|Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.|
by Vin Suprynowicz
midday Wednesday, March 1, a 53-year-old Registered Nurse Anaesthetist
with the same name as actress Linda Hamilton — a grandmother who's been
licensed by the commonwealth to carry a handgun for the past 10 years
(fingerprints, FBI check, etc.) was headed eastbound on Route 2 through
the village of North Adams. |
"At which point I noticed an 18-wheeler looming in my rearview mirror," Ms. Hamilton writes. "He drove up to within 10 feet of my Blazer, and then lunged his truck at my vehicle as if he was going to ram it. He pulled out as if to pass me — we were on a two-lane road — and then pulled back in behind me. He repeated this behavior four times.
"I was in fear for my life. For over a quarter mile there is no place to pull over. There were no other people around."
So, Hamilton took out the snubnosed .38 Rossi she's licensed by the state to carry. "I put it in my right hand and put my hand back on the steering wheel. The truck driver immediately backed off. I pulled in at the first place there were people and a pay phone. I called the Shelburne State Police barracks and told them of the incident, thinking, of course, that they could intercept the trucker before he hurt someone.
"As soon as I mentioned what I had done with my gun, I was put on the defensive by the officer on the phone. Instead of thanking me for handling the situation in a responsible way, which protected me and hurt no one, the issue suddenly became the gun and only the gun, and not the fact that lives were in jeopardy from an out-of-control trucker. The trooper said to me, 'You should not have drawn your gun; a complaint could be filed.' "
"Excuuuse me," Ms. Hamilton writes, "but why on earth am I carrying a gun? To keep my hip warm?"
The cops know who the trucker was, but won't tell Linda Hamilton or her husband Russ. Instead, a couple of lady troopers named Robertson and Curran flagged Ms. Hamilton down, asked her permission to search her vehicle, searched it anyway when she refused permission, found and seized her legally licensed revolver.
Fortunately, Russ Hamilton tells me Massachusetts (unlike many states) has no easily misinterpreted law against "brandishing" a weapon. The Gun Owners Action League referred the Hamiltons to attorney Robert Chesbro in Williamstown. The Hamiltons plan to sue the state for assault and battery (Mrs. Hamilton was frisked without evidence of any crime), theft of her revolver (which the police still have) and concealing the name of the truck driver who started the whole thing.
"I put them on notice they were leaving me defenseless, and that I wanted a police escort home," Mrs. Hamilton adds. "They refused." [See more on the obligation of the police to protect anyone – according to the law. – TYSK]
Taxachusetts, of course, has so far abandoned the tradition of Lexington and Concord (where Redcoat efforts to seize civilian arms were not well received) that their welcoming billboards now read: "Have A Gun, Go To Jail."
While Russ Hamilton says the cops are dead wrong — "Under Massachusetts law you can keep a loaded firearm in your vehicle if you're a licensed owner; you can have it taped to the window if you so desire," he also admits: "We stopped one mile short. We found a piece of land we liked, but it's one mile short of Vermont. In Vermont there are no gun laws whatsoever, and it has the lowest crime rate in the U.S. We kick ourselves in the butt that we missed it by one mile."
Meantime, maybe the Second Amendment isn't dead in courts, after all.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals — which overturned the original "gun-free school zones" law — has announced it will hear oral arguments this spring in the Emerson case.
Federal Judge Sam Cummings of the Northern District of Texas last year dismissed an indictment against Timothy Joe Emerson for possession of a firearm while under a temporary restraining order routinely issued during his divorce case. In doing so, Judge Cummings specifically rejected the government's claim that the Second Amendment is some kind of "collective" right pertaining only to the National Guard.
Judge Cummings' ruling refutes the bogus "collective rights" theory, and demonstrates in detail why the individual-right interpretation, significantly known as the "Standard Model" in the academic literature and now embraced even by liberals like Harvard's Laurence Tribe, is proper.
Specifically, Judge Cummings ruled that the subordinate "militia" clause in no way negates or limits the independent "right of the people" clause, and further notes the U.S. Supreme Court has determined "the people" should be interpreted similarly in the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth amendments.
"This decision helps protect gun owners from the ever-increasing classes of people prohibited from gun ownership," comments Alan Gottlieb, head of the Second Amendment Foundation. "Without a court willing to step in and put a halt to this practice, eventually anyone with a parking or speeding ticket could be prevented from gun ownership. This could be the pure Second Amendment case that gun owners have been praying for over the past half-century."
Vin Suprynowicz is
assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas
14 mar 2000