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April 1, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

U.S. not ready for ‘stand your ground’

If we expected a first-grade student to solve a question that involved a calculus formula, every American would say we were expecting too much, too soon. This analogy applies in the same manner to the “stand your ground” law. America is just not ready for this law. Maybe, in future years, but certainly not now.

I understand that in our era, generally, people of a particular ethnic group tend to fear others of differing origins. In my opinion, this type of “fear factor” has little or nothing to do with actual racial prejudice. It may be true to say that one day when a majority of Americans become accustomed and comfortable in devoting time with those of other cultures, then, and only then, will the “fear factors” of other ethnic groups greatly diminish.

The government enacted laws of desegregation. However, many Americans are not practicing it on a personal level. If we continue to sequester ourselves from other ethnic groups, we will tend to fall prey to thinking that people of other ethnicities are dangerous and evil. I believe the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin incident highlights this clearly.

There is little doubt in my mind that the evidence will come to show that both George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin acted in order to justify their “fear factors.” This is precisely what makes this “stand your ground” law precarious.

One thing is for sure, the incident has bolstered interracial ill-feelings and bitterness.

The truth is, America has just not sufficiently grown together culturally to act responsibly under the guidelines set forth in this “stand your ground” law. Too much, too soon.

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  1. When I lived in California, our Neighborhood Watch program was intended to 'watch' and 'report', not 'follow' and not 'confront'. Zimmerman was advised not to follow Martin but he did and he likely also confronted Martin. Maybe Martin attacked him; maybe he didn't. The legal system will have to 'try' to sort that out. When one party can no longer tell his side of the story, it gets real tough.

    The stand your ground law 'may' provide Zimmerman a defense, but part of what lead to this result was Zimmerman doing 'more' than what I thought Neighborhood Watch was intended to do, which is 'watch' and 'report'.


  2. I wonder if Mr. Zimmerman would have left his car, followed Mr. Martin and confronted him, if he wasn't packing a 9mm handgun? As Mr. Zimmerman hasn't had his day in court, everything above is alleged except the fact that a young man was shot and killed. We should all take a deep breath and let the justice system do it's work. Whether or not the law used as an excuse goes too far, is irrelevant. To me the law should not exist. There are far too many homicides in this country already. With no eyewitnesses to the event in question, it becomes a matter of what Mr. Zimmerman says happened. Mr. Martin, unfortunately, can not give his version of events.

  3. "Stand your ground" leaves unanswered the question of how much ground is really yours. What if a person, emboldened by the possession of a weapon, acts to provoke a confrontation with another and then reacts with deadly force as a result of that confrontation. Is that justifiable or reckless?

    We all have a survival instinct. Our DNA seems to retain, in varying degrees, a tribal instinct that identifies those who look and act like us as same-safe and those who do not as different-threat. Many of us forget that interracial associations are relatively new to us. Fifty years ago interracial marriage was against the law in some States and the racial makeup of most neighborhoods was homogeneous. A hundred years ago relationships between people with different ethnic or religious beliefs were frowned upon.

  4. Re Jim Weber. Good comment. When someone's territorial imperative in infringed upon by someone else, a lot of things can happen, not all of them good. Throw a firearm into the mix, and it can only get worse.

  5. If Martin had a weapon and shot Zimmerman, wouldn't that be considered stand your ground? After all it was Zimmerman pursuing Martin who had every right to be in that complex.

    The author is correct. We aren't ready for such laws because we still haven't out grown our "wild west" mentality.

  6. It may well be that Zimmerman acted legally. The angry reaction of the black community led to Zimmerman's arrest. The prosecuter was attempting to diffuse the situation. This case may never get to trial. Is "stand your ground"a good law?. I would not want to be in the place of the one without the gun.If you have ever been on that side and almost been killed you wold question the merits of the law. We certainly want to promote civilized conduct. This law might not reach that standard.

  7. I've been robbed at gunpoint before. Two teenagers robbed me at a hotel. One kept saying "just shoot em" . After taking my wallet, watch and ring, they forced me into a interior stairwell, told me to kneel and put my head down on the floor. I kept my face with one eye starring back at the guy with the gun. I figured if he was going to shoot me he would have to see the face of a father of four die and remember it. His last instruction was "stay there, stay there", and I did. A few days later I met an investigator at a Denny's to see if I could pick the guys out of a lineup but couldn't. I now own a licensed permit to carry a concealed hand gun. You have to go through a school and be vetted by the state then pass a test in order to carry a concealed weapon. I feel like I have a chance should any of those situations occur where I'm authorized to use it but hope I'll never need it. I do not know Florida's laws so I don't know what qualifies you to carry a gun. The issue we're all guessing about is the circumstance and whether or not it was justifiable use of a gun. A few police departments are now wearing and testing cameras that go with the officer to record the circumstance. Perhaps this device should be approved on a fast track basis and be required for both the police and security officers. It would protect the officer and the suspect.

  8. It's a really dumb law that has been pushed on America by a powerful NRA gun lobby that plays upon peoples' mistaken perceptions and stereotypical fears. This law was supposed to be a solution to a problem. A problem that simply doesn't exist with no criminal statistics to back up the passage of it. The only ulterior purpose of it, now that the Martin/Zimmerman case winds its way through the courts in Florida, has been revealed to be to sell guns.

    The biggest problem, in my estimation, regarding this "stand your ground" law is the fact that the law is too complex. And it seems to give the same authorizations to the average Floridian that law enforcement has regarding deadly force. And the horrible thing about it is that there is absolutely zero, nada, zip training on how and when to use deadly force. It's just basically leaving it up to the person on any given situation to figure out. And ultimately the courts to sort out.

    This law don't help anyone except the people that sell guns.

    The bill is so incredibly bad and harmful, that I guarantee you that right now, because of this case in Florida, that has gotten not only national press, but international as well, that it will hurt tourism in Florida.

    When tourists see that anyone can kill anyone...with the strong likelihood they will get away with it...they are going to ask themselves seriously: Why should I go there when they have a law that only benefits mass murderers, serial killers, Charles Manson wannabes and many other assorted criminal riff raff?

    I guarantee right now this law is hurting the Sovereign State of Florida. And will continue to put a damper on any type of economic recovery.

    If Florida lawmakers were smart, they would take steps to get rid of it. It is too controversial, serves no purpose for its people and will end up stifling their tourism.

  9. Agree with Colin, & Bradley...

    The so-called 'stand your ground' laws, (now on the books in about half the states in America, & demonstrably driven by the NRA lobby) are both unnecessary AND a dangerous 'permission' that it's OKAY to shoot someone 'if you feel threatened'...

    COMMON SENSE is the best barometer I can think of to determine if I'm in perilous danger to the point that I should feel free to put a cap in someone to 'protect myself', & I imagine that's how a jury will decide this shooting, too, regardless of 'stand your ground' language in Fla. law.
    I expect that's how it'd work anywhere else, too...with juries asking themselves, 'was it (likely) necessary for YOUR survival to end someone else's life.'

    The contention that "The angry reaction of the black community led to Zimmerman's arrest" is only true in the context that he should have been arrested sooner but wasn't.

    The national outpouring of indignation at Treyvon Martin's shooting death has a lot less to do with race than some people are making of it...
    An ounce of common sense told most folks from git-go that this shooting was just plain WRONG.

  10. Oh, if only common sense and decency be legislated!

    Anyone who has a weapon, or access to one, should be trained, both physically how to use it, psychologically, when to use it, and stay practiced. Members of our society value LIFE and the preservation of it.

    As Bradley Chapline and most commenters pointed out, our country is not yet ready for the "Stand Your Ground Law."

    If there is a gun in the house, as well as children, every family member should be trained in using it properly, and that includes conversations periodically about when to use it. In our country, many use guns, rifles, shotguns in the course of performing some sport and event. A large proportion of our population are involved in law enforcement, security, or military service, which the use use of weapons is a part of the job. There are extremely strict guidelines regarding the possession and use of such weapons.

    Then the flipside of recreation is that of personal protection. Again, proper training and appropriate conversations are essential. But this is where we cross the line of what we do in our private lives, where the government and any social rules tend to either be obeyed or not. There exists shadows of illegal weapons, criminal use of weapons, recklessness, and faulty reasoning. These shadows are what we do "fear." Those who lurk in the shadows are the object of our "fear" for our own personal protection.

    I am a strong believer that "An armed society is a polite society." Our Second Ammendment rights should never be altered.

    Blessings and Peace,

  11. Mr. Chapline,

    Regardless of your good-intent, your letter was rambling pablum and served only to explain who you are, but not what you were trying to convey. Please pick a topic and then use the remaining electrons to make your case next time.


  12. "The government enacted laws of desegregation. However, many Americans are not practicing it on a personal level."

    Chapline -- no kidding. Within the last three years a southern states justice of the peace refused to perform the marriage of a mixed race couple. When a reporter cornered him about it he cited concern for their children as his reason. So racism along with other fears is alive and well in our republic.

    "Stand your ground" leaves unanswered the question of how much ground is really yours."

    pisces41 -- excellent point, good post. Trouble is in spite of all the overdone verbiage here, no one knows until actually confronted with the situation what one will actually do. And as you suggested each of us can get primal really fast. Then all law is irrelevant when survival is the priority.

    "I've been robbed at gunpoint before."

    BoliBB -- then you know. Compared to all the huffing and puffing here your opinion is most worthy of respect.

    "Anyone who has a weapon, or access to one, should be trained, both physically how to use it, psychologically, when to use it, and stay practiced."

    star -- all of which means zilch in a clinch. As incidents involving multiple officers shooting shows, lots of shots get fired in a panic with most missing and little regard for where the those bullets go. Like that last incident at our federal courthouse with the angry black man with a shotgun. And that recent shootout on an LA freeway.

    Your "Those who lurk in the shadows" is one of the best posts so far in this Discussion. Everywhere you look media stokes that fear. Hopefully most of us are mature enough to make wise choices when so confronted.

    "The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people." -- Noam Chomsky

  13. If 3 year old Bella can be a life long member of the NRA then America is definitely ready for stand your ground laws in all states and territories. People of all ages should have access to all types of firearms in order to protect themselves. If an adult person functioning in a diminished mental capacity can purchase a firearm, then why not a 3 year old? I'd venture to say a year old little girl has more sense than take her loaded S&W 500 to a political rally, classroom, purity ball, or a public eatery.

    Now it's time to tell a story about how having a gun (or if I had a gun, it would have) saved my life. Once this creepy guy was following me in this ethnic neighborhood. I guess he must have been behind me for a block. He kept asking me if I knew the Lord. Because of his ethnicity I knew he was referring to a drug lord and that my life was in danger. So I emptied my Sig into that scumbag because I knew he would have either killed or seriously injured me. Now that's how you roll. Fear no one. Always carry a sidearm and a back up because you don't want to get blindsided by some punk with a bag of candy and an ice cold drink or a religious zealot that isn't riding a bicycle and wearing a tie.

  14. Stand your ground makes it easier for Americans to shoot each other. I was a policeman for over 20 years in the Los Angeles area and dealt with gunshot victims that were younger than 1 and older than 80. If there's one thing you learn when you deal with this kind of violence on a daily basis is how much Americans absolutely love killing each other. Many do it with no remorse whatsoever. During the drug wars in the 80s the LA County Morgue was so full of bodies they had to stack bodies on top of one another like firewood.

    Americans are obsessed with guns and gun violence. Between gun violence, gun suicides and gun accidents more Americans have been killed in the last few decades than American servicemen were killed in World War I, World War II, Korea Vietnam and both of the current wars combined.

    St. Patrick's Day South side Chicago 49 people were shot. 11 died. I wonder how many were standing their ground.

  15. "Stand Your Ground" simply says, in principle, that a person is not required to retreat as the first option. This is being overlooked by most people taking part in the discussion.

    The duty to retreat, if possible, is one that has been subject to debate for a very long time. SYG says that a person can no longer be charged with a crime for a LEGITIMATE case of self-defense if that person chooses not to try to flee first.

    Before SYG, the use of deadly force as self-defense was only allowed if retreat was not possible.

    Under no circumstance is it ever self-defense if the person claiming it in fact provoked or initiated the confrontation.

    When looked at in this light, I find that I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Chapline's letter. "Fight or Flight" is deeply ingrained in our very nature, and SYG allows that response to be more directly acted on.

  16. This has nothing to do with racial fear or prejudice. It's just another shooting statistic in a line of millions. There have been years where nearly 40,000 people have been shot and killed and 80,000 have been injured due to gun violence. I don't even know why this is making the paper. Stand your ground! Give me a break! It's about a kid pretending he's John Wayne. When all is said and done this is another one that's going to cost the tax paying public a fortune.

  17. Some of you readers and commenters may remember the song, "Teach Your Children," by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, as follows:

    "You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by.
    And so become yourself because the past is just a good bye.
    Teach your children well, their father's hell did slowly go by,
    And feed them on your dreams, the one they picked, the one you're known by.
    Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you you would cry,
    So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

    And you, of the tender years can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
    And so please help them with your years, they seek the truth before they can die.
    Teach your parents well, their children's hell will slowly go by,
    And feed them on your dreams, the one they picked, the one you're known by.
    Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
    So just look at them and sigh and know they love you."

    Blessings and Peace,

  18. Americans prefer,"kill am all and let God sort em out."
    Love and kisses,

  19. Go get em cowboy!

  20. 'Stand Your Ground' actually allows the person with a gun to chase down and attempt to interrogate a person of their choice. If the person resists interrogation, that may cause the aggressor to feel threatened and use the gun for protection.

    By eliminating one of the two witnesses, the gun user can eliminate the prime witness legally and prevent themselves from being found guilty.

    The SYG law allows an antagonist to be judge and executioner for the slightest of reasons and also legally eliminate the witness. No more fear of witness tampering charges - the witness is in the dirt.

    This is the type of trash the NRA is developing, creating fear to generate a bigger market for guns and laws to protect the gun user by the elimination of witnesses.

    The NRA is now responsible for more murders of innocents in America then all the drug dealers combined.

  21. I would laugh at SunJon's post except that there are people who actually believe that, and worse yet, vote.

    SYG says no such thing. It has always been the case that self-defense must be verified or the person claiming it faces criminal charges. SYG simply says that a person can employ deadly force first instead of fleeing *as long as it is true self-defense*!

    In other words, it removes the burden of having to prove that there was no chance to flee from the person claiming it, and removes the argument "he could have run away" from the prosecution.

    There has always been the possibility that a person could hunt someone down, kill them, and then claim self-defense in the absence of witnesses. That is why we have courts to determine the truth of the matter.

  22. "Americans prefer,"kill am all and let God sort em out."

    zippert1 -- Marion Morrison is dead. So's your John Wayne credo.

    "IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH" -- the three slogans of the Party from Orwell's "1984"

  23. 2dollars says: "what america needs is a way to settle your differences out of court....
    whatever happened to the duel ?"

    Don't say that too loud, 2dollars.

    After this "stand your ground" law doesn't reap the intended benefits for the NRA, that will probably be their next enacted legislation handed to the States through their surrogate ALEC.

    Hell, don't matter if it's unfair and will get people killed, that's not their goal. Their goal is to make money. If they can fly a "duel ain't cruel" law by people to sell guns, then that's their next meal ticket.