Permission to fire granted
What does the Second Amendment look like in a quiet, residential neighborhood? How does it work? More specifically, 1) who gets to bear arms, 2) what arms can they bear, and 3) who gets to shoot first? New Mexico got a raw look at these questions in the April 5 shooting of Robert Dotson in Farmington at the hands of the Farmington Police Department. The answer to these questions seems to be: anyone without a felony conviction; any weapon; and the fastest on the draw.
Robert Dotson of Farmington, New Mexico, is dead. He was defending his home, his wife and his daughter on April 5 when he was shot to death by officers of the Farmington Police Department. Mr. Dotson was a Second Amendment warrior in the best sense. He likely believed he had the right, the duty, to bear arms in defense of his home and family. And so he exercised his right and did his duty; having done so, he is now dead. His wife widowed, his daughter fatherless.
Three members of the Farmington Police Department, those who killed Mr. Dotson, are not dead. They were defending themselves and their right to go home alive at the end of their shift. They too are Second Amendment warriors, and as front line law enforcement officers they are at war every day. Being on the front line means they see both good guys and bad buys bearing arms, every day. The line between seeing good guys and bad guys may not be seen in the split second it takes to pull the trigger, but the imperative is to go home alive at the end of the shift. So the Farmington warriors rightfully pulled the trigger in a split second judgment.
In the case of Mr. Dotson, the Farmington police warriors mistakenly did not see that he was a good guy with a gun in that split second. He was an unknown guy with a gun who could do harm to them. So they opened fire. The result was death, widowhood, and fatherlessness. The Farmington warriors did not wish for this to happen, but it did.
What we have here is a Second Amendment incentive structure that encourages private citizens to arm themselves to the teeth against enemies and home intruders, and a Second Amendment that simultaneously encourages front line law enforcement officers to guard themselves against anyone who has a gun. Or to guard themselves against anyone who may have a gun, which is another way of saying “anyone”. You know, constitutional carry, permitless concealed carry, stuff like that. Anyone, because that is the law of the land enshrined in the Constitution.
This is a self-harming circle. More guns in more private hands means that more law enforcement officers will see guns in private hands as a threat, even when the gun is in the hands of a Second Amendment warrior like Richard Dotson. I am confident the Farmington warriors do not fault Mr. Dotson for bearing arms in defense of his home, but when that firearm was visible to their own eyes it became a mortal threat to them. Instantly. And so they opened fire, even though, unbeknownst to them, Mr. Dotson was defending his home and family. The result was the death of Richard Dotson, widowhood for his wife, and fatherlessness for his daughter.
In the end, we have a dead man, a widow, a fatherless daughter, and three police officers possessed both of law enforcement authority and questionable judgment. Does anyone really think this is an acceptable result of a responsible, functional Second Amendment?
Does anyone really think that doing nothing will yield a different result?
Darrell M. Allen is a retired criminal defense attorney and employment attorney. He lives with a nice Republican lady north of I-40, where they run one head of dog and two of cat.