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Self-Defense Under Attack
Reason ^ | April 25, 2012 | Jacob Sullum

Posted on 04/25/2012 6:43:37 PM PDT by neverdem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: banglist; castledoctrine; selfdefense; standyourground

1 posted on 04/25/2012 6:43:43 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

In a nation of cowards, such as ours, self-defense is always under attack.


2 posted on 04/25/2012 6:46:26 PM PDT by Cincinnatus.45-70 (What do DemocRats enjoy more than a truckload of dead babies? Unloading them with a pitchfork!)
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To: neverdem

New Florida Law:

“All victims and potential victims are required under penalty of imprisonment, to be able to outrun any and all potential criminal adversaries.”


3 posted on 04/25/2012 6:46:47 PM PDT by G Larry (Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society's understanding)
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To: neverdem

They don’t come much stupider than Bloomberg.


4 posted on 04/25/2012 6:50:19 PM PDT by samtheman ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ-4gnNz0vc)
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To: neverdem

Bottom line:

Because of anecdotal incidents which aren’t significant enough to skew any statistic, or are outright fabricated, the “Surrender First” crowd wants the CRIMINALS to dictate what YOUR actions will be in a confrontation, rather than giving YOU the power as a law abiding citizen who’s rights have been violated to decide the best way to respond to the threat.

They’re telling you, “Run, peasant”. Think any of their bodyguards would respond this way in the face of a threat?

Another “hug-a-thug” feel-good effort not grounded in reality. These people are evil.


5 posted on 04/25/2012 6:53:39 PM PDT by FLAMING DEATH (Are you better off than you were $4 trillion ago?)
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To: FLAMING DEATH

What is our country coming to????


6 posted on 04/25/2012 7:01:58 PM PDT by JW1949
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To: neverdem
anti-self defense and anti-gun

Now there's two popular issues. Run hard on that, Dems!

7 posted on 04/25/2012 7:06:14 PM PDT by TigersEye (Life is about choices. Your choices. Make good ones.)
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To: neverdem

The libs are always waiting for something to exploit, it doesn’t matter if it’s relevant or not.


8 posted on 04/25/2012 7:07:43 PM PDT by SWAMPSNIPER (The Second Amendment, a Matter of Fact, Not a Matter of Opinion)
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To: neverdem

The prosecution better have indisputable physical evidence negating Zimmerman’s accounting of the killing at this point.

As it now stands, it looks very much like a politically induced prosecution.

That would be a very bad thing right about now.....


9 posted on 04/25/2012 7:10:23 PM PDT by sarasmom ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xZsFe6dM3EY)
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To: sarasmom

Dershowitz said it may be a criminal act and advised the prosecutor to get an attorney.


10 posted on 04/25/2012 7:19:56 PM PDT by Ken H (Austerity is the irresistible force. Entitlements are the immovable object.)
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To: Ken H

‘it’ = the prosecution of Zimmerman


11 posted on 04/25/2012 7:21:18 PM PDT by Ken H (Austerity is the irresistible force. Entitlements are the immovable object.)
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To: wardaddy; Joe Brower; Cannoneer No. 4; Criminal Number 18F; Dan from Michigan; Eaker; Jeff Head; ...
The rats are so smart. They want to commit suicide again with the right to self defense!

Stand Your Ground makes sense

Making a Hash of the Second Amendment

Obama Wins Close or Loses Big

Scrounging around for Asian workers (Marion Barry again)

Some noteworthy articles about politics, foreign or military affairs, IMHO, FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.

12 posted on 04/25/2012 7:34:06 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: neverdem
In the meantime, it is worth noting that Florida's violent crime rate, which fell by 12 percent in the five years before the "stand your ground" law was enacted, fell by 23 percent in the five years afterward. Since 1987, when Florida adopted a nondiscretionary carry permit law that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence blames for "year after year of carnage," the state's violent crime rate has been cut nearly in half.

The beauty of being a Democrat is that you just don’t have to have any evidence to support your arguments. You just have to say if you do it my way things will be so much better. Or you say look at all of this suffering that would be avoided.

Of course the press just picks up their inflammatory rhetoric and prints it uncritically or if they print any arguments from the opposition it is printed near the end of the article in the most condescending fashion possible.

13 posted on 04/25/2012 7:42:26 PM PDT by Pontiac (The welfare state must fail because it is contrary to human nature and diminishes the human spirit.)
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To: neverdem

>>The law’s opponents note that the annual number of justifiable homicides in Florida (excluding police shootings) nearly tripled after the law was passed in 2005, from an average of 12 between 2000 and 2004 to an average of 35 between 2006 and 2010.

I would observe that some people just need shootin’. And in a state the size of Florida, it is probably larger than 35 a year.


14 posted on 04/25/2012 7:53:25 PM PDT by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: Ken H
Dershowitz said it may be a criminal act and advised the prosecutor to get an attorney.

?

Why? Is Holder going to prosecute?

15 posted on 04/25/2012 8:20:43 PM PDT by LoneRangerMassachusetts (The meek shall not inherit the Earth)
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To: Ken H
Dershowitz said it may be a criminal act and advised the prosecutor to get an attorney.

?

Why? Is Holder going to prosecute?

16 posted on 04/25/2012 8:20:49 PM PDT by LoneRangerMassachusetts (The meek shall not inherit the Earth)
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To: FreedomPoster
It would be bad enough personally for me, if I ever had to employ lethal self-defense against another person.

I will if I have too, but it is not a situation I, or any other normal, decent person actively desires to experience.

I would be unable to come up with 15K cash to “bond” myself out of jail, if I was forced to kill someone in self defense.
Hense the SYG laws, that really were designed to reign in frivolous prosecutions.

EPIC FAIL..

17 posted on 04/25/2012 8:25:46 PM PDT by sarasmom ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xZsFe6dM3EY)
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To: neverdem

Thanks for the ping!


18 posted on 04/25/2012 8:40:12 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: FLAMING DEATH

Well, certainly! You wouldn’t want to interfere with anyone’s legitimate career choice, would you? /sarcasm;)


19 posted on 04/25/2012 8:41:33 PM PDT by Frank_2001
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To: neverdem

Your Second Amendment right is under attack, as are other rights. The obvious plan by the bipartisan, political/regulator class is to create racial tensions through troublemaking policy pressures on police/courts and eventually cause incidents. Then, they’ll make their new legislative moves. Don’t take the bait, folks. The political people of today are afraid of you because of the economy and some of their other activities.


20 posted on 04/25/2012 9:08:10 PM PDT by familyop (We Baby Boomers are croaking in an avalanche of rotten politics smelled around the planet.)
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To: neverdem

Morons!

It isn’t a stand your ground case!

He was on his back on the ground! He’d ceded about as much as he could before acting in Self Defense.

Doesn’t matter. The case is so thin it won’t make it past May 8th.


21 posted on 04/25/2012 10:23:53 PM PDT by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously, you won't live through it anyway)
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To: neverdem
When you are slugged from behind and find yourself laying on the ground with a healthy black teenager pounding your head into the pavement you don't stop and think:
"If I shoot this scumbag will I be covered by the 'Stand-Your-Ground-Law' or should I just let him turn my brains into mashed potatoes?"


22 posted on 04/25/2012 10:40:01 PM PDT by Iron Munro (If Repub's paid as much attention to Rush Limbaugh as the Dem's do, we wouldn't be in this mess)
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To: neverdem
... a right to "stand your ground" in public places, which eliminated the duty to retreat from an assailant.
Here's the problem with "the duty to retreat from an assailant". Many people CAN'T retreat.

Either from a medical condition, age, or the situation at hand. Or due to a combination thereof. If you're facing eminent danger of life or limb you have to stay and defend yourself. And that's that.

A young strapping 30 year old who just had knee surgery and has to to a cane can't run away (retreat). Or an older person with a cane, walker, or in a wheelchair. In those situations the feral street vermin look at you as an easy target, which you are if unarmed. Not to mention the average female who'd be any easy target for a Rapist.

But the gun-grabbers know this and don't give a crap. They want POWER over the masses and an unarmed people are the easiest to control. And if a few people get killed along the way so be it. It's for the 'Greater Good' (theirs not ours). As they say, 'The End Justifies The Means'.

However, that saying works both ways. As my 'End' is to stay alive and not become a victim. Which 'Justifies' any 'Means' I choose to achieve that 'End'.
(yes I'm in IL and technically I'm supposed to be a 'voluntary victim' when outside, ha!)


23 posted on 04/26/2012 5:53:50 AM PDT by Condor51 (Yo Hoffa, so you want to 'take out conservatives'. Well okay Jr - I'm your Huckleberry)
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