Dennis Fleming will not be charged with reckless conduct after he fired a warning shot into the ground while subduing a burglar in his Farmington New Hampshire neighborhood.  Mr. Fleming’s neighborhood has been the target of a rash of burglaries recently and he happened to come upon one in progress.  When he saw the burglar exiting a neighbor’s house through a window, he fired a warning shot into the ground and held the suspect until the police arrived and made the arrest.  Sounds simple, logical.  Later that evening, police returned to arrest Mr. Fleming on the reckless conduct charge for firing his weapon within the city limits.  Not so simple, not so logical.

"Stop or i'll throw this at you!"

I was hoping that this case would wind its way through the courts. Not that I wanted Mr. Fleming to face any legal or financial burden but to illuminate the purpose or intent of the law.  One would think that Mr. Fleming, typical armed gun nut that he is, was sitting on his front porch taking target practice at stray cats across the street.  But as it turns out, Mr. Fleming is not a gun nut, just a law abiding gun owner who happened to take it upon himself to try to put an end to the creeping lawlessness that was over taking his neighborhood.  Oh shame.  Doing the authorities’ job and with a legal firearm to boot?  What the hell was he thinking?

While we certainly don’t want people firing high powered rifles at tin cans next to a school yard or in a densely crowded neighborhood, if discharging your weapon within city limits is a felony, it pretty much negates your right to carry and use a firearm for your protection.  Did they expect Mr. Fleming to club the culprit over the head with his handgun? Or would that qualify for an assault charge? Interesting.  Is the law so vague that it requires the intervention and discretion of the County Attorney to be applied?  Maybe the law is flawed.  Or maybe, it’s being used exactly how it was intended.  To limit the rights of gun owners and intimidate them from using their guns in self defense, relying solely upon the local authorities to respond well after the crime has been committed, in this case, after a rash of burglaries had already happened, never mind the one Mr. Fleming was witnessing.

Nope, this law was applied exactly as intended.  The public outcry over its application is the unintended consequence.