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.
Please...comparing this with nearly 50 year old TV shows? One’s no one has seen ? When now all they show is swishy ‘metrosexuals’. This goon would have us all disarmed and victims. Which is the end game.
An armed society is a polite society. QED. Criminals hate armed citizenry.
Another idiot that disregards all the evidence that Zimmerman was being beaten to death and had no option other than shooting his assailant.
Reading opinions like these, you’d think Zimmerman shot Martin from across the street because he didn’t like his hoodie.
The media is turning this into the “No One Is the Boss of Me” law, the “Kiss My Ass, Jerk” law, but I thought it was about legal issues and lawsuits, and such.
The freepers that speak legalese and can translate it to we street level posters, need to post the language that we need to counter this effort with, what is a sentence or two description of the original purpose of laws saying that we won’t be prosecuted for self defense?
I have news for professor Unicorn; Gunsmoke was a television show.
For a professor, you are a REAL idiot.
911 in the Gunsmoke era? Gotcha!
Better the Wild West than the present Europe!
I’m an undersized guy, and as such I’d see a lot of people as a real threat should they want to do me harm.
Where the heck is the barf alert???
“God made man, but Samuel Colt made them equal.”
This professor is a drooling moron. Palance played a gun for hire. Alan Ladd's character most resembled a modern neighborhood watch captain.
[[Stand your ground laws recall the Wild West]]
but apparently getting one’s head smashed to bits on a sidewalk doesn’t ‘recall the wild west’ to that writer-
True, Palance was a stone cold hit man.
Next time you watch the movie, notice Palance getting on his horse in the town scene, when he swings his leg over the saddle at (Shane?) it is a powerful example of an actor using his body to say a page of dialogue.
When he mounts that saddle, it is the biggest body language F***Y*U, that I have ever seen in real life or film..
No! I do not have that. I’m so uncertain that if my head is being bashed upon the pavement repeatedly I really Am uncertain!!!
Trayvon Martin was a tall, broad shouldered and muscular MAN, not a little boy, 6 inches taller than George Zimmerman and probably in better shape.
In actual combat situations the "fairness" principle is a load of crap. The only applicable rules are whatever it takes. No one in the "wild West" was expected to submit to being pounded to death by an "unarmed" assailant.
Chicago should keep it's idiots at home.
The movie Shane is really totally unfit as an analogy for the Zimmerman/Martin incident. There was no law there. Ownership of property was in dispute as was the reality in the west in many places. There was an active dispute, or war, going on and everybody knew who was on what side. Those things made the backdrop and the framework for the whole drama of Shane and none of them exist in the events surrounding Zimmerman/Martin.
I recommend a rubber room some Xanax and a cup of chamomile tea for Prof. McGrath.
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.
The author seems to ignore the fact this particular case disproves his assumption that dialing 911 is adequate to defend the victim from an attacker.
GZ was attacked while he was in the due process of defending a community from burglaries. GZ had just spoken with 911, giving them a several minute head start to arrive at the scene. That still was inadequate time to prevent Trayvon from attacking GZ and begin smashing his head against concrete.
We still have not heard of what permanent neurological damages have been caused by Trayvon’s unwarranted assault upon GZ.
Especially corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.
This guy’s an idiot.
I'd love for the "perfesser" to put that in his pipe and choke on it.
The State's investigator said under oath on the stand that he had no evidence that contradicted Zimmerman's story. So, that story is the story that stands. What was that story?
Zimmerman was returning to his truck on advice of the 911 dispatcher to stop following the suspicious person. Trayvon could've returned to his dad's condo easily. He turned around, came back, cold-cocked Zimmerman and was beating the crap out of him, threatening to kill Zimmerman, when he got himself shot and killed.
"Stand your ground" has zero to do with this incident. Zimmerman was on his back and could not retreat.
Why is it, that so many "professors" are so stupid and uninformed?
Does he mean like present day Chicago?
Funny. Statistically speaking, the Wild West was a lot safer and more peaceful than a lot of cities.
I wouldn't say zero. The "Stand your ground" law will give Zimmerman an opportunity to win immunity from prosecution and lawsuit for this justifiable homicide. An important provision of the law that is being invoked in this case.
I must be lost, from what I understand Zimmerman fired in self-defense. Not sure why all the drama about the “stand your ground” law it shouldn’t be the issue. If someone has you down beating your head on the pavement your life is indeed in danger and you have the right to defend yourself. I have never heard that self-defense depended on the other person being armed- if someone is trying to kill you, with their bare hands you will be just as dead as if they shot or stabbed you if you can’t defend yourself. Isn’t self-defense allowed in every state in the U.S.? I would hope so.
As to the analogy to the western shows, yes you can now dial 911 but unless you are incredibly lucky- lottery winning lucky the response will not be fast enough to change the outcome if someone is trying to kill you.
Liberals have imposed an unjust and insane system of “zero tolerace” on public school children. Now they want to impose it on adults.
Zero tolerance makes the victim who defends himself with violence against a violent attacker equally guilty and equally punished for the violence.
This is what they do to Europeans who defend themselves and others from predators.
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