Second Amendment vs Mandatory Sentencing

This story comes to us out of Florida. There, a man has been sentenced to spend the next 20 years in prison for pulling out a gun and discharging it when he was menaced by a violent teenager in the man's own home. Here is a brief account of the event taken from a law professor's blog...

On a spring morning in 2008, Wollard got a panicked call from his wife. The teenage boyfriend who had been beating up his 15-year old daughter was back at their house causing trouble. Wollard rushed home and found the boy on the porch and his daughter with a black eye. Wollard told the boy to leave, but instead, the boy attacked him, ripping out stitches from Wollard’s recent surgery, and then ran off with Wollard’s daughter. When the two returned several hours later, the boyfriend began shoving Orville’s daughter around the Wollards’ home. Wollard’s wife and eldest daughter screamed for him to do something. Wollard was frightened for his daughter’s and his family’s safety.

He grabbed his legally registered pistol and confronted the boy, again asking him to leave. The boy stopped assaulting Wollard’s daughter. He smiled, punched a hole in the wall, and began moving toward Wollard. Wollard, who had had firearms training as a former member of the auxiliary police force, aimed a bullet into the wall next to the boyfriend to scare him. No one was hurt, and the boy finally left. That is where this story should have ended, but it didn’t.


Weeks later, the abusive teen boyfriend called police and reported that he had been the victim of an assault. Mister Wollard was arrested, and believing he had done nothing wrong, rejected a plea deal that would have left him with only a sentence of probation but also with a felony record. A felony record which would prevent him from owning a firearm for the rest of his life, stripping him of his Constitutionally protected right to bear arms, and his right to protect his family.

That right has been reaffirmed in a number of cases by the U.S. Supreme Court over the years, and re-affirmed by the state of Florida when they adopted a "castle doctrine" in 2005.

The Florida "Castle Doctrine" law basically does three things:

One: It establishes, in law, the presumption that a criminal who forcibly enters or intrudes into your home or occupied vehicle is there to cause death or great bodily harm, therefore a person may use any manner of force, including deadly force, against that person.

Two: It removes the "duty to retreat" if you are attacked in any place you have a right to be. You no longer have to turn your back on a criminal and try to run when attacked. Instead, you may stand your ground and fight back, meeting force with force, including deadly force, if you reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to yourself or others. [This is an American right repeatedly recognized in
Supreme Court gun cases.]

Three: It provides that persons using force authorized by law shall not be prosecuted for using such force.

It also prohibits criminals and their families from suing victims for injuring or killing the criminals who have attacked them.

In short, it gives rights back to law-abiding people and forces judges and prosecutors who are prone to coddling criminals to instead focus on protecting victims.

Which makes it all the more surprising that this man was convicted of anything, much less convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison, living in a state which ostensibly recognizes one's right to defend themselves and their family. I can't imagine how bad it might have been if this had gone down in NY. But, this case is bad enough, as it turns out, for freedom-loving law-abiding citizens with a verboten human instinct to protect their families.

Prosecutors charged Mister Wollard with:

Shooting into a dwelling, which was his own home.
Child abuse, because the alleged victim was under 18.
Aggravated Assault with a weapon.

When the jury convicted Wollard of possessing and discharging a firearm, a mandatory sentencing regulation kicked in under Florida state law. A typical right-wing "get tough on crime" law just came home to roost. The judge had no choice but to sentence Wollard to a mandatory 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

Wollard told the court...

“I’m amazed. I’m stunned. I have spent my life pursuing education [and] helped the community. [T]hen one day this person breaks into my house … he continues to do this, he assaults my daughter, he threatens me, I protect myself. [N]o one is injured in this whole thing, and I’m going to prison. … And again, with all respect to [the court], I would expect this from the former Soviet Union, not the United States.”

Frankly, the only thing I can see that the man did wrong was to not shoot and kill the attacker. Most gun-owners will tell you that you never pull a gun unless you have every intention of using it. It's not a tool to scare off an intruder, to threaten, to make a show, or to "wing" someone with a shot in the leg. You pull a gun on a person because your life is in danger, you shoot to kill, no questions asked.

Mister Wollard has now served two years and a day of his penitentiary sentence... for shooting a wall in his house.


Anonymous said...

This is the former Soviet Union.

Station Six Underground said...

Or worse. I think the same thing so often. Growing up we used to make fun of the Soviets for how they lived, and now we are living under equal repression.

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