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David Chapman, Published July 12 2009

Shooter perceived a threat

I am a member of the National Rifle Association and a gun owner. I have been a member for years. I have guns in my home, and I am responsible with them.

Would I use one to protect my family? That depends on what they are being protected from. Not every situation allows a person to use deadly force with a firearm or any other weapon. I am absolutely prepared to display and use a firearm when the law permits such use. In North Dakota, deadly force can be used when a reasonable person believes that his life or the life of another is in danger through no fault of his own. Otherwise you go straight to jail.

In the Joel LaFromboise case, the teen was in Vernon Allen’s home. Allen was not privy to information about what was happening in other homes. The teen reached for the gun after being verbally ordered to leave. The fact the teen was able to get close enough to grab the gun shows Allen waited until the last minute to use his firearm. This was clearly not a rash decision.

What would have happened to Allen had he not fired? No one has asked that question. Maybe the teen had entered other homes and left simply because those residents were lucky. Allen acted based on the threat he perceived. Once the gun was grabbed, a reasonable person would also be expected to wait no longer.

I grew up in Canada. Guns are almost a novelty there, and I felt less safe because of it. People are killed there. Winnipeg has a high murder rate. I had cars burglarized, a car and property stolen. I worked a night shift at a convenience store and was robbed on one occasion and was the victim of an attempted armed robbery where the robber lost his nerve. Instead he went down the block and robbed the 7-Eleven at knife point. I was just lucky to incur no injury.

Responsible gun ownership lies in education and not the frenzied calls for us to ban guns or scolding NRA members as being part of an organization with a monolithic view (whatever that is) of guns. You cannot shoot someone for walking across your lawn or ringing the doorbell. Unfortunately, the anti-gun crowd is just anti-gun and not pro-education. Defensive use of a firearm serves the political purpose of whipping the public into an anti-gun frenzy.

Be a responsible gun owner. Know your gun, clean and maintain your gun, know the law and be proficient with your gun. Remember that in the adrenaline-pumping situation of self-defense your aim will be affected. Pursue educational opportunities. Even those of you who feel too gun-cultured to think you can learn anything new should take a course in firearms such as one of the concealed-carry courses offered by Rusty Ramirez or the many other instructors out there.

To Allen, I can only offer sympathy. Not charging him was the proper thing to do under the circumstances. He was at the point of no return when his gun was grabbed. I would not want to be reading Allen’s obituary for being shot with his own gun. Of course even that sort of incident would have provided opportunity to the anti-gun crowd.

Chapman is an attorney with Chapman Immigration Law Group