Minnesota case ignites Northwest debate on home, self-defense

by DAVE WORKMAN, Examiner.com  |  published on November 29, 2012

Pacific Northwest gun owners and activists are engaged in a very active discussion about home protection and self-defense in the wake of a double-slaying in Minnesota that was reported yesterday, with sentiments clearly against the dead alleged teen burglars.

However, it is also clear that the firearms community is hardly warming up to the man who shot the two teen cousins and then appears to have executed them. Sympathy completely vanishes at the revelation that homeowner Byron David Smith waited a day before notifying authorities so as not to disturb their Thanksgiving holiday.

Discussions at Northwest Firearms and Seattle Guns have topped 400 views each, and there are also interesting remarks at Gun Rights Media and WaGuns. Local gun owners are mindful of self-defense laws, and they recall that Washington this year has seen a number of home-defense shootings. This column discussed the situation earlier in the year here and here.

Dead are Nicholas Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18. Both were wounded by shots from a semiautomatic rifle, and finished off with bullets to the head. Smith, a retired State Department employee, is charged with second-degree murder.

Today the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting that the teens may have been involved in an earlier break-in a few miles from Smith’s home in Little Falls. That may figure in the broad scheme, but Smith could not possibly have known that, and it would have no bearing on his use of force to protect his own home under the Minnesota law that was explained yesterday in this column by attorney David Gross.

Gross worked as city attorney in Minneapolis and is one of Minnesota’s leading gun rights activists. He spoke at the Chicago Gun Rights Policy Conference, and in addition to being a very good shot with a pistol, he is a remarkably bright guy with a cut-to-the-chase bluntness. As he explained via e-mail to this column Tuesday, “As I teach in my Permit to Carry classes: ‘Deadly force is never reasonable…under Minnesota Law, but can be used only when necessary’.”

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