It’s been a while and news has come and gone over the last few weeks. One item still is bothering me though and that item is the so-called “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida and other states. Simple speak a stand-your-ground law is a type of self-defense law that gives individuals the right to use reasonable force to defend themselves without any requirement to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation. I guess to a certain extent this is a law to enhance the stature of people who do not want to come across as wimps. After all, we are Americans, no surrender no retreat…especially if you have deadly force behind you.
There’s a history behind this law dating back to the 19th century and beyond. It is arbitrary when used in cases of self-defense. It’s ok to kill an assailant if one feels his life is in danger and there seems to be no possibility of retreat. Well tell our kids to “stand up” to the bully in school and the bully will probably back down. This seems to be a continuation of that admonition. It makes us more of a “man” to confront rather than to back down. I’m not sure this is really helpful. If more people stood up for themselves then there would be less bullies and eventually less crime. This theory doesn’t seem to hold up. A study by Texas A&M economics professors found that the adoption of stand-your-ground laws caused a statistically significant increase in the raw homicide rate, and had only a very small positive effect on deterrence of crime. Interesting stat if that was a pro-deadly force argument.
Self-defense has been part of common law for ages. Force met with force is acceptable. Force met with deadly force is iffy. What is it about guys that they need a gun to “complete” them? In states where people can carry firearms as if they were in 19th century Tombstone or Deadwood or Placerville, violence is bound to happen. One usually carries a pen to use it, one carries a gun…just in case. Feel safer? Feel invinceable? Feel more manly?
The Martin shooting was a tragedy not “God’s work” as Zimmerman professed. How would you feel if a creepy guy started following you asking you where you were going or what is your purpose here? Not a cop, but just a guy? Would you stop and tell him or tell him to get lost? The self-described neighborhood watch guy is just that, a watcher not a protector. He called 911 and the dispatcher told him to stay in his car. But he felt he was “justified” in getting out of his car and following the young black teen. Is that standing your ground? Knowing he had a holstered gun I wonder if he felt he was a more completed man and was embolden to carry out what he thought was his “duty” to protect his gated community from those kind of people.
For a nation that loves its guns sometimes more than life itself, it is no wonder that arguments perceived or real are settled with a fatal shot. I understand that at the moment before the trigger is pulled there is emotion and fear and a disconnect to any possible alternative. That does not quite excuse the fact that an alternative might exist. I’m not quite convinced that is really a manly thing. It is definitely the most convenient thing.
…and so it goes…