As a gun owner, I believe it is my right to defend my family and myself from any threat. I also believe that as a gun owner it is my duty to learn to handle and use my firearms safely and within the law for which I reside. Anyone who is unwilling or unable to follow the law is not someone that should be looked upon as a hero in the pro-2nd Amendment community. The irresponsible gun owner will only become an example for the anti-gun groups to claim that we law abiding owners cannot be trusted with our weapons.
I say this because yesterday I came across an article that claimed that a “hero” father is being charged with murdering a rape suspect in New York State. My first reaction after reading the headline was, “Good. He’s protecting his family.” Many of us have a bad habit of reading only the headline and gleaning the entire story from that one sentence. I’ll admit I’m guilty of doing that sometimes. But there was something about that article that just didn’t seem right. After all, this is the state that passed some of the harshest and most controversial gun control measures recently. To say that these laws do not sit well with the Pro-2nd Amendment people like me is an understatement. But sometimes our emotions get in the way of the facts. Being this happened in New York State, it’s easy to take the side of the gun owner over an overreaching government. I read the article and decided to research the story on my own to find out more. Sadly, it turns out the headline was very deceptive and I’m glad I didn’t go with my first impression.
On October 10, 2013 police were searching for Norris Acosta-Sanchez, a 35-year-old fugitive in Orange County NY where the suspect was hiding in an abandoned cabin. Acosta-Sanchez was wanted by police in Rockland County on a 2nd degree rape warrant for rape of a child under the age of 15. When police entered the cabin, they found that Acosta-Sanchez was gone, having fled into the woods and then he swam ¼ mile across the Rio Reservoir. The police searched the surrounding woods all day for Acosta-Sanchez and then called off the search when it grew dark. The next morning Acosta-Sanchez emerged from the woods and he was shot and killed by David Carlson, a 42-year old father of three.
The reports I’m finding with regards to what happened are contradictory. Some reports say that Acosta-Sanchez emerged from the woods onto David Carlson’s property while other reports say that Acosta-Sanchez returned to the cabin he was living in.
David Carlson claims that he spotted Acosta-Sanchez on his property and he used his 12-gague shotgun to force Acosta-Sanchez to walk to a neighbor’s house so he could call the police. When Acosta-Sanchez lunged at him, Carlson shot four times, hitting Acosta-Sanchez twice. But another report states that Carlson not only knew Acosta-Sanchez, but Acosta-Sanchez has done a few odd jobs for Carlson. When Acosta-Sanchez confided in Carlson that he was a wanted fugitive, Carlson called the police and Acosta-Sanchez fled the scene.
According to FOX news, police stated that Carlson killed Acosta-Sanchez at the cabin where he was hiding. Two things are certain in this case:
1) The police were looking for an accused child rapist that was on the run in a rural area that does not have 24-hour police protection.
2) David Carlson killed Norris Acosta-Sanchez, the wanted fugitive.
I can understand how Carlson’s neighbors can look at the man and consider him a hero. It’s very frightening to have a fugitive accused of child rape on the run in a quiet community. The first thing anyone thinks of is the safety of their family. Some neighbors feel that the police dropped the ball because they ended the search when it grew dark. The attorney representing David Carlson claims that the citizens were “left to their own devices”. With that said, I feel that they are wrong. Even in the most frightening situation, you cannot let your emotions override following the rule of law.
David Carlson broke the law the moment he confronted Norris Acosta-Sanchez. New York is not a Stand Your Ground state. That means that even if Carlson’s story is correct, when Acosta-Sanchez emerged from the woods onto Carlson’s property, he must flee to an area of safety; his home perhaps. Since New York does have the Castle Doctrine, Carlson would have been within his rights to defend his life and the life of his family if–but only if Acosta-Sanchez broke into Carlson’s home. Because of his actions, David Carlson has been charged with 2nd Degree murder of Norris Acosta-Sanchez. Carlson is claiming he killed Acosta-Sanchez in self-defense, so we’ll just have to wait and see what the outcome will be at his trial. One thing is for certain; this is not a case that law-abiding gun owners should hold as an example of gun rights. Carlson is a vigilante, not a hero. He will have his day in court and he will have a fair trial—which is something he denied to Acosta-Sanchez when he decided to take the law into his own hands.