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September 30, 2014

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Trayvon Martin case has some looking at Nevada’s new self-defense law

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Steve Marcus

Blondzzetter Jordan , left, and grandson Edwin Johnson, 11, hold signs during a “hoodie” gathering at Raw Remedies, a therapeutic beauty boutique at 203 East Colorado St. near Charleston and Casino Center boulevards Sunday, March 25, 2012. People, many wearing hooded sweatshirts, came seeking justice for 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a high school student who was shot and killed February 26 in Sanford, Fla.

L.V. Hoodie Gathering for Trayvon Martin

Braylyn Moffett, 4, is held by his father Antoine Moffett as he tries to stay awake for a Launch slideshow »

As the country tries to understand how Trayvon Martin — a hoodie-clad 17-year-old armed with nothing more than a cellphone, can of iced tea and bag of Skittles — was shot to death in Florida in February without anyone being charged, every possible culprit is being considered.

There’s the shooter, neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, who has offered a questionable claim of self-defense, and the conduct of Sanford law enforcement officials who decided not to prosecute.

But some of the sharpest outcry has focused on Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which justifies use of deadly force in self-defense, with no obligation to first attempt to retreat.

In Las Vegas, officials and academics are taking a close look at the Martin case, and for good reason: Nevada recently passed a law nearly identical to Florida’s, leading many to believe a similar tragedy could play out in the Silver State.

“The circumstances are ripe for a Trayvon situation to happen here,” said Sylvia Lazos, a law professor at UNLV's Boyd School of Law. “We have a lot of crime. We have a lot of people with guns. We have a lot of people who are untrained. We have to watch it. ... These combinations can be quite toxic.”

Nevada is one of 25 states, according to the Legal Community Against Violence, with a law allowing individuals to use deadly force when they feel threatened with no obligation to stand down or try to avoid violence once reasonable fear is established.

Nevada’s “stand your ground” law was approved by the 2011 Legislature and took effect in October. It allows that as long as a person who feels threatened didn’t initiate the altercation and isn’t doing anything criminal, that person can stand and use deadly force and it would be considered “justifiable homicide.”

Such laws “are all designed to allow for some expanded notion of self-defense,” Lazos said. “The problem that you have when regular people engage in self-defense ... is that people make decisions fairly quickly about whether they are, in fact, in danger.”

In many ways, the law codified an older standard: Since 1990, case law in Nevada has upheld that use of deadly force as a first option is legitimate self-defense. That’s partially why groups as disparate as the American Civil Liberties Union and National Rifle Association were able to come together to support last year’s legislation with little fanfare, and why only three members of the Legislature — all Assembly Democrats from Las Vegas — voted against it.

“The cynical view would be (supporting these laws) gets people re-elected for being tough on crime,” said Christopher Blakesley, a professor of criminal law at UNLV. “That’s part of the psychological problem. ... You can end up passing laws that kind of reach a potentially dangerous level.”

The chief author of and agitator for the law, Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, bristled at the suggestion that Nevada’s law creates any room for a Trayvon Martin-type tragedy here.

“This bill says we believe if a Nevadan is attacked, they should be able to defend themselves. ... It is not the same as the Florida law,” Oceguera said in a statement. “If a vigilante chased a kid in a hoodie down the street and killed him, under Nevada law, I would think that vigilante would be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.”

But Blakesley disagrees. Codifying rules of self-defense in such form creates the potential for vigilante justice — or even manipulation by criminals, he said.

“What about gangs?” Blakesley said. “Two gangs, and one sees someone with the other gang’s color walking toward them. Bam. They’d have a reasonable basis to say, ‘I was threatened. The person looked at me and was coming at me, and I killed him to save my life.’

“On the other hand, some may consciously say, ‘OK, I’m going out on a marauding expedition; I’m going to find someone who looks dangerous and get rid of them.’ People who kill under these circumstances usually are doing it in straight-out, good-faith self-defense, and it just happens. ... But are the limitations enough to protect against that? ... That’s what we’re going to have to wait and see.”

•••

The most damning data on Florida’s “stand your ground” law is that since its adoption in 2005, self-defense claims in violent crimes have risen.

With only a five-month track record for Nevada’s law, it’s impossible to draw a comparison — though overall, violent crime in Las Vegas has been trending down.

Supporters of the Nevada law argue that comparisons between Nevada’s and Florida’s laws are inappropriate, especially when the comparison hinges on the Martin case.

“I think it’s good to have it spelled out in the law. ... That assists people on all sides,” said John Cahill, a retired peace officer and firearms instructor who is Clark County's public administrator. “I don’t like it that our Nevada law is under attack because someone did something in Florida. ... I don’t want to lose my rights here in Nevada because some yahoo is misusing a statute in Florida.

“If you look at the cases in those states, there’s no evidence that the law is the problem. If the law were the problem, there wouldn’t be a law anywhere.”

What the Nevada law — and almost every other law of its kind — hinges on is the idea that the actor must have a reasonable belief that his or her life is in danger, such that anyone in a similar situation would make a similar judgment.

The reasonable standard was consciously chosen by the drafters of Nevada’s law. Bills to substitute a “bare fear” standard — a subjective standard in which simply saying, “I was afraid,” is enough to claim self-defense — have been floated in the last three legislative sessions but not progressed out of committee.

Still, who applies the reasonable standard? If there are no witnesses as in the Martin case, that burden usually falls to a jury. Except in Florida.

In Florida, if a person uses violence and claims self-defense, the “stand your ground” law there says the person “is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force.”

“What that basically says is that if anybody says that the killing was justifiable, the state can’t prosecute — and that includes arresting,” said Addie Rolnick, who teaches law at UNLV. “They can investigate whether the force was justifiable, but they can’t arrest until they have probable cause to believe the force was not justified.”

That was part of the problem in Florida, where Zimmerman was never charged with a crime.

“Nevada doesn’t have that,” Rolnick explained. “In the state, the burden is still on the defendant, and that’s a very significant difference.”

Trayvon Martin Protests Around The Country

Isaiah Henry-Simpson, 7, of Arlington, Va., eats Skittles candy while attending a rally with his parents in support of Trayvon Martin at Freedom Plaza in Washington, on Saturday, March 24, 2012. Many people in attendance brought candy, ice tea, and wore hooded sweatshirts, or hoodies, in support of the unarmed young black teen, who was fatally shot by a volunteer neighborhood watchman. Launch slideshow »

Getting a person who used deadly force against another into a courtroom is especially important when the act of self-defense is prompted not by an attack, but the fear of one.

“We know that stereotypes do influence that quick-thinking assessment and judgment about whether someone is in danger and whether self-defense action is needed,” Lazos said. “There has been research done — people do have racial stereotypes in their head, and if they are untrained, they will respond to ambiguous conduct by a black person much more impulsively by pulling the trigger.”

•••

While Nevada’s “stand your ground” law hasn’t been tested in a case like Martin’s, Las Vegas confronted a similar set of issues in the case of Demarcus Carter, an unarmed 19-year-old who was shot and killed in the backyard of a Summerlin house by a homeowner who believed Carter was going to rob him.

It is legal in Nevada, as in many other states, for homeowners to shoot to kill in defense of property. Coincidentally, Nevada’s “castle doctrine” was implemented in the same law that formalized the state’s “stand your ground” practice of self-defense in 2011.

Carter’s case is an example, legal scholars say, of the varied ways people experience fear that can cause them to use a deadly weapon — and later claim that fear as a basis for self-defense. As in the Martin case, many see race as a key factor.

“Many people — the majority black and non-white — are caught up in these self-defense laws because it’s a lot easier for the public to understand them as dangerous and deserving of being killed,” Rolnick said. Carter "was in a backyard, he had a criminal record, and he was a larger, much more imposing black man than Trayvon, who was basically a kid. Once that stuff comes out, people aren’t as concerned.

“Everyone, not just openly racist people, respond to racial cues. There’s a lot of really troubling suggestions that we can’t actually trust our brains to be reasonable about what fear is in light of the way race works.”

Cahill said gun owners need to take that information into account.

“If a person’s skin color, the way they dress, the way they comb their hair — if you know those things create certain fears in you, you’re going to have to set those aside if you’ve got a gun. It changes everything,” he said.

But others argue that individual responsibility can only go so far, and at some point a law that sanctions deadly force can also influence citizens’ actions.

“Part of the talk in Florida has been to say, ‘This case is exceptional,’” Blakesley said. “If that makes legislators and people not think about the validity of such a law ... then that’s bad. One of the torturous things about criminal law is that awful situations give rise to really great teaching moments. And it’s painful, but important, to deal with them.”

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  1. The Zimmerman case revolves around the racial divide in America, and it could happen here in Nevada.

    America is raising up disillusioned and mythical racial causes,on a speakers platform comprised of a slew of racially and hate motivated commentators, including Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan ,the new Black Panther Party who are joined by Obama and his administration. These extremely biased and disillusioned spokespersons for their own distorted brand of social activism, are lurking at the crux of a serious threat to liberty, justice and free speech in America. Nevada could be the next place this happens.

    Is it any surprise that the Justice Department could bring a hate crime allegation against George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin?. Let's face the facts. This killing was a tragic event. Nonetheless, the alignment of the forces of leftist and black "justice seekers" has been activated to declare that Zimmerman must be guilty because of racial motivations. These forces are at the center of a racial witch hunt that could escalate into violence

    Without evidence, leftists and racial activists are asserting that Zimmerman is guilty until proven innocent. Is it any surprise that in America today that one's constitutional rights could be trampled by an administration and racial society devoted to kangaroo court style justice?

    Zimmerman acted without all the facts. That much is clear. What is not at all clear is that he committed a crime. So until it is clear that he did, his Constitutional rights must be protected. Mob mentality must not rule the day. The rule of law must prevail over racial intolerance and bias.

  2. It would be *very* helpful in the Carter case if the police would say one way or another if Martin was in fact attempting to break in. I think that many of us would feel some amount of fear if we saw a person at our window trying to enter it. I promise you that if I saw that outside one of my daughters bedroom windows I would not be inclined to call 911 first.

    On the other hand, the Martin case has all the earmarks of vigilante action and should be treated as such.

    It would help a great deal if basic laws like this were taught in school starting at the earliest age that can comprehend them and then repeated every year. That is part of preparing students to be responsible adults.

  3. So far Nevada law has been good and i can't see that changing. At least it cleans out criminals one at a time.

  4. "You can't stop people from being this stupid." - BChap

    No, but we can at least hope it earns a Darwin Award.

  5. Let me preface my comments by saying I have a handgun in my home and, through the benefit of prior job employments, I have been trained on how and when to use deadly force.

    The thing I see is that, as mentioned in this article, violent crime statistics for Las Vegas are down, and I assume that is Statewide also.

    So why does Nevada need a law like "stand your ground?" Especially when the existing laws are adequate ("home is my castle"), not to mention readily understandable to anyone who has the slightest amount of common sense.

    What I have seen is lobby efforts by NRA to come up with a definitive solution to a problem that is only perceived to be happening, with absolutely no statistics to back it up. It's only a lobby effort to push the sales of guns. Which is fine, but we don't need this law to do that.

    The most dangerous thing I see, and I'm pretty sure most peace officers will back me up, is that when a firearm is sold to a resident in the State of Nevada, there is usually absolutely zero training on how and when to use deadly force; there being nothing required to certify the sale. Any yahoo can buy a gun and "stand their ground."

    So, I guess what I'm saying is that here is a new law that basically says EVERY SINGLE Nevadan is permitted the right to make life and death situations, perhaps even at a moment's notice.

    This is dangerous and controversial. We've seen the worst case scenario in Sanford, FL.

    Let me tell you, people, this is gonna cause problems. Because the experts (law enforcement as well as armed security) who have been trained in the use of deadly force, even they make mistakes from time to time. And they are paid not to. How can an average citizen make those snap decisions and be right...especially with vague laws like this?

    Only thing I see from this useless and unnecessary law is the fact that courts are going to be tied up for a long time to come with trigger happy people who will use this defense from now on.

    I know, I know, you NRA types are going to caution me that guns don't cause the violence, people do, blah blah blah blah.

    But why give people more reason to use deadly force with no training; treating ALL people like properly trained law enforcement personnel?

    Madness, you ask me. It's just asking for trouble.

  6. Colin,

    Most, if not all, of your concerns can be addressed by proper education beginning at a young age.

    I know from reading comments by others that I am not the only one who was raised to treat guns as a tool to be used only for killing, whether it be a human or a different species. Moreover, that training included being taught that one should never draw a gun unless you are prepared to used it as intended.

    I refer you to my earlier comment where I said that children should be taught basic laws like this from an early age. I would add that they should also be taught what some (many?) of us already know about what guns are.

  7. Enjoyed the comments, BChap and botfx. Totally agree with them.

  8. Changing laws isn't going to stop anyone from owning or using a gun.

    The issues facing America that people fail to acknowledge or accept is American's society where we've enabled the liberal desecration of America's core values all in the name of being politically correct and nationality based entitlements.

    For the most part, liberals have created a society of entitlements and communities that are based on nationality. In this economy the hoodlums of society are becoming ever demanding where they feel their entitled to have and will do whatever it takes to take from those who have.

    The hoodlums are taught this from birth, look at the picture gallery the Sun used and there is a common theme in those pictures. Bars on windows and more likely than not, career criminals protesting knowing they're protesting to divert attention away from their acts and placing the spotlight somewhere else. When it's all said done the facts still remain, sleep by day, prowl by night.

    Let's call it like it is, America for the past 25 years have enabled people based on their nationality to blame anyone or anything for their poor choices and their financial status in life.

    To fix societies problems the excuses have to stop. No law is going to change people's mindset, it starts at birth. Remove the liberal hype and their entitlement agenda and let the people stand on their own two feet without excuses and create their own destiny. We have enough laws, we simply need enforement of existing laws.

  9. I'm a huge supporter of the Nevada Law. We should be able to protect ourselves. I have several guns in my home and I openly carry. The family is trained in firing a gun and protecting ourselves. We also know when we should and shouldn't use a gun. However, if we decide to use it against a human being, it's shoot to kill. Blast first, Questions later.

    I hope the law doesn't change.

  10. Comment removed by moderator. The overtones of this comment are inappropriate.

  11. I think it should be obvious to reasonable people that there is a vast gulf between a person in their home defending themselves against an intruder and a person who is seeking to "deal out justice."

    The former can be justified on any number of grounds, but the latter is the act of a vigilante and should be viewed as a crime not only against the victim but against society as a whole.

  12. We have many people with guns BECAUSE WE HAVE MANY CRIMINALS on the lose. I demand my rights to be free to walk around my neighborhood. So if you have an attack dog and it attacks me or my dog, it might be shot--recent Vegas case. So if my gated community has had endless break-ins and burglaries, unsolved, no suspects, and I see someone walking around, regardless of the walkers race or attire, I retain the right to observe and perhaps follow. I retain the right to ask what you're doing. Doesn't mean you have to answer. Doesn't mean you have a right to knock me to the ground. Doesn't mean I can't defend myself if you act stupidly. You do not have a right to react criminally and assault me.

  13. I have firearms and I also have other things: baseball bat, shovels outside but near, pets that sound alerts when someone approaches, security cameras (quick on when knock at door), security fence / door, cactus and shrubs near windows. I was in law enforcement and believe one should take the precautions that say this is not a good target for burglary. My pets seem to know the meter reader and letter carriers but they squawk almost quietly when anyone else comes around.

  14. boftx: doesn't sound like they were right outside anyone's house. I have seen limited coverage of an eye witness who saw Martin attacking Zimmerman and was on top of Z hammering away. Don't you have the right to walk around your neighborhood and observe, even talk to, a stranger walking around--and there have been continual burglaries?

  15. Roslenda,

    You are correct, *but*, you in no way have the right to do something that you know might result in you having to defend yourself. You can NOT provoke a reaction that would on the face of it justify you using deadly force.

    For example, you can not approach someone and use a racial slur to get their attention, knowing that they might react in a hostile manner. As you said, you can defend yourself against stupid, but that doesn't mean you should be stupid to start with.

    Stupid gets what it deserves, hopefully a Darwin Award (as I've often said now.)

  16. Roslenda,

    There is NO video of what happened in the Martin case. But there IS video of Zimmerman at the PD and there simply isn't any visual evidence of any injuries such as those he claims to have suffered. At the very least there should be blood on his shirt or jacket if he had a broken nose.

    I was undecided until those videos of him at the police station became public.

    No one would ever accuse me of being a "bleeding heart" but at this point I have no reason to think Zimmerman is telling the truth. In my opinion, he is nothing more than a vigilante and a bigot, at best.

  17. Botfx: All the video shows that he was cleaned up by the paramedics then taken to his nearby home to change his clothes. His head may have had a spray bandage applied. There is still a thing called inocent until proven guilty, I think I will wait for the investigation to be completed.

  18. "I think it's good to have it spelled out in the law. ... That assists people on all sides," said John Cahill, a retired peace officer and firearms instructor who is Clark County's public administrator."

    Demirjian -- Cahill has already been proven to not know as much as he's claims to know. He's no expert at all. It's also very disturbing the word "Constitution" isn't mentioned in your article, including the quotes from your "experts."

    "So, I guess what I'm saying is that here is a new law that basically says EVERY SINGLE Nevadan is permitted the right to make life and death situations, perhaps even at a moment's notice."

    Colin -- no law "permits" any such right. Violence is an inevitable part of this universe. The real question is what one is to do when confronted with it, and that's an entirely personal choice. Self-defense is a near-absolute right, one that existed long before our republic was Constituted, and one our Constitutions bind our governments to preserve and protect. The recent Heller and McDonald decisions from the U.S. Supremes took several hundred pages explaining this with the other relevant issues. Look them up.

    "I think it should be obvious to reasonable people that there is a vast gulf between a person in their home defending themselves against an intruder and a person who is seeking to "deal out justice."

    boftx -- thanx for making the point before I did. One's a near-absolute right the other is clearly in the criminal jurisdiction.

    "...the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table." District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S., at __ (slip op., at 64) (2008)

  19. nez212,

    I agree with innocent until proven guilty, but my BS detector is going off.

    As for the paramedics cleaning him up and then taking him home to change before the PD put him in cuffs and took him to the station ... BULL!!!!

    Think about it, the LAST thing the cops would want would be for Zimmerman to change clothes and remove evidence that he had been injured.

    I can just hear it now:
    EMT: We'll just wash off all this blood and hide all evidence that you were attacked and had to defend yourself.

    Cop: Yeah, and we'll let you go home first and change clothes so you don't need to wear that bloody shirt that shows you were attacked.

    Really?!?

  20. Chuck333,

    What Spike Lee did was completely out of line and inexcusable. I hope that couple sues and says a) he has to buy their home, b) he has to pay for them to buy another home, and c) he has to pay for pain and suffering. His action was the definition of negligence and I hope he is brought up on charges should that couple suffer a physical attack.

    That said, I grew up in Huntington Park, CA, sandwiched between Maywood, Bell and Watts. I spent my senior year in high school at Los Angeles High School when I lived at 11th and Normandie. I think I can claim to have "lived on the street" as you put it.

    Yes, I have been influenced by my childhood and have biases, but I recognize them and do my best to overcome them.

    In my mind, from everything I have read, seen and heard, Zimmerman should be brought to trial for murder and have a jury decide the facts.

  21. Sick of people using African-American, Mexican-American, Chinese-American, Japanese-American and all other hyphenated excuses when a black person gets shot by any other race but their own.

    Americans are shot and killed every day, it only becomes a race issue when certain races want something or create hysteria when their leaders want another program enabling their freeloading follower's criminal tendencies.

    People need to stop succumbing to their tactics, it's getting old and it's a problem for them. If we keep enabling them, it's only going to get worse as has for the past 25-years.

  22. boftx and others: we cannot expect video of everything. An EYE WITNESS said Martin was attacking Z and was on top of him. One can receive a concussion to the back of the head without blood pouring out. I agree you shouldn't stupidly provoke but I've seen no evidence that Z did anything stupid. You assume too much. Defending yourself should not result in bankrupting yourself by taking it all to court. I don't know (yet) if Zimmerman is faultless. Some fault should not result in physical attack and fear. Reportedly, the Z has PTSD--from the attack or from having to protect himself? Reportedly, he has broken nose and other injuries. Again, must one wait until they've been beaten to a pulp before defending oneself? How do you preclude unconsciousness. Yes it's a tragedy, whatever happened. A young man is dead and another man is forever scarred. Again, we retain the right to walk within our neighborhood, to be curious about strangers, to be concerned about ongoing burglaries. We also have a right to carry concealed weapons. Will your position change, if and when, they release info that the Martins are in possession of stolen property--inferring that Martin was THE burglar. Did you now see the media coverage of Martin's disciplinary record?

  23. Yeah Tim, D*mn those "certain races" for getting all the goodies that led to the financial meltdown in 2008! "They" get all the advantages while we Caucasians don't get anything!

  24. We don't need legislation to approve of the use of lethal force in defense of self or others. It is the constitutional right to life, liberty and to pursue happiness. And your rights end at my person. So each is within his/her rights until they overlap another person's rights. Overlap would or could occur whenever one person does something inappropriate and beyond his/her rights--like trespass, like assault, like incite a riot. Cheap talk or comments can be ignored but might subject the talker to reactions when someone perceives your noise as a threat. We should limit our defensive countermeasures to what is reasonable but who are you to second guess what would have been reasonable if I feared for my life because of the UNREASONABLE actions of someone else?

  25. Since this article is SLANTED with out all of the facts being available - it is far fetched and way off the mark.

    A Man has the right of self-defense. If he is attacked then he has the right of self defense and may use any means necessary to nullify that attack. Up to and including deadly force. I can come up with at least a dozen scenarios just as far fetched as those listed.

    A is A.

  26. "Yeah Tim, D*mn those "certain races" for getting all the goodies that led to the financial meltdown in 2008! "They" get all the advantages while we Caucasians don't get anything!"

    Lmao, the meltdown was created only as a result of: "The Community Reinvestment Act" and all the other programs set aside for people who had no right to buy a house in the first place until they actually got a paying job that could pay for their freebie that they couldn't afford in the first place...

    Take the liberal hysteria and try it somewhere else, it might work for most; it won't work for those of us who understand the repugnant system liberals created. The poor-me, poor-me syndrome, everybody else is to blame, get real; it's all races it only becomes a race issue when it suits the liberal agenda. Pathetic excuse of human life, wake up and blame and not be accountable for their poor choices they've made.

  27. "...it only becomes a race issue when certain races want something or create hysteria when their leaders want another program enabling their freeloading follower's criminal tendencies."

    Tim Wiggin,

    You forgot to use the word liberal :). However I must congratulate you for managing to get it in 3 times in your previous post. Because of the number odd claims that you make about "certain races" and their "leaders," I am compelled to suggest that you be more clear and concise. Only because in general, most of your posts could easily be mistaken as quotes from "Mein Kampf" and I would hate to see you get involved in litigation over copy write infringement.

    I think we may be on the same side as far as the way the press has hyped up this case so more people are focusing on race instead of seriously searching for a solution. Anyway, thanks again for the entertainment.

  28. Lmao, watch your TV station news, they're everywhere. They've gone insofar with their "Hoodie Movement" throughout the USA. They want to cry foul and injustice before knowing all the facts; they've even got your president to claim if he had a son, he'd look just like him.

    Liberal leaders and their mindless sheep are using this for their sick immoral political agenda to generate more freebies for their agenda and pass more laws protecting their career criminal's offspring. Bottom line, the one who was killed more than likely isn't the as innocent as they'd like all us to believe, just because they scream and create the poor kid hysteria, surely doesn't make it true.

    When all said done, the courts and the people will be the judge, not their hysteria or The Hoodie Movement. Until then, they need to crawl back into their holes and leave it be.

  29. As the debate over the killing of the 17yr old teen in Florida continues to heat up, there has been a rallying cry that has gone up "We are Trayvon Martin". Meant to symbolize the solidarity of the struggle against injustice. It is a nice poetic sentiment. One that echoes the wish that we could treat each other as equals regardless of skin color or economic differences.

    But that is a dream. The truth is, "WE ARE GEORGE ZIMMERMAM"""..

    http://thetop10.squarespace.com/the-poli...

  30. If you wear a police uniform, you can't be upset if I assume you're a police officer. If you dress like a hoodlum gangbanger, guess what ...

    Read up on the black kid's issues. Did he deserve to be shot for that ? Probably not. But quiet making him out to be some innocent little angel. Gold toothed, hoodied, school suspended weed smoker. Like Obummer said, if he had a son, he'd be just like that ??

  31. The pro-Zimmerman rants on here are making sane gun owners like me look bad.

    *sighs*

  32. Does anyone but me wonder if you dress like a drug gangster you may be treated like one? Does anyone wonder why there is no outcry from the Black Panthers on the 17yr old black kid who shot a white policeman in St. Petersburg in cold blood? No outcry on the drive by shooting into the funeral of a drive by shooting victim in South Florida over the weekend?
    If Trayvon was wearing normal clothes and respectful of the Community watchman maybe he would be alive, so it goes back to how the parents bring their kids up in these ethnic groups. They are not taught when they dress like RAP stars, thugs, etc it serves no good purpose for further achievement in life. I have been robbed by black men ( and a white guys) wearing hoodies a few times ( break ins) so I would be very suspicious of a young black man at night wearing one approaching me, unless it was REALLY cold out. They brought the trouble on themselves to a degree but blame lays on the whole black community.

  33. I wonder if the people holding the signs in the picture above have any opinions on the O.J. Simpson case.

  34. As a result of the "back yard burglar" shooting and killing in Summerlin a few weeks ago, I read through Nevada's criminal law relating to self-defense and stand your ground. My comment about it was, and still is, that the "reasonable fear" standard is a gaping hole which a prosecutor cleverly playing to a jury could drive a truck through, if it was politically expedient for him to do so.

    Yesterday, I finally found the code section reference to the allegedly similar Florida statute, and its wording is different from Nevada's. The Florida statute is written in a more straight-forward way which makes it easier to understand when one can and cannot use lethal force to defend oneself and makes defense of a self-defense shooter far less risky for the self-defense shooter and his/her criminal defense attorney. Obviously, there's zero chance that in 2013 the Nevada Legislature will clean up the circular almost contradictory wording of its self-defense and stand your ground code sections, which came about when the Legislature stuck the "stand your ground" amendment into the previously existing law in 2011.

    Reading the Nevada law, it's still my belief that in order to avoid leaving the "reasonableness of one's fear" up to a jury of 12 people of questionable intelligence, it's not wise or safe to shoot a would-be home invasion robber/burglar until he has broken your window or is forcing his way through your door. Of course, by that time it's more-likely-than-not that the robber/burglar will have an advantage over anyone who is unarmed, timid or an inexperienced shooter.

    The real key to keeping residents of Clark County safe, in the face of a home invasion robberies, is a recognition by the Sheriff and the County Commissioners who provide the Sheriff's budget that the taxpayers living in "safe" or "middle class" or "affluent" neighborhoods are entitled, at all times of the day and week, to an equal number of patrol officers per 1,000 population than one finds in areas patrolled by Metro with much higher crime, such as the east side. For those of you who don't agree with me, go to the internet and search the key words "Arizona Paradise Valley 2012 Shapiro". That horrific home invasion robbery/murder/arson/victim immolation involved my friend's 79 year old inlaws. The alleged perpetrators were a professional burglary/robbery ring made up of white, not crack head, members. I note that the burglary/robbery ring members in that case are white, to illustrate the fact that home invasion robbers who will kill you come in all races.

    Based on what happened to my friend's inlaws, everyone who knows my friend realizes "It CAN happen here", and if the only Metro patrol car on duty for your neighborhood is taking a call in Jean, and you dial 911 instead of successfully trying to defend yourself, under present Metro staffing standards you will likely end up dead at the hands of the home invasion robber.

  35. Rationalize...

    To justify one's actions, especially discreditable actions (or beliefs) with plausible reasons, especially after the event.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rationa...

  36. People who already opposed self defense laws and gun rights have taken this opportunity to bring up their arguments again. A cynical political football match has resulted.

    All the "experts" who comment here, on either side, really have only the vaguest clue what actually happened between the two people in Florida. They are often arguing over partial, divisive, and unproven facts.

    I TRULY believe an arrest of Zimmerman should have been made when the police arrived; followed by a decision of the DA to either prosecute or release. I have heard that Florida law precluded this arrest under the flawed stand your ground law. If true then the law seems to be ideal to create a poor excuse to hurt or kill someone on the streets.

  37. The published witness accounts and reports do not seem consistent with Zimmerman's side of things.

    Even FOX News ran this headline: "Trayvon Martin witness casts doubt on shooter's self-defense claims" ( http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/03/29/tra... )

  38. Self Defense? Here is a "Stand Your Ground" Law from the near past, though it was named differently:

    "Missouri Executive Order 44", i.e. the right to shoot Mormons on sight. (As copied directly from Wikipedia)

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Missouri Executive Order 44, also known as the "Mormon Extermination Order" in Latter Day Saint history, was an executive order issued on October 27, 1838 by the governor of Missouri, Lilburn Boggs.

    The directive was issued in the aftermath of the Battle of Crooked River, a clash between Mormons and a unit of the Missouri State Guard in northern Ray County, Missouri, during the so-called "Mormon War" of 1838.

    Insisting that the Mormons had committed "open and avowed defiance of the laws", and had "made war upon the people of this State," Boggs precipitously directed that "the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace--their outrages are beyond all description."

    While the order is often referred to as the "Mormon Extermination Order" due to the phrasing used by Boggs, relatively few people were killed as a direct result of its issuance.

    However, the state militia and other authorities used Boggs' missive as a pretext to expel the Mormons from their lands in the state, and force them to migrate to Illinois. Mormons did not begin to return to Missouri until 25 years later, when they found a more welcoming environment and were able to establish homes there once more.

    In 1976, citing the unconstitutional nature of Boggs' directive, Missouri Governor Kit Bond formally rescinded it.
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    These early Missourians were very concerned about this new religion from the East. They were so concerned, they feared for their lives, and so did the Governor.

    Fearing for one's life may be real to the individual, but it does not grant them the right to summarily execute and individual Carte Blanche. American Law defends this position completely.

  39. TomD1228, vegasfun01,

    There are NO facts available about how the confrontation started. There are NO witnesses who saw that. At this point we must trust that the special prosecutor will be able to determine what most likely happened.

    Yes, it has become a race issue in many respects. But that is a reflection upon our society's failure to recognize that though the fighting has stopped, the Civil War continues to be fought to this day.

  40. To the parents out there, imagine this:

    Your 17 year old child calls you at night and says a strange man is following him.

    You: "Where are you?"
    Child: "On the path behind the townhouses walking home"
    You: "Is anyone else around?"
    Child: "No"

    Now stop and think, what would you tell your child to do?

    A. Run
    B. Confront the stranger to ask what he wants

    If you're honest you told your child to run.

    So your child runs and tells you "He's running after me" and the phone goes dead.

    This is based on the known facts, Trayvon ran and Zimmerman pursued him.

    None of us know if Zimmerman caught up to him and tackled him, a struggle started, Trayvon ends up on top, and with fight or flight triggered Trayvon defends himself. Now Zimmerman feels threatened and uses his gun.

    The fact that Zimmerman chased a 17 year old at night, after police told him not to, makes him guilty in my mind. But there are many facts missing to make a final judgment.

  41. I'm going to recommend that some of the posters here (you know who you are) read "Mein Kampf" since so many comments could be seamlessly added to it.

    I'll bet if the The Sun anonymously posted excerpts from "Mein Kampf" in the Comments Section, we'd mistakenly attribute them to the "usual suspects" posing as conservatives and using the word "liberal" ad nauseam.

  42. TomD1228,

    Please post a link to a report that has a witness saying without reservation they could tell who was on top AND that Martin initiated physical contact.

    As for Martin not being a choir boy as you put it, it seems Zimmerman has a few skeletons in his closets, too. (Literally, now.)

  43. Post the link to the witness statement. The reports of witness statements I have seen are inconclusive at best. Even the one from FOX news that I posted earlier.

    We simply don't have enough reliable information yet to make an informed decision. But I will say this: I am not inclined to believe Zimmerman at this point.

  44. Even that report has conflicting accounts by two witnesses who did NOT see who started the physical assault.

    We simply don't know, but the *raw* footage from cameras at the PD station doesn't seem to support Zimmerman. (For those of you who believe what you see on the Internet, please give me a call, I have some prime lakefront property in Arizona I want to sell.)

  45. The law allows the murderer a right to go free if they CREATE A GOOD STORY. Right to Life only refers to the unborn. Thou shall not kill only to the religious. The Right to Bear arms doesn't give you the right to takes anothers person's life. There will never be winners when deadly outcomes like this happen. Legislators signed death sentences to many like Martin allowing anyone that owns a gun to decide someones fate.

  46. And have we now seen the enhanced video that shows Z with an apparent gash on the back of his head? Gee, how did that happen. We're not saying Z is faultless but no person is expected to make perfect choices all the time--that doesn't mean you have a right to assault some guy just 'cause you're a young strong kid with an attitude problem--attitude about school, drugs, discipline. Martin's Dad was trying to deal with the kid's bad behavior....so sad he didn't have more time to work on it.

  47. botfx: The closest think to an apology or gee I was wrong that I've seen from you is that we don't have enough info. And that's called a presumption of innocence. We now have enough info--the gash in Z's skull, the broken nose, the physical facts--Z an average guy without physical stamina and young Mr. Martin with size, strength and attitude. Yes Z had attitude too--the attitude of curiosity and need to protect his neighborhood. When adult men are not free to walk through their neighborhood without being attacked, where can kids and women walk? Enough crime, enough fear.

  48. It's common sense....if you don't want to be mistaken for a THUG, don't dress or act like a THUG. Why people insist on looking/acting like a gangster is beyond me....then they complain when something bad happens. If I walked into an airport looking like Al Quaida, I bet $1000 I'd have TSA and cops watching my every move. Now, what happens if I carry a suitcase and leave it unattended? Is could be an innocent mistake, but I guarantee you they'd take it seriously.

  49. Prejudice in America is a long standing tradition. Many people do not like others from different ethnic groups very much. Most folks feel safer and more relaxed with those of their own backgrounds. I prefer to live with Jews and Asians. I don't "hate" anyone or any group. I simply have my likes and dislikes as does every one of you. As far as the black community is concerned, part of their problem is the simple fact that young, black males account for 4% to 7% fo the population, depending on the area involved, but account for 30% to 70% of the violent crimes in those same areas (Census Bureau, DOJ, FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, and local police department reports). Here in Cincinnati we have at least 3-4 violent crimes in the black neighborhoods every single day. While no issue is one-sided, the only way to fix problems is if those on all sides of the issue accept reality for their part in the situation and work with others to correct it.

  50. Unbelievable.

  51. The press appointed Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as representatives of the black community. Once they have been crowned, it's difficult to dethrone them. As we are all aware of, both men are Reverends and use religion as a form of credibility which somehow qualifies them to lead. Long ago this may have been valid, but not so in this day in age.

    Black people need to stop listening to small minded people in their local communities. They must stop listening to the main stream media that tells them how to act and who their black leaders are. Religion should just be deleted because those who teach it in the small churches rely on myth and not science, math and many modern day concepts. They create inferior intelligence and cannot recognize it. 98% of people in prison are born again Christians. So don't be fooled. There is no such thing as magic and the true educated people know this.

    Hip Hop is a credible art form. It's one thing to live the life and create the art, but be aware that it terrifies some people. And rightly so. Take a look at who mimics it the most according to the media. They are using the power of advertising to teach you how to behave. they tell you how black people are supposed to talk and sound and dress. Some celebrities perpetuate the stereotype so many young blacks feel out of place and un-natural when showing academic knowledge and good comportment.

    It all starts at home. If Trayvon's parents were college graduates, there is a good chance he'd still be alive. (They actually might be for all I know) But on TV they just don't present well in white America. Looks are everything.

    There are many whites who do not care for blacks as a group. (Same with blacks not favoring whites)However they may have black friends. The reason is that there really is an American culture here that binds certain people together no matter what race. Sometimes it's intelligence which is what this country needs to build.

    For awhile, most people who live here wanted to assimilate and be American. But discrimination and prejudice forced many non-whites to stay to themselves and develop the group mentality. So just being in the group made you right irregardless of what your group's mission was. Now look at us. A bunch of good people of all colors with a bunch of bad ideas based on fear and ignorance.

    It's a contest to see who the smartest people are. The dummies should lose but if they have a lot of guns, maybe not.

  52. bghs1986,

    Can you post a link to the video you refer to?

  53. boftx - "No one would ever accuse me of being a "bleeding heart" but at this point I have no reason to think Zimmerman is telling the truth."

    The initial investigating officer thought Zimmerman was lying and wanted to arrest him.

  54. The original intent of the 2nd Amendment is that every citizen has a right to own and carry a defensive weapon in safety. That includes all people not just some.

    The original thought and intent also presumed that most situations of citizen self defense would work themselves out with rabid gunmen being gunned down by the citizens. People were generally polite to avoid the consequences of fists, knives and pocket pistols. The scofflaws biggest fear was being gut shot with a small caliber weapon and slowly dying of peritonitis.

    There were no "police" as such until later. County Sheriff's were politicians and did not possess the mandate nor numbers to police the community's safety at all times.

    The first major gun control law in America was in NY City and the purpose was to disarm the immigrants and minorities of all colors. Previous to gun control every person carried something, in his pocket even if it was just a jack knife. Inexpensive rimfire "Pocket pistols" were advertised and sold openly for five or ten dollars (1-2 weeks good wages) with no licenses nor permits to own nor carry needed.

    The nanny's of progressive social work brought forth the idea that they needed to tell poor people (black, latino, Irish, Italians) how to live and "teach" them how to speak English, bathe, not arm themselves, not kill each other (vendettas etc), and not listen to their "ignorant Catholic priests" instead of "enlightened progressive thought" etc. This led to the yellow press and politicians disarming the minorities so the middle class and rich (read established whites) could feel safe from the poor of any color or creed.

    The middle class and rich people then safely ignored the law while the poor of all colors were prosecuted when caught. Eventually this led to the situation where only the rich, police, and criminals had weapons.

    Best I could do in so few words so there are some gaps in the narrative.....

  55. JeffFromVegas:

    I don't mean to tell anyone how to live. I only wanted to make a comment and possible/plausible suggestions. Of course I don't expect anyone to take my advice.

    In your attempt to be humorous, you may have dulled your point, so please forgive me for asking this question. Are you saying that my suggestion that blacks should move away from religion and become better thinkers and more educated is wrong or meant to be an insult? I also do not see how any clear thinking person could surmise that I was suggesting anything would be a panacea.

    Just because a white person comments on a person of another race does not make that person a racist. And, even if that white person is a racist, his/her statement could still be correct. I'll let the public decide whether my views are right or left and what they're based on.

    Let me reiterate some points about my theory based only on my observations (which means I am willing to listen to other ideas):

    1 Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were not elected to lead the black community. They were appointed by the press.

    2. Black people should expand their horizons outside of their local communities.

    3. Blacks (all people)should rely less on religion and more on empirical knowledge.

    4. Blacks (all people) should not bow to peer pressure or have the "crowd"/"herd" mentality.

    5. Media is in most cases influencing how black (all) children behave, dress,etc.

    6. Parents set examples in the home.

    Am I wrong about any of this? Does any of it make sense? I suppose I could be mistaken and if so I do apologize to all who are offended.

  56. Jeff, read the various biographies of Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge or the various New York politicians. They are all fascinating books even if some are a bit dull. This was the start of enlightenment of the checked pants Republicans and Democrats.

    The social work movement was mostly formed by "progressive" female members of the upper classes. The President and, other progressive members of the upper classes, were (within reason) big boosters of the progressive, suffragette. and social work movements. Other notables were in direct opposition.

    We would not find the Progressives of a century ago very radical. "Progressive radicals," of a century ago. were generally from the upper classes and did not generally believe in British socialism nor communism nor the AFL nor the AFL's enemy the IWW Wobblies. The Progressives often fought those movements.

    The privileged classes (progressive or not) implemented gun laws for their own reasons mostly involving their fear of the lower classes of all races. Progressive upper class politicians under the sway of predatory steel, railroad, or mine owners sent the U.S. Marshals or the Army to suppress "radical" strikes.

    Social workers were generally very well to do "idle upper class people" who, while they worked in the slums for ALL minorities (of all races) were very "patronizing" of their "clients." They saw themselves as following in the footsteps of the upper class Romans. They saw their clients as uneducated and foolish children. They brought home lurid tales of the supposed depravity and violence they saw in the slums.

    A client was a person who was, eligible for clienthood, because they were in a lower position religiously, socially, educationally, morally, and often racially. The Irish, for example, often being defined by the entrenched upper class as not of the same race as proper Americans nor Englishmen.

    In this light, the Progressives had no qualms about lecturing the lower classes on being "better citizens and good workers." I have seen comments about the lower classes being prone to "inherent criminal behavior." Disarming them was justified as for their own good you see.

    For many Social Workers and Progressives they were inherently upper class with the patronizing assumptions of the rich toward the poor people in the slums.

  57. I've got an excellent security system, but, like many condo-dwellers, I've got but one door to my home, and two sliding glass doors going out to a patio - that has half-walls, so, I'm not able to flee my home easily and quickly (which is a safer place than going out into the open) - and I must be prepared to stand my ground!

    If an intruder kicked in my door - it would be very challenging for me to get out quickly and safely - (especially as I'm getting older and not moving as fast as I use to be able to do!) Even IF I was able to get out safely, what about my right to defend the sanctity of my home and my property?

    The only time I've ever been robbed in my life - is here in Vegas when I wasn't home - and guess who helped protect my home and property when I was gone? NO ONE! Neighbors saw it happening and did nothing - and were too scared to even take note of the details or assist Police in the investigation!

    It's sad, but the reality is, I have to keep myself armed in my home - just in case, 24/7/365, in Vegas - because of stupid criminals! The guy in Summerlin had every right to defend himself and his home! Imagine how terrible he feels about having to shoot some stupid criminal for being stupid?

    As for going out in public, good luck! Those of us that are law-abiding citizens have to plan our trips out during the day, as much as possible, as well as our routes - because Vegas changes as soon as the sunsets!

    I live in a middle-class, average community - and we see suspicious types all day long cruising around looking for opportunities to do no good, and all we can do is observe (which can get you targeted by criminal thugs)!

    What we really need in Nevada is EDUCATION! If we had a vibrant Neighborhood Watch Program in every neighborhood, taught by Police, and the volunteer neighbors were well educated to use the power of observation, recording and reporting - and the Police would be truly supportive and responsive (in a much more timely manner) - we'd be able to get these gangs under control and stopped in time! I am NOT advocating any violence or stereotyping like the situation in Florida! In that case, Zimmerman was totally wrong to pursue Martin and should have listened to the dispatcher and kept his distance - that alone would have avoided tragedy!

    Citizens need to be more than just "occupants" of their neighborhoods - we need to know the laws, work with our Police - and respect everyone's rights to avoid tragedies! But, I'm not giving up my 2nd Amendment Right because some stupid kid thinks it's cool to lurk around the neighbor and be part of gang culture! That problem has to be resolved by parents and mentors that teach them life is hard, but it's harder if you're stupid, and stupid can get you killed quickly in Vegas!

    One final note, imagine what our Police have to do all day and all night long here - constantly deal with dangerously STUPID types - it's sad, Sad, SAD!

  58. Jeff, re-read and you will find that I was talking about the original progressives and not today's progressives.

    There is plenty of smarmy opinion and jumping to conclusions, on the subject of Mr. Martin's killing, from the usual partisan media suspects on either side. I find little value in these opinions as they are usually clouded by partisan word games which obscure the few facts we know.

    I also find it silly that you mischaracterize my comments that were clearly in response to another mischaracterization by you.

    You will not find "liberal" used on this post by myself anywhere. The use of the word today has little to do with the actual historic meaning. One side of partisans uses it as a derogatory and the other side uses it as a compliment. hardly a word to be used for precision in comment.

    Now as to how Mr. Martin is viewed? He was shot on the street by a man named Zimmerman. If Mr. Martin was defending himself and was not the attacker then he was standing his ground and was killed for his lawful efforts. I think his shooter needed to be arrested and the DA needed to decide if he should have been tried. To say much else is to jump to conclusions without any solid evidence.

    The original Progressives of a hundred years a were upper class people of various party's. They stood for progress and they tended to be arrogant about the "poor" of all minorities. In 1911 the Sullivan Act was passed in NY NY and it was mostly about the condescending upper class "Progressives" of the time controlling guns "for" minorities.

    Today's partisans on both sides use a superior view regarding their causes all the time whether it is justified or not. The superior view often comes at a price and that price is objectivity and valid opinion based on fact. They often state opinion as fact with only a nod toward the actual facts available.

    Today's Progressives tend to be partisans who define progress in the light of their particular partisan goals. Partisans are generally passionate about their side of the debate and tend to use narratives to advance their chief goal which is winning the debate.