Friday, March 23, 2012

Florida Shooting and Stand your Ground Laws

Listening to John and Ken from KFI Los Angeles (3PM 03/22/2012 podcast, available here) I heard a great interview with David Honig, Special Counsel for Civil Rights for the Florida State Conference of Branches of the NAACP. Mr. Honig was very fair in most of his discussion of the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. I suggest listening to it and forming your own impressions, but mine were mostly positive. I had two points I wanted to make about statements he made, and the second leads to a discussion on stand your ground laws.

If you're not interested in this case specifically but want to understand stand your ground self-defense laws, skip down a bit.

Mr. Honig was very fair on most points, often pointing out that we don't have enough information to draw a conclusion on an aspect of the case. He did do a lot of discussion of hate crimes, however. Any racially-motivated crime is an affront to all fair-minded citizens. Racism is an intolerable and insupportable ideology. The problem is that in this case, we don't know if that was the motivation. It's too early to begin to associate Trayvon Martin's death with hate crimes. It turns out that George Zimmerman is half Latino, and may well identify as Latino, but the media has made this into a white-on-black hate shooting, and Mr. Honig seemed to be willing to go along with that impression, though he was careful not to specifically assert this incident was a hate crime. He may have simply been using the interview as an opportunity to raise awareness about racially-motivated crime, which I understand and support.

During his comments, Mr. Honig asserted that most states have stand your ground laws and that they're bad laws, or at least Florida's is. He correctly pointed out that George Zimmerman is unlikely to be protected by stand your ground laws, since he pursued Trayvon Martin and seems to have instigated the confrontation.

The assertion that stand your ground laws are bad laws is incredibly wrong, and I'll move from this specific case to a more general discussion at this point.

Stand your ground laws in general mean that as opposed to earlier laws, a victim of a crime has no obligation to flee, but may instead defend herself or himself when confronted by an assailant. Earlier laws required the victim to seek any other way out of a confrontation through flight, even at great personal risk. That changed, even in California, because a fleeing victim is an easy target for a criminal. Lawful citizens don't shoot, stab or beat a fleeing person in the back as they run. Criminals do. So, victims were exposed to danger of greater harm and even death by the obligation to flee. Recognizing this, laws changed. If you're in your own home and a home invader breaks in with a lethal weapon, you don't have to try to run to your back door, fumble with the lock and try to run for help while he stabs or shoots you. In fear of your life or the life of your family, you can arm yourself and defend your life and the lives of your loved ones.

In short, stand your ground laws are a basic affirmation of the self-defense rights of lawful citizens which I believe are supported by the 2nd Amendment. Further, these laws are completely egalitarian, protecting any lawful citizen who is under attack regardless of race, gender or any other factor. If David Honig's position represents the position of the NAACP, it's time for them to rethink it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bryan Suits on War Weariness

If you're interested in a look at the wars going on in the world from a combat veteran and current reservist, you should check out The Dark Secret Place with Bryan Suits.

On Saturday March 03, 2012 he commented on a bit of war weariness after playing some audio from Syria:

"This is kind of the war weariness that I would express: Is there an affront to humanity going on in Syria? Yeah. Is the world melting down? Yeah, it always is. That's why this show is on. Every week we check in on 'Where is the world melting down?'...

"And it does kind of invoke some guilt in me when I hear about some of the people on the ground there wondering, 'Where is the world? How come the world's letting this happen?' But I gotta tell ya, the part that does kind of piss me off is when, there was one guy on the BBC in this city called Homs. One guy on a sat phone or over Skype or something with a satellite internet connection is talking to the BBC and he didn't say, 'Where's the world, where's the UN, where's the security council, where's the Arab League?' He said, 'Where is America?'

"I got bad news for him. I'm over you. It's been 10 years. People like you were telling us we had no business defending ourselves. No business establishing a democracy in Iraq. People like you were cheering and high-fiving when you saw videos of my men being blown up from IEDs. Now your own Muslim government is shelling you with high explosive shells and you have the balls to go on BBC in English and ask 'Where is America?' America is broke, dude."