“What’s insidious about ‘stand your ground’ laws is that in every jurisdiction that has them, these statutes tilt the balance of power in any street encounter in favor of the person who has a gun. That’s what happened in the Martin case. The law provides a perverse incentive for everyone to be armed.” – E.J. Dionne

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51 Responses to Quote of the Day: And Your Point Is… Edition

  1. I would argue that it also forces cooler heads to prevail. And so what if the more people are legally armed? Knowing that you are armed means that any fight will be a gunfight.

  2. “…these statutes tilt the balance of power…in favor of the person who has a gun.”

    These statutes tilt the balance of power in favor of the person who is in *legal possession* of a gun.

  3. These statutes tilt the balance of power in favor of the person who ….. “reasonably fears imminent peril of death or serious bodily harm to himself or another”.

    That is insidious?!

  4. And here, ladies and gentlemen, is an example of the perverse worldview possessed by a Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar.

      • The man might be misguided, stupid even, but he’s not dumb unless you’re talking “dumb like a fox.”

        These folks aren’t some cartoon character bozos (though they might look and act like ’em sometimes) – they’re cunning, persistent, and ruthless. More than a few of ’em are savvy enough to give Machiavelli tips.

        Mock ’em all you want, but underestimate them at your own peril.

        • My point is hammers and rocks have useful purposes. Let the mocking continue 😀

  5. Mr. Zimmerman:

    How is it that TTAG is always able to find a photo of the writers it cites that look far better than the stock photo used by the newspapers who print their articles? He actually looks reasonable here, versus the pic of him in the COLUMBUS DISPATCH, with askew hair and goofy grin.

  6. Instead of calling this a Stand Your Ground law maybe a better name would be Defend Yourself Without Being Second Guessed Later Law. Words are powerful things.

  7. The problem with “stand your ground” is that it encourages irresponsible people to be armed. It encourages people to put themselves in situations where the only solution is deadly force.

    When I was just out of college, I got into a fist fight with a local bully, because we were both drunk. I got beat up, but if he had been armed, I would have been killed.

    Do we really want the law to favor people who are irresponsible?

    • The 2A doesn’t distinguish between smart people and dumb people, responsible people or crazy-ass idiots. And it doesn’t appoint anyone to make those distinctions. It just says you have the right. As in everyone.

      • The 2nd does not say anything about SYG laws. These are two very different issues. Here is a case in Florida that points to Low Budget Dave’s point: David James shot by Trevor Dooley.
        It sure seems as if this guy was looking for a fight, and he might well get off because of SYG.
        The Common Law requirement to retreat if possible does not mandate that a threatened person increase the probability of harm to him or herself by running away. It simply says that if it is possible to safely retreat, that one must. If it is not safe, then a person has the right to mount a defense.

        • The Constitution and Bill of Rights both support the defense of one’s life first and foremost. Now the problem becomes what is safe? Will getting a shattered skull be within reason? How about a few broken ribs and limbs?

        • As commenters here have often said, many of the ideas of our rights come from common law. Common law puts an emphasis on trying to defuse the situation. It does not keep one from defending one’s self.

    • I’m pretty sure the whole engaging in legal activities excludes affray. It’s simple. Arrest and punish those that cross the line. Protect people who legal defend themselves.

      That’s the same argument that the antis already use.

    • Careful, LBD. You may be slipping into the “most people are irresposible idiots” trap. I believe that most people who choose to carry are responsible. Crime statistics would seem to back me up on that statement.

    • SYG does NOT negate the requirement to meet force with only proportional force. It also dose NOT encourage irresponsibility by ANYONE. What it DOES do is remove the requirement from the VICTIM to retreat (ie allowing a criminal the opportunity to shoot you or stab you or bludgeon you from behind while you are running away.) before protecting themselves in a place that they are legally allowed to be, doing legal activity. It also codifies settled legal defense and takes away the ability to legally harm the VICTIM from malicious politician prosecutors wishing to ‘make an example’ of victims who legally defend themselves. Get it straight.

        • The problem lies in the prosecution and what it sees as “reasonable” rather than what you and I would see as reasonable. You can write laws any way you want and it won’t matter if the prosecution differs with what you felt was reasonable.

    • You say yourself that you got in a fight because you were drunk. Perhaps if you had been sober, you might have walked away, or avoided the confrontation all together? All the so called “stand your ground” laws I am familiar with site that you MUST be in fear of danger to your life or the lives of innocent people around you. None of them declare that when confronted you MUST retaliate, just that you CAN fight back to protect yourself. Retreat is still an option, it is just no longer the only option. Had you or your opponent had been carrying a gun when you were in a drunken brawl with the bully, neither of you would have been able to claim you had benefit of “stand your ground”, because being drunk cancelled it out of the equation.

      • Again, there are already laws addressing this situation such as Affray, Battery, Disorderly Intox, etc… Putting the blame on civil liberties is the battle cry of the anti-2A establishment.

    • The ‘bully’ in this case would not be authorized to use deadly force unless he was in reasonable fear of death or grievous bodily injury from you in some form or other.

      How would this have been favoring the ‘irresponsible’?

    • Some people do not understand SYG. It may be simple ignorance or it may be deliberate misrepresentation to further their own agendas. To put it simply, if you go looking for trouble and find it, you are not eligible to claim protection under SYG.

      It sounds like both you and the bully wanted to fight. If so, neither of you qualified for SYG. On the other hand, if you didn’t want to fight and did so only because it was your best option, you could claim SYG.

      It can be hard to define “irresponsibility”. I think we can all agree that it’s dangerous to stand on a street corner in a bad neighborhood in the middle of the night. But, is it irresponsible? Not if you are so poor that you can’t live anywhere safer, must rely on public transportation and must go to or from work at that time.

      I wouldn’t have a problem with “duty to retreat” if “retreat” meant availing yourself of an obvious option that is clearly safer than fighting back. Many times, running away just gives your assailant a better shot at your back. SYG permits victims to put their own safety ahead of their assailants’ safety. It does not protect assailants.

    • To follow up on what Dan said, consider the First Amendment.

      In comparison to other places without such freedom, it certainly seems to encourage speech, doesn’t it? It enables American icons such as Martin Luther King, Jr., provocateurs such as Larry Flynt, and the dregs of society (those who frankly shouldn’t be speaking) like David Duke. That’s the deal with a fundamental right, though – everybody gets to enjoy it, with very few exceptions.

      Somehow some folks out there want to pigeonhole the Second Amendment, because “it’s not the same thing.” Newsflash, folks – the First and Second Amendments weren’t first and second for no reason; their order had some significance. They are both essential pillars that help form the foundation of what America is (or was, or should be).

      That said, does it suck that there are bozos out there who will do stupid things with guns? Yeah, it sure does, but there are legal avenues to pursue to deal with their misconduct. Sucks that we’ve gotta deal with slime like the Westboro Baptist Church too but that’s part and parcel of the deal.

      Long story short, the Second Amendment applies to the American populace (adult, perhaps) in general, and everybody exercising their constitutional prerogatives should be tolerated at a minimum.

    • TO LOW BUDGET DAVE:
      Of course not, Dave. Few things bother responsible gun owners more than irresponsible gun owners (hence the Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day award). However there are a couple of things that need to be reviewed in your statement (in reverse order).

      Dave: “When I was just out of college, I got into a fist fight with a local bully, because we were both drunk. I got beat up, but if he had been armed, I would have been killed.”

      I’ll begin by ignoring your comment about you both being drunk. In almost every State, being drunk + carrying firearm = jail. So he would have been screwed and this invalidates your entire scenario. Also, by the time I was “just out of college” I was pretty much past getting into drunken scuffles. Just sayin’. Moving on…

      Who started it? You got beat up? May I then presume you lost? You see context matters when you make a statement like that because, as written, it makes no sense. No SYG law I know of protects the aggressor. So if the bully started the fight, he would have had NO legal grounds whatsoever to stand on to justify his use of force. Conversely, if you had started the fight, he still won the fight. So even if you HAD started the fight, you would have had to have presented a reasonable threat of death or serious bodily harm to the bully for him to have been able to justify the use of deadly force. I’m assuming that didn’t happen, because by your own admission he kicked your ass. If he HAD killed you, he would have gone to jail for the rest of his practical life. Depending on how badly he beat the shit you, the only person who sounds like they had a legal leg to stand on in the (partial) story you’ve given us is…you. Although it couldn’t have been THAT bad, as we still have your posts here 🙂

      The only scenario I can imagine you being killed and him getting away with it is this: The bully is armed, and starts a fight with you. He is the aggressor. You magically undo history and successfully defend yourself and the bully backs off. Not satisfied with his de-escalation, you grab a rusty pipe laying nearby and try to brain him with it. The role of aggressor is now reversed and he rightly stops the threat with deadly force. The role reversal is possible because he deescalated. Once you picked up the pipe, you became the aggressor in the eyes of the law. He ceased to be the aggressor at that time. Your story is still unclear, so if your roles were reversed then you can probably just replace “Dave” with “bully” in my fictional scenario and… well you get the picture.

      Dave: “It encourages people to put themselves in situations where the only solution is deadly force”

      What situations are those exactly? I have often heard the claim that if SYG laws were enacted, crazed CHL holders would purposefully wander into bad neighborhoods where they are likely to be harmed with the intention of encountering deadly force scenarios. Is that what you’re referring to? Let’s run with that.

      What if I have a rental property in a really rough neighborhood where there is a high level of violent crime? Am I a crazed CHL holder because I go to and from said property for operations and maintenance? Am I out for blood? Should I sell said property because I expect to be harmed? Because if so then I am essentially being told (not by you necessarily this is hypothetical) that “we don’t like you’re KIND around here.” It’s a means of backdoor legislation that creates a reduction in liberty not by specific mandate, but by eliminating my practical ability to exercise that liberty. Funny how the erosion of one freedom can ease flawlessly into another, isn’t it?
      Well excuse me if I have to call shenanigans on that for everyone who is in a similar position. There is no such thing as a neighborhood or area that is “off limits” to anyone in this country, regardless of my purpose (excluding private property and gated communities/areas because such roads, sidewalks etc are not public and are all under the HOA) or the amount of danger. If I have good cause or even if I have no cause at all, if it is a public place it is within my liberty to go there. Furthermore anywhere a human being has the liberty to go, they should retain the ability to secure their life and their freedoms. Period.

      If there is a more specific use of force scenario you are thinking of I would like to hear it. Will a microscopic slice of evildoers try to use a SYG law (replace SYG law with any natural human right) to do harm? Sure. That’s just the world Dave. People have rights, and in most cases those rights come with certain responsibilities. Fail to uphold those responsibilities and you go to jail or get killed. Eliminating the rights of many in an attempt to prevent the abuse of those rights by a few is not our way.

      • Hal,

        One of the things I like about this board is the well-reasoned arguments. I appreciate what you are saying. No person should be intimidated from exercising their legal rights. It would not be fair to say that a black guy wearing a hoodie is “looking for trouble” – therefore it would not be fair to make the same statement about a white guy in a bad neighborhood.

        I have not seen you blaming the victim on these boards, so you have the high ground to make that argument.

        We all disapprove of irresponsible gun owners, but they are a fact of life: They exist. The question is, do we need to invalidate a logical law simply because it is subject to abuse?

        Sometimes yes, sometimes no: There are people who suggest that speed limit laws be eliminated. They claim that speed limit laws infringe on their rights, and are enforced against responsible drivers just the same as irresponsible ones.

        Speed limit laws are very much like gun laws in that respect. If we start carving out exceptions to the speed limit law, then it is no longer a law enforcement tool at all.

        SYG was never intended to change the rules of responsible gun ownership. As you mentioned, you still can’t “drive” drunk, you still can’t be the aggressor. But SYG does carve out a portion of the gun law. (That is, in fact, its purpose.)

        If SYG laws turn out the result that other rational laws can no longer be enforced, then it seems obvious to me that SYG laws are a mistake.

        Can the gun laws still be enforced against irresponsible gun owners? We shall see.

    • Well, yeah, he understands what it’s about…. but he thinks it’s a bad thing.

      IMO, he’s not quite there yet.

  8. An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. – Robert A. Heinlein

    • Stating this quotation time-after-time does not make it true. Heinlein was a pretty damn good SF writer, but I’d like a study or two to prove this quotation from a novel. Oh, as I remember, Heinlein also said something along the lines of “No statement should be believed because it is made by an authority.”

  9. “What’s insidious about ‘stand your ground’ laws is that in every jurisdiction that has them, these statutes tilt the balance of power in favor of law-abiding citizens trying to defend their lives. That’s what happens in the vast majority of cases. The law provides a natural incentive for humans to defend their lives rather than cower and die or wait for police to show up thirty minutes later, if they decide to at all.”

    Fixed.

  10. Didn’t the balance of power always favor the guy with the gun anyways? Something about not bringing knives to gun…something….I don’t know.

    • Exactly what I was thinking when I read that. The statutes merely allow the law-abiding little people to legally tilt the balance of power back in their direction.

      Little people gaining some power is what the elites find so insidious.

  11. So called Stand Your Ground Laws do not require a gun. You can use a scrap 2×4 if need be. The SYG laws are not firearms laws.

  12. I think the Antis overrate SYG and Castle Doctrine.
    I actually find this duty to retreat noise to be ridiculous.
    What makes everyone think that they are so safe if they retreat?
    How do you know that where you are retreating is safe?
    Multiple Goblins?
    Do you really want to turn your back on the armed Goblin?
    Are you faster than the Goblin?
    Are you really going to climb through a small window with an armed attacker advancing on you?
    Are you really going to outrun the armed Goblin with a small child in your arms?
    Retreats easily turn into routes.

  13. SYG doesn’t do half of the stuff that the pros and the antis are arguing about. SYG prevents overzelous glory-grabbing prosecutors and careerist law enforcement officers from breaking your b@lls and throwing you in jail for defending yourself. It places a high bar for prosecutors and cops to hurdle.

    But that bar isn’t insurmountable. Let’s face it — the entire legal apparatus of the state, fueled by billions in tax revenue, against one person is an overlay. SYG just evens the odds a bit.

    • I wish more lawyers would speak out about this.

      I prefer stand your ground laws because I find duty to retreat laws morally objectionable. Why should lawful behavior be forced to cede to lawless behavior in public spaces? Why should the rights of the ordinary citizen to engage in normal activities evaporate in the face of criminal conduct? Those are the messages we’re sending with duty to retreat laws. We’re saying that when you’re attacked with deadly force out in the street, you don’t have a right to remain there. Instead you have to flee, even though you were somewhere you had the right to be, doing something you had the right to do. If you choose to stay and defend yourself, you’re putting yourself in legal jeopardy.

      I find that distasteful, and prefer that lawful behavior be given preferential treatment over lawlessness.

  14. This is the Duke lacrosse case all over again. Media sensationalism and railroading the defendant(s) before the facts are out. Could be Angela Corey will win the first ever Mike Nifong dipshit award for grabbing the mic while totally jumping the gun.

    • From what I understand, her office initially advised the Sanford PD to cease the investigation and not press charges. It sounds like the DOJ is pressing this more than her. They just want a charge with “murder” to appease the millions of race baiters anxiously awaiting a reason to spread civil unrest.

      • Doesn’t seem to me like the DOJ is pressuring her at all – how exactly would they, unless they’re offering her a job or something?

        She seems like another grandstanding prosecutor to me; no more, no less.

        Regardless, I don’t see a win here for anybody. Zimmerman’s gonna get off the hook no matter what – I don’t see any way around that – and there’s gonna be a lot of scrutiny into our SYG law here in FL. Maybe that’s the way it should be; if you can just get into a scuffle with somebody away from credible witnesses and blow the sucker away with complete immunity from charges (if for no other reason than there being no feasible way to charge you at that point) perhaps we do need to take another look at the law.

        Disclaimer: I like the SYG law the way it is and I don’t claim to know what happened between Zimmerman and Martin.

        • My curiosity lies where her office originally told the PD to not pursue charges and then decides to jump into a murder 2 charge after the DOJ gets involved. It could be a combination of both. I agree that it seems to do no good for anyone involved.

        • Hmm… I remember hearing the Sanford DA recommended not pressing charges, not Angela Corey – Corey was appointed specifically by the Governor’s office or something.

        • I just looked it up. You are correct. The 18th Circuit SA decided not to move forth. So this is basically a lynch mob prosecution with plenty of grandstanding and appeasement.

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