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Free States Must Defend the Right to Self-Defense

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Mark Hertzberg/Pool Photo via AP, File

The jury is still out as I write this; I wish I could be confident that our justice system will provide what it promises and that the unjustly accused will leave the courthouse wearing a smile instead of handcuffs. Kyle Rittenhouse, who went into the void created by the cowardly leftist officials who refused to protect decent citizens from the militarized wing of the Democrat Party, might well be convicted. He got dragged through a legal nightmare, and if that's all that happens to him, then that's the best-case scenario. Us lawyers understand that evidence and law are not what determine jury verdicts; they are merely factors in a much bigger picture. Instead of facing life in prison, Kyle ought to get a medal for taking out several degenerates, including a promising potential Lincoln Project intern. 

If you are looking for justice, you won't necessarily find it in a courthouse. 

The motive behind the atrocious shredding of our social contract represented by these charges and the lying prosecutors is clear. The idea is to neutralize citizen pushback against leftist stormtroopers, to make us afraid to do what we have an inalienable right to do and defend ourselves. Right now, no matter how clearly justified you are, no matter that the rap sheet of the scumbag you defended yourself against includes burglary, domestic violence, and/or the anal rape of little boys, you must weigh the potential of losing your livelihood and freedom against defending yourself and others. At best, you might face years of legal nightmares (criminal and civil) and media crucifixion. 

This is exactly what they want, and the purpose is to stop you from exercising your right to self-defense. But there is no reason that anyone in one of the free red states should ever have to worry that saving your own or others' lives will ruin yours. The criminals and rioters started this. We have a right to finish it and then to go on with our lives thereafter in peace.

Where Republicans are in power, they must act decisively to lift the fear from citizens and put it back on the criminals, where it belongs. If the GOP can't do this, if they can't or won't secure our ability to not be murdered, what the hell use are they? 

The folks we elect need to act, and there are many reforms begging to be enacted. In listing them, I consulted America's self-defense guru, attorney Andrew F. Branca, whose Rittenhouse coverage has been sensational (you can get a free copy of his book, "The Law of Self Defense," here: 

The first thing our red lawmakers must do is clearly articulate the principle that self-defense is a right and a responsibility and that it is not some sort of outlier exception to the rule but, instead, a part of the basic foundation of our society. This should be achieved by a statute that unequivocally requires that the law be interpreted to make it hard for leftist prosecutors to undermine claims of self-defense. Such laws that weigh the scale in favor of outcomes in accord with public policy are common. A model statute might read: "It is the policy of the great State of [INSERT NAME OF NON-BLUE STATE HELLHOLE HERE] that the right of citizens to defend themselves from criminals, rioters, and other threats must be protected so that citizens may exercise their right without fear, and all criminal and civil laws shall be liberally construed to vindicate that right." 

"Liberally construed" is a legal term of art that does not mean that it should be interpreted like some pinko wants, but rather that any applicable law should be construed to facilitate the stated goal – here, that of ensuring that citizens can cap any criminals threatening them and walk away scot-free. 

We need to understand that leftist lawfare considers the process as part of the punishment, and legislators must therefore provide for an expedited pre-trial process to eliminate criminal cases where the state cannot disprove self-defense. This is an important point – self-defense is often merely a defense to a charge, and "the force was not used in self-defense" is not an element of the crime, meaning that in many cases, the state need not disprove self-defense by beyond a reasonable doubt. The accused has to prove a defense. 

Nah. The hell with that noise. Make the state disprove a self-defense claim at a special proceeding long before trial, then make the state disprove it again to a jury at trial. Yes, that means two bites at the apple of freedom – the howling leftists correctly assess that we are firmly favoring self-defenders. These self-defense immunity pre-trial hearings exist in some places and are often mislabeled "stand your ground trials," which they are NOT – they are hearings. The burden of proof must be properly set — in the free state of Florida, for example, the state has the burden to disprove self-defense at an immunity hearing by clear and convincing evidence, not merely by the lesser standard of a preponderance on the defense. I'd make the burden beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Next, during the court process, we need to make sure some of the basic premises about self-defense are clarified: "A claim arising under the right to self-defense shall not be impeached, limited or challenged by the fact that the person claiming to exercise the right was lawfully present at the site of a riot or tumult, that he traveled any distance to the location where he was lawfully present, or that he was armed, or the type of weapon he used." No, a big, scary AR-15 does not negate your right. Nor does the fact you didn't scamper and hide like a sissy. 

Also, a person using force to defend himself against rioters must be presumed to use it lawfully. And we need to clarify that force may be used to defend property (Branca observes that in Texas, you can defend property – cool). Let's go further and allow the defense of pets. I've had friends whose dogs were attacked by these savages – their dogs, people! Call that the "John Wick Law." Hurt a dog, die like one. 

Further: "The jury shall be instructed that unarmed individuals can pose a grave threat to armed individuals, and that a person attempting to take the weapon of the self-defender by force or threat of force shall be presumed to intend to use that weapon upon the self-defender." Try to take a piece? Better make your peace. 

Let's also give the jury the full story and require that the entire criminal history of the target be revealed to the jury and that the jury be instructed that this history can be considered on the question of whether the self-defender was threatened. No, the self-defender might not know the history of the target when he fires, but who cares? Justice demands the jury know who got shot since it has a bearing on why he got himself into the position where he needed to get shot. 

And we just found out that the prosecutors in the Rittenhouse case were playing games with the evidence, substituting a hi-res version of a video for an unclear one that showed much less. We need a one strike rule for this kind of misconduct – if the DA cheats, the accused walks. Period. And not just in self-defense cases. The last few years have been a huge red pill to conservatives as the authorities have totally squandered any goodwill or deference we might have once had with their shameful attempts to frame political opponents. 

A bogus criminal charge by a Soros-owned DA can financially devastate a citizen, so let's make the DA put some municipal skin in the game. Red legislatures must pass laws that ensure that not only does the locality have to pay all the defense costs of an acquitted accused, but the locality must pay his other damages, like lost wages and emotional distress. DAs, go ahead and charge him if you really believe it's not self-defense, but be prepared to put your money where your indictment is. 

And in civil cases, that is, lawsuits by scumbags who got shot, we need a threshold motion to dismiss along the lines of the anti-SLAPP motions that protect free speech. The same evidentiary rules as above should apply, and the losing criminal should have to pay attorney's fees to the self-defender. 

We need to normalize self-defense, and we need to allocate the fear of violence to where it belongs – the criminals. Get on it, red legislatures! 

Conservatives Must Stand Together and Fight. Join Townhall VIPAnd Check Out Last Week's Stream of Kurtiousness, This Is a Valid Self-Defense Case. And my podcast, Unredacted

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