If not for a jammed pistol, there might have been a funeral for a criminal last week.
A report from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office the other day told about a 57-year-old Martinez woman who confronted a home invader.
Late in the evening, the woman heard someone trying to open her front door. Then she heard the door being kicked in.
The woman, who was in her bedroom, pulled a pistol from her night stand, racked a bullet into the chamber and then saw a man standing in her hallway. She pointed the gun at him - and would have fired, she told deputies, but the gun jammed.
The man ran away and drove off.
The story reminded me of the 77-year-old Harlem store owner, back in 2002, who could have been the victim of an armed robbery.
One of the two would-be robbers had a knife - but the elderly store owner had a .38 pistol. "I told him I'd blow his damn brains out," the woman said.
The punks fled.
Now, I'm all for legal gun ownership. I'm such a Second Amendment absolutist that I bought an assault rifle in protest of Congress' vote to ban them. I don't need it and have never shot it, but the Constitution by-God gives me the right to own it.
And I'm a fan of Jim Whitehead. I think the world of the big guy.
But I think his Senate Bill 43 is a serious misfire.
The bill would allow workers to bring guns on company property, even if the employer has a policy prohibiting it. Employees would be allowed to keep guns in a locked car in the business parking lot. An amended form of the bill would prevent the employers from being sued if the gun-owner did something illegal with the gun.
The intent of the bill is to allow hunters to go to the woods in the morning and go to work afterward without having to go back home and put up their guns. Or to have their guns with them for an after-work trip. Unfortunately, Whitehead's effort to protect the gun rights of the hunters does so at the expense of the private-property rights of employers who don't want weapons on their property.
Interestingly enough, the bill's philosophy conflicts with Whitehead's reputation as a strong defender of private property rights. Remember, he voted against the popular ban on smoking because he doesn't believe the state should dictate property use by private business owners.
Yet this bill would force private business owners to allow employees to bring guns on their land.
If the bill passes - and it shouldn't - company lawyers across the state will start looking for loopholes. I found one already that could prevent employees from coming to work packing heat.
One line in the bill says the restriction would not apply "to an employee who is restricted from carrying or possessing a firearm on the employer's premises due to a pending or completed disciplinary action."
Guess what? If I'm at a company with a no-guns-on-company-property law, every employee will be told upon hiring that there is disciplinary action pending against them if they bring a gun on company property. Let 'em argue about it at the unemployment line.
Lawmakers should unload this badly aimed bill.
We're a hardened, heartless bunch here in the newspaper business - or at least that's what the folks criticizing us for printing Scott Trubey's photo of the grieving father of Kole Ford think - but it sure was tough for us to hear a call that went out over emergency radios last Thursday.
At the end of the funeral for firefighter and deputy coroner Tommy McPherson, the dispatcher issued a call for No. 268 - McPherson's number. There was, of course, no answer; so the dispatcher then announced, "Attention, all units: Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue Unit 268 is out of service."
May he rest in peace.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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