On Wednesday, in Dekalb, a county included in the Atlanta area, a family had the scare of their lives when a kidnapping at gunpoint went wrong.
Luckily for this father and son, this confrontation was not deadly, at least not for them. After taking his son hostage, with a gun to the teenagers head, and demanding the father’s wallet, Roy Farrell, 39, volunteered the information on where he banked. After going to the bank and parking, while preparing to get the cash the kidnapper put his gun down, according to the victims, which is when they made their move. The father grabbed the gun and told his son to choke out the criminal. At some point, 5 shots were fired, killing the suspect.
According to Channel 2 Action News, a nearby witness, getting money from the ATM at the time, saw the truck, the ensuing struggle and ran for help when she heard the gunshots ring out.
After interviewing the father and his son, Shiera Campbell, spokeswoman for the DeKalb police department, said “This was a justified shooting (self-defense)”.
Even though no charges will likely be filed against the father, or his son, if this were a different state, the Farrell’s might be facing jail time, fines, crippling legal fees and more.
If these two brave men were not lucky enough to reside in Georgia, which is one of is one of just 24 states with various protections for people who shoot someone in self defense and 1 of 15 states that allow legal gun owners to openly carry a gun, legal peril is a very real possibility.
There are many incidents over the years, in less gun owner friendly states, like New York, New Jersey, California or Colorado, where gun owners who were seen as heroes by their neighbors, were seen as potential criminals by unyielding, unsympathetic state prosecutors.
In states where it is hard to register a gun, self defense laws are less lenient, their are no gun reciprocation laws, and District Attorney office’s who don’t like guns, gun owners can often face outrageous threats of fines, and jail time, for self defense, or even crossing the border with a legal owned gun.
One egregious example occurred in Brooklyn, where a home owner was forced to serve 3 days in jail for shooting a burglar. Even though the burglar was in his home (not outside the home, which can often matter) the local police arrested the homeowner and charged him with “criminal possession of a weapon”.
It did not matter that Mr. Ron Dixon shot Ivan Thomas to defend his home and family, and that Thomas was a career criminal with an impressive 19 arrests for criminal trespassing. What mattered to the police, and the prosecutor, was that Dixon used an unlicensed firearm.
Dixon, a Navy vet who had a job on Wall Street and on the weekend worked very long hours, was threatened with up to a year in jail for possessing the gun, even though Mr. Dixon paid a professional $500 to attempt to register the gun.
When Dixon’s neighbors heard the news, they were outraged. “He shouldn’t get no jail at all. He shouldn’t — because he was protecting his family and his house,” said one of Dixon’s neighbors.
Dixon also explained that the reason he purchased the gun was because of a recent attempt on his life in Florida. This did not matter to the state AG was not willing to show leniency, or use prosecutorial discretion, commenting “You get caught with a [unlicensed] gun in Brooklyn, you’re going to do jail time.”
Instead of accepting the aggressive AG’s proposed offer of serving four weeks in prison, at Riker’s Island no less, and risking potential loss of income, his job and getting behind on his mortgage, Mr. Dixon went to court. In the end, the unrelenting prosecutor got Mr. Dixon to plead guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct. He spent 3 days on Riker’s Island as a result.
This is a horror story, yet not an uncommon story for those who live in states with very unfriendly laws and attitudes towards gun owners. Often times the neighbors are sympathetic, because they know it could have easily have been them, but the law is less so.
Stories of punishing the victim, gun owners, instead of career criminals, are why gun advocates loudly call for more protections for gun owners and expansion of gun rights.
There is also demand that laws be written to protect gun owners and make it easier for them to register their guns. Otherwise, this hodgepodge of extremely different gun laws can land people into very serious legal trouble for the most basic of rights, the ability to protect ones self, family and property.