"Gunshop Owner" Tips

        Remember, as in the previous case, your thesis does NOT have to argue that the events as reported "should" or "should not" have happened.  You may decide to approach it from any one of a wide range of points of view: the shooting victim or intruder, the gunshop owner or killer, the police, the neighbors or relatives of either the dead man or the shooter, the judge, the lawyers for either of the two primary parties, the Attorney General or the opposing candidate, the voters, or just a concerned citizen worried about crime, gun ownership, fair treatment for either primary party, press coverage of crime, the way Rhode Island law defines "lying in wait" or "self defense," etc.  (This list does not, of course, exhaust the possibilities and is in no way meant to limit your choice if you have another position.)

        In class, we spent time trying to narrate the story of events in the "Gunshop" case as a way to test what we knew to be true, what we knew to be probable, and what we knew to be possible. At some point in every paper of this type, authors will have to decide when and how to briefly tell the story of the events crucial to their thesis. Deciding "when" to begin your description means avoiding the good old "Since the beginning of time..." introduction, and all its relatives. Deciding "how" to describe it means considering what matters most about the case, the values you and your readers bring to it.

        In order to decide "how" to describe the case, you have to adopt a set of perspectives and values relevant to your best audience, and to you, which will enable you to agree on what the "facts" are. For instance, to those interested in protecting life and property rights, might well start with Donn's experience of the previous robberies, his situation in the store that night, and the violence of Wayne Costa's entrance into the store, as crucial facts. To those interested in limiting the violent exercise of those rights, they might begin outside the store and perhaps even in the socio-economic system that gave birth to Wayne Costa, leading him to encounter the violence of Donn DiBiassio's retaliation as the last in a series of crucial facts. (That one might even continue to the mis-identification based on assumptions about his identity, his treatment in the front-page photograph, etc. etc.) Can you see the advantage of either side acknowledging the facts crucial to the others in their "narration" of the facts in the case?

        As you work on the paper, you should find time to talk to a Writing Center tutor about your evolving thinking about the topics involved.  That will speed up your progress when you actually begin drafting the document.  If you choose one of them from the Writing Center Schedule, you also can arrange to meet them when the center is not open, and at times more mutually agreeable to you both than the hours the tutor has agreed to fill in the basic Center schedule.

            Good luck with the paper and remember I'm more than willing to read brief statements of your intended thesis to help you focus them before we meet to discuss the rough draft in our Friday conference.  I also can answer questions relevant to handling the case.  For instance, I can tell you that there is an Internet site (maintained by the Rhode Island General Assembly) which contains the exact and amazingly clear wording of every state law relevant to this case.  HINT!  If your thesis assumes anything about the key terms used to characterize the legal status of the main parties to the case, you ought to check this out.  Not all killings are murder: some killings are not even a crime, and that particular crime is defined by certain essential elements which must be present in the situation.  Click here for further research aids.