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New York City: Outlawing Self-Defense By: Michael Tremoglie
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, June 27, 2003


As a cop, I was taught that deadly force is permitted to protect one’s own life or the lives of others. That simple precept of justice seems to have been forgotten by King’s County (Brooklyn) District Attorney Charles Hynes.
 
Hynes conducted not a prosecution, but a persecution, of Ronald Dixon - a man who acted within the tenets of the law to protect his family from a criminal.
 
Awakened in the middle of the night by a burglar Dixon did the only thing he could do: He shot him with a legally purchased a handgun. However, that firearm was legally purchased in Florida. Dixon was in the process of having it registered in New York when the incident occurred. He had paid $500 to a firm to have it registered in New York, where gun laws have a Byzantine complexity. The firm subsequently went bankrupt and the application was not completed. Because it was not yet registered in New York State, technically Dixon possessed the gun illegally.
 
The facts of the case are not in dispute. Hynes has acknowledged this:

“We’re not disputing that Mr. Dixon had a right to shoot the person who broke into his house. But he had no right to have that gun.”

Regardless of the danger Dixon’s family faced, DA Hynes wants is to send this Navy veteran and father of two, who has never before been had a single encounter with the law, to jail -- the same jail, Rikers Island, as the burglar who robbed him! The burglar has nineteen prior arrests for criminal trespassing, burglary, and attempted assault. (Ironically, for the burglar’s first conviction he received probation). Ron Dixon, a law-abiding citizen, is going to jail because he tried to protect his family from this burglar.
 
DA Hynes has discretion as to whether to prosecute a case or not. Rather than save the taxpayers money – and a veteran’s family untold trauma – Hynes threatened Dixon with a lengthy prison sentence if he did not accept a plea bargain. Ron Dixon will still spend three days in jail, but the conviction will not appear on his record. He will, thankfully, still be able to vote and own a firearm. But why should such a citizen be harassed with three days confinement for preserving his family's life?
 
Contrast Hynes’ attitude in this case with a less politically correct target: a mother who scalded her four-year-old child to death. In that case, Hynes declined prosecution altogether, instead returning the mother’s remaining children to her loving custody.
 
Nor was this the first instance of Hynes combining fatuity and fanaticism with gun-laws. Three years ago, he authored a gun purchase program for his district in Brooklyn. The program offered $250 for each gun citizens would turn into the authorities. It was an immediate success-which was no shock to anyone who knew anything about guns. The state was offering more money for used handguns than new ones cost in most southern states. Hynes cohort in this program, Senator Schumer, issued a report that indicated most guns used in crimes in New York City were purchased in Mississippi and Texas. No wonder they must have been bringing in guns by the thousands to be sold.[1]

Hynes seems to be driven by his ideology more than the law and common sense. Hynes was once quoted as saying that “If you’ve got one person sitting in jail that shouldn’t be there, the system has done a terrible thing.” [2] Does this not apply to Ron Dixon? I learned another thing as a cop: “It is better to be tried by twelve than carried by six.” Dixon should have opted for trial. I doubt that any twelve Brooklyn citizens are as delusional as the Brooklyn DA. Dixon would never have been convicted. 

This entire case recalls the case of poor Tony Martin, a middle-aged British man sentenced to prison for accidentally shooting an intruder in self-defense, then denied parole on the grounds that he represented "a threat to burglars."
 
The actions of Charles Hynes are unconscionable. This injustice can only be remedied - and must be remedied immediately - by New York Governor George Pataki. If ever there was a case that shouted for a pardon from the governor, this is it.

ENDNOTES:
 
[1]
Follow this link.


 [2] Follow this link.


Michael P. Tremoglie is the author of the new novel A Sense of Duty, and an ex-Philadelphia cop. E-mail him at elfegobaca@comcast.net.


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