I was horrified when I learned about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law after the Trayvon Martin shooting, which remains the only thing between George Zimmerman and an actual jury trial. Now I am even more horrified to learn that similar laws exist or are being considered in other states — including our own state of Washington.
No more. I am drawing a line in the sand, and I am standing my ground against “Stand Your Ground” laws.
I could go on forever with a list of those killed by or who engaged in shootings. The last few weeks in particular have been filled with names that have become nationally known for the wrong reasons: Jake England, Alvin Watts and One Goh.
Missing from the list are people successfully defending themselves with guns. Yes, they do happen, but for every example someone provides of a justified self-defense case, I can name more homicides.
This leads me back to “Stand Your Ground,” which gives the right for ordinary citizens to gun down people when feeling threatened. For starters, you can argue all you want about the unnecessary Second Amendment, but I defy anyone to find that explicit right written in the Constitution. You should only shoot when someone else pulls a weapon on you first. That is proper “eye for an eye” justice.
Secondly, PolitiFact.com determined crime rates in Florida have continually decreased since 2000, and the passage of “Stand Your Ground” in 2005 has done nothing to affect that rate. Thus, there is no clear indication it works. Yet 30 states have already adopted it, and more could be on the way.
Our own version was first introduced to the Washington State Legislature in January 2011. Senate Bill 5418 would enhance RCW 9A.16.040. The latter law, which has been on the books since 1975, already sets the guidelines for justifiable homicide in Washington, but is just not good enough for some gun owners.
A more controversial version of the “Stand Your Ground” law passed through the Wisconsin State Legislature in December 2011. Called the “Castle Doctrine,” the law allows citizens the right to shoot people for intruding in their homes and “lawns, sidewalks and swimming pools outside the residences, as well as vehicles and places of business,” according to The New York Times.
The original bill, which was limited to merely shooting intruders inside of homes, received bipartisan support. But Wisconsin Democrats are still complaining about the expansions added that Republicans did not bat an eye at.
“Who in their right mind could be asking for something like this?” asked state Sen. Joe Erpenbach. “If someone takes a late-night dip in your swimming pool, does that mean you should shoot them?”
The answer is no.
My problem does not lie with hunters who want to keep hunting rifles or shotguns in their house. My problem is with gun owners who feel the need to carry a gun on them at all times because someone, somewhere might threaten them and could conceivably be armed. That sounds weirdly paranoid even to me, and I endure paranoid delusions every day of my life.
You could also be struck by lightning, hit by a car or have an atomic bomb dropped on your head. I doubt you constantly carry around protection against those.
Your desire to walk around in public while packing heat is making me feel uncomfortable — threatened even. But I am going to employ some simple sanity and decide to not gun you down in cold blood. I hope you will show me the same courtesy.
Fans of Seattle’s Northwest Folklife Festival might remember how dangerous concealed permits can be. Three people were injured in 2008 when a man pulled out his gun during a fight he reportedly started and it went off. The Seattle Times and SeattlePI.com report the shooter had a history of schizophrenia and anxiety problems, but still obtained a concealed weapons permit.
With the “Stand Your Ground” law, schizophrenics would be allowed to justifiably shoot anyone who they feel threatened by. I do not really trust schizophrenics to accurately make that judgment call.
You do not have to suffer from any mental illness, however, to make a bad judgment call. It is possible that Zimmerman legitimately felt threatened by Martin and thought he was acting in self-defense when he shot him. It is not hard to see how such mistakes would be commonplace when weapons permits are combined with “Stand Your Ground.”
I would rather not take the chance. I would rather everyone kept their guns at home, or get rid of them altogether. No more “Stand Your Ground” laws.