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FactCheck Takes Sides on Self Defense

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A new story by Brooks Jackson on the FactCheck.org website once again shows that FactCheck cherry-picks “facts” to suit its anti-NRA, anti-gun, anti-self-defense agenda—an agenda that the American people do not share.

The story claims an NRA advertisement on Barack Obama’s votes against a pro-self-defense bill is misleading because (Jackson claims) Obama did not vote for a “general repeal of the right of self defense.”

Of course, that’s not what the ad said. The ad referred to a case where Wilmette, Ill., homeowner Hale DeMar was prosecuted for owning a handgun—a fact that was only discovered after he used the gun in lawful self-defense against a masked criminal who (as FactCheck points out) was breaking into DeMar’s home for the second time in two days. In fact, burglar Morio Billings was a career criminal—a fugitive from justice with prior convictions in three states and six arrests just that year, hoping to steal enough money for some “blow and crack.” After his capture, he told police he “didn’t care if anyone was home.” And eleven days after serving his sentence for the DeMar break-in, burglar Billings was arrested yet again.

But Obama supported Wilmette’s ability to prosecute DeMar.

The shooting was a legitimate act of self-defense in the home, and DeMar was never even charged. Even the state’s attorney chose “to prosecute the real criminal” rather than prosecute DeMar for a technical gun licensing violation --but the village of Wilmette still pressed charges against this honest citizen for violating its handgun ban.

The situation outraged most Illinois legislators, and they soon overrode the governor’s veto to pass a law that allows people who use guns for self-defense in their homes or businesses to raise that fact as an “affirmative defense” to charges under local gun laws. In other words, a judge or jury considering a gun charge must weigh the evidence that the defendant—like Hale DeMar— acted in self-defense.

Outrageously, Barack Obama, as a state senator, voted four times against this modest protection for crime victims. By voting against the bill, Obama made clear that he believes local gun bans are more important than protecting citizens’ right to use the most effective means of self-defense available. When an honest person who uses a gun for self-defense can’t even point out that he was under attack, the right to self-defense is denied.

Even more outrageously, the supposedly neutral Jackson tries to blame the whole situation on the victim, rather than on the repeat offender who invaded his home. Jackson blames the victim for not getting his locks changed quickly enough after the first break-in, and for moving to confront the intruder before the intruder reached the children in the bedroom. But as DeMar himself asked in a newspaper op-ed, “What is one to do when a criminal proceeds, undeterred by a 90-pound German shepherd, a security alarm system and a property lit up like an outdoor stadium?”

It’s interesting that the newspaper column Jackson relies on for his second-guessing includes reader comments from a retired Chicago detective who calls these criticisms “clueless as to the potential enormity” of home invasion crimes, and from a former prosecutor who calls the columnist “the ultimate Monday morning quarterback.”

Here are the substantiated facts. Obama’s position against the “Wilmette bill” is consistent with his general opposition to armed self-defense by citizens. Obama has endorsed a complete ban on handguns, which the Supreme Court recently recognized as “the quintessential self-defense weapon” in the United States.

Obama has also supported a federal ban on carrying concealed handguns, even though 40 states now respect this right. Obama’s home state of Illinois is one of only two that provide no means whatsoever for people to carry guns outside the home for self-defense. In the Illinois state senate, Obama even sided against crime victims by opposing a bill that would have allowed people who receive protective orders—such as domestic violence victims—to carry firearms. Why? Because, in his words, “authorizing potential victims to carry firearms would potentially lead to a more dangerous rather than less dangerous situation.”

With all this information from independent sources readily available, why did Jackson and FactCheck choose to highlight facts and details that bolster only one side of the story? Is it because the points they chose to highlight advances their preordained beliefs? Do Brooks Jackson and FactCheck have an intrinsic bias against gun owners?

These are legitimate questions that we encourage everyone to ask before buying Brooks Jackson’s or FactCheck’s perspectives.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.