Collective Guilt Infects Criminal Law
By Alec Rawls © 1996/1998 (1150 words) Published in The Stanford Review, 11/11/96.

In the Simpson trial, eleven black jurors and one (by her own admission) cowed white juror practiced race based nullification of charges. The same thing happenned in the Denny trial, where a young thug named Damian Williams was caught on video smashing a white truck driver's skull with a brick and then celebrating. Williams' gluttony of racial hatred was accepted by the black jury as a valid excuse for his crime, even as black activists insist that racial hatred by whites is in itself one of the worst possible crimes.

The next step of this descent into Hell is being taken right now in San Jose, where Fire Department Captain Robert Gremminger has just been charged with murder for shooting a violent criminal who happenned to be black.

Gremminger was returning to his car outside Milpitas' Great Mall when he saw security guards trying to apprehend three black men. Believing help might be needed, he went to his car and retrieved a .38 caliber revolver. Sure enough, trouble erupted. One of the suspects bolted to his car, and in a rampage of criminal violence, tried to batter his way out by smashing in rapid succession into four different cars. With who knows how many people endangered by this manic onslaught, Gremminger fired a single shot through the windshield of the car, hitting the criminal madman in the head and killing him.

Newspaper coverage started out by describing Gremminger as shooting, not a criminal in the midst of a violent rampage, but "a black shoplifting suspect." Reporting then turned to charges of racism, based on the fact that Gremminger had once challenged a fire department promotional exam when he uncovered evidence that black fire-fighters were given the test questions ahead of time. Having charged Gremminger with racism in this earlier incident, the "civil rights" establishment has gone apoplectic with Williams-like celebration and blood-lust. They have their racist now!

In the promotional exam case, the evidence of cheating was deemed inconclusive (even though it was admitted that black fire-fighters had been given special help) and the test results were upheld. (I guess this is what is called the "outreach" version of affirmative action: "It isn't preferences. We were just helping them.")

Imagine a whistle-blower who found that whites had been given the test questions ahead of time. He would not be called a racist, but what he is: an upstanding citizen and an enemy of racism. What would be racist is to find evidence of racial cheating and not act on it. But that is how twisted racial politics are in America today. It is the honest man who is vilified.

Now he is about to be crucified. This man who has entered a thousand burning buildings and spoke out against cheating has now been charged with murder for committing one more act of the same character: putting himself in harm's way in order to stop to a violent criminal rampage. People like Robert Gremminger should not be in jail. They should be every tenth one of us.

Israel, which has the highest density of handgun carry in the world (the government urges it, so that terrorist attackers can be swiftly cut down), also has the world's lowest murder rate. Facts like these dumbfound the gun control crowd, who are fixed on the belief that guns create criminals. The opposite is true. For the law abiding citizen, carrying a gun forces one to constantly be aware of oneself as an anti-criminal, prepared to stop crime. This constant self-identification makes it impossible to then turn around and commit crime. For those who are criminal from the start, it makes them look for another country.

Unfortunately, our supposedly liberal media and prosecutors and our Rose Bird era legal precedents are all in the uncomprehending anti-handgun camp. To them, guns equal crime. They allow no distinction between using a gun to stop crime and using a gun to commit crime, no distinction between good guys and bad guys. That is only for the courts to determine they say, not private citizens, and then they don't want the courts to determine it either, but prefer to excuse every predator as a victim of his past and give him a multitude of chances, no matter how many innocent people suffer.

While the bad guys are afforded every excuse, those who would use guns to stop crime are treated mercilessly. The citizen defender is required to respond instantly to any decrease in the absolute necessity of shooting a criminal. This is the bias in our system. To give every last chance to the criminal, the law must give no chance to the citizen defender, showing him none of the mercy that it insists be shown to the criminal predator.

It ought to be the opposite. In determining whether the crime that someone was trying to stop was "forcible and atrocious," all grey areas should be granted to the person stopping crime. Now it all goes to the criminal. If you see some thug beating the hell out of an innocent person, you can't shoot him. He has to be murdering his victim, or mutilating him, or you will likely get charged with murder. The same goes for every other dimension of justification.

Much is being made of a report that the "shoplifter" Gremminger shot had managed to batter his way free and was starting to speed away when Gremminger shot him. So what is the implication supposed to be, that if Gremminger had shot one second earlier it would have been O.K. but one second later is murder? Sorry, that is giving all the gray area to the criminal, epecially when the criminal was charging towards Gremminger, not away from him. Only when a reasonable person would certainly not still percieve a serious threat, as judged in the heat of the moment, should even the mildest charges be contemplated against a person who tries to stop what is clearly a violent criminal rampage.

Just as legally required racial discrimination calls the person who is against discrimination a racist, the same perverted mindset is now defining citizen action against crime as racist criminality. This is exactly the kind of moral incompetence that is going to result in riots if a jury finds the shooting to be a justifiable homicide.

Gremminger's trial is an opportunity to judge how people who try to stop crime should be treated differently than people who try to get away with crime. We will have failed this test if we allow the anti-gun zealots and the race baiters to brand a citizen interest in stopping crime as evil.

(Alec Rawls is pursuing a Ph.D. in economics)


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