While we reported on the efforts by survivors of the Pulse shooting in Orlando to seek redress against people they feel failed to protect them from a crazed shooter, they’re not the only ones looking for legal redress for people failing to protect them. It seems the father of one of the slain children in the Parkland massacre is doing the same.
Meanwhile, retired deputy Scot Peterson is defending himself by saying he had no legal requirement to protect those kids.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Many have called him a coward, but former sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson had no legal duty to stop the slaughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, his attorneys say.
Peterson took shelter rather than confront the killer, but he did not act with malice or bad faith, according to his attorneys, Michael Piper and Christopher Stearns of Fort Lauderdale. Therefore he can’t be held legally responsible for the deaths, they say in court documents.
Allegations against Peterson suggest only that he “opted for self-preservation over heroics,” the attorneys wrote.
The statements came in a motion seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Andrew Pollack, the father of 18-year-old Meadow Pollack, who was killed in the shooting.
Pollack sued Peterson on April 30 in Broward Circuit Court, accusing the former school resource officer of failing to do his duty.
While shooter [the killer] rampaged through the school on Feb. 14, security footage shows Peterson ducking between two pillars outside, avoiding gunfire. Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson should have entered the building and confronted the killer. President Donald Trump, like Pollack, called Peterson a coward.
I’ve called Peterson a coward too.
But he’s right.
I don’t like it, but Peterson is right. The government has no duty to protect its citizens. This has been found by the courts several times through the years, so I’m afraid that despite my sympathy for Pollack’s position, he’s likely to lose this case.
He shouldn’t, though.
You see, while I do believe that every human being has the responsibility to protect themselves, the government has made it so that there are some places where we’re simply not allowed to do so. So-called “gun free zones” artificially restrict our rights by making it so that we’re unable to defend ourselves from those who ignore laws and take guns into these places with the intent to kill as many disarmed people as possible. Places like schools, for example.
Because the government has restricted our ability to defend ourselves, I’d argue that they should be held responsible for the safety of all those who are within that gun free zone. After all, if you’re going to make it virtually impossible for citizens to protect themselves, then you need to protect them.
Makes sense, right?
Unfortunately, I suspect that such isn’t going to be the cast. I’m afraid Pollack will lose. Unless the intent is to take this to the Supreme Court and try and change the interpretations of the law, not much will come of this except making an expensive mess of things for a little while. It’s a shame, but it’s the law.