Top Tweet: Jim Crow States Have Stand Your Ground Laws

Today, almost every state that had Jim Crow laws from 1876 to 1965 now has some form of “shoot first” or stand your ground law. In the history of the United States of America, no practice of law has caused more controversy, grief, injustice, and shame than Jim Crow laws, which were state and local laws enforcing racial segregation in the South.

The practice existed for 75 years, until 1965, after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Jim Crow laws followed the 1800–1866 Black Codes, which had previously restricted the civil rights and liberties of African-Americans.

During it’s time, Jim Crow law encouraged prejudice, enabled discrimination, and deprived Black Americans of even the most basic qualities of life.

Segregation by race affected everything from the U.S. military and federal facilities to all public places, including schools, restrooms, restaurants, housing, and public transportation. Even drinking fountains were segregated.

The goal of this tweet posted on twitter was to show the irony of having stand your ground laws in today’s racially charged society, and many tweeps noticed it. I didn’t do the graphic. Props to the creator.

Missouri Governor Vetoes Stand Your Ground Bill

SB656, a bill designed to change Missouri’s self-defense laws – and make Missouri the first state since the Trayvon Martin incident to pass a stand your ground law – was vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon today (June 27). After sailing through the state’s Senate and the House, the bill had been awaiting approval or veto by Nixon since May 13.

It is possible for a gubernatorial veto to be overridden by the state legislature.

SEE: Missouri (Almost) Becomes A Stand Your Ground State

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (official state portrait)

Nixon, a Democrat, faced enormous pressure from the Republican-led Missouri legislature to enact the law. The bill has been widely considered “veto-proof”; however, a bill which faces opposition by the Governor after passing through the legislature can be challenged with a veto override in the next legislative session, and still become law in the future.

RELATED: 

Missouri’s current self-defense laws state that only the property owner or someone leasing it are allowed to use deadly force against an intruder.

SB656 would have allowed deadly force to be used by anyone who has permission to occupy private property, such as a house guest, and also make it a misdemeanor, and no longer a felony, for anyone carrying a concealed weapon into a place that has restrictions on concealed carry.

The bill also would have allowed open-carry without a permit, and expanded the state’s self-defense laws to include the words “does not have a duty to retreat from a dwelling, residence, vehicle, private property that is owned or leased, or anywhere else a person has a right to be – the very definition of stand your ground law – making Missouri the first state since Trayvon Martin incident to pass such a law.

 

 

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

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.

10 Infamous Quotes About Stand Your Ground Laws

Ever wondered what a certain person had said or who said what about stand your ground laws? Some statements against stand your ground laws made in the aftermath of the trial in Trayvon Martin’s death were very controversial, and overshadowed the tragedy itself. Here are a few notable – or infamous – memorable expressions:

 

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

“If Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?… when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

 

FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER:
FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“It’s time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods. These laws try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if no safe retreat is available. But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common-sense, age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely. By allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety.”

 

RELATED: Crazy Gun Laws That Put Our Lives at Risk

 

REP. DAVID GUTTENBURG
ALASKA STATE REPRESENTATIVE DAVID GUTTENBURG

“The law just allows people to go on the offensive…it doesn’t do what people think it does, and people will get the idea that they can shoot people wherever they want. I just think we went too far.”

 

FLORIDA SENATOR GERALDINE THOMPSON
FLORIDA SENATOR GERALDINE THOMPSON

“Florida has to fix this problem because Florida created this problem with the kind of law that we placed on the books, so we have to change the law or we are going to see more Trayvon Martins.”

 

Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reece
OHIO STATE REPRESENTATIVE ALICIA REECE 

“Stand your ground would do nothing but turn our state into the Wild, Wild West.”

 

FORMER MIAMI POLICE CHIEF TIMONEY
FORMER MIAMI POLICE CHIEF JOHN TIMONEY

“Whether it’s trick-or-treaters or kids playing in the yard of someone who doesn’t want them there or some drunk guy stumbling into the wrong house, you’re encouraging people to possibly use deadly physical force where it shouldn’t be used.”

 

Michael_R_Bloomberg
FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG

(photo credit: Rubenstein – originally posted to Flickr as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, CC BY 2.0 https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9652718)

“‘Shoot-first’ laws like those in Florida can inspire dangerous vigilantism and protect those who act recklessly with guns. Such laws – drafted by gun lobby extremists in Washington – encourage deadly confrontations by enabling people to shoot first and argue ‘justifiable homicide’ later.” 

 

IRAQ WAR VETERAN JON STOLTZ
IRAQ WAR VETERAN  JON STOLTZ

“These laws give anyone with a gun more permissive rules of engagement in America’s communities than our troops have on the battlefield.”

 

Stevie_Wonder
ENTERTAINER  STEVIE WONDER

“I decided today that until the Stand Your Ground law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again.”

 

RICHARD ESKOW
RICHARD ESKOW, AUTHOR

“The laws are also more permissive than 19th-century law, despite the fact that dueling remained legal until 1859, when most states outlawed it. Unlike Stand Your Ground, both parties in a duel were armed and had an equal chance of success. Duels were also voluntary, whereas a person who is shot under Stand Your Ground has no choice in the matter.”

 

 

SC Supreme Court Asks Lawmakers To Help Them Understand Stand Your Ground

As a bill that would expand the state’s stand your ground law stalled in the Senate, the South Carolina Supreme Court has asked legislators to clarify under what circumstances someone can claim self-defense if they kill a stranger or someone else in their home.

They also asked the state lawmakers to determine if all defendants deserve a stand your ground hearing before a trial.

standyourground

A bill that would shift the burden of proof in a stand your ground case to require prosecutors to prove there was no threat stalled in the state Senate on Thursday, May 19, when a subcommittee decided not to vote on it. The bill would essentially be an expansion of South Carolina’s existing “shoot first” stand your ground law.

Should the burden of proof shift from defendant to prosecutor, it would make it easier for a defendant to prove self-defense. Full story at theslate.com

What do Missouri and Trayvon Martin’s Killer Have in Common?

An online auction on the gun used to fatally shoot Trayvon Martin took place this week. Last week, the Missouri legislature passed SB 656, a stand your ground bill just like the one that let Trayvon Martin’s killer walk free in Florida.

In response to the auction, Lucy McBath, mother of Jordan Davis who was killed in November 2012 at a Florida gas station during an argument over loud music (whose killer used stand your ground as part of his defense) penned this oped for the New York Daily News, exposing how both the auction of the firearm that killed Trayvon and NRA-backed stand your ground laws (and the legislators who vote for them) share the same deplorable lack of value for human life.

Stand your ground laws make communities less safe by letting people shoot to kill in public places, even when they can clearly and safely walk away from danger. And now Missouri is on the verge of becoming the first state to pass a new stand your ground law since Trayvon was killed.

The research on how stand your ground laws endanger public safety and in particular, disproportionately affect African Americans, is clear:

  • Everytown for Gun Safety found that states with stand your ground laws have, on average, experienced a 53 percent increase in homicides deemed justifiable in the years following passage of the law, compared with a five percent decrease in states without stand your ground statutes during the same period—an increase disproportionately borne by the black community. And after Florida passed its stand your ground law, its “justifiable homicide” rate tripled.
  • A 2012 study by researchers at Texas A&M found that stand your ground laws are associated with an increase in homicides, resulting in 600 more homicides nationwide each year.
  • The Urban Institute also examined racial disparities in justified gun homicide rulings that involve a single shooter and victim who are strangers. The researchers found that when white shooters kill black victims, 34 percent of the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable, while only 3.3 percent of deaths are ruled justifiable when the shooter is black and the victim is white.

Beyond all of that, Missouri’s SB 656 would also dismantle the state’s concealed carry permit requirement and allow people – including some violent criminals – to legally carry hidden, loaded handguns in public without a permit or any safety training. Missouri legislators passed this despite opposition from 76% of Missourians.

These are all reasons why hundreds of volunteers with the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, have made phone calls, sent emails, met with their lawmakers and testified to defeat SB 656. The bill is now on the Governor’s desk.

Everytown for Gun Safety logo

Source: Everytown for Gun Safety/Moms Demand Action press release

Stand Your Ground Top Tweet

 

This GIF image, used in Roy Clymer’s post entitled “A Manifesto of Second Amendment Responsibilities“, powerfully portrays a simple message so effectively that it gained lots of attention on twitter within the last month and became our Top Tweet.

With ownership of a car comes the responsibility to drive it safely and properly. Why is it easier in some places to get a license to own a gun than a license to drive a car? For a gun owner, there should also be a responsibility to use a gun safely and effectively. Do you think everyone should own a gun?

Poll Shows People Uneasy In Theaters That Allow Open Carry

 

Most movie theaters have a policy that forbids firearms, and you may think anyone would be a little uneasy in a dark theater where open carry is allowed, but results of an unscientific recent twitter sample poll indicate that some people would feel comfortable in a theater which allows open carry.

Surprisingly, some respondents (11%) appear to indicate they’d be fine with open carry and voted “Yes”, while a few (3%) indicated they don’t know how they would feel. Nonetheless, a majority of participating respondents -86% – voted “No” to the question “Would you be comfortable in a movie theater that allows open carry of guns?.” The twitter poll, conducted May 6-13, 2016, was offered to approximately 590 followers by the movement to change or repeal stand your ground laws.

Indeed, it has become a very real fear that someone can, in fact, actually walk into a theater and open fire, whether or not they open carry. A civil trial began this week in the Aurora, Colorado shooting that left 12 people dead and 70 injured. And a stand your ground hearing is set this month in the murder of a movie patron fatally shot by a retired cop in Florida.

Century 16 theater in Aurora CO
Century 16 theater in Aurora CO

Open carry in a theater could possibly increase that fear. because we’re all too aware of the dangers posed in any public gathering place. A place of darkness may appear to be even more threatening. In one incident last year police received several calls after an open-carry advocate entered a theater in Arkansas, and in Kansas, it caused quite a ruckus when a gun-toter was kicked out of a Topeka, Kansas theater.

Other questions asked in recent quick twitter polls by the movement include, “Should a blind person be allowed to own and use guns?” (the result was undoubtedly 100% ‘no’), a 3-day poll, and “Would guns on campus make colleges drop sensitive topics or be cautious discussing them?” (the result was 67% yes and 33%no), in a 5-day poll.

Check out final results of the movie theater poll below, and post what you think in the comments. You just might be a Floridian or Texan – if you are comfortable watching a movie in a theater that allows open carry.

 

 

Kurt Schaefer Pushes For Stand Your Ground In Missouri

 

UPDATED: May 15, 2016

As a rule, prosecutors don’t like so-called “stand your ground” gun laws — those that allow citizens to use lethal force in the face of a perceived threat without first attempting to retreat.

Kurt Schaefer, a Missouri senator vying to become the state’s top prosecutor, must have missed that memo…see full article

RELATED: Missouri (Almost) Becomes A Stand Your Ground State

This is an excellent on-point article about a shameless, out-of-touch politician. As an example, he actually retweeted this:

KurtSchaeferTwitter

UPDATE: On the weekend after the Legislative Session closed, Schaefer also retweeted a tweet onto his twitter profile which advised voters to say “No to Kurt Schaefer.” How much more out of touch can a politician get?:

 

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.