What Shoot First means for Colorado

The Colorado Springs Gazette has a closer look at the scary Shoot First, Make My Day, or  Deadly Force law that was used by a murderer there to get off scot free. When Gary Lee Hill stood on the porch with a loaded rifle, he was afraid the people outside his home would attack him again, the jury in his murder trial was told. That left them no choice, the jury foreman said in an e-mail defending last week's harshly criticized verdict, but to find Hill not guilty of murder under Colorado's Make My Day law. Hill, 24, was found not guilty in a Colorado Springs courtroom December 14 of first-degree murder in the shooting death of John David Knott, 19. Knott was shot in the back while sitting in a car outside Hill's home. The foreman, who asked not to be identified because he feared for his family's safety, said the way the Make My Day law is written made a guilty verdict impossible. All four criteria for the use of deadly force against an intruder were met. Not everyone sees it that way: The legislator who helped write the Make My Day law called the jury's decision a miscarriage of justice, and in the days after the verdict there were calls to rewrite the law to require imminent danger before deadly force is justified. This law was written and sold by the NRA, who proudly brag that it takes the responsibility away from victims to retreat from a violent situation whenever possible. But in doing that, they basically make murder legal. John David Knott was driving away from Gary Hill's house, and no longer presented any kind of threat to him at all. And yet, when Gary Hill shot him and killed him from behind, it was all completely legal according to this law. The verdict brought down a firestorm of criticism. Colorado's Homeowners Protection Act, which allows people in their homes to defend themselves against an intruder with deadly force, was debated on national news programs. "I'm shocked at the verdict on this case" wrote Russ Nickerson of Colorado Springs on an online Gazette forum. "What kind of message are we sending to the people of Colorado Springs?"
 Trust me say's Bill Major of Colorado Springs on the same forum, this will open the door for assaults and murders by those who will now accept this as an interpretation of the Make My Day law. Bernie Herpin, president of the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition, said the jury incorrectly used the Homeowner's Protection Act. The Make My Day law only applies if the intruder is in the dwelling. But it doesn't! The NRA has clearly said that they want this law to apply to anywhere a person might be, for any reason. In Florida, they've already passed a law that allows anyone to shoot anyone else whenever they feel threatened. Neighbor letting his dog do his business on your lawn? It's completely legal to shoot him now, because you can simply tell the police that you felt he presented a physical threat. And Knott didn't even present an actual physical threat to Hill at that time just a previous one. According to this law, if you want to shoot someone who beat you up in third grade, go right ahead. They threatened you, didn't they? This law is nonsense. Even the legislators who passed it under the NRA's bidding think it's crazy. A member of the House Judiciary Committee, Republican Richard Decker, R-Fountain said for news bite he hadn't heard from anyone wanting to change the law. If anything, this case strengthened that law said Decker. This guy was outside the house. Republican Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, said "the jurors probably did the best they could, but we may have handed people a sufficiently ambiguous law." Carroll, who is also on the judiciary committee, said legislators might have to look at adding boundaries of time, proximity and imminence. There's a fine line between self-defense and vigilantism Carroll said. And the Shoot First law goes way, way over it. Mark our words, the NRA has made it a priority in 2006 to put this law in effect in every state in the union. We've already seen it here in Colorado, in Florida, and in Wyoming. Shoot First is a clear license to murder, and it's coming to a state near you.