Crazy Gun Laws That Put Our Lives at Risk

Did you know there is at least one municipality in America that requires the head of household to own a gun? It’s just one of the many “gun laws” that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has pushed to enact across the nation. In fact, Thom Senzee reports on Advocate.com that there are other “crazy” gun laws – like stand your ground – that put our lives at risk.

The NRA has been so effective at defeating just about every proposed gun control measure in the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, and in state houses across the country that it may be time to replace the term “lobbying” with a new one.

The NRA and its executive director, the unyielding Wayne LaPierre, have been working hard to enact pro-gun laws. For example, according to Mother Jones, LaPierre and company are bent on bringing stand your ground laws to all 50 states.

During the past four decades, the NRA has fundamentally changed the very meaning of the term “gun laws.” If you think “gun laws” refers to laws that limit the availability of guns, think again. This list of absurd legislation (and proposed legislation) shows how some are fighting to extend the right to bear arms to even schools and workplaces. See 7 Crazy Gun Laws That Put Our Lives at Risk on advocate.com

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Why Stand Your Ground Laws Won’t Stop A Mass Shooting

After each mass shooting in America, a voice is heard somewhere in the wilderness of the gun control debate preaching the myth that “nothing stops a bad guy but a good guy with a gun.” This worn-out statement has been used in support of stand your ground laws, but it’s unlikely stand your ground laws would stop a mass shooting.

The good guy myth is repeated by the gun lobby – like a sales pitch for a reliable car – almost every time there’s a high-profile murder of innocent people, or a vigilante kills a perp, and it’s simply not true.

In the wake of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, at the Pulse night club in Orlando, we heard it again. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, an NRA supporter, is likely to have said it again by the time you read this.

Stand your ground is dangerous

Some gun owners may argue that engaging a threat is the best solution. In Florida – the birthplace of “stand your ground” laws – it’s highly possible that several patrons or employees of the night club were armed, and reports are that an armed security guard fired back at the gunman during the frenzy. It’s unclear if the club had a system to check for weapons at the entrance.

Scene of Pulse nightclub shooting
Scene of Pulse nightclub shooting (photo credit: Orlando Police Dept.)

Chances are, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, like any other mass shooter, probably didn’t bother to make a normal entrance on his hours-long rampage, as he killed 49 people and wounded 53 others. it was only when police fired on him that the shooting ended.

Stand your ground law relieves a person of a duty to retreat. That means there is no obligation to try and escape any danger or call police in the face of a threat. It allows for the use of deadly force to meet deadly force.

SEE: About Stand Your Ground Law

It means the law may be on the good guy’s side even if he’s not the intended target of a gunman. There have been several cases where the “good guy” saved the day. A Good Samaritan can also be killed while trying to come to the rescue of others, as what happened outside a Dallas, Texas store last month.

No warning, lots of firepower

But without any warning or firepower to match, who can stand their ground against an AR-15 assault rifle firing 45 rounds a minute – a weapon designed for war – wielded by a crazed gunman intent on carnage?

Mass shootings in U.S.
Mass shootings in U.S. (graphic credit: L.A. Times)

Some research suggests that a “good guy with a gun” may not even be aware of a threat until it’s too late. In a mass shooting, there is usually no warning, in which case the good guy role is dangerously ineffective at least.

At it’s deadliest worst, there is also an increased chance during an active shooter situation that any number of innocent people may be hurt or killed by “friendly fire” from an untrained civilian – who happens to be a “good guy with a gun”. There could also be criminal or civil legal repercussions.

To successfully meet force with force, there must be some type of warning and an equal or better effective and accurate amount of force used to stop a bad guy with an AR-15. In almost every mass shooting of recent years (including the Newtown school shooting, the movie theater shooting in Aurora, and the San Bernardino  shooting) it was the shooter’s weapon of choice.

Yet the NRA, the AR-15’s most avid supporter, has opposed any efforts to keep assault weapons out of the hands of bloodthirsty maniacs. In the immediate aftermath of the worst mass shooting in our memory, the organization was unusually quiet and offered no expressions of sympathy for the victims.

Manufacturers of these high-powered weapons of war are facing lawsuits from some families. Families of Sandy Hook victims have filed lawsuits against gun manufacturers they say made a weapon that shouldn’t be sold to civilians. In response to the Orlando shooting, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said “It reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets.”

There should be state and federal bans on assault-type weapons designed more for war than for hunting, such as was in effect from 1994 to 2004. It’s estimated that there are millions of these weapons in circulation. Efforts to reinstitute the ban have been underway but encounter resistance from the gun lobby.

Only lawmakers can help

Unfortunately, it appears that mass shootings do little to change state gun laws, even when we say enough is enough. Many politicians only use phrases like “thoughts and prayers” after a mass shooting, when action is what’s needed.

It’s up to lawmakers in each state who recklessly feed into NRA rhetoric and NRA money to act now – with urgency – and address the epidemic of gun violence by enacting gun laws for safety that may protect us. Anything less will continue to diminish our pursuit of happiness.

Having a stand your ground law can’t help stop a mass shooting, but sensible gun laws can help. We must hold state lawmakers responsible if they want our votes. We must demand that they take action to make America SAFE again.

Two New Movies Shoot Back At Gun Violence

 

In the gun-toting society that we live in, doesn’t it sometimes feel as though we’re all under the gun and we need to wear armor? The goal of two new gun-themed documentary movies, which debut on television this week, appears to be an attempt to shed light on America’s culture of guns and help us explore ways to reduce gun violence. I haven’t seen either one yet, but “Armor of Light” focuses on religion vs. guns and “Under the Gun” asymmetrically explores the gun debate.

under the gununder the gun

Armor of Light premieres on the PBS “Independent Lens” series at 8:00 p.m. ET, Tuesday, May 10. It whisks us into the pulpit of evangelical minister Rob Schenck, an anti-abortion activist, and on a part of Lucia McBath’s journey, fighting for the legacy of her son, Jordan Davis, murdered by a misguided gun owner over loud music as he sat in the back seat of a friend’s SUV.

The film explores the balance of religion vs. guns. Schenck breaks with religious tradition— and risks alienating his longtime friends— when he questions if being pro-gun is consistent with being pro-life.

Armor of Light

Under the Gun, produced and narrated by Katie Couric, premieres at 8:00 p.m. ET, Sunday, May 15 on EPIX, and dives head-first into the gun debate, examining events and people who have kept the gun debate fierce and the progress slow, even as gun deaths and mass shootings continue to increase.

The documentary looks at why politicians find it difficult to act and what’s being done on the state and local levels. It features families impacted by mass shootings in Newtown, Aurora, Isla Vista and Tucson, as well as people in other cities who experience gun violence on a daily basis.

Be sure to tune in and watch each one of these ambitious projects, then please come back and leave your thoughts below.

 

Alarming Facts About Stand Your Ground Laws

One reason stand your ground law is so controversial may be because it’s sometimes misunderstood. Many gun-rights advocates, led by NRA rhetoric, likely support it because they believe that changing or repealing stand your ground would somehow take away their 2nd Amendment rights. As a matter of fact, we were fine before stand your ground laws. Americans have always had a right to self-defense.

Here are a few alarming facts about stand your ground:

In most stand your ground cases, the weapon is a gun, the victim unarmed, and the killer goes free.

Tampa Bay Times Graphic of stand your ground cases
Tampa Bay Times Graphic

This was revealed in an excellent comprehensive 2012 Tampa Bay Times study. The research, which claimed that many cases seem to make a mockery of the legal system, also found almost 70 percent of defendants claiming stand your ground were successful, and that defendants were more likely to prevail when victims were black – 73 percent of defendants who killed a black person went free, compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white.

 

A successful stand your ground plea may allow immunity from prosecution for killing innocent bystanders.

Darrell Niles
Darrell Niles

Stand your ground laws in some states incorporate immunity from prosecution if an innocent bystander is killed. An example occurred in South Carolina in 2013, which set a dangerous precedent when a shooter was freed of all charges after killing 17 year-old Darrell Niles.

 

Florida lawmakers want to pay up to $200000 for legal fees in self-defense cases.

 Florida could pay up to $200000 for legal fees in a self-defense case.

The man who introduced stand your ground to Florida, state Representative Dennis Baxley, introduced a 2016 bill that would pay legal fees. SB 0344 proposed that if a defendant is brought to trial, then claims and proves self-defense immunity, Florida would reimburse up to $200,000 for all their expenses, including attorney fees, court costs, and compensation for loss of income.

 

Stand your ground law violates an international human rights treaty the U.S. signed in 1977, and helps get the U.S. a failing grade on human rights.

United States Human Rights Scorecard
United States Human Rights Scorecard (credit: CCPR)

In 2013, after the United Nations Commission on Human Rights urged the United States to examine stand your ground laws, one U.S. Senate hearing was held. Since then, no action has been taken to address stand your ground on a federal level. In 2015, the commission gave the U.S. a low score of C1 on reviewing stand your ground laws (one of several factors needed to conform to international human rights standards).

 

Using stand your ground defense allows a defendant two chances to avoid prison.

Jail card

When a defendant invokes stand your ground law, they petition the court for a hearing before a judge who determines, among other things, if the defendant had a right to be where the incident occurred, who was at fault, whether the defendant had intent, and felt threatened while in fear for their life. A judge decides the case, and whether it goes to trial. If a defendant loses at this stand your ground hearing, a case goes to trial. If the defendant wins, charges may be dropped.

 

Stand Your Ground: The Self-defense That Isn’t

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.

atomicdoug

mourning-jordan-davisA 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…

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10 Actual Reasons Why America Has So Many Mass Shootings (Nope, Not Guns!)

A satirical look at what some “gun nuts” might think are the reasons for mass shootings in America.

List of X

How can you even say that this cutest thing could possibly be responsible for something as heinous as a mass shooting??? How can you even say that something this cute could possibly be responsible for something as heinous as a mass shooting???

Last week, a high-profile mass shooting in California made headlines – but by some counts, there have already been over 300 mass shootings this year alone. As always, liberals are pushing the crazy idea that the easy access to guns is causing all these shootings. But if you ask the people who know guns, and I mean, really, really know guns – own them, shoot them, spend every waking moment with them, and at night have nightmares that Obama will take them away – they will tell you that it’s not the guns that are causing these tragedies. So here are 10 actual reasons why America has so many mass shootings.

1)  Mental illness: Mental illness is the huge problem causing gun violence. For example, the majority of the U.S. Senate just voted to…

View original post 414 more words

NRA Fired Up As Court Ruling Refuels Fight Over Stand Your Ground

A road rage incident involving an Indiana family on the way to DisneyWorld in 2011 has led to a major court ruling that is a severe setback for stand your ground laws and gun rights, leaving the NRA steaming mad. On July 9, 2015, Florida’s Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that defendants, not the prosecutors, has the burden of proof in a self-defense situation.

A ruling for the defense could have led to more pretrial acquittals, and made it easier to get immunity under the stand your ground law. Stand your ground gives a defendant two chances to go free. Pre-trial hearings are held in “stand your ground” cases, to determine whether defendants are immune from prosecution.

The court decision came in the case of defendant Jared Bretherick, who was 22 years-old when he was riding with his 13 year-old sister on the back seat of a Chevy Silverado truck as his parents Ron and Debbie Bretherick – both disabled veterans – were in the front. Ron was driving, as the vacationing Hossiers headed to Orlando for a stop at DisneyWorld on the way home to Avon, Indiana from a Christmas vacation.

Jared Bretherick
Jared Bretherick (Osceola County sheriff’s office booking photo)

On December 29, 2011 a Florida man, Derrick Dunning, driving a blue Cadillac Escalade, was reportedly driving recklessly through traffic in Osceola County at a high rate of speed. After Dunning almost collided with the Brethericks while swerving toward their truck, Ron instinctively responded with his horn, and continued driving. Dunning apparently didn’t like it.

According to a police report, Dunning at some point stopped the Escalade in the middle of a multi-lane highway – right in front of the Bretherick’s pickup. He got out of his vehicle, walking back toward the Indiana family – who later said they felt threatened. Jared got Ron’s gun from the glove compartment while Debbie called 911.

As Dunning approached, Ron held up his gun. Dunning backed up, returning to his vehicle saying “I got a gun, too”, while Jared grabbed the family gun and got out of the pickup. There ensued a brief standoff between Jared and Dunning, since no one knew Dunning’s intentions after he returned to his Escalade and sat there. The two females exited the pickup and ducked in a ditch on the side of the highway. Ron, the driver, was immobile due to the nature of his disability. The cops arrived just in time -10 minutes after the 911 call, according to reports.

Despite family and witness statements about the circumstances, Jared Bretherick was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Police found no weapon in Dunning’s vehicle. At a stand your ground hearing, Bretherick was denied immunity, yet the defense and his case centered more on Florida’s self-defense immunity statutes than on stand your ground law.

The Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association had backed the state during the litigation, and Jared’s mother, Debbie Bretherick, started an organization, Mothers Against Wrongful Prosecution (MAWP), to “address the growing concerns of the policies and powers of the prosecutor’s office within the criminal justice system.”

The NRA, which had filed motions supporting Jared Bretherick, calls the court decision an attack on Second Amendment rights. Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), an organization fighting against Florida’s 10-20-life sentencing, says that due to this ruling, “law-abiding gun owners in Florida are now more vulnerable to prosecution and conviction for acting in self-defense.”

In the final Florida Supreme Court ruling, Justice Barbara Pariente said immunity in stand your ground law is not blanket immunity, but requires establishing that use of force was legally justified.

She was joined in the majority opinion by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and Justices Peggy Quince and James E.C. Perry in stating, “We conclude that placing the burden of proof on the defendant to establish entitlement to stand your ground immunity by a preponderance of the evidence at the pretrial evidentiary hearing, rather than on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s use of force was not justified, is consistent with this court’s precedent and gives effect to the legislative intent.”  Justice R. Fred Lewis concurred.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice J. Canady  said, “By imposing the burden of proof on the defendant at the pretrial evidentiary hearing, the majority substantially curtails the benefit of the immunity from trial conferred by the legislature under the stand your ground law.”

News4Jax.com reported that State Representative Alan Williams calls the ruling a chance for Florida lawmakers to scrap “stand your ground” and start over. “There are provisions of the law that allow aggressors to get away with murder, so I want us to repeal it and start over, so hopefully this is our opportunity,” Williams said.

[CORRECTION: This article has been modified from it’s original version. The sentence “Police found a weapon in Dunning’s vehicle” should have read “Police found no weapon in Dunning’s vehicle.”]



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