The New York Times on 'Stand Your Ground': Prosecutors Do Not Like a Law That Makes It Harder to Prosecute People

The New York Times notes the debate about "stand your ground" self-defense laws triggered by the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in Sanford, Florida:

Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says that his organization tracks laws in 21 states that extend the self-defense doctrine beyond the home. The usual label for such laws—"stand your ground"—is politically charged, he said, suggesting that a more apt label would be "Shoot first, ask questions later."

Because that description is not politically charged? Even if it turns out that George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Martin on the night of February 26, did so without justification, that does not necessarily mean Floridians were better off with a narrower definition of self-defense. 

Judging from the evidence so far—in particular, Zimmerman's police call and the cellphone conversation that Martin had with his girlfriend right before the shooting—Martin would still be alive if Zimmerman had not been so eager to play cops and robbers. Although Zimmerman (who is Hispanic) singled Martin out as suspicious before he confirmed the teenager was black, that does not mean race played no role in how the encounter ended. Martin, who was staying in the neighborhood at the home of his father's girlfriend and was coming back from a convenience store where he had bought candy and a drink, was understandably angry that Zimmerman was following him and treating him like a criminal, and probably scared as well. But the crucial question in distinguishing between self-defense and criminal homicide is what happened during the ensuing altercation, when Zimmerman, who emerged from the fight with a bloody nose and a cut on the back of his head, claimed he feared he might be killed or seriously injured. Since Martin is dead and there seem to be no other eyewitnesses, that claim would be hard to assess regardless of how Florida defined self-defense. If Zimmerman said Martin knocked him down and tried to grab his gun, for example, the no-longer-binding duty to retreat presumably would not apply. And even if Zimmerman could easily have gotten away, it does not seem likely that he "shot [Martin] in cold blood," as an attorney for the boy's family asserted. The shooting may have been unjustified, but it seems to have happened in the heat of the moment.

The Times concedes that Florida's 2005 law "has been used judiciously and fairly in many cases, where it was clearly self-defense," but adds that "other cases have left prosecutors scratching their heads." The fact that prosecutors do not like the law is hardly surprising; the whole point of the statute is to protect people from prosecution in cases where they act in self-defense but cannot prove they had no opportunity to flee. That change makes things harder for prosecutors by design. The question, if we are judging the law purely on a cost-benefit basis, is whether it enables more bogus self-defense claims than legitimate ones. The Times presents no evidence that it does, although it does cite a few cases that sound questionable, such as this one:

The attacker, who was in a car, could have driven away. The victim was unarmed but had angered the attacker earlier in the night, and then he had leaned into the car. 

That, of course, is the prosecutor's description. The Times also reports that the law "is increasingly used by gang members fighting gang members, drug dealers battling drug dealers and people involved in road rage encounters." Why should any of those situations preclude a legitimate self-defense claim? Drug dealers do get attacked, after all, and their line of work should not mean they have no right to resist (leaving aside the point that such violence is an utterly predictable feature of the black market created by prohibition). Even if there were a prima facie case that the "stand your ground" principle helps guilty people more often than innocent ones, that would not be the end of the matter. Our system of justice deliberately makes it hard to convict people, with the understanding that some guilty people will therefore go free. "Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer," Blackstone famously declared, and while his ratio may be debatable, the general thrust of his argument usually appeals to progressives, except when the right to armed self-defense is involved. 

Nick Gillespie discuses the Trayvon Martin case here and here.

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  • ||

    Progressives seem to intensely dislike self-defense, so I'm not surprised that they will seize on any opportunity to discredit the idea. If the authorities decide that Zimmerman acted wrongly I've little doubt that the progressives will declare that this "proves" that no private citizen should ever have a gun or any other means of self-defense.

  • o3||

    throw a few "theys" in & ur over-generalized cake will have icing too.

  • I Blame Videogames!||

    Are you saying Progressive politicians don't try to cripple ownership and carry of effective weapons? If so, you need to take a hard look at the history of the Progressive movement.

  • o3||

    are you saying there can be no limits on gun ownership for felons, kids, & the mentally disabled? >now who supports a minority position?

  • ||

    What in hell are you talking about?

  • ...---...||

    "are you saying there can be no limits on gun ownership for felons, kids, & the mentally disabled?"

    No, he isn't saying that.

    Now answer his question troll.

  • ||

    'troll'?
    SOS you are in need of help...

  • ||

    It's easy enough to disprove. Just show me a progressive who genuinely supports the right of self-defense.

  • Hi there||

    Me...

  • ||

    Yeah, sure. Can you do it without hemming and hawing for ten minutes, and listing a hundred or so preconditions?

  • ||

    Isn't this (left on economics, pro-gun) a fairly common position in parts of the Mountain West, such as Colorado, and in rural areas more broadly, perhaps most notably, Vermont? Not that I disagree that anti-gun is the default position of the bulk of progressives, or liberal Democrats, or whatever they're calling themselves today.

  • nono||

    Women's Studies professors who don't mind an abused wife shooting the husband.

  • R||

    The funny thing is that New York's law isn't any different from Florida's. Stand Your Ground laws simply bring self defense laws more in line with how it was treated in common law, which New York's code already does.

  • Dan||

    For some reason they think it "proves" no one should own a gun when something like this happens - but they never think that cops/government have too much power when these sorts of events with cops happen at a much greater rate.

  • Slim||

    Varying accounts have stated Martin was 6'3", not a child or a boy. I wonder what age he is in the pictures that keep getting flashed around?

  • Fluffy||

    It just doesn't matter.

    Zimmerman possessed no legitimate authority to demand that any citizen account for themselves. None.

    I wouldn't care if Martin looked like Jason Voorhees. Was he on Zimmerman's property? If not, Zimmerman can go fuck himself.

  • Ex nihilo||

    I agree. But I wonder if this is a problem with a neighborhood watch, people go from being passive to active in attempting to deter what they perceive as a crime? If Zimmerman thought he was commiting a crime, he should be able to articulate what crime was being commited before approching with a weapon. Wandering around is not a crime that requires deadly force to prevent.

  • Winston||

    Wandering around is not a crime that requires deadly force to prevent.

    I can think of one commenter who would disagree

  • ||

    It is undisputed that the neighborhood watch guy started the confrotation and had a gun.

  • Winston||

    I was referring to our resident proclaimer of Gambol Lockdown, although he appears to be (thankfully) missing at this point in time.

  • ||

    He might dispute that. I think his version was that he was following the other guy, and that the other guy jumped him, perhaps from behind. (If that's what they're getting at with mention of the blow to the back of the head.) How credible the stance of the neighborhood watch guy is, may be another question.

  • Phat||

    Martin's size is relevant to whether Zimmerman could have had reasonable basis to fear for his life. If Martin's a big, strong guy, he could have gotten the upper hand such that Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force to defend himself.

  • ||

    Also, is it relevant when they are in a gated community that is private? Does he have a right to stop someone since it's private property, if the property owners utilize that as their private security force?

    Just playing devil's advocate here, as I do not know the answer to the question.

  • Fluffy||

    Let's say it's one of those communities where the common areas are owned in common.

    Zimmerman's problem here is that Martin's family also lived in the complex.

    So they would have an equal property right on that street with Zimmerman. It would be almost as bad as if Zimmerman approached Martin on Martin's family's front porch.

  • ||

    Thanks. I (genuinely) wasn't sure how that would apply here. So it being community property, it's considered public for the residents, and barring any curfew agreed to in the HOA, the kid had a right to be there unimpeded.

    I feel pretty strongly that Zimmerman confronted this kid, brandished the weapon and the kid resisted his unlawful authority. And if that's the case, Zimmerman should stand trial.

  • kinnath||

    The kid was the guest of a resident. So the kid had some limited rights to be on the common property. But since he was not a permanent resident, the neighborhood watch also had some limited rights to determine that he was in fact a guest.

    The basic math is one black kid most likely behaving like any teenage asshole (they're all assholes at that age) interacting with a 20-something asshole with delusions of grandeur (as confirmed by the 911 tape). So assholes squared generally results in an altercation. In this case, one of the assholes was carrying a firearm. The end result is pretty predictable.

    I believe the correct outcome is that this goes to a grand-jury to get an indictment, followed by a hearing where a judge decides if Zimmerman is immune.

    The prosecutor punting was wrong.

  • db||

    A cynic might argue that the prosecutor could see where this was going, namely a big nationally known clusterfuck that might result in heavy criticism of the SYG law. Although, the potential damage to his reputation might nullify that line of thinking.

  • ...---...||

    "But since he was not a permanent resident, the neighborhood watch also had some limited rights to determine that he was in fact a guest."

    NO, they really don't.

  • ||

    Depending on the jurisdiction, oh yes they really do. If Martin's not a guest, he's a trespasser. Just like any other violator of borders. Ever been asked to leave a store by a shop owner who's decided you aren't there to shop but case the joint?

  • ||

    They probably would, if the altercation happened inside a gated community. But I don't think it did.

  • ||

    Do your 'feelings' tell you whether he brandished the weapon before or after Martin put the beating on him?

    Because, that's a rather big thing.

    So big that it might need something more substantial than your feelings...

  • wareagle||

    neighborhood watch is not a private security force; it is what the name implies - neighbors looking out for one another. Typically, members are NOT armed with 9 mm handguns, nor do they chase after folks.

  • ||

    Perhaps neighborhood watch in this case implies how the security in the private community is monitored.
    And who says they are typically not armed? That's up to the individual.
    As far as the chasing goes, I agree with your point.

  • wareagle||

    I suppose communities can draft their own rules but typically, neighborhood watch does not imply armed watchmen. If nothing else, law enforcement has an issue with the notion of Barney Fife's on patrol.

    Defending your home and family is one thing, stalking folks who look out of place and confronting them is something else.

  • Ex nihilo||

    Neighborhood watch as I meant it is people simply watching the area and noting anything that is out of the ordinary. Calling cops if necessary, but not actively engaging in patrolling the area. This situation sounds like Zimmerman was actually patrolling the area.

    I wondered if this is because people are not wanting to be passive in protecting themselves and the area where they live.

  • ||

    Well, we're taking the term "Neighborhood Watch," and applying an old definition to it. And in this case, I don't think him being some self-described neighborhood watchman is accurate. He was out patrolling his neighborhood, acting in the capacity of security officer enforcing private property rights, which I'm fine with.

    What I'm not fine with is him attempting to question or detain someone who was allowed to be there as either a property owner or the guest of one.

    I'd like to see the HOA's bylaws on who is allowed to be there and what they are voluntarily subject to IRT being questioned by security. I think we'll find out that Mr. Zimmerman had no right to question the kid and started an altercation.

  • wareagle||

    I doubt that anyone's bylaws get to the gnat's ass level of detail re: questioning, particularly when there is no hired security. A gate guard can ask for ID, check with homeowner, etc., but places without hired security are a bit less detailed. Z's own actions in calling the cops give the impression that this was SOP.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Hey HOA, my personal injury lawyer was wondering if the crazy mall ninja driving around your property shooting people was acting as your agent?

  • ||

    Obviously you don't live in TX (I do). And despite your handle, I doubt you live in AL (I have). Neighborhood watch groups have the same right to prevent crimes in their area as an individual citizen would.

  • Zeb||

    Based on how this played out, I think that the standard procedure for the neighborhood watch was to call the police if the saw something they thought was suspicious. If he was supposed to be acting as private security, that woudl be another thing, but I think that neighborhood watch means that you watch and report what you see, not get involved and confront people. Especially people who are committing no apparent crime. Being a suspicious person has to do with the state of mind of the person observing you, not what you are doing.

  • ...---...||

    "And who says they are typically not armed? That's up to the individual."

    This is incorrect.

    If it was an organized neighborhood watch, best practice is to recommend being unarmed.

  • ||

    My doctor recommends I get a certain amount of exercise. Until Obamacare changes that, his recommendation is not law. Neither is this one.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    It's pretty well reported at this point that Mr. Zimmerman outweighed Mr. Martin by about 100 lbs.

  • ||

    I still fail to see how the weight of either person is relevant. Especially when a gun being held by one party will generally offset any weight, height, sex, age or physical disability between parties.

  • plisade||

    Height and weight differences WILL matter to a jury.

  • ||

    Why? And in which direction?

  • ||

    Hperbole strawman time. A baby should not matter to a jury if a fully grown adult shot it in self defense.

  • Benjamin Crump||

    Subjective fear of death must be reasonable. Jury will decide if his fear was reasonable. Size matters.

  • SFC B||

    I am probably taller and heavier than most NFL Wide Receivers. That doesn't mean that they could not beat me badly enough to make me worry for my life.

  • ||

    Typically, this is defined more accurately in other states. Justification for worry of life, means either their have a like weapon as you do and they are attempting to use it on you. Knife, Gun, your own Gun, etc. Fists rarely entire into this because they very rarely kill. If this had been Mike Tyson that he shot dead, it might be considered, but outside of that, good luck.

  • Benjamin Crump||

    Read State of Florida vs Horn. Dude was acquitted for shooting and killing an unarmed man in what was essentially a bar fight. Horn claimed he had a heart condition and after he was punched in the face, feared he would not survive another one. Jury believed him.

  • JB||

    Many, many people die from one push or one punch. People fall, hit head on rock, and die. I know of multiple cases.

    You take a swing at me and I then have a rational fear for my life.

    You got angry over some words and want to commit assault? Then you better be prepared to not wake up in the morgue.

  • ||

    Many, many people die from one push or one punch. People fall, hit head on rock, and die. I know of multiple cases.


    Then why are not fists considered deadly weapons?

  • Loki||

    Weight advantage != advantage in a fight. If Zimmerman was a fat out of shape asshole I'd bet on the slimmer, much more in shape teenager to win a fight. Inless, you know, Zimmerman pulls out a gatt...

  • ||

    The point is that by all appearances, Zimmerman initiated the confrontation.

    If Martin were some big, tough muscle man, Zimmerman should have stayed in his car and called in the real cops. He started to do that, but pursued Martin anyway (against the recommendations of the dispatcher). And then he got out of the car.

    As has been said elsewhere, "stand your ground" != "pick fights with other people."

    And I meant it when I said "call in the real cops;" Zimmerman fits the description of what I would call a "buff." He's someone that really wants to be a cop, although his station in life is something less - mall security guard, bar bouncer. But he takes any opportunity to "play cop" by confronting "suspects," "assisting" cops (usually making things worse in the process!), driving around town with a scanner looking for trouble, etc. And trouble is exactly what he found.

  • ||

    "Zimmerman possessed no legitimate authority to demand that any citizen account for themselves. None."

    What? Of course he did. You, as a free man, have the innate authority to ask anyone anything you want. And the other person, also being a free man, can refuse to answer your query, and can in turn request that you proceed to fornicate yourself. Such is life among equals.

    If either party uses violence or the threat of violence then that's a different matter. But please don't turn us all into children by claiming that the act of "demanding" information requires some kind of permission slip.

  • Zeb||

    Anyone can demand anything, of course. That doesn't mean that they have legitimate authority to do so. The "legitimate authority" means that you can back up your demand with force.

  • Zeb||

    Irrelevant. I have known plenty of people who were 6'3" at 14 years old (and plenty of baby faced 17 year olds). Doesn't mean he was very large or looked like an adult. I have a cousin who is taller than that at 13. No one is mistaking him for a big adult.

  • Yokeltarian Collective||

    Varying accounts have stated Martin was 6'3", not a child or a boy

    He looks like a boy to me.

  • *||

    RACIST!

  • Old Mexican||

    Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says that his organization tracks laws in 21 states that extend the self-defense doctrine beyond the home.


    I would bet 100 to 1 that the Brady Campaign would not be happy with laws that only extend the definition of self-defense to the home or even the upstairs closet. I take their opinions on self-defense and other moral and philosophical argments with a very healthy grain of salt.

  • Ted S.||

    If Mike Bloomberg had his way, you wouldn't be able to take anything with a grain of salt.

  • Old Mexican||

    Well, I did say I would take it with a healthy grain of salt!

  • Nanny Bloomberg||

    there is no such thing as a healthy grain of salt!!!!

  • ||

    Gary Taubes might disagree.

  • Steve||

    Generally most states don't have protection of self-defense for people who are aggressors or initiate an altercation, here is the Florida statute on that

    http://www.leg.state.fl.us/sta.....6.041.html

  • Fluffy||

    The problem there is 2(a) makes it sound like even if you initiate the fight, you still can claim self-defense if you just say you were losing the fight and feared for your life.

    So you could be a rapist, and if your victim grabs a kitchen knife, you can shoot her dead and claim self-defense.

  • Steve||

    As not a lawyer this is my interpretation but I believe 1 and 2 are mutually exclusive, therefore if you are committing a felony you don't get 2(a).

  • ||

    What Steve said. You can't claim it when you have no legal right to be where you are.

  • Ex nihilo||

    If true, what is the purpose of 2(a)? It almost seems like Zimmerman would fall under 2(a). He was the presumed aggressor (he approached Martin) and believed the force used against him was so great (bloody nose and cut on back of his head) he had to respond with deadly force.

  • Fluffy||

    I'm trying to think of a situation where 2 can happen that wouldn't fall under 1.

    If you initiate an assault against someone, you're engaged in a felony.

  • Ex nihilo||

    Chicago Tom below (1:31 PM) states that you get in an argument with someone. IF the situation escalates to the point where you feel you are in danger, does it fall under 2(a), even if you started it?

  • Brendan||

    Road rage.

    I flip you off, I cus at you. Maybe I even cut you off. I'm the agressor.

    You get out at the light, pound on my windows, I drive off and you cut me off and attack me in my car.

    I can shoot you even though I was the aggressor. I started it.
    ---
    Maybe we're at the bar and I check out your date. You see me and get in my face. I shove you, you shove back. We start fighting. I run away, get in my car and start backing up, you start bashing my windows out. I was the aggressor, I initiated forced, but I withdrew. You're attempting to not just continue the fight, but escalate it. I would be justified in using deadly force to stop you.

    Bar fights and road rage are not forcible felonies.

  • ||

    I run away, get in my car and start backing up, you start bashing my windows out.

    Pursuing is a further aggressive act and has nothing to do with "standing your ground." Neither does pursuing someone in a car.

    Not having a duty to retreat is not the same thing as the license to pursue and attack.

  • Llama Face||

    Brendan is clearly referring to his own right under the SYG law to use deadly force. He provoked the original fight, but then withdrew. The OTHER GUY, not Brendan, pursued and continued the fight. Under SYG, Brendan has the right to use deadly force to end the fight even though he initially provoked the original altercation. 2(a) and 2(b) are clearly intended to cover circumstances where an altercation gets out of control and one person fears for his life.

  • db||

    We just a Safe Driving safety meeting today where a PA state trooper came in and did the standard talk. In the Q&A, she was asked about initiating vs retaliating in road rage situations. She said its often the case both combatants get charged but the retaliant can get more punishment because it was their escalation of the system that led to the fight/injury/shooting/whatever.

  • JB||

    Yelling at someone is not being the aggressor. There is no physical force or threat of physical force involved.

    If little Bobby isn't a big boy and words break his bones, he is the aggressor by making it physical.

    We do have this thing called the 1st Amendment in this country.

  • ||

    One who is at fault in provoking or continuing the difficulty which gave rise to the use of force cannot claim self defense.

    One party's use of fighting words do not excuse the second party's use of force, for mere word are not legal provocation or justification.

    However, they do forfeit the speaker's justification in using force to defend himself against the person he had verbally provoked.

  • Careful Reader||

    The rapist example would be picked up by subsection 1.

  • Fluffy||

    So it's not that (a) and (b) are the exception rules to BOTH 1 and 2, but are the exception rules to 2 only?

  • Careful Reader||

    Correct. Subs 2(a) and 2(b) apply only to 2.

  • Fluffy||

    Grammatically, they apply to both, because it's all one run-on sentence.

    But I would hope that you are correct.

  • Careful Reader||

    One of the things you learn in law school is how to interpret this stuff.

  • ||

    Too bad the lawyers on the legislature never bothered to learn how to draft it.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    One of the things you learn in law school is how to interpret this stuff.

    Unfortunately, that is not true for the majority of law students. I'm not sure what a lot of my classmates learned in law school, but I already knew how to interpret regulations and statutes before I came to law school. My legal education maybe helped and polished that a little bit, but if I hadn't known what I already knew before I entered law school, I really don't think law school would have prepared me for a career in statutory interpretation.

  • ||

    I think, as cited below, it is meant as protection against misdemeanor assault gone wrong. I shove you, you get to beating on me to the point where I fear for my life and have tried to break contact, I am at that point entitled to defend myself against your misuse of appropriate force lethally if necessary.

  • db||

    I'm not sure this was the intent. If you are carrying a pistol and you allow a fight to get to the point where actual blows are being landed, you have exposed yourself to serious risk. It is nearly impossible to draw and fire a weapon when in close fighting without creating the danger of having the weapon wrested away. The weaponis there for de-escalating the conflict before physical contact starts. If you are fortunate enough to break contact and get away and are further pursued, it might be legit, but you should never have let it get that far in the first place. Trainers for the Utah carry permit (mine was a PA LEO) will tell you you should loudly announce your intent to defend yourself by force before the conflict escalates.

  • JB||

    More than a few people have died from pushes.

    It's rational to be in fear for your life when someone pushes you. Ever been pushed really hard and hit your head on a curb? If that happens, you might not be getting up ever.

  • skrikey boy||

    I would have no problem with the law if it clearly established that persons engaged in criminal activity themselves cannot assert self-defense if their victims fight them, whether they fear death or serious injury or not.

  • Careful Reader||

    It does say that. See Steve's link above.

  • Old Mexican||

    Judging from the evidence so far—in particular, Zimmerman's police call and the cellphone conversation that Martin had with his girlfriend right before the shooting—Martin would still be alive if Zimmerman had not been so eager to play cops and robbers.


    This should decide the matter whether Zimmerman was genuinely defending his life or simply getting the worse of a fight he chose to pick. It is one thing to watch a suspicious person from afar to discern his intentions - quite another to approach him just to get into a testosterone match.

  • JB||

    If Zimmerman got physical, then he picked the fight. If the other guy did, then he picked it.

  • Joe M||

    The Times also reports that the law "is increasingly used by gang members fighting gang members, drug dealers battling drug dealers and people involved in road rage encounters." Why should any of those situations preclude a legitimate self-defense claim?

    Funny to see a liberal paper on the side of punishing the innocent rather than letting the guilty go free. But I guess gun control trumps everything.

  • Killazontherun||

    Control trumps everything.

  • ||

    Increasingly, N=2 as best I can tell.

  • Matrix||

    is this going to lead to another bad law named after a dead kid?

  • Fluffy||

    I would like to threadjack for a moment to thank the New York Jets for making themselves WORSE.

  • ||

    I love it. Tebow to Sodom on the marshes. That is going to be great.

    And I don't think they made themselves worse at all. Tebow is a fantastic athlete. He is better athlete than Michael Vick. You just need a coach with some balls and creativity to use him. I think he can be a real star as a sometime QB, all of the time H back and wildcat threat.

  • robc||

    You just need a coach with some balls and creativity to use him.

    This.

    You have to do what the Broncos were unwilling to do, and that is commit 100% to a style of offense that isnt used in the NFL.

  • wareagle||

    there's a reason that style of offense is not used in the NFL. Come on, Cam Newton is bigger and faster than Tebow, but Carolina wants him running when necessary or the occasional design, not 20-25 times a game.

    I've always thought Tebow would make a great H-back..we know he runs well, is tough to bring down, not sure if he can catch but he's willing to work so that could be accomplished.

  • Mo||

    If Tebow starts next year, NFL defensive coordinators will show the Jets why the style of offense is no longer used in the NFL. Tebow-ball is the latest beneficiary of the Wildcat Syndrome.

    Remember how the Dolphins were shoking the NFL with the effective Wildcat taken from college and high school football. Then the next season, after defensive coordinators had an entire offseason to study and scheme against the Wildcat, it became a lot less effective. This is how Tebowball will end.

  • ||

    I don't think so. Tebow ball is not the wildcat. The wildcat was a running back who couldn't throw at all playing QB. Tebow can throw. He is a passing threat. That makes it different.

  • wareagle||

    he's only a passing threat if you focus on the run. That was the trick at Florida; he was unlike anyone else at QB, so teams loaded up the box to stop the run, leaving receivers in one on one coverage.

    The NFL passing window is much tighter than college. And it is his passing that remains a work in progress.

  • robc||

    looked fine in playoff OT.

  • wareagle||

    and that was the exception to the rule.

  • robc||

    No it wasnt. He had plenty of good passes (and plenty of bad). When the O line gives him time he can pick apart man D.

  • Mo||

    The defender was way out of position and wide open. Doesn't exactly contradict wareagle's comment on small widows. He looked like shit in the game before the Steelers (against the mighty Chiefs D) and the game after.

  • ||

    The Chiefs defense was in the top 10 over the last half of the season. Two weeks before that, Aaron Rodgers looked pretty bad against them.

    And he only looked bad against the Patriots because the Denver defense was horrible and the Patriots got way ahead early.

    You watch, Denver isn't going to be that good with Manning next year.

  • robc||

    I think Denver will be better with Manning, IF he stays healthy. Manning is that good.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Denver shouldn't be done with FA either, even after Peyton's massive deal. The Broncos had something like $40M in cap room, pre-Peyton. Surprised they haven't made a giant offer to Mike Wallace yet.

    What a weird situation, re Peyton. The Niners make an offer to Alex Smith at the outset, Smith decides to let it sit for four or so days, instead of spearing the signature line to the table with his pen; the Niners then kick the tires on Manning, and Manning signs with Denver rather than S.F. It's like every decision was being made by George Costanza during his opposites period.

  • wareagle||

    of course, Denver will be that good, starting with playing a bad division. The defense is much better than he had in Indy, there is a credible running game, and the front office will find Peyton some additional toys.

    Reggie Wayne is on the market; Dallas Clark was let go..that's two familiar guys and does not even factor other potential signings. And the same could happen on defense. Reggie White went to GB because a good team was already in place.

  • robc||

    11 on 11 is ALWAYS better than 10 on 11.

    Its a pure numbers game.

    The problem is that people think the QBs job is to pass. It isnt. It is to distribute the ball to playmakers. That can be handing off, or passing, or KEEPING THE BALL, if they themselves are the playmaker.

    And when they are, and have to be accounted for, that makes it an 11 on 11 game.

    Of course, if you dont pass well enough to hit a receiver, it becomes a 9 on 11 game, which is worse. But, at times, Tebow made it 11 on 11. The game winner to Demaryius Thomas is a good example. That pass shouldnt have gone the distance, but Thomas was in a 1 v 1 situation due to the Steelers concern with the run. And Thomas in single coverage is money.

  • Brandon||

    The Broncos did commit 100% to a style of offense that scores about 10 points a game.

  • ||

    The Pittsburgh Steelers, who gave up 29 in the playoffs, beg to differ.

  • Mo||

    He is better athlete than Michael Vick.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Michael Vick is faster, more agile and has a stronger arm than Tebow. Tebow is bigger.

  • ||

    More to being an athlete than being fast. Vick is faster, but Tebow is stronger and more durable. Vick runs great. But he can't stay healthy because he is not durable enough to play in the NFL. Tebow can.

  • Mo||

    You are way overrating Tebow's durability. Tebow's perceived durability is due to his lack of playing time. He's had plenty of injuries. He sustained multiple serious injuries in college and was hurt in his first preseason game as a pro. Supposed he sustained a pretty serious injury against the Pats. Let's wait until a guy plays more than 12 games before calling him durable.

    Not to mention, Vick has more than straight line speed over Tebow. He has superior agility and can throw the ball further. Using your strength = athletic ability absolutism, Jeff Saturday is a superior athlete to Tebow.

  • robc||

    His only injuries in college came on sacks while in the pocket.

    Which is not unusual for running QBs...they rarely get seriously injured running.

  • ||

    Tebow is 6'3" 240 lbs and runs close to a 4.5 40 yard dash. He is a monster. He runs over people. He is a good enough athlete to play four or five different positions. Vick never ran over anyone.

    I don't think Vick is near the athlete people say he is. Tebow is a legit freak. Not a Cam Newton freak, who is the freak of all freaks. But a freakish athlete none the less.

  • Mo||

    If by close to 4.5 you mean 4.72*, then yes, Tebow runs close to a 4.5 40. There are loads of NFL players that are faster than Tebow, are more durable and are stronger, they're called defensive linemen.

  • ||

    There are not loads of d-lineman who run faster than a 4.7.

  • Mo||

    At the combine, there were 12 that beat 4.72 this year, 8 in 2011 and 12 in 2010. So yeah, there are plenty of them.

  • ||

    How many of those actually made the league? Lots of guys can run, but that doesn't mean they can actually play. And no, that doesn't make plenty of them.

    And how many of those guys are still running that even a year into their careers?

  • ||

    And one other thing Mo. Odd how Tebow, who by your accounts is such a slow lousy athlete, manage to average over five yards a carry last season. They must have just let him have those yards out of kindness.

  • Loki||

    12, 8, and 12 out of how many?

  • Loki||

    There's not even that many LBs who run faster than a 4.7. There's also the argument of "game speed" vs. "combine speed". IIRC Jerry Rice was not that fast in the combines (~4.6 ish?) but what Bill Walsh noticed on his college film was that no one ever cought him from behind. Ironically enough the same thing could be said of Rice's predecessor in SF, Dwight Clark. How many times has Tebow been run down in the open field by an opposing LB or DL? My guess would be not often.

  • ||

    That is a great point Loki. A lot of it comes down to conditioning. Rice was a workout God. He just got tired. Big difference between running a single 40 yard dash on a track and running someone down in the 3rd quarter in November.

    Also, explosiveness matters too. Most plays don't require even receivers to run 40 yards. How fast someone is in the first 10 yards is often the most important thing. Neither Barry Sanders nor Emmit Smith had particularly impressive 40 times for running backs. But their 10 yard times were spectacular.

  • Loki||

    Tebow's another guy who works out a lot, even by professional athlete standards. O wonder if that might explain why he seems to play so much better at the end of games (in addition to his "intangibles")? The defenses have gotten tired and he's barely breathing hard. Seems like a reaonable hypotheses.

  • ||

    I would also point out that it was Tebow first year starting. Lots of QBs have looked horrible as rookies. Manning's QB rating his rookie year was 71.2. That is lower than Tebow's was last year.

  • Gray Ghost||

    The game has gotten quite a lot faster than in Rice's time. Tebow has elite side to side quickness---go see his shuttle and 3 cone times from the combine---but no, he doesn't have elite speed. 4.72 is not elite.

    Tebow passing is historically horrible. I mean we're really arguing about a guy who put up QB lines like 21/40/236 1/1 (Chicago win) or 10/15/202 2/0 (Minnesota win)? Those are his best games, absent the Pittsburgh playoff game. He averaged from Week 7-17, 11.1/23.7/150 1/0.5, with 3 sacks and 1.2 fumbles (0.55 fumbles lost). Does that strike you as a good QB line? Do you think he'll be better after a year of NFL defenses reviewing his tendencies?

    To his credit, he threw a lot less INTs and took a lot fewer sacks than Orton. As an H-back, or innovative Wildcat-esque back, sure, he can have success. As a QB in NY? You're kidding, right?

  • ||

    ""I love it. Tebow to Sodom on the marshes. That is going to be great.""

    Funny. That's kind of what I was thinking.

  • MJ||

    Except for his consistantly stated desire to be an every down QB.

  • ||

    And Sean Payton got a year for bountygate. Holy Shit.

  • Suki||

    That is so unfair to New Orleans after Katrina.

  • robc||

    How does this make them worse?

    Barring injury, Tebow will only be used in wildcat type situations for the next 2 years, which will improved the Jets offense.

    And you dont think Tebow is better than Sanchez? I dont remember the Jets in the 2nd round of the playoffs this year or me drinking a 6 pack of Two Hearted to celebrate this fact [props to Baked Penguin for paying up].

  • Fluffy||

    It makes them worse because it gives them a QB controversy on top of their shitty locker room situation beginning week one. In the worst media city in the US.

  • robc||

    The QB controversy worked for Denver last year.

  • wareagle||

    Sanchez =/= Kyle Orton

  • robc||

    True, Orton might be better.

  • wareagle||

    then maybe Denver traded the wrong guy. They should have kept Tebow; imagine learning QB from Manning. Aaron Rodgers did okay after watching Favre for a few seasons.

    Tebow has been learning on the fly with outsized expectations. If Manning plays 3 years, we're still talking a Tebow in, what, his mid-20's?

  • robc||

    The problem is that Rodgers and Favre played roughly the same style of QB. Forcing Tebow into a Manning shaped hole isnt the right thing to do. If Fox/Elway dont want to run an offense designed around a big, running QB, then trading him makes the most sense.

  • robc||

    The Jets, OTOH, just hired an OC to bring back the running game.

    I think he can work with Tebow.

  • wareagle||

    not forcing a role, teaching a position. Tebow's never been in an NFL style offense. Alex Smith at Utah had the same system as Tebow at UF and look how long he took to do anything. Tebow could overpower a lot of guys in college and UF could often out-athlete the opposition. Not so much in the NFL.

    No one will base an offense around a running QB; he needs to work on passing and Manning would be a great teacher. That Tebow is mobile is a bonus; it's like Ben R with much better wheels but, right now, not nearly the passing mechanics.

  • robc||

    not forcing a role, teaching a position.

    Wrong. The position can be handled a multitude of ways. The NFL forces a role on them.

    No one will base an offense around a running QB

    Maybe they should. If nothing else, think of the money savings at the QB position. You can get top tier college running QBs for cheap and instead shift the money to other positions. With a hard cap like the NFL, this can create an advantage.

  • MJ||

    "The NFL forces a role on them."

    Partially correct. The economics of the NFL forces a role on QBs. The starting QB is such big investment and has such a keystone role in the offense, that no one in the team's management is going to be happy about their QB taking too many hits a game.

  • ||

    So you guys are taking Mark Sanchez's side in a debate on QBing? Brave.

  • ||

    As a jets fan, but not a Tebow, I dont think Tebow is worse than Sanchez.

    I bet Tebow will be backing Sanchez up, and they will use Tebow in wildcat and gimmick offensive packages to keep opposing defenses off balance.

    I think this is a net positive for the Jets

  • ||

    I am starting to think prosecutors are letting cases go to discredit the law.

    Consider the case of a gang gun fight. Someone has to shoot first. Shooting at someone last I looked was a felony. The stand your ground law gives the person who is shot at the right to shoot back. But it doesn't excuse the person who shot first. Moreover, the victim shooting back and missing you and hitting someone else, is a foreseeable consequence of you shooting at someone. That makes the person who started shooting guilty of felony murder. This happens all of the time when the cops shoot someone. Two people rob a liquor store, get into the shoot out with the cops who then shoot one of the perps. Guess what, perp number one is facing felony murder for the death of his buddy.

    So, I don't see how this rule could possibly used to excuse gang shootings.

  • ||

    Sure, the guy wasn't the aggressor gets off. But so what? Just because you are gang member doesn't mean you don't have a right to self defense.

  • ||

    John,

    I mentioned this hypothetical in a thread yesterday and I am curious to what people think:

    What if two gang bangers happen upon each other walking down the street. Both assume the other is packing heat (or even they brandish their guns at one another as a show of force), and they both reach for their weapon or open fire. Can they both claim self defense fearing that the other was reaching for a gun?

    If so, that seems like a recipie for disaster.

    Now what about this:
    Some guy starts angrily confronting me about something (parking space, cut him off, cut in line etc) and is yelling at me and really pissed and I notice he is carrying a concealed weapon, does that allow me to reasonably fear for my life and use force against him, even if he hasn't actually assaulted me? From my reading of the FL statute I would be in the clear.

  • Ex nihilo||

    Tom,

    The way I read 2(a) is YOU could start the confrontation by yelling at the other guy. If you notice after you start that he is armed and you fear for your life, you can shoot him.

    (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, UNLESS:
    (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant;

  • ||

    reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant;

    That is a pretty strict requirement. You have to reasonably believe the person is going to shoot you. That is more than just "hey asshole, you cut me off".

  • ||

    I don't think so. Just because you have a weapon and we are in a confrontation doesn't necessarily mean that I can reasonably assume you are going to shoot me. That doesn't make sense. If I reach for my weapon, sure. If I tell you I am going to shoot you, maybe. But absent a very specific set of facts, I can't see the people in either case having the right to shoot.

  • Ex nihilo||

    I guess it would depend on how you define "reasonable" and "imminent." If you move your hand near your waist where your weapon is carried, is it reasonable to assume you are going for your weapon, even if you aren't?

  • ||

    It all depends on the circumstances.

  • Ex nihilo||

    True dat.

  • In Time of War||

    Isn't this exactly like the western gunfight mythos? Two armed guys facing each other down on the street. The first one to draw is the "bad" guy and the other can legally shoot him. He just has to be faster and more accurate.

  • Brady Bunch||

    See? We warned you this would lead to the Wild West in our streets!

  • ||

    IF you start a confrontation, you do have a duty to retreat before using deadly force. Stand your ground is really only for when another person initiates the force. I think this is the part where the Stanford police and State Atty got it wrong. At the point where Zimmerman may have been the instigator, the probable cause subclause is met and they can arrest and charge him.

  • JB||

    Again, instigator has to involve for or the threat of force.

    Saying 'hey, what are you doing here?' doesn't make you an instigator. I don't know the details of this particular case though.

  • Mo||

    Except was the judge, not the prosecutor, that made that decision.

  • ||

    Well if you shoot someone in "self-defense" then you get immunity. The law doesn't say that equal force must be applied. If you think a gang member's going to strangle you to death then the law permits the use of anything to repel him..

  • ||

    Not true. You have to reasonably believe that you are in danger of death or great bodily harm.

  • Mo||

  • Cooler Heads||

    We prevail!

  • ||

    ... was understandably angry that Zimmerman was following him and treating him like a criminal, and probably scared as well. But the crucial question in distinguishing between self-defense and criminal homicide is what happened during the ensuing altercation, when Zimmerman, who emerged from the fight with a bloody nose and a cut on the back of his head, claimed he feared he might be killed or seriously injured.


    If Zimmerman initiated the altercation, than he should have absolutely no standing to claim self defense.

    As has been stated by others, you don't get to claim self defense when you initiate a confrontation or intimidate and stalk someone

    And let's not forget that the guy who initiated the confrontation was armed as well. Already two pretty big strikes against saying "But I was merely defending myself"

  • Phat||

    So if I smack you on the head and you whip out a 6-inch knife and come after me, I have to let you kill me?

  • Fluffy||

    You have to flee.

  • Phat||

    Says who?

  • Fluffy||

    Apparently, the law just about everywhere.

    You can't assault someone and then claim self-defense if your victim resists you.

    To argue otherwise, you'd have to believe that if the victim of a rapist struggles free and grabs a knife, the rapist can kill her and call it self-defense.

  • Phat||

    In most states, you have a duty to retreat if you can do so and if you're not in your home.

    Some states have changed that such that you don't have a duty to retreat even outside your home.

  • ||

    So if I smack you on the head and you whip out a 6-inch knife and come after me, I have to let you kill me?

    How do you get to that conclusion?

    The law doesnt stop you from defending yourself.

    If you smack me in the head, and I pull out a knife, am I acting in self defense? If you retreat and I come after you, I suppose it's no longer self defense, but how do I know you aren't going to come back and ambush me, or go get your own weapon and finish the job?

    What if you don't retreat and come after me again after I brandished the knife, should I not be able to stab you when you are clearly being the aggressor?

    Now, If you smack me in the head, and I in turn start pummeling your ass, and you kill me with a weapon, the law should absolutely not let you claim "self defense".

    If you smack me in the head, and I know you are carrying a weapon, and I kill you, the law will protect me.

  • Pip||

    This is at the heart of racism. Things like this.

    I heard a black guy on the bus say that he chased an unarmed intruder out of his house. He chased him into the back yard, where he caught and then stabbed the guy. He was charged for the stabbing.

    He then related a story from that morning's paper about an old white guy who shot and killed an unarmed intruder in his house. The old guy was not charged.

    In the mind of my fellow bus rider this was proof positive that the system was racist. He just couldn't grasp that these were two entirely different situations.

  • Phat||

    Now, If you smack me in the head, and I in turn start pummeling your ass, and you kill me with a weapon, the law should absolutely not let you claim "self defense".

    I can't say what the law should do, but what the law is is that you can't beat the crap out of someone simply because he was the initial aggressor. Your defensive force has to be reasonable under the circumstances and your justified belief as to the threat. If you use deadly force against me when you did not have a reasonable belief that you were in imminent danger of loss of life or grave bodily harm, then I would be justified in using deadly force to repel your unjustified deadly force.

  • ||

    I can't say what the law should do, but what the law is is that you can't beat the crap out of someone simply because he was the initial aggressor. Your defensive force has to be reasonable under the circumstances and your justified belief as to the threat. If you use deadly force against me when you did not have a reasonable belief that you were in imminent danger of loss of life or grave bodily harm, then I would be justified in using deadly force to repel your unjustified deadly force.


    But as others pointed out, even a mere shove can be deadly force.

  • nono||

    or eating peanut butter and then kissing someone allergic to peanuts!

  • ||

    Do we have any information at all on what injuries Martin may or may not have had? If the police haven't released those, I'm not sure we can conclude anything about who was getting the better of whom.

  • ||

    I'm sorry, but I really think you have the duty to withdraw if you can. I believe in self-defense as a courtroom defense, but this law prevents victims and their families ever GETTING their day in court. If you have the right to shoot back (and you do) you have the duty to withdraw if you can. We shouldn't be encouraging people to start tossing bullets around if they can run, hide, or throw bullets around. Particularly during this stupid drug war. Zimmermans of the world should be armed with a cellphone, and if they shoot, they should be held liable if it's shown they could have taken a more responsible course of action.

  • ||

    Sorry, that should read "run, hide, or call the cops"

  • Killazontherun||

    Withdrawing while someone is confronting you is a good way to get shot in the back. Even if you don't necessarily have to turn away, your mind is at cross purposes when you need all the focus you can muster. Big tactical error in almost every case.

  • ||

    I disagree, and I think most self-defense experts would as well. The logic is pretty simple:

    1) if they were going to shoot you for running away, they were going to shoot you anyhow
    2) you're much harder to hit when you're running away

    There are also other considerations, less critical to your survival, but which still matter:

    4) even criminals would think twice before shooting someone in the back, because it would destroy any claim of self-defense
    5) if you are shot in the back, and do die, at least it's more obvious what happened and that you were not the criminal, and your killer is far more likely not to get away

    This is still all playing the odds, but these are the odds that make sense.

  • ||

    Reason 3: it's a mystery!

  • T||

    3 is always 'Profit!', Drew.

  • Killazontherun||

    Are you really comfortable peddling the 'most self defense experts' line? Do you really think you can substitute the judgement of a second party for your own when you are in this kind of situation? It is not the asses of the experts that are dead or raped when your life is on the line. If you don't think the assailant is a good shot, running may be an option, maybe try to strafe, though I find targets more predictable when they do that (air soft experience).

    You are not thinking of any social considerations at all when you are in a life and death situation. Any distraction tilts the outcome in the other persons favor, but thankfully, adrenaline takes care of that so you wont be doing your tax returns in your head or thinking of what you are going to tell the cops, you'll be hearing the knees of your assailant creaking, and responding to what that information gives you as an advantage.

  • ||

    "Are you really comfortable peddling the 'most self defense experts' line?"

    Yes. They are people who study thousands of cases of violence, what victims did, and what the outcomes were.

    "You are not thinking of any social considerations at all when you are in a life and death situation."

    I have no idea to what this refers. The point of good self-defense is what actions are most likely to leave you alive. It's very much about the moment. Real violence is not like an airsoft game or a boxing match. There are no refs, and no rules. And the problem is that most people's split-second instincts are wrong: they are the very things violent criminals over and over exploit to gain an advantage or control.

  • ||

    Perhaps you think the arguments I listed above (what to do if someone, say, puts a gun to your head) are about the legal issues, or something else related to the aftermath. They're not. Those are separate and irrelevant.

    If someone has committed or threatened violence against you, the very last thing you want to do is stick around and "fight" them (or their nearby accomplices, which you may not even know about). Every sec you spend in that situation is one spent in a situation that, chances are, they picked, & picked to their advantage, in which things are likely to only get worse for you.

    If you have to use violence to ensure your escape, you should: instantly, w/out any warning or threats or bargaining or telegraphing. But you shouldn't waste any energy that isn't devoted to the purpose of your immediate escape.

  • ||

    Steal Underpants

  • Brandon||

    3)Profit!

  • In Time of War||

    “You always run away from a man with a knife and toward a man with a gun.”
    Attributed to Jimmy Hoffa, a guy who probably had more experience with both than most of us.

  • ||

    and a guy who was likely killed by one or the other

  • Killazontherun||

    Jimmy Hoffa, a guy who probably had more experience with both than most of us.

    True that. I can only talk about my air soft experience, and what I know does and doesn't work. Running when you are evenly matched never makes any sense.

  • ||

    Castle doctrine aside (and it's a good doctrine), that's good advice even in your own home. There's zero point in sticking around to defend your property when your life is on the line, and countless home invasions succeed because the victims hang around, increasing the chances that the invaders can get the upper hand without the victims having a chance to completely destabilize the situation by getting help.

    By all means, have a gun handy. But use it as a means of ensuring you and your family's escape to safety, not as a reason to hang around violent people a second longer than you have to.

  • ||

    This doesn't speak to any of the arguments Iisted, which are made by people (self-defense experts) who have far more experience (studying the totality of cases) than anecdotes (and did Hoffa ever actually put this advice into effect?).

    If I have a gun and someone rushes at me and my gun, I am going to shoot them, and justifiably so. The next step in that exchange is them getting the gun away from me and shooting me with my own gun.

    The smartest thing to do in ANY violent situation, even if you are armed, is leave it, doing anything necessary to ensure my safe exit. Every further second I stick around is one in which things are almost certainly just going to get worse and more dangerous.

  • db||

    It is aleays smart to attempt to de-escalate the situation, or better yet, prevent its escalation in the first place. If I get involved in close physical fighting, i've lost the fight, gun or no. The best way to use a gun is to de-escalate. The best fight is one that's avoided in the first place.

  • ||

    I agree with this except maybe the gun part.

    If you're in a direct altercation with someone and you need to draw your gun and point it at someone, it's should be because you have reached point in situation in which you intend to shoot and kill them. The second you bring a gun into the equation and point it at someone, all bets are off for everyone and the stakes are raised to 11. Warning shots and threats may sound reasonable, but they are not good practice for an armed civilian in the middle of a fight.

  • db||

    I never said "draw" or "point." Maintaining situational awareness, making clear you mean to defend yourself, and showing the gun without drawing should be enough to deter any but the most suicidal or testosterone- charged assailants. Warning shots are stupid and create safety risks for bystanders.
    the way I see it, my gun is not coming out of its holster unless I imminently fear attack, and if an assailant continues to advance once I've made my intent to defend clear, they haave forced the course of action.

  • ||

    db: I mostly agree with your followup. I just worry that some people think drawing a gun is good a negotiating tactic. But it's everywhere and always an act signifying imminent deadly force, and when it comes into a situation, negotiations are functionally over, even if people seem to be talking.

    Even showing can just as easily escalate things though (I'll admit it's a gray area though, and people can come down either way). In this case, lets say that Zimmerman exposed, but didn't yet reach for his gun. Even that would, I would think, give Martin both reason and grounds to attack Zimmerman further, harder, to try and make sure that gun couldn't be used against him.

  • db||

    I agree, and as I said, the gun's not coming out of the holster unless there's a very good chance of it being used. I've actually been in a defensive situation where there were shots fired at me or in my direction by persons unknown and unseen. My options were to either take the best cover I could find and call 911 or fire blindly into a treeline at unknown targets. I to this day do not know how much danger I was actually in because the police could not find the shooters, and I don't know if they were just trying to scare me off or whether real harm was intended. If I had drawn my weapon, being visible to the shooters, I would have most likely been shot at directly. As it was, I found cover and called 911 and the situation melted away through active avoidance of engagement.

  • Killazontherun||

    Here is why I think that it is bunk. Self defense experts of the previous few thousand years developed martial arts to deal with these situations not advanced sprinting. It is an anomaly of our times that self defense experts have adopted a doctrine of public pacifism (not one they teach to LEO's, btw) that fits in line with the prevailing ideology of the time.

  • db||

    Which part is bunk? Situational awareness? Avoidance rather than engagement? Establishing a strong position at the beginning of engagement by indicating a willingness to defend oneself? Last I checked, these were tenets of most martial arts. Learning the physical techniques of defense is only a part of a solid defense.

  • db||

    Additionally, self defense has only started at the end of a forcible encounter. Establishing a lawful basis for your actions is part of defending against further prosecution or civil action. As most law enforcement officers will tell you when speaking honestly, the state is not your friend when you kill or harm another person, even in self defense. Given the state of our legal system, it is an integral part of self dedense to behave scrupulously within the law in defensive situations.

  • ||

    You really need to read an actual book by self-defense experts and martial arts experts. The martial arts in general are not great training for actual fights. In martial arts, fighters take particular stances and often even distance and face off with particular moves that are often telegraphed.

    Self-defense experts do not in any way advocate "pacifism." Read them, dude. In fact, they encourage training in a few sudden, single moves, from a neutral position, that will _violently_ incapacitate people without them seeing it coming. That's what's key. Not running around pretending you are Jackie Chan when their friend could be pointing a gun at the back of your head without you even knowing.

  • ||

    (that wasn't directed at db)

    If you want to learn a martial art that's useful for self-defense, learn a grappling art. Most real world fights very quickly devolve into grappling, and that's where you can have the most impact in incapacitating an assailant. But at that point, again, you don't stick around. You get out of the situation as soon as your exit is secure.

  • ||

    Killazontherun: They don't teach LEO's to run away because they are LEO's: their while job IS to engage dangerous people and put themselves in harms way. They have legal authority and procedures and usually backup and all sorts of things that don't make much sense for you.

    Their job is not your job. Your job is to live, any way you can, and keep your loved ones alive. And it's really, really worth knowing how you can maximize your chances: what reflexes and responses make sense.

    If someone points a gun at your head and demands your wallet, or puts a knife to the throat of a loved one, it's worth knowing the odds and risks of the various ways to respond.

  • Killazontherun||

    That is not really the legal case up to current era. The legality to engage for LEO and non LEO citizen has the exact same legal basis. If someone was shooting up, say, a bus stop you and the LEO have the exact same right to respond. In fact, it has been ruled that the LEO is not required to respond as neither are you based on the fact he is a citizen with the same rights. I'll grant that it has been obscured in recent times, but that is also the factor that is blinding you here to the changes in expected behavior that is also socially detrimental. If criminals baring arms go in to a store knowing based on precedent they have about a fifty/fifty chance of coming out alive because passive resistance isn't the expected norm of his victims, crime would be drastically reduced.

  • ||

    You're wrong. Here's just one example: police can point weapons at people pre-emptively (without direct threat), and give lawful orders. Citizens cannot: even if the gun isn't loaded, that's a felony.

    Of course, we're weren't really talking about legality here, but strategy: what's dumb and smart to do in a violent situation. Police do all sorts of things that would be just dumb for an ordinary citizen to do, because police are TRYING to get in harm's way (double-meaning), and risk death because of it. Citizens would be plain dumb to try and risk death.

    You keep talking about passive resistance. No one here has suggested that as a strategy for anyone, and yet you seem obsessed with this idea that it's common or that I advocate it.

  • ||

    I also don't know how you can argue that the things I've said are socially detrimental. Most people DON'T practice the things that most people trained in self-defense would recommend, so how can they be at fault for whatever state of society you think exists? Not that I even agree with your premise: what's the evidence that people are more passive in the face of violence today?

    The issue has nothing to do with whether people respond violently or not. That's not the point. The point is simply that people that respond with violence _specifically_ with the purpose of ensuring their escape have a far higher chance of surviving than people who respond with violence and then stick around to "win" the "fight." Every second you stay in a violent situation is yet another second something unexpected could go wrong for you, no matter how much of the upper hand you think you have.

  • ||

    Which self-defense experts?

  • ||

    Start with these:

    R. Miller, Facing Violence.
    S. Strong, Strong on Defense.
    G. Thompson, Dead or Alive.

    Note that none of them advocate passivity: in fact, just the opposite depending on the particular situation. What they do emphasize over and over, however, is that self-defense is not learning karate. It's having a plan of just how to react to different sorts of violence, and how to maximize your chances of surviving. Because our normal instincts are often very bad (the absolute worst is people's willingness to follow threats at the point of a gun, usually ending up in an even worse situation than they began, no matter how bad it seems to start).

  • ||

    Thanks, I'll look into those.

  • kinnath||

    Unless random luck just happens to put police where you need them when you need them, the police cannot protect you from crime.

    The police merely clean up the mess afterward and try to determine "who dun it".

    There may be a positive business case for "flight" over "fight", but I don't see any moral imperative to avoid a confrontation that someone else starts.

  • ||

    As other reason commenters have pointed out, police are focusing far more on the lucrative drug war than they are on tracking down and deterring other crimes. No, police may not always be around, but the drug war has made them even less responsive and available.

  • ||

    There is a positive business case. Whether or not their is a legal or moral imperative is something to worry about later.

    The positive business case is: what is most likely to get you out of a situation alive and unharmed. And the answer is: get out of the situation. If you stay, you might win. You might end up killing the other person, and then maybe getting a lot more experience fighting in jail. Or you might lose. If you leave, you are no longer in the dangerous situation period, so you don't have to face any of those odds.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Jeremy,

    [...]but this law prevents victims and their families ever GETTING their day in court.


    No, it doesn't.

    "776.041 Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
    (1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
    (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself,[...]"

    If the prosecution can prove that Zimmerman tried to provoke an incident (and evidence suggests he could have), then he cannot seek the protection of that law according to the proviso indicated above.

  • Barry D||

    A moral duty to avoid unnecessary bloodshed has little to do with the legal definition of self-defense. The court is, by necessity, hindsight and second-guessing in these cases. It can't enforce morality or attitude, and things get really ugly when the law tries to do so.

  • ||

    The law is absurd. I can meet you at a park one day and shoot you out of whim. I can't be criminally charged or proven guilty because there's no proof that you weren't a "threat".

    Also, it encourages the use of violence in confrontations. Imagine that I get into an argument without someone. It's in my interest to shoot him before he shoots me. Since he has the legal right to shoot me then I have to assume that he will. Thus, I'd have to shoot him before he shoots me, if only to protect my own life. Then, I can just tell the police "he said 'I'll kill you !@#!@'" and thus I shot him.

  • ||

    That is not true. Show me where the law vitiates the normal requirements for self defense. Just because because someone is a threat to you, doesn't give you the right to shoot them. You have to prove you reasonably thought your life was in danger.

  • ||

    No. It's the other way around. Innocent until proven guilty. THEY (the prosecutor/judge) have to prove that my life wasn't in danger. How can they prove that? No one(except me) knows that happened right before I shot them.

    They can't prove without any reasonable doubt that my life was not in threat.

  • ||

    No. It is an affirmative defense. Once the government proves I killed the guy, I then have to prove that it was in self defense.

  • ||

    That's exactly what's changed with the FL law though. No longer do you even need to defend your actions if charged: you now have immunity from _prosecution_ in the first place.

    This immunity was something previously reserved for very obvious situations, like when someone breaks into your home. The FL law basically allows it to be invoked anywhere at all, regardless of how clear the situation is.

  • ||

    IF that is the case, that is stupid. One should never have to retreat from their own property. But in a public space, things are totally different.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    One should never have to retreat from their own property.


    Even then the law is specific: You have to exhaust all reasonable avenues of escape. If you're in your home, the person you shot was not a member of your household and entered uninvited, then there are NO reasonable avenues of escape, only the UNreasonabvle ones that lefties invent (like crawling up onto the roof of your house until the perp leaves - YES, that was seriously suggested in a TV documentary shown in the 80s about home defense.)

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Drew,

    No longer do you even need to defend your actions if charged: you now have immunity from _prosecution_ in the first place.


    That's NOT true if the State can provide evidence that the shooter was the aggressor, according to paragraph 776.041

    "Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
    (1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
    (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself[.]"

    The provision implies that a person deemed the aggressor would have then to provide evidence that he or she was attempting to disengage in a reasonable way and attempted all avenues of escape before resorting to shooting his victim.

  • ||

    Provide evidence... where? To whom? Who determines and weighs those claims, and in what sort of venue?

    This is part of why the law is so problematic: legal ambiguity and chaos. Judges in FL have basically had to _make up_ some means of figuring out how exactly the state can resolve and rule on what's true when the normal way of doing so (grand juries/trials) is explicitly barred, because the "immunity from prosecution" language is so sweeping. The general affect for now seems to be that judges & prosecutors decide these claims before a jury or grand jury hears them.

    The reason that worked with Castle Doctrine was that someone breaking onto your property made things very unambiguous. But as in this case, public altercations ARE very ambiguous.

  • ||

    No. If killing a man is legal assuming that I was reasonably threatened then the government has to prove I was not reasonably threatened before charging me for murder.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Fred,

    If killing a man is legal assuming that I was reasonably threatened then the government has to prove I was not reasonably threatened before charging me for murder.


    AND? That would be the case even without the law. There is no law yet in ANY jurisdiction that bars a person from defending his or her life from a perpetrator, Fred. A person can still present a defence based on self-defense, and the State would be required to refute such defense. What is different this time?

  • ||

    The difference is that in many other states the use of violence if only justified if that's the last resort. Whereas, in FL that's not the last resort. You can use it without trying to de-esclate the situation.

  • Chris||

    Fred, you are very much wrong here. In order to use a self-defense justification, there must be sufficient evidence of self-defense that;

    1.) The prosecutor declines to file charges,
    2.) The grand jury returns a no-bill,
    3.) The jury in the murder trial finds you not guilty.

    If you attempt to invoke a self-defense justification without any evidence of self-defense, you will go to prison, in Florida or anywhere else. Short, and sweet.

  • ||

    Well apparently, in this case the shooter wasn't even arrested let alone being forced to argue his innocence.

    He just claimed that his was threatend and apparently the cops believe him.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Fred,

    THEY (the prosecutor/judge) have to prove that my life wasn't in danger. How can they prove that?


    They only have to prove that you committed a crime, in this case take a life. Arguing self-defense would be YOUR defense, something YOU must prove, something that is no different to providing an alibi or mitigating evidence.

  • ||

    It was supposed to keep prosecutors from charging people who were clearly acting in self-defense. The police and prosecutors must have probable cause, beyond the use of lethal force, for arresting, detaining or charging a person over the events. Basically, in the absence of other facts, the police must accept the story told by the person who claims self defense. In this case, there are plenty of other facts.

  • Killazontherun||

    If you agree to meet me in an isolated area without witnesses, you are already dead and I would not need to make up a story to tell the cops. My chances of getting away with it are significantly improved in this hypothetical situation of yours.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I would assume that when two people having guns are in an elevated altercation, you're better off being the first one to shoot regardless of the law.

    Being dead is a lot worse than being guilty of a crime.

  • T||

    As the saying goes, I'd rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6.

  • ||

    Does anybody else out there see this as a wedge issue being used by the left to create a racist rift in the electorate and draw their attention away from runaway fuel prices, rapid inflation, a floundering economy and cronyism of the highest order in the current administration?

    If you don't, then wake the fuck up.

  • Acreon||

    Yes.

  • Killazontherun||

    Yep. Note all the 'tards coming out of the woodwork with their aww, just shucks naivete.

  • ||

    Fuel prices has nothing to do with politics... it's called the "free market".

    There is not rapid inflation. The CPI has been increasing in the low single-digits for years.

    A President's not going to change the GLOBAL economy.

  • ||

    Fuel prices have everything to do with politics. Saber-rattling at Iran, cutting off exploration of reserves and barring offshore drilling all have a negative effect on the supply.

    Rapid inflation of commodities is being offset by rapidly declining property values, keeping the CPI steadier than the real inflation people are seeing in consumable goods.

    A president's exclusionary and belligerent policies toward trade partners will effect the global economy, especially since we are the world's largest consumer.

    But you're a troll, so maybe this is all news to you.

  • ||

    "Sabre-rattling at Iran"
    Err... the right is much more aggressive towards Iran than the left. Obama's the one urging diplomacy while the Republican candidates are the ones urging force.

    Food has been increased last year at most 5%. I don't see that as too much inflation.

    Well, the recession's been mostly affected by the debt crisis in Europe and structural problems in the US economy. There's just not a lot the President can do about it. Bailout Europe by himself? Magically increasing the number of college grads?

  • ||

    This has to do with food prices through Obama's first two years.

    FTA: Some of the startling food price increases on a year-over-year basis include, fresh and dry vegetables up 56.1%, fresh fruits and melons up 28.8%, eggs for fresh use up 33.6%, pork up 19.1%, beef and veal up 10.7% and dairy products up 9.7%. On October 30th, 2009, NIA predicted that inflation would appear next in food and agriculture, but we never anticipated that it would spiral so far out of control this quickly.

    Nice try, dipshit.

  • ||

    Food...................... .5 .4 .2 .1 .2 .2 .0 3.9
    Food at home............. .6 .6 .2 .0 .2 .0 .0 4.5
    Food away from home (1).. .4 .2 .2 .3 .2 .4 .1 3.1

    4.5% since last year. You want to disagree with the Bureau of Labour Statistics then go ahead.

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm

    "The National Inflation Association is an organization that is dedicated to preparing Americans for hyperinflation"

    Obviously they have to choose hyperboles to justify their existence.

  • ||

    Err... the right is much more aggressive towards Iran than the left. Obama's the one urging diplomacy while the Republican candidates are the ones urging force.

    The right? The right that's out of power? The right that has no control over the military or aid to Israel? Even if that's true, the global markets worry about the here and now, not by what might happen in a year when somebody else might take control of the WH. And check me if I'm wrong, but two of the 4 GOP Candidates haven't said we need to do much of anything to Iran, and one of them's the nominal frontrunner.

  • MNG||

    "but two of the 4 GOP Candidates haven't said we need to do much of anything to Iran, and one of them's the nominal frontrunner"

    Are you talking about Romney?

  • MNG||

    "Well, it’s worth putting in place crippling sanctions. It’s worth working with the insurgents in the country to encourage regime change in the country. And if all else fails, if after all of the work we’ve done, there’s nothing else we could do besides mil — take military action, then of course you take military action. It is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. This term unacceptable has been applied by several presidents over history. And our current president has made it very clear that he’s not willing to do those things necessary to get Iran to be dissuaded from their nuclear folly. I will take a different course."

  • ||

    Then I stand corrected.

  • MNG||

    "We can’t afford to wait much longer, and we certainly can’t afford to wait through four more years of an Obama administration. By then it will be far too late. If the Iranians are permitted to get the bomb, the consequences will be as uncontrollable as they are horrendous. My foreign policy plan to avert this catastrophe is plain: Either the ayatollahs will get the message, or they will learn some very painful lessons about the meaning of American resolve."

  • ||

    Yeah. I haven't heard him saber-rattling like Santorum or Gingrich. Yeah, he says he'll "keep them in check," and "support Israel," but I've yet to hear him say the shit those other two have said.

    And allowing Israel to do their own thing isn't saber-rattling in my opinion.

  • MNG||

    I think our President should dissaude Israel from attacking, because the resulting conflict could damage us and our interests. And we should use our aid to try to dissaude them. But ulimtately it is Israel's decision whether they attack or not.

    But Romney has gone far past this advocating that WE must attack to end Iran's nuclear ambitions.

  • ||

    Then I still stand corrected.

    /sarc

  • Shorter MNG||

    fap, fap, fap, fap, fap, fap, fap, fap, fap, fap, fap, fap, fap, fap, fap..,

  • MNG||

    oops, now lil' Pippie's feelings are hurt too!

  • Killazontherun||

    If the Democrats want to run on a no inflation, no suffering of the middle class at the grocery store message, I'll I can say is, good luck with that. No, don't entertain any doubts, go with it. I'm sure it will be a huge success at the polls and not mistaken for callousness at all.

  • Killazontherun||

    er, no Happy Endings there!

  • ||

    Well, the recession's been mostly affected by the debt crisis in Europe and structural problems in the US economy. There's just not a lot the President can do about it. Bailout Europe by himself? Magically increasing the number of college grads?

    He's trying to magically increase the # of college grads, and it's causing the cost of a college education to skyrocket. And the fact that the Euros are fucking up the global economy has nothing to do with the current admin cutting off virtually all energy programs that aren't costly boondoggles that serve the purpose of enriching his donors at the expense of consumers' electric bills. And it's got nothing to do with the fact that his policies are destructive to farmers, fisherman, cattlemen and other producers of food.

    You're a regular just fucking with me, aren't you? No way you're real.

  • MNG||

    Actually, I don't think there is much the President can do either, and for me the proof is that across the West nations of varied backgrounds taking varied approaches are all doing poorly.

    But that's not why Obama should be criticized. He himself introduced the criteria of saying he would make things better. By his own standards, which he invited people to judge him on, he has failed.

  • ||

    But without many exceptions, all of those "varied approaches" involve increasing debt, meddling in successful private sectors and robbing of the productive to prop up costly failed initiatives.

    That, and so many of the successful European economies are tied to the Euro, which stifles economic growth by forcing social policies that are ineffective and burdensome.

  • ||

    As China and India become freer IRT government control of industry, it becomes wealthier (per capita).
    As Europe becomes less free in the same respects, it becomes poorer (per capita).

    It's not rocket science.

  • MNG||

    I actually think it is horribly complicated. If you took Freedom House's freedom rankings and correlated them with economic growth you'd find a positive correlation I'd bet, but it would not be a perfect one. Even in the states you find relatively low goverment states like Oklahoma doing worse than regulatory kingdoms like NY in many economic indicators. It's a mess.

  • JB||

    Seriously. That stimulus chart shows he was a liar or he was irresponsibly stupid.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Fred,

    Food has been increased last year at most 5%. I don't see that as too much inflation.


    Who cares what *you* think? Ask your mommy what she thinks about a 5% increase in her food budget - she's the adult.

  • Pip||

    "Err... the right is much more aggressive towards Iran than the left."

    Wake me up when you're done fucking your own mouth.

  • MNG||

    Ooooh, lil' Pippie's all upset at the leftist!

    You're just a big bundle of red hot impotent rage, aren't you?

  • Killazontherun||

    A big part of the current problem is Bernanke's QE is finally moving some excess monies around, and that is showing up in price speculation. It is a repeat of 2008 when the Fed injected fiscal stimulus into the economy in the Spring and early Summer, gas prices shot up, followed by the CPI, and the Bernanke was forced to take away the punch bowl. Looks like we are headed for a repeat.

  • ||

    Rapid inflation of commodities is being offset by rapidly declining property values, keeping the CPI steadier than the real inflation people are seeing in consumable goods.

    So, your day-to-day expenses are going up, while the value of your assets are going down.

    This is a lose-lose, not a win-win.

  • wareagle||

    sorry, but no. A few years back, Bush simply announced the lifting of the moratorium in domestic drilling and within six months, prices were below $2 a gallon. Politics can have a huge impact on the market. And we stopped having a free market long ago. We now have govt-controlled cartels in numerous industries.

  • Killazontherun||

    And suddenly out of nowhere leftist attempt to show some understanding of how prices function after almost a century of pure denial that Hayek had a point.

    Policy can effect price, that is why OPEC raised prices when Nixon severed the gold standard entirely. Oil is especially sensitive to the value of the dollar because it is traded in dollars. BTW -- Israelis conflict had nothing to do with it. Mere saber rattling by some nations like Libya at the time, but ultimately the oil sheiks don't give a fuck about Israel or Palestine.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Texas passing peak oil production in 1972 was not helpful either. Texas no longer could increase supply to weather any price shocks like the '73 embargo.

  • ||

    Oil prices have been increasing in every country. You think the US is an exception? Just becase we have 19B barrels of proven reserves? We have less oil than China, Nigeria, and Kazahkstan.

    http://www.indexmundi.com/g/r.aspx?c=us&v=97

  • Killazontherun||

    And that has nothing to do with the fiscal policy I'm talking about. Whether or not the Energy Information Administration, the basis of the CIA Factbook sourced here is correct or not, that information remains a constant in the situation I described in terms of fiscal policy and no way rebuts what I stated. I'm not dumbing it down any further to help you understand. Just get educated, 'kay?

  • Federal Dog||

    "(leaving aside the point that such violence is an utterly predictable feature of the black market created by prohibition)."

    You mean intentional, not "utterly predictable."

    Without illegality and danger, the black market collapses, and so do the profits of billions of cops, lawyers, judges, probation and parole officers, and COs -- not to mention the multibillion-dollar international therapy complex that had cropped up around it.

  • ||

    The law is badly drafted (all of it). As it currently reads, I can start a fight, and when I take a few punches, I can pull a gun and put you in the ground.

    That is not self-defense; you do not change from the aggressor to the victim if you start losing a fight you started.

    The statute on use of force specifically states that there are situations where you, as the aggressor, are permitted to kill your victim, if your victim is doing an especially effective job of kicking your ass.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I don't know the details of the case, but if it is written as you described, then it needs to be changed or scrapped for a better alternative.

    Or you could just become a cop and get the benefit of the doubt.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: R C Dean,

    The law is badly drafted (all of it). As it currently reads, I can start a fight, and when I take a few punches, I can pull a gun and put you in the ground.


    There's nothing to stop you from alleging self-defense sans the law if such a case happened, RC. What the law establishes is that there has to be reasonable intent to disengage from the action. This means that the person alleging self-defense must first prove or provide proof for his efforts to disengage from a situation that went out of control, a daunting task if there are few and reliable witnesses. The law is actually more restrictive and specific when it comes to accepting a self-defense allegation than simply relying on judicial or common sense.

  • ||

    Leaving aside the difficulties of proof and the fact that anyone can allege anything, what I find disturbing is that the statute states, as a matter of policy, that if you start a fight, are getting your ass kicked, and don't think yuo can just run away, you're allowed to kill the person you started a fight with.

    This statute, BTW, illustrates the pervasive danger of trying to do by statute what we used to do by common law: When trying to draft a rule to be applied everywhere and always, you will inevitably wind up with a rule that is either (a) incomprehensible gibberish, as it tries to take into account every possible situation, or (b) arbitrary and capricious.

  • Ex nihilo||

    R C Dean,

    That is the way I read it as well. A strange way to craft a law.

  • wareagle||

    A strange way to craft a law.
    ---------------------
    and crafted by legislators who, for the most part, are lawyers. Maybe the more correct title would the Attorney Job Enhancement Act since lawyers will have to hire even more lawyers to explain the law.

  • ||

    Read this

    he justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
    (1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
    (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
    (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or

  • ||

    (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

    And tell me how you come to that conclusion because I am not seeing it.

  • ||

    I'm focussing on (2)(a), where the person who starts the fight is denied self-defense "unless". And the statute then spells out when and how someone who started a fight is allowed to kill a person who was originally just minding their own business.

    Notice what happens in subsection (a): The victim of the initial aggressor successfully defends herself, and the initial aggressor is now given the protection of the law for what they do in response to successful self-defense.

    Scenario: a guy follows a woman out of a bar and harasses her to the point where she (justifiably) feels the need to defend herself. She pulls a gun on him, and tells him he isn't going anywhere until the police arrive. Now, he feels like his life is being threatened because a gun is pointed at him, and that he can't escape.

    So if he shoots her down, he has met every element of the statute for "self-defense."

  • ||

    Note, particularly, how the person who did not "provoke" the altercation becomes "the assailant" in the statute. WTF?

  • ||

    Don't forget (1). If you are attempting to commit or have committed a "forcible felony" you don't get the rule under any circumstances.

    So if the guy in your example, is really committing a crime, say trying to rape her or even sexually assaulting her, she can pull a gun on him and he doesn't get the benefit of the statute.

    I think the statute makes sense. Lets say the guy doesn't commit a violent felony. He is just harassing her and hitting on her but never touches her or in any way physically threatens her. How does she have the right to pull the gun? Yeah, if in response to a low level confrontation, you pull a gun and put my life in danger, I could see where I should have the right to defend myself even though I started it.

  • ||

    Don't forget (1). If you are attempting to commit or have committed a "forcible felony" you don't get the rule under any circumstances.

    So if the guy in your example, is really committing a crime, say trying to rape her or even sexually assaulting her, she can pull a gun on him and he doesn't get the benefit of the statute.

    IN RC Dean's example, he didn't indicate that the harasser committed a crime.

    The guy could be hitting on her and not taking no for an answer and persistent in trying to score a date or something. Not really a crime.

    Assuming no crime was committed, RC Deans illustrates that the woman could be justifiably killed in a situation where she is clearly a victim.

  • ||

    I think the statute makes sense. Lets say the guy doesn't commit a violent felony. He is just harassing her and hitting on her but never touches her or in any way physically threatens her. How does she have the right to pull the gun? Yeah, if in response to a low level confrontation, you pull a gun and put my life in danger, I could see where I should have the right to defend myself even though I started it.

    So she should wait until she is accosted or attacked?

    If she is walking away and telling him to leave her alone and he keeps following, at which point is she justified in drawing a weapon to get the guy to back off?

    A reasonable person would think that this persistent fellow might escalate to rape her or commit some other assault since he isn't taking no for an answer. If she wants to brandish her weapon as a deterrent, she should be allowed to be killed by the harasser.

  • ||

    Pretty much what CT says. The guy is just talking serious smack, basically threatening to rape her (or she reasonably percieves this to be the case).

    There's no forcible felony. Her actions in response are reasonable. He gets to tick off the two boxes (fear of death/harm, can't escape) where he is allowed to kill her without legal consequence.

    The point, like I mentioned above, is that it folly, IMO, to try to draft a law that tries to address every situation where self-defense might be justified, because reality is too complex and slippery.

    I've always been a fan of the common law for that reason. Its more bottom-up, organic/evolutionary, than top-down legislation. Its a great shame, I think, that the common law has been so largely displaced by legislation in this country.

  • Repairman Jack||

    The statute includes the words reasonably and reasonable. That makes it more of a guideline intended to influence the behavior of prosecutors and juries rather than a law that prevents the operation of common law.

    If the guy claims that his actions did not amount to a forcible felony, I doubt prosecutors or juries will believe that he could have reasonably believed she was about to shoot him or would have shot him in the back if he tried to run(making running away a reasonable means of escape).

    If anything it creates a weird situation where he would try to claim that what he was doing was bad enough that she would have shot him in the back if he ran, but not bad enough that he can't claim self-defense.

  • db||

    In most states that allow concealed carry, both of these people would already have committed a crime by walking into a bar with a gun in the first place. Just sayi '.

  • ||

    Its a juice bar, OK?

  • IWonder||

    I wonder what emotion most affects the mothers of blacks who have been killed by other blacks when those mothers hear about the Martin-Zimmerman case. Are the mothers angry that the media pays so much attention to Martin's while ignoring their own son's death? Are they envious that the Martin family have probably hit the legal damage award jackpot when their son was killed? Do they feel so much rage about the racial aspects of the Martin-Zimmerman case that they see their own son's death fades in significance?

  • ||

    "I am tired of burying young black boys," declared Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. If this was a black guy who shot a black guy, you would not have heard a thing about it. It is all bullshit. Sullum's piece above is the first time I've seen anyone really get at the crux of this. No one knows what happened. No one will ever know what happened.

  • ||

    Very true. And Zimmerman did show up with a bloody nose. If it is the case that the kid started a fight with the guy and got shot, I am not too concerned with this. Don't start fights.

  • MNG||

    Death for fight starters? WTF?

  • ||

    Yeah. If I come up and attack someone physically and get shot, I have no one but myself to blame.

  • MNG||

    If the guy has some reasonable idea that he's in danger of serious harm or death I'd agree, but killing everyone who starts a fight? That's nuts.

  • ||

    I think being physically attacked by a young male pretty much automatically creates the real danger of great bodily harm.

  • MNG||

    I'd bet most fights don't end in great bodily harm, so I think it's disproportionate to sanction deadly force for any fight.

  • ||

    A lot of them do. Most gun shots miss their targets. It doesn't have to be a guaranteed outcome, only a reasonably likely one.

  • MNG||

    Well, then you're actually agreeing with me, there has to be reasonable fear of great bodily injury, and a bloody nose is a great injury. It would be something for a jury to decide as to whether the interaction warranted that reasonable belief.

    But I wouldn't have a "bright line" rule that "whenever a young guy starts a fight deadly force can be used against them."

  • MNG||

    whoops-"a bloody nose is not a great injury"

    Young guys fight each other a lot. I don't think they should be able to kill one another whenever they do.

  • ||

    If a large, young male, physically assaults you, you are in great danger. And you are in a lot more danger than of just getting a bloody nose, especially if you are a woman or an older person.

    Sorry, I can't see the law as being, "well taking a beating is just part of life".

  • MNG||

    Have you never been in a fight with a large young male? I have and I never got "great bodily injury."

    WTF?

  • MNG||

    Young males committ most assaults, yet there are far, far more assaults than there are aggravated assaults. Most assaults by young males simply do not result in serious bodily injury. Sanctioning killing in response to a "garden variety" assault seems way out of proportion.

  • ||

    I don't know what to tell you MNG other than you had no idea the danger you were in. Getting hit in the face and assaulted creates a lot of risk of serious injury.

    Again, if the person is physically smaller or the assailant possess real fighting skills, the victim has no real way to defend themselves.

    If I go out on the street and just pick some poor bastard at random and start punching and kicking him, you really don't think that if that guy has a gun he has no right to use it? I think he does. If I didn't want to risk getting shot maybe I shouldn't go out and physically assault people.

  • MNG||

    I think what is going on during the fight is important in determining whether a person has a reasonable fear or serious bodily injury.

    I've seen guys punch a guy once or twice, the guy goes down, and they simply stand over them, talk smack and walk away. I don't think the guy on the ground should be legally able to shoot the attacker as he talked smack or was walking away. When the guy "brought it" to begin with might be another matter, factors such as the attacker and victims relative size, demeanor, etc., would have to be taken into account.

  • ||

    I've seen guys punch a guy once or twice, the guy goes down, and they simply stand over them, talk smack and walk away.

    After one bar brawl, where the loser was, yes, on the ground, the winner actually whipped it out and pissed on him.

    That, my friends, is how you win a fight.

  • ||

    Not in Afghanistan.

  • ||

    So how come Martin isn't allowed to "stand his ground" and punch Zimmerman in the first place (assuming he did)? It seems pretty well established that Martin initially tried to avoid Zimmerman.

  • MNG||

    Just like I'm not sure deadly force should always be allowed for assaults I don't think punching should necessarily be allowed for following people around...

  • JB||

    Many people have died from one punch or one push.

    Rational to be in fear for your life when someone takes a swing at you.

    Aside from trying to do me harm (how do I know how serious it will be?), why is someone physically attacking me? Because they are mad? Then they are the irrational one by attacking someone because they are angry.

  • ||

    We will never know, but...

    The 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman to not pursue or confront Martin. So that means he got out of the car anyway and either confronted or assaulted Martin (or confronted him, Martin told him to fuck off and Zimmerman attempted to restrain him.)

    From there, I can see a way that Zimmerman kills Martin in self-defense, but I don't see how he has any clean hands in any scenario. The fact is, if he had left Martin alone, the police would have taken care of it (Martin might have ended up dead anyway) or Martin would have just made it to his father's house and eaten his Skittles.

    Zimmerman's reckless behavior is the reason this kid is dead, however it played out. A neighborhood watch doesn't have police powers. And Zimmerman is not even attempting to present a case for a citizen's arrest gone awry.

  • ||

    The 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman to not pursue or confront Martin

    To me that is the most damning piece of evidence. He is a neighborhood watch guy. He did his job. He watched and he called the cops. When the cops told him to stay in his car, I can't for the life of me understand why he didn't do it.

    But at the same time, I find it hard to believe that Zimmerman, after calling the cops, just went up and shot the kid. There had to be some kind of confrontation.

  • ||

    To me that is the most damning piece of evidence.

    And to me it has zero bearing on the case. It is not up to the police to tell anyone what to do or what not to do over the phone. The dispatcher likely isn't a cop.

    Sorry, it's his actions that lead me to believe he stalked and confronted this kid, not the fact that he ignored what someone else with no standing told him to do. 911 dispatch giving people orders with the force of law is a pretty scary road to go down, IMO. I sure hope this case doesn't start us down it.

  • ||

    The dispatcher did have standing to tell him that. He knew the cops were on the way. No one was in any immediate danger. What justification did he have to confront the kid?

  • ||

    The dispatcher did have standing to tell him that.

    The person on the other end of 911 dispatch has no standing to give me an order. None at all.

    What justification did he have to confront the kid?

    That's why this needs to go before a grand jury instead of the kangaroo court of public opinion.
    ----------------------
    Caller (Sloopy): Yes, there's a guy breaking into my house and my baby is in the room he's coming into.
    911 Dispatch: Well, don't confront him. We're on our way.

    Caller (Sloopy): Fuck you. It's my child, not yours. Bring some trash bags.
    -------------
    Feel free to replace "child" with "property" and tell me you still feel that way, John.

  • MNG||

    sloopy, this guy was pretty far from being in his house with his baby and someone breaking in...

  • ||

    I was making a point about 911 dispatch giving orders to people. I guess it was a strawman, and I apologize for that.

  • ||

    sloopy, it's not about 911 orders to me. It's damning as to state of mind. He had done what was in his remit to do. Combine that with his "sick of those guys getting away with it" statement points to him taking police powers into his own hands without any evidence of a crime.

    Whether he shot Martin in accordance with self-defense law is immaterial given the fact that he engineered the confrontation leading up to it, in my mind.

    Without a positive and probably illegal act by Zimmerman, Martin has a good chance of still being alive.

  • MNG||

    "Whether he shot Martin in accordance with self-defense law is immaterial given the fact that he engineered the confrontation leading up to it, in my mind."

    That's a good point actually, but can't he legitimately say "even if I was following this guy around and was told not to keep following him, it's a free country, I have the right to follow a guy without him attacking me, and it was only when that happened I used deadly force on him?"

  • ||

    It's damning as to state of mind.
    I disagree.
    Combine that with his "sick of those guys getting away with it" statement points to him taking police powers into his own hands without any evidence of a crime.
    I totally agree with this statement.
    Whether he shot Martin in accordance with self-defense law is immaterial given the fact that he engineered the confrontation leading up to it, in my mind.
    Absolutely!
    Without a positive and probably illegal act by Zimmerman, Martin has a good chance of still being alive.
    Most certainly.
    ------------------
    I just don't like that John said his not "following orders" from some dumbass dispatcher that's probably not even a cop is the "most damning" piece of evidence. Especially when there are much more damning pieces of evidence that were positive statements and actions on his part.

  • MNG||

    Well, i'll actually defend John a bit here. I'm not sure it's damning because we must follow dispatcher authority, the problem is Zimmerman had no authority to follow, confront and detain the guy at all, and the 911 call officially reminds him he does not. Unless the guy ran at him in his car going about his business it seems like he engineered the confrontation, which seems contrary to the spirit of even a robust self defense law.

  • MNG||

    It's a thorny issue. I can't see how to write a robust self defense law that would address SF's point about engineering a confrontation, which certainly seems contrary to the spirit of self defense, but would also recognize that a person has the legal right to walk a safe distance behind someone through their neighborhood...Sadly we were'nt there so we don't know what led up to the actual shooting, so it's hard to say here.

  • A Serious Man||

    Martin has a right to walk the streets, Zimmerman can follow him but not initiate force against Martin, who has not aggressed himself against Zimmerman nor done anything wrong.

    But the lack of witnesses makes this difficult to prosecute, not the law. Even without the law where Zimmerman is immediatey arrested and has to justify his claim to self-defense I don't think a jury could convict him, at least not of anything worse than manslaughter since Zimmerman firing the gun in the heat of a physical altercation is not premeditated nor an attempt to create a deadly situation.

  • A Serious Man||

    Zimmerman had zero reason to confront Martin nor any authority to do so. Having established this, the issue is therefore whether or not Martin intiated aggression against Zimmerman to the point where he Zimmerman may reasonably have feared for his life. If Martin told Zimmerman to fuck off and Zimmerman initiated contact, then Zimmerman loses his legal right to self-defense because he started the confrontation without cause.

    Unfortuantly without witnesses other than Zimmerman there is no way to prove what happened, so Zimmerman, under this law, gets the benefit of the doubt. I still say the police and DA are at fault for incompetence rather than the law itself.

  • ||

    Yeah, and I agree with you. It's just that there were so many positive actions Zimmerman made and statements he made which point to his state of mind a lot more than the order he didn't follow.

    As I stated yesterday, the only way this gets any clearer is if cellphone trinagulation is used to determine where each person was at each moment of the event. And I'd be willing to bet it would show Zimmerman started it without standing.

    I know I'm coming across as being pedantic here, but I do not want this used as a reason to give police dispatchers authority to give orders. And people saying it showed his state of mind when there are much more obvious statements and actions he took that do so, irritates me because I can see where it will lead.

  • ||

    ^^This^^ was to SF's comment that began: sloopy, it's not about 911 orders to me.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    And to me it has zero bearing on the case. It is not up to the police to tell anyone what to do or what not to do over the phone.

    I see, but it's up to the mall ninja to decide who's allowed in the neighborhood and to start a fight with anyone who rightly tells him to fuck off?

  • Butts Wagner||

    There had to be some kind of confrontation.

    According to the GF, there was. Martin asked Zimmerman why he was being followed and who he was. Zimmerman only responded with "Who are you?" and after that the phone was hung up(by whom or how, we don't know).

    At this point, shouldn't Zimmerman have said "I'm with neighborhood watch, I don't recognize you from the neighborhood. Do you live here? Who are you staying with?" And that probably would have been enough to diffuse the situation. Plus, the cops were already on their way.

    Zimmerman had a lot of outs to avoid the situation.

  • ||

    Prosecutors Do Not Like Law That Makes It Harder to Prosecute People

    Sorry, I only recently learned how to do strikethrough, so I'm still in the "playing around" phase.

  • T||

    Only when they think they can win, Karl.

  • Liberty||

    ... of the many, many things I love about the dear Libertarians, one of my favorite is how they can look at a tragedy, really anything, and determine the truly guilty party, the one most deserving of scorn, is the liberals. It's how you know libertarians are non-partisan.

  • ||

    how they can look at a tragedy, really anything, and determine the truly guilty party, the one most deserving of scorn, is the liberals.

    [citation required]

  • Zeb||

    Sentiment seems to be pretty strongly in favor of holding the shooter most responsible in this case. And those Reason writers are pretty clever. Some can even think about two different things in one day.

  • ||

    "...the one most deserving of scorn, is the liberals." Yep.

    Although, in fairness I should point out that I dont consider myself a true Libertarian.

  • T||

    Have you cleared your status with MNG or Tony? They're the true arbiters of libertarianess.

  • ||

    1.) they're responses to a response to a NYT article

    2.) perhaps if you want civil and insightful commentary you're just going to have to find it elsewhere

  • ||

    As I understand it, there are two phone calls that were taped: Zimmerman's call with the 911, and I swear I thought I heard part of a recording of Martin's call with his girlfriend this morning on the teevee.

    Is that right, or am I misunderstanding something?

  • Butts Wagner||

    I thought the GF's call was just recounted by the family's lawyer. There are the multitude of residents 911 calls saying there's a fight, someone's screaming for help, there was a single shot fired, etc.

  • ||

    So, we have 911 tapes of Zimmerman chasing him through the area.

    We have Zimmerman's story that he was jumped from behind.

    And we have confirmation that Martin was on the phone with his girlfriend at the time, and her claim of how the confrontation went down (Zimmerman challenged Martin, who answered, and there was a scuffle).

    Given the two conflicting stories, I think there is more than enough to ask a grand jury to look it over, and I couldn't complain if a jury decided to believe her (frankly, unless we learn that this kid had a history of violence, I think her account is more credible).

    Could a jury look at all this, decide that Zimmerman started the physical confrontation based on her testimony? Sure.

    Under the horribly drafted statute, would that strip Zimmerman of his self-defense claim? Maybe, maybe not. Was he committing a "forcible felony" when he shoved the kid?

  • ||

    And I think, absent the statute, that a jury would be hard-pressed to conclude both (a) Zimmerman started/provoked the physical confrontation and (b) Zimmerman is allowed to shoot someone down after they land a punch, when he started the fight.

  • ||

    easy to say he just landed a punch. How do you know he had no training, or the punch was very effective, people have died from one punch. How bout this; do you KNOW the person attacking you with hands only will stop when you are knocked out or break your neck...you dont so take no chances. people that think along the lines of "force matching" are idiots.

  • ||

    So, if we're arguing, I shove you, and you take a swing at me, you would have no complaints if I pulled a gun and greased you on the spot?

  • JB||

    Your shove is the start of the physical altercation. You are the one committing the crime and cannot get immunity.

  • ||

    Neighborhood Watch.

    Someone should have explained to Zimmerman the definition of the word 'watch'.

  • 911 Dispatcher||

    Lord knows I tried.

  • db||

    This is why mall guards are seldom armed with more than pepper spray. I am dumbfounded that the neighborhood watch permitted its members to go armed. Most of these types of watch programs (albeit run in conjunction witg a law enforcement agency, not a homeowners' association) explicitly prohibit carriage of weapons oby members on duty. It's a liability thing for the watch organization.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Most of these types of watch programs (albeit run in conjunction witg a law enforcement agency, not a homeowners' association) explicitly prohibit carriage of weapons by members on duty. It's a liability thing for the watch organization. [emphasis added]

    As we are about to find out in Houston, where a neighborhood rent-a-cop just shot a resident's dog. Grabbing the resident and putting them between you and the dog, before shooting the Weimaraner in the leg was a nice touch.

  • ||

    I don't have the time for the investigation required to determine whether this was a legitimate use of force. I think a grand jury is a grand idea. But as I've pointed out a couple times already, what makes me sick and depressed is the fact that these race baiters really don't give two shits about "black boys" being buried. If they did, they would be marching in the streets every day. Because every day at least one, and usually more than one, young black man or boy is gunned down, stabbed, or beaten to death by another young black man or boy. They just want to score points and votes. And, of course, support strict gun laws that will in no way reduce the violence.

  • sounds real good||

    Quote from story on The Daily Beast: "Whether or not Zimmerman was an official neighborhood watchman or was self-appointed is now a matter of dispute. The National Sheriffs’ Association, which runs the Neighborhood Watch Program, said it has 'no information indicating the community where the incident occurred has ever even registered with the NSA Neighborhood Watch program,' NSA executive director Aaron D. Kennard said in a statement.

    Good info about Zimmerman's personal history at this link as well.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/a.....hbors.html

  • ||

    One more thought, and I'll shut up on this one:

    The kid had a cell phone on him, and yet nobody at the police department ever, apparently, thought to take a look at it. If so, they would have seen he was on the phone right up until he died, and who he was on the phone with.

    But they never did that. Yeah, they really conducted a thorough investigation here. Real CSI stuff.

  • ||

    I have a lot of questions about this too. But it's worth noting that it was apparently dark enough to use flashlights, and we don't really know when they found the phone. The really damning thing that's actually known and provable, is that they did get hold of Martin's phone records, and they didn't even bother to call a person who was talking to him right at the time of the incident.

  • sounds real good||

    They took Zimmerman's word and let him walk off. In a situation like this, it should be like, de rigeuer to take seriously the possibility that the shooting was not justified. The cops just didn't give a shit.

  • Model Penal Code, bitches||

    Section 3.04(1)(B)

    The use of deadly force is not justifiable ... if ... the actor, with the purpose of causing death or serious bodily injury, provoked the use of force against himself in the same encounter[.]

    So, did Zimmerman provoke Martin to use force, with (on Zimmerman's part) the purpose of causing death or serious bodily injury to Martin?

  • ||

    ask Zimm. Only he knows what happened as he remembers it.

  • Model Penal Code, bitches||

    Trial should be interesting, if he doesn't cop a plea.

  • Model Penal Code, bitches||

    Florida § 776.041. Use of force by aggressor

    The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:

    (1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or

    (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:

    (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or

    (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant ....

  • ||

    the law (stand your ground) does not make it harder to prosecute, but gives power back to the people. Countless police have done worse than this and continue to do so. We have too many laws and too many organizations telling us what to do. I bet he walks.

  • ||

    Would you guys support a "clarification" of SYG saying that it doesn't apply when you're initiating the confrontation, as Zimmerman clearly was? It seems to me the law was intended for situations where you're minding your own business and someone attacks you.

  • ||

    It seems to me the law was intended for situations where you're minding your own business and someone attacks you.

    Except that the law specifically authorizes you to kill someone in certain circumstances when you start the fight.

  • Model Penal Code, bitches||

    Yes. This is what people don't seem to get.

  • db||

    This is a good question. I am just about the least confrontational person around (in person, not on the internet) so I don't think I would ever fear people like me initiating conflict and then killing, but these kinds of lawz aren't typically drafted to deal with people like me. I think it might be a fair exclusion but i would have to think more about it.

  • Killazontherun||

    It is not a good political atmosphere to do so, but the law does need clarifying. However, its application in this case to me looks murky at best. Hard to see the prosecution dropping it on this bases with only the injuries as proof. Let Zimmerman make his case in court if this is indeed the thin reed he is grasping.

  • db||

    I agree here. There is enough questionable information about this case that it should go at least to the grand jury stage. The local prosecutor should be fired for incompetence.

  • JB||

    "clearly was"? Has it been shown that Zimmerman started the physical altercation?

    Asking someone a question or even calling them a name is not a crime. Physical assault is.

  • db||

  • ||

    (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:

    (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm

    So if, in the course of a large generalized snowball fight, somebody throws a snowball at a car and the driver exits the vehicle brandishing a handgun...

  • Model Penal Code, bitches||

    By George, I think he's got it!

  • db||

    It's OK if the driver is a police officer.

  • shrike||

    Abolish the wages system

  • IceTrey||

    Zimmerman initiated the confrontation. He was the aggressor. You can't be the aggressor, shoot somebody and then claim self defense.

  • JB||

    You know this for a fact? You know that Zimmerman started the physical confrontation?

    Walking around, asking questions, etc. are not crimes.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    But the crucial question in distinguishing between self-defense and criminal homicide is what happened during the ensuing altercation, when Zimmerman, who emerged from the fight with a bloody nose and a cut on the back of his head, claimed he feared he might be killed or seriously injured.

    Bullshit, you can't start a fight, pull a gun when you realize you're losing, and then claim self defense. If anyone was exercising self defense, it was Martin, who had a right to protect himself from the crazy mall ninja chasing him around with a gun.

  • JB||

    Who stared the fight? Whoever physically assaults someone is the one who stared the fight.

    Has that been established?

  • ||

    I can't speak to the other cases that have left Florida prosecutors feeling powerless, but if this one has them feeling that way, that is disturbing.

    I don't want to be just left alone by the government. I want to be left alone by other people, unless I'm actually breaking the law.

    Here we have a guy with what appears to be a criminal record, armed with a gun, in a citizens' watch program that has explicitly warned the participants not to initiate confrontations with people acting suspiciously who chases after then initiates a confrontation with an innocent kid with no criminal record whatsoever for being "suspicious." And at least part of the suspicion was based on the kid's race. And--and this is not a hate crime issue--the guy used a racial slur to describe him.

  • ||

    If Zimmerman can't be prosecuted, then this law is a license just to screw around with people and avoid charges when you kill them after they lawfully defend themselves. I'm not going to be on board with that.

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