Anti-gun groups have seized on the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, operating under the assumption that you should never let a good firearms-related tragedy go to waste. Regardless of the facts. The resulting media meme: the Sunshine State has “lax” gun laws brought into being by the evil gun lobby. As Paul Valone wrote, if George Zimmerman didn’t shoot Martin Trayvon in self-defense, Florida’s vilified Stand Your Ground (SYG) law has nothing to do with it. If he did, the law “grants immunity from litigation and malicious prosecution for people who justifiably use deadly force.” As it should. Right? Not if you’re from Massachusetts . . .
Section 8A. It shall be an act of lawful defense if a person, who is an occupant of a dwelling or in any place that they have a right to be, used deadly force, or less than deadly force, if he or she acted in the reasonable belief that an assailant was about to inflict great bodily injury or death upon themselves or upon another person who also had a right to be in the location. There shall be no duty on a person to retreat from any place that they have a right to be. An act of lawful defense as outlined in this section shall not be cause for arrest or prosecution. Further, an act of lawful defense under this section shall not be cause for the revocation of a license issued under sections, 122, 123, 129B or 131 of Chapter 140.
Click here to listen to a WBUR radio interview with Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners’ Action League, about the bill. You know; in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. You want to talk about informed, objective journalism or reasoned debate? Go somewhere else, ’cause here’s the text of the interviewer’s first question:
So Mr. Wallace it does seem that the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black boy [!] who was carrying a box of Skittles is exactly the kind of tragic outcome that this kind of law would encourage. Why is it a good idea?
Jimbo parries well. Unfortunately, he fails to make it completely clear that a self-defense shooter’s belief that their life was in danger at the time of a shooting isn’t enough under this or any other SYG law. The shooter’s belief must pass legal review.
By the same token, it’s critical to note that the “reasonable person” test for justifiable ballistic self-defense doesn’t refer to the shooter; it’s the DA and (perhaps) the jury that determines what’s reasonable in any given set of circumstances.
The WBUR interview is pretty bad, complete with ye olde Wild West analogy, “the cops are against SYG so you’re on the wrong side of the issue” and only cops are qualified to use armed self-defense shtick.
Meanwhile, the Boston Herald gives voice to a Trayvon-fuelled anti-gun activist appalled by the possibility of a Massachusetts SYG law.
“It’s an excuse to kill without accountability. We don’t need it in Massachusetts, and shame on Steve Brewer for proposing it,” said John Rosenthal, the head of Stop Handgun Violence. “Look no farther than Trayvon Martin.”
Better yet, blue state Bay Staters shouldn’t think for themselves. Or, God forbid, consider the facts of the matter. Otherwise, they might form an entirely different opinion than the one promoted by the not-entirely-unpredictable confluence of race baiters and gun grabbers who see Martin’s death as their time to shine.
As for Brewer’s SYG bill, Massachusetts governor Duvall Patrick has the final word: “It won’t get past my desk.”