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.
After a violent week of shootings by and of police in the U.S., government in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas said it has “taken a note of the recent tensions in some American cities over shootings of young black males by police officers”, and issued an unprecedented advisory to its citizens traveling to the United States, just as the islands began a weekend celebration of their 43rd year of independence from the British.
In a press release, the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration said they expect many Bahamians to travel abroad, and warns its citizens traveling to the U.S., but “especially to the affected cities, to exercise appropriate caution generally.”
The statement goes on to say, “In particular, young males are asked to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police. Do not be confrontational and cooperate.”
The Ministry advises Bahamians, to “not get involved in political or other demonstrations under any circumstances and avoid crowds.”
Protests and marches took place throughout the U.S. in the immediate aftermath of deadly police shootings in Minnesota, Louisiana, and New York of unarmed Black men.
The Bahamas has consular offices in New York, Washington, Miami and Atlanta and honorary consuls in Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago and Houston.
This Bahamian advisory is a bit unprecedented, but there have been warnings in the past from other nations for their citizens to avoid road rage and to watch out for guns in America, or more subtle but obvious safety advisories about air travel, warnings about American rip-offs, or unusual cautions like avoiding U.S. prostitutes, public urination, and nudity.
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.”
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 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.
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.
“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.
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:
Luis Sosa had a question. And then another. And before long, the 20-year-old pharmacy student in Puerto Rico had several different questions in his head, which made their way on to his twitter profile, each as an “open question to all U.S. Christians”. One night two weeks before Christmas, Sosa blasted a tirade of ten taunting tweets on twitter in twenty minutes, each one posing a distinct one-sentence question to ALL United States Christians.
The thought-provoking questions, which even challenged the U.S. Constitution, touched on a range of topics: racism, gun control, immigration, religion, politics, and climate change. In an exclusive interview with the movement to End Stand Your Ground, Sosa said he wanted to address his questions “mostly to young, maybe college-aged Christians like me, so they could really analyze if their current world view aligns with Jesus’.” Sosa described the response he received from the twitterverse as tepid.
Sosa said he has traveled to the mainland and has a desire to come here, but he said, “I found these sorts of things disturbing in the U.S. Christian community:
being overzealous with guns, carrying guns in church, talking about killing trespassers, denying climate change, bailing out big business because socialism is ‘of the devil’, the confederate flag ‘worship’, even slavery and institutionalized racism in the past, and these things really irked me to the point where I was asking myself: ‘Why do they believe this?’.”
During the interview Sosa told me, “Gun law here is rather strict, and a judge from the Circuit Court of the municipality of Salinas declared Law 404 unconstitutional according to the FEDERAL (U.S.) Constitution, but it is currently in (the) appeals process. I fear that things may get more violent here if the regulations are eliminated.”
Sosa has strong feelings on gun control, and said “I believe gun laws should answer to common sense, common sense being that no law-abiding citizen needs an automatic rifle. Common sense being that the only excuse to shoot someone is in the presence of very real and mortal danger. Common sense in that mass shootings are not just because of “mental health problems”. Common sense in that legal background checks should be instituted to buy a small magazine handgun under a .38 caliber after an appropriate waiting period.”
In 2014 Puerto Rico had its lowest homicide rate in 15 years.The island had 681 homicides in 2014, down from 1,164 three years before, according to Fox News. The decline in gun deaths did not go unnoticed, and ironically, is not attributed to any surge in gun sales, but partly to efforts by the FBI to take charge of cases involving armed felons.
One particular question that caught my attention was about “stand your ground” laws.
Sosa pointed out that one instance in the New Testament where a Christian ‘stood his ground’ was when Peter attacked one of the soldiers arresting Jesus, yet Jesus did not praise Peter for it, but reprimanded him (Matt 26:52).
Sosa said that, “Republicanism does not have as much of a stronghold (here) on Christianity as in the States; we may be morally conservative, but in regards to guns and economy, we have a true ‘smorgasbord’: Socialists, Democrats, Capitalists, Republicans, heck, even some Communists for good measure. We do not let our political ideologies influence our faith; we let our faith influence our political ideologies.” Sosa’s other tweets implicated Donald Trump, racism, and climate change.
Over 8,000 seats have been reserved in 19 towns for the opening weekend of the independent film “Cry For Justice: Stand Your Ground”, a courtroom drama based on a true story of faith and a journey experienced by Jackie Carpenter, a Georgia woman, as she fights to free her son, Jason Veitch, from felony murder charges.
The movie is scheduled to open in 19 theaters in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas on Friday.
Ironically, Lucia Mcbath, the mother of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, gunned down in Florida in 2012 by 46 year-old Michael Dunn during an argument over loud music, is an actress who has a small role in the film. She plays the fictional Mrs. Reymundo, a grieving mother and the wife of a man named Juan Reymundo.
It’s happening all across America. Whether by a gun, a knife, or other means, far too many people are killed every year by others who have the option to invoke “stand your ground” immunity to try and avoid prosecution.
These amended self-defense laws can allow someone to manipulate a scenario that allows them to cause great bodily harm or take another’s life.
The Movement to End Stand Your Ground is releasing a new 35-second video, “All Across America” today, with images of unarmed “stand your ground” victims, to help call attention to this. Check it out, then share it with everyone you know:
2013 was the year stand your ground law became a major hot-button issue. After the George Zimmerman trial for the shooting of Trayvon Martin, civil rights groups, activists, elected officials, and news media outlets across America began calling for a repeal or changes in Florida’s stand your ground laws, causing several major events:
Until the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, few people had ever even heard of a stand your ground law. While Zimmerman never claimed stand your ground immunity, language from Florida’s notorious statute was used in the jury instructions, and news that he was acquitted resulted in a public perception that stand your ground played a role in the outcome.
After the Zimmerman trial, a group of Florida college students got together to form a coalition that quickly gained support and built momentum against stand your ground law in Florida. The Dream Defenders became unofficial leaders of a movement to change or repeal the law in Florida, pushing for lawmakers to hold a hearing.
A Florida woman who fired a warning shot toward an abusive husband became major news after the Zimmerman trial, and a symbol of women’s rights against domestic violence and everything that’s wrong with the state’s justice system when she was denied stand your ground immunity, then subsequently sentenced to a mandatory 20 years in prison.
A judge later granted her a new trial based on faulty jury instructions, and she is free on bond pending the new trial. The case helped force the state to make changes to the law regarding warning shots, at a Florida Senate hearing held preceding the state’s stand your ground hearing.
For the first time, the federal government held a hearing on stand your ground laws in America. The U.S. Senate hearing, originally scheduled for September 17 in Washington, D.C., was postponed due to news of a mass shooting the day before at a nearby Navy Yard. The majority of a nine-member panel testified against the laws.
Florida finally held a much-anticipated hearing on a bill to repeal stand your ground law, and as also anticipated – (especially since the chairman of the committee had said he wouldn’t change “one damn comma” of the law) – the repeal was rejected. Other efforts are underway to change stand your ground law in Florida, where it all started.
The Zimmerman trial, other incidents, and legislative actions in city halls and state capitols since that trial have ensured that until major concessions take place to close loopholes existing within stand your ground laws, they will continue to be controversial.
A few days ago, on December 23rd, the same day an article was published here about a mother who mistakenly killed her daughter in Florida (almost 1900 miles and exactly four weeks earlier), a soldier who is a decorated Iraq war veteran mistakenly killed his 14-year-old stepdaughter in Colorado.
Kiana O’neil reportedly was sneaking back into her home in Colorado Springs just before 6:00 a.m. Monday morning. Though police say it’s unclear, Kiana’s stepfather, 29-year-old 2nd Lt. Daniel Meade – apparently thinking it was a burglar – shot and killed the girl as she came through a basement window.
On a police dispatch call it appears evident that the Colorado incident was at first thought to have been a burglary as the horrible scenario unfolded. According to reports, Kiana was shot in the chest and stomach, and later died at a hospital. A neighbor told KTRK that she heard three “bangs”.
Listen to an audio of a police dispatch call on the incident:
Meade, listed in military records as an active-duty health service officer in the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, was not arrested, pending the outcome of a police investigation. He is married to Kiana’s mother, Monica Meade.
A district attorney must decide whether he will face any charges, which is unlikely, due to Colorado’s variation of self-defense laws called the “Make My Day” law. It refers to Clint Eastwood’s famous line from his “Dirty Harry” movies, when he dared the bad guys to draw their weapon first.
The law gives a homeowner the right to shoot to kill if in fear of imminent bodily harm or death only inside the home – not on the porch, or outside. Scott Robinson, a prominent Denver criminal defense attorney, told the Denver Post that the “Make My Day” law is “one of a kind in the United States.”
In 2012, a homeowner in Boulder, Colorado shot and wounded an intruder inside his home, who turned out to be an intoxicated, confused woman. The homeowner was exonerated under the state’s “Make My Day” law. It may have led to prison had he shot her on his porch.
This week’s Colorado shooting follows another similar heart-breaking incident that took place in Florida on the Monday before Thanksgiving last month. In that shooting, 52-year-old Adele Bing, after a fight with her boyfriend, shot and killed her own daughter, 25 year-old Ruby Bing – who was holding a baby – when she fired a gun while opening a door.
Florida’s stand your ground law removes the “duty to retreat” from anywhere a person has a right to be – and in most cases gives the right to use deadly force when facing death or injury.
It’s important to note that there’s likely no need for any of these incidents to be considered stand your ground cases. Yet they highlight a sense of empowerment granted with guns inside a home. Each case is a different scenario, and under each state’s castle law, regardless of intent, stand your ground laws would be irrelevant because there was probably an authentic perceived fear of imminent bodily harm or death by someone inside a home.
Another tragic killing in Colorado. This time, it’s in Colorado Springs. It’s a breaking story, so there’s not much information yet.
Police spokesman Larry Herbert gave a statement saying that Monday morning, around 6 a.m., a call was made of a burglary-in-progress. When police arrived on the 4300 block of Ascendant Drive, off North Carefree Circle and Peterson Road, they found a 14 year-old girl had been shot by her step-father. She was taken to an area hospital where she died of gunshot wounds.
In a tale of two murders, the victims were very much alike. Both had the same teenage passions that all 17-year-olds have. Both teens were born in February, both were killed (though miles apart) in Florida, and both in the same year.
Both had loving parents who had divorced, leaving a void that only a child’s heart could feel. And both of these 17-year-old teens were black. Yet, one is now a household name. The other, some people may have never heard of – yet.
They now share a common legacy. Each was killed by someone who had the option to invoke Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law. The shooter in each case has never showed or expressed public remorse, and neither shooter claimed stand your ground immunity. At least, in one case – not yet.
Yet, the differences are all too clear. Trayvon Martin, whose name is now a legend, may have even been considered ‘thuggish’ by some standards.
He was alone when he was killed in a quiet apartment complex on a rainy February night in Sanford, Florida two years ago by George Zimmerman, a Peruvian-white man, with no apparent witnesses to the shot being fired. Zimmerman waited for police, was questioned, and released, but wasn’t arrested until months later, after a public outcry.
The trial lasted a month, and Zimmerman was acquitted on July 13, 2013, leading to protests, marches, petitions, boycott threats, demonstrations, a fear of riots across America, and a nationwide call from media, civil rights groups, and others to end stand your ground laws.
Jordan Davis, in comparison, could possibly be considered a ‘choirboy’ in comparison. The family attorney, John Philips, has said Davis was an “all-American kid”.
Nine months after Martin was killed, Davis sat in the back seat next to a friend in an SUV, with another friend in the front passenger seat, waiting for the driver who had gone inside the store at a bustling, lit-up Jacksonville gas station the night after Thanksgiving, on November 23, 2012.
A Volkswagen Jetta pulled into a parking spot next to the SUV booming Chief Keef’s rap music. The driver, a 47-year-old white guy named Michael Dunn, waited as his girlfriend went inside the store to buy wine. Dunn later told police he “ordered them to turn the music down”.
According to Rolling Stone, the friend in the front passenger seat turned the sound down, but Davis reached over the console and cranked it back up. He and Dunn threw f-bombs at each other as the SUV driver got back into the driver’s seat.
Dunn said, “You’re not gonna talk to me like that”, reached into his glove compartment for a 9mm gun, and began firing, killing Davis in the back seat. Dunn was arrested the next day, after police traced his license plate, and has been in jail awaiting trial ever since.
While Dunn has not yet claimed stand your ground immunity. He has claimed he felt threatened and claims he saw the barrel of a gun in the SUV, but no gun was ever found.
A real test case for stand-your-ground is coming early next year. Dunn’s trial, originally scheduled to start September 23, was rescheduled to February 3, 2014 at the behest of his attorneys.
Maybe this will be America’s real wake up call, so that many people who still think stand-your-ground law is all good will see the loopholes, see how it actually jeopardizes society, realize it is in fact a very dangerous, flawed law, and take action by starting over to change it.