Defensive Gun Use of the Day: Stand Your Ground And Pay the Price Edition

TTAG Commentator Archie J writes:

While trolling the Huffington Post webpage I came across an article about Marissa Alexander, an AA woman (and mother) who defended herself against an abusive ex husband. Before the incident, Ms. Alexander filed for a restraining order. When Ms. Alexander became pregnant she chose to revoke the order. From the article and (other research) it appears that her husband started fighting with her in the home and chased her around. Fearing for her life, Marissa ran into her garage but forgot her truck keys in the process. She tried to operate the garage door in her home but it was jammed . . .

At this point the Florida Concealed Carry Permit holder retrieved a handgun and discharged a round into the ceiling to stop her charging husband. The husband fled the house. Nobody was shot. Nobody died. The husband admitted that “The gun was never actually pointed at me. When she raised the gun down and raised it up, you know, the gun was never pointed at me.” [Click here to read Gray's deposition at ideas.time.com]

Alexander rejected a plea deal and went to trial. She was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to harm; a sentence which carries a 20-year minimum sentence in Florida.

In an incredibly bizarre twist of fate the judge denied her protection from Stand Your Ground (SYG), stating that “The defendant had split seconds to decide if she was in fear for her life, and ultimately the judge found that there were other things she could have done like leave the residence through a front door or a back door.”

Luckily it appears that Ms. Alexander is getting a retrial.

TTAG, the NRA, every supporter of 2A and SYG laws, and anyone who is against domestic abuse should come out in support of Marissa Alexander. There have been several articles (like this one at downtownjax.firstcoastnews.com) about how minority people need 2A protections as much as, if not more than, the typical OFWG (Old Fat White Guy) who loves and carries guns.

Although there are always intricacies in any legal case, this seems to be a clear example where Florida’s Stand Your Ground law should apply.

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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.

52 Responses to Defensive Gun Use of the Day: Stand Your Ground And Pay the Price Edition

  1. avatarMilsurp collector says:

    “At this point thew Florida Concealed Carry Permit retrieved a handgun and discharged a round into the ceiling to stop her charging husband.”

    I got a hearty laugh at the thought of a laminated CCW permit spontaneously growing arms, picking up her gun, and discharging a round. That might wanna read as “At this point the Florida Concealed Carry Permit holder retrieved a handgun…” No offense, as I’m not trying to be a grammar Nazi.

  2. avatarTarrou says:

    Illustrating the necessity of SYG in a state that actually has it………My god, what do they teach lawyers these days? I’m angered some filthy prosecutor decided that a pregnant domestic abuse victim was a proper person to charge with such a “crime”. I’m astounded a judge would go along with it. Around where I live, we’d give her a medal, and some shooting lessons.

    • avatarSD3 says:

      “…what do they teach lawyers these days?”

      They teach them to legislate from the bench. This is a perfect example.

      The real shame is that, regarless of whether or not this is overtunred or not (and it will be) this judge can be as rediculous as he likes with absolutly zero consequences. It’s just an ‘opinion’, to which he is professionally entitled.

      • avatarParthenon says:

        It’s just an ‘opinion’, to which he is professionally entitled.

        I disagree

        He is a judge. That means his “opinion” is enforced by armed men.

  3. avatarcolin says:

    Ive read, and I think its worth checking on this, that the prosecutor who took this to trial is the same one who charged George Zimmerman with murder.

    Again, i read that on some message board, so take it with a grain of salt, but could be worth checking into.

  4. avatarLevi B says:

    What kind of world do we live in where a woman being chased around the house by an abusive man is not a threat to her life? How many women have to die to domestic abuse until these women are treated like the victims they are, and encouraged to empower themselves against this kind of treatment from people who supposedly love them?

    • avatarLevi B says:

      Also, she DID try to leave! Damn judges. Where’s the million hoodies for this woman?

  5. avatarracer88 says:

    I thought the SYG law was enacted exactly for this reason… domestic abuse. The idea being that battered women (usually it’s women) were being unnecessarily and unfairly prosecuted for defending their own lives based on the fact that they “didn’t leave.”

  6. avatarConcerned says:

    It’s a shame when you can’t even SYG in your own home. This judge must live in a perfect world where everyone ALWAYS makes it out alive.

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      I’ll make the judge’s case, since it may be unclear from this posting: The defendant, Marissa Alexander, brought forth a gun and actually fired it in order to stop a domestic argument, and possible ordinary assault. The defense argued this, that in one’ s home there is a presumption that an intruder intends such injury, and a person has immunity against arrest or charges of aggravated assault or murder. Marissa’s problem? Her husband lived in the house. He had a right to be there. SYG therefore doesn’t give a presumption, and so the facts as presented through testimony at trial matter. Those facts did not, in the judge’s view, support a reasonable belief that imminent “serious bodily harm,” “more that ordinary assault,” was about to occur. See FL Statutes 776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.— This is a classic case of “you can’t draw a firearm as a reaction to the threat of ordinary assault, especially against a family member living with you, if you can withdraw from the confrontation.” She was part of the argument, it seems. She was in the position Zimmerman might have been in had he merely been punched but not prevented from retreating from an ordinary assault.

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        The husband did state, recently and long after the trial, that he had assaulted in some form four of his five “baby mommas.” The moral of the story is “don’t continue to live with a person who makes a habit of slapping their partners around, unless you are actually willing to be slapped around or retreat from physical confrontations.” Marissa knew his nature, and had proved that in her previous filing for a protective order. By the fellow’s own testimony, he has at least seven children by five mothers. Draw your own conclusions about the pair.

  7. avatarboomenshutzen says:

    What is the most effective way for us to help her?

  8. avatarGS650G says:

    It’s too bad her assailant was able to provide details to the police, the lack of feedback from him would have benefited her case. Of course she didn’t have the option of strolling past him when it went down ( the law gets to armchair quarterback that) but firing at a ceiling is never a good policy.

  9. avatargreat unknown says:

    Isn’t SYG precisely that: in your own house you have NO duty to retreat? Without reading the decision, and based on your article, it seems that the judge simply ignored the law. No wonder there’s a retrial.
    As Instapundit would say, “Tar. And feathers.”

  10. avatarShane from Kanuckistan says:

    How can you have aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to harm?

    Am I missing something here?

    • avatarJeff O says:

      Yeah, that’s super confusing to me.

      Although, as explained to me one, battery is when you hit someone. Assault is when you miss.

      I always assumed assault was the intent to do harm, but somehow you’re stopped, which makes “assault with a deadly weapon, with no intent to harm” super confusing to me.

      • avatarTotenglocke says:

        It’s worse than that – assault is simply the act of saying / doing something that make another person scared. You can literally just yell at someone (without making any threats) and be charged with assault.

  11. avatarBlake says:

    Jury nullification would work very well in this case.

    • avatarBob says:

      Agreed, but 99.99999% of the population are totally clueless and don’t know this and take the judge’s instructions as gospel.

  12. avatarDon Curton says:

    Just like every other case, you can’t just take a few facts and make a judgement. In the case of “abused” women, I’m far past taking their story at face value. I’ve known more than a few “abused” women, and while I think any man who beats a woman is pure shit, I also know there’s some very sick psychological problems at play in the woman’s head.

    First she filed and then revoked a restraining order? After she got pregnant? From what? A toilet seat? Who’s the father? Was the pregnancy on purpose or accidental? Is she using the pregnancy to “get back at the bastard”? Some women do that. It took a jury 12 minutes to find her guilty. 12 minutes. Obviously they based that on something that ain’t in either blog post. Maybe this ain’t the case to represent SYG law after all.

    • avatarChris says:

      I wondered the same thing. Seems odd.

    • avatarBecca E says:

      Well, “just like in every other case, you can’t just take a few facts and make a judgement” is absolutely a true statement, yet you cake the “more than a few ‘abused’ women” you’ve known and apply it as a blanket statement to all women who have been abused.

      1) You putting abused in quotations suggests that these women are faking the attacks. While this may happen occasionally, all abuse accusations are not BS and need to be taken seriously.
      2) You then placing blame on a woman having “psychological problems” is absolutely atrocious. Men (or even a female aggressor) CANNOT be excused for their behavior even if the woman is a basket case. The psychological implications of an abusive relationship are certainly evident but even the strongest, smartest, most beautiful woman can be broken by abuse. Imagine fearing for your life or the lives of your children. Imagine being told that if you left, he’d kill you, take your kids from you , kill them, etc. Would you leave? Maybe, maybe not.
      3) As someone who has lived in an abusive household and seen it firsthand, I’m not surprised by the pregnancy nor the revoking of the restraining order. Most men who are abusive are also highly territorial, and therefore, often extremely focused on having their own biological children. I would be willing to bet that after she became pregnant with his child, the man involved in this case calmed down a great deal. I imagine he told her he would change, get help, calm down and be a great father if she would just drop the restraining order and let them return to “normal” life.
      4) Regardless of the facts of this case and whether or not it is the “poster child” for SYG, your views on women disgust me. Women getting pregnant to “get back at the bastard” and blaming their abuse on “sick psychological problems” are both absolutely abhorrent. Men like you are why women who are getting abused can’t leave. We need to support these women (and even men who are victims), not chastise them for being in the situation in the first place.
      5) Now, to address your issues with the case: if the woman truly did get pregnant on purpose and she was also completely laden with “sick psychological problems,” does that make it okay for her to have been attacked? Does that make her guilty of assault? Do either of those instances make SYG null and void? No.

      Even if she is manipulative, emotional, and psychologically unstable, this woman deserves a retrial.

      • avatarLT says:

        1) This world, much though some disagree, is about personal choice. I’ve known abused women (and a man or two, I believe) and in every circumstance there is a series of warning signs that are either ignored or consciously accepted by the victim. We live in a country where association is relatively free – you don’t want to be involved with somebody, just uninvolve yourself. Often these folks decide to stick around until it’s “too late” (it’s almost never too late) and then bad things happen. Granted, those bad things are typically the fault of the persons they’re involved with.

        2) All abuse allegations – heck, pretty much any criminal allegations – need to be taken seriously. That doesn’t mean they should be accepted as fact by the general public the second they’re brought up, though – there’s this thing called “keeping an open mind/neutrality.”

        3) We don’t know what happened here and we don’t know whether or not she deserves a retrial – neither do you, unless you’re privy to some information the rest of us aren’t? I doubt it, as that would require you being familiar with the source case and/or actually reviewing the public record involved.

        Regardless, may justice be done.

      • avatarDon Curton says:

        Becca – take a chill pill. I’m not make a blanket statement on all women. I’m stating that I refuse to take any story at face value anymore.

        I’ve actually stared down a gun barrel while helping a woman pack her belongings and move out of an abusive household. I’ve taken time to help set several women up in different towns – find apartments, move them in, all of that. Just to see them get right back together with the same asshole – or find another just as bad.

        Whether you like it or not, some women actively seek abusive relationships. And some women actively initiate violent confrontation.

        I think it’s sick, but it is what it is. And that does not, in any way, excuse the man for any violence on his part. It simply is what it is.

        And the salient fact is that the jury took 12 minutes to convict. 12 minutes. If they had taken 12 minutes to acquit, you’d all be cheering. Obviously the real facts, as presented in a courtroom, were convincing enough that 12 people voted to convict is less time that it takes for a bathroom break. That’s the salient fact here.

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        It doesn’t do to make sweeping generalizations in either direction: This is a particular case with its own facts. This couple already had two children together prior to the pregnancy. The wife knew the husband was a serial “baby momma” abuser. Since the technicalities of the law allowed the judge to reach the conclusion as reported, retrial denied, the judge may well believe that discouraging the use of lethal weapons in domestic disputes, short of defending against immediate threats reasonably perceived as threatening death or serious bodily harm, is an important policy. I can’t say I disagree. It brings to mind those husbands who wave guns around to intimidate their spouses, without making explicit threats. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    • avatarAharon says:

      Don,

      You’ve brought up some great points. The HP itself is, like most medias, one with a political agenda and pre-set values and beliefs. I find Becca’s disgust at your views rather amusing.

      Among heterosexual couples, an estimated 15-20% involve some degree of physical abuse with anywhere from 50-70% of the cases being initiated by the woman against the man. Interestingly, among woman&woman couples, the domestic violence rate is one in three or 33%. Do the math.

      Recently, the gender warriors have been able to once-again redefine and expand the definition of abuse or domestic violence to include idiotic things such as disrespectfully rolling ones eyes at a spouse and trying to persuade a spouse from visiting his or her parents. Do you know any man who would lower himself to reporting those acts as domestic violence?

      A woman therapist who specializes in abusive relationships has estimated that about ten percent of women suffer from having a borderline personality disorder. I’m not saying this is the case here yet as you pointed out it only took a jury twelve minutes to find her guilty.

      • avatarLT says:

        “Dissuade” is the word and you’re definitely right about HuffPo. I used to read that place all the time for news when I was left-leaning… for obvious reasons I don’t frequent the place any longer.

        Take it from a former semi-lefty, most everything there has a left (or left-leaning) slant.

        • avatarAharon says:

          LT,

          Thanks for the correction to dissuade. Ten years ago when I lived in San Francisco I was against most or all civilian ownership of handguns. Then I studies the issued. Twenty years ago, and this will shock some folks here, I supported feminism. Then I lived with two feminists near UC Berkeley California and experienced supernatural horror.

        • avatarLT says:

          Most folks are for feminism – the first and second wave (i.e. equality of opportunity under the law) kind, anyway. It’s just the recent stuff (third wave, etc.) that’s gone over the deep end.

          I can’t imagine being in the People’s Republic of California for very long, let alone living there… living with two feminists near Berkeley would probably drive me bonkers.

          That said, I do plan to go hunting there someday, for the best game of all: blondes.

        • avatarAharon says:

          The radfems have taken over the movement and helped give birth to gender-raunch feminism. I still have no problem or criticism of the basic ideals of the older women’s movement. I’ve studied the issues deep enough to now be opposed to feminism and its misandry (hatred of males). Feminism is not about equality as it is about having special class status for women and girls, or at least a portion of them.

  13. avatarmiforest says:

    she is probably in an area where the elected officials hate guns so much they can never believe that any gun owner is not an evil person. they will never mis an opportunity to go after a gun owner no matter what the circumstances.

    wow! 20 year minimum for a warning shot with no intent to harm. how bad do the politicians have to hate gun owners to pass a law like that.

    • avatarLT says:

      The good ol’ boys here in Florida just love their law and order, tough on crime ways. (Apparently the voters do too.) Using a firearm in a crime means a mandatory 20 year sentence, I believe.

  14. avatarkarlb says:

    This seems a travesty from the facts presented. One question: what does this case have to do with SYG? She had retreated as far as she could. She feared for her safety. She defended herself (strangely, she might not have been charged if she had actually killed her attacker). Am I right about this?

  15. avatarLT says:

    Folks:

    1) We don’t know what happened between these individuals. As my (***hole of an) uncle says, “there are three sides to every story – your side, my side, and the truth.”

    2) To me, SYG doesn’t say random shots in the air are totally okay – if you really, REALLY need to defend yourself, you’re going to do one of two things (actually the same thing, just separated by length of time a bit) – either you’ll shoot (at) the person who needs shootin’ or you’ll point your gun at that person, which is the precursor to shooting somebody. How long it takes you to pull that trigger will vary from person to person, and occasionally just that “half” act is enough to survive. If she had just pointed and he’d ran – from the story she pointed and he kept coming – this likely wouldn’t be an issue, and if she had actually used the gun the way she was supposed to (i.e. painted the house with a pint of his hemoglobin) this likely wouldn’t be an issue either.

    Besides, don’t we all advocate trigger safety? Rule 4 or something – don’t have the gun pointed at anything (or pull the trigger on anything) you don’t wish to destroy. Guns aren’t toys to make statements; they’re lethal weapons and should be treated as such. What if that bullet had ricocheted? Also, this guy wasn’t scared enough by her drawing the weapon; what if he’d pressed on anyway and attempted to grab the gun from her? She might not even be around to be charged today.

    3) Most importantly, one takeaway from this – if you’re going to use a gun, play for keeps. No half measures. When you pull Mr. Snappy out of concealment you’d best be ready to take a life.

    As a Floridian, a CWFL holder, and a young man of color I will definitely be taking this case to heart. If I should ever have to use my gun for defensive purposes and/or SYG I don’t think there will be complainants against me.

    • avatarSig says:

      +1. The limited facts given here show extraordinarily questionable judgment, both with and without the firearm involvement.

    • avatarAharon says:

      “there are three sides to every story – your side, my side, and the truth.”

      LT,

      That is classic.

  16. avatarSanchanim says:

    It is sad, it wasn’t white on black and oh no one died so no one is protesting for her!
    To that end it sounds like the husband knew he was being a jerk and even stated she never pointed a gun at me…
    Truly sad, hopefully she will get off..

    • avatarGuywithagun says:

      The husband changed his story during the trial and basically said that she was a raging lunatic with a gun (not exactly). He literally told the court “I lied before when I said she didn’t point the gun at me” [paraphrasing]. I love it when people admit to lying and then they still have credibility later on in court. I think at any time you admit to lying to the police or in an official investigation, then none of your statements can be used in court. Oh what a world we live in.

  17. avatarRalph says:

    In a remarkable case of WTF, the local NAACP chapter is supporting Ms. Alexander and SYG. The chapter President says: “After looking into it and studying the case, this is a clear case of Stand Your Ground as it relates to what she had to do on the date that she did it.”

    http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2012-04-21/story/naacp-weighs-what-they-say-stand-your-ground-case-against-jacksonville-0#ixzz1tvD4zI42

  18. avatarAharon says:

    Feminists Disrupt a Forum About Battered Husbands 1

    “Men’s activists hold a public forum to discuss the possibility of giving male victims of domestic violence some of the social services that are currently only available to female victims. Feminists, who strongly oppose any recognition of male victims of abuse, disrupt the forum and try to shut it down. They oppose free and open discussion of gender issues.”

  19. avatarSilver says:

    “She tried to operate the garage door in her home but it was jammed . . .”

    Was it an IMI garage door?

    Like others have said, no way to fully know the truth. But if it’s indeed anything like that, then that 20 year sentence is ludicrous. Judges scare me just as much as the concept of the SCOTUS…fallible, agenda-driven fools who have total discretion over peoples’ lives…and who sometimes are in no way taken to task for their decisions.

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      The reporters also fail to describe where she went to get that gun, once apparently stuck in the garage trying to escape her husband. She went back into the house for the gun. So much for the vehemence of the husband. This explains why the judge said she could simply have used the front or back door.

  20. avatarLT says:

    In the CNN article below, the woman involved claims she looked away and DIDN’T POINT THE GUN at the man she alleges attacked her.

    Let’s stop a second and think about that.

    She had a loaded firearm – a lethal weapon – and discharged it without looking at what she was shooting at. Epinephrine flowing through her or not, that violates one of the core tenets of gun safety. Strike one.

    Now, let’s move on to the fact that she didn’t shoot at her attacker. She didn’t aim and miss, she just plain decided not to shoot the guy for whatever reason. Noble as trying to “save” a life might sound, that’s not what SYG is for. If you are really, truly in fear for your life you do not aim away from the aggressor and fire blindly. Strike two.

    Let me copypasta an important exemption to the self-defense presumption for y’all:

    (2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if:
    (a) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person; or

    Not gonna reread the article but I’m pretty sure they were both in a place they had the right to be… so bye-bye to the presumption and bye-bye to instant dismissal of charges.

    All in all, we don’t know what happened here and we certainly aren’t privy to the same information the jury was. Regardless, based on the woman’s own words we know she was irresponsible with her use of deadly force at best, and I think that’s enough to get her booted from DGUOTD, if not demoted to IGOOTD.

    Folks, if you’re gonna pull out a gun you’d better use it. If you’re gonna use it, you’d better darn well use it the way it was meant to be used – to destroy a threat. There are far more efficient methods of less-lethal self-defense out there if you aren’t comfortable with taking a life. (Though I posit that if you aren’t at least theoretically ready to take a life you shouldn’t carry a gun, much less point it at somebody. Plenty of data to show that’s a bad idea, especially for women.)

  21. avatarbruce says:

    Black + Woman = Double Minority = Double Standard

  22. avatarLT says:

    Robert, for future reference here in Florida we have a “Concealed Weapon or Firearm License” – we don’t do permits. (Then again, even the great Jon Gutmacher gets it wrong on his site!) http://licgweb.doacs.state.fl.us/FORMS/FormsRequest790.html

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