Gun Law Helping Victims
An interesting read on the impact of Castle Doctrine in Michigan. Surprising seeing as the "Detroit Free Press" leans pretty hard to the left.
Gun law helping victims of crimes
September 30, 2007
BY BEN SCHMITT
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Southfield resident Wayne Heath has a few guns. He keeps a shotgun in his car.
At 5-foot-7, Heath, 47, calls his collection an equalizer of sorts.
"I absolutely would not hesitate to take somebody's life if it were in defense of my home, my wife or any of my friends," he said. "We've had enough of the thugs owning our streets and neighborhoods. Enough is enough."
And the law is on Heath's side.
Michigan's self-defense act will be a year old Monday. The law allows people to use deadly force, with no duty to retreat, if they reasonably think they face imminent death, great bodily harm or sexual assault. They can use deadly force anywhere they have a legal right to be.
The legislation, promoted by gun-rights activists, clarified when a person can use deadly force in self-defense during break-ins, carjackings and other potentially violent crimes -- even in incidents away from the person's home.
Such was apparently the case Thursday night in Detroit.
One week after a fatal carjacking in Hamtramck, an 18-year-old would-be carjacker was killed when his potential victim opened fire. Police said Michael Evans of Detroit brandished a handgun as he approached a 36-year-old man from Troy as he got into his vehicle after having dinner with friends. The Troy man used his registered handgun to shoot Evans in apparent self-defense.
The shooting, which occurred in front of Detroit Police headquarters at 1300 Beaubien, remains under investigation, but prosecutors likely won't charge the unidentified Troy man if his version of events checks out.
And in May, a 53-year-old Detroit man fatally fired his gun to protect his car from being stolen at a Detroit car wash. He, too, had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
The botched carjacking on Grand River and Prevost came after a string of robberies in Detroit on Thursday, which police said were committed by Charles Parker Jr. and four others ranging in age from 16 to 20.
Parker brandished an unloaded handgun in a robbery attempt before a man shot and killed him. After the shooting, police questioned the 53-year-old man and released him, noting that he had a valid concealed-weapons permit.
Concealed-weapons permits rose by nearly 1,000 in Wayne County -- where much of the region's crime is concentrated -- between 2004-05 and 2005-06. Permits issued during the same time period dropped by about 1,000 in Macomb County and more than 2,000 in Oakland County, according to state records.
Law enforcement officials said they're not reading much into the statistics.
Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said he rarely sees abuse of concealed-weapons laws. "Of course, you're going to get a case once in a while where someone's out waving a gun or something," he said. "But overall, most people are responsible."
When it comes to self-defense, Hackel said, the law is fairly basic.
"I get asked all the time: 'What does self-defense mean?' " he said. "Every case is going to be reviewed individually by police agencies and prosecutors. It boils down to the totality of circumstances: Do they feel their life is in imminent jeopardy?
"It's the same level that we use in guidelines for police to use force."