When Self-Defense is Illegal

New York is an interesting city as self-defense is illegal (unless you’re rich or politically well connected of course). For example let’s say you’re a woman and your husband is a police officer who has just threatened to kill you. Fortune shines upon you though as you were able to obtain his service weapon and use it to defend yourself. In a free city you would not be punished for your act of self-preservation but in New York you go to prison for illegally possessing the firearm:

In a case seen as a test of the battered-woman defense, Barbara Sheehan, 50, was acquitted of second-degree murder last month after her lawyers successfully argued that she fired a gun at her husband only after he threatened to kill her.

She and her children testified during her trial about the violent household ruled by Raymond Sheehan, 49, a former New York City police sergeant. Both the prosecution and defense said the beatings and bruises came to an end on February 18, 2008, when Sheehan shot her husband 11 times in their Queens home.

She was sentenced in state Supreme Court in Queens to five years in prison and two years of probation on the unlawful gun possession charge, based on her use of her husband’s weapons. She had faced a possible sentence of 3-1/2 to 15 years.

I… I weep for humanity. For crying out loud I don’t even understand the logic behind this decision. The woman was subjected to dire circumstances, her life was in jeopardy, and she did what she felt was necessary to survive.

Let’s look at this in another way. In this scenario we will pretend you’re on a sinking ship and you boarded one of the lifeboats to preserve your life. Due to the chaos that ensued during the sinking of the ship no member of the ship’s crew is aboard your lifeboat. Using the logic arrived at by the Supreme Court in Queens you are guilty of theft and should be tossed into prison.

It appears you have two options in New York when faced with a life threatening situation; die or go to prison.