Protect us from ourselves?
Posted by sanityinjection on March 19, 2010
A recent arrest in Louisiana raises questions about whether we really need laws to protect us from ourselves. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Michael Housey had an argument with his wife in their home. In order to blow off steam after the argument, Housey took his shotgun, fired once in the air and then fired at his own fence three times. No one was injured and the only property that was damaged belonged to Housey.
Obviously, neighbors heard the shots and called police. After speaking with Housey, the police arrested him for disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor. I have no argument with that. But there were additional charges: “illegally discharging a weapon” and “aggravated criminal damage to property” – both felonies in the state of Louisiana.
Am I the only one who sees a problem with this? Apparently it is illegal to fire a weapon in the town where Housey lives, though I cannot imagine how that is constitutional – surely the right to bear arms must include the right to actually use them? Even more egregious though is the felony charge for “criminally” damaging his own property. Is that a level of protection Americans want or need their government to provide? Shouldn’t we have the right to foolishly smash, break or destroy our own possessions in a fit of rage if we choose to do so?
What we have here is a man who could potentially be facing jail time just for blowing off steam. I guess the state of Louisiana would rather Housey kick his dog next time he’s angry.
Hopefully the felony charges will be dropped and we can chalk this up to overzealousness by the police. But they represent one item among an increasing pattern of government seeking to control what we say, do, and even think not only in public but on private property and within the privacy of our own homes. The law does and should prevent us from using that privacy to harm or infringe the rights of others. But on what grounds does the government find itself to be a more lawful guardian of the property of a mentally sound individual than the individual is?