UPDATE (November 20, 2021)— The Pine Mountain Club Property Owners Association passed the rule change, including item #3. See below.
People pull triggers in their own homes out of ignorance, accident, fear, mental illness and sometimes a taste for violence. People pull triggers on a shooting range for sport, or during deer season for what they consider their love of the great outdoors and the thrill of the hunt.
Our little piece of the planet here in these Mountain Communities happens to be in California, and this state is already very explicit about when people can pull triggers inside a residential neighborhood.
Homeowners associations do not need to create new and confusing “rules.” But that is exactly what the Pine Mountain Club Property Owners Association board proposes to do at its November meeting at 10 a.m. in the Condor Room.
Here’s what the state already says about self defense and deadly force, according to U.S. LawShield, a legal defense firm: California Penal Code 198.5 provides for the right to self defense. Additionally, California subscribes to the “castle doctrine.” A person is entitled to use deadly force to protect his or her home or workplace, so long as he or she acts reasonably under the circumstances. The castle doctrine is like “stand your ground” in that you do not have to attempt to escape before you act. In fact, once you leave your property, you actually forfeit the rights that would have been afforded to you under the castle doctrine.
Self Defense is defined by state law. There is no plausible reason for a POA—a homeowners association—to get involved in inviting liability to each of the directors on the board and everyone who owns property here.
As homeowners, we are legally liable to pay the damages and the cost of mounting a defense if the association is sued for meddling in a matter already amply covered in state law, enforced by Kern County Sheriff’s deputies and the county district attorney.
POAs have the option of silence on such issues. Wisdom and silence are golden. Silence allows no confusion: State law rules. We don’t. Wisdom resides in knowing when you are overstepping. This is such a case.
We’d suggest if a person feels that they want to make laws, they should maybe run for state office and go do it there. A POA has no place meddling in these matters.
The rationale presented in the PMCPOA’s Resolution #01-11-20-21 Rule 3.22 Discharge of Firearms includes “item 3. if necessary, in self defense.”
The state law always supersedes property owners association rules. We are a civil law entity. We do not enact or enforce criminal law. We have no place pretending it is a POA director’s place to tell people when they have a right to use lethal force.
In a country awash with intemperate vigilantes who brandish weapons against others, then claim self-defense when they pull the trigger in panic or in malice, we apparently are surrounded by individuals carrying massive reservoirs of fear.
Statistics show that racialized violence is growing. If you are buying guns to relieve your anxiety, perhaps it would be wise to place your Resident Evil 7 or Sniper Elite 4 in a toxic waste bin and switch to Tetris for your video game jollies. Do It. Now. Then try yoga…or a relaxing walk in the forest.
Do you need to get effective treatment for PTSD? Seek it out. Now. We will never minimize the sudden rage or panic that those with PTSD may suffer—but they know they can be dangerous to others and themselves.
We all know authoritarian personalities who are quick to take offense or quick to seek to intimidate others. Let’s just hope if someone gets shot, the directors of the POA are not held personally liable, or that the rest of us end up paying the bill.
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This is part of the November 19, 2021 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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