Florida Defensive Shooting

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Thu, 04 Dec 2003 13:00:00 GMT
From highroad:
"You can say 'stop' or 'alto' or use any other word you think will work, but I've found that a large bore muzzle pointed at someone's head is pretty much the universal language." -- Clint Smith

AP via the Miami Herald - 71-year-old man arrested in gun attack on his friend's attackers - three men were beating up Melvin B. Spaulding's 63-year-old friend, George Lowe. Mr. Spaulding told them to stop, and when they didn't, he shot one of them with his .22 pistol. Sheriff Everett Rice was, on Tuesday, holding Mr. Spaulding without bail (but see below before you start writing angry emails), in the Pinellas County Jail. This story is covered at Publicola, The High Road, and The Claire Files. The AP story also ran at The Sun Sentinel and The St. Petersburg Ledger. [publicola]

ST. PETERSBURG -- A 71-year-old man was arrested for firing a gun at three men beating up his 63-year-old friend, striking one of the men in the arm, deputies said.

Melvin B. Spaulding held up his .22-caliber pistol and told the men to stop hitting and kicking his friend George Lowe. When they didn't listen, he fired the gun, Pinellas County Sheriff's spokesman Tim Goodman said.

"I'm sure he was concerned for his friend's safety...," Goodman said. ``The use of a weapon to stop a confrontation is not the right way. He would have been better off calling 911."

James T. Moore, 20, was treated for the gunshot wound at Bayfront Medical Center and was arrested for an unrelated battery charge earlier the same night.

St. Petersburg Times - Man who shot attacker released from county jail - I found this one myself. Looked at this paper's web site because it was referenced as the source in one of the versions of the story above. I'll bet the DA will drop the charges. Even if he doesn't, I can't imagine a Grand Jury indicting him. No reason to panic. Most likely, the system will work this time. Unless he actuall witnessed it, the sheriff really has no choice but to arrest the shooter and let the DA, Grand Jury, and trial jury decide if his actions were justified.

ST. PETERSBURG - Melvin B. Spaulding, who shot a man who was beating Spaulding's 63-year-old friend, was released late Tuesday from the Pinellas County Jail.

Spaulding, 71, charged with attempted murder, was released on his own recognizance at 10:12 p.m. by Pinellas Circuit Judge Brandt Downey.

Spaulding was picked up by George Lowe, the man he was trying to help Sunday night when the shooting occurred in the Lealman area.

The man who was shot, 20-year-old James T. Moore of Seminole, was treated and released from Bayfront Medical Center on Sunday night.
I sent the following email:
To: Pinellas County Sheriff's Deparment Media Relations <mpasha@pcsonet.com>
Subject: Some Calm Opinions about the Melvin B. Spaulding Case
From: "Bill St. Clair" <bill@billstclair.com>
Date: Thu, 04 Dec 2003 10:21:51 -0500

I read, in the internet version of the St. Petersburg Ledger, the story of the arrest of Melvin B. Spaulding for defending his friend from an assault by three men. I also read in the St. Petersburg Times that he was charged with attempted murder and released on Tuesday night on his own recognizance.

Not having been there, I can't speak for whether arresting Mr. Spaulding was justified, but, unlike many of the internet pundits commenting on this case, many of whom I'm sure have sent angry emails, I can't fault the Pinellas County Sheriff's department for that. Given that Judge Downey released him without bail, I doubt that this case will go much further. But please pass on to the DA that unless he believes things went down other than described in the paper, he should drop the attempted murder charges. I know if I were on a Grand Jury considering this case, there's no way I would indict Mr. Spaulding. Instead, I would commend him for wisely using his handgun for its intended defensive purpose. It sounded to me like a textbook case of why individuals need to carry weapons. So why waste the taxpayers money with taking this case any further?

There is one person mentioned in the story with whom I do find fault, however. Pinellas County Sheriff's spokesman Tim Goodman is quoted as saying, "I'm sure he was concerned for his friend's safety... The use of a weapon to stop a confrontation is not the right way. He would have been better off calling 911." This is absolutely wrong. Had Mr. Spaulding dialed 911 and waited for a deputy to arrive, George Lowe might be dead today, or permanently injured. Immediate action was necessary. Mr. Spaulding did the right thing.

-Bill St. Clair

The High Road - Preacherman ..... prisoner's gun attitudes? - P95Carry asks Preacherman about the attitudes of prisoners about guns. Preacherman and others respond. I recommend that you read at least Preacherman's response.

From armoredman:

May I interject? I work in in AZ supermax lockdown prison, and deal with the worst of the worst. I have been there for two years, and in that time have asked several of them about firearms. Theusual answer was indeed, the armed citizen scares them WAY more than law enforcement. In fact, there answers tally about 99% to what Preacherman said. One interesting thing I would like to relate is one inmate doing life, who is working on his appeals. He is the shoeshine guy, and quite amiable. I asked him how long it would take him to get a firearm after he hit the streets. His answer? " All I gotta do is call up my people pickin' me up, and tell 'em to 'bring one of them things along'. I'll have it in my hand before I get outta sight of this place!" Waiting periods do so much good.
From Preacherman:
Another thing to think about is home-invasion type robberies and assaults. I've spoken with a number of inmates about this. Their unanimous opinion is that this is the fastest, easiest and safest way to tackle anyone who might have a gun, for the following reasons:

1. They're in their "comfort zone", not expecting trouble. If a BG bursts in on them, there's the inevitable reaction time - giving the invaders a chance to overwhelm them, or take family members hostage.

2. They're usually not carrying a gun. They may have one on the bedside table, but be in the living room - or they may have locked them away in a gun safe so that their kids can't get at them.

3. Action beats reaction. The BG(s) busting in the door are primed and ready for action (violent and lethal if need be). The homeowner(s) is/are not expecting to have to resort to such action, and usually can't react fast enough to stop the attack.

These are very good reasons to have good perimeter defence on your home (so that it can't be broken through quickly or quietly), and to have a gun within reach at all times.
Kharn, for a felon to see a rifle or shotgun in a citizen's hands apparently produces the quickest cure for constipation that the felon's had in weeks... The shotgun has the greatest visual impact, according to conversations I've had - as in "That MF'in cop/person pointed that MF'in gun at my MF'in head, and I looked down that MF'in big hole and thought, 'MF!!!' " (I think you get the general sense... )

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