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Itís Not About Stand Your Ground (Reserve judgment. But it seems that Zimmerman acted lawfully)
National Review ^ | 03/28/2012 | By John R. Lott Jr.

Posted on 03/28/2012 6:33:32 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

President Obama, Jesse Jackson, and others have chosen to personalize the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., highlighting the racial issues by expressing concern for people who look like they do or live where “blacks are under attack.” Many conservatives and liberals have also already concluded that the shooter committed a crime. All of these reactions are premature.

In response to the shooting, Florida governor Rick Scott has set up a commission to review the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Gun-control organizations, including the Brady Campaign, have gone beyond this and even more drastically called for the end of right-to-carry laws.

But such outrage should be restrained until we have all of the facts. Zimmerman’s call to the police, which has been heard over and over again, does not appear to tell the whole story. There is other information that appears to back up the shooter’s account. That evidence, rather than racism, might well be the reason that police chose not to arrest the shooter. Fox 35 in Orlando spoke to one eyewitness, identified as “John,” the day after the shooting. He explained: “The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: ‘Help, help’ . . . and I told him to stop and I was calling 9-1-1.”

The witness further indicated that it was the guy on top who was doing the hitting, and that the shot occurred while that attack was taking place. The man who shot Martin, George Zimmerman, was the man in the red jacket. The police report corroborates the witness’s account: “While I was in such close contact with Zimmerman, I could observe that his back appeared to be wet and was covered in grass, as if he had been laying on his back on the ground. Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and back of his head.” Zimmerman told the police, “I was yelling for someone to help me, but no one would help me.”

Zimmerman and his neighbors seem to have had reason for forming a neighborhood-watch group: During the past year, the Miami Herald reports, eight burglaries, nine thefts, and one shooting occurred in their gated community. And Zimmerman had even caught at least one thief himself.

Prior to the spread of “Stand Your Ground” and “Castle Doctrine” laws, citizens who wanted to defend themselves from a criminal had to retreat as far as possible and then announce to the criminal that they were going to shoot. But obvious problems arise: Forcing a victim to take time to retreat can put their life in jeopardy, and a prosecutor might argue that a victim didn’t retreat sufficiently. There have been many cases where victims have been chased and knocked down a couple of times before firing in self-defense, and yet prosecutors claimed that the victim still could have done more to retreat before firing their gun.

The Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws replaced the original requirement to retreat to a “reasonable person’s” standard, instead stating that lethal force is justified when a reasonable person would believe that a criminal intends to inflict serious bodily harm or death. These laws do not protect those who shoot fleeing criminals in the back, provoke attacks, or use lethal force in the absence of a threat to life or limb.

The difference between the Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws is where they apply: The Castle Doctrine applies in a person’s home, and Stand Your Ground extends the right to any place the defender has a right to have a gun. Forty-one states now have these laws in some form, though most have adopted them in the last decade, and the statutes haven’t caused any problems at all. By case law, six other states protect victims from having to retreat before using deadly force.

Allowing victims to defend themselves not only protects the lives of victims who come under attack, but deters criminals from attacking to begin with. I have myself conducted the only published refereed academic study on these laws, and I found that states adopting Castle Doctrine laws reduced murder rates by 9 percent and overall violent crime by 8 percent.

But Martin’s shooting has raised a lot of confusion over what the Florida law would allow. Irrespective of the Stand Your Ground law, Zimmerman did indeed have the right to investigate a strange person in his neighborhood. And when, before any confrontation, Zimmerman informed the police operator that he was following Martin, the operator’s advice that “we don’t need you to do that” was suggestive, not compulsory. By itself, investigating someone who is a stranger in the neighborhood does not imply a provocation. In addition, Zimmerman claims that Martin attacked him from behind.

If it turns out that the police report and witness are wrong, and Zimmerman was the aggressor, he certainly deserves to be punished. But if Zimmerman was attacked, pummeled, and bloodied by Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman had justification to shoot in self-defense. So far it looks as if the police made the right decision.

— John R. Lott Jr. is the author of the third edition of More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010). He previously served as the chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. He is also a co-author of the newly released book Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future (John Wiley & Sons, 2012).


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: florida; guns; johnlott; trayvonmartin; zimmerman
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1 posted on 03/28/2012 6:33:37 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN

2 posted on 03/28/2012 6:34:15 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I don’t want to sound ignorant, but what could be ‘unlawful’ about self-defense....no matter who the individuals are who are involved???


3 posted on 03/28/2012 6:38:21 AM PDT by SMARTY ("The man who has no inner-life is a slave to his surroundings. "Henri Frederic Amiel)
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To: SeekAndFind
By case law, six other states protect victims from having to retreat before using deadly force.

I think the question here is, if Zimmerman actively pursued Martin as reported, does the law still protect him?

Here in The Peoples Republic of CT if I, as a gun owner, take off after the perp, the police now consider ME the threat.

The laws here protect the bad guys.

4 posted on 03/28/2012 6:41:13 AM PDT by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I shall defend to your death my right to say it)
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To: SeekAndFind

The Florida “Stand Your Ground” law presents a clear and present danger to a reliable DemocRAT constituent group (i.e., criminals); hence, it must be eliminated.


5 posted on 03/28/2012 6:42:06 AM PDT by Arm_Bears (Journalists first; then lawyers.)
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To: SeekAndFind

The Florida “Stand Your Ground” law presents a clear and present danger to a reliable DemocRAT constituent group (i.e., criminals); hence, it must be eliminated.


6 posted on 03/28/2012 6:42:23 AM PDT by Arm_Bears (Journalists first; then lawyers.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I’ve seen several reports today that indicate that the MSM is toning down the rhetoric and starting to back away from their first rush to judgement.

Of course I still have many questions about the reporting and how it has been used to inflame the populace especially since the incident happened almost a month before the MSM started to pump their story and the politicians jumped on board.

If I might be forgiven here in way to many ways this is beginning to look like the stock market and how traders react to news. Most are a bunch of lemmings that feel and react versus examining and thinking through the reports that are used to influence the market. Frankly the lemmings tend to lose everything eventually and the thinkers are the ones that come out golden. With the caveat of the cheaters that manipulate and use insider information. What I think of them can’t be posted here.


7 posted on 03/28/2012 6:44:39 AM PDT by The Working Man (No child left behind should be: No Child left a dime.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Has anyone else seen any articles about Trayvon’s arrests for burglary?? Seems we have a blackout.


8 posted on 03/28/2012 6:44:51 AM PDT by Neoliberalnot (Marxism works well only with the uneducated and the unarmed.)
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To: SeekAndFind
There is another good article on the subject at volokh.com.

For now, it should be noted that neither the M narrative or the Z narrative has anything to do with a duty to retreat. The retreat issue would only be relevant if Martin were the aggressor, and Z had the opportunity to escape from Martin in complete safety. Then, and only then, would different state standards about retreat be relevant. Simply put, everyone who has claimed that Florida's retreat rule affect the legal disposition of the controversy is either misinformed or mendacious.
Florida's self Defense Laws -David Kopel - March 27, 2012
9 posted on 03/28/2012 6:46:32 AM PDT by Cboldt
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To: SMARTY

RE: I don’t want to sound ignorant, but what could be ‘unlawful’ about self-defense..

The argument on the other side was that Zimemrman was the provocateur. He was specifically told NOT to follow Trayvon but he did anyway. The rest of the story is murky....

Trayvon noticed he was being stalked and then apparently asked Zimemrman why he was stalking him.... a fight ensued and Trayvon apparently got the better of Zimemrman, who then shot him.

Not sure if ‘self defense’ is called for here as Zimmerman was not in danger in the beginning. His pursuing Trayvon started the whole thing.


10 posted on 03/28/2012 6:48:06 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
The only thing I have to say is that Zimmerman should not have followed him after the dispatcher told him not to. Zimmerman should not have assumed that he was a suspect just because he was black. I know this from experience, we are guilty until proven innocent.

I can relate because of being followed in stores as a late teen and young adult! I now have to deal with the police in my own suburban neighborhood driving a BMW and being pulled over six times in eight weeks!


11 posted on 03/28/2012 6:51:42 AM PDT by ForAmerica (Conservative Christian Black Man!)
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To: Puppage
-- if Zimmerman actively pursued Martin as reported, does the law still protect him? --

That depends on what "actively pursued" consists of. If Zimmerman is striving to maintain visual contact, and avoid close contact, confrontation, and and use of force, then he's nothing more than a passive observer. Some would call him a busybody.

But if he's in pursuit in order to make physical contact, then he's got a problem.

The media has painted an image of pursuit with intent to capture and detain. I believe that is a radically false impression, and that the evidence shows Zimmerman undertaking an effort to maintain visual contact, and ONLY visual contact.

12 posted on 03/28/2012 6:52:04 AM PDT by Cboldt
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To: SeekAndFind

13 posted on 03/28/2012 6:52:47 AM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas gerit ;-{)
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To: SeekAndFind

“His pursuing Trayvon started the whole thing.”

Since Zimmerman isn’t a law enforcement official, maybe it’s debatable whether he started anything by contiuing to monitor Travon.

Just a thought


14 posted on 03/28/2012 6:53:38 AM PDT by SMARTY ("The man who has no inner-life is a slave to his surroundings. "Henri Frederic Amiel)
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To: SeekAndFind

I guess this might affect hispanic voters? Ding dang.


15 posted on 03/28/2012 6:57:18 AM PDT by libbylu
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To: Cboldt
If Zimmerman is striving to maintain visual contact, and avoid close contact, confrontation, and and use of force, then he's nothing more than a passive observer. Some would call him a busybody.

You can't be "just a busybody" when you have a gun. There's also no need to maintain visual contact. You call the cops, and that's it.

When you take on the huge responsibility of carrying a gun (which, I do) there are certain things you must know.

16 posted on 03/28/2012 6:58:01 AM PDT by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I shall defend to your death my right to say it)
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To: SeekAndFind
Am trying to picture the scuffle in mind. If kid on top and pounding Z’z head in ground. Gun was in holster at Z’s waste. Seems it would be difficult to get to the gun. Would like to know the angle of the shot and how close it was to the victim when fired. Is there any DNA on gun that would indicate both touched it? Was there a struggle over the gun?
17 posted on 03/28/2012 6:59:24 AM PDT by hoosiermama (Stand with God and Sarah, the Gipper and Newt will be standing next to you.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Not sure if ‘self defense’ is called for here as Zimmerman was not in danger in the beginning. His pursuing Trayvon started the whole thing.

That sounds an awful lot like, "She was wearing provocative clothing". Zimmerman may have been in the wrong following the individual. Having been in a similar situation I'd call it over-zealous in protecting his own, to the point of putting ones self in unnecessary danger.

If the story is true that Martin threw the first punch and began assaulting Zimmerman in the manner described (banging his head on the concrete), then Martin is the one that crossed that line, not Zimmerman. Add into the mix that no help came when he called for it (when you need help in second, the police are minutes away), then as far as I am concerned Zimmerman isn't guilty of anything other than protecting himself.

18 posted on 03/28/2012 7:02:36 AM PDT by Turbo Pig (...to close with and destroy the enemy...)
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To: SeekAndFind

The statewide prosecutor appointed to this case was appointed to arrest for ANY excuse. She will arrest not exonerate. She already telegraphed this by stating she will bypass the grand jury process.


19 posted on 03/28/2012 7:05:50 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: Cboldt

“That depends on what “actively pursued” consists of. If Zimmerman is striving to maintain visual contact, and avoid close contact, confrontation, and and use of force, then he’s nothing more than a passive observer. Some would call him a busybody.”

Still others would rightly call him a neighborhood WATCH captain.


20 posted on 03/28/2012 7:06:37 AM PDT by Beagle8U (Free Republic -- One stop shopping ....... It's the Conservative Super WalMart for news .)
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