MANESS: Why I Am Signing The “Honest Citizen Pledge”

Editor’s Note: A guest post by U.S. Senate candidate Col. Rob Maness…

On June 7th, at a public gathering sponsored by the Home Defense Foundation (7PM at Morning Call in New Orleans’ City Park), I will become the first candidate for public office to sign their “Honest Citizen Pledge.”

The pledge makes the following promise: “I hereby pledge that when a criminal attacks an honest citizen, and the honest citizen defends himself, I will resolve all doubts in favor of the honest citizen. I will not resolve doubts in favor of the criminal who started the attack.”

I am signing this pledge because all too often, when criminals have threatened honest citizens who are then forced to defend themselves – the honest citizens have been abused by our political system. The system sometimes arrests them or threatens them with criminal indictment, even if they did not start the incident and even if they felt they had no choice but to defend themselves or their families.

In fact, honest citizens have been arrested in cases like this even if attacker has a very long criminal record and even where the criminal has proven that he will not hesitate to use violence.

Here is a recent case: A legally armed customer was at a gas station in Mandeville when another customer became violent with a clerk. The armed man kept his distance and tried to get the other customer’s license plate.

The violent customer then confronted the armed individual, whose firearm was properly visible in an open holster (“open carry” is perfectly legal in Louisiana). The video of the incident, which can be seen on-line, clearly shows the aggressor pushing, grabbing and yanking the armed man, even throwing him off balance and shoving him into merchandise, while the armed man repeatedly tries to move away from the aggressor.

Finally, the armed man, fearing the worse, fired one shot at the aggressor, but the aggressor kept coming. The armed man then fired two more shots, which finally forced the aggressor to stop the attack. Unfortunately, the aggressor later died of his wounds.

Despite the clear cut evidence in the video and the eyewitness account of the store clerk, it took seven week’s before it was announced that the man defending himself wouldn’t face any criminal charges. Can you even begin to imagine the mental toll the fear of being charged with murder took on him while he waited, all for simply defending himself?

At least in this case the correct result was reached. In other cases, the honest citizen was actually arrested and prosecuted.

For example, in the Merritt Landry case of several years ago, the homeowner, Landry, was asleep in his home with his pregnant wife and baby at 2AM when he heard his dog barking. Two individuals were outside his home in New Orleans and one of them had climbed over Landry’s six foot tall steel fence and was in his yard. The intruder’s fingerprints were later found on window shutters, proving that he was trying to break into the house.

Not knowing how many intruders there were, or if they would come through a window or a door, Landry decided to confront them in the yard, before they entered the house. He saw the intruder, who had an outstanding warrant for stealing a gun, and he told the intruder to freeze. The intruder then made a sudden move and Landry fired one shot, seriously injuring him.

When the police arrived they did not arrest the intruder, instead they arrested Landry, for “attempted murder.”

Luckily the citizens of New Orleans had more sense than the officials working on the case. Twice they refused to comply with prosecutors’ requests to indict Mr. Landry and the case was later dropped. But the very fact that prosecutors attempted to prosecute Mr. Landry for the “crime” of trying to protect his family, is in itself terrifying.

Equally wrong was the arrest and prosecution of Reverend Willie Littleton of the Greater Morning Star Baptist Church in Algiers when he tried to defend himself. In that case criminals were stealing air conditioner parts from his church when the reverend, legally armed, confronted them. They tried to run him over in their truck and he shot at them. Afterwards, officials actually charged the reverend with “attempted manslaughter.”

This abuse of honest citizens must stop. An honest citizen should not be threatened with criminal indictment when he or she defends themselves. We must start giving the good people in our community the benefit of the doubt when they are attacked by violent aggressors.

The current policy is not fair and that is why I am signing the Honest Citizen Pledge. We simply cannot continue to arrest and prosecute honest citizens who are forced to make a split second decision on how best to defend themselves and their families.

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