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Editorial: We all have the right of self-defense

It may seem the Old-West way, but people have the right to protect themselves.

Recent questionable actions by a Minnesota homeowner who allegedly shot two unarmed teens who broke into his home, and the tragic murders of a grandmother and her three children in New Town, bring about discussion of a person's right to protect themselves.

If someone is using deadly force and a person truly feels their life is in danger, they should do all that they can to look out for themselves.

The Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that weapon for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

However, odds are if a person uses that weapon to protect themselves, they will be arrested. Charges may not come from the action, but it is law enforcement's duty and responsibility to investigate such matters.

Families should plan for "what if." If there is a break-in, where is the safe place? Where are you going to meet family members? Do you keep a weapon in the house?

Records show murder is rare in North Dakota. According to FBI statistics, the state had 10 murders or non-negligent homicides in 2010, the most recent year for which full data is available. However, if your family or friends are among the 10, rare doesn't mean a thing.

No one will ever know the intricacies of the murder of a grandmother and her three grandchildren found shot to death Nov. 18 in New Town.

Unfortunately, there are many cases of horrific crimes in the region as of late: The kidnapping and murder of Sidney, Mont., teacher Sherry Arnold while she was taking a morning run. There is also the more recent Bismarck murder case where Montana resident John Bridges bought a knife, zip ties and duct tape, then lured a man into his van and bound him at knifepoint before killing him. He had plans to kill another man based on a dream, he confessed.

We suggest concerned residents take one of a number of safety courses available in the area, including the Dickinson Police Department's Citizens Police Academy, which provides excellent information on protection and the ins-and-outs of law enforcement.

The Slope Area Rifle and Pistol Club, along with the DPD, have also offered a woman's-only firearm safety course in Dickinson, which teaches proper and safe handling of guns.

The DPD also offers situational awareness and police academy classes when enough people show interest.

People should rehearse in their minds their reaction in frightful circumstances in, not only a home, but, what if they are walking down the street and see someone suspicious?

Follow your instincts. If you are concerned, assess the situation. Screaming is a good start. A person should not fight fair nor be passive if attacked. Research how to protect yourself and do it -- whatever it takes.

Guns are not always the answer to keeping oneself safe. Weapons can also mean accidents for those who don't know how to use them. People with children should be sure to have trigger locks and must also educate their children on the dangers.

If you are not prepared to use a gun, don't buy one.

If someone came roaring into your home brandishing a rifle, how would you react?

Publisher Harvey Brock and Editor Jennifer McBride are on The Press Editorial Board. Send letters to the editor to Include your name, town of residence and phone number for verification.