Landmark Arizona Self-Defense Case Gets New Life
The Arizona Court of Appeals has thrown out the
conviction of Harold Fish and chastised the judge who tried the case. Mr. Fish
has been released from custody into his family's joyfully waiting arms, while
he awaits final resolution of his case.
Fish was the retired school teacher who shot a man who
charged at him swinging his arms and yelling threats in a forest outside of
Payson. Fish was convicted of second degree murder in 2006, in a trial many
thought was grossly unfair, and has spent the intervening three years in an
Arizona state prison. He had no prior criminal record of any kind. The Appeals
Court ruled, among other things, that Fish should have been allowed to
introduce evidence of his homeless attacker's violent past and the vicious
histories of the man's dogs which triggered the event.
The case was tried under an old abusive standard, quietly
slipped into law without review in 1996 by state prosecutors. This forced a
self-defense claimant to prove that actions were taken in a justifiable way --
that is, guilty unless proven innocent, a terrible corruption of the legal
That law was changed by state gun-rights activists in
2006 back to the former, proper standard. Now, if a person claims self defense,
prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person acted without
justification, or the classic American standard of innocent unless proven
guilty. Prosecutors were not happy with the change, and fought it every step of
the way, an indicator of how vigilant people must be against deliberate
This case outraged many rights activists, and alerted the
state to the tyrannical changes that had been quietly made to self-defense law
in Arizona. It also provided significant motivation for legislative changes
that brought about the Castle Doctrine law, and a reversal of the corrupted
burden of proof process, to the proper status it has today. Unfortunately for
Mr. Fish, he suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune through no
intention of his own. He merely acted to protect himself against a violent
attack in the wilderness.
The new law was supposed to be retroactive, to cover
cases like Mr. Fish and others, but the courts decided it did not apply. Back
to the legislature, and a clarification was enacted this year, making the
correct innocent-unless-proven-guilty standard effective for all cases pending
when the 2006 law was passed (which would include the Fish case).
Fish's situation remains uncertain however, with democrat
state attorney general Terry Goddard vowing publicly to review the case. There
will be no retrial, according to attorney Michael P. Anthony, who has followed
the case closely. If Goddard convinces the Arizona Supreme Court to take review
AND the Supreme Court reverses the Court of Appeals, then Fish will have to
serve the remainder of his sentence, unless clemency is granted. If the Supreme
Court reviews and doesn't reverse, Fish remains free. The best situation is if
Goddard decides not to pursue the case against significant public sympathy for
the former school teacher.
One More New Arizona Gun Law -- Nine Altogether One More
New Arizona Gun Law -- Nine Altogether
If you missed my initial update, Arizona enacted eight
changes to gun laws in 2009, all of them with a pro-rights flavor -- and some
particularly excellent, like the new "defensive display" law. They
are posted at the top three links here:
With the help of Gary Christensen of the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Assn. (http://www.asrpa.com
), a top resource in this
state, I've identified one more:
Restoration of rights for people deemed incompetent.
HB 2532, CH 145, Adds §13-924, amends §§13-3101, 32-2612,
In new section 13-924, a person who was found to be a
danger to self or others or who was acutely or gravely disabled as defined
(§36-540, concerning involuntary treatment, referred to in this update as
"incompetent" for brevity), may apply to court to have the right to
possess a firearm restored. The person must show clear and convincing evidence
that the person is no longer incompetent. The court must set a hearing for the
applicant to make the case, where psychological or psychiatric evidence must be
presented. The state can argue that the person should remain a prohibited
possessor. A successful outcome for the applicant only restores the right to possess
a firearm, and it "does not apply to and has no effect on any of the other
rights or benefits the person receives." This leaves us to wonder if the
person can carry, buy, sell, transfer, practice or use the gun for hunting,
self defense or any other purpose, a very ambiguous state of affairs. The three
other sections noted above are amended to accommodate a person whose rights
were denied due to incompetence, if rights have been restored under §13-924.
Will the Women in Arizona Unite?
Will the Women in Arizona Unite?
There is increasing chatter about the various women's
marksmanship groups getting together to form some sort of umbrella group, to
coordinate efforts statewide. Debbie Ferns (Babes With Bullets), Kim Grady
(Second Amendment Sisters Arizona Chapter), Carma Lewis (Armed Females of
America), Carol Ruh (Arizona Women's Shooting Association), and even the Annie
Oakley shooters at Ben Avery range on Thursday nights, plus anyone I've left
out... is it real?
Gun Active Ladies (GAL) will be meeting at Cabela's in
Glendale, Saturday afternoon, 2 p.m., August 15, to discuss the possibilities.
RSVP for the meet if you'd like to get in on the ground floor of this newborn
idea to Kim Grady mailto:email@example.com
Come early (8 a.m.) and get in on Cabela's free outdoors seminar for women only
(see details at end of this update).
The Second Amendment Sisters Arizona chapter held the
first of three upcoming shoots, this one at the Scottsdale Gun Club.
Participants ranged in age from 10 years old to white-haired grandmas;
newcomers and experienced women shooters had a blast, literally, trying out
many different sidearms and rifles, and then adjourned for a gabfest lunch
afterwards. To get in on the next shoot, contact state chapter organizer and
firearms trainer Kim Grady, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking of shoots, there are regular ones scheduled by
the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association, including free Annie Oakley
ladies' nights at the Ben Avery Range http://www.asrpa.com
Shooter's World in Phoenix has free ladies' nights mailto:email@example.com
and Caswell's in Mesa has special arrangements for women and newcomers http://www.caswells.com
, as do all the
ranges in the state. Exercise your rights -- go to the range instead of a
And an unlikely shoot has sold out (24 people), was
rescheduled and sold out again (another 24 people), run by the Republican
480 575-9063. This politically conservative and active group has a variety of
events all year long. Learn more, get
The Arizona Citizens Defense League has scheduled its
annual meeting for Oct. 3, 2009, in Tucson. http://www.azcdl.org/html/annual_mtg.html
If you've never attended one of these you've been missing a great
social-political combo. "Tasteful open carry of firearms is
at the events, it's just wonderful (along with the
tri-tip and more BBQ buffet). The Cartridge Family band is rumored to be
planning some new songs for its appearance at the show, and you get to meet the
people who are making good laws and defeating bad laws in the state. AZCDL
works for you, work with them, http://www.azcdl.org
Another open-carry event:
The Gun Counter Forum Open Carry Dinner. The location:
Golden Corral Buffet & Grill, 7609 W. Thomas, Phoenix, AZ. The date/time
is: August, 8,
2009 at 6 PM. The object: Public Open Display of legally
owned and carried firearms. You are cordially invited to join us for dinner and
to tastefully and legally display your "bar-b-que" rig.
Organizer Dana Dore (field rep for NMLRA in AZ) reports:
"I spoke with the manager, Mr. Jeff Chapman, this morning and he is quite
happy to provide the location for this dinner.
"From I-10 and 75th Ave, travel North to Thomas,
turn left (west) on Thomas. Golden Corral will be on your left. The shopping
center has seen much better days and is locally known as "The Hood
Mall." That is not a complimentary nickname, it reflects the character.
Open Carry or Concealed Carry are both appropriate in this area. The Golden
Corral is set apart from the mall and does not reflect the character of the
Introduction to the Outdoors
Introduction to the Outdoors
Free ladies-only outdoor adventure day camp Saturday,
August 15, 2009 8:45am – 3:15pm
CABELA'S, 9380 W Glendale Ave., 623-872-6700
8:00am Check in
9:00am Intro to
Handguns with Debbie Ferns, author, Babes with Bullets
to Shotguns & Shotgun Sports, Ashley Lynch, Az Game and
to Archery, Todd Hulm, Alpine Bows and Cabela’s Pro
key-note address “Living Outside your Comfort Zone” with
Debbie Ferns, author of Babes with Bullets
Self-protection with TASER C2
in Arizona -- where to go and what to take
Cleaning for Dummies
archery shooting (Cabela’s indoor range)
Six seminars tailored for women; Free picnic lunch &
hilarious, high energy keynote address; Cabela’s discounts & raffles;
Participants must be
15 years of age or older
All classes will be held at Cabela’s.
Registration required, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Space is limited.
Brought to you by Cabela’s – world’s foremost outfitters.
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This just in -- "Neal Knox: The Gun Rights War"
-- For four decades your rights have been safeguarded by this man. His son
Chris just completed the ultimate collection of Neal's work, including never
before seen essays. You've read his columns in Shotgun News, seen him at NRA
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reading about guns, gear, and an insider's fight for the right to keep and bear
arms. Only $24.95, at least take a look:
Don't take chances, get "The Arizona Gun Owner's
All the gun laws, word-for-word and in plain English http://www.gunlaws.com/agog.htm
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