The title of this article is a rip-off of Canadian Cynic [ I mean, what could possibly go wrong?]. That article, in turn, is a response to a provocative article on Halls of Macadamia titled "In Canada, you have to run and hide...".
The story is about certain laws in the USA covered in "Stand Your Ground" bills. Here's a description of the issue from Feb. 2006 in The Christian Science Monitor [Is self-defense law vigilante justice?].
Instead of embracing a citizen's "duty to retreat" in the face of a physical attack, states may be taking cues from the days of lawless frontier towns, where non-deputized Americans were within their rights to hold the bad guys at bay with the threat of deadly force.Yes, folks. This is not a joke. There really are people out there who think that Dodge City was crime free because everyone was armed to the teeth before restrictions on carrying guns were imposed [Only in America] [Should Christians Be Armed?]. After all, what could possible go wrong when you give everyone a hand gun and expect them to serve up vigilante justice?
First enacted in Florida last year, "Stand Your Ground" bills are now being considered in 21 states including Georgia, according to the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The South Dakota senate approved one just last week.
These new measures would push the boundaries beyond the self-defense measures already on the books. Twelve states already allow citizens to shoot intruders in their homes, and 38 states permit concealed weapons in public places. The "Stand Your Ground" laws would allow people to defend themselves with deadly force even in public places when they perceive a life-threatening situation for themselves or others, and they would not be held accountable in criminal or civil court even if bystanders are injured.
Laws putting more judgment in an individual's hands stem from people's increased concern about crime in their communities. Proponents say it helps shift the debate from gun control to crime control, and that these laws are part of the rugged individualism of Americans.
"These laws send a more general message to society that public spaces belong to the public - and the public will protect [public places] rather than trying to run into the bathroom of the nearest Starbucks and hope the police show up," says David Kopel, director of the Independence Institute in Golden, Colo.Well, one thing that could go wrong is that innocent people could possibly get hurt. Canadian Cynic points us to this example from the New York Times in 1994 [Judge Awards Damages In Japanese Youth's Death].
Some critics say such "Wild West" laws are vigilante justice, and commonplace confrontations and more likely turn to violence.
A judge today awarded more than $650,000 in damages and funeral costs to the parents of a Japanese exchange student, saying there was "no justification whatsoever" for the killing of the 16-year-old boy who approached a suburban homeowner's door in a Halloween costume almost two years ago....This isn't the only case of this type. The problem with encouraging people to take the law into their own hands is that they tend to act aggressively instead of just running away (or slamming the door). We shouldn't encourage people to use guns to act out their paranoia.
Mr. Peairs was at home with his family in October of 1992 when the student, Yoshihiro Hattori, and an American companion mistakenly rang his doorbell in search of a Halloween party. Mr. Peairs's wife, Bonnie, answered and, frightened, yelled to her husband to get his gun. Mr. Peairs shot Mr. Hattori dead after warning him to "freeze," a phrase the young man apparently did not understand.