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“Standing Our Ground”: Stand Your Ground Laws Are Not Making Us Safer, They’re Making Us More Barbaric

This is not the time for evanescent anger, which is America’s wont.

This is not the time for a few marches that soon dissipate as we drift back into the fog of faineance — watching fake reality television as our actual realities become ever more grim, gawking at the sexting life of Carlos Danger as our own lives become more dangerous, fawning over royal British babies as our own children are gunned down.

This is yet another moment when America should take stock of where the power structures are leading us, how they play on our fears — fan our fears — to feed their fortunes.

On no subject is this more clear than on the subject of guns.

While it is proper and necessary to analyze the case in which George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin for what it says about profiling and police practices, it is possibly more important to analyze what it says about our increasingly vigilante-oriented gun culture.

The industry and its lobby have successfully pushed two fallacies: that the Second Amendment is under siege and so are law-abiding citizens.

They endlessly preach that more guns make us safer and any attempt at regulation is an injury to freedom. And while the rest of us have arguments about Constitutional intent and gun-use statistics, the streets run red with the blood of the slain, and the gun industry laughs all the way to the bank.

Gun sales have surged. And our laws are quickly being adjusted to allow people to carry those guns everywhere they go and to give legal cover to use lethal force when nonlethal options are available.

This is our America in a most frightful time.

When Illinois — which has experienced extraordinary carnage in its largest city — enacted legislation this month allowing the concealed carrying of firearms, it lost its place as the lone holdout. Now “concealed carry” is the law in all 50 states.

And as The Wall Street Journal reported this month, “concealed carry” permit applications are also surging while restrictions are being loosened. Do we really need to have our guns with us in church, or at the bar? More states are answering that question in the affirmative.

And now that more people are walking around with weapons dangling from their bodies, states have moved to make the use of those guns more justifiable.

Florida passed the first Stand Your Ground law (or “shoot first” law, as some have called it) in 2005. It allows a person to use deadly force if he or she is afraid of being killed or seriously injured. In Florida, that right to kill even extends to an initial aggressor.

After Florida’s law, other states quickly followed with the help and support of the N.R.A. and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Ironically, the N.R.A. and other advocates pushed the laws in part as protection for women, those who were victims of domestic violence and those who might be victimized away from home.

The N.R.A.’s former president, Marion Hammer, argued in support of the bill in 2005 when she was an N.R.A. lobbyist: “You can’t expect a victim to wait and ask, ‘Excuse me, Mr. Criminal, are you going to rape me and kill me, or are you just going to beat me up and steal my television?’ ”

But, of course, the law is rarely used by women in those circumstances. The Tampa Bay Times looked at 235 cases in Florida, spanning 2005 to 2013, in which Stand Your Ground was invoked and found that only 33 of them were domestic disputes or arguments, and that in most of those cases men invoked the law, not women.

In fact, nearly as many people claimed Stand Your Ground in the “fight at bar/party” category as in domestic disputes.

And not only is the law rarely being invoked by battered women, it’s often invoked by hardened criminals. According to an article published last year by The Tampa Bay Times:

“All told, 119 people are known to have killed someone and invoked stand your ground. Those people have been arrested 327 times in incidents involving violence, property crimes, drugs, weapons or probation violations.”

And, as the paper pointed out, “more than a third of the defendants had previously been in trouble for threatening someone with a gun or illegally carrying a weapon.”

In fact, after Marissa Alexander, a battered Jacksonville wife, fired a warning shot at her abusive husband (to make him get out of the house, she said), her Stand Your Ground motion was denied. She is now facing a 20-year sentence.

Something is wrong here. We are not being made more secure, we are being made more barbaric. These laws are an abomination and an affront to morality and common sense. We can’t allow ourselves to be pawns in the gun industry’s profiteering. We are real people, and people have power.

Attorney General Eric Holder told the N.A.A.C.P. last week: “It’s time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods. These laws try to fix something that was never broken.”

We must all stress this point, and fight and not get weary. We must stop thinking of politics as sport and spectacle and remember that it bends in response to pressure. These laws must be reviewed and adjusted. On this issue we, as Americans of good conscience, must stand our ground.


By: Charles M. Blow, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, July 24, 2013

July 26, 2013 - Posted by | Gun Violence, Guns | , , , , , , ,


  1. Reblogged this on GoodOleWoody's Blog and Website.


    Comment by goodolewoody | July 26, 2013 | Reply

  2. Reblogged this on Bell Book Candle.


    Comment by walthe310 | July 26, 2013 | Reply

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