Woman who Fired at Home Depot Shoplifters Charged

Here is some follow-up on the story of the Michigan woman who used her concealed weapon against some shoplifters at a Home Depot.  Via USAT:  Woman who shot at fleeing shoplifter is charged:

 A woman accused of firing a gun at the vehicle of a fleeing shoplifter in Michigan was charged Tuesday with a misdemeanor count of reckless use, handling or discharge of a firearm.

And while I know it is her attorney’s job to speak on her behalf, the following rationale underscores the problem when armed individuals want to help:

Duva-Rodriguez’s lawyer, Steven L. Schwartz, said his client made “a spilt-second decision to take action, trying to help.” He described Duva-Rodriguez as a “warm-hearted, family-oriented” person and said she had good intentions.

“Never, ever did she intend to harm anybody,” Schwartz said.

And we are all very lucky that no one was harmed.

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, Quick Takes
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    “A split-second decision to take action, trying to help…”

    No, I think she was an idiot exercising her Dirty Harriet fantasies.

  2. humanoid.panda says:

    Well, if we are all part of a well-regulated militia, some discipline is in order, and in most organized military bodies, discharging your weapons without an order and against rules of engagement is a bif deal..

    Oh wait- “responsible gun owners” want all the benefits, and none of the responsibilities of being a militia?

  3. Jenos Idanian says:

    She was not “well regulated,” as in competent and disciplined, and is being charged criminally for her misconduct. As is appropriate.

    Gun owners (this includes you, anjin-san), take note. This is how it is supposed to work. Screw up, get smacked. Hard.

  4. grumpy realist says:

    What was it we were saying about people thinking that good intentions means they should get off scott free? Even if they harm people?

  5. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. This is why I think if a child dies because someone carelessly left a gun out, the person in charge of that gun should be charged with manslaughter. And take any other kids away from said individual, please. How stupid do you have to be before we make sure you don’t get to be around kids any more?

  6. Gustopher says:

    Duva-Rodriguez’s lawyer, Steven L. Schwartz, said his client made “a spilt-second decision to take action, trying to help.” He described Duva-Rodriguez as a “warm-hearted, family-oriented” person and said she had good intentions.

    “Never, ever did she intend to harm anybody,” Schwartz said.

    If she never intended to harm anyone, she is woefully misinformed about the purpose of a gun.

  7. Pete S says:

    @Gustopher: Maybe she is a bad enough shot that she knew she had no chance of hitting them? Otherwise you’re right, that statement makes no sense at all. And the NRA wants a a couple of hundred just like her in crowded theatres and classrooms to ensure everyone’s safety.

  8. Gustopher says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Gun owners (this includes you, anjin-san), take note. This is how it is supposed to work. Screw up, get smacked. Hard.

    A misdemeanor isn’t being smacked hard. It’s a slap on the wrist. It’s the very least someone can be charged with.

    “reckless use, handling or discharge of a firearm” is a charge more appropriate for goofing off with your gun, and shooting at ostensibly safe things — shooting your television, perhaps. Intentionally firing a deadly weapon at people you have no legal right to shoot, even if they are in a car, should be “assault with a deadly weapon”.

    To put this into context, DWI is a felony. There is no requirement to show that the drunk driver is deliberately putting anyone else’s life at risk. There is no requirement that the drunk driver actually cause harm to anyone or anything. It is, pretty objectively, a lower impact crime than firing a gun at a moving vehicle.

  9. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Gustopher: At the very least, I hope the (possible) conviction means she has to give up her guns. Second chances are fine in some cases, but shooting at a fleeing shoplifter — that’s not an oopsie, that’s seriously flawed judgment.

    Maybe in a few years, she can re-apply for a permit. But she needs to lose her guns NOW.

  10. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “Misdemeanor count” doesn’t sound like “…get smacked. Hard.” to me, but I’ll take your word on it that you would be absolutely devastated at being charged with a misdemeanor.

    (I assume that you don’t drive, or walk anywhere either, correct?)

  11. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: IANAL, but I can’t see that consequence from a single misdemeanor charge. We don’t take cars away as a result of a single DUI, it takes multiple license suspensions–at least in the Left Coast hell hole of socialism that I live in.

    Perhaps, based on your desire in this case, you should be advocating for tougher gun laws or more forceful charges for improper discharge situations. Are you up for that, or are the laws we have now draconian enough for you?

  12. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: And please note that I did not ever refer to you as a gun nut, pseudo hero, someone with a Dirty Harry fantasy, or ridicule your screen name. I treated your comments as a serious contribution to a difficult discussion. Don’t let me down.

  13. Mu says:

    According to the story she tried to shoot out the tires, which explained why they didn’t charge her with assault. As to whether she’ll lose her guns, depends if they’re charging her with the hard or soft version of the misdemeanor
    752.861 Careless, reckless or negligent use of firearms; penalty.

    Sec. 1.

    Any person who, because of carelessness, recklessness or negligence, but not wilfully or wantonly, shall cause or allow any firearm under his immediate control, to be discharged so as to kill or injure another person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 2 years, or by a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 1 year, in the discretion of the court.

    752.862 Careless, reckless or negligent use of firearms; injury of property; penalty.

    Sec. 2.

    Any person who, because of carelessness, recklessness or negligence, but not wilfully or wantonly, shall cause or allow any firearm under his control to be discharged so as to destroy or injure the property of another, real or personal, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 90 days or by a fine of not more than $100.00, if the injury to such property shall not exceed the sum of $50.00, but in the event that such injury shall exceed the sum of $50.00, then said offense shall be punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 1 year or by a fine not exceeding $500.00.

    Sec 1 has 2 years max, that triggers the federal prohibition even for a misdemeanor. Sec 2 has 1 year max, that’s a freebie. No idea on Michigan concealed carry consequences.

  14. DrDaveT says:

    Best quote from the linked article:

    It would have been much more helpful for her to take out her cellphone and shoot pictures of the shoplifter’s license plate.”

    Incidentally, she did not “use her weapon against some shoplifters”. The fact that they were shoplifters had not (and for all I know still has not) been established. She used her weapon against some people she thought might be committing a crime. The difference is subtle, but important.

  15. DrDaveT says:

    @Mu: 752.861

    Careless, reckless or negligent use of firearms

    Neither of those sections should apply; they both are restricted to use of a firearm not willfully or wantonly. Her use to damage someone else’s property was clearly willful, not merely negligent or reckless — she intended to shoot out the tires.

  16. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: My problem is with pre-emptive gun laws — punishing or limiting gun owners before they act up.

    If they want to up the penalties in cases like this, I got no problems with it. Gun ownership is a great responsibility — and if you don’t live up to that responsibility, the penalties should be significant.

    Hey, anjin-san is a proud gun owner. We should ask him his opinion.

    Just kidding. Getting annie to actually commit to an opinion — it is to laugh.

  17. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: In case you are so dense you still haven’t noticed, no one is impressed with your lame attempts at baiting Anjin-San. You might want to consider a different line, since you are not only making a fool of yourself, as usual, but boring everyone in the process.

  18. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @WR: Aw, you’re so cute when you get all petulant and stuff.

    I asked annie a question in a discussion. He didn’t answer. He didn’t refuse to answer. He just ignored it.

    So, when it comes to harping, I’m only allowed to be the subject, and not the harper? Where is that in the rulebook?

  19. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    My problem is with pre-emptive gun laws — punishing or limiting gun owners before they act up.

    Still waiting to hear why you don’t have similar problems with preemptive restrictions on who can drive a car, or operate a commercial fishing boat. Or are you arguing for letting just anybody drive anything anywhere, until such time as they run someone over?

  20. Gustopher says:

    There is an article in the NY Times which reasonably decent, but it doesn’t mention the penalties the shooter faces, which seems like a big oversight.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/14/us/woman-in-michigan-charged-after-shooting-at-fleeing-shoplifters.html

    It does, however, mention another case from a few days ago, in Indiana, where the same thing happened: shopper with a concealed carry permit shoots at shoplifters. Hopefully, this will not become a trend.

    Michigan rules on concealed carry permits are here:

    http://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-1591_3503_4654-10926–,00.html

    You are not allowed to have a concealed carry permit for 8 years if convicted of this misdemeanor. Also, in Michigan, DUI is considered a misdemeanor, so my example above is wrong (but Michigan also has misdemeanors with up to 2 years in prison, which the federal government views as felonies, if I have read things correctly).

    And, she was required to take a gun safety class, which apparently either did not cover this, or which she did not learn from. And only convicted felons are not allowed to own a gun in the state.

    (And, as an aside, there is also this requirement: “Not have a diagnosed mental illness at the time the application is made, regardless of whether he or she is receiving treatment”. That troubles me, since mild depression, anxiety, and a bunch of other garden variety mental illnesses do not cause the person to be a threat to themselves or others, and this statute discourages people from getting treatment)

    Anyway, I still think this is a slap on the wrist. Anything where she is not facing the serious prospect of jail time seems very lenient (while the sentence can include jail time, I haven’t seen any indication that this is ever sought). Losing the privilege to carry a concealed handgun for 8 years seems like nothing to me.

  21. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    My problem is with pre-emptive gun laws — punishing or limiting gun owners before they act up.

    Similarly, my problem is with pre-emptive automatic machine gun, sword, land mine, grenade, missile launcher or fissile nuclear materials laws — punishing or limiting the automatic machine gun, sword, land mine, grenade, missile or nuclear materials owners before they act up.

  22. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Neither of those sections should apply; they both are restricted to use of a firearm not willfully or wantonly. Her use to damage someone else’s property was clearly willful, not merely negligent or reckless — she intended to shoot out the tires.

    That’s what bothers me — she’s been grossly undercharged. I might not object to a plea bargain that ends up with this being the lesser charge she pleas to, but this is a ridiculous starting point.

    If you were to take a baseball bat to someone’s car while they were in it, you would be charged with assault (assault does not require physical contact with the person, that is battery). The same should apply to using a gun.

  23. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I am brewing up my own batch of Sarin gas. Because, you know nerve gas doesn’t kill people, people who gas people with nerve gas kill people. Nerve gas in the right hands is not the problem.

    I am a responsible nerve gas owner and I store it carefully next to my weaponized smallpox, my stockpile of radioactive materiel and my dynamite.

  24. Matt says:

    Definitely she should at the very least lose her conceal carry permit.

  25. DrDaveT says:

    @Matt:

    Definitely she should at the very least lose her conceal carry permit.

    And the 9/11 attackers should, at the very least, have been charged with littering.

    Let’s try this again — she fired a gun multiple times in a public parking lot at a moving vehicle with people in it. Her motives and thought processes here are irrelevant; she should be in jail.

  26. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @DrDaveT: Those aren’t explicitly covered by the Bill of Rights.

    I don’t particularly care about guns; I’m more of a Constitution kind of guy.

  27. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @DrDaveT: Her motives and thought processes here are irrelevant; she should be in jail.

    No argument there.

  28. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @DrDaveT: Let’s try this again — she fired a gun multiple times in a public parking lot at a moving vehicle with people in it. Her motives and thought processes here are irrelevant; she should be in jail.

    Actually, I’m going to retract that a little bit. There may be circumstances where that is appropriate. For example, if the car is trying to run her down, or others.

    But it’s fairly clear that those exceptions don’t apply here.

  29. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: You let me down. 🙁 I asked if you were up for advocating something. Being passionately ambivalent (until some one actually suggests something) about what happens is how we have gotten where we are.

    I guess you’re not a courageous advocate of anything. Not surprised.

  30. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    punishing or limiting the automatic machine gun, sword, land mine, grenade, missile or nuclear materials owners before they act up. (emphasis added)

    Now I’m getting confused. Isn’t Jenos one of the guys who is opposed to the Iran Nuclear deal because it’s not preemptive enough? You’re observation here seems to imply that his position on Iran would be illogical or unreasonable based on his philosophy–“My problem is with pre-emptive gun laws — punishing or limiting gun owners before they act up.”

  31. al-Ameda says:

    Duva-Rodriguez’s lawyer, Steven L. Schwartz, said his client made “a spilt-second decision to take action, trying to help.” He described Duva-Rodriguez as a “warm-hearted, family-oriented” person and said she had good intentions.
    “Never, ever did she intend to harm anybody,” Schwartz said.

    This certainly puts to rest the notion that only criminals with guns are the problem.

    This woman exercised extremely poor judgment, and she is fortunate that her reckless use of a firearm did not result in a fatal result. Again, ‘normal’ people with guns in public places, or quasi-public places, may in fact create a problem where none exists by electing to show or use their gun.

    The NRA and their followers advocate more guns in our schools on our college campuses – what could possibly go wrong?

  32. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: I think you should move the stockpile of radioactive materials over to the other side of the room from the dynamite–just in case. 😉

  33. Gustopher says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Let’s assume that it all happened as we assume it happened — she fired her gun multiple times at fleeing shoplifters, intending to shoot out the tires of their car, but effectively just shooting up a parking lot. She was a meddling idiot trying to help, overestimating her abilities, and putting people in danger for no reason.

    What is an appropriate punishment? And are we trying to punish her, deter her from doing it again, or use her example to help educate/deter others from doing similar things?

  34. Bookdragon says:

    @Gustopher: Why can’t the motive for punishing her be all of the above?

  35. @WR:

    In case you are so dense you still haven’t noticed, no one is impressed with your lame attempts at baiting Anjin-San. You might want to consider a different line, since you are not only making a fool of yourself, as usual, but boring everyone in the process.

    Agreed.

  36. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Those aren’t explicitly covered by the Bill of Rights.

    I don’t particularly care about guns; I’m more of a Constitution kind of guy.

    You can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater. This is an infringement of freedom of speech. The prohibition exists to preempt people from being trampled to death as they flee the non-burning theater in panic.

    Your understanding of a) the constitution, and b) the purpose of law in general is vexing (to put it kindly).

  37. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Analogies are useful, but they can’t be perfect. The problems with comparing this case to drunk driving:

    1) Driving is a privilege, not a right.

    2) Accused drunk drivers are deprived of the use of their property in question; their driving privileges are usually suspended pending trial.

    3) Cars tend to be more valuable than guns.

    4) Cars are far more common as essential to keeping one’s job than guns are.

    5) As a consequence of 3 and 4, the seizure of a car is a far greater financial hardship than the loss of a gun.

  38. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: So, the next time someone “harps” at me by bringing up George Zimmerman in a non-related thread, will you also comment on that? Will others complain?

    Or is certain “harping” more tolerable, and are certain commenters less deserving of such protections?

  39. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I don’t particularly care about guns; I’m more of a Constitution kind of guy.

    And yet you only apply this particular reasoning to guns. Not to speech, nor voting, nor freedom from search and seizure, nor the press, nor any of the other Bill of Rights topics. Oh, and not to bazookas, nor RPGs, nor poison gas, nor grenades, nor other kinds of non-gun arms.

    But it has nothing to do with guns. Right. Whatever.

  40. @Jenos Idanian: I commented because I agree that this whole anjin-san bit to be tiresome (and more than a bit silly).

  41. @Jenos Idanian:

    Driving is a privilege, not a right.

    I am tired of this cliche.

    First, driving is actually a heck of a lot more central to people’s lives on an everyday basis than is owning a gun. (And, yes, I understand that there is no constitutional right to drive).

    Second, as I noted above, even constitutional rights can be regulated, so your line of argument is worthless.

  42. Jenos Idanian says:

    @DrDaveT: Yes, because it’s the one being brought up at this time. And the one that is, in my opinion, the most under attack and in need of defense.

    And while I do not possess any guns, and never have, I may some day have reason to change my mind, and I want to protect that right should I do so.

  43. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: And I find anjin’s routines aimed at me tiresome and vexing. Here I found a way to use his own techniques against him.

    And no, I wasn’t concerned about the level of discourse. He has repeatedly declared that he has no interest in discussions with me, so I know that any of his attempts to engage me are in bad faith.

    But I see that it isn’t welcome. Much like when I started using some of Cliffy’s preferred and common vulgarisms back at him, I’m learning that certain privileges are not extended to me. And while it would be nice to know up front which set of standards will be applied, I shrug and try to adapt. After all, this isn’t my site, and the owners can set whatever rules they wish. They are under no obligation to be consistent and unbiased.

    So, if you wish, I will stop asking anjin why he owns guns, and why he won’t even openly refuse to answer. And I will do so knowing full well that he will continue to demand detailed answers from me on whatever topic at hand (or not), with no intention of actually having a serious and civil discussion.

    Once again — not my site, so I don’t get to make the rules.

  44. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Analogies are useful, but they can’t be perfect. The problems with comparing this case to drunk driving

    What about comparing this case to existing laws restricting the possession and/or use of automatic machine guns, swords, grenades, land mines, nerve gas, missiles, fissile nuclear material, or other arms….?

  45. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian: And your point is??? I was asking you if you were interested in taking a stand, not making a word salad. We already know of your renown in that field. Again, you let me down. 🙁

  46. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian: @Jenos Idanian:

    And while I do not possess any guns, and never have, I may some day have reason to change my mind, and I want to protect that right should I do so.

    And yet you have declined two or more very gracious offers of support if you will only stand for something. Moreover, your comments have gradually evolved from reasonable and reasoned (albeit wishy washy) statements to your usual troll persona. It’s almost as though you are simply not capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation. How do you expect to protect your rights for the future if you are incapable of doing anything other than letting the whack jobs dominate your side of the conversation?

    As for me, there is nothing in this world that makes me feel safer than knowing that a courageous handgun formerly owned by a citizen is sacrificing it’s life so that the nation can have another storm grate, so I wouldn’t count on help from me in your goal–whatever it might be (I think you just speak for the joy of hearing your own voice).

  47. @Jenos Idanian:

    I’m learning that certain privileges are not extended to me

    Dude, I pointed out you were being tiresome. You are free to be tiresome–this should be clear by the fact that you post as much as you want. No one is deleting your timesomeness.

    As usual, however, you aren’t exactly displaying impressive analytical skills.

  48. @Jenos Idanian:

    Cliffy’s

    For the record, I have always found the “Cliffy” bit tiresome as well, but just never bothered to comment.

  49. Matt says:

    @DrDaveT: I suggest you pick up a dictionary and look up the words I used. Pay special attention to “least”…

    TLDR : L2read nub

  50. walkingjay says:

    I hope the idiot never gets to handle a firearm again (though with a misdemeanor it won’t happen) She is an affront to every law abiding and conscientious firearm owner and CPL holder. A perfect example of what happens when “diploma mill” training operations are allowed to flourish.

  51. DrDaveT says:

    @Matt:

    TLDR : L2read nub

    Some things are self-parodying beyond the possibility of external augmentation. Well done.

  52. bill says:

    what’s the big deal- she’s an hispanic female with a legal gun, did she come out of the closet as a republican or something? any word on the innocent shoplifter -who could have been harmed while committing a crime? i swear this site is like a low-t beacon or something…..

  53. An Interested Party says:

    what’s the big deal- she’s an hispanic female with a legal gun, did she come out of the closet as a republican or something?

    Do you enjoy presenting yourself as a fool? This isn’t about politics, rather, it is about common sense, something this women appears not to possess…

    any word on the innocent shoplifter -who could have been harmed while committing a crime?

    So now it’s ok to just shoot people who commit crimes…sorry, but I think most people wouldn’t like our country to turn into a cartoon version of the Wild West…

  54. DrDaveT says:

    @bill:

    any word on the innocent shoplifter -who could have been harmed while committing a crime?

    Following up on @An Interested Party: for the record, are you really saying that you consider deadly force to be an appropriate response to shoplifting?

  55. Rafer Janders says:

    @DrDaveT:

    for the record, are you really saying that you consider deadly force to be an appropriate response to shoplifting?

    Not even that — alleged shoplifting. People are falsely accused of shoplifting all the time.

  56. @DrDaveT: @Rafer Janders: Indeed.@bill is just playing into the fantasy that people with guns will only use them against “bad guys” (and, further, that said “bad guys” deserve to be shot at, if not shot).

  57. (And never mind that law enforcement would never have fired in that context).

  58. C. Clavin says:

    @bill:

    any word on the innocent shoplifter -who could have been harmed while committing a crime?

    We kill shop-lifters without a trial now???
    bill…why do you hate America, and our concept of justice, so much?

  59. Mu says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: In what kind of fantasy world are you living?

  60. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Mu: I cannot speak for Dr. Taylor, but in my little corner of the Left Coast, policemen discharging weapons in a crowded parking lot would convene a shooting board faster than you can say second amendment. It was many years ago, but a Chief of Police in Seattle was terminated when he suggested that his officers would not be needing Uzis because “if you can bring the shooter down with one or two shots, a revolver works fine.”

    The outrage was at the idea that the police were not being trained to “shoot to disable.” (The people that they would be shooting at, in the above scenario, were drug dealers with semi-auto and automatic weapons.)

  61. @Mu: Not a fantasy world at all, quite the opposite. Police would not fire at fleeing alleged shoplifters getting into a vehicle in a parking lot. (And if they do they are going to face a hearing).

    They are not supposed to fire unless threatened, and a fleeing suspect (especially one engaged in a non-violent crime) is not a threat.

    Now, sure, police do dumb things, but they do not typically fire indiscriminately at suspects in vehicles in parking lots (except on TV and in the movies).

  62. See: Tennessee vs. Garner