Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What's the matter with Florida?

Attention was drawn to Florida when, in 1987, the state passed one of the first of the modern conceal and carry laws with the help of the NRA. Recently, the legislature made it even more difficult to keep guns out of some places where people don't traditionally want or need them. It is also one of the first states to pass a "Stand Your Ground Law" in the country. It is on the agenda of the NRA to pass this law in all 50 states. From the article:
"Florida’s self-defense law, known as Stand Your Ground, grants immunity to people who act to protect themselves if they have a reasonable fear they will be killed or seriously injured.
“Stand Your Ground is a law that has really created a Wild West type environment in Florida,” said Brian Tannebaum, a criminal defense lawyer in Florida. “It allows people to kill people outside of their homes, if they are in reasonable fear for their lives. It’s a very low standard.”"
That is often the case with these types of laws. The "Shoot First" bill, recently vetoed by Governor Mark Dayton in Minnesota, would have had similar low standards for shooting another in self defense. So this is what passes for making us all safer? The thing is, only about 2-3% of people even think it's a good idea to carry loaded guns around in public. These folks feel they need their guns for their own self defense. They are making a choice that could affect us all because of an agenda from an uber and mythically powerful and well-funded lobby group that protects an industry which makes weapons designed to kill people.

The now very well publicized case of the Florida teen who was shot by a "captain" of a neighborhood watch program is causing a stir in the media and in Florida- for good reasons. The shooter has so far walked away from the shooting without being held for the shooting or charged with a crime of any kind. The local police have believed his evoking of self defense in the case. There are so many questions, it's hard to know where to start.

1. Florida has granted gun carry permits to people with questionable backgrounds. Should we know that people who shouldn't have gun carry permits have them anyway? This article explains more:
Across Florida, the state has given concealed-weapon licenses to hundreds of people who wouldn't have a chance of getting them in most other states because of their criminal histories. Courts have found them responsible for assaults, burglaries, sexual battery, drug possession, child molestation -- even homicide.
In an investigation of the state's concealed-weapon system, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found those licensed by Florida to carry guns in the first half of 2006 included:
More than 1,400 people who pleaded guilty or no contest to felonies but qualified because of a loophole in the law.
216 people with outstanding warrants, including a Tampa pizza deliveryman wanted since 2002 in the fatal shooting a 15-year-old boy over a stolen order of chicken wings.
28 people with active domestic-violence injunctions against them, including a Hallandale man who was ordered by a judge to stay away from his former son-in-law after pulling a handgun out of his pocket and telling the man: "I'll blow you away . . ."
Six registered sex offenders.
"I had no idea," said Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson, who sits on an advisory panel for the state Division of Licensing that issues concealed-weapon permits. "I think the system, somewhere down the line, is broken. I guarantee you the ordinary person doesn't know [that] . . ., and I'd venture to guess that 160 legislators in Florida don't know that either."
The National Rifle Association, the prime mover behind the state's nearly 20-year-old concealed-weapon law, says it is the court system that is broken -- not the gun-licensing system.
The problem rests with gaps within law enforcement and with "bleeding-heart, criminal-coddling judges and prosecutors," said Marion P. Hammer, Tallahassee lobbyist for the NRA and its affiliate, the Unified Sportsmen of Florida.
"What you need to understand is the NRA and the sportsmen's group are law-abiding people," she said. "We don't want bad guys to have guns.
2. Right. Let's move on shall we? Zimmerman, a concealed carry permit holder, had had one charge against him in 2005 for a violent attack against an officer. Law enforcement first told the family of Trayvon Martin that Zimmerman's record was squeaky clean and that they believed his version of the shooting because he was a Criminal Justice student. Should Zimmerman have had his gun given the 2005 charge?
Frustration also grew after the parents said they had been told by detectives that Mr. Zimmerman had a “squeaky clean” record. They knew this, the detectives said, because Mr. Zimmerman told them. But Mr. Zimmerman had been arrested in 2005 on charges of resisting arrest with violence and battery on a police officer. The charges were later dropped.
3. Is it enough to know that someone is a student of Criminal Justice to allow them to go free of charges  in a shooting, as did the officers in the case?

4. The 911 calls reveal that the shooter, Zimmerman- was told when he called police to report who he found to be a "suspicious" person walking in the neighborhood, that they didn't need him to follow the boy. Should Zimmerman have continued to follow Martin?  One of the readers of my blog quibbles with the wording of what police told Zimmerman in this comment:
"And the original Zimmerman 911 call.
"We do not need you to follow" is a but different than being told not to follow. Also when he called he did not even know the race of the suspect. It seems like the original story is falling apart."  
5. Why did Zimmerman decide to follow Martin in the first place?
The teen had gone to a convenience store to buy candy and was walking back to his family's home in the neighborhood.
"This guy looks like he is up to no good. He is on drugs or something," Zimmerman told the dispatcher from his SUV. He added that the black teen had his hand in his waistband and was walking around looking at homes.
"These a-------. They always get away," Zimmerman said on a 911 call.
6. Is it more dangerous for black teens to be walking around outside in a gated community that it is for someone who is white? This column by Charles Blow, New York Times writer, is written from the perspective of a Black man:
As the father of two black teenage boys, this case hits close to home. This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them “suspicious.” That passions may run hot and blood run cold. That it might all end with a hole in their chest and hole in my heart. That the law might prove insufficient to salve my loss.
That is the burden of black boys in America and the people that love them: running the risk of being descended upon in the dark and caught in the cross-hairs of someone who crosses the line.
7. Because someone exhibits "suspicious" behavior, a subjective and variable judgement, is that enough to call 911 and report it?

8. What is suspicious behavior, or what was it according to Zimmerman, in this shooting case? This new article reveals some of what Zimmerman could have been thinking:
Licensed to carry a firearm and a student of criminal justice, Zimmerman went door-to-door asking residents to be on the lookout, specifically referring to young black men who appeared to be outsiders, and warned that some were caught lurking, neighbors said. The self-appointed captain of the neighborhood watch program is credited with cracking some crimes, and thwarting others.
There is much more in the above linked article that sheds some light on this tragic incident.

9.  If yes to #7, shouldn't the police, once called, handle the complaint, given that they said they would?

10. What did neighbors report in 911 tapes? You can listen to a few more of them here. You can even hear the screaming in the background of one call and then the gunshot.

11. One of the people at the crime scene was heard to be yelling "help. After the sound of the gunshot, the yelling stopped. Who, then, should we assume was yelling for help? As one neighbor wondered, if Zimmerman was the one who was crying for help, why did the crying stop when the gun was shot? Zimmerman claims he was the one calling for help.

12. Zimmerman had been reported by the neighbors on occasions because of his aggressive behavior while serving as a "captain" of the Neighborhood Watch in Sanford, Florida.
A volunteer captain of a Florida neighbourhood watch, who shot dead a black teen and then claimed he acted in self defence, had a 'history of aggressive tactics,' it has today emerged. 
Neighbours in George Zimmerman's gated community, at Twin Lakes, near Orlando, had issued complaints about the 26-year-old to local police and the homeowners association before the February 26 shooting, a homeowner said.
13. What does it mean to be involved in a Neighborhood Watch program?
Emphasize that Watch groups are not vigilantes and should not assume the role of the police. Their duty is to ask neighbors to be alert, observant, and caring—and to report suspicious activity or crimes immediately to the police.
14. Should one be armed while doing the duty of a neighborhood watch captain?
The family's attorneys also questioned why a neighbourhood watch leader would carry a gun.
15. Was Zimmerman more bold because he was armed? Could Trayvon Martin have wondered why Zimmerman was trailing him and did Zimmerman show Martin his gun causing Martin to be concerned for his own safety?

16. Should Zimmerman have used a gun in an altercation that could have been avoided in the first place? Or, at the least, without the gun at the scene, would Martin now be dead?

17. Does one who claims to have shot someone in self defense get to do so even though the victim was unarmed and likely meant no harm in the first place? ( We only have Zimmerman's assessment of the situation):
In case after case during the past six years, Floridians who shot and killed unarmed opponents have not been prosecuted. Former National Rifle Association President Marion Hammer, a major force behind the law's passage, cited her own size and age in 2006 interview with the Sentinel about what she would do if confronted by a younger and larger aggressor.
"I'm 4-foot-11. I'm 67 years old," she said. "If you came at me, and I felt that my life was in danger or that I was going to be injured, I wouldn't hesitate to shoot you."
So when you see someone carrying something that you perceive to be a weapon, before making sure, should you shoot? Can someone holding something else, like a pop can, be mistaken for someone with a weapon? Should you shoot before retreating or avoiding the situation or making sure it is an actual danger? Can something in someone's pocket be mistaken for a weapon? Should you shoot someone because you aren't sure?

18. Is this self defense? If so, does this make sense? If not, what will happen now given that the Florida Stand Your Ground law allows for immunity from prosecution?

19. When the permit holders who are carrying guns in public places believe that others who are carrying guns in public places are suspicious, how can we tell who's who? Who is the law abiding person with a gun and who is the criminal with a gun?

20. What about the police investigation in this case? There are certainly many questions to be asked.
Furthermore, ABC News reported on Tuesday that one of the responding officers “corrected a witness after she told him that she heard the teen cry for help.” And The Miami Herald published an article on Thursday that said three witnesses had heard the “desperate wail of a child, a gunshot, and then silence.”
WFTV also reported this week that the officer in charge of the scene when Trayvon was shot was also in charge of another controversial case. In 2010, a lieutenant’s son was videotaped attacking a black homeless man. The officer’s son also was not initially arrested in that case. He was later arrested when the television station broke the news.
Finally, does this not call Stand Your Ground, or Shoot First laws into question? Does this not make one wonder whether it is a good idea for people to be carrying loaded guns around in public places? Does this not make one wonder if there are people who are granted permits in Florida, and now many other states, who shouldn't be carrying guns around in public places? Does this not make one wonder why a national law forcing states that have more strict permitting requirements than other states be forced to accept the permits from all states? Where is common sense?

Oh, and just as an addendum- also in Florida this past week, there was a road rage shooting. Doesn't this just emphasize the ludicrous notion that more loaded guns in public places is a good idea? There were no claims of self defense here. Nor do we know yet whether the shooter had a permit to carry that gun around in his car ( or either of them for that matter). In the case of the road rage shooting, there is a clear law in Florida that says that one can't discharge a firearm from one's car no matter what and will be held accountable. That shooter will be charged and likely stand trial. In the other case, there is an assumption by the current Florida law that a man can shoot someone under the subjective moniker of self defense, as determined by the shooter, and that person will maybe not be charged with murder nor stand trial.

The taking of another human life is no small matter. In America, we have a system of justice that works to find the truth. Yes, sometimes things go wrong. But there should be a jury of peers and a judge to determine the guilt or innocence of someone who has taken the life of another if it is not clear cut. This case does not seem to be clear cut. There are too many unanswered questions. In a country where the "rule of law" is the law of the land, this case begs to be under the scrutiny of the justice system and not that of a legislature who has fallen under the spell of the NRA and made laws that protect a self interested group of gun owners who believe that their rights to bear arms extend to the right to take a life in self defense with no questions asked. Justifiable self defense is legal and there are times when that is necessary. In almost all cases of justifiable self defense, justice comes down on the side of the defender. But when we make it legally possible to take the life of another when the choice was there to retreat or walk away and when the victim was not intending great bodily harm or was unarmed, we have crossed a line. And, as I heard in my church sermon this morning, we all make daily choices about how we lead our lives. Suspicion, fear, anger, cynicism and hate can lead to making one decision. Believing in a more hopeful, trusting, open, and loving relationship with each other can lead one to make yet a different choice. What choices are we making as a society when the life of another human being can be taken in the instant of a wrong decision? What choices are we making as a society when the person who has made that wrong decision is allowed to go free without having to be held accountable one way or the other by a jury of his or her own peers?


This new video with Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC is a good capsule of the events leading to the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the reasons why this case has so many unanswered questions. Please watch it:


  1. Zimmerman accepted responsibility when he decided to ignore the 911 operator and got out of his car. By doing this, he allowed the situation to escalate (or even initiated the confrontation, although that is not clear), which is not what you are supposed to do, particularly when carrying a concealed weapon.

    I am in favor of Stand Your Ground laws. I am not in favor of using that law to escalate a confrontation.

    I will withhold judgement concerning the charges that should be filed until the police finish their investigation. I don't normally care to trust the police, but there really is no choice in this instance.

    I've heard it said that we have a legal system, not a justice system. I really have to agree with this. I think we have all seen when justice is not served even though the police and courts follow the law. This could easily happen here.

    1. Sorry, but it is a statistic that most of the concealed carry Stand-your-ground shootings in Florida have involved the shooter shooting an unarmed victim, and the victims pretty much like this teen were not a physical threat in terms of physical size and strength to the shooter. Further, there are serious issues in those shootings as well of the armed person behaving in a belligerant manner, and of those shootings occurring outside the home where the shooter took the conflict to the victim, including pursuit like this case.

      NONE, big goose egg, ZERO of those cases resulted in an arrest much less a conviction.

      I would argue they should have, that they circumstances make it clear, like this one, that the shooter was wrong and at fault.

      Instead not only does the shooter get off of any criminal charges, they are also held free of any wrongful death liability.

      I think Zimmerman violated this kid's civil rights, and I'm so pleased the FBI is now involved; I wish they were more so, and wouldn't be surprised if their involvement escalates.

      We have plenty of protection for self-defense shooting without stand your ground laws. They have proven by experience they are in fact a license for people to wrongly shoot other people, not a basis for legitimate self defense.

  2. Resolution of the matter is in sight.

    Zimmerman has not been arrested, causing an outcry from the black community, activists and other citizens.

    The New Black Liberation Militia, a self-styled black survival group, has announced that it plans to make a citizens arrest of Zimmerman next week, the Associated Press reported.

    It quoted Najee Muhammad, a group leader, saying, "We'll find him. We've got his mug shot and everything."


    1. The Black Liberation Militia should stay out of this. The group needs to let the justice and legal system take care of this matter. That would be another form of vigilante justice and I doubt that many people would support anything like that.

    2. The Black Liberation militia are a bunch of gormless idiots who talk big, but are highly unlikely to do anything other than talk big.

  3. Another article about the shooting- http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/03/18/446768/what-everyone-should-know-about-about-trayvon-martin-1995-2012/

  4. And another- http://abcnews.go.com/US/neighborhood-watchman-allegedly-shot-trayvon-martin-wanted-cop/story?id=15949879#.T2Zu_mJWpu-
    " ABC News has learned police seemed to accept Zimmerman's account at face value that night and that he was not tested for drugs or alcohol on the night of the shooting, even though it is standard procedure in most homicide investigations.

    The night of Feb. 26, Zimmerman made a non-emergency call to police before fatally shooting Martin, in which he told a dispatcher, "This guy looks like he's up to no good, on drugs or something."

    But law enforcement expert Rod Wheeler who listened to the tapes tells ABC News that Zimmerman, not Martin, sounded intoxicated in the police recordings of the 911 calls.

    "When I listened to the 911 tape the first thing that came to my mind is this guy sounds intoxicated. Notice how he's slurring his words. We as trained law enforcement officers, we know how to listen for that right away and I think that's going to be an important element of this entire investigation," Wheeler said.

    But Zimmerman was not tested."

  5. Joan,

    Are you academically honest enough to publish the truth about Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law? If you are here here are the facts. If you don't believe me then go look at the law for your self. It is very easy to understand, no law degree required!

    The Florida law is not a gun law. Period. It contains zero references to guns or shooting, unless you feel propagandistically compelled to count one of those ubiquitous legislative “Whereases” that references the Florida Constitution’s “right of the people to bear arms…”

    The Florida law is a self-defense, self-protection law that has four key components:

    -It establishes that law-abiding residents and visitors may legally presume the threat of bodily harm or death from anyone who breaks into a residence or occupied vehicle and may use defensive force, including deadly force, against the intruder.

    -In any other place where a person “has a right to be,” that person has “no duty to retreat” if attacked and may “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 to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

    -In either case, a person using any force permitted by the law is immune from criminal prosecution or civil action and cannot be arrested unless a law enforcement agency determines there is probable cause that the force used was unlawful.

    -If a civil action is brought and the court finds the defendant to be immune based on the parameters of the law, the defendant will be awarded all costs of defense.

    So, there is NO blanket immunity from prosecution! The third paragraph spells it out clearly!

    1. Really? What's this? " -In either case, a person using any force permitted by the law is immune from criminal prosecution or civil action and cannot be arrested unless a law enforcement agency determines there is probable cause that the force used was unlawful."

      Did Trayvon Martin have a right to be walking down the street with a bag of skittles and a can of pop in the neighborhood doing nothing ostensibly wrong? Do you think he didn't have the right to be on the street walking slowly in the rain with his hooded sweatshirt on? If not, why not? What had he done wrong at the point of the call to 911? What had he done wrong before Zimmerman got out of his car? Why did Zimmerman not wait for police? Was there an emergency here? Do you have answers to these questions?

  6. "What's this?" you ask? Looks pretty clear to me. It says that if the police department or the sheriff's office or the states attorney, etc. finds that what Zimmerman did is unlawful (illegal) he CAN be prosecuted. He can't just claim that he feared for his life and that's that. Seems pretty simple concept.

    I kinda thought you might be a little bit GLAD that there is a really good possibility that Zimmerman WON'T be walking free. Based on your response maybe not.

    As far as the rest of your questions go, I was not there nor am I a prognosticator. So I, as well as you, will have to wait for the final report to come down from FDLE, the states attorneys office or whom ever is doing the investigation. Even then there may still be unanswered questions as there often are in life.

    Oh, yes, thank you for publishing my original post.

    1. The problem with the Shoot First or Stand Your Ground Laws is that the shooter is not arrested as are most people who commit crimes. The person who did the shooting is out free and the laws make it more difficult to make charges. There is a longer period of time for investigation which often ends up in the office of the A.G. Meanwhile, the family of the victim has to wait not knowing if the person who shot their son will be allowed to walk because the presumption is that the shooter acted in self defense. People are innocent until proven guilty but these cases make it possible for someone to get away with murder. There should not be immediate immunity as there is in these cases.

    2. Like you said before no one has ever been convicted of a Justifiable homicide. You see this as a crime and for now at least the police and the DA apparently do not.

    3. Here's another example of how you guys that think you are entitled to take matters into your own hands and defend your life or property should be treated. http://www.ajc.com/news/man-facing-105-years-1221252.html You want to be safe don't carry a gun.

    4. I don't think this is the one you guys want to hold up as a poster child for your cause- " The neighbors said Alexander, who was not charged in this encounter, mocked Sturdivant. Sturdivant, a frequent target of thieves, answered with a single shot from his commercial-grade M14." Can you shoot someone for mocking you while standing in your yard? Before so many people had the idea that a gun is the answer to everything, it may have resulted in a 911 call or a fist fight or maybe none of those. Now, people get out their guns and just shoot. So this is an example of the police not knowing who the law abiding person is and who is the criminal. When everyone has a gun, the police will have no idea. Was this guy about to shoot at the officers? He had already shot a guy in his yard. Was he about to go on a shooting binge? How did the officers know? Thanks for sending this one. It is an example of the case for people not shooting at others in their yard for just mocking them. Shooting the guy was not necessary since the man in the house was not in immediate danger and could have solved this differently.

    5. The law makes it so difficult, gives such lenience to the conduct of ths shooter that it is not possible to arrest someone for this kind of shooting, no matter how egregious the circumstances.

      The law requires only that the shooter can assert he or she BELIEVED they were in danger. Objective more rational castle doctrine requires that it be a reasonable belief; this law throws that out the window.

      It also holds anyone who does this kind of shooting harmless from liability for wrongful death - a huge mistake. Remember the OJ Simpson cases, both a criminal case - with a higher standard of proof under which he escaped a correct verdict that would have been just; and the wrongful death suit where he WAS found to have committed the killings, as he should have been found in the crminal case.

      Zimmerman is protected from that kind of suit; he shouldn't be. It is precisely cases like this that kind of wrongful death liability was intended to cover.

    6. You said "When everyone has a gun, the police will have no idea. Was this guy about to shoot at the officers? He had already shot a guy in his yard. Was he about to go on a shooting binge? How did the officers know?"

      Did you read this quote by the police???

      “Did you guys see a gun? Did he see a gun? I hope it was a gun.” "

  7. I apologise! I should have answered a few of your questions but I was distracted on my end!

    He did have a right to be walking down the street with candy and soda minding his business in the rain dressed as he was.

    As for the rest, my original reply stands.

  8. " Who, then, should we assume was yelling for help? As one neighbor wondered, if Zimmerman was the one who was crying for help, why did the crying stop when the gun was shot?"

    Because apparently Zimmermans attacker was mortally wounded and he no longer need help defending himself.

  9. Here is another example of Florida's gun laws run amok. Man shot to death for trying to hitch a ride. Another shooting and no arrest. Where is the common sense?


    1. I don't agree that a gun was the only way to solve this conflict. There are questions about this one, too.

  10. It's always amazing to me how you guys can get something totally different out of these articles than I do.

  11. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/03/19/148905661/killing-of-fla-teen-trayvon-martin-becomes-national-story-about-race

    " At the Orlando Sentinel, which has extensive coverage, there's a story that notes how — beyond the issue of profiling — "if George Zimmerman didn't break every rule in the book when it comes to Neighborhood Watch programs, he came close. ... Zimmerman was armed. He was alone. And while waiting for police, he somehow got into a fight with the person he thought suspicious. All three of those actions are strongly discouraged by the National Sheriffs' Association, which oversees about 20,000 Neighborhood Watch programs.""

  12. And yet another about the Neighborhood Watch program- http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-03-14/news/os-trayvon-martin-beth-kassab-031512-20120314_1_orlando-police-block-captains-zimmerman

  13. Do the people who condemn Stand Your Ground laws realize that the law protects Martin's actions, not Zimmerman’s? It is Martin that “stood his ground” and fought back against Zimmerman who was the aggressor. Zimmerman is the one who got out of his car and came after Martin- that is why he is not protected by that law. Understand that no officer has come out and said there will be no charges because of Stand Your Ground laws. The investigation is still pending. With no Stand Your Ground laws, Martin has a duty to run all the way home else he could be guilty of assault. The defense might have a hard time trying to prove that Martin could not outrun Zimmerman (who looks like he might be a bit on the heavy side). Remember, it is not a gun law- it is a self-defense law.

    So Japete, if Zimmerman ends up facing charges, will you revisit your interpretation of Stand Your Ground laws?

    1. Surely you are kidding TS. I don't know how you get that out of this case.

    2. No, I am not kidding. With the little facts we know of the case, it appears to me that Martin was acting in self-defense when he got in a fight with Mr. Zimmerman. He is walking back from the store minding his own business, and some creep is following behind him in a car. Rightfully, he tries to avoid the situation by cutting through a row of townhouses. Zimmerman gets out of his car and gives chase. Under Florida law, Martin has the option to stand his ground. In states that are less friendly to self-defense, his only option is to run home as fast as he can. Zimmerman has no claim that he was standing his ground while pursuing Martin- that’s a blatant contradiction.

    3. So are you excusing Zimmerman here?

    4. Does it sound like I am excusing him? Where did you get that idea from? I said Martin was “minding his own business”, “acting in self-defense”, and referred to Zimmerman as “the aggressor”, and even “some creep”.

      Do you think Martin had a right to stand up for himself using force?

  14. It seems there are reports of Trayvon being suspended for 7+ days. I know that you have a background in education and I was wondering if you could give some examples of what that punishment would warrant? It seems like most fights when I was in HS got a 3 day suspension.

    1. We've now sunk to a new low on this blog. This one doesn't even deserve the dignity of a comment. You should be ashamed of yourself for going after the victim. That is a tactic that you guys use often. Don't send me any more of this crap, Anthony.

    2. Right that is what I was doing then I asked that :-/ It seems like a recent suspension might be as valid as an arrest where the charges were dropped.

    3. Also what happens if it is found that Trayvon was the attacker? It seems as if you would have then been going after the victim.

      Has there ever been a self defense shooting that you think was justified?

    4. Anthony- I suggest that you discontinue making comments about this story. It has gone far beyond the sick arguments you continue to present here. This is now a national case of someone shooting another when it could have been avoided. Stand Your Ground Laws are under scrutiny as they should be. Your side just is not looking good here. So if I were you, I'd stop saying ludicrous things.

  15. Here's another article about the Sanford Police- http://blogs.bostonmagazine.com/boston_daily/2012/03/19/massachusetts-gun-laws/

    they don't look so good- " Zimmerman wanted to be a cop. According to an earlier incident report, Zimmerman once followed a man who allegedly spit at him while driving. The other driver accused Zimmerman — whom he described as “irate” — of tailgating him, and was not arrested. Zimmerman had called police 46 times since January of last year and had been previously arrested for assault on a police officer. He did exactly what the police dispatcher told him not to do. He tracked Martin, got out of the car, and confronted him. Over nothing. Now Trayvon Martin is dead. And Zimmerman is free. George Zimmerman, the guy who shot and killed a 17-year-old kid who had done nothing wrong, was not arrested and not charged with a crime. Because Zimmerman said it was self defense.

    The tragedy at first seems both awful and perplexing. But then it gets even worse. It turns out that the first Sanford officer in charge of the murder scene was Sgt. Anthony Raimondo. Raimondo, who according the the local press has three validated complaints and another one pending, was involved in another highly controversial case back in 2010 when being white apparently made everything all right."

    1. And Zimmerman is free. George Zimmerman, the guy who shot and killed a 17-year-old kid who had done nothing wrong, was not arrested and not charged with a crime. Because Zimmerman said it was self defense.

      This is wrong. Zimmerman is not free- he is under investigation. He might very well be charged with a crime, despite his claim that it was self-defense. The police need to do their homework before making an arrest. If they make their arrest prematurely they could jeopardize the whole case. They might very well determine that they don’t have enough to get a conviction. You can make these claims then. Personally I think they should send this to trial even if the prosecutors think the case is weak.

  16. More from the article above- " In December of that year, Justin Collison, the white son of a Sanford Police officer was caught on videotape sucker-punching a homeless black man from behind and then assaulting two bystanders. The assault on the homeless man knocked him out, broke his nose, and sent him to the hospital.

    Despite the fact that Officer Raimondo and the other police officers at the scene watched the tape of Collison sneaking up behind the victim and sucker-punching him, despite a slew of eyewitnesses who can be heard on the tape saying the assault was totally unprovoked, and despite the fact that Collison had been previously accused of shooting a motorist in the chest after a beer bash and beating and choking his girlfriend, Raimondo declared that there would be no arrest and no charges against him. Raimondo just sent the white boy home, even though he had quite clearly and without provocation of any kind, sucker-punched a homeless black man, knocked him out, and sent him to the hospital. And it was Raimondo who was in charge of the scene on the night 17 year old Martin Trayvon was shot and killed. By a white man."

    1. And it was Raimondo who was in charge of the scene on the night 17 year old Martin Trayvon was shot and killed. By a white man."

      Isn’t he Hispanic?

      Maybe this is a case of bumbling/bias/corrupt cops. The law certainly allows them to prosecute this case. Maybe we should wait to see what happens first. Still, I believe this investigation has been moved out of the local jurisdiction, so it is no longer an issue.

  17. an article about who can claim self defense- http://inamerica.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/19/opinion-trayvon-martin-not-george-zimmerman-was-engaged-in-self-defense/

    1. Do you agree with this author?

      Assuming the published reports are true, Martin, not Zimmerman, was exercising his lawful right to “stand his ground and meet force with force” by engaging in an altercation with Zimmerman.

      That is exactly what I said. She also agrees with me that Zimmerman is not protected by Stand Your Ground laws and can face prosecution. The thing I question from her article is that she said Zimmerman left his car with his gun drawn. I haven’t heard that one before, so it maybe her projection. If it is true, he is going away for a long time.

    2. Trayvon was a 17 yr. old Black teen ager in a gated community ( where he had the right to be). What are the chances that the Stand Your Ground defense would have worked for him? Slim to none. The law was not designed for the scenario you describe or the woman in the article wrote about. Interestingly, some of the cases dismissed in the Florida law involve young gang members shooting each other. So the law actually protects some folks who are not necessarily law abiding. The law should not be in existence. This case highlights exactly why not.

    3. In addition, a 17 yr. old can't carry a gun legally.

    4. It is not a gun law. It is a self defense law that applies to other weapons as well as hands and feet. Obviously I am coming down on the side of Martin’s family, yet you seem to be resistant to everything I say. Then you post a link to a Harvard lawyer from New York City who says the same things I just said. Maybe you disagree with her as much as me? You didn’t say one way or the other. What was you reason for posting it? Was it because it was very relevant to the discussion you and I were having (thanks for finding it, by the way), or was it because you agreed with the author?

      Japete: “So the law actually protects some folks who are not necessarily law abiding.”

      Criminals have a right to self-defense too. They still have to pay for whatever crimes they are committing, but no one is allowed to murder them just for dealing drugs. If a drug dealer shoots and kills someone to protect their life, they should be afforded the same protections as anyone else. Of course they could still go to prison for dealing drugs, possession of a gun without a permit, possession of a gun by a prohibited person, etc… but those things don’t automatically make them a murderer. Criminals rightfully have less credibility, so the police, prosecutors, judges, and juries will have a harder time being convinced it was self-defense. That is as it should be as well- it helps to be upstanding. The other thing working against criminals is that they can’t be in the act of committing the crime and claim self-defense. There are many laws that will charge them with murder even if someone dies by accident during the commission of a felony (personally I think it should be limited to manslaughter).

    5. Stop fooling yourself TS. If this law were not about guns, why did the NRA push for it so hard. This law is about guns and is used that way most of the time because we all know that guns are the weapon of choice for self defense. Your other arguments are excuses for the law in the first place.

    6. Because the NRA is very pro-self-defense. And, yes, it applies to gun use, but it is certainly not limited to guns. Look, you just posted that opinion piece from Carolyn Edgar. She has a law degree from Harvard, lives in very progressive New York City, writes a liberal leaning blog that centers on social and race issues, and has written in defense of the Martin family on several occasions. And she agrees with me that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is applicable to Martin and not to Zimmerman.

    7. Give it up TS. I don't know what you are trying to prove.

  18. Has anyone heard of someone who has stood up and defended the SYG law as a good one? I have heard no one except maybe a few of you gun rights folks on my blog. If you think it's a good idea, please explain.