Stand Your Ground Against Paranoia

Even knowing about the tragedy that cost Trayvon Martin his life in Florida, and despite less well publicized shootings where such laws protected assailants, Massachusetts may try to join the trend with its own “stand your ground” legislation.

According to the Wellesley Patch,

State Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, proposed a stand your ground gun, self-defense law.

The law, which was passed in 2005 in Florida and is also in 21 other states, “would allow for all civil and criminal liability from people who use deadly force against their attackers in public, and it frees them from having to first try to escape the situation,” according to the Boston Herald.

“This bill was proposed four months ago by Brewer, before the attack on Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old boy who was allegedly shot and killed by George Zimmerman, who was part of a neighborhood watch and claims he shot Martin in self defense.

The Patch’s Web poll on the subject has 354 respondents currently, 87% in favor of enacting such legislation, 11% opposed to it. I don’t understand where this suburban fervor for legalizing vigilante justice comes from.

Governor Patrick has said he will veto any such bill, but let’s not allow it to get even that far. I hope Will goes on record as being against any measure that enables citizens to use deadly force on the streets without fear of consequences.

A WAPO article describes how the Martin case is putting the brakes on similar legislation in various states, including ours. It says that the laws are being pushed by the NRA (natch) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC, motto “Sabotaging American democracy one draconian state law after another”). Let’s stop this nonsense and send the NRA back to the firing ranges where they belong. And no Mass state legislator should take any of ALEC’s model legislation seriously. That’s where we should stand our ground.


Published by Geoff Dutton

Belmont resident since 1998. Technical write/editor and essayist.

5 replies on “Stand Your Ground Against Paranoia”

  1. Will, I totally agree with Geoff on this, except that he didn’t use the words “idiotic” and “immoral” enough.

    My parents live in Florida (just there on a college trip) and were more than happy to tell me how boneheaded this law is, and about how it complicates what ought to be straightforward prosecutions for manslaughter and worse. Stupid yahoos who ought to go straight to jail instead get their chance at claiming they were scared enough to shoot. It’s an insult to the victims and their families.

    It also provides incentives, in any fight, to rapidly escalate to lethal force — after all, who wouldn’t fear that the other guy would escalate first? (It’s a game theoretic, mathematical justification for just the sort of fear that would justify shooting first.)

  2. I think that Stand your ground is a movement to undo community solidarity or the common provision of services for citizens. The idea that all of us need to live together and make reasonable accommodations to allow a wide range of life styles to co-exist hard for them to accept. If communities come together and provide reasonable laws and sufficient services then the need for John Wayne individual protection from harm is unnecessary but it requires taxes to provide community services and toleration of differences. Of course to have such People living in community with sufficient support and toleration of others seems to be the target of the supporters of stand your ground supporters because they believe that Communities and government impose restrictions on their individual freedom. They feel that they need to protect themselves from others who do not represent their Utopian vision of what our society should be like. (do it my way or I shoot you) I think ALEC and the NRA support a vision of the USA that never existed except in our myths. Mostly I believe they feel that Stand your ground, gated communities, tough on crime laws, and taking away voting rights will allow a legal and government system that can replace taxes, and services with individual provision of services if you want them, and only have to pay for them if you need them, thus having less of a tax burden, less of a roll for government, and create their utopian vision as they feel the USA should be.

  3. Gun control is an essential piece of the issue. I hope MA is far from allowing people to carry weapons under most circumstances. If George Zimmerman hadn’t had a gun, Trayvon Martin would probably still be alive, no matter whether there was a fight, who started the fight, whether Zimmerman had prejudices, etc.

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