or your family at home?

There's no indication that Hackett identified these as "kids". That came later. Nothing I see here that shows he saw the car pull off; instead it sounds like there was nothing obvious until he investigated and saw the fluid trail. No apology "oh man -- I f*d up" like you got to demonstrate no one was out to get you as a public figure, just a kid in an accident.

Good for you for using your judgment. Why not give Mr. Hackett the same credit? You're not a strong partisan yourself are you, or have something against a man protecting his family as he best sees fit?

There is just no upside to chasing after these guys. The best, worst, and most likely outcome if you go back in the house and wait is NOTHING.

Absolutely. For some, they want MORE. If following a fluid trail leads you to some people in a car parked in a driveway and you know police are on the way... YOU walk away. Some of us would want the poor innocent victims to face responsibility for what they did. You don't shoot them in the face for it. You make a citizen's arrest and hold them, finger off the trigger, until additional authority arrives.

If someone armed with a rifle told me to get out of the car and get on the ground, I would absolutely consider that I had been held at gunpoint, even if it was never directly pointed at me.

Now you're thinking. Better yet, don't miss the curve, let the car get out of your control, damage someone else's property and ... RUN. Because not everybody is content to huddle safe inside and do NOTHING. Sometimes, you actually get caught... and guess what, you tend not to run again.

The best thing that can happen if you chase them is you make a "citizens arrest" on some lame misdemeanor charge, and get to thump your chest at the water cooler the next day. Whoopee do, I'm impressed.

I think your penis size is showing as Mr. Hackett only responded to possible grand jury charges. He didn't go to the press or the blogs thumping his chest. He spoke to the police the night of the accident, and I don't read anything overly "macho" in his response. Why do you?

Why are you so quick to just turn in the homeowner's claim and not have the people who caused the damage be held responsible by ignoring the "misdemeanor"? You sir, smell like a coward. A well insured, poorly armed one.
1.12.2007 4:13pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
The AP style book is wrong. We can speculate as to whether that's a matter of helping the obfuscation of the subject or merely their usual incompetence.

Unless the AP is doing one of two things: Being an authority, or following incorrect common usage. Now, since common usage governs, eventually, they might be right. But that means somebody else managed to succesfully obfuscate the subject soem time ago.

One person pointed out that the famous--sort of--picture of Kerry going goose hunting had him with a shotgun whose stock was faired to include a pistol grip. That's not uncommon, but do you want to call it an assault weapon? Well, of course you do, unless a dem is carrying it.

"assault weapon" is a bogus category meant to frighten and mislead the unwary. Seems to have worked.
1.12.2007 4:16pm
Visitor Again:
If the previous commenter's statement about a misdemeanor not being arrestable unless an officer saw the act is true, would that open Hackett to a civil suit for false arrest or equivalent?

If private citizens cannot make an arrest for a misdemeanor committed in their presence, then Hackett's detention of the three might well be unlawful and give rise to a civil suit for false imprisonment or arrest, although I think the damages would be minimal.

But I rather think we haven't got the whole picture as to Ohio law on arrest. It's a standard provision of law that officers may not arrest for a misdemeanor committed outside their presence, but it's also standard that citizens may effect an arrest for misdemeanors committed in their presence. If that's the law in Ohio, I think it's questionable whether the offense was committed in Hackett's presence since Hackett only heard a crash and had to follow a trail of fluid to find the suspects. But, again, any damages would be minimal.

From the limited facts we have, it's open to question whether the police detained the driver on the basis of Hackett's arrest. I think not. The driver was charged with failure to maintain reasonable control of a motor vehicle, driving under suspension and carrying a concealed weapon, brass knuckles. The police were entitled to investigate once they arrived at the scene, and they probably uncovered the driver's license suspension and the brass knuckles during the course of that investigation. The police arrest could have been made on the basis of the suspended license and the brass knuckles--misdemeanors committed in the police's presence--and not on the basis of anything Hackett said or did.
1.12.2007 4:16pm
USAF Vet:
I found it interesting he had 28 rounds in the magazine, that goes back to Vietnam (not that I served there, too young) but there is a long held belief that you save the spring in your magazine by loading 1 or more less than the capacity. Sounds like he keeps 29 in the mag and then locked and loaded
1.12.2007 4:38pm
lonetown (mail):
He could have easily tracked the car down and called police and filed a leaving the scene complaint.

A rifle?

Thank god the man is not in government, he sounds over reactive.
1.12.2007 4:41pm
JohnGalt47 (mail):
Revona L. -

"Why are you so quick to just turn in the homeowner's claim and not have the people who caused the damage be held responsible by ignoring the "misdemeanor"? You sir, smell like a coward. A well insured, poorly armed one."

I'm sure you think the advice to hand over your wallet to a mugger is wrong also. I think you've been watching too much John Wayne or Rambo and not paying attention to your karate instructor's advice to walk away when possible. My mother's advice is always correct - "Nothing good happens after midnight."

I'm a well-armed and X-ring shooter, but you're right I'm not about to walk into a situation that could get me killed over a busted fence. Write down the license number and go back home.
1.12.2007 4:47pm
Captain Holly (mail):
I commented extensively about this in the Reason thread, and my impression is that Hackett is indeed facing potential criminal charges, because 1) a grand jury is investigating the incident; 2) he is being represented by a lawyer; and most of all 3) Hackett is quite upset the incident is being publicized. If he were the unqualified hero in this case I'm sure he'd welcome the publicity; I'm sure most of his Democrat constituents will not look very kindly on him threatening three teenagers with an AR-15.

According to the article, the crime that these young men committed when they took out the fence is misdemeanor criminal damaging, which would not allow the use of deadly force under Ohio law. The issue then is whether Hackett used excessive force to make an otherwise legal citizen's arrest. Based on my understanding of Utah law and my rights and obligations as a Utah Concealed Weapon Permittee, I would say yes, which is why I believe the grand jury is looking into the case, and why Hackett is so upset this is being publicized.

Another thing that strikes me about Hackett's story: He's claiming to have effected some 200 such arrests in Iraq. Which is interesting, because he was a major assigned to headquarters as a civil affairs officer; during the battle of Fallujah, he was responsible for overseeing distribution of humanitarian aid. He was not patrolling the streets or breaking down doors, and considering that he was only there for 7 months, he would have had to make an average of one arrest per day for him to reach the 200 level.

Either he was misquoted by the police, or he misspoke at the time, or he was bragging in order to impress the cops. Based on what I've read in the past about Hackett, I would choose the last option.
1.12.2007 4:48pm
Greg S. :
Dan,

I would be interested to know when these dictionaries adopted that definition of assault rifle. That was NEVER the definition of assault rifle before. I wonder if these dictionaries have fallen victim to the deliberate assault rifle/assault weapon obfuscation of gun control groups and politicians. If so the English language has suffered for it, since the term assault rifle used to be very well defined and understood.

I'd have to comb back through successive editions of that dictionary (yes, I own a lot of dictionaries… an occupational hazard that has grown into something else entirely) to see when that definition first appeared. The Tenth Ed. simply notes the first usage in 1975.

That's one of the interesting and often infuriating things about dictionaries. Most describe how terms are used (descriptive lexicography.), not how they ought to be used (proscriptive). The AP Stylebook, cited earlier here (but not for a definition of "assault rifle," which it doesn't explicitly treat), is a somewhat different beast. It is a more a hybrid of the descriptive and proscriptive usages (and narrowly focused on the kind of journalism found in the Cincinnati Enquirer).

One of the reasons why I prefer certain dictionaries (and certain editions of them) over others for any given purpose is how well the editors and lexicographers treat and recognize evolving usage.

Separately, I would never use any of Merriam Webster's dictionaries to define "assault rifle" if I were writing for military historians or armorers. That would be inappropriate (and you would be quite right to criticize my misapplication of the reference work). When writing for a general-circulation newspaper, however, this sort of dictionary is actually more appropriate than a very specialized authority.

I doubt that the editors of this particular reference work have "fallen victim to the deliberate … obfuscation" of any particular political agenda here. That's a matter of opinion, and your mileage may vary. I find it interesting, however, that the entry on "assault weapon" shows a first usage that predates "assault rifle." Obviously, I was talking about the term "assault rifle."
1.12.2007 4:49pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

I found it interesting he had 28 rounds in the magazine, that goes back to Vietnam (not that I served there, too young) but there is a long held belief that you save the spring in your magazine by loading 1 or more less than the capacity. Sounds like he keeps 29 in the mag and then locked and loaded


A close friend of mine was a riverine warfare guy in Viet Nam- he told me in a 20 round magazine, never more than 17 rounds.
1.12.2007 4:50pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
sorry- as above, they did it so the gun wouldn't jam. I've had the same problem with Mini 14's and full-loaded magazines.
1.12.2007 4:52pm
Waldensian (mail):

I'm a well-armed and X-ring shooter, but you're right I'm not about to walk into a situation that could get me killed over a busted fence. Write down the license number and go back home.

I couldn't agree more completely, although I confess I sometimes miss the X-ring.
1.12.2007 4:53pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
I'm a well-armed and X-ring shooter, but you're right I'm not about to walk into a situation that could get me killed over a busted fence. Write down the license number and go back home.

How are you supposed to get the plate number when the car has fled?

Do you follow the fluid trail, or go back inside to your wife and kids?

Once you identify the car, how close do you get to get the plate number. If they see you, do you then turn and flee?

Different strokes for different folks.
Don't worry. Mr. Hackett turned out perfectly safe with the decisions he made. Nobody splattered him, and those who did the damage were brought to responsibility. If I were Mr. Hackett's neighbor, I'd thank him and not call him names because he was better equipped in the situation that I.

Maybe it's where you live, and how you think about guns, your family, property and taking personal responsibility? Bet none of you would jump in front of a train to save someone's life either. :) That's ok too. Just a different risk assessment is all... Don't hate those whose first instinct is to ... act, safely and properly.
1.12.2007 5:04pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
I'm sure most of his Democrat constituents will not look very kindly on him threatening three teenagers with an AR-15.

Poor widdle surbaban teenagers. Babies practically
*coddle, coddle, coddle* LOL.
1.12.2007 5:06pm
Splunge (mail):
There is just no upside to chasing after these guys. The best, worst, and most likely outcome if you go back in the house and wait is NOTHING.

For you, yes. What about for your fellow citizens? Where are those wild 'n' crazy guys going next? Maybe to run down granny in the crosswalk next, instead of an innocent mailbox, because they were whacked out on crack? (Turns out they weren't out-of-control crackheads, of course, but there's no way to know that up front, when the decision to pursue or not has to be made.)

The best thing that can happen if you chase them is you make a "citizens arrest" on some lame misdemeanor charge, and get to thump your chest at the water cooler the next day. Whoopee do, I'm impressed.

Mmmm....or, possibly, you prevent a huge tragedy that might have happened just down the road. We don't know, do we? Can't, because predicting alternate futures is not a quantitative science, popular notions to the contrary notwithstanding.

I don't doubt an argument can be made that wisdom suggests certain limitations on how far a reg'lar citizen should get involved in investigating suspicious behaviour and immobilizing crooks. But you've not made it, you've just heaped contempt on the idea that Joe Citizen might take a hand in defending the public order instead of leaving the entire job up to the professional Praetorians.

I dunno. I'm not real fond of the idea of living in a Republic where the popular "wisdom" says the only defenders of my liberty should be (1) myself, and (2) the professional warriors. I think adding (3) my friends and concerned neighbors makes for a bit more cohesive and robust society.
1.12.2007 5:42pm
gasman (mail):
Maybe 'arrest' means something different in the legal sense. These three guy's were no longer in the act of any crime and posed no threat to anyone; their illegal activity had already arrested in the common sense of the word. Was it really required by the annoyed citizen to threaten them with being shot. It certainly must have been a credible enough sounding threat for three men to have weighed their options and then lied face down on the ground.
1.12.2007 5:43pm
Steph (mail):
>>Is it only me, or does Mr. Hackett seem a few bullets short of a clip? I gotta question the judgment of someone who behaves like this.<<

No, to me he seems like a citizen carrying out him plain duty. Of course he will be mocked for this. Citizenship, duty, they are just grist for the mill of modern irony. Ugh.
1.12.2007 5:50pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Folks: Let's keep each other's perceived penis sizes, real or metaphorical, out of this, shall we? Even talk of another poster's supposed cowardice, it seems to me, is rather more likely to shed heat rather than light.

We're all smart people. We know how to convey our views without unnecessary personal insults. Even when the logical implication of the view does indeed suggest a weakness in the other person's character, it's better to leave this suggestion implied than to make it explicit -- it's more likely to foster a thoughtful discussion, and more likely to persuade readers.
1.12.2007 5:51pm
Jeek:
Were you a public figure, in a partisan time when there is hatred out there and kooks who might have incentive to harm you and/or your family at home?

Fatuous and illogical. There is no reason at all to believe this guy thought he was a target of partisan hate. Again, if his primary goal was to protect himself and his family, he should have remained inside the house, not gone outside in full Rambo mode. If he's afraid of kooks, he should be more afraid they were trying to lure him outside so they could shoot him from ambush.

No apology "oh man -- I f*d up" like you got to demonstrate no one was out to get you as a public figure, just a kid in an accident.

Actually, I didn't get an apology.

You're not a strong partisan yourself are you, or have something against a man protecting his family as he best sees fit?

If I were on the jury, and he were on trial for shooting those guys, I would have serious doubts about his claim that he was "protecting his family" in this situation. I say this as someone who strongly supports the rights to armed self-defense and concealed carry. With these rights comes the responsibility to act responsibly, not recklessly.

You don't shoot them in the face for it. You make a citizen's arrest and hold them, finger off the trigger, until additional authority arrives.

As I said, he risked either shooting them or being shot himself for no good reason - there was no imminent threat to anyone's life here. His actions were what created a potential life-or-death situation when there wasn't one.

I think your penis size is showing as Mr. Hackett only responded to possible grand jury charges.

I am confident enough in my penis size that I don't feel the need to chase anyone down with a rifle as a result of a minor accident that damaged property and harmed nobody.

Why are you so quick to just turn in the homeowner's claim and not have the people who caused the damage be held responsible by ignoring the "misdemeanor"? You sir, smell like a coward. A well insured, poorly armed one.

My situation - and this one - were ones that the police and the insurance company could clearly handle on their own.

I'm a well-armed and X-ring shooter, but you're right I'm not about to walk into a situation that could get me killed over a busted fence. Write down the license number and go back home.

Ditto.
1.12.2007 6:00pm
Heavily Armed Coward (mail):
Revona L. -

You wrote:
"Why are you so quick to just turn in the homeowner's claim and not have the people who caused the damage be held responsible by ignoring the "misdemeanor"? You sir, smell like a coward. A well insured, poorly armed one."

[Gee, then I guess i'm a well insured, well armed one". Which of course brings up the question of how many arms you need to be fashionable, when running down some drunks who hit your fence? Hmmm, shall I just take the SU-16 and the Kimber for close in work, or round it out with a Sharps in 45-70 and the 0.45 colt to add some Old West flair to the whole show? A .44 derringer inside my belt? should I wear the bandoliers, or just a quick break with a tie-down? Hmmmm. Descisions, decisions.....]

Smell like a coward? Gee, the ridicuous argument in this string about what to call light battle rifles like AK's and AR-15's (some people have too much time on their hands) seems elegant compared to your thoughtless, sloppy assertion that good judgement is "cowardice" and minor property damage rationalizes armed pursuit/stop. I've observed that people who are most concerned about "puttin' the hammer down on them perps" have a real identity problem or are entrained in some other fantasy and best avoided. How 'bout you? I distinctly remember one such kid at a show who informed me that the ambidextrous release on his new .40 would allow him to continue to load and fire with the other arm, if hit in his shooting arm. The security guard hat was most impressive, but I imagine this guy would have had other things on his mind than returning fire if hit squarely enough to disable. Yeah.

There is only one way something like this pursuit/arrest in re property damage could have gone if it escalated and that is to court, likely criminal and certainly civil as well..... and just as likely to big regrets, and to injury to The Hack's family as well. So, if you have the odd $100K+ to piss away, are desperate to prove yourself a real man, plus have a big chunk of time to waste while you and your family are being dogged by legal and financial worries for the next odd couple of years, by all means take your gun to the next non-event misdemeanor beef and chase down some "perps". After all, you'd be a coward to just take notes and let the professionals get the credit.

Anyway, as to your assertion that "You sir, smell like a coward"? I guess my question is, so you know all about how cowards smell?

That's one of those statements that makes a fella say "Hmmmm".

In any case, if getting the data together and calling the cops is cowardice, I'll take his cowardice over your judgement, anytime. I'd bet one of my low number Yugo SKS'
(with the launcher and tritium sights)that his event trail in any jam would work out better 'n yours ninety-nine-times-outa-ten. Put that in your holster and pee down your leg, Buckaroo.
1.12.2007 6:31pm
Peter Wimsey:
I can't speak for Ohio, but in Indiana, this would be a fairly serious crime. A citizens arrest is only allowed if the person commits a: (1) a felony; or (2) a misdemeanor involving a breach of the peace in the presence of the arrestor, and the arrest is necessary to prevent the breach of the peace from continuing. This is clearly not met here.

Holding someone at gunpoint is criminal confinement with a deadly weapon, a felony punishable by a 6-20 year sentence.
1.12.2007 7:06pm
Jay Myers:
Eugene Volokh:

Dan: "Assault rifle" may be a well-understood term of art in certain circles; but for the meaning to the public at large, the dictionary is probably the best source, and it notes "a nonmilitary weapon modeled on the military assault rifle, usu. modified to allow only semiautomatic fire" as one definition. So again I agree that the term is ambiguous and thus shouldn't have been used -- but the error is in using a confusing term, not using it contrary to its clear definition.

By some strange coincidence, the dictionary you cite appears to be the only one that defines the term in that way. The Random House Unabridged Dictionary, which Dictionary.com cited, is the only dictionary I was able to find that defined an assault rifle as a nonmilitary rifle and even there it was the secondary definition. American Heritage Dictionary, Princeton's WordNet and Merriam-Webster Dictionary all specify a military rifle. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary doesn't specify a military rifle but does define an assualt rifle as being capable of fully automatic firing. If nearly all dictionaries shun that definition and the only one that does list that definition has it as a secondary definition then it seems unlikely that this definition would be the common perception of the general public.
1.12.2007 7:26pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Hmm; Merriam-Webster does define assault rifle as a military rifle, but does include semiautomatics: "any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles with large capacity magazines designed for military use." The American Heritage likewise defines it as "Any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles designed for individual use in combat."
1.12.2007 7:32pm
big dirigible (mail) (www):
The question of whether dictionaries should reflect correct (ie, traditional) usage, or common corrupted usage, caused quite a stir in the world of dictionary publishers. The big split came when Merriam-Webster published the Third Unabridged. The Third stopped indicating preferred (correct) usage, so that corrupt or sloppy modern usage was accorded the same weight as proper English. This was considered scandalous. It inspired the creation of the American Heritage dictionary, which was originally intended to be a huge Unabridged work, until it became apparent just how expensive such an undertaking would be (so it was finished as a desktop dictionary). The American Heritage dictionary is now the American Heritage Webster's, as "Webster's" is public domain - but since the public believes that the name indicates a quality item, most good dictionaries and all not-so-good ones manage to work "Webster's" into their titles somewhere.

So the old Merriam-Webster Second Unabridged is not considered obsolete; the Third wasn't really a functional replacement. This is why most US public libraries of consequence still have both.

Incidentally, newspapers tend to use the Webster's New World dictionary, following the lead of the N.Y. Times. The New World has no connection to Merriam-Webster and is an entirely different dictionary, though also a good one.

Some respondents here seem to think that the distinction between "assault rifle" and "assault weapon" is mere pedanticism. It is not; it is one of the major political footballs of our time. Just be thankful that nobody's noticed the term "assault gun". That's an armored self-propelled gun - a very serious type of cannon - and that would get people <i>really</i> confused. Those above who claim that the AR-15 is a real honest-to-gosh assault rifle are correct, it was Armalite's designation for the gun the army adopted as the M-16. But even gunnies nowadays use it to mean a semi-auto version. Handgun Control Inc has made it its business to capitalize on such sloppy usage.
1.12.2007 7:32pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
We're all smart people. We know how to convey our views without unnecessary personal insults.

Your blog. Whatever.
Sometimes there is a need to choose heightened phrases, to grab someone by the balls so to speak, to get them to listen, really listen, to what you are saying.

Sometimes you have to insult the most confident and cocky a bit to get them to come outside their comfort zone and think... hey, maybe the situation I am thinking of, how I would deal with it, is not what is most important here.

So much of the discussion on this blog convinces no one, when we all remain polite and don't really hear where someone else is coming from. Fine... Hacket was overly macho and we should all just call the cops and wait and do nothing and hope they catch those responsible and if not rest easy knowing that 86.2% of people agree that you took the right action... Whatever.

Yeah F'off Heavily Armed. Once EV declares you can only resond civilly, you come up with that crap posing as an argument. Like I said, whatever. Keep it an echo chamber where everyone gets aspirin on demand because you said so and you just can't see another point of view, and why are you using those words here to convince me?
1.12.2007 7:35pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
I'll also note,
it's interesting to see how cheaply many of you sell off your property rights, self defense, and gun ownership/responsible usage principles merely to make a partisan argument here.

No doubt whatsoever in my mind that you would be applauding this man to the hilt had he a big (R) after his name. None whatsoever. Those biases in thinking overtake the best of us... ask Justice Scalia -- I hear he's no longer giving lessons on consistentcy.
1.12.2007 7:38pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
No apology "oh man -- I f*d up" like you got to demonstrate no one was out to get you as a public figure, just a kid in an accident.

Actually, I didn't get an apology.


I suspect "I f'd up" is as close as you're gonna get to responsibility taking/apology. Take it.

Put that in your holster and pee down your leg, Buckaroo. Saving it for you to drink up, buddyboy.
---------------------------------
There is only one way something like this pursuit/arrest in re property damage could have gone if it escalated and that is to court, likely criminal and certainly civil as well..... and just as likely to big regrets, and to injury to The Hack's family as well. So, if you have the odd $100K+ to piss away, are desperate to prove yourself a real man, plus have a big chunk of time to waste while you and your family are being dogged by legal and financial worries for the next odd couple of years, by all means take your gun to the next non-event misdemeanor beef and chase down some "perps".

Not to be a fear monger, but often when you hear noises outside your house at night, it ain't just kids, know what I mean? You be a puss, and stay inside with your wife and kids and guns all safe. Most men I know and respect, who are confident in their gun handling skills and effective in protecting their family, would follow the fluid trail. I understand some people always play it safe though, and assume that only kids causing mischief is all they'll ever really face.

Like I said... different strokes, different sized folks...
1.12.2007 7:43pm
Jay Myers:
Peter Wimsey:

I can't speak for Ohio, but in Indiana, this would be a fairly serious crime. A citizens arrest is only allowed if the person commits a: (1) a felony; or (2) a misdemeanor involving a breach of the peace in the presence of the arrestor, and the arrest is necessary to prevent the breach of the peace from continuing. This is clearly not met here.

Just because the prosecutor didn't charge the miscreants with a more serious crime doesn't mean that one wasn't committed. Leaving the scene of an accident can be a felony although that is rare unless the accident is serious. The driver also was charged pretty leniently for his reckless driving. The reasonableness of the arrest should be considered in light of what crimes Hackett could have justifiably believed occured rather than what charges the prosecutor chose to bring. Especially if the prosecutor might have made a deal in order to get the kids to testify against Hackett.
1.12.2007 8:12pm
craig miles (mail):
ReVonna, do you read what you write? Are you working on a script? Or are you a douche? You can't make an argument based on facts so you invent, i.e. the bogeyman/thug/gangster is outside, or you insult the individual you disagree with. That's sad, and you are weak. Please tell me again about the men you respect. Hackett sounds a little off, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt. You, of the petty rant, get no such courtesy.
1.12.2007 8:53pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
Craig Miles:

Comment Policy: We'd like the posts to be civil, of course (no profanity, personal insults, and the like), but we're also hoping that people try to be as calm, reasoned, and substantive as possible.

Funny. On the President Carter Israel/Palestinian thread, someone said they hated me. I was ok with it. Here, many of your insults hit... below the belt. Yet it is only me -- who's been disagreeing with EV -- who's not allowed to play smashmouth, when others are dishing it out already to me? Sounds like you guys want to hit, then hide behind someone. We've got a name for that. But I'll respect the overall comment policy.

Do the same, Cragg?
1.12.2007 9:03pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
Craig Miles: Or are you a douche?

Comment Policy: We'd like the posts to be civil, of course (no profanity, personal insults, and the like), but we're also hoping that people try to be as calm, reasoned, and substantive as possible.

Funny. On the President Carter Israel/Palestinian thread, someone said they hated me. I was ok with it. Here, many of your insults hit... below the belt. Yet it is only me -- who's been disagreeing with EV -- who's not allowed to play smashmouth, when others are dishing it out already to me? Sounds like you guys want to hit, then hide behind someone. We've got a name for that. But I'll respect the overall comment policy.

Do the same, Cragg?
1.12.2007 9:03pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
Since you missed the point the first time around, let me try again to communicate another point of view than what ya'll are concluding based on scanty facts:

You can't make an argument based on facts so you invent, i.e. the bogeyman/thug/gangster is outside

At the time (4:30am) Mr Hackett was awakened by a loud noise, he did not know it was just kids who had crashed into his fence and sped off. Those of you are concluding, after the fact, that it was just kids, only property damage, no threat to the family.

I am suggesting that other things than drunken kids can be out there. That it is not unusual or remarkable at all, for a certain type of Man to take up a rifle, and go outside to investigate. Not unusual at all. Nothing macho at all about that.

If you can't see it (is it the rifle you are objecting to? Is that unusual where you're at?)... if you are the type of person who would not have followed the leaking fluid path... bully for you.

Just don't conclude that men who are more active than you (drawining a comparison to the man who jumped in front of the train instinctually to protect another) are necessarily trying to act macho, or have a water cooler story to tell. In fact, I suspect neither of these men have to tell stories, and drink water out of an office cooler.

Sorry if this threatens your own brand of masculinity. But there is still this type of man out there, and his behavior seems perfectly normal to those of us who know them.
1.12.2007 9:10pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
Anyway, as to your assertion that "You sir, smell like a coward"? I guess my question is, so you know all about how cowards smell?

Thinking it through, I imagine cowards loose control of certain bodily functions in time of fear. Yep, I've smelled this as a caregiver for young and old. There is a logic involved, if you can get your mind out of the books every now and then and just common sense think things through...
1.12.2007 9:16pm
TDPerkins (mail):
Joel Rosenberg posting on 1.12.2007 4:04pm,

Would you be terribly offended if I inquired as to when we might find out what happened to Prof. Deighton?

Thank you sincerely, Tom Perkins
1.12.2007 9:39pm
Peter Wimsey:
Jay Myers writes:

Just because the prosecutor didn't charge the miscreants with a more serious crime doesn't mean that one wasn't committed. Leaving the scene of an accident can be a felony although that is rare unless the accident is serious. The driver also was charged pretty leniently for his reckless driving. The reasonableness of the arrest should be considered in light of what crimes Hackett could have justifiably believed occured rather than what charges the prosecutor chose to bring.

Leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage is a mid-level misdemeanor in Indiana; I'm not sure what felony Hackett would have reason to believe the driver committed that would justify holding him at gunpoint. (To be clear, any person may arrest a person who is committing a felony in the person's presence, or, if a felony has been committed, whom the person has probable cause to believe has committed the felony.)

And it's even less clear what would justify him holding the passengers at gunpoint.

On the facts before us in the newspaper article (which, admittedly, is usually a poor source for actual information concerning criminal acts), I don't see a legal reason for the prosecutor not to charge Hackett. Ohio law might be different, of course, but the citizen's arrest law in Indiana is not designed to permit people to track down and arrest individuals who may have committed a misdemeanor in the past.


There is a defense of legal justification in Indiana as in (I think all) states, so Hackett would presumably be able to argue to the jury that he had probable cause to believe that the driver had committed a felony - and if the jury accepted that, he might be acquitted, of course. I'm still not sure how he gets out of confining the passengers, though.
1.12.2007 10:17pm
Henry Schaffer (mail):
Which dictionary should we use? Here's one that I consider authoritative in its area: "Small Arms Identification and Operation Guide" United States Defense Department's Defense Intelligence Agency (Washington: Government Printing Office 1988)

Its definition: "Assault rifles are short, compact, selective-fire weapons that
fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges."

The part important to this discussion is "selective-fire" which, under US law, means it is a "machinegun".

The AR-15 which was originally designed as an assault rifle, is invariably semi-automatic, and hence not "selective-fire". (I don't know of any selective-fire AR-15 rifles in civilian ownership - maybe there are a few, vs. very large numbers of the semi-auto type.) When the US military adopted the selective-fire version of this design, they called it the M16 rifle. It has since been used in several versions, e.g. M16A2, ...

Just to make this entire discussion more confusing (appropriate in a legal setting :-) the AK-47 rifle is made in both versions with no difference in name.
1.12.2007 10:28pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

Hmm; Merriam-Webster does define assault rifle as a military rifle, but does include semiautomatics: "any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles with large capacity magazines designed for military use." The American Heritage likewise defines it as "Any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles designed for individual use in combat."


two PC dictionaries
1.12.2007 11:52pm
Well Armed Coward (mail):
ReVonna,

Your discussion of this incident makes me think that you have never been at either end of a gun under scary circumstances. Training is great, if you have any, but as Eisenhower was fond of saying about warfare, planning is everything, but plans are nothing. It mostly goes up the chimney when the guns come out.

First, if you suspect somebody is sneaking around your house at night, it is a predator, and predators, as in the natural world are fast, quiet, and effective at their occupation. Our predator may very well spend his waking hours pumping iron and yet have the cat-fast reflexes of
a Folsom yardie. It is far more effective to deal with these individuals by closing from a wide perimeter, which you can only do by calling in your outside assets, the cops, especially when your your assets can continuously escalate fire teams until they have what they came for (if you are not mistaken in the first place). A good alarm system, especially a dog, is the first line.

Now let's look at the typical burglar, who is also quiet and sneaky and typically (a) not armed, and (b) splits at the first sign of life. It's a job, not a matter of life, death, or nation for him. A job. Flip on a light.

Finally, the crazy guys, a.k.a home-invasion types, frequently terminal druggies. Let's say you go outside and get one of them before the others get you. Now what? Yes, a real problem. You're down, your family is still inside, but down one man....who's left?. Although in battle mobility is generally a good thing, against whack jobs a defensible position is key.

Now let's take the guys who arrive with a lot of racket, like this incident. These could be whack jobs, but are far more likely to be erratic guys in cars or kids up to something.

i've been at both ends of bang sticks, once holding a burglar at gunpoint (a .25 f'chrisakes), and the only reason I went out was because my wife saw him peeking into our curtains(the house was dark) then he dissapeared and showed up again skimming a neigbor's wall. I went out because (a)I didn't know the guy was a burglar, he was skulking my neighbor's house and she was home alone, and (b) the cops were on the way but ten minutes out.

Our family business was built aound forensic science and police equipment....try getting a cop's wife to open the door when you are dropping off a package and she knows you're coming but doesn't know you....good luck. You leave it on the porch and go. Rude?.... good for her. In all the years, I have yet to meet a cop at any level who will recommend going from a defensible position behind doors to the open field alone, where you can be hit from any side, having no intel on the other side's assets or disposition. Cops screw up in these situations all the time, and even innocent people get maimed or dead (like homeowners with pistols in their hands when neighbors who aso heard something call in the Blues), but that is less a function of their incompetence, meanness or poor training than the fluid, unexpected nature of these highly charged situations and the split second calls that have to be made. There is a complete lack of information as to what the enemy is up to....or is it just some goofy kids who are out larking around, who will someday grow up to be lawyers, doctors and Indian Chiefs if not blown up by some zealot.

...and yes, I've been shot, too, but not too bad, and it hurt beyond belief. I won't do that to anybody else, unless all options are exhausted...and I'm the kind of guy who firmly believes there really are people who NTBK. But looking down at a bad guy with a couple of perfect holes in his face and a thick, clotting pool forming among the hair and lumps of brain tissue and seeing his eyes dilate into big black marbles is not something you ever forget.

I shoot at my range at least once a week - guns don't worry me at all(everybody should have a few dozen), but people who don't fully grasp the possibilities sure do worry me. So I'll stay inside, let the cameras take notes and let the overwhelming power of the professionals resolve whatever the issue is. When it goes down that way, most of the time everybody walks away, even if some are now guests of the state. That's a good thing.
1.13.2007 12:14pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
So I'll stay inside, let the cameras take notes and let the overwhelming power of the professionals resolve whatever the issue is.

Under your circumstances, that sounds like a good choice for you. Others may choose differently under their own circumstances, and should be respected. Here, everything turned out fine. No one was shot. I am sorry it happened to you, whatever choices were made. We can't let your shooting determine how others should act though.

As to the gun ownership/training issues, let me ask you one question regarding background. This will help me assess your partisanship v. loyalty to competent gun owners: Did you think -- regardless of the spin or implications -- that VP Cheney should have accepted responsibility for that shooting? If not, I question your partisanship. It is always the responsibility of the person pulling the trigger. Here, no trigger was pulled. Partisans should lay off Mr. Hackett, and responsible gun owners should know better than to milk this one for political purposes. Might come back to hit us in the ass, so to speak.
1.13.2007 1:56pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
I shoot at my range at least once a week.

We're there more often during season, and for weekly competitions. And we've never been shot either. Not sure if you were using your injury as some type of upmanship, but we're not much impressed on this end.
1.13.2007 1:59pm
Tully (mail) (www):
If Hackett merely had the rifle slung, and wasn't pointing it at anyone, he certainly wasn't "brandishing" it or holding anyone "at gunpoint." He apparently had open possession of a legal weapon in public, but did not "brandish" it or point it at anyone. Y'all can sort out verbal noises as "threat" or whatever, but that one point should be noted. If that was truly the case, any "threat" would come from what he said, not what he carried.

AR-15 vs. M16 geekery digression follow, skip at will.

Those above who claim that the AR-15 is a real honest-to-gosh assault rifle are correct, it was Armalite's designation for the gun the army adopted as the M-16. But even gunnies nowadays use it to mean a semi-auto version. Handgun Control Inc has made it its business to capitalize on such sloppy usage.

-------------------------------

The AR-15 which was originally designed as an assault rifle, is invariably semi-automatic, and hence not "selective-fire". (I don't know of any selective-fire AR-15 rifles in civilian ownership - maybe there are a few, vs. very large numbers of the semi-auto type.)

-------------------------------

Domestic law enforcement agencies (including maybe your local ones) do indeed have some selective-fire AR-15's, and there are indeed some in legal private ownership, as permitted under the licensing regulations of the BATFE and state law. They are still manufactured, if no longer by Colt. There are more selective-fire weapons in private hands, legally licensed, than you might think. Owners of such also face state laws that may ban or restrict ownership of automatic weapons. A federal transfer tag does not mean it's legal in your state.

I'm just nit-pickin', of course, and mostly only a dedicated shooter (or LEO or military) would care about the specific labels. Or a gun-issue person trying to either clear or muddy the waters. If you wanna be really nit-picky, only a Colt can be an AR-15. They still own the trademark. It's a design designation, of which the M16 is a milspec subset.
1.13.2007 2:03pm
Jamesaust (mail):
Sorry, but "reasonable force" must, by definition, be "necessary force." There was no necessity for this hot-head to use any force here: the event was not ongoing, adequate information was available to locate and identify the miscreants after having stalked them. Instead of grabbing a gun, perhaps he should have just grabbed a cell phone. This is a hyped-up "have gun, will travel" episode.

I realize the Army's advertising motto is "an army of one" but isn't this a case of "a citizen militia of one"?

The reason why most states do not allow for this type of he-man personalized justice is quite obvious - the potential for such "self help" resulting in violence is unavoidable. My reaction to some guy with a semi-automatic in my driveway is to shoot first and ask questions later.
1.13.2007 4:35pm
David Schwartz (mail):
Reasonable force must be necessary? That doesn't make any sense. Reasonable force must be reasonable, and that can be a lot more force than is necessary.

It's not necessary for any policeman to carry a gun and walk the streets. That cannot mean it's not reasonable for any to do so.

One does not need to choose the least force reasonable option (which is almost always no force at all) just to be within the full scope of reasonable options.

Were only necessary force reasonable, citizens would only be permitted to use force in purely defensive situations. (Perhaps that's the way you'd like it, but that's not the law and I don't think it's reasonable.)
1.13.2007 5:36pm
TDPerkins (mail):

Sorry, but "reasonable force" must, by definition, be "necessary force." There was no necessity for this hot-head to use any force here: the event was not ongoing, adequate information was available to locate and identify the miscreants after having stalked them.


He used no more force than his voice.

The implicit ability to bring force to bear, in that he had the rifle with him, is both reasonable and legal.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
1.13.2007 7:24pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
"Puss"/"Penis Size"/"Coward" ReVonna LaSchatze, "Douche" Craig Miles: I don't understand why you folks aren't capable of discussing this matter calmly and maturely, but I don't want your posts here. Good-bye.
1.13.2007 7:43pm
NickM (mail) (www):
I don't like Paul Hackett.

I think following a fluid trail alone, even carrying a high-capacity loaded semiautomatic rifle, to investigate and apprehend criminals may be very stupid (you might be walking into a trap - especially if you're a high-profile controversial public figure).

Still, good for him.

I want criminals to be worried about armed citizens. It leads some of them into less dangerous lines of work. Since a high-profile armed citizen's arrest increases the worry level for those who plan their crimes, it's a good thing for society even if it is dangerous for Mr. Hackett.

Nick
1.13.2007 8:34pm
Max Hailperin (mail) (www):
Greg S:

That's one of the interesting and often infuriating things about dictionaries. Most describe how terms are used (descriptive lexicography.), not how they ought to be used (proscriptive).


That would be true if you replaced "proscriptive" by "prescriptive." A proscriptive dictionary would describe how words ought not be used.
1.13.2007 8:45pm
Jamesaust (mail):
David -

"Reasonable force must be reasonable, and that can be a lot more force than is necessary."

Certainly so, and therefore an example of a necessary condition versus a sufficient condition.

"It's not necessary for any policeman to carry a gun and walk the streets. That cannot mean it's not reasonable for any to do so."

And yet, no policeman will expect to keep his job if he/she should use that gun when not necessary.

Here, under these facts, force was NOT necessary from Mr. Hackett. No threat was imminent. Lawful authority was not unavailable. No one was "getting away." The use of force exercised was (in a word) personally OPTIONAL, although not legally optional.

I don't understand (and I suspect you don't understand) by what you mean by "least force reasonable option." The least force that would be reasonable depends upon the context. Here, had threat been imminent, had lawful authority not been available, or had the miscreants been able to escape - not capture but identification - then Mr. Hackett's force would have been reasonable.

Here, having failed to first be necessary to the context, Mr. Hackett's action must be unreasonable and therefore outside of the narrow window of legality.

(On the others' contention that no more force by was used by the man carrying the semi-automatic than his voice, such a silly contention is unworthy of rebuttal.)
1.14.2007 2:25pm
ReVonna LaSchatze:
Janeaust: "It's not necessary for any policeman to carry a gun and walk the streets. That cannot mean it's not reasonable for any to do so."

And yet, no policeman will expect to keep his job if he/she should use that gun when not necessary.

Here, under these facts, force was NOT necessary from Mr. Hackett. No threat was imminent. Lawful authority was not unavailable. No one was "getting away."


Something is missing in your logic here.
You are arbitrarily concluding, based on your own instincts and knowledge well after the scene. It is like Monday morning quarterbacking five months later after you've rewatched the game tapes.
1.14.2007 9:29pm
Don Meaker (mail):
Case 1. Mr. Hackett was certainly within his rights to investigate the front of his property, and to be armed while doing so.

Case 2. Mr. Hackett was certainly within his rights to follow the fluid trail, while armed.

Case 3. Mr. Hackett was, per Ohio law that permits a citizen's arrest based on reasonable suspicion of a felony or misdemeanor, with in his rights to detain the suspects. This citizen's arrest is subject to judicial review, but with the subsequent confirmation of the arrest by the police when they arrived, and the alleged discovery of a concealed weapon, I think it likely that any judicial review will confirm Mr. Hackett's actions.

Case 4. Mr. Hackett, having announced a citizen's arrest, would have been within his rights to use deadly force to either protect himself from assualt, or to prevent the detained persons from an attempted escape. Detained people suffer a diminution of the normal right to freedom of travel or assembly. Again, citizen's arrest is subject to judicial review, and excessive force for the conditions can be punished.

Note: When detaining 3 young men, at night, while alone, having a firearm is a reasonable precaution, one that the police normally take.

Overall. This guy deserves a medal, and all the neighborhood ladies should desire to have his baby.
1.14.2007 10:23pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
The BATFE is very strict on semiauto versions of automatic weapons; they have to be designed so that one cannot simply subtitute full-auto parts into a semi-auto and come up with a machine gun. Thus the receiver and frame of the AR-15 semi-auto rifle is different (mainly inside) from the M16 selective-fire (full-auto) rifle.


While it is possible for an experienced machinist or gunsmith to covert an AR-15 or other other semi-auto firearm to controlled full-auto, it's not a trivial modification that your typical gang-banger can do in the basement of the local crack house. Which isn't to say that one cannot remove the disconnector (the part that makes it necessary to pull the trigger again for repeat shots) and file a few things down and get a gun to fire full-auto, but it won't necessarily be "controlled" and will probably damage the gun if it is fired more than a few times.

Considering the legal penalties for doing such an illegal conversion - 10 years in jail sticks in my mind from somewhere - most machine-gun enthusiasts will bite the bullet and get the proper license (if their state requires one) and pay the $200 federal transfer tax and resulting high price and buy a legal (and federally registered) full-auto firearm. There are sufficient number of such people that the Harvard, MA Rod and Gun Club has a special machine gun range. Between the high gun cost and the amount of ammo the sport burns up, I leave machine gun shooting to those with greater financial resources than myself....
1.15.2007 12:01pm
David Schwartz (mail):
Jamesaust:

By "least force reasonable option", I mean that option among all possible reasonable options that uses the least force. This is not what is required simply to be reasonable force. There can be a variety of reasonable options that use varying amounts of force. The best option may depend upon a large number of factors that the law doesn't normally take into account, including how much risk you are willing to take.

Reasonable force does not need to be necessary. There can be many situations where no force is necessary but much force is reasonable. As a trivial example, consider a person who witnesses another person being mugged in the street. No force is necessary, but disarming the mugger and defending the muggee is reasonable.

This is a case where a wide variety of responses are reasonable, owing to how little information he had when he had to make a decision as to what to do. This thread proves that reasonable people can disagree over the best course of action -- chosen out of many reasonable courses of action.
1.15.2007 11:12pm