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.
In Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Dodge City, and Caldwell, for the years from 1870 to 1885, there were only 45 total homicides.
Three homicides per year in five of the "wildest" cow towns in the old cattle drive days. Not three each, three total. Professor McGrath might be better advised to lay off the oaters and pick up a book.
Your post said nothinf about the legal burden of proof.
You took the leap from 'there is no evidence that martin didn't jump zimmerman' to 'martin doubled-back and attacked'.
Exactly when did lack of evidence that something "didn't" happen come to equal proof that it did?
And, if that is the case in your world then how about this...
"There is no proof that Zimmerman didn't follow Martin and confront him, gun in hand - Martin fought to keep from being shot"...by your standard that is equally true.
It is noted that you ignored the fact that, by your own map, zimmerman could not have been walking directly to his car since the fight happened off that track.
We have Zimmerman’s sworn statement that he was returning to his car. The prosecution has no evidence to contradict that.
That’s it. That’s all the evidence.
If you want to pretend that in reality he was NOT returning to his car, go ahead. There’s no evidence for that, but go ahead.
If you look at the map and consider the size of the homes that are nearby, this is a small area. Pretending that ten feet in one direction or the other is meaningful when two men are fighting out in an open area “proves” something is idiotic.
The prosecution never sought Zimmerman's medical records for his injuries. That fact came out in the bond hearing.
Think about that. The prosecution NEVER EVEN SOUGHT Zimmerman's medical records before bringing charges of second degree murder. And there were weeks that elapsed before charges were brought.
And this is the kind of b.s. that makes up the prosecution's case:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE [from the state attorney's office]: Did he also not state that at some point, he the defendant did he not state or claim that the victim in this case, Mr. Martin, put both hands one over his mouth and one over his nose so that he couldnt breathe?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And all of sudden thats when he was able to get free and grab the gun. Or Im sorry, Martin was grabbing for the gun, did he not claim that too at some point. climb that?
This is the kind of crap they are reduced to. That someone being smothered is ipso facto incapable of getting hold of his gun and firing it. Incredible.
This case is a travesty.
“I absolutely don’t think you should “have to flee”.”
“On the street, though, there are many, many chances to walk into or stay out of trouble...I don’t think CCW should embolden you to walk into trouble you could easily avoid.”
You’re talking out of both sides of your mouth. I don’t care if a person is armed or not, they have to right to be and if a bad guy wants trouble then so be it, he gets trouble.
You are also taking the liberal stance that somehow a person with a gun is a wacko looking for trouble.
It isn’t “proof that it did.” But the prosecution has to prove its case. If they don’t have evidence that confirms their assertions, then they can’t prove it. That means “not guilty” (not the same thing as “innocent”).
Remember the Casey Anthony case. She was likely guilty as sin, and the defense was able to posit a number of ridiculous theories as to what happened. The prosecution did not make their case; they didn’t have the evidence. So she walked.
Here, they’re asserting “facts” that there is zero evidence of. Good luck with that.
I am fully aware of the legal threshold...i have written often that z should not have been arrested based on what we know. My point is a simple one...because we do not know, we can not state as fact that martin turned and attacked. To many freepers this scenario, which is just one of many possibilities, is the indisputable truth.
No, we have no idea who initiated contact. Zimmerman says it was Martin, and Martin is unable to testify. To my knowledge there are no witnesses to confirm or deny Z's testimony. That means the prosecution is screwed and this trial is politically-motivated B.S.
I didn’t “swear” anything. You seem to be emoting instead of thinking.
We have Zimmerman’s sworn statement that he was returning to his car.
The prosecution has stated they do not have evidence to contradict that.
But rather than pay attention to what both sides are stating about the evidence, you are putting your fingers in your ears and saying “WAAAAAAAAH”.
Two men start fighting. According to you, they must necessarily confine their movements to the top sidewalk? Are you serious?
After Zimmerman finishes his phone call, he doesn’t know where Trayvon is. Trayvon comes from behind him as he is walking back to his car. Let’s say Trayvon comes from point E. (perfectly plausible and not inconsistent with the evidence we have). Let’s say he confronts Zimmerman around the T intersection of the sidewalks. An exchange of words happens - “You got a problem with me homes?” “No” “You do now” or whatever was said. Maybe Zimmerman backs up a few feet (towards witness John’s yard) as Trayvon appears highly agitated and aggressive. Then Trayvon slugs him, breaking his nose and Zimmerman falls to the ground again in the direction of witness John’s yard. Trayvon lunges at him, Zimmerman manages to move a few feet further away from, but Trayvon quickly manages to get on top of him. And there they are, in witness John’s yard. Zimmerman cries for help, John goes out, sees Zimmerman on the bottom getting pummeled by Trayvon and yells “stop” and then goes in to call 911.
That is perfectly consistent with everything known about the case and consistent with the evidence that Zimmerman was heading back to his car when the confrontation occurred.
But no, you know better.
And you never explain why Trayvon was not already home, if he did not double back to confront Zimmerman.
You can see the house where he was staying. It’s not far. If he was indeed walking directly home, he would have been there before Zimmerman was even finished talking with the police dispatcher.
You can’t dispute that, the physical geography is plain to see. But the evidence appears not that important to you as you form your feelings about the case.
"Professor" McGrath is in favour of thugs raping women, killing men, robbing little children, and doing every other form of felonious misconduct, with impunity.
How is the lack of proof that something "didn't" happen proof to you that it did?
Do your best...
Rational people consider evidence.
If you have evidence not known to the prosecution and not known to the defense, please state it.
The above are your words.
You dishonestly claimed I said he got jumped at point F. No, I did NOT say that.
Point F is where witness John saw Martin on top of Zimmerman beating him. It does not necessarily represent the point where they first spoke to each other or where Martin first struck Zimmerman.
The evidence, unchallenged, is that Zimmerman was heading back to his car when the confrontation occurred.
Was Zimmerman even walking directly on the cement as he was making his way back to his car? Maybe, maybe not. Was he walking quickly or slowly? Who knows? Was he was walking slowly and partially on the grass, peering around walls and shrubs to see if he saw anyone or saw signs of break-in as he made his way back to his car? Maybe. Or maybe not.
Your conclusion that Zimmerman could not have been walking directly from point E to point C if the two men were seen by witness John at point F is something you have simply pulled out of your butt.
You have concluded that in the course of the exchange of words and the physical assault that followed, that it was somehow not physically possible for the men to move off of the top sidewalk and into witness Johns yard.
What, was the sidewalk newly-poured cement, with their feet physically stuck in the cement? Is that your claim?
You offer nothing but b.s. You dispute the notion that Zimmerman was making his way back to his car, which is the only scenario for which we have evidence and which as to which the prosecution concedes there is no evidence to challenge this. And that is taking into account all of the witness statements, all of the physical evidence, analysis of the taped calls, everything they have.
And you offer what? Nothing.
And yet at the same time, you have concluded that it is NOT POSSIBLE for the confrontation to have started at some point on Zimmermans path back toward his car and yet for the two men to end up on the ground in witness Johns yard.
And how do you support your conclusion that this was not possible? With nothing.
A guy in Salt Luke City stood his ground and stopped a knife welding lunatic.
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