Self-Defense Under Attack

Critics of Florida's "stand your ground" law refuse to retreat, regardless of the evidence.

Critics of Florida's self-defense law object to its recognition of a right to "stand your ground" in public places, which eliminated the duty to retreat from an assailant. Yet many of these critics seem to believe they have a duty to stand their ground and never retreat, using George Zimmerman's shooting of Trayvon Martin as a weapon to attack Florida's law, no matter what the evidence shows.

The emphasis on the right to stand your ground is puzzling in the context of the Martin case, since Zimmerman's defense does not seem to rely on it. The 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, who was released on bail this week after being charged with second-degree murder in connection with the February 26 shooting in Sanford, told police the unarmed teenager knocked him down with a punch to the face and pinned him to the ground, repeatedly smacking his head against the pavement. By Zimmerman's account, then, he had no opportunity to retreat.

Florida's law also has been blamed for delaying Zimmerman's arrest, and it did require that police have probable cause to believe the shooting was unlawful. But this is the same standard that applies to arrests for all other crimes, and whatever obstacle it may have posed proved temporary.

One unusual aspect of Florida's law that will be apparent in this case is that Zimmerman has a right to pretrial hearing at which he can try to convince Judge Kenneth Lester, by "a preponderance of the evidence," that he acted in self-defense. If he can meet that standard of proof, which requires showing it is more likely than not that his use of force was appropriate, the charge against him will be dismissed. But even if he went to trial, he would be (or at least should be) acquitted with that much evidence in his favor, since the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not acting in self-defense—which, as Northern Kentucky University law professor Michael J.Z. Mannheimer has pointed out, would be true "in virtually every state."

Zimmerman's defense under Florida's law is that he was attacked and "reasonably believe[d]" shooting Martin was "necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm." Contrary to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is leading a national campaign against Florida-style self-defense laws, that does not mean people "make their own decisions as to whether someone is threatening or not" and therefore have "a license to murder." The threat assessment has to be reasonable, meaning someone who uses deadly force has to show it was justified by the circumstances.

Even if the Trayvon Martin case does not really illustrate the shortcomings of Florida's law, it is possible that eliminating the duty to retreat in public places, combined with reinforcing the "castle doctrine" (which applies to home invasions) and extending it to vehicles, has encouraged avoidable escalations of violence. The law's opponents note that the annual number of justifiable homicides in Florida (excluding police shootings) nearly tripled after the law was passed in 2005, from an average of 12 between 2000 and 2004 to an average of 35 between 2006 and 2010.

Still, you would expect to see an increase in homicides deemed to be justified even if the law were working exactly as intended. The crucial question in assessing the law's impact, which the task force appointed last week by Gov. Rick Scott presumably will ask, is whether these homicides should be deemed justified.

In the meantime, it is worth noting that Florida's violent crime rate, which fell by 12 percent in the five years before the "stand your ground" law was enacted, fell by 23 percent in the five years afterward. Since 1987, when Florida adopted a nondiscretionary carry permit law that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence blames for "year after year of carnage," the state's violent crime rate has been cut nearly in half. 

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The law's opponents note that the annual number of justifiable homicides in Florida (excluding police shootings) nearly tripled after the law was passed in 2005...

    That tells me only that the legal classification of the events may have changed. If the overall number of homicides tripled, some of which are now being called justified, that could mean people are being bolder in confrontations. As it is, that statistic could mean that the deaths are now being correctly labeled where they weren't before the law.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    As it is, that statistic could mean that the deaths are now being correctly labeled where they weren't before the law.

    "Justifiable" means it was right... right? Justifiable shootings include police officers shooting violent criminals and civilians killing murderers in the attempt, right? Isn't this the replacement of murder with self-defense?

    And raw numbers rise with population. The total homicide rate trend is downward in Florida.

  • ||

    YES, the ability to defend yourself with LETHAL FORCE in these situations IS the point of Stand Your Ground. If you want to argue that people who are violently assaulted shouldn't be able to defend themselves with lethal force if necessary, and instead should have to run away, go ahead; but that's contrary to the entire point of Stand Your Ground: defending yourself shouldn't count as murder.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The law's opponents note that the annual number of justifiable homicides in Florida (excluding police shootings) nearly tripled after the law was passed in 2005.

    Yeah, I seriously doubt anyone thinks to himself in the flash of an instant, "I probably shouldn't shoot him...but wait! They did pass that new law in 2005."

    Also, I suspect that a lot of the people saying this law changed everything in regards to self-defense are some of the same people who say that increasing taxes on the wealthy doesn't significantly alter their behavior.

    This is an election year. Most people's take on this has nothing to do with the law and everything to do with one voting constituency bashing another.

  • o3||

    I heard several FL prosecutors interviewed & both stated that thugs were successfully using SYG defense. Both stated that despite sever doupts, prosecutors were starting to NOT bring charges in these (mostly) gang related murders w multiple shooters.
    >the problem w SYG is NOT a dozen soccar-dad incidents per year, but HUNDREDS of gang murders w/o consequence.

  • KPres||

    I'd rather a hundred guilty people go free than one innocent person be convicted.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You're not going to pad your prosecutor's resume with an attitude like that.

  • KPres||

    Sorry, I produce something of value for a living.

  • KPres||

    Regardless, you're "I heard" = "I'm making this up on the spot", anyway. So fuck off and die.

  • o3||

    id like to subscribe to ur newsletter.

  • KPres||

    Good one, Mary.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    35 /= Hundreds

    Just sayin

  • Raistlin||

    I heard the planet has a fever. Tell me another fairy tale.

  • KPres||

    Getting raped over and over will do that to you.[/Mary]

  • Bucky||

    i heard 'stand your ground' leads to more fraking...
    soon the streets and the water won't be safe anywhere...

  • Tonio||

    And gangbangers offing each other(*) is a problem, why?

    (*)Does not apply to normal law-abiding citizens defense against them.

  • ||

    A question raised here at Reason before: Should someone not be able to defend themselves with lethal force if attacked, just because they are also a criminal? If a "thug" is attacked with lethal force, should he not have the right to defend himself because he has engaged in his own illegal activities? Being a criminal doesn't automatically strip away all your rights.

  • J_L_B||

    This is where PR comes in and the level of public sympathy for the accused.

    Most people would prefer gun fights among thugs, or, to quote Tupac, "give 'em guns, step back, and watch 'em kill each other."

    To answer your question, no, most people wouldn't care if someone gunned down a "thug."

  • Harvard||

    The definition of a "win - win situation" if the barrage of shots results in a draw.

  • LarryA||

    I'd guess that the vast majority of gang members are felons, thus they can't legally possess a firearm. I'm not sure about Florida law, but in Texas you can't claim SYG while committing a crime. So a gangbang shootout should result in murder charges at sate level and felon w firearm charges at the federal level. Both cases should be slam/dunk.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I suspect that many of the people we're dealing with don't consider self-defense to be a legitimate individual right, and therefore there are no justifiable homicides.

  • Matrix||

    that's pretty much a given.

  • sarcasmic||

    Some people do not see a distinction between self defense and vigilante justice.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Furthermore, they aren't aware that the picture if "Vigilante Justice" they have is largely a fabrication of Hollywood. The actual Vigilance Committees probably did less damage to Truth and Justice than modern SWAT teams. There is a difference between a Vigilance Committee and a lynch mob.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Even the Buddha affirmed a right to self-defense. Bloomberg is a cretin. Although, his daughter is a cutie.

  • KPres||

    "Even the Buddha affirmed a right to self-defense."

    Unfortunately, Jesus didn't. Guess we'll have to get Muhammad to weigh-in in a tie-breaker.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    What is Moses, chopped liver?

  • KPres||

    He already controls Hollywood and the Bankers. Isn't that enough?

  • Rich||

    What is Hammurabi, chopped liver?

  • KPres||

    Hammurabi? Somebody's been playing too much Civilization. I would have expected a Lau Tsu or Zarathustra. Maybe even Joseph Smith. But Hammurabi?

    Anyway, I googled The Code of Hammurabi and look what I find as the code:

    "1. If a man has accused another of laying a nertu (death spell) upon him, but has not proved it, he shall be put to death."

    Basically, if you accuse somebody of something without any proof, you get executed.

    How oddly appropriate to the Zimmerman case.

    Not only that, but I'm guessing that back then, casting a "death spell" was considered society's greatest sacrilege, and, of course, today's greatest sacrilege is definitely being a racist.

    Even more appropriate.

  • ||

    With regard to self defense, not only does the Old Testament affirm the right to self defense (Ex. 22:2), Jesus himself told his disciples to sell their cloak and buy a sword (Luke 22:36). Jesus later told Peter put your sword away so Christs sacrifice would go forward and the scriptures would be fulfilled (Mt. 26:54). But the very fact that Jesus told Peter and the other disciples to buy a sword shows that its use for personal protection is appropriate. (By the way, Jesus never condoned the use of the sword as a means of religious conversion. Its impossible anyway. Genuine conversion, by definition, is freely accepted. It cannot be coerced.)


    Linky

  • KPres||

    What about "turn the other cheek"? Of course, maybe Jesus recognized a difference between getting slapped and getting your head pounded into the sidewalk.

  • Henry||

    Jesus spoke about turning the other cheek in response to "a blow to the cheek," another way of saying "a slap in the face." In other words, insult, not combat.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • TELLMOFF||

    The rulers put Jesus to death because of all the trouble that he was causing them. Buddah and Muhammad don't get any credit for that.

  • SDN||

    Actually, He did. Read the accounts of the night before the crucifixion, where He specifically told the Disciples to arm themselves because He wouldn't be there to physically protect them.

  • Ministry of Sophistry||

    Obligatory Bloomberg Box joke here.

  • Ministry of Sophistry||

    Obligatory Bloomberg Box joke here.

  • Father Jack||

    I'd feck her. Drink! Arse! Girls!

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    I suspect that many of the people we're dealing with don't consider self-defense to be a legitimate individual right, and therefore there are no justifiable homicides.

    Except when it comes to killing people who hurt mother Earth (who is the worst mother ever, letting her children slaughter each other, its like she's not a mother at all)

  • AlgerHiss||

    Good grief, you people in New York City, which simply by typing it makes me puke, are more vile and putrid than even that character Mike Bloomberg.

    That you elect this trash speaks just how worthless you are. God, your city is beyond hope.

    After only a day, most any visitor in NYC can’t wait to get back to the United States.

  • Matrix||

    Unless you are a criminal, don't bring your gun to NYC.

  • Tagalog||

    I have a New York City carry permit; does that injunction include me?

  • Henry||

    Absolutely so. Only criminals are allowed to bring their guns to NYC. That's what makes it such a safe place.

  • Terc||

    And lest we forget, the popular term-limit law was overturned in order to allow this man to run for a mayor a 3rd time, but New Yorkers were not outraged enough to vote him out.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    And replace him with whom? Bill Thompson? The Rent is 2 Damn High guy? The Naked Cowboy?

    Remember, even though Bloomberg is currently independent, he was backed by the Republicans in the last election. Thus, out of Mayoral candidates, Bloomberg is the most conservative! Tallest midget and all that...but cut New Yorkers some slack.

  • KPres||

    What are you talking about? They should have elected this lady:

    http://reason.com/blog/2010/06.....d-pol-kris

  • Esteban||

    And a Democrat will definitely be the next mayor. Will probably be Christine Quinn, just hope she's not the complete disaster I expect. Scares me that one of her biggest issues is keeping Walmart out.

  • KPres||

    No Wal-Mart? That's easy. Just claim you're bringing them in because of all the food deserts and watch the lefties' heads explode.

  • ||

    "but cut New Yorkers some slack."

    NO.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Bloomberg was a Republican until 2007.

    Jus' sayin'

  • rac3rx||

    No, he ran as a Republican the first time because there were several Democrats on the ballot (splitting the vote) and no Republicans. As soon as he got himself in there comfortably, he dropped the pretense.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    I blame manhattan.

  • Esteban||

    Oh somehow NYC has become the most visited destination in the US and its crime rates have fallen off a cliff. Bloomberg sucks in some regards, but NYC is much better now than it was for decades.

  • TELLMOFF||

    Only crime statistics are down in NYC. That can be explained by the fact that most crime are commited by cops.

  • Killazontherun||

    Are you saying Bloomberg is a masked crime fighter who has since the end of the Dinkens era been going out at night and giving those hoodlums who roam the streets a sound thrashing? Must be given you don't allude to even a single trace of cause and effect between the two data points.

  • o3||

    obviously tourist algierHissyfit doesnt know where,when, or how to party in brooklyn. so leave already...and take ur depends w you.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    It sounds like Mayor Bloomberg has solved every problem in his city, since he need to campaign for change in a state 1,000 miles away.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Bloomberg is a buttinski. Such people believe that all of us have a right to their advice.

  • plu1959||

    My thoughts exactly.

  • Esteban||

    He does that as a private citizen, paying for it by himself.

  • ||

    Plato, NYC is thine republic.

  • Rich||

    it is possible that eliminating the duty to retreat ... has encouraged avoidable escalations of violence

    Somewhat disingenuous. Why not "avoid" escalations by just giving away all your possessions?

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    poor on poor crime is more rampant than poor on rich crime.

  • Rich||

    OK. Why not "avoid" escalations by just making billions mining asteroids?

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    good point, though the Alliance will never allow this.

  • KPres||

    Uhh....making billions is even more immoral than defending yourself. Duh!

  • lightning||

    Not only that, but this is where the greatest misunderstanding of "Stand Your Ground" happens. The law was designed to reign in prosecutors who demanded ridiculous life-threatening actions by victims. The law never says you have the right to engage in an altercation or assault or to engage in excessive violence against an aggressor. In fact in Florida, under code 776.041, aggressors have the right to defend themselves from excessive force and when escape is taken from them.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    basically they're trying to legislate what really should be a discussion of "does society believe the actions taken were acceotable"? As every situation is different, how do you create a general statute to cover it.

    I think the prosecuter overdid this one with the charges (though we'll find out during the trial), but there could be a case for manslaughter if Zimmerman antagonized Trayvon to initiate the assault.

  • KPres||

    "I think the prosecuter overdid this one with the charges..."

    That's because you think the prosectution is going for a conviction. How naive. You forget this is all political theater. What they want is an acquittal!

  • lightning||

    Why do they want an acquittal?

  • KPres||

    To prove that America is just as racist today as it was in 1800s, and therefore everybody has to sacrifice their right to self-defense and other liberties to our Dear Leaders so they can correct the situation.

  • lightning||

    Do you really think that that was the prosecutor's purpose in such a high charge? I ask not to be snooty, but I thought she did it in the hopes that he would plead to a lesser charge to avoid a trial (which I honestly hope does not happen).

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    wheels with wheels

  • rac3rx||

    Apparently, this particular prosecutor has a reputation for overcharging defendants.

  • R C Dean||

    In fact in Florida, under code 776.041, aggressors have the right to defend themselves from excessive force and when escape is taken from them.

    That's the part of the law that bothers me. Theoretically, it could lead to situations where the aggressor kills their target and walks away scot-free, either because their target turned out to be better at defending themselves than they anticipated, or because there's nobody to contradict their claim of self-defense. I have the sense that the burden of proof is shifted more in favor of the shooter now, which may not be a bad thing, but combine that with a rule that says an aggressor can still claim self-defense, and you've got a recipe for trouble.

    I'd take the whining by prosecutors that they can't prosecute gang-on-gang shootouts anymore with a large grain of salt, but what they are claiming is a logical and perhaps foreseeable application of the law.

  • lightning||

    I agree with your concerns and your earlier statement that you can't create a law for every situation. I just wish that common sense would be used rather than folks (media, prosecutors, cops)trying to improve their careers on the backs of innocent people.

  • TELLMOFF||

    Trayvon took skittles and tea to a gun fight.

  • SFC B||

    Even if the gang vs. gang shoot-out is a logical outcome, I don't see it as a problem. Just because someone is a member of a gang doesn't mean they lose the right to be safe from assault. I don't see a problem with a gang member being able to claim self-defense when he injures or kills the member of another gang after that person attacks them.

    Shoot, maybe if it becomes clear that, by attacking rivals, they can kill you, and not go to jail because it was justified, maybe it will make it less likely for gangs to start shooting wars. Lord knows what anti-gang task forces are doing isn't exactly working right now.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    They can claim self defense but prosecution can still argue against it and the stand your ground law doesn't change that. If the evidence leads the jury to believe you purposely put yourself in a position to "defend" yourself, they won't be impeded by any "law" to convict you. You're still subject to all sorts of factors. All the stand your ground statute really means is that a jury can use common sense rather than have to convict based on whether or not they believed you could have thought of some remote way to escape and leave others or your possessions at risk.

  • lightning||

    One truth is inescapable concerning this topic, and that is that many people do not understand the necessary components of self-defense. The author has hightlighted some important aspects and hopefully people will learn when you can utilize self-defense. Yet, even here at reason, many folks no more understand the law than Bloomberg and this really needs to change.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yet, even here at reason, many folks no more understand the law than Bloomberg and this really needs to change.

    This isn't about the law.

    It's isn't about the law for Bloomberg--it's about laying the groundwork for serious consideration in 2016.

    It isn't about the law for me either. It's about sticking up for our gun rights in the face of those on the left who would turn my gun rights into a campaign issue.

  • lightning||

    Kinda confused (sorry only had one cup of joe). Understanding the law is the best way of protecting our gun rights. Prosecutorial misconduct is what created "Stand Your Ground" in the first place. The Florida case was a man held in legal limbo by a prosecutor for months. There have been other cases where prosecutors have insisted that victims needed to escapse gunfire, an intruder in their home, and an assailant that was chasing them. A "reasonable person" would realize that these expectations on the part of the prosecutor were stupid, but many cases were being mishandled, hence the inception of "Stand Your Ground".

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    Seriously, all the law was meant to allow is for prosecutors and jurors to use common sense when trying these cases. It doesn't prevent arrests or convictions where common sense says that there was no reason for self-defense. If I get beat up, then go after the guy when he's getting up to leave, chasing him across the yard and shooting him in the back, a jury can still find me guilty. The law doesn't change that.

  • lightning||

    What happens in 2016?

  • R C Dean||

    I think the magnetic poles flip or something.

  • KPres||

    That's when we get to exercise our FREEDOM (ie, we swap overlords).

  • sarcasmic||

    A national election.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The Olympics in Rio!

    He wants to be on the U.S. equestrian team.

    http://www.runmikerun.com/

  • juris imprudent||

    The equestrian team uses horses - not horse's asses.

  • niobiumstudio||

    While I agree more with SYG than not, and would prefer to have the benefit of a doubt when defending myself, I feel like with the number of stupid people in this world, it gives a little too much benefit. While I think someone making a split second decision when confronted with a possible life/death situation should be given all of the leeway available - I think the circumstances surrounding the events leading to the use of deadly force need to be taken into account. If you get into a verbal argument with someone at a bar that gets to the point of yelling and pushing - then you go out to your car to get your gun and come back into the bar - I don't think you should be allowed to shoot that guy when you get into a fight with him and he starts beating your a**. I think general responsibility to de-escalate should be built into laws like this. While I know the vast majority of SYG cases are GOOD , there are a few people that got off when they were completely irresponsible (While I can't find the list, there were at least 5 or 6 that should NEVER have been shootings).

  • LarryA||

    Under Texas law:
    If you get into a verbal argument with someone at a bar that gets to the point of yelling and pushing
    You can't justify the use of force against verbal provocation alone.
    You can't justify the use of force if you provoke the force used.
    - then you go out to your car to get your gun and come back into the bar
    Carrying a handgun in a bar, with or without a CHL, is a felony.
    I don't think you should be allowed to shoot that guy when you get into a fight with him and he starts beating your a**.
    If you agree to the force used against you, as by participating in a fight, you can't justify the use of force.
    If you can't justify the use of force, you can't justify the use of deadly force.

    In order to claim Castle Doctrine you can't have provoked the use of force, and can't be committing a crime, and must justify the use of force or deadly force.

    There's no way your example would qualify.

  • Eric||

    I support SYG laws, but I'm iffy on concealed carry laws coexisting with SYG.
    The problem gets highlighted with the Zimmerman case: Guy packing heat feels empowered to escalate a situation to the point of an unnecessary confrontation / shooting. Guy (probably) gets off with a slap on the wrist.

  • rac3rx||

    We're doing just fine in Texas with both, thank you very much.

  • Zeb||

    I'm not entirely convinced that SYG laws are necessary. I certainly thing that people have the right to use force to defend themselves when necessary, but I also think that you have a moral and practical obligation when in public to avoid actions that could endanger other people not involved. I'd say you have a moral obligation to retreat or de-escalate if possible, but I'm torn on what the law ought to say on the subject. I suppose I'd rather give the benefit of the doubt to some scumbags than have anyone go to prison who acted in legitimate self defense.

  • Eric||

    I'd like to know if the Zimmerman case was the exception, or the rule. If SYG laws result in emboldened heat-packers instigating conflict more than we see legitimate cases of self defense, then there's a case against SYG.

  • R C Dean||

    I'm not entirely convinced that SYG laws are necessary.

    I think they are a reaction to prosecutorial abuse. They shouldn't be necessary, but given the caliber of prosecutors we have in this country, I suspect that they are.

  • SFC B||

    This is exactly my thought. I've been reading Ta'Neishi Coates' coverage of the Martin/Zimmerman case on The Atlantic, and it stuns me the number of people there who view the act of being charged with a crime as something which imposes no cost on the person charged. They truly want police and prosecutors to bring charges in almost every case, and let a judge or jury sort it out.

  • ||

    yup. that's why states should have (like WA does) powerful disincentives to prosecutors that make them less likely to prosecute in s elf defense cases w/o first getting 'da facts' right

  • niobiumstudio||

    I like how they put the onus on prosecutors to prove that you weren't defending yourself - but I don't like that it removes all semblance of responsibility for removing yourself from a situation. I do believe SYG laws are unnecessary, but I do believe that SD law shouldn't be an affirmative defense and the burden of proof should be on the prosecutor. I like that a simple preponderance of the evidence can be used to prove SD, but removing the duty to retreat along with that power pushes things too far.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    duty to retreat is rediculous in many situations, especially if it requires you to go from a relatively safe and known area to an unsafe and unknown area.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Sadly, when the "duty to retreat" standard was in place, prosecutors all too often used their discretion to prove that they couldn't be trusted with discretion.

  • niobiumstudio||

    Maybe I misstated what I meant - I don't mean a duty to retreat when there is a possibility of danger in retreating - I mean exercising common sense and avoiding dangerous situations - such as going and getting a gun when you get into an argument with someone at a bar (or something similar) that can be completely de-escalated by simply walking away. Or, if you get into a "mutual" fist fight that you start loosing, than pull out a gun and shoot because "you thought he was going to really hurt you." I am not talking about someone coming after you, or pulling a knife on you and you being expected to run - you should be able to shoot than. I believe the onus should be on the prosecutor to PROVE you, beyond a reasonable doubt, you did EVERYTHING wrong and had mens-rea.

  • rantbot||

    You don't seem to understand the concept of Stand Your Ground. It applies to defense against attack. It is NOT a blanket cover for counterattack.

    If you leave a bar after an argument, you're not standing your ground in any sense - you've left. If you then arm yourself and come back, you're the one attacking. SYG obviously doesn't apply.

    If you escalate an altercation in which you were not clearly the defender - a "mutual" fist fight - you can't claim defense. If you could, the obvious question is what was "mutual" about it. In any event, SYG wouldn't apply.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    They're necessary because murder statutes have gone crazy and been written to minimize the ability to claim self defense. The law just clairifies to a jury that it CAN use common sense when judging these matters.

  • Tagalog||

    I doubt that this case will go to trial, but assuming that everyone in a position to act like an adult is really a scared child, if the case does go to trial, it just may the only case I've ever known of in my 30 year plus legal career where a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict will be seriously considered.

  • lightning||

    What if instead of Stand your Ground, all states passed a rule that the defendant had an immunity hearing (like Zimmerman does in FL) to determine if self-defense is authorized? If authorized, no charges can be pressed criminally or civily and (big and) the state pays for the persons court/legal fees for bringing charges against them in the first place? Maybe this would cut down on prosecutors mishandling self-defense cases?

  • niobiumstudio||

    That would require too much common-sense in legislation. Instead they go totally overboard and remove any responsibility for de-escalation and give huge latitude to what "reasonably scared for your life/limb" constitutes.

  • Bilwick||

    Whether they're grabbing your gun or legislating against your use of it to protect your life, you can easily see why the members of the Hive have a problem with self-defense. If you think that the individual's life doesn't belong to himself but to the State, it's easy to be against defending that life. Statists love force, but only when it's an instrument of their policies.

  • ThemAPPLEs||

    You are on the right track.
    The Supreme Court says that law enforcement has "no duty to protect" you. Ironically, police department policies often give officers and deputies wide latitude in killing you. Denying you the RIGHT to defend yourself (which was never the governments to give or take, but only to affirm) such as castle doctrine/SYG leaves you few options. You're merely fruit on the vine.

  • ||

    setting aside the utter rubbish that cops have 'wide latitude' in killing people, when evidence and common sense shows roughly similar 'latitude' as the average joe...

    you are correct about the duty. specifically, law enforcement has no CONSTITUTIONAL (federal constitution) legal duty to protect any INDIVIDUAL unless a special relationship is established.

    self defense is first and foremost an individual's responsibility, whether that individual is a cop or not

  • Lorider||

    "utter rubbish" Dunphy? Really?

    Kind of like "He didn't follow all of my screamed rapid-fire conflicting orders fast enough, I was in fear for my safety, so I shot him 18 times, too bad he can't tell his side of the story..."

    Asshole

    You can bet I intend to stand my ground - whether it's an LEO or not.

  • HealthyBreeze||

    While we may never know the true sequence of events in the Trayvon Martin killing, if Zimmerman had died of head trauma prior to shooting Martin, would we today be talking about Trayvon Martin's justifiable SYG defense, since Zimmerman initiated the confrontation? The 911 recording clearly had Zimmerman being told to stand down and wait for the police, so the picture of Zimmerman as the aggressor and escalator of the confrontation would seem to support such a defense.

  • HealthyBreeze||

    An additional thought...we don't know at what point the gun came out. Did Martin, fearing for his life when a strange and hostile main brandished a firearm, injure Zimmerman going for the gun?

  • rantbot||

    "since Zimmerman initiated the confrontation?"

    Fortunately, "confrontation" in its various formas has nothing to do with SYG. It's about attack and defense. It's not about following, threatening, dissing, or anything but the use of (possibly) deadly force to stop a (possibly) deadly attack.

  • ||

    our 911 operators give similar 'advice' (they have no legal authority to TELL a person to 'stand down') . it's a cYA thing. it means NOTHING IN regards to legal (or moral) culpability.

    frankly, as street cops, we wish they did not tell people to NOT FOLLOW ETC. but our dispatch supervisor says its a cya policy.

    despite the fact that it's bad practice, they will do it

  • ||

    EVEN, assuming arguendo as the article mentioned, if stand your ground and castle doctrine laws resulted in some 'avoidable' violent conflicts that might not have otherwise happened...

    so what?

    as americans, we (and yes, even us cops) have no legal duty to retreat, no duty to act such that we try to avoid conflict if another is intent on assaulting us, etc.

    we have the right to self defense. it makes us DIFFERENT and imo better than many european countries etc. where people have a legal duty to retreat or take exceptional measures to avoid conflict.

  • Harvard||

    Would that more would take your advice, right after you shitbirds yell "POLICE - OPEN THE DOOR" milliseconds before taking the door off the hinges with the ram.

    As the great Gordon Liddy opined, "the fucks are usually wearing body armor, think head shot".

  • ||

    yawn... trollfu is weak.

    the issue isn't cops yelling open the door and smashing it in, in general. it's that we can , and do often do it for DRUG CRIMES. that's absurd, but that's the situation that the LEGISLATURE (the elected one!) , judges and prosecutors have created.

    those , specifically, the legislatures who PASSED war on drug laws, are responsible

    not us

    i had 3 of my partners in the street crime unit shot IN ONE WARRANT so don't tell me we don't have damn good reason to make dynamic entries in many cases

  • Harvard||

    [not us]

    Kurtz: "Are you an assassin?" Williard: "I'm a soldier." Kurtz: "You're neither. You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill."

  • ||

    true dat. in the case of the drug war, many of us are.

    welcome to democracy.

    you can wank all you want about the wod. god knows i do. but it is not the FAULT OF THE COPS nor is it in our power to end it.

    we are the messengers of it, but not the cause.

    and wanking on reason.com certainly isn't helping to end it

  • Harvard||

    Try meaningful employment.

  • ||

    it is exceptionally meaningful and i do tons of good. i don't know what you do, but i am confident there is about a 99% chance my career allows me to do more good than you

    contrary to the belief of many, drug enforcement is a TINY part of my job. get over yourself. and get a meaningful job that benefits society. if you haven't already. consider a career as a LEO!

  • Harvard||

    Right out of the USMC. Worked my way through college. Flint PD, '65-'70, tough city, 60% black, factory town, factory payday thursday night, hell breaks loose thursday through sunday, third shift, what I didn't see in Asia I saw in Flint.
    Experience reinforces my belief that law enforcement is ever creeping toward police state, from DOJ to the brown shirts at the local level. Most woefully undertrained, not nearly psychologically profiled enough, and should never be spoken to.

  • Harvard||

    Isn't your job to "do good". You're job is to follow the law, with constant reminder that the Constitution trumps any other law. Consider Goering's defense about following orders and where that road leads. If you do, you can't do that job. You can't. I couldn't.

  • Lorider||

    And you are surprised why? Come to my house in the middle of the night and you'll have casualties for sure. Dispense with the "dynamic entries" (illegal violent break ins), and you might not get as much return fire...

    Of course that wouldn't give the kill thrill that many in the LEO racket love so much...

  • Henry||

    Bottom line is that the only thing SYG did in this case was DELAY an "automatic arrest" of the shooter until real probable cause was accumulated (i.e., a bullet hole is no longer automatically probable cause). When they came up with some, they arrested the shooter… just like any other crime.

  • BHirsh||

    "[Y]ou would expect to see an increase in homicides deemed to be justified even if the law were working exactly as intended."

    The law IS working exactly as intended. The opposition is engaging in hyperbolic ranting, which is what it always does whenever there is a successful use of justifiable lethal force. They philosophically oppose any right to self-defense, by the flawed reasoning that an attacker's life is worth every bit as much as his victim's. This is insane, not to mention radical.

    As to reinstating the duty to retreat, that is a ridiculous suggestion. Removing it was the primary reason for the law. When the facts on the ground overwhelmingly show that lethal force was justified, the victim should not be subjected to arrest, incarceration, bail, a trial, and the expense and loss of standing that goes with it. This law was intended to protect the innocent, not to continue punishing them.

  • NC Lawyer||

    Gun rights have been under attack for quite some time.

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