It’s about time to highlight a top-performing tweet from @endyourstand on twitter. This segment will no longer be called a “tweet of the month” but an engaging, deserving tweet from the movement will continue to be regularly featured.
An environment of stand your ground laws creates a community of (legal & illegal) empowered, emboldened gun owners, who sometimes may push the limits of what stand your ground law is intended to do, contributing to gun violence.
Although it’s been a while since it was posted on twitter, this tweet was quickly retweeted and is worthy of being featured here because it concisely speaks volumes about the impact stand your ground laws have on America’s consciousness. If you agree, help keep it going and retweet it, then tell us what you think in the comments below:
In the U.S., Florida’s “stand your ground” law is only promoting brutal murder and is disguised as self-defense there and in many other states nationwide. Instead of Americans just running away from danger, they face it and pull the trigger, claiming that the person they shot dead was killed because they feared for their life, using the gun in self-defense.
Ever since the groundbreaking incident happened between shooter George Zimmerman and now deceased Trayvon Martin, Americans have been acting quite differently after the court ruled in Zimmerman’s favor, claiming that the “stand your ground” law protected him from being convicted of murder.
In fact, the controversial law has been in place for at least 10 years in 26 states. After the ruling in Trayvon’s case, aggressors took note of how to get away with the harshest crime yet – murdering someone in cold blood during an altercation, then claiming to be in fear for their life, and that it was in self-defense.
Taking into account all of the incidents in which people have invoked stand your ground law, it becomes clear that an unarmed person can be shot dead in America, just because somebody thought the other person might possibly be armed.
To make it even less of a blur to understand, Florida’s self-defense statute states that, “A person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.”
Rasputin death photo
Sadly but true, “stand your ground” defenses have been on the rise in Florida in recent years. Research found that it has happened over 200 times since the introduction of the policy in 2005 and has been used 70 percent of the time. Unsurprisingly enough, a Tampa Bay Times 2012 study pointed out that not only have “stand your ground” cases been on the rise in Florida, but so have gun sales.
Americans could be on the brink of losing their lives if they make a naturally aggressive person angry, who also happens to be in possession of a firearm. If a person disagrees with the manner in which someone else is acting, they can shoot them, as maybe many think irrational or unexplainable behavior must mean violent, deadly behavior.
Sadly enough, it is unknown how many more states will introduce a type of “stand your ground” law or how many Americans will take advantage of this “free pass”, allowing them to get away with murder, granted they fear for their lives.
Unfortunately, we cannot ask people killed by someone invoking the law if he was in fear of his life and knew what the person using the law – who got off the hook – really had in mind. Society will never know their accounts of the day they were killed.
So, one matter remains clear: as long as the notorious “stand your ground” law stands strong in America, more innocent lives will be lost due to someone else’s exaggerated fear.
This article was originally published on March 26, 2014 by Voice of Russia, and is used according to terms set forth by Voice of Russia/Sputnik News. It has been edited and condensed from its original version for literary, interpretative, grammatical & timely relevance.
A Florida teenager in a stand your ground case who shot two people in what police called a road rage incident won’t be tried as an adult, and last week had charges reduced from two felony counts of aggravated battery with a firearm to a misdemeanor charge of minor in possession of a firearm, after prosecutors determined he acted in self-defense.
On this past New Year’s Eve, 17 year-old Cody Pope, of Deland in Volusia County, Florida, was riding in a car with an older and younger brother as the older brother’s 18 year-old girlfriend drove to a fireworks show at Daytona Beach. The group pulled into the drive thru at a local McDonald’s restaurant.
Cody Pope (family photo from fundedjustice.com)
The driver of a vehicle in front of theirs, 47 year-old Kevin Robinson, and his female companion Michele Smith, 41 years-old, had placed an order. As Pope’s group placed their order, Robinson allegedly got out of his car and approached the group, claiming they had bumped into the back of his car, which they denied. They said Robinson demanded money but got back into his car as his food order was delivered, then drove off.
When Pope’s group had their order and left the McDonald’s, they alleged that Robinson soon was following them, riding their bumper and swerving toward them for several miles, until they pulled into a service station. It’s unclear why they did not call police during this time.
Surveillance video shows that as Pope’s group pulled up to a gas pump, Robinson pulled up next to them, then he and Smith got out of his vehicle yelling and cussing. Pope’s group claim Robinson approached the passenger side of their car, then reached in and struck the passenger, Pope’s older brother, Michael Mahoney, reportedly knocking him unconscious.
Injured passenger (photo: clickorlando.com)
“And with that, the 17-year-old in the back (Pope), who is high on weed and who probably drank half a gallon of vodka with his friends, pulled out his trusty rifle and fires three shots, at least three shots, probably four,” said Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood.
Police reportedly found marijuana and alcohol in the car Pope was in. Chitwood, who pushed for the teen to be charged as an adult, called Pope a “thug” after the shooting and said, “It’s a matter of time before we’ll be footing his bill in state or federal penitentiary.”
Kevin Robinson was shot three times with a .22 caliber rifle – once in the face and twice in the stomach. Smith was hit once in the hand. Police said Pope’s group left the scene and were stopped miles away.
Pope was charged as an adult, and in January his mother, Selena Hillman, started a fund-raising campaign at fundedjustice.com to help pay for legal fees. On the campaign page, she described Robinson as “a 47 year-old, 6’2″ man weighing 240 lbs.”
Pope’s group had claimed they feared for their lives. The state Attorney General’s office reportedly dropped the adult felony charges after determining that Robinson had committed a felonious act himself by reaching into the car and striking Pope’s brother, which would justify use of force. A hearing is scheduled this week (April 27) on the misdemeanor charge of minor in possession of a firearm.
A jury today could not reach a verdict, resulting in a mistrial for an alleged South Carolina gang member who claimed stand your ground in the murder of 17-year Chester City Council veteran Odell Williams. The stand your ground motion was denied on Monday (April 18).
19-year-old Christopher Moore said he felt threatened, feared for his life, and in self-defense fired up to 18 shots from a rifle that killed Williams on November 4, 2014.
Moore is one of five men – along with Terrance Buchanan, Derrick Dixon, Quinton McClinton, and DeAngelo Roseboro – all with felony records – involved with gunning down 79 year-old council member Williams after the politician-church deacon-football and baseball coach followed them.
After all the men were arrested, Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood said police had received death threats from gang members, and declared a “war on gangs in Chester” .
Why Williams followed the men, and why he didn’t call police, is unknown, but guns create an environment of empowerment. Each side is entitled to their 2nd Amendment right to defend himself.
In October 2014, near Williams’ home and concrete business, a house belonging to a rival gang had been hit with gunfire. On Nov. 4, the five suspects were in a truck parked near the business “with the intention of committing armed robbery” against the “rival gang house,” 6th Circuit assistant solicitor Julie Hall said.
Moore testified that he and his boys had been smoking marijuana and scheming on the rival gang because of a drug deal gone bad. Williams’ wife saw the suspects parked in the truck near the business and called him.
Odell Williams, painted by defense attorneys as an ex-cop with a vigilante attitude, retired from the Chester Police Department in 1997. Before his death, he was indicted for allegedly threatening to kill the city’s police chief in a city hall restroom in March, 2014. He faced up to 5 years in jail and a $5000 fine had he been convicted.
When his wife called, Williams arrived and went after the gang as they rode off. During a three-mile chase, at speeds of up to 70 mph, Williams reportedly fired gunshots at the truck. It is unclear whether police found any shell casings in Williams car, or gunshot residue on his hand.
At some point during the chase, unbeknownst to Williams, Moore exited the truck (he testified that he “fell” out of the truck). When Williams drove up, Moore allegedly opened fire.
In his first interviews with investigators, Moore denied any involvement with the murder, claiming he was elsewhere at the time. In court during the trial, he admitted firing the weapon, but claimed it was in self-defense.
A jury was selected and seated for a trial which began Tuesday (April 19), but did not get to hear Moore’s testimony at Monday’s stand your ground hearing, when he said he did not intend to kill Williams.
After three days of testimony, the jury began deliberations on Friday (April 22), but could not reach a unanimous verdict by Saturday morning (April 23), resulting in a mistrial. No date was set for a retrial. If convicted, Moore faces a sentence of from 30 years to life.
A New York judge changed the charge on a former cop convicted of manslaughter to criminally negligent homicide, and sentenced the cop – who had faced a sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison – to only to five years probation and 800 hours of community service for the death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley.
Peter Liang is the former New York rookie cop who killed Akai Gurley in a stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. Akai was unarmed. He was doing no wrong; committing no crime.
On February 11, 2016, a jury returned a guilty verdict, convicting Liang of manslaughter. He faced a sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison.
At his sentencing hearing, Liang apologized to Akai’s girlfriend who is the mother of Akai’s daughter, saying, “I’m not a man of many words. The shot was an accident.”
Today, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun sentenced Liang to five years probation and 800 hours of community service for the death of 28-year-old dad Akai Gurley — after reducing the charge against the cop.
A national non-profit organization dedicated to making communities safer has released “Gun Crazy”, a powerful new PSA that reveals the disconnect between our culture’s glorification of guns and the shocking consequences of real gun violence.
“Gun Crazy” theater posters
To create the PSA, the States United to Prevent Gun Violence (SUPGV) invited self-professed action movie lovers to a special screening of a new movie – “Gun Crazy” – billed as the latest big budget high-octane blockbuster. As the film rolls, the audience is shocked to see real footage of gun violence, including unintentional shootings, suicides, incidents of domestic violence and homicides.
Hidden cameras captured the reactions of stunned movie-goers watching the powerful action short film. Interviewed after the screening, audience reactions ranged from, “We over-glamourize guns,” to “You have to be crazy to think that guns are somehow making us safer.” Another viewer called it a “wake-up call” for our nation on gun control.
“Gun Crazy” movie screening
“In 2015 alone, there were almost as many mass shootings as calendar days,” says Julia Wyman, Executive Director of SUPGV. “Our goal with “Gun Crazy” is to showcase the need for society as a whole to desensitize themselves to the gruesome consequences of gun violence.”
Americans are exposed to considerable gun violence in films, but society’s obsession with guns runs deeper than entertainment. The percentage of Americans who have fallen for the myth that guns keep you safer has nearly doubled since 2000, to a record-high of 63 percent. In reality, owning a gun makes death in the home four times more likely than if you had no firearm.
“We encourage people to watch and share this educational PSA featuring first-hand reactions to real footage,” Wyman added. “Help us continue to bring widespread awareness to this issue and reignite the dialogue about our national crisis.”
The PSA campaign’s message is clear: We need to change the way we look at guns – we would be crazy not to.
Mike the Gun Guy is rhetorically on point: “So how come in Florida of all places the number of people getting legally killed with guns keeps going up but the crime rate doesn’t go down? Here’s the bottom line and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand what it means. Know what happens when more people walk around with guns? More people get killed. Gee, that was hard to figure out.”
This week the Colorado legislature showed itself to still have enough members with brains to beat back the annual brain-dead attempt to ‘restore’ gun ‘rights’ to the good citizens of the Centennial State. The Colorado GVP community shot them all down. You may recall that in 2014 Colorado expanded background checks to cover private transactions, and while the pro-gun strategy this year did not include an attempt to repeal the background check law, it did include Gun Nation’s favorite gun-rights ploy; i.e., permitless concealed-carry, including on school grounds.
Speaking of the joys and virtues of concealed carry, our friends at the Violence Policy Center have just updated their website which contains data on gun fatalities committed by CCW-holders, with the number now standing at 863 non-defensive deaths since 2007. Since there is no official count for how many of the 31,000+ gun deaths each year occur thanks to someone using…
The year was 1967. The Vietnam War was raging. The Doors released their debut album. Elvis Presley & Priscilla got married. America was near the tail end of the civil rights movement with Lyndon B. Johnson as president, and future U.S. President Ronald Reagan had just become Governor of California.
On May 2, as the California State Assembly convened for a hearing on the Mulford Act – which made open carry of loaded weapons illegal in the state – 26 members of the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary group of African-Americans, armed with handguns and shotguns, strolled into the chambers to protest the proposed law, which was introduced as a result of the Panthers penchant for open carry. In the end, the law was passed and six Black Panthers pleaded guilty to disrupting a legislative session.
With open carry gaining popularity in a few states today, would this type of protest succeed? Check out one of the most popular tweets ever posted on @endyourstand
A “stand your ground” hearing has been postponed for a retired Florida cop who killed a man in what’s called the “popcorn shooting” during an argument over the man texting on a cell phone in a movie theater.
(UPDATE: Circuit Court Judge Susan L. Barthle has set the stand your ground hearing in this case for May 26, 2016)
Retired Tampa Police Department Captain Curtis Judson Reeves, 73, of Brooksville, is charged with second-degree battery and second degree murder in the the shooting death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson and wounding of Oulson’s wife, Nicole. Reeves shot and killed Oulson inside a movie theater in Pasco County on January 13, 2014 during an argument that started because Oulson was using a cell phone to text his child’s babysitter.
Reeves is claiming self defense under Florida’s stand your ground law, saying he fired on Oulson after the younger man threw an “unknown object” at him, which turned out to be a box of popcorn, and presumably the cell phone.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that both defense and prosecutors agreed to postpone the hearing, originally scheduled for January 25.
It’s true that under “Stand your Ground” it doesn’t matter whether the threat is real or not, only whether the person in their own mind feels threatened. The law does away with all reason, and provides a license to kill on a perceived threat that may or may not be real.
A classmate of Jordan Davis, age 17, weeps outside the memorial service
Imagine for a moment that someone cuts Joseph off in traffic, or does something that endangers him. Joe follows them into a 7-11 store and confronts them. The person who cut Joe off isn’t interested in hearing the criticism and becomes belligerent. He moves towards Joe in a threatening way, and tells him to get the hell out of the store, or he’ll F- him up. Under normal self defense laws, Joe can either retreat (i.e. leave the store), or if physical harm is imminent (for example if the other person pulled out a switchblade), Joe can legally defend himself.
But under the “Stand your Ground” law in Florida, and 20+ other Red states, if Joe feels threatened, he can pull out a concealed weapon and shoot the other person dead. Under “Stand your Ground” it doesn’t matter whether the threat is real or…
A 14-year-old Oklahoma honor roll student is recovering after he was shot by a homeowner while playing a dangerous teenage game of ringing door bells as a prank in the early morning hours of New Year’s day. The homeowner was not arrested, but could face charges later.
According to KOTV, the teenager, identified as Cole Peyton of Pryor, Oklahoma, was with friends as the boys were playing the doorbell prank game, which the local police chief, Steve Lemmings, called “ding-dong ditching”. The doorbell prank is a very dangerous game in which teenagers ring a doorbell or knock, then run or hide before someone answers.
The unidentified homeowner reportedly went out to his yard and fired several shots at the boys, striking Peyton in the back and arm, with one bullet puncturing his liver. Peyton, who is on the honor roll, football, and wrestling teams at Pryor High School, is recovering in a local hospital.
Police received a call reporting a home invasion, which would justify a shooting by a homeowner, under Oklahoma’s self-defense laws. The law states that a person who uses defensive force must know or have “reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred”.
However, police report the teens were not trying to break into the shooter’s house. This leaves open the possibility that the homeowner could be arrested. Since he has not yet been charged with a crime, police did not release his name, but said the Mayes County district attorney’s office would review the case.
Though this may not be a “stand your ground” incident, Oklahoma is a stand your ground state. The law says, “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony”.
In a very similar incident in January, 2013, another 14-year-old suffered gunshots to the leg and foot when he was shot after ringing the doorbell of a house in Pennsylvania. The shooter in that case was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
This site is non-partisan but occasionally I’m compelled to throw a little virtual paper hat into the ring. Especially when no one else is shouting for an end to “stand your ground” laws.
While watching the Republican presidential debates on ABC in December, many of us may have had a feeling something was missing. Moms Demand Action made me realize what it was, and a tweet done in haste made quite an impression that night, earning it the spot as the final “tweet of the month” for 2015:
There are quite a few more opportunities to catch the candidates from both parties expound on their platforms, and we must remind them that domestic gun violence among Americans is just as much a threat as domestic or international terrorism. Here’s a schedule of debates coming up in 2016: