Steve Klingaman

Steve Klingaman
Location
Minneapolis, Minnesota,
Birthday
January 01
Title
Consultant/Writer
Bio
Steve Klingaman is a nonprofit development consultant and nonfiction writer specializing in personal finance and public policy. His music reviews can be found at minor7th.com.

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 11, 2012 5:24PM

Ten Reasons to Repeal Stand Your Ground Laws

Rate: 30 Flag

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Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin support the repeal of Stand Your Ground Laws nationwide.

photo: examiner.com

The most absurd moment in the Travyon Martin Stand Your Ground killing came on March 13, when Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee stated that he could not arrest George Zimmerman because there were no grounds to disprove George Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense.  That was the moment anyone in their right mind should have concluded that Stand Your Ground laws are ridiculous.  When you get to kill the other guy, claim self defense and walk, solely because you claimed self defense, we know we have a problem.

            The fact that Zimmerman carried, and used, a firearm while serving as a neighborhood watch volunteer should have been enough for Bill Lee to conclude that something was amiss.  The fact that the police didn’t even test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol, while Travyon Martin’s body was tested, should be enough for any observer to conclude the presumption of innocence afforded shooters claiming self defense has been exponentially expanded by the Stand Your Ground laws that are now found in more than two dozen states.

Why We Should Repeal Stand Your Ground Laws 

            Stand Your Ground laws should be repealed because:

1.       They require “law enforcement officials to prove that a suspect did not act in self-defense. [NYT] ” This burden of proof is a bridge too far on the presumption-of-innocence continuum.  You cannot prove motive with confidence on the basis of circumstantial evidence when the other guy happens to be dead.

2.       They protect shooters from civil suits, where the burden of proof for a civil judgement is lower. This means that when the state doesn’t press charges, no civil options remain to the victim’s family.

3.       Many of the victims have been unarmed--12 of 13 studied in a recent Orlando Sentinel investigation.

4.       Police chiefs do not understand the laws, and thus abrogate their duty to fully investigate in the first crucial hours following a shooting, allowing vital forensic evidence to be destroyed.

5.       Clueless gun owners, like George Zimmerman, who are inclined to ignore or misunderstand regulations regarding use of a firearm, will falsely believe they have rights that they do not, in reality, possess.

6.       They encourage vigilantism by codifying a set of assumptions that magnifies the real degree of threat posed by “suspicious” persons possessed of unknown intent.  This effect is exacerbated by racial profiling, as well as outright racism, and further fueled by the now infamous “hoodie effect.”

7.       They represent an attempt to “normalize” the use of firearms in situations where the standard of proof is that of “feeling threatened,” a standard that is not codified with a shred of objective criteria under the laws.

8.       People under investigation for having committed a crime involving the use of a firearm already possess a presumption of innocence.

9.       They serve to reinforce the brutality of American society, driven by a paranoid sense of threat experienced by certain armed civilians.

10.    They represent a license to kill.  And, as I have said before, it’s not gun nuts who bother me, it’s nuts with guns. I agree with Chattanooga, Tennessee gun enthusiast Sally Peterson who told WRCB TV, "You can't approach a person and draw your gun. I just think there are too many wannabe cops.”

            Perhaps Stand Your Ground laws, also known as “Shoot First” laws, should be called Last Man Standing Laws, because the last man standing in a fatal altercation calls the shots, so to speak.  And it seems to me that the last man standing in a Zimmerman-Martin type situation always claims self-defense.  The expansion of this presumption of innocence creates an impossible situation for prosecutors when there are no witnesses, which plays nicely into the hands of those who would commit murder, intentional or otherwise.  While it has always been a goal of those so inclined to avoid witnesses, under Stand Your Ground laws they really do have a free-shot zone.

State legislators from across the nation have begun to call for the repeal of the law, echoing the comments of South Carolina State Sen. Robert Ford, who said, “This could happen to anybody — it doesn’t have anything to do with race or political party.” In Georgia, civil rights advocate Rev. Markel Hutchins announced his intention to file a lawsuit challenging that state’s Stand Your Ground Law.

Conservative papers in conservative states, papers like the Wichita Eagle, are calling for the reconsideration of Stand Your Ground laws on the grounds that they can be construed as “license to kill” laws.

What we need here is for Trayvon Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, to reach out to the more than one million signers of the Change.org petition calling for George Zimmerman’s arrest to sign a petition calling for the repeal of the laws nationwide.

Momentum for Repeal Builds in Florida

The Orlando Sentinel called for repeal of all Stand Your Ground laws as early as March 21, stating in an editorial,  “‘Stand Your Ground’ laws in Florida and other states should all be repealed. At best, they are redundant. At worst, as in the Trayvon Martin killing, they are nothing but a license to kill.”

Even before that, on March 25, Rev. Jesse Jackson called for making the repeal of Stand Your Ground the centerpiece of a voter registration drive in Florida, citing some 700,000 unregistered black voters who might be motivated by the prospect of the law's repeal.

On the issue of Florida gun laws, the leadership of another paper, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, has been notable. According to the New York Daily News, the paper’s finding that in 13 stand-your-ground cases 12 of the victims had not been armed sparked Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-NY) call that the Justice Department review these laws nationwide.

Buddy Jacobs, general counsel of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, cited the Stand Your Ground law’s unintended effects on cases involving drug killings in calling for its repeal during a task force hearing, saying, “Our conclusion is that this law ought to be repealed.  We don’t think it’s a thing we can tweak.”

Protesters in Florida calling for the repeal of Stand Your Ground got Senator Marco Rubio’s attention this week. According to NBC Miami, Rubio said, “I don't know what happened in this case, but 'Stand Your Ground' does not allow you to chase somebody and shoot them," he said. "So I'm not saying that's what happened in this case, but if it happened in this case or in any other case, 'Stand Your Ground' doesn't apply.”

But Senator Rubio may be wrong about this.  The dearth of facts regarding the specifics of the altercation, combined with the Stand Your Ground effect of forcing the government to prove that the perpetrator did not act in self defense may in fact allow for a possible chase-and-shoot killing to stand for what Zimmerman claims it to be.  This remains true even though he has now been charged with second degree murder. That’s what’s wrong with Stand Your Ground laws. That, and the death of Trayvon Martin.

* * *

Other Articles in this Series

Trayvon Martin’s Deadly Skittles Run - March 19, 2012

Veto the Minnesota “Shoot First” Law - February 28, 2012

Shooting First in Minnesota - May 11, 2011

 

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Thom Hartmann on his radio program has been asking the callers who are in favor of the Stand Your Ground laws without thinking it through clearly if they believe if he were to chase them down on the street should they have the right to punch him if he gets close enough for that to happen? They say yes. Then he asks if they think it's ok then if he shoots them for that since he felt threatened.
The answers generally indicate a profound misconstrusion and inability to think.
The last one I heard said ," Yes I should be able to shoot you". Hartmann said "No. Me shoot you. I'm the one with the gun.That's the issue."

The caller just went blank.
Seems to me that "stand your ground" laws have been enacted as an apeasement to those who believe that the 2nd amendment is the summum bonum of America. I am not aware whether or not there have been any constituional challenges to this law, Steve. Are you? Repeal is the easiest route to take. But I would also dearly love to see a constitutional interpretation that "stand your ground" laws do not meet a "clear and present danger" test except in an intance of abject self-defense.
Walter, To my knowledge there have been none.
Yes, these laws should be repealed on the ground of vagueness alone. But there's a much larger problem here than even these horrific laws.
This legislation was pushed thru (financed) by the NRA -- which is still defending these foolish laws -- and demanding more -- much more.

By what warped definition of "a well-armed militia" are people allowed to show up armed -- in some cases with automatic weapons -- at Teapartian rallies, Amtrak trains and now even after Columbine and VT, college campuses? The "logic" of these fools is that we'll all be safer if everybody on the street and in their cars are armed to the teeth.

Anybody who believes such nonsense should be sentenced to watch a double-feature each waking hour for the next year. The movies? Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" and Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine".
Congrats on the EP Steve! Hopefully, all your good points will come out in the trial & they'll see that "Stand Your Ground" doesn't have a leg to stand on.
Does anyone know...if it was in fact, a Gated Community - was Trayvon already checked thru it? R
Thanks for this thoughtful post, Steve. "They serve to reinforce the brutality of American society" should be enough reason for all of us to want to change these laws.
I agree this law should be repealed or modified. It is based on the whole “reasonable man” theory, a totally subjective, nonstandard in law. “Reasonably” “feeling” threatened is no just standard, and allows people to kill others who do not objectively pose any harmful threat.

Instead, a person should be able to use deadly force to defend themselves only against a clear, overt act of aggression. Anyone who kills another, even if their claim is self-defense, but can not show that a clear, manifest threat was present should be held strictly liable.
Great summing up Steve though I'm not sure I understood point 8. haven't the number of "justifiable" homicides in Florida triples since the law was enacted?
"When you get to kill the other guy, claims self defense and walk, solely because you claimed self-defense, we know we have a problem."

This sums up everything, except for the fact that Zimmerman stalked the Trayvon. If the victim was a white woman instead, Zimmerman would've been charged on day 1.
btw - great post, as always, and it got me all riled up again after watching Zimmerman just turn himself in ~
#1 Reason?
The law makes Americans look stupider than normal.
The law seems most likely to result in more people ending up dead.

The hope of those that favor the law is that the dead people will be the bad guys.

I don't see that as especially likely.
Stand your ground Law is an offspring of the second amendment -- the right bear arms. In the eighteenth century this law may be justifiable. In this 21st century the right to bear arms should be the prerogative of the police and other trained members of the law enforcement agents.
It seems the society has left substance and is now chasing the shadow. The problem is not with ''stand your ground law'' It's with 2nd amendment. Folks who want to RAMBO can join the military . There are, a lot place all over the world they can exhibit their talents. Places like demilitarized-zone In Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq , Colombia, Philippines etc , etc, -- and by so doing they will be helping to protect US interest in those places. Is that not a good idea?
Scenario: I carry a gun; I am approached by another person carrying a gun; I shoot him dead because I feel threatened by being approached by a person with a gun. Sounds like the plot of every Dodge City movie ever made not America in the 21st century, except Wyatt Earp made them check their guns before they came into town.R
How does someone feel threatened by an unarmed teen that they decided to pursue? Why are crazies and guns so frequently part of the same package? And yeah, who's going to say what happened when one of two people is dead? Great article summing up the outright absurdity of this lovely piece of legislation. Repeal is the only way to restore some sanity.
So, in essence, because you don't like the way this law has been applied in a few cases in which you are unaware of "all" the facts you want the entire law repealed...everywhere?

If you want to hide in a closet while your family is raped and / or slaughtered..so be it. However, just because this is your choice doesn't mean the rest of us must give-in to someone accosting us.

The good ole throw the baby out with the bathwater
There's some movement towards repealing the law in several states and on a federal level. This is a good thing because it wasn't needed in the first place, as you always have had the right to defend yourself.

Ol' "StandUR" up above me is a good example of somebody who doesn't understand what this is about. There has never been a duty to run or hide from an intruder in your own home and if the "Stand your Ground" laws are thrown away that won't change.

Hopefully this case will prompt some public education on why it's a bad law. I think common sense, District Attorneys and cops will defeat the NRA and reactionary state legislators who pass carbon-copied laws.
Steve,

Point 3 you name the Orlando Sentinel investigation of unarmed shootings. The only article I found related to Police shooting the unarmed not stand your ground. Do you have a link?

Point 6 you believe it will increase vigilantism, which if I understand the law the Stand your ground law would provide no legal protection of anyone seeking out trouble or crime on their own. The law was written for defense only and allows those who are being attacked to defend themselves from an attacker.

I know vigilantism is a big buzz word to insight fear, but the history of vigilantism began in unregulated areas that had no civil law and protection. In the case of self defense, it is not vigilantism because the law allows for self defense therefore the defender is not taking the law into their own hands. The Stand Your Ground and Castle laws only protect those who are justifiable in harms way and places the burden on the aggressor and prosecutor not the defender to prove if deadly force was warranted.

In my state we have CCW permits, and to-date over 30,000 have been issued. 45 have been revoked because of infractions and violations of the law. No actual unjustifiable shootings have resulted from those with permits despite the critics claiming there would be blood baths in the street. It just didn't happen. The reasons are simple. To have the permit you must have a criminal background check, attend classes to know the law and how to apply the law and have training in the safe use of the weapon. Something I personally advocate for all gun owners even if they do not carry a concealed weapon.

I have no idea if Zimmerman is guilty and that is up to the courts to decide, but this case does illustrate another very important point. Zimmerman did call 911 and by the time the police arrived the crime and shooting was over. This is the crux of private citizens having a means to defend themselves. The police cannot protect you in most cases. They can only respond when a crime takes place and even a response of minutes most likely will be to late for the victim. Even in cases of known danger such as a estranged spouse or stalkers who repeatably threaten victims with harm. They cannot act until they actually kill their victim.
M Todd, My mistake, it was the Florida Sun Sentinel that did the survey referenced in the article, as reported by the New York Daily News. Too many Sentinels. I have corrected the reference above. Thanks for being my fact checker.

As to vigilantism, the Merriam Webster definition of a vigilante includes "a self-appointed doer of justice." One who chooses to stand one's ground and shoot to kill rather than retreat or withdraw in the face of a perceived threat fits the bill in my opinion. And then, as I pointed out, in number 5, clueless gun owners, like Zimmerman the armed neighborhood watch volunteer, will be prone to misunderstanding the provisions and intent of this law.
Steve thanks, will look up the reference. I would agree those who are ignorant of the law are a greater danger especially if they are armed. My point about the vigilantism is the Stand Your Ground (when applied correctly) is not taking the law into your own hands because the law already allows for self defense which is by definition not taking the law into our own hands. Nor is it license to become an self appointed armed crusader. I have no idea if Zimmerman was justified. From my vantage point, he was not because he pursued and the pursuit resulted in the altercation. Even if Trayvon attacked him (as Zimmerman and an eye witness testified) I feel Zimmerman cannot use the Stand Your Ground defense because his pursuit contributed to the altercation that could be avoided.

Fact is no amount of law will prevent stupid people from doing stupid things. And I would agree an armed person is more dangerous than an unarmed person. This danger is multiplied when the person is an aggressor, criminal, angry, or just plan stupid.

I myself have a CCW permit. I choose to not carry a weapon for three reasons. One I live in a relatively safe environment and do not see the need to carry a gun. Two. Anyone who has carried a concealed weapon understands it is a pain in the ass to carry on the off chance they will need one. And three I just do not want the day to day responsibility of having the ability to use deadly force in the event of a crime taking place in my presents. Taking a life is a serious and devastating thing even if it is totally justified. Something I would rather not have to experience.

With that said I do understand that there are those who live and work in less than safe environments and I have no problem with private citizens owning and having guns. But, I am also a strong advocate of mandatory training in both the law of having a gun and the proper use and safe handling of a gun. Just because it is a right does not mean it is void of common sense responsibility. I have had family members ask me to go with them to buy a gun for protection. I tell them unless they are willing to take a class in gun safety and use they would be better off not owning a gun.
Steve, Is the article you are sighting?
Under Stand Your Ground law, a spike in justifiable homicides — but there may be many causes April 01, 2012|By Robert Nolin, Kathleen Haughney and Dana Williams, Sun Sentinel

According to this article homicides in Florida are up overall and 60% of all justified homicides were police doing the shooting. The majority of victims were committing a felony at the time they were shot. As for the racial element of white citizen shooting blacks the Zimmerman case does not fit the norm. Since 2006 black shooting blacks was 38% followed by whites shooting whites 34%. 16% were whites shooting blacks and 4% of blacks shooting whites. If anything it shows most shootings are the result of same race groups shooting each other with the majority involving a victim committing a felony crime.

The real number that would reflect public safety is how many innocent people were shot as a result of the Stand Your Ground law that did not involve a felony crime. That is the real number not how many criminals shot each other or how many criminals were shot by police or private citizens while committing a felony, especially a violent felony against an innocent person.
Mr. Klingaman,

Terrific piece. These are laws spawned by the crowd that's not content to just conceal and carry - they want to shoot, too. The state has a high burden in proving guilt in the criminal arena, as it should. But these laws, as you point out, create logically odd and practically impossible burdens. Well done.
Stand your ground laws get enacted because of the ridiculous standards that get applied in their absence. This PARTICULAR law is both badly written, and over-reaches in the other direction. Mostly in that it creates presumptive judgments. It OK in my book if the law says I get to shoot someone whenever a reasonable person would be in fear of serious harm or death. But I think that, any time anyone kills someone in my country, they should be expected and required to face a jury and explain themselves. And I think that if you CREATE the confrontation, the standard for "reasonable fear" ought to be higher than if you're accosted while minding your own business. Note that, myth and mis-statement to the contrary, the standard isn't "fear", it's "reasonable fear". You can't just "feel threatened", your fear has to be reasonable, and it most codes that I've seen require that your fear be of death or serious/grievous injury.
Goedjn, The Florida law states that the standard of reasonableness is as follows: "to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force."

It is not the fear "of death or serious/grievous injury" as you surmise, it's unlawful force. That could be a punch in the face.

A Minnesota law that was enacted but vetoed was closer to what you envisioned: "the individual reasonably believes is an offense or attempted offense that imminently exposes the individual or another person to substantial bodily harm, great bodily harm, or death; or
[6.27] (3) to resist or prevent what the individual reasonably believes is the commission or imminent commission of a forcible felony."

Note the "or" clause. A forcible felony might be an armed robbery. A person approaches you from an alley with a knife and asks for your wallet. No need to attempt to flee. You shoot them dead. Self defense. It's simple, isn't it?

Most all of these laws, despite their differences, adhere rather closely to NRA templates. The Florida law was clearly an NRA project according to the New York Times.
The Mirror Endlessly Reflected
Trayvon Frenzy,
Sets the bar,
Down, down, down,
Farther than far...
... Who's the villain?
Who's the superstar?

Chris Roberts
We live in a violent racist society. "Stand your ground" laws just legalize more American gun mayhem.
'Stand Your Ground' has the same logic as Date Rape: I have the right; I paid to entertain you, now it's my time .... Not to wax Freudian, but women are not -- almost ever -- considered gun nuts. They do not have the fascination with an awesome power held in one's hand to control the situation. It is this simple.
Tom - few people are allowed to show up anywhere with an "automatic" weapon. There are a finite number of licenses for automatic weapons. The licenses and the weapon ate tied at the hip.
The license belongs not only to the owner but also to the weapon.
For me to buy automatic weapon from someone that has one, I have to register and qualify. He has to transfer the license and the weapon to me. Should the weapon be destroyed for some reason I cannot simply replace it and apply thee current to it. Once a weapon in destroyed that license is essentially useless. The exception is if the specific weapon is still being manufactured you possibly can replace it and have it associated with license. Automatics cost up to 10 times the value of the weapon because of he limited licenses. Even if I fully qualify I cannot simply ask for a new gun to be manufactured and a new license be issued .

Maybe you are confusing what an automatic weapon is. Handguns that are refereed to as automatic are in fact semi-automatic. It is a mis use of the term to differentiate between a revolver and a clip hand gun. Both are semi-automatic.

Civilian versions of M16, Ar-15, and other rifles are semiautomatic. Having to pull the trigger once for each fire is not automatic. Automatic means pull and hold once and the weapon fires until empty.
Steve - "One who chooses to stand one's ground and shoot to kill rather than retreat or withdraw in the face of a perceived threat fits the bill in my opinion."

I guess when you say perceives threat you mean not a conclusive threat. Well you draws the line. When I am dead I guess I will then know my perception was correct.

I assume you are not a gun owner. Whether so or not, do you really want to HAVE to run away out of your own home . The required retreat laws force people risk their lives for fear to defend themselves.

The only reason I have a CHL is because of the vagueness of the law to carry a gun in a vehicle. Laws like ones that state you can go from point A to B if you have a specific reason have a gun. Typical would be from home to gun range. Same law says if you alter your course from the most direct route from A to B (stop at an out of the way store or a friends house) and you are now illegal.

The CHL allows me to carry, the .01% of the time I do, without vagueness. It also REQUIRES ,which many don not know, that the gun be CONCEALED. Revealing it or even having it show through clothing is illegal. Pulling it because someone flipped you off is illegal. You cannot reveal it unless you have a damn good reason.

I does mean I can have it loaded in the car under seat, rather than unloaded in the trunk with reasonable separation of gun and bullets.

And I am sure you will love this, but whenever I a stopped for a traffic violation (rarely), I show the CHL with the DL (that is also required by law) the police actually react well. The 2 times I have been pulled over for failing to signal, both officers asked why I did NOT carry all the time. Both let me go after determing I was not drunk of wanted for anything.
Jos. re: "Whether so or not, do you really want to HAVE to run away out of your own home."

I cannot believe for one second, after all the news coverage, the blogs, the commentary, and my four pieces on this topic that you actually think we are talking about what goes on in one's own home--the castle doctrine. It would be unthinkable that anyone would come here and think we were talking about that, when we say we are talking about Stand Your Ground laws. Unbelievable. We are not.
"Whether so or not, do you really want to HAVE to run away out of your own home."

Steve, I was going to comment on the exact same point, but decided to wait until tomorrow.

In short, even in Canada with the very strict gun laws, if someone threatens you in your own home, you would most likely not be charged if you killed somebody in self-defense* (as long as you legally own the firearm if this is the weapon that killed the "intruder"). The inquiry would still be much more thorough than what we have seen in Sanford, FL.

*Someone who breaks-in into your house would probably not qualify as self-defense. If you are attacked in your own house, then this is would be quite different.
Solidarity from Canada! Today is Day 28 of my indefinite hunger strike against Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s universally-condemned new crime law, deceptively christened “Safe Streets and Communities Act”. The “tough-on-crime” law is a cocktail of nine pieces of legislation previously rejected by the Parliament of Canada. This time Harper used his acquiescing majorities win both the House of Commons and Senate to pass the law without any substantial debate.

Even Texas warned Canada against repeating its own tough-on-crime mistakes. But Harper is determined to shake up Canadian society and impose an oppressive petro-state and vindictive rightwing worldview. The law will: violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms; undermine the judiciary; impose huge financial burden on Canadians; and make Canada's streets less safe.

There's an implicit yet undeniable racism embedded in the Safe Streets and Communities Act. America’s “New Jim Crow” is coming to Canada. The majority of those who will face tougher drug-related sentences, extended periods in custody before trial, and extended ineligibility for parole, are mostly historically disadvantaged racialized groups like blacks and Aboriginals, who are already oversubscribed in Canada’s jail population. Aboriginals constitute 4 per cent of the Canadian population but account for up to 22 per cent of the country’s prison population. Canada experienced a 50 per cent increase of black inmates in the last 10 years. Most of the inmates are incarcerated for crimes rooted in poverty, economic inequality and historical prejudice.

My five demands include the immediate repeal of the law. I've written to every Canadian MP and Senator I published this letter and my cause on my personal blog, www.canadianprogressiveworld.com. My YouTube video can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/V-mcaeD16ro. And I can be reached at: ronrich22@gmail.com.

I need your support to send Harper and his rightwing legislators this message: the Safe Streets and Communities Act has no place in Canada. Together, we can do it! Please watch the video. Share it as widely as possible. Via your Facebook Profiles, Pages and Groups. Through Twitter. Post the video to your blog. Share it with your blogging and activist friends. Journalists too. And ask your friends to share it with their contacts. For email shares, the link is: http://youtu.be/V-mcaeD16ro. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And I can be reached at: ronrich22@gmail.com.
Steve in response to several points.

1. They require “law enforcement officials to prove that a suspect did not act in self-defense. [NYT] ” This burden of proof is a bridge too far on the presumption of innocence continuum. You cannot prove motive with confidence on the basis of circumstantial evidence when the other guy happens to be dead.

- Really. A presumption of innocence that is to presumptuous. When I shoot a stranger in my house in the middle of the night, I want to be presumed innocent. Maybe you would rather run away and risk getting shot in the back. Ever heard of the notion of a criminal not leaving witnesses alive.

2. They protect shooters from civil suits, where the burden of proof for a civil judgment is lower. This means that when the state doesn’t press charges, no civil options remain to the victim’s family

- Ever head of the O.J case. He was sued and lost. Same and so can Zimmerman. This is nothing but spin on your part. Any victim can sue for damages for any potential crime against hem regardless of criminal case decision.

5. Clueless gun owners, like George Zimmerman, who are inclined to ignore or misunderstand regulations regarding use of a firearm, will falsely believe they have rights that they do not, in reality, possess.

- Best I can tel is that you simply fabricated the assertion. Yes, clueless people will make mistakes and assume things. Clueless drivers kill people too. Clueless people cause damage everyday. Maybe Zimmerman is clueless so therefore I can’t carry a gun. Then it follows that since some drug users are clueless and will cause damage we should not legalize any drugs, like MJ.

Do you have CHL? If not maybe you should get one. Seems to me anyone as critical of guns and laws as you are should at least know something about the issue.

6. They encourage vigilantism by codifying a set of assumptions that magnifies the real degree of threat posed by “suspicious” persons possessed of unknown intent. This effect is exacerbated by racial profiling, as well as outright racism, and further fueled by the now well-known “hoodie effect.”

- Todd challenges you and you use Webster to defend “vigilantism”. The definition of the highly charged word you carefully used may be correct. By that definition I reject the argument that I take justice in my own hands because I defend my self. I guess if someone would have been in a position to prevent Ms. Giffords from getting shot by smacking the shooter over the head with a bottle, and injuring said shooter, he would be taking justice in his own hands, thus making him a vigilante. NOT!

8 People under investigation for having committed a crime involving the use of a firearm already possess a presumption of innocence.

- ALL people under investigation of a crime, firearm or not, involving injury or not, stand your ground or not, are presumed innocent. Even an armed bank robber is presumed innocent. So you want any gun involved incident to presume the gun holder is guilty?


9. They serve to reinforce the brutality of American society, driven by a paranoid sense of threat experienced by some armed civilians.

- Total conjecture and rhetoric on your part. The entire statement is meaningless.

10. They represent a license to kill. And, as I have said before, it’s not gun nuts who bother me, it’s nuts with guns. I agree with Chattanooga, Tennessee gun enthusiast Sally Peterson who told WRCB TV,"You can't approach a person and draw your gun. I just think there are too many wannabe cops.”

- What represents the license to kill? Stand your ground laws or CHLs. Ms Sally is ABSOLUTELY correct. How do you take correct statements about what you cannot do with a gun and turn it into a reason no not have a gun. There is no license to kill.
Um, I hate to break this to you...again...but you are way off topic. Way.
Steve - I could be wrong, but it has always been my understanding in TX, until recently, that even in your home, it would be questionable if I used deadly force instead of retreating if I could. I don't want it to be questionable at all.

But home was an example. I don't want to HAVE to run from any place or else have the presumption of guilt placed on me. That is the reason for the new laws. Don't even raise the question of guilt because I did not run away.
Question if I was threatened. If I was not, charge me. If I was, do NOT make me have to think about IF I can runaway by some vague standard. My life is in danger and you want me to play it out in my head. What decide my worse nemesis ? The perpetrator or facing a jury.

My decision process under stress is going to be based on one thing. Is the safest course for ME to stand or run. Nothing else. I will be happy to run if it is best. NOT because I have to 2nd guess the law.
Steve - No I am not off topic . You just want me to be. You want to frame this as nothing but people running around with guns like Zimmerman and killing the witness to their crime.

I am framing it from my point of view. I am not and never will be a Zimmerman.
The "guns kill people" attitude opposed to "people kill people" is the excuse to get rid of guns. People blame the gun, not the person.
The same thing is happening here now.

Your entire post is about blaming the law instead of the Zimmerman. So get rid of the law instead of Zimmerman is your answer. You want to say the law kills people. I say Zimmerman kills people.

You want to change something, change Zimmerman. Not my gun nor my right to defend myself instead of running.
Does the author own a firearm?
I saw shoot first. Ask questions latter!
Catching up on a few comments...

Marilyn Sands, According to the court affidavit made public yesterday here: http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_documents/zimmerman-affidavit.pdf, the killing took place within the gated community, but how secure that entrance is we do not know. Many such communities have open access to pedestrians, some have electronic gates. There is no evidence that he checked in anywhere. Zimmerman, of course, also lives in the community.

M Todd, I have not been able to find the URL of the Florida Sun Sentinel article, but it was written earlier than April 2. They have so many Stand Your Ground articles on file that finding this has become a needle in a haystack issue. And it may have been written anytime since the law was enacted. I stand behind the secondary source, the New York Daily News, (URL included in the article), that the Sun Sentinel article makes the claim I referenced. I have made an inquiry directly to the Sun Sentinel. In the meantime, read about one drunken, unarmed victim here at the link below. It is a deeply pathetic story:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/article1128317.ece

Harrison Price, "The author" declines to answer but assures you he is a very good shot.

To The REAL Conservative, I think you mean "I say shoot first. Ask questions latter!" Good luck with that.
Steve, thanks for the article and discussion. I think most of the issue on both sides is shrouded in fear of what could happen instead of what does happen. There is to way to much "what if" instead of "what is" in these highly charged issues.

Gun ownership is at an all time high with over 80 million legal gun owners, yet murders and violent crime are down. There were 5.0 murders per 100,000 persons in 2009, 10.4% fewer than in 200o according to FBI statistics. Yet, we still live in fear although most citizens will never see or be victim to gun violence. Truth is many of these laws have been in effect for decades and there has been no blood baths, gangs of white vigilantes roaming the streets shooting minorities or shootouts in bars and restaurants with innocent victims killed in a hail of gun fire . It just has not happened because the majority of people (gun owners and non owners) do not want to kill anyone and will avoid situations that would put them in that position.

Yes, there are crazy delusional people out there who see themselves as Dirty Harry administering swift justice at the end of a gun, but that is not the norm. John Steward said it best, "There is no defense against crazy" no laws, guns or police will stop these very rare events. Despite these crazy events I feel safe because the norm is the majority of Americans settle their differences and arguments without violence of any kind. They own guns and keep them locked up hoping never to have to use them. But, they have guns and believe laws should favor peaceful people not violent aggressors. That is the America I live in.
I wouldn't discount that Zimmerman's knowledge of the SYG contributed to his willingness to pull the trigger. It wouldn't be surprising if a guy with a weapon permit who's wrapped up in being a cop wannabe was far more aware of the SYG law than the average citizen.
I listened to a 911 tape out of Texas recently. An old codger is reporting 2 men trying to break into his neighbor's house. He's got his shotgun ready to rumble. The operator told him to wait for the police, and to not go out with his gun lest he be confused as a perp.

The ol' fellah says something like "we got this new law (SYG)...etc. He puts the phone down, goes outside and blows the 2 perps away. DOA.

He's had some legal troubles since then, but it was his "understanding" of the law that led him to be aggressive and issue a death sentence for attempted burglary.

So, it may well be a combination of knowledge of SYG, unwarranted suspicion, prejudice, anger, fear and hero-seeking.

That Zimmerman claims Tray attacked him as he was returning to his car seems to display some knowledge of the law, as he's describing a far less questionable use of force. The problem is Tray's GF was on the phone (confirmed by records) and heard the initial contact, a complete refutation and therefore discrediting of Zimm's story.

I'll go further and consider that Zimm's initial aggressiveness, a grab or shove, was done with the additional motivation knowing you have a gun allows. So, if it turns out the fight had Tray on top, it shows a 28 year old uncoordinated ball of plump weakness was emboldened by his gunmetal penis.

I hope he's sentenced to a stretch in prison, serving as an example to other mentally imbalanced cop-wannabes who stupidly misinterpret everything about a situation and end up killing innocent people.
Okay, so the author has at least shot a gun.

That is a start.

The problem I have w/articles like this is the overly subjective nature of them.

Two examples:

1. "Clueless gun owners, like George Zimmerman, who are inclined to ignore or misunderstand regulations regarding use of a firearm, will falsely believe they have rights that they do not, in reality, possess."

Zimmerman had a permit and appears to have been following the law.

2. "They serve to reinforce the brutality of American society, driven by a paranoid sense of threat experienced by some armed civilians."

This is entirely subjective (and wishful thinking). That's like saying if you have AAA it's because you're paranoid your car will break down. Carrying a firearm - if legal - is simply another way to take responsibility for yourself. And in states with CCW permits, murder rates have dropped.

Let's be honest... this shooting is simply a poor excuse to attempt to clamp down on gun owners. If a plane crashes we don't ban them.

And, lastly, we don't really know what happened that night.
I walk into the kitchen and see a woman using a large knife to cut a loin of pork. I shoot and kill her. I claim she threatened me with the large knife. I cannot be prosecuted or sued. No problemo. O brave new Florida.
Steve, The data base for articles from the Florida Sentinel does not seem to follow any real order. I understand not finding it. If you do I would be interested in reading it. In my state they passed similar Stand Your Ground legislation to date there has not been an increase in shootings. As with all laws there will be those who will break it, misunderstand it, and try to use it to justify their wrong actions. The law is pretty new and there really is not a lot of data to base any real scientific conclusion on.

I will concede that there are some Dirty Harry types out there looking for an excuse to draw down on someone. If they see this law as justification, I hope the Zimmerman case at least places a wet blanket on their ideas even if he is found innocent. Even though I support the law, gun ownership, and even the right to carry, I still fear that some who lack the mental judgement and restraint will end up shooting when it could be avoided. The sad fact is most of these types would shoot regardless of any law and if they do they should not be able to hide behind it. From my understanding of the law it is strictly for defense only. In my mind taking one step towards or fueling any acceleration in aggression would nullity the use this law as a defense.
"When you get to kill the other guy, claim self defense and walk, solely because you claimed self-defense, we know we have a problem."

This stuff reminds me of the silly, old western movies in which a man is shot to death simply for calling a fellow card-player a liar and a cheater and I'm more than a bit concerned that that's precisely the direction we're heading.

The last I checked, there were 27 states that allow a person to simply “strap it on and carry it around” at will and 14 that allow you to do so with a license. That’s 82% of our country that allows people to run around with guns on their belts.

The logic (or truly, the lack thereof) that people with guns can protect themselves more effectively by having loaded guns themselves is beyond absurd. If a man/woman is bent on killing you, walks up to you, puts a gun to your head and pulls the trigger, an entire arsenal isn't going to help you, so why exacerbate fear-mongering by putting loaded weapons in everyone’s hands???

It may or may not be about racism, but I can assure you that the Trayvon Martin case is a resounding, irrefutable voice against the ludicrous laws we have in this incredibly violent nation which allow people to carry loaded guns around as though they are car keys.

A bit of irony for you; where I live, in Henderson, Nevada, a person who is walking a dog older than three months old must have a license for that dog and the dog must be spayed/neutered or you can and probably will be fined as much as $100.00. However, anywhere within Nevada, you may carry a loaded firearm on your person without a permit so long as the firearm is fully exposed (known as "open carry").

I guess I’d be in very serious trouble if my dog bit someone to death.
The last I checked, there were 27 states that allow a person to simply “strap it on and carry it around” at will and 14

Doh!!! Make that 27 and 13
I have a concealed carry license. I also have a .45 cal. handgun that I carry occasionally carry. You will never know, because it is concealed. I have been trained and I am not clueless.

The simple fact is this: If we are in a store and a crazed gunman is raging down the aisles shooting people, when he comes down your aisle, you will be dead. When he comes down my aisle he will be dead, and the mother and child on the next aisle over will be safe. Now, that's a fact.
Boomer, The majority of new laws are for concealed weapons for people who take a class, pass a test, are not felons, have not been arrested (even if they have not been convicted) for spousal abuse. They do not bother me because I do not see their gun. Almost all states have concealed weapon permits, but were only issued to those who carried a lot of money, public officials, and special needs. The argument was why should only those with money and public office be allowed to protect themselves so under the banner of equal rights even regular everyday people should have the same right.

As for unconcealed weapons depending on the state there have never been laws against having a unconcealed weapon because of the constitutional right to bear arms. Frankly I get nerves around people wearing guns in public and find this means of protest counter productive. In this case what I don't see gives me no cause for alarm.
Dan

But where does that end? Let's say I'm packing too, walk into the store and see you shoot that "crazed gunman" and without understanding the situation, I view you as the crazed gunman, so I shoot you, etc., etc., etc……

I understand what you’re saying, but the logic is flawed, just as threatening a country with nukes to prevent nuclear warfare; at some point, there's going to be a misunderstanding of epic proportions and arming everyone is simply asking for very serious trouble.

I too am a gun owner and have been since I was 8 years old. In fact I have several, including, as do you, a .45 semi-automatic and absolutely love to shoot them, but they are locked in a safe until I take them to the desert to shoot at cans, or to an indoor range and even while transporting them they’re safely locked in the tool box in the back of my p/u until I can use them safely. I shudder at the thought of wrongfully taking a person’s life and virtually every law enforcement officer will tell you that what one person sees as red, another will see as blue when confronted with instantaneous, violent situations. There are no laws, no training and no experience that will prevent that. None!

It comes down to this; had there been no guns in the hands of the shooter; would Trayvon Martin and all the thousands of other innocent victims of gun violence (be it accidental or purposeful) all be alive today? Irrefutably yes! And putting more guns into the hands of more people isn’t the right answer; all we’re going to do is end up with a lot of dead people by doing that.
Sorry - got off topic a bit. Repeal ALL laws that allow people to make instantaneous decisions with a weapon in their hands. It's too damned easy to "shoot first and ask questions later" as one of the responders stated.

I wonder how many of the responders here have truly been in a situation that requires such contemplation and less rhetoric. I’m betting very few, if any.
Your a Saint and if no one else has told you that let me be the first then.
Great post.
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Boomer - Yes I have. I was awakened at 3:00 am by 3 armed men storming my home. And my gun was in my night stand.
Contemplation of my reaction is something I have done many times since then. But it is not the word I would use for the thinking in that moment. Long story short the men were deputies. They were acting in my best interest. Circumstances (too long a story, I have told it before but can't find it) led them to believe I may be a hostage or worse. I am not saying they did the wrong thing. I all went down without incident and I was thankful they did what they did. They gained legal entry from a neighbor with a key who shared their concern.

But I can tell you that when startled from a sleep that I did not wake from when my neighbor called my phone, that was in the bed with me, by 3 men yelling my name and stating they were police, it is more than alarming. Scared does not describe it . Were they really police? My first instinct was yes they were. I did not assume they were home invaders. But, I also KNEW this was my home and I did nothing wrong to have police in my house. My fear was , what did they think I did and why were they in my home. Were they going to shoot me? Was I scared for my life? You damn right. Realize I was startled from sleep and the police were on the other side of my closed bedroom door with guns drawn I assumed. When all said and done, I was correct. Guns drawn and they in strategic tactical positions.

But rational thought prevailed. I did NOT take my gun from my nightstand. I did not get into a "prove you are police or I will shoot" pissing match. This could have went down very badly.
I believed them and they remained cool also not knowing what danger they may be in.

I am not sure the point of your question. But it sounds like you are wondering if gun owners/carriers will be too quick to shoot if feeling threatened. Or maybe you are saying they will be to scared to actually use the weapon they zealously protect. I was not too scared to use it and I was rational enough to not use it.

It seems to me that Zimmerman was too quick. At worse he got a bloody nose. On the other hand, no one hit me , but there was no doubt 3 armed men were in my house and I was damn scared anything I did or said could be the wrong thing. Police or not, when people with guns are screaming at you demanding compliance for reasons you don't know, it gets the adrenaline running. So there were good reasons for me to consider a different action. Yet I did not make the choice Zimmerman did. If I had went for my gun I am pretty sure someone, likely me and possible one of them , would be dead and I would be a national TV story.

The point it is not appropriate to generalize Zimmerman. He went looking for trouble not really there. I found myself in real trouble
and startled as well. We are not all Zimmerman.

Also, at no time did any laws or legalities go through my mind.
What did go though my mind was what is the best and safest way to resolve the the situation. Considering how I handled it, I don' t think I am likely to become a Zimmerman.

I would suggest to everyone that maybe gun owners are not whack jobs. At the same time I would not oppose even more training. Specifically training under pressure. And I would not oppose psychological to determine one ability a situation. If that night was a test, I think I passed.
Boomer,
3 armed robberies, weekend graveyard shift cashier, early 1980s, Safeway #910, Hillcroft and South Main, Houston, TX. Same guys each time, within 2-1/2 weeks. The first one was the worst, 12 ga at head, 32 &38 at back, big guy had a 357. That according to the night manager, as I told the cops when 3 masked guys burst through the door, arms raised and pointing towards me, it could have been tuna sandwiches. I stayed calm and cooperated. They liked me so much they became repeat customers. Where some would panic, I was selling myself and Safeway as dedicated to customer service in every way.
The crux of my fear biscuit, per your comment, is I learned that I was capable of killing somebody and wanting to kill. I would have shot them in their backs as they were running for the getaway car.

The first time you're scared, the second & third time you're pissed, but the urge to kill the bastards who leveled guns at your head applies from the first incident and carries forward.

However, if I did have a gun, it would have been taken from me and would have elevated the aggressiveness. They had the element of surprise each time.
Steve,

I assume you'll be interested in my latest post:

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law: A Statistical Analysis

This post addresses this:

M Todd, My mistake, it was the Florida Sun Sentinel that did the survey referenced in the article, as reported by the New York Daily News. Too many Sentinels. I have corrected the reference above. Thanks for being my fact checker.
Thanks, Kanuk I will give it a read.
Since this law was passed by "popular demand", it is worth reviewing just why it was passed. Something like 2600 times a day in the US , there are situations where ordinary people are seriously threatened, such as midnight, armed break-ins at your house, etc . It has been found that in most cases, guns are not fired even if present, and ususally there is no bloodshed (Not a popular subject for the media; that's why you don't hear of it. ) However, since the burglars or whoever usually flee (it turns they don't like to be shot), when the police arrive (sometime later) they in the past have been prone to arrest the homeowner, since he/she is available, and probably guilty of SOMETHING, especially in "Gun Control" States This is grossly unfair. To check on the statistics, see Prof. John Lott "More Guns, Less Crime", an academic study . While it is certainly unsportsmanlike to shoot an unarmed man, it is perfectly clear that in practice, when seconds count, it may not be very clear. Cases like that of Trayvon Martin are quite rare, and the Law cannot be made so perfect that it can cover everything. As for the requirement that the assailant be armed, it is not always possible to ascertain that in a second; nor always prudent to do so. Especially if the defender is a women, as they not infrequently are. But this is what trials are for: the unclear case. The idea that the "Stand " law can very easily be used for murder is just silly. People do not kill people readily, unless they are seriously warped.
Shawn, Perhaps you could provide us with the source of your statement: "Something like 2600 times a day in the US , there are situations where ordinary people are seriously threatened, such as midnight, armed break-ins at your house, etc ."

For the point to stand you need to find statistics that show, for example, armed break-ins while people are home. And to be fair, you should rule out those cases where the occupants themselves are engaged in criminal behavior at the time. That is to say, how many times a day, nationwide, are innocent people accosted in their homes by armed intruders?

And then perhaps you can relate that to Stand Your Ground, which is our topic here.

Finally, regarding your final point, in case you haven't heard George Zimmerman was arrested on charges of 2nd degree murder.
Stand Your Ground laws aren't the longest poll in the tent. The real issue to go crazy about is handguns being legal in America.
The Trayvon Martin case is being spun into a media circus (which we all knew was going to happen, but why are we following along like captivated children?).

The SYG law is pretty dumb, just like all the facts surrounding this case. It sounds like Zimmerman was racially profiling Trayvon, started to stalk him, Trayvon beat the crap out of him, and Zimmerman shot him in self-defense. Except he used excessive force for his self-defense, you should only shoot someone if they have a gun/knife on you. If they are just whooping your butt then you fight back or take your butt whooping. If I've summed up the scenario correctly, then he should do some time for manslaughter.
The worst part of the Florida SYG law, to me, is that the statute allows for the instigator of a confrontation to shoot the other party and then claim self-defense.
I for one believe that a person should have the right to brandish a weapon to stop a violent person from attempting aggression against them in ANY form. Basically, if some bully or criminal attempts to pull out his fists and intimidate you, or push you, or come at you in a threatening way, a non-instigator should be able to stand his ground and pull out a gun to stop themselves or any peaceful non aggressor party they are with from being hurt or bullied. No one should have to be kicked or punched for any reason, and i don't buy into any of that fists and elbows crap. Violence and intimidation in any form are violations of a peaceful persons civil rights.
Unfortunately, these laws are a result of law abiding citizens not being safe on our streets, or at least the perception that they are not safe. It is good to discuss repeal or reform of Stand Your Ground, BUT, we have to come up with an alternative before it will gain traction.
@Baltimore,

I wouldn't mind gun ownership to be like car ownership, provided that you go all the way in this. Car licensing/registration is only required if a car is used on a public road. If I buy a car, transport it by trailer to my own property, I can drive that car as much as I want on my property without any licensing, either of me or of the car. I don't need to register such a car, and I can even drive cars that aren't street legal on my own property. So, going all the way in the analogy, you must be in favor of anybody being allowed to own any type of gun and use it, provided that they only use it on their own property.
To respond to one of the author's points:

3. Many of the victims have been unarmed (12 of 13 studied in a recent Orlando Sentinel investigation).

--the majority of violent crimes committed (about 70%) are committed by unarmed criminals.

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=43
 Why is it that, to press their own agendas, people are so quick to strip Trayvon Martin of his very best defense? What bitter irony! The thing wrong with most of this 'debate' is that most people totally miss the forest for the trees by falling to examine the plain language of the law and apply it to the facts as we know them.  Simply stated, almost everything most people think they know about this Florida stand and your ground law is just plain wrong. They get it bass backwards. 

I really wish people would at least read the law and apply it to the these facts – in which case their opinions might change radically. Under this law and these facts this statute actually convicts Zimmerman and exonerates Trayvon Martin. That is, Zimmerman’s misconceived shield  is really Trayvon martin’s sword.Those two links take you to articles written before SYG was offered as an Open Call and keep in mind that the Martin's own co-counsel agrees. Natalie A. Jackson, Esq., founder of  The Women's Trial Group, in Orlando Florida is co-counsel for the parents of Travon Martin who recently appeared on Democracy Now. After reviewing these links she wrote (and I quote with her express permission)

“Thank you. Your blog is very well written and thought out...I agree with your analysis.”

So before people trash this law they should understand that the Martin’s own legal council agrees that it is Trayvon Martin and only Trayvon Martin who can assert stand your ground as his defense and against Zimmerman.  So  if people are really interested in Trayvon and his parents they should not proprose stripping them of the law that really works in their favor. Now before reacting please read first and remember that the Martin's legal c ounsel expressely agrees wkith this analysis.    
@ Francois

In case you have forgotten, Trayvon Martin is dead!
First, @ flylooper, try actually reading for you totally miss the point and beg the question. The fact that Trayon Martin is dead does not have any impact on this analysis except to increase the amount of damages. It’s a silly comment. This analysis will be the argument posited by the prosecution in both the criminal and civil trials.

Again, all well argued Steve; unfortunately it’s all one more example of why those who don’t know law and procedure should refrain from analysis. To say there are “no grounds to disprove George Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense” is a statement that no competent legal advocate in their “right mind” would assert. No one ever “get[s] to kill the other guy, claim self defense and walk, solely because you claimed self-defense.” Few things are more “absurd” or “ridiculous” than those statements. No offense. Really. No law is that simple and no defense so absolute.

First, if anyone actually thinks Zimmerman’s (or any defendant’s) self-serving claim of a subjective fear of great bodily harm or death at the hands of an unarmed 140 lb 17-year old will pass muster as an affirmative self-defense then they have nary a clue how the law works. Sorry, but it’s not that simple.

Second, even if a criminal trial fails to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a subsequent civil action, with a far lesser burden of proof, will provide the Martin’s with clear paths to recovery against Zimmerman; against the authorities who failed their legal duty to investigate and who caused spoliation of evidence; and against the property owners and management company of this ‘gated community’. And, just as in the O. J. Simpson case, any assertion of the Fifth Amendment privilege guarantees a disastrous loss of the civil proceeding.

IN EITHER CASE the very law many now call to repeal is, in fact, the best law to exonerate Trayvon Martin and strip Zimmerman of the defense. Zimmermann’s shield is the Martin’s sword. The moment Zimmerman jumped out of his truck and chased down a frighted child (against the clear directives of the police) he forfeited both the statutory and common law defenses and put Trayvon Martin in the position of being the only one with a legal right to use force against Zimmerman under the very statue you call to remove from his advocates.

EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW. Get it. This is simple. This very statute, by it’s own language, is Trayvon’s sword, and the Martin family’s sword, in a civil action. And for the People of the State of Florida, it will be a sword wielded by the prosecution against Zimmerman who, BY THE PLAIN LANGUAGE OF THE STATUTE ITSELF, will most likely be stripped of this defense. On the facts stated thus far Zimmerman does not get the protection of this law - only Trayvon does.
Walter. Don’t confuse apples with oranges. The "clear and present danger" is a doctrine not a “test” and it’s a legal term-of-art that has absolutely no legal relevance here. It’s a First Amendment doctrine adopted by SCOTUS to determine under what circumstances limits can be placed on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, press or assembly. It was established by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in the unanimous opinion for the case Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919), which concerned the ability of the government to regulate speech against the draft during World War I. It has no application here.

And to both you and Steve both: yes. It’s a legal no brainer. There have been constitutional challenges to SGY and it’s precisely because they pass muster that there has been such a proliferation of such laws. SYG has (under various handles) been around for over 100 years. (See Beard v. U.S., 158 U.S. 550, 561 (1895).)

More than half of the states in the United States have adopted the Castle doctrine, stating that a person has no duty to retreat when their home is attacked. Some states go a step further, removing the duty of retreat from other locations. "Stand Your Ground", "Line In The Sand" or "No Duty To Retreat" laws thus state that a person has no duty or other requirement to abandon a place in which he has a right to be, or to give up ground to an assailant. Under such laws, there is no duty to retreat from anywhere the defender may legally be.

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Beard v. U.S. (158 U.S. 550 (1895)) that a man who was "on his premises" when he came under attack and "...did not provoke the assault, and had at the time reasonable grounds to believe, and in good faith believed, that the deceased intended to take his life, or do him great bodily harm...was not obliged to retreat, nor to consider whether he could safely retreat, but was entitled to stand his ground."

Likewise, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. declared in Brown v. United States (256 U.S. 335, 343 (16 May 1921) a case that upheld the "no duty to retreat" maxim, that "detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife".
Frankie A. writes: "First, if anyone actually thinks Zimmerman’s (or any defendant’s) self-serving claim of a subjective fear of great bodily harm or death at the hands of an unarmed 140 lb 17-year old will pass muster as an affirmative self-defense then they have nary a clue how the law works."

Not true. I wish you would stop repeating that.

A successul assertion of self-defense using lethal force depends on a number of factors. An unarmed attack can be just as fatal or injurious as an armed attack. This is why they stop boxing matches. The age and size of the individuals may or may not be relevant.

At this point no one outside of the investigation knows enough to make a reasonable judgment on what defense will be used or whether it will be successful. Reading through the recent affidavit it appears that the investigators still don't know what happened. "A struggle ensued" doesn't say much.
Franny is a phony. Franny doesn't have the first clue about the Florida law. Franny's analysis is a joke. Franny isn't even close to being correct, yet Franny insults others who are correct.
Franny is full of crap.
PJ slamming your keyboard in your pajamas: Since you claim to know so much about Florida the law perhaps you can demonstrate a scintilla of credible argument and enlighten the rest who actually cite the law. Sorry. Too much to ask. We all understand: ad hominem attack is the only device an incredulous troll is capable of. I doubt if there is any medication for such a malady so I leave you as I find you — poisoned by the taint of your own (would it be pubescent or senile?) venom.

How pathetic. One can only wonder what poison is in that bottle such trolls suck on. There is no point arguing with a self-proven ignoramus when the best outcome one can hope for is to win and argument with an ignoramus whose only notion of ‘debate’ is to spit venom and crawl back under their rock. Now off to bed with you little one and don't forget that bottle of vitriol.
And btw PJ: since the Trayvon family attorney (named and quoted) has stated, in writing, that she fully agrees with my analysis you might want to immediately contact Mr. Zimmerman and offer to represent him since the Martin’s attorney “doesn't have the first clue about the Florida law” but is just a “joke” not “even close to being correct” and “is full of crap.” I have no doubt your delusional knowledge of Florida law, along with the incomparable wisdom of a charlatan, will comfort him assure Zimmerman’s conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. But hey, at least your defense will give him grounds for a Sixth Amendment appeal and two depraved hearts will find good company.
Gee, Franny
You're pretty cocky for a internet legal anal-cyst.
I guess I could have detailed this a bit before, but I do like watching total pretenders wiggle and wail.

First, just because Zimmerman followed Trayvon does not strip him of defense under Fla's SYG law. You should take your insistence that it does and put it back where you found it (be sure to use K-Y). He had a right to do that, just as he had a right to approach Trayvon. Now, as poor as your analysis on that is, it gets worse. Obviously following/exiting car/approaching Trayvon cannot be considered initiating an attack, as none of those acts are unlawful.

Trayvon doesn't have a SYG defense, of course, because, as Fly tried to explain--he's dead. I know you're in love with your "Zimm's sheild is Trayvon's sword" slogan, but it's simply discombobulated crap.

Based on simply stripping your claims naked, but not on unknown evidence, we move on...

There is a circumstantial assertion Zimmerman initiated the physical contact, but it's merely speculation. You can extract some presumptions about Zimm's frame of mind on the 911 tapes, but again, nothing unlawful or necessarily indicative of an unlawful intent. In fact, some of it can go towards Zimm's defense.
So, unable to prove Zimmerman initiated the fight, you're left with an eyewitness who saw Tray on top.

Pay attention, because this is where the law actually shows up...

If Zimmerman reasonably feared death or great bodily harm, he has immunity. He doesn't have the burden of proof. The prosecution must prove that, beyond a reasonable doubt, Zimmerman didn't fear for his life or great physical harm.

Yet you say this:

"Again, all well argued Steve; unfortunately it’s all one more example of why those who don’t know law and procedure should refrain from analysis. (oh, the irony!) To say there are “no grounds to disprove George Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense” is a statement that no competent legal advocate in their “right mind” would assert." And then you dig deeper by following that with insulting ridicule. Ironic and funny. Funny in a mental case kind of way.

Well, can'tsell'er, show us the grounds that disprove self defense.

We've already crushed your idea that merely approaching Tray removed a SYG defense for Zimmerman. Sans any evidence to the contrary, we have Tray on top of Zimm, who's getting the worst of it. Forget the bit about outweighing him, etc, as that doesn't prove anything, just as mish says.

Did Zimm, at that moment, have a reasonable fear--or one that can be proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, to be unreasonable? Prove he didn't think he could suffer great physical harm or death. Prove he didn't think Trayvon could be armed. On the 911 tape he says Tray approached with his hand in his waistband. Prove that didn't cause Zimm to think he may be armed. Prove, as you must, that he wasn't afraid.

Now, even if you could prove Zimm initiated the physical contact, that also doesn't necessarily remove the SYG defense. In the Florida law (you really should read it sometime), if Zimm's shove, for example, was met with an overwhelming force and, if Zimm then had that same reasonable fear, he can invoke SYG. The same is true if Zimm had broken contact and indicated he wanted no more if Tray had continued the fight.

The difference is if it's under that standard, it doesn't provide immunity from civil liability.

When Zimm's case goes before a judge, the prosecution will present their argument for proving Zimm's fear was unreasonable or that, for any reason, that SYG doesn't apply. If the judge accepts that it's questionable, then a trial, a murder 2 OR manslaughter option to the jury.

If the judge doesn't think they made that case pretrial, then Zimmerman walks with dual immunity--criminal and civil, unless the prosecutors win on appeal. Then they'd have to hold the jury trial.

If Zimmerman wins the jury trial, and doesn't invoke the unneeded "initiated aggression" version of the SYG defense, he is then also held immune from civil liability. So there, again, your analysis missed the boat. I'm betting you didn't know there was a boat.

You don't get the Florida law. That's easy to see because you don't understand the difference it made and that you think it has a long legal history of "same as" laws and rulings. Nobody but you, it seems, thinks that's true.

However, I can't really blame you for playing insulting internet pretend legal anal-cyst. You can plead non compos mentis and nobody will argue that can't be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. You're a phony, Franny.
Franny,
Even if we got past your already strong discrediting of your integrity, we could only assume any endorsement of your self-calculated anal ysis blather was out of sympathy. A preponderance of the evidence suggests you're making that up as well, which would fit into all the BS externalizations you use in a futile attempt to bolster your credibility.

You would do better pretending you're an astrophysicist.
Paul writes: "There is a circumstantial assertion Zimmerman initiated the physical contact, but it's merely speculation."

After weeks of investigation, the arrest affidavit is largely silent: "a struggle ensued." After weeks of investigation we know more about the snap foods Martin purchased than we do about the specific encounter that led to his death. Unfortunately, this does not prevent Frankie from acting like he knows more.

And you're 100 percent correct about the "speculation." Many of us were looking to the arrest affidavit to fill in some of the lacunae. But the affidavit doesn't clarify anything. In fact, given what it doesn't say, it only makes things more mysterious. I try not to be cynical, but the affidavit looks to me to be more like a political document than a legal one. A number of attorneys and criminal investigators have commented on the many deficiencies in the affidavit.
mish,
The prosecution says there's more to it and the investigation isn't complete. However, no matter what the sum of the evidence, the potential case won't involve Zimm having abandoned a SYG defense merely by encountering Trayvon. It also will have nothing to do with a Trayvon SYG defense or the Martin lawyers. Zimm's shield is Tray's sword is simply silly-assed assbabble.
It'll be Florida v. Zimmerman, with Zimm either granted immunity, a plea bargain or standing trial.
It'll be interesting to see what the full investigation reveals.
Sorry Paul O'Rourke. If you win the criminal trial you are still subject to a civil prosecution. Just ask OJ.
Aristo, As I state in the article, Stand Your Ground Laws, including Florida's, explicitly prohibit civil suits for cases determined to be covered by the law. (Reason #2 to repeal them.)
Aristo,
You offer a different kind of response. First the apology and then the statement for which you apologize. Usually the errant statement comes first, the apology separate and after.

(1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or **prosecuting the defendant.** (my emphasis)

(3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).

In effect, the same immunity from civil liability as if you had shot an intruder in your home. Under the following section you can see what action is "justifiable," but doesn't apply civil immunity.

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 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.

I accept your apology.
Thanks Klingaman for pointing out my error, and thanks to P O'rourke for printing it all out. I wasn't malicious about it, I just thought most of the laws were like California where a civil suit could potentially make up for a badly decided criminal one. I wonder if a black man in Florida were to invoke this Stand Your Ground law against a white person, how the police would treat it. 911 operator tells the black guy not to follow the white high school student, but the black guy does anyway, and then shoots and kills him. Something tells me that 'black ass would be in jail facing the death penalty'. (Colorful tone was deliberately inflected mimicking inner thought processes of racist white cops in Florida).
Stand Your Ground Laws, mean to the citizens they can shoot and kill anyone, if they THINK they are in danger. NO PROOF NEEDED, NO POLICE NEEDED!!My brother was shot at 3 times and was killed by a homeowner in S.C. on 2/14/11. The homeowner has said many different stories. We have been told many different stories by the West Columbia Police. The story per homeowner is by brother was seen by his truck at about 3am. He states the flood lights came on a couple times the dog was barking and loud audible alarm was going off. My brother was on a bicycle and was going down homeowners drive way, when he came out garage door, my brother was passing him. He shot at my brother not knowing if he hit him, he dove to the ground and shot in the air. The police said after many times talking to them, they said the bullet shot in the air was found in the neighbors eave of home, next door. Another bullet was found in neighbors home across the street 166'9" diagonally away to the left. The other bullet was found in my brother. The bullet went thru his right lung, heart and left lung, found beneath the skin on his left side. My brother was found 132'6" in a different neighbors yard across the street diagonally away to the right from garge door where homeowner said he shot from. The case was closed with in 2 days. We were told it was Justifiable Homicide, per S.C. Stand Your Groud Law . No duty to retreat. My brother had no weapon, no proof he was in the truck, no finger prints. They said he stole $1.50 from the homeowners truck. We finally got Attorney generals office to review case. The story from homeowners has changed. The police now say the bullet in the next door neighbors eave is not a bullet. But it is in crime scene photos and is measured, the police cover up cases like this. We were told by the W.C. Police department and from SLED that my brother was just a thief. He had been in trouble before, that does not give them the right to Kill him and there be no JUSTICE. Call the police before you go out and confront someone, the police were called 18 minutes after time of death. The citizens have been given the right to become Judge, Jury and Executioner, with out charges. Just say SELF DEFENSE. The law is being Misapplied, and cases are not investigated correctly. We believe and evidence shows my brother was chased and shot at 3 times and killed.
I am pleased to report that Sybrina Fulton, Travyon Martin's mother, has stepped to the forefront of the new Second Chance at Shoot First campaign to encourage a re-examination of Stand Your Ground, or Shoot First laws. See her message and video here: http://secondchancecampaign.org/card/
The SYG laws as written, do not in any way give anyone the right to shoot in an unlawful manner. In my state, prior to SYG, a woman was prosecuted because she shot and wounded her abusive boyfriend....the charges were based on the fact that she supposedly did not "make every reasonable effort" to be gone/absent/or otherwise flee her own house in the face of his attack. A second high profile case occurred when a father shot a burglar/potential rapist...(the intruder was kicking down the door of the daughter's locked bathroom)....and subsequently charged and had to go to court based on a similar philosophy that the family should have "fled". The issue (including the one in Florida) seems to be more related to how the police handle such cases, than with the individuals involved.

Looking for cheapest auto insurance in Florida?

They also need to be reviewed for gender bias. If a woman shoots a man who beat her for three days because she refused to get an abortion, she's told she should have run away; if a woman with a new born baby shoots at the ceiling to scare off her abusing husband, she "should have run". If a white man shoots a fleeing person in the back, he's allowed to claim self defense. Apparently the sight of a fleeing behind was terrifying. These laws were pushed by ALEC and the NRA, both of whom are anti-American and anti-Constitution organizations bent on protecting haters.