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Is the U.S. Legal System Ready for the Zombie Apocalypse?
by Ken Hanson, Esq.
My friend Dean Rieck recently published an excellent article on the three guns you will need to survive the imminent Zombie Apocalypse. In case you find yourself under-armed, you should immediately address this situation by entering the 2012 Zombie Apocalypse Gun & Gear Raffle.. I know what you are thinking...Zombie invasion is not my problem. My friend, I found myself thinking the same thing.
I then realized I had slipped into the sheep mentality. Lt. Col. Grossman is coming back to town to once again to prepare hundreds of Buckeyes to be mentally prepared for any crisis. Shame on me for thinking Zombie invasion is something that happens to the "other guy."
Given my profession as an attorney, I began to immediately examine how prepared the U.S. legal system is for a Zombie invasion. I am afraid to report that our legal system is woefully unprepared for the Apocalypse.
In a good news, bad news situation, I always prefer the bad news first. Unfortunately there is a lot of bad news to deliver.
Let's start with simple estate planning. Under current law, it is fairly simple to pass on the property of a deceased family member to his/her heirs. In many cases it is as simple as presenting a Death Certificate. Well, my friends, it is well established that Zombies are undead. Doctors, hospitals and coroners will quickly find out they are powerless to issue Death Certificates for a former-person who is legally "undead," not dead. Surviving family members will find themselves paralyzed by red tape when trying to transfer property from the formerly living to his/her survivors. The absence of a Death Certificate will prove to be a nearly impossible legal hurdle to overcome.
When are our elected officials going to overcome the partisan bickering and pass legislation authorizing an UnDeath Certificate?
Beyond simple property inheritance, clearly a document as simple as a Living Will is also going to present serious problems. A Living Will is a declaration by a person stating that they do not wish to be kept alive by artificial life-support, and also authorizes a named person to "pull the plug." Obviously a loved-one now craving human brain hummus is not going to fall under the scope of a Living Will, since those documents apply only to the living.
In anticipation of this problem, I have drafted sample legislation establishing an "UnLiving Will." Utilizing a simple, check the box format, a person can state that they wish loved ones to inflict catastrophic damage to their cranial vault should they become a member of the walking dead. Similarly, people could elect decapitation and cremation "just in case." Obviously, the current organ donation forms will not play a role in this new form.
Tort law will face similar difficulties. If some person injures you, under current law you can sue them for pain, suffering and lost wages. Look no further than the nearest Elk and Elk TV commercial. However, as a technical matter, you can only sue a "person" who causes you harm. Clearly Satan's spawn is not a person, and their exact legal status remains unclear under current law. Absent legislation or court precedent establishing that a Zombie is a proper party to a Tort proceeding, we are in a never, never land.
Not all the news is bad, however. On the self-defense front, it is open season. All prior self-defense law is going out the window. We are not talking about taking human lives here; we are talking about destroying a hideous abomination. Game on. No duty to retreat, no last chance, no reasonable belief, etc. Whether using a rifle, shotgun, pistol or cricket bat, all is fair and you will not face the potential of criminal prosecution. Manslaughter, murder, felonious assault, etc. requires a living victim who is now harmed or dead. Well, Mr. Prosecutor, we have a "victim" who was undead and now is dead. Chew on that.
The new paradigm presents many challenges. Buckeye Firearms Association assures our readers that we will be lobbying your elected representatives to protect your rights against the undead.
BREAKING NEWS: The Obama administration has announced that it is not proper for states to question whether Zombies are lawfully in the country or not. However, if any of the undead are found to be without health insurance, governments should feel free to tax the hell out of them.
Ken Hanson is a general practice attorney currently practicing out of a fortified and heavily armed basement in an undisclosed location. He is equipped with a five year supply of tactical bacon, however, so it's all good.