We originally presented this back in June 2012. However, in the face of the current conversation regarding gun control, it is appropriate to revisit the concept of Law Enforcement and “affirmative duty”:
In the video, and in the article, the local law enforcement again repeat the mantra she was “lucky” and it is best to avoid confrontation/contact with attackers. However, does anyone consider that the “avoidance principle” is exactly what empowers these attackers to escalate their activity?
Two teenage boys, one 16 and one 18, grope young Ms. Dang, and let’s say she just took off running, what do you think these boys will do next time? While I certainly agree that a person should never put themselves knowingly in a position of danger, once that danger is encountered I do not subscribe to automatically thinking the best option is to engage the “victim” mentality.
Obviously Ms. Dang was prepared, and well trained, to defend herself. Why should she be diminished, or even admonished, from the capacity to do just that “defend herself”?
Many people mistakenly believe one of the roles of government is to protect them from physical harm. However, this is not the case. One only has to look up the concept of “affirmative duty” to understand what the Supreme Court has defined as the role of any government entity in regard to protection of citizenry; both at Local/State and Federal levels. In short it can be encapsulated as:
The burden to defend and or use deadly force, is a right that lies with you personally to act accordingly, and appropriately, should you fear for your life and/or limb. The government does not have any affirmative duty to do this for you.
In South v. Maryland, 59 U.S. (How.) 396, 15 L.Ed.433 (1856) – the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that local law-enforcement had no duty to protect individuals, but only a general duty to enforce the laws. This is a distinction which needs to be clearly understood.
The affirmative duty to protect arises not from the State’s knowledge of the individual’s predicament, or from its expressions of intent to help him, but from the limitations which it has imposed on his freedom to act on his own behalf, through imprisonment, institutionalization, or other similar restraint of personal liberty.
If you are under the care or custody of the ‘state’ then, and only then, do they have a specific duty to protect you from harm. Or, if the ‘state’ has diminished your capacity to protect yourself, then they “may” arguably be in a position of affirmative duty, but only to the extent the state has diminished your capacity to act on your own behalf.
In all other considerations the “state” only has the duty to enforce the law.
If law enforcement has no affirmative duty to protect the citizenry, which they absolutely do not, and the police have argued numerous times in court to prove they are under no responsibility to protect a person from physical harm, then why should the group without affirmative duty be espousing that an individual remove their legal and constitutional right to protect themselves.?
Given the Trayvon Martin case and the subsequent move to diminish Stand Your Ground type laws, you can see what’s at stake here. The Police or Law Enforcement are under no legal obligation to protect you, yet there are contingents within the primary class of dominant perpetrators (yes, those are black – and no, it’s not racist to admit it) who would specifically restrict you from protecting yourself.
Think about it. On one hand you have the government telling you “do not expect help from the police to avoid harm”, and on the other hand you have government telling you “you cannot, or should not, actively defend yourself” from the harm they refuse to stop you being exposed to.
This principle lies solidly, albeit silently, within the construct of the Zimmerman case.
WASHINGTON STATE - Any time you’re in an intense, potentially life-threatening situation, the body naturally kicks into “fight or flight” mode. It’s an unconscious reaction where — in a matter of adrenaline-pumped nanoseconds — you size up the danger and either a) fight your way to safety or, if the perceived danger is too great b) flee the scene. If you’re Priscilla Dang, though, sometimes you do both at the same time.
Dang was on a run in a Vancouver, Wash., neighborhood last Friday when two teenagers on bikes, one 16, the other 18, approached her from behind. “One went in front and made eye contact with me like a smirk, like I thought he was saying ‘Hi,’” said Dang of the encounter to KATU. “The next thing I knew I was pretty much groped on my bottom behind left side.”
Unfortunately for the alleged gropers, the 23-year-old woman has taken kung-fu lessons since she was 5. Her family owns the Summit Wushu Academy, an Oregon martial arts studio.
She instantly pushed one of the teenagers to the ground and made him apologize. When the second teenager called her a derogatory term, Dang says she snapped, hitting him in the face several times while simultaneously dodging his punches. According to The Columbian, when he pulled out a knife she used his bike as a shield until a passerby showed up and called 911.
“I think they knew they messed with the wrong girl,” Dang added to KATU.
Both suspects fled the scene and were later apprehended by sheriff’s deputies, reports KPTV. The 18-year-old suspect is now facing fourth-degree assault charges, while the 16-year-old will be judged by a juvenile prosecutor. (read more)