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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Not everything is about guns

A naked sex offender broke into an Indianapolis man's home and entered the bedroom of the man's teenage daughter. Hearing his daughter's screams, the man struggled with the sex offender, got him in a choke hold and strangled him to death. Naturally, this creates the perfect opportunity to call up the usual suspects and get them to engage in the usual debate about self-defense and guns:

"The underlying premise is that victims of crime can have an opportunity to defend themselves if they choose to do so," said Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, which has been a supporter of the push for stronger laws.

[. . .]

"The concern I've had is that by changing well-developed law, maybe we're encouraging more people to shoot first," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which has opposed the strengthening of force laws.

We know the sequence: The right to self-defense is in the state constitution, so that goes back to 1851. In the 1970s, defense of a third person was added to the law. In 2006 -- the move that so upsets Helmke and those like him -- the requirement to back away from danger before using deadly force was removed. One side says it's the "stand your ground" law, and the other side says it's the "shoot first" law.

In this case, maybe we should say "strangle first and ask questions later." The Indianapolis man used the first weapon availiable in a scary situation -- his bare hands, for Pete's sake. Maybe he should now be required to keep them tied together unless he needs them for emergencies. Maybe his daughter should have politely asked the naked intruder to leave, warning that her father might take offense otherwise.

The man with the vice grip is 64, by the way. Him, I would like as a neighbor.