SAF’s Alan Gottlieb vs. State Senator Chris Smith (and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews) on Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law

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Second Amendment Foundation jefe Alan Gottleib just threw George Zimmerman under the bus to defend Florida’s now-embattled Stand Your Ground law. Was that really necessary? What was definitely NOT necessary: State Senator Smith‘s statement that Zimmerman is “eager to kill again.” Whoah.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

69 Responses to SAF’s Alan Gottlieb vs. State Senator Chris Smith (and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews) on Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law

  1. avatarMatt in FL says:

    There is just an astonishing amount of fearmongering, flat-out incorrect information in that video. From the “ready to kill again” to the flat out BS of the “shooting the tourist” story… Astonishing.

    On an unrelated note, I really really really really really really wish I could understand and figure out why I get intermittent Flash crashes from this site in Chrome. It’s only this site that I’ve ever seen the issue with; it can happen on any page (including the front page) that has a YouTube video embedded. If you do a Google search for “shockwave flash crash chrome,” there’s a large list of complaints, and a bunch of possible fixes. However, those complaints all seem to come from people who have the crashes all across the internet, and the fixes fix them. I only have the issue here (and I believe I’m not the only one) and all the fixes, including wiping and reinstalling Chrome from scratch, do nothing to fix the problem. I have to believe it’s something specific to this site.

    It’s to the point now where I generally use Firefox to browse this site, and only this site, except when I forget, and click on a link from an email, and lock up my machine for 30 seconds until I get the crash warning. Having to use a different browser to browse one site successfully is annoying. Forgetting to use that browser and having my main one crash on me is doubly annoying.

    • avatarJosh says:

      I have the same problem with Flash crashes in Chrome… And it seems to be with only two sites, this one and a major media site that is also flash heavy.

    • avatarBruce W. Krafft says:

      I’ve had that issue with TTAG, some media sites and Yahoo Mail of all things.

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        Bruce, if you’re seeing it in multiple places, then you might want to try some of the fixes recommended on an internet search for “shockwave flash crash.” They seem to be quite effective for people having flash issues all across the internet. The site that I used most recently, that seems to have the most comprehensive list of potential fixes, is here. For me, not so much. It’s only here, and it’s been happening for about six months.

        As far as ads, I don’t know. I have a pretty good adblocker, so I don’t see the banner ad, nor the ad between the search box and the Wilson Combat box. All I see are four in the right column, two of which are just links, not actual ads, and they never change. I see Wilson Combat at the top, and then at the bottom, AFS, Shooters USA, and Armed Response.

    • avatarPeter says:

      Same thing here, i’ve only experienced these crashes when i visit TTAG.

      • avatarLarry says:

        I have ony used Chrome for playing Farmville and other games. I recently downloaded the latest & greatest version of Firefox because it is faster and use it instead of Chrome for most eveything. I have Adware and Webwasher. What Adware doesn’t block, Webwasher does. The only trouble I have experenced with Webwasher is that it doesn’t work too well with Windows 7, which my new laptop has. It works really great with XP. With Webwasher, you can tailor it to block unwanted video ads and anything else you want to block. I haven’t experienced ANY crashes with Webwasher activated. Pages load way faster with Webwasher too. XP is on my old computer, which I still use, but it doesn’t handle Fox News very well because its processor is way slower than my new laptop.

  2. avatarGS650G says:

    Now they want to prevent us from actually defending ourselves. How well has that worked in England?

    • Not prevented as such but there is a far greater likelihood of having your actions examined in court.
      The previous “duty to retreat” no longer applies in one’s home & reasonable force is OK.
      Unfortunately, defining the latter still depends on who is doing so.

  3. avatarJosh says:

    Wow… just wow. Cheap shots and bus throws aside… This could all have been prevented.
    If we are going to (re)become a nation of armed citizens, then we need to get educated on the elevated standards of behavior of the armed citizen. Zimmerman’s ill-considered, immature behavior got him into that crazy situation (of murder or self-defense), and now its causing a firestorm. I think as the CCW movement spreads from the more knowledgeable, and responsible slice of population into the far less responsible mainstream that some serious education campaigns will need to happen. I’m not talking about laws… just… a stronger educational movement than is currently employed. What did it take to convince most Americans that drinking is fine, driving is fine, but mixing the two is stupid and irresponsible…
    I apologize for the soapbox stuff, but I just got back from my range.. where I was muzzle swept by one of the newer folks to the culture. I watched him leave the range after getting kicked off, and put his gun back into his IWB holster… That guy had a CCW, and he just got kicked off a range!! I’d like to think this is isolated… but I suspect its a problem in all corners. Instead of putting out these crazy fires, we need to educate to prevent them from happening in the first place.

    • avatarKelly in GA says:

      The problem is that nobody (in general terms, don’t take offense) is truly willing to take responsibility for their actions. When I was working in a gun store during college, we always made it a point to teach basics (safety use, muzzle direction, etc.) and point them towards someone who could teach proper safety. It’s still THEIR responsibility to do it. Sadly, they don’t, and then they make us all look bad. I don’t believe we should be required to attend a class for a gun purchase ( isn’t that NJ?) but maybe passing a class once for a CCW wouldn’t be bad. We have to do it to go hunting. Especially if it could get the Anti’s off our backs. Any thoughts, opinions, or stats for/ against?

      • avatarBen Eli says:

        I think everyone SHOULD attend a class, but I have deep-seated issues with mandatory classes. You don’t have to take a class to vote. You don’t have to take a class to run for federal office. You don’t need to take a class in order to become a citizen if born in the US. Although I think everyone should get some learning in about these subjects, it isn’t mandatory. The only way I would accept mandatory classes such as this, would be if EVERY US citizen had to take these classes at a cost to the state one resides in. Make it part of high school for all I care.

        Lastly, no class is going to get antis off our backs. Thats the nature of the anti. At their core, they are fundamentally antagonists to the pursuit of the individual right to keep and bare arms.

        • avatarBen Eli says:

          *antagonistic

        • avatarguest says:

          Heres an idea! Teach firearm safety in all public schools. require that all students demonstrate that they understand all four rules of firearm safety as a requirement for graduation.

          What?

          I can dream

        • avatarLarry says:

          *bear, instead of bare, which is naked.

      • avatartwency says:

        Commenter Ben Eli already said this, but please allow me to repeat: Training is great, but exercise of a fundamental right should never be limited to those who have taken a government-approved class. Self-defense with arms is a fundamental right protected by our constitution.

        Driving, not a fundamental right, requires passing a government test which evaluates your level of skill and training. Everyone who drive legally has passed such a test, yet the roads are still pretty dangerous. Mandatory training wouldn’t end misuse of guns (though admittedly it would probably help reduce it), but it would impose a precondition on the exercise of a fundamental right. Such a precondition is unacceptable.

        • avatarJames says:

          Make it part of school, like physical education or health. For those that miss it, you could make it a requirement to get you driver’s license or something along that line.

      • avatarJimInMT says:

        “we always made it a point to teach basics (safety use, muzzle direction, etc.) and point them towards someone …”
        You didn’t mean pointing the muzzle … I hope…

        • avatarLarry says:

          He didn’t say anything about pointing the muzzle toward anyone. Read his comment again.

  4. avatarRalph says:

    The Florida Democrats are trying to repeal the state’s SYG law. Why?

    If Zimmerman wasn’t defending himself and the shooting was unjustifed, then he gets no benefit from the statute and goes to jail. Am I right so far? On the other hand, if he was defending himself and the shooting was justified, he should get the benefit of the law and go free, no? I mean, it’s hard for me to believe that the Florida Dems really want to put people in prison for defending themselves. They wouldn’t do that, would they?

    • avatarJosh says:

      I really, really like the concept of Stand Your Ground, but I can’t help but wonder if the execution of this particular SYG law was poorly done. There had already been some pretty crazy cases where gang members have used the law to get out of a conviction, so that already tells you something. Florida is where the CCW movement started right? Generally, when you’re the first state to do something you can’t benefit from other state’s experiences… In this case, I think a very well-meaning law wasn’t quite written up properly. Should SYG be repealed? No, but I suspect that the folks who drafted it will want to modify it so that it can’t be misused as a loophole for criminals and/or cowboys.

      • avatarCarlosT says:

        I think the law is fine as it is. So let’s make the scenario as bleeding heart sympathetic as possible. Martin is out walking and Zimmerman rushes up to him and attacks him. In the ensuing altercation, Martin somehow gets the gun away from Zimmerman, shoots and kills him. Without stand your ground, Martin, who was simply out minding his business, is now facing arrest and a charge for some kind of criminal homicide for simply defending his life.

        Of course, that scenario could apply to anyone. Any one of use could be out minding our own business when some guy decides that something we have is actually his.

      • avatarBig J says:

        What you and State Senatory Smith said is wrong. Stand Your Ground does not preempt the felony murder rule. You can’t rob a liquor store, have the clerk pull a gun on you, then shoot the clerk and say you were defending your self. It doesn’t work like that. If you are enganged in criminal activity, you cannot claim self defense. That is a principle of law that dates back to English Common Law.

      • avatarLemming says:

        I wonder if the issues is SYG, or peoples’ understanding (and lack their of) of SYG?

        Here we have Zimmerman chasing down and confronting an innocent unarmed man, getting into fisticuffs and ultimately shooting him. When Zimmerman now claims “SYG” it’s not surprising that many are skeptical. Is his SYG claim well founded? If not, is now a conveneint defense or did he really believe SYG covered him?

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      Laugh. Rhetorical question, right?

    • avatarGabba says:

      he already has gotten a benefit from the law: not being arrested at the scene. he got to go home and wash the blood off his clothes, he didn’t get tested for alcohol or drugs, etc.

    • avatarRon Gaskins says:

      Howdy Ralph:

      “I mean, it’s hard for me to believe that the Florida Dems really want to put people in prison for defending themselves. They wouldn’t do that, would they?”

      Hello …. Are we truly awake here? The antis will do anything to anyone at any time for any reason to accomplish ONE micro-millimeter of progress in their quest to control everyone. They KNOW that as long as the Second Amendment remains and the people have the right to defend themselves, their ultimate goal cannot be accomplished.

      They will exploit every opportunity to advance their cause: Total Control.

      Once this Total Control is accomplished, they will have access to your finances, your body and your personal life unfettered … and you will have no way to defend against the intrusion.

      • avatarRalph says:

        Howdy Ron.

        Well, they may come after my personal finances and my personal life, but nobody in their right mind would want access to my body.

  5. avatarRalph says:

    I just had a major flash. Why haven’t we heard from the President about this?

    The pressure on him from the wingnuts in his party to come out from behind the curtain must be overwhelming. So, will he or won’t he? If he doesn’t, he sucks the energy from his base. If he does, he energizes us and proves that the NRA is right about him.

    Yeah, I know that he’s going to send his little minions out there to talk for him, or maybe he’ll write another op-ed for the Sioux City Telegram & Sun, but sooner or later he’s going to have to answer questions.

    Okay, POTUS. Don’t be afraid. Come out, come out, wherever you are.

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      He’s got a problem. The Hispanic vote. They’re basically very much for being able to defend themselves. In fact, Florida is starting to experience a problem LA has had for years now, the conflict between a growing Latino population pressing on formerly-AA neighborhoods, peacefully or not. The Latino vote is larger now than the AA vote in Florida, as it is in SoCal. Additionally, there is a large overlap in the mid-western blue-collar vote and the pro-2A rights vote. Referring back to an early exchange about funding and the election: The Financials and hedgies have stepped away this time, and Harold Simmons and others have become extremely motivated. Going to be an interesting year in the US.

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      Obama’s reflected on the matter, and decided to politically adopt Trayvon:http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/obama-makes-first-comments-on-trayvon-martin-shooting/?hp

  6. avatarDerry M says:

    Good Grief! The News Media is making George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin into the Poster Children of trying to generate a public backlash against “Castle Laws” and “Stand Your Ground” laws. On CNN they are referring to armed Citizens as becoming “trigger happy” … “without the Training that Police Officers receive” and a virtual license to shoot down anyone whom they decide is threatening them. While this is not surprising, it is nonetheless worrying that a one-sided National Debate has been started over this matter.
    For Alan Gottleib to go on a National TV show and pretty much fail to explain these laws in a convincing fashion is not at all helpful. And, yep, he pretty clearly threw George Zimmerman under the bus. Most people “on the fence” about Gun Rights probably took away from this interview State Senator Smith’s depiction of George Zimmerman as “eager to kill again” and did not even imprint what Gottleib said. This Media manufactured issue is probably going to fang us in the hind leg as the “sheeple” are taught to fear untrained, gun-toting, citizen vigilantes running loose on the streets feeling at liberty to shoot anyone who vexes them under the pretext that it was “self-defense”…dark days…dark days…
    To the credit of BBC World News America they put a clip in their report from a lawyer, John Gutmacher, who correctly pointed-out “…it’s not the Law that is the problem in this case. It’s whether George Zimmerman acted lawfully or unlawfully.”
    Trayvon Martin deserves justice, and so does George Zimmerman, but ONLY George Zimmerman knows what really happened that night and, obviously, we will only ever know what story he decides to tell. All else is speculation, rhetoric and emotionalism at this point.
    Yesterday, I posted in the other discussion of this matter a comment that strongly implied that George Zimmerman is guilty of “cold-blooded murder”. I regret that rashness and stand behind the correct-thinking that George Zimmerman is “innocent until proven guilty”. My apologies. My bad.

    • avatarScott Henrichs says:

      You’ve noticed the increasing media attacks too. This is exactly why our congressional representative should be pushing to repeal gun control laws RIGHT now. Democrats don’t want any gun control issues brought up now because it is an election year and looking like anti-gun right now is political suicide. The media is pushing their agenda to prepare the public for more anti-gun laws if the Democrats manage to do well this fall. Instead of pushing the issue though the Republicans are cowering in the corner hoping for reelection. When they are backed into a corner it’s a great time to strike, unfortunately our elected thumb-suckers do nothing.

  7. avatarSilver says:

    “Eager to kill again” is just more leftist projection.

    And really, who cares what one hyper-liberal side says? It’s just preaching to the choir. No one who is “on the fence” puts any stock into Chris Matthews, only his fellow tingly crackpots. that’s like saying someone who’s “on the fence” about abortion puts stock in what Rush has to say.

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      Chris Matthews lost his balance four years ago. He was, ten years ago, one of the most perceptive of the flaws of both sides. That’s been over for a long time. The perceived reason is that the cable news channels are polarized, and he needs to keep his job. His brother is a Republican, formerly one of my county commissioners until he was convicted of a malfeasance two years ago. The last time I saw Chris Matthews was in my small town at an Obama rally 300 feet from my mother’s house. I was curious, and my mother wanted me to come by and walk her over (she’s 86). The noise of the growing crowd at the commuter train station was unavoidable. Matthews was “covering it,” but actually just enjoying it, enthusiastic, a part of the crowd. Obama slowly pulled up in the “Georgia,” a spectacular FDR/Truman style Pullman car. He gave a spirited speech. It was a stunning day, the forest next to the station was newly in leaf, and Chris was loving it. I’ve never seen the news channels or the electorate so polarized. The national debt is now stunningly huge. This coming election matters. I hope TTAG participants don’t sit this one out.

    • avatarkarlb says:

      Let’s assume Zimmerman was being beaten up. If the “stand your ground” law pertains to weapons, I assume it pertains to fists, also. Wouldn’t Martin have been just as justified in defending himself from a person he saw as an aggressor?
      I do not know what happened. I think it sucks that a kid was killed for no good reason, and I think it sucks that people defending Martin and Zimmerman are streching what information they have to fit their views: In the linked article you provided, the write described Martin as “hulking.” Even if the kid is 6’2,” at a reported 140, hulking seems a bit of a stretch (and I am relying on reports I have read for his weight). We are all guilty of this.

      • avatarBig J says:

        I second that statement. Under the circumstances, Martin was the legal defendee and Zimmerman was the agressor.

      • avatarJosh says:

        Martin’s nickname was “slim”… tall or not, he was still a skinny guy…
        I suspect that Zimmerman didn’t put up much of a fight with his fists and was immediately going for his piece… but who knows?
        One story out there is that Zimmerman’s shirt went up and the kid saw the gun and went for it, so George was forced to grab it and shoot. I think thats a pile of BS, mainly because it was a Kel Tec PF9.. you’d have to really be looking to see one of those, especially when dealing with a roly-poly guy like Zimmerman in the dark. End of amateur detective point…

  8. That man rocks a bowtie like no man I have ever knowm.

  9. avatarJK says:

    There is nothing to defend about Zimmerman and his actions. He belongs under the bus. The left is trying to tie him to the “stand your ground” law. What amazes me is that right can’t seem to figure out anything better. Since Zimmerman can be heard chasing after the individual–which already puts the situation well beyond the notion of standing your ground–why is the right so eager to defend him? He caused the incident. Period. If you want to defend laws like “stand your ground,” how about also not defending overzealous trigger-happy wanna-be cops in the same paragraph. Defending Zimmerman only makes it easier for the left to connect a reasonable law with unreasonable people. You’re helping them do that.

    • avatarJesse says:

      Ditto. Well said.

    • avatarRalph says:

      Defending Zimmerman only makes it easier for the left to connect a reasonable law with unreasonable people.

      That’s what I’ve been saying all along. He doesn’t deserve a defense. He doesn’t deserve a trial or even an investigation. I’m glad that you agree.

      God help us all.

      • avatarRon Gaskins says:

        Ralph:

        This IS the USoA! What this man doesn’t deserve is to be tried in the public arena where there are no rules … and people spouting off with no information or by the press. He DESERVES his day in court just like every other accused with the rights of “innocent until PROVEN guilty”.

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      I listened closely to the 911 calls, and read the girlfriend’s description of what she heard. While I have the distinct impression that Zimmerman did lots of things that were either wrong or stupid, I heard nothing that let me know when and how physical contact began, the “sort of wrestling” in the backyards, the “sitting on him punching” bit. How did you determine how the physical contact began? (I’m not for or against. I do have a question as to who initiated physical violence. I think they should have done a MUCH more thorough search for footprints on that rainy night (soft ground), to determine who came from where, and for blood, missing cell phones, and so forth, and should have done blood work on both people, not just the deceased.) I don’t think SYG applies. The question was if the underlying self-defense law applies. I’m quite non-plussed about this: There were people outside (the boy with the dog) and looking out their window at a fight 10-25 feet away….but no one can describe anything clearly and unequivocally? It seems odd.

    • avatarRalph says:

      Defending Zimmerman only makes it easier for the left to connect a reasonable law with unreasonable people.

      That’s what I’ve been saying all along. He doesn’t deserve a defense. He doesn’t deserve a trial or even an investigation. He needs to be lynched. I’m glad that you agree.

      God help us all.

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        er, “Gods help us all.” What I see going on is dragging me over to polytheism one event at a time: The god on Zimm’s side clearly isn’t pulling her weight. He’s the Trojans in this episode, sans the momentary joys of having a Helen around, and the Greeks perceive they’ve breached the fortress. The only other option I can see is that Zimm was already literally thrown under a bus some years back, and that’s why he rushes in where angels fear to tread. It strikes me that getting the FBI involved might be a break for Zimm at this point: Whatever their sins they do better interviewing and forensics than the Sanford PD.

    • avatarPhilthegardener says:

      I agree JK. This man does not deserve the protection from the 2A side any more than the latest IGOTD. In fact, I vote that we move this entire discussion under that section entirely. It was his irresponsible actions that are adding fuel to the fire set by antis. Drop him under the bus and back up if needed. Metaphorically speaking of course. I hope RF can see the logic of our pleas.

  10. avatarZach says:

    So next time someone breaks into my home while im here, they want to to climb out a window?

  11. avatarMark N. says:

    The media will use any “horrible” killing to press for more strict gun laws. No surprise there. Will the stand your ground law be applicable in this case? Maybe, maybe not; that is for the judge to decide f Zimmerman is charged. But to suggest that this law provides an excuse for gangbangers to escape murder charges is nonsense, as is the suggestion by the Senator that there is an “irrebuttable presumption” that the use of force was lawful.

    Most of the statute is devoted to Florida’s form of the Castle Doctrine, i.e., that someone breaking into your house is intending to do harm, and that lethal force may be used to defend the home/residence/vehicle (with certain exceptions, primarily police officers and family members who reside there). The section that may apply here provides as follows:
    (3) ”A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
    The first obvious point is that, although there is an explicit presumption of lawfulness in defense of abode, no such presumption is set forth in this section. Second, the individual employing force must prove that he was acting lawfully in the first instance; a mugger cannot rely on the stand your ground law because he/she was not acting lawfully to begin with. This is where Zimmerman has a problem; not being a police officer, he had no legal right to touch or detain Martin. By chasing him, he placed Martin in reasonable fear that he was about to be attacked, and Martin had a right to stand his ground. Zimmerman was the “attacker” in this scenario, not the person being attacked. At that point, it was, in my view, Zimmerman’s duty to break off; this statute cannot be reasonably interpreted to suggest that both Zimmerman and Martin had the right to stand their ground and duke it out, with no legal consequence attaching to either party.
    Last, the use of force must be reasonable under the law. And here again there is a problem; is lethal force “reasonable” to fend off an attack in which no weapon is used or displayed? I have a problem seeing a judge allowing an initial aggressor who is acting unlawfully in some fashion the right to elevate the use of force to lethal when he starts losing the fight he started.

    • avatarRalph says:

      is lethal force “reasonable” to fend off an attack in which no weapon is used or displayed?

      The answer is yes. A weapon isn’t necessary to kill or cause crippling injury. Boots and fists will do just fine.

      http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20136284,00.html

      • avatarMarc05 says:

        is lethal force “reasonable” to fend off an attack in which no weapon is used or displayed?

        Perhaps not.

        The Florida statute (776.112) states: Use of force in defense of person.—A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:
        (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or

        According to precedents established by the District Court of Appeal of Florida (2nd District), “great bodily harm” is:

        CORONADO v. STATE
        654 So.2d 1267 (1995)
        District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District.
        May 17, 1995.

        “Great bodily harm defines itself and means great as distinguished from slight, trivial, minor, or moderate harm, and as such does not include mere bruises as are likely to be inflicted in a simple assault and battery… . Owens v. State,289 So.2d 472, 474 (Fla. 2d DCA 1974).

        If I’m reading this right (and I’m not a lawyer, so YMMV), it appears that deadly force isn’t necessarily justified in defense of “simple assault and battery.”

        I’ve followed the thread of precedent defining “great bodily harm” back and its references in multiple cases, going back to 1922, so it seems pretty established by multiple courts in multiple jurisdictions:
        OWENS v. STATE
        289 So.2d 472 (1974)

        ANDERSON v. STATE
        291 N.E.2d 579 (1973)

        FROEDGE v. STATE
        249 Ind. 438 (1968)

        FROEDGE v STATE makes reference to Hallett v. State(1922), 109 Neb. 311, 190 N.W. 862. but I couldn’t track that reference online.

        • avatarRalph says:

          I specifically referenced death or crippling injury in my answer. Didn’t you read it?

        • avatarMarc05 says:

          Yes, I read it.

          And yes, there are cases of people being beaten to death or suffering great bodily harm with fists and boots but those court appeals (have you read those?) suggest that the bar for “great bodily harm” is higher than a black eye, a bloody nose, or a head abrasion.

        • avatarRopingdown says:

          The case you cited, Coronado, does not stand for the proposition you asserted. At issue was a question as to whether Coronado, who together with three others, beat two victims with sticks severely enough to be properly convicted of aggrevated assult. The Appeals Court ruled that he had. I’ll quote the relevant passage below, but I would point out this: In responding with lethal force the question is whether under the facts and circumstances the defender reasonably perceived an immediate threat to impose serious or grievous bodily harm (or injury), and apparent ability on the part of the attacker to carry out that threat. You overstate what is required. A serious cut on the back of the scalp, a broken (not merely bloody..) nose, joined with continuation of the attack, would certainly meet the Courts’ definition. (The follow ups cited are on the same track, jury instructions and classification of the crime: In their words:

          Although the evidence is conflicting as to whether the stick was a deadly weapon, there was competent, substantial evidence to support the determination that it was a deadly weapon. Since this was a jury question, we will not disturb the jury’s determination unless it was clearly in error. We decline to reverse on this point.
          Further, Harbaugh did suffer great bodily harm. He suffered a facial fracture, numbness and a great deal of pain around the eye and face. Appellant’s characterization of Harbaugh’s injuries as a “black eye” is simply incorrect. Great bodily harm has been defined as follows:
          Great bodily harm defines itself and means great as distinguished from slight, trivial, minor, or moderate harm, and as such does not include mere bruises as are likely to be inflicted in a simple assault and battery… . Whether the evidence describing such harm or injury is within the meaning of the statute … is generally a question of fact for the jury.

        • avatarRopingdown says:

          (Who knows where my comment went?) I don’t think Coronado stands for quite the principle you assert. In Coronado the Court of Appeals was considering several claims by the defendant below. The main one at issue is whether Coronado and three other people were committing Aggravated Assualt when they beat two victims with sticks. While the Court did assert that mere bruises were not enough to pass beyond Simple Assault and Battery, a fractured jaw certainly was. It is a question of fact for the jury, and therefore the Court affirmed. A broken nose (not merely bleeding) and a deep gash in the scalp are not mere bruises. As relevant was the fact that the beating was apparently continuing, notwithstanding the previous injuries. But more, the context of the Coronado case is different: The use of lethal force was not at issue. The underlying lethal force law in Fl requires that the victim of attack must reasonably believe he is immanently to be subjected to serious bodily injury or death, and perceive that the attacker has the ability to impose that injury or death. It is a prospective evaluation. For example, if the victim drew and fired, his gun jammed, the attacker continued, but merely inflicted many bruises and a bloody nose, nonetheless the “use” of lethal force would not have been wrong if the assessment made above, given all the facts and circumstances, was reached reasonably at the time the gun was drawn and the trigger pulled. The jury is to put themselves in the place of the victim (or defender) at the time he made the decision. Subsequent events are not determinative.

          The Court said:
          Although the evidence is conflicting as to whether the stick was a deadly weapon, there was competent, substantial evidence to support the determination that it was a deadly weapon. Since this was a jury question, we will not disturb the jury’s determination unless it was clearly in error. We decline to reverse on this point.
          Further, Harbaugh did suffer great bodily harm. He suffered a facial fracture, numbness and a great deal of pain around the eye and face. Appellant’s characterization of Harbaugh’s injuries as a “black eye” is simply incorrect. Great bodily harm has been defined as follows:
          Great bodily harm defines itself and means great as distinguished from slight, trivial, minor, or moderate harm, and as such does not include mere bruises as are likely to be inflicted in a simple assault and battery… . Whether the evidence describing such harm or injury is within the meaning of the statute … is generally a question of fact for the jury.

        • avatarRopingdown says:

          Laugh: TTAG has temproraily eaten my comment (long), and a subsequent repost. If things go as usual the comment (or both) will appear later. My apologies if they release both…..

  12. avatarMichael B. says:

    You’re overlooking some critical things here that have been discussed ad nauseum. It’s not illegal to talk to someone and ask them what they’re doing..wherever. It might be incredibly stupid but it’s not illegal. What matters most here is who started the violence and how the fight thereafter played out. I should remind you that you cannot, in any part of the country, legally get away with physically attacking someone for something they said. The thing is, we don’t know what exactly happened yet. We don’t know if Zimmerman engaged him physically first or if Trayvon attacked him for being a nosy asshole. Who attacked who first and how far it went are the important parts of determining whether this was a lawful DGU or not. That’s ultimately for the grand jury to decide now.

    Let me reiterate that I think Zimmerman’s an idiot and he very well could be a racist. I know the first thing for sure, but don’t know the second. What I care about is that the man gets a fair shake and if he’s guilty he’s found guilty based on the law, facts and reason rather than emotion. But a rush to throw him under the bus simply to try to make our side look better is just bullshit since we don’t know all the facts. It’s dishonest, cowardly, despicable and I frankly don’t give two shits if I’m the only one saying that.

    Instead of throwing the man to the wolves, Gottlieb could’ve avoided talking about him altogether and done a much better of job explaining why the law is necessary. He didn’t. He’s lucky his organization does really good work when it comes to second amendment legal activism or I’d cancel my membership.

    Here’s how I would’ve handled it: “I don’t agree with Zimmerman’s actions and I think the whole situation is incredibly tragic. But, the calls for repeal of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law are completely unwarranted. Why should the actions of one man, who in this case may not even be protected by the law, be reason enough to remove the legal protection it provides those who legitimately and clearly defend themselves from deadly criminal attack? That doesn’t make any sense and frankly I believe the motivations of people like the State Senator here are a mix of knee-jerk reaction and political activism. A young man died, Chris. It’s macabre and distasteful for anti-gun politicians like him to take advantage of this tragedy to push their agendas.”

    Furthermore, he should’ve gone into how it was easier for any anti-rights Police Chief or prosecutor to make the lives of those who legitly defended themselves a living hell under the old way of doing things. Most people don’t know the ruin that people like Janet Reno and other prosecutors occasionally brought to innocent people’s lives down here. One case that comes to mind involved a woman who shot her abusive husband when he tried invade her home. She reasonably believed he was going to murder her since he’d beaten her horribly on several different occasions and was so pissed that she recently got him arrested that he actually threatened to kill her. Massad Ayoob chronicled it one of his books and I believe he was involved in the case to some extent. She was eventually acquitted on all charges but only after being dragged through the mud and persecuted.

    Anyway, Gottlieb was unhelpful and failed to give examples of why we need the law. He didn’t even have to talk about Zimmerman.

    • avatarMichael B. says:

      My above comment is in response to JK. I must’ve flubbed up and hit the wrong Reply button.

    • avatarRalph says:

      Your comment was well thought out and I agree with it in almost every way except one. Why not throw Zimmerman under the bus if that helps “us?” The people marching in the streets don’t care what really happened. They just want his head on a platter. The jerks in the FL legislature who want to repeal SYG don’t care what really happened. They just want to advance their anti-2A position. Commentors here who hate TTAG editorials don’t care what happened. They might as well be out on the street marching for “justice.” The talking asshats on TV don’t care what really happened, they just want their ratings. So why should you or I care?

      Zimmerman the person has just become too inconvenient for everyone. Zimmerman the symbol is there to be exploited by everyone with an agenda. He’s all done.

      If you think that’s cynical on my part, I’d have to say that once again, you’re right. Cynical, but altogether American.

    • avatarJK says:

      Michael,

      Thank you for the reply. I echo the thoughtful compliment mentioned earlier.

      I don’t know what constitutes harassment, intimidation , or threat under Florida law (and of course we don’t know the specifics of their confrontation). I do have some question as to Zimmerman’s confronting Martin being entirely lily-pure. I don’t know where hearsay restrictions will come down on Martin’s phone conversation with his girlfriend, but let’s assume that what we’ve heard is true. Martin felt like he was being pursued. SYG was made for people like him. Even if he did throw the first punch, I would go so far as to say it was within his right to. He felt threatened because someone was following him, eventually chased after and then confronted him. I’d feel threatened too. Walking down the sidewalk should never result in the confrontation that happened here.

      The specifics of this case are going to be just that–specific to this case. What I am getting at, though, isn’t that–it isn’t about who threw the first punch. The entire incident was caused by someone who was not standing their ground, but was the aggressor.

      So I guess I don’t see the point of trying to make this about the nitty-gritty when the overall gist is excruciatingly clear. The the left is trying to turn it into a pivotal momentum change. I don’t think it’s cowardly at all to throw Zimmerman under the bus. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if he hadn’t killed someone who was walking down the sidewalk–and as near as we can tell, walking down the sidewalk w/o committing a single crime, minding his own business, and otherwise a model citizen. There is no ethical way way to get from “Standing your ground” to defending Zimmerman’s actions and Martin’s death. It is arguing about trees while claiming the forest doesn’t exist.

      I might even go so far as to say that invoking specifics is the cowardly thing. It is ignoring the circumstances and immediately preceding actions of the person who pulled the trigger in order to argue that defense rather than aggression was taking place. At the very moment he pulled the trigger he probably felt like he was defending himself. But that ignores the reality that the only reason he was in that moment was because he chose to put himself there. How can anyone possibly assign that consequence to Martin?

      The left is making the forest argument. Zimmerman is not the time or place to make the tree argument. As far as defending SYG…I won’t lose a wink of sleep over suggesting that Z has absolutely nothing to do with what that law was intended for. In fact, I would sleep better if Zimmerman was behind bars.

  13. avatarAharon says:

    OT:

    In reaction to the recent murders in France by an Islamic extremist, the French President has called for jailing people who visit terrorist sites. The following comment critical of the President amused me in how close it parallels gun politics in America:
    “Once more it’s the Internet that’s being blamed, as if the Internet was the source of all evil.”
    I guess it is just human nature for many to often seek out simplistic solutions and for politicians to use excuses to limit citizen’s liberties and seek more power over the people.

    • avatarAaron says:

      I remember after the Sept. 11 attacks some private citizens took the initiative to learn Arabic and monitor jihadist websites. Supposedly some of the intel they gleaned was helpful to the War on Terror.
      Thanks, Pres. Sarkozy – you want to make criminals out of decent people like that.

  14. avatar1freeman1951 says:

    After watching this video I am so angry that if Alan were in front of me now, I would b*tch slap the moron for even opening his mouth about the incident. Talk about being ignorant of the facts and/or spreading misinformation! He repeats statements that upon further inspection, have been shown to be false. His actions are nothing more than a pathetic attempt at appeasement toward the racist elements out there trying to invoke white-guilt among the populace.
    The police said they didn’t “NEED” him to follow the kid not to “STOP” following him. BIG difference in meanings. At 17yo & 6ft this is not a kid, baby faced maybe without a current (as in last week) pic, but he is a young adult, the pics of him playing football in school are VERY misleading on this point. Zimmermans’ 911 tape indicates he was doing nothing more than keeping visuals tabs on the location of a suspicious person (just what a good neighborhood watch person is supposed to do). What sounds like running is nothing more than wind noise (remember is was during inclement weather). His voice & breathing were not labored as they would be for anyone running especially if they were as out of shape as Zimmerman appears to be. There is absolutely no evidence to indicate who initiated the contact between the two. Even Martins’ girlfriends statement about the initial contact does not establish this point whther disregarding her statement as being hearsay (no collaboration, such as audio tape) or not. However, according to the girlfriends’ statements about the call, if truthful, Martin is the one who initiated verbal contact between the two and would be a very strong indicator that it was he and not Zimmerman that initiated the confrontation. Witnesses state Martin was on top of Zimmerman (by color of their clothing) so there was no “fear of” bodily harm, it was a physical assault being committed. Was Zimmerman NOT doing what a neighborhood watch person is supposed to do, “Observe & Report”? If the comments from the other watch leader are correct about the other numerous crimes that occurred within community, it would be understandable that Zimmerman would feel a certain level of frustration over failures of the police to apprehend previous perps. That frustration could account for him exercising the possibly poor judgement of attempting to maintain visual observation of Martin. However, as a neighborhood watch leader, he had the right to be where he was.
    According to the 911 tape, Martin first walked toward Zimmerman while he was in his vehicle then turned and started running away. If Martins’ actions were completely innocent, then why did he exercise the poor judgement of NOT running directly to the house of his fathers girlfriend where his father could shelter him and help resolve any possible trouble? As for the neighbor that observed the physical altercation between Zimmerman and Martin, had he done the MORAL thing and come to Zimmermans aid in subduing Martin, Zimmerman most likely would not have had to resort to deadly force to stop the attack upon his person.
    This was a tragic event that was the result of poor decisions on the part of all persons involved, which the survivors of the event will forever have to live with.

    • avatarRalph says:

      had he done the MORAL thing and come to Zimmermans aid in subduing Martin

      It might have been the moral thing to do — not being ordained I won’t argue that point one way or the other — but it would probably have landed the neighbor in jail.

      If I see two guys rolling in the dirt, I’ll call 911 and hope the two don’t kill each other, and that’s it. They’re on their own. I wouldn’t risk a bullet in the coconut or a knife in my ribs for anyone other than me, my family, a couple of close friends and my cats.

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