Skip to comments.‘Stand your ground’ laws recall the Wild West
Posted on 04/21/2012 10:44:28 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
The so-called stand your ground law that allowed neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman to shoot and kill Treyvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., without an initial arrest once was a principle that nearly every American believed in.
And we were reminded of its key provision every Saturday night in prime time when watching Gunsmoke, among the nations longest-running and most popular TV programs.
Each episode began with the same scene on Main Street in Dodge City, Kan., with Marshal Matt Dillon, played by James Arness, in a gun duel, staring at another man who stood 60 yards away. After several seconds of music and tension, the other man would reach for the handgun in his holster, which prompted Dillon to draw his gun faster and shoot him first.
No need for any investigation or police inquiry to determine whether it was a justified shooting because whichever cowboy drew last was standing his ground in self-defense.
Only two problems with this allusion. The first is that TV viewers understood that the law was needed in the West of the 19th century when lawlessness prevailed, when you could not dial 911 and when every man carried a six-shooter or a rifle out in the open. Such circumstances, of course, did not apply to the America that watched westerns in the movie theater or on TV in the 1960s.
The second problem was that it was universally accepted that lethal self-defense was justifiable only against someone who was armed. Had Matt Dillon or Wyatt Earp or Lucas McCain of The Rifleman show tried to claim self-defense against an opponent who possessed only a club, slingshot or a bag of Skittles, not only would his reputation as a hero be jeopardized, hed be thrown in jail and possibly sentenced to hang by Judge Roy Bean.
Fast forward 37 years, well past the last broadcast episode of Gunsmoke: Thanks to the National Rifle Association and its close friends like Florida Gov. Rick Scott, citizens are packing just like in the Wild West. In the state with the fewest gun restrictions in the country, Zimmermans right to carry the weapon he drew on Martin hasnt been questioned.
But Floridas NRA-loving legislators went the Wild West even one better freeing pistol packers to fire on any man, woman or child, even if theyre not carrying a gun, as long as the shooter feared for his or her life.
I was not a resident of Florida in 2005 when Gov. Jeb Bush issued this license-to-kill en masse. So I am going to give its legislators the benefit of the doubt, confident that more than one must have pointed out that the law could be far too loosely interpreted not only by bigots and paranoids but also by normal folks who happen to be temporarily disgruntled, disoriented, nervous or just naturally fearful of, say, teenagers, homeless people or strangers with moustaches, black hats or hooded sweatshirts.
What was everyone else thinking?
In the movie Shane, among the most highly acclaimed westerns of the aforementioned era, Jack Wilson, a kind of neighborhood watch captain hired by cattlemen, and played by Jack Palance, regularly got away with murder. He followed and confronted the poor homesteaders, threatening them with his malevolent grin and emasculating insults, driving them to make a move for a weapon out of fear and desperation, a move that cued their instant execution by the much-faster Wilson.
But even that sinister hit man was more regulated than Zimmerman, insofar as Wilson had to be careful not to shoot a homesteader who had only a hoe or a buggy whip or a can of iced tea.
After more than a month of protests and media debate, due process finally has been followed, with Special Prosecutor Angela Corey filing charges of second-degree murder against Zimmerman.
Whatever happens in the ensuing plea or trial, the next step should be repeal of the stand your ground law that permits people to act as judge, jury and executioner and that has led to the tripling of the number of so-called self-defense killings in Florida since its inception.
The law must be stricken from the books not only in Florida but also in each of the other dozen or so states where legislators passed it while apparently temporarily insane.
David McGrath is an emeritus professor of English at the College of DuPage and author of The Territory, a story collection.
That analogy to a old time western movie hardly makes sense. No, I ain’t got it.
“I recommend a rubber room some Xanax and a cup of chamomile tea for Prof. McGrath.”
“David McGrath is an emeritus professor of English at the College of DuPage” which the article fails to mention is a community college. I don’t know, maybe that’s the same as any other college.
Actually, a better case could be made that it was young Martin who misinterpreted the “stand your ground” principle in that confrontation, to his misfortune. Jurisdictions without SYG would have required him to retreat to the house where he was staying to avoid the altercation.
So-called “stand your ground” laws (laws, I like that) are a great example of how we’ve basically thrown out the Constitution and remember none of the Declaration.
My little brain is trying to think of any valid reason why a law would be necessary to codify the inherent right of self defense. As if I’m only allowed to defend myself in my house. Right...
Suddenly, the light turns on. Bing !
Oh... (duh)... if Courts don’t acknowledge Common Law, common sense, the Constitution, etc., i.e., they side with the attacker instead of the attackee... well then legislatures might see an opportunity to pass a “stand your ground” law to try to make it clear to Judges that it’s legal for citizens to defend themselves.
Even my little pea-brain can figure out the source of the problem: the Judicial system humors pathetic legal defenses based on the attacker’s attorney claiming that the victim had no right to defend themselves from their client.
I guess it’s welcome to legal “bizzarro world”. Well, until we clean out the moral deadwood in the Judicial system.
As far as a professor who reaches way outside the subject matter he teaches and pretends to be smart about it it probably is like most other colleges.
When seconds count the cops are minutes away.
Zimmerman was a fool, but the law is a good one. The left is pissed because it gives law abiding citizens the legal means to fight back. It also means that it puts citizens on a level playing ground with Urban Yoots.
If a faggy lefty wants to be culled by some urban thug, so be it. But most of the people are sick and tired of being targets and the fact we could be in more trouble defending ourselves than the thug who attacks us.
Of course, regarding this particular professor’s (???) childish lie of a column, deadly force employed in self-defense is certainly legitimate if one reasonably believes that one’s life is in danger.
Having one’s head banged on the sidewalk, IMHO, clearly fits that bill. Just to get into all the minutia (since we’re talking about a “professor’s” column), one could reasonably assume that one would soon be rendered unconscious, after which, given the maniac bashing one’s head against the sidewalk seems a rather hell-bent fellow, one could certainly reasonably assume that said fellow would continue the bashing after one lost consciousness. Ergo, it’s a most appropriate time to avail oneself of one’s weapon and finish the bugger off (IMHO), and I doubt it would take very long for the attackee to work through all these details in their mind in that situation.
“Please...comparing this with nearly 50 year old TV shows? Ones no one has seen ?”
being 75, I watched them all!!!!
“Stand your ground” laws are just plain old common sense.
“being 75, I watched them all!!!!”
I always caught Gun Smoke on Sundays! :)
To the Prof. Dumbass, Don’t give up your Day Job!
Stay out of jurisprudentia!
I understand the situation; but I don't see that it is a problem.
One incorrigible budding career criminal was permanently stopped before he could rack up a large body count.
One intended victim was able to successfully defend himself against an intended deadly attack from the above criminal.
That's just one small victory for civilization, compared to the thousands of violent crimes every year wherein the perpetrator should die, but doesn't.
‘Stand Your Ground’ and ‘Self-Defense’ are different legal entities.
Both applied in this instance, but this was classic self-defense.
Apparently you have to be a Professor not to understand the difference.
So many Black youth perps seem to be unusually adept at the methodology needed to quickly and effectively subdue an opponent. From where are they learning these tactics and skills? Are they “instinctive”? Or is there (aside from the military) some sort of underground school where offensive and lethal hand to hand combat skills are being taught to Black youth?
What is with the spate of moronic columns trying to use Hollywood fiction to set up straw men that the writer attacks with false logic and outright lies?
He might as well argue for a change in the laws of physics based on what he saw the coyote and the roadrunner do.
What an ultra-maroon.
History is nice; too damn bad most people don’t study it before writing their articles.
I’m not sure you have to be a black youth to be unusually adept at subduing an opponent. You just have to be young man in your prime, with athletic skills. Treyvon M. was about 6 foot 3 inches tall, weighted 170-180 pounds, about 20 pounds less than George Z. I would describe George M. as short man with a slender build, certainly much lighter than the mug shot photo from 5 years earlier. I have no doubt that Treyvon M. was eating his lunch, George had a broken nose, bloody head wounds from hitting the concrete walkway. During the scuffle on the ground this pistol was probably felt by Treyvon M. in George’s clothing. Once that was discovered, both were going for the pistol, George naturally felt he was in mortal danger, so he fired in self-defense. We don’t know if the pistol was out in plain view when he fired or if it was still in his jacket and fired thru the clothing. Trayvon M. could have been hit in a non-lethal area, but sadly that night this bullet or bullets? were deadly
“After several seconds of music and tension, the other man would reach for the handgun in his holster, which prompted Dillon to draw his gun faster and shoot him first”
I had trouble getting past this part. I know it might be a small and nitpickey point, but in that scene Dillon did not draw faster. He did shoot the other guy before he got shot himself, but Dillon did not shoot first. James Arness insisted that Dillon would only return fire and never shoot a man that had not shot at him first.
(The so-called stand your ground law that allowed neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman to shoot and kill Treyvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.)
What allowed Mr Zimmerman to shoot Mr Martin is a human beings right to defend their own life.
As our FOUNDERS stated, it is a right given by our Creator and one guaranteed in our Constitution.
You may not like that, but a fact is a fact...........
By wild west he obviously means Hollywood sound stages. Its Hollywood, not history. Too many people confuse them.
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