published Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Deadly firepower

Florida's "stand your ground" law has come under wide controversy since the death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black youth who was trailed and shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer who then claimed he fatally shot the teen in the chest in self-defense. The controversy is clearly just. The watch volunteer had been told by a 911 police dispatcher not to follow the youth. Had he heeded that directive, there would have been no encounter between the shooter and the victim he stalked.

Behind this needless, reckless shooting lies other, less obvious, factors that argue against both the "stand your ground law" and the way its been promoted by the National Rifle Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council, more commonly known as ALEC.

The NRA's aggressive gun-rights agenda meshes well with that of ALEC, a corporate-sponsored vehicle for extreme right-wing legislation. Because they appeal to the same legislative base, ALEC has apparently been happy to help the NRA promote passage of similar "stand your ground laws" in 23 other states, including Tennessee, since Florida adopted the law in 2005.

Their joint influence in passing these lethal laws in so many states is striking. It is further noteworthy because it is just one example of the broad and largely negative legislative agenda that ALEC and its corporate funders are successfully pushing through Republican-dominated state legislatures around the country against the broader public interest.

Tennessee's 2007 "stand your ground" law is less extreme than Florida's version in that it limits its shoot-to-kill right against unarmed people in a citizen's residential property, dwelling and vehicle. Florida's more wide-open law allows people who feel "threatened" to shoot-to-kill in most public spaces. Yet all these laws exclude a duty to retreat before using lethal force-- the legal standard that had traditionally separated reasonable self-defense from outright murder.

The 24 states that now carry these laws -- the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation found them through a computer search, but it says there may be others, since not all states have put their laws online -- have made it much more difficult for police to prosecute gunshot killings.

Florida police and prosecutors say they opposed the 2005 law for that reason. And, indeed, since the law was passed, unprosecuted shooting deaths have nearly tripled in Florida for lack of evidence against a shooter's word about being threatened. That suggests that some -- if not many -- of these deaths may be legalized cold-blooded murder. Without the duty to retreat from a threatening encounter between two people where there are no witnesses, who's to say how the shooting occurred.

Such an unexamined lethal threat may be the worst of the NRA-ALEC tandem, yet there are ample grounds to scrutinize ALEC's broader agenda. The organization has gained massive influence through the 2,000 state legislators and corporate executives that have joined hands under its umbrella, a new report by the nonpartisan Common Cause watchdog reports.

Among other examples of ALEC-drafted and promoted legislation adopted by Tennessee's GOP-controlled Legislature are bills to allow corporations to donate directly to legislators; to raise the limits on PAC funds for state and local offices from 50 percent of the candidate's total donations to 100 percent of donations; to dismantle the teacher's union and its right to negotiate for a contract; to create charter schools; to adopt voter ID laws that make it difficult for seniors, the disabled and poor to obtain voter ID cards; to bar voting rights to non-local college students; and to develop more private, for-profit prisons.

ALEC's corporate sponsors also help funnel donations to compliant legislators, which boosts its campaigns against health care reform and environmental regulations, trade and public employee unions and state minimum wage laws.

ALEC's corporate leaders are drawn from some of the nation's largest corporations, i.e., the Koch industries, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart and AT&T. They invest some $7 million a year in promoting ALEC's "model" legislation and building a corporate launching pad and network for its agenda, and the agenda of its natural allies, like the NRA.

Given its firepower against the broader public in fair legislation, public services and tax equity, ordinary citizens have about as much chance of getting justice as innocent victims of "stand-your-ground" laws.

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deedee1954 said...

Thank U!! Now some should understand what the stand your ground law is all about!!

April 1, 2012 at 10:14 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

It's good to know the origins of this ridiculous law and who is primarily responsible for getting it passed in the first place. Unfortunately it won't make a bit of difference to the gun-loving, NRA-worshiping sycophants who won't be happy 'til they can carry their guns legally everywhere they go, 24/7. Their idea of libertarian utopia seems to be some modern-day version of the Wild West, where all differences are settled by a bullet.

This insane SYG law far exceeds the bounds of common sense. If it were not on the books George Zimmerman would have been arrested and charged with murder right away, as he should have been. All the evidence gathered so far clearly shows that he was not acting in self-defense but he was the aggressor/stalker/killer of an innocent young man. This law needs to be repealed. To hell with the gun-nuts who support it and who are so afraid to leave their homes without packing a pistol. If it comes to the point of everyone having to pack heat everywhere we go, it's then I will know that we have ceased being a sane and civil society, that this nation has finally gone over the edge, and I will gladly shake the dust from my feet as I leave this god-forsaken land and let you wannabe cowboys shoot it out among yourselves.

April 1, 2012 at 11:24 a.m.
chioK_V said...

It's only a matter of time before the defense attorney for some gangsta type, serial killer or serial rapist who kills their victims after brutally raping them use this Stand Your Ground law as a defense.

I can hear it now: Defense lawyer to client: sir, did you brutally rape and then kill victim_. Client: Yes, sirI did in fact commit what you've just described, sir. Defense Attorney, Then why are you now claiming self defense and using the SYG law?_** Client: "Sir, I did rapevictim, but I never intended to brutally kill her. Attorney: Can you explain, sir, then why you did in fact killvictim when you now claim you only intended to rape victim? Client: *Sir, she resisted me. We struggled, I feared for my life. For a brief mometn she got the best of me, and it was then I decided that one of us was going to die, and it wasn't going to be me."_ Client: If victim had just bent over and took it like a good sport, and had not fought back victim would be alive today. It's all _victim's fought that victim died such a violent and hideous death, sir.

Jury weeps, but shows sympathy for the accused, the prosecution notice and becomes nervous. Another Casey Anthony slam dunk? Accused walks.

The End

Rickaroo I'm with you on leaving the country. I've been updating and renewing my passport information in preparation. Let the gun nuts have it and shoot it out with one another. That's the most likely scenario and the only positive outcome of all of this SYG stuff. The gun nuts will snuff out one another, and when the dust settle real sane and civilzed Americans can return and live in peace.

April 1, 2012 at 11:38 a.m.
onetinsoldier said...

Let these idiots have all the guns they want. They have the right under the constituton to bear arms. I would argue that there is no implied right to bullets.

April 1, 2012 at 12:31 p.m.
jesse said...

an armed society is a polite society!

take this t.f.p. forum for example!

IF we all were in a room together debating the issues and EVERYBODY had a gun! be a lot of "yessirs,nosirs,please,thankyou's and excuse me's goin around! would NOT be hearin nuttin about "libatards,repugnants,stupid, idiot,fleabagger or anything about fox news!

chet would pack his trash and move his a$$ to clevland and take joneses w/him!rotfl!(and matbe acerigger!) limric would have TWO PISTOLS PLUS A SHORT SHOT GUN under his raincoat!

while i disagree w/alot of limric's views i gotta admit he lives in the reality of the 21 st.cen!

April 1, 2012 at 12:32 p.m.
EaTn said...

Since our unimaginative Tennessee legislation seem to take their ideas from states like Florida, I imagine this stand your ground concept is in their gun lobby discussions already.

April 1, 2012 at 7:34 p.m.
moon4kat said...

I disagree, Jesse. An armed society is a paranoid and dangerous society. It just takes one person to get riled or "nervous" (often due to a misunderstanding), and shoot to kill. It happens all too often. Many are killed -- including innocent children -- and typically as a result of what turns out to have been a "mistake."

April 1, 2012 at 7:35 p.m.
01centare said...

jesse said... an armed society is a polite society!

take this t.f.p. forum for example!

IF we all were in a room together debating the issues and EVERYBODY had a gun! be a lot of "yessirs,nosirs,please,thankyou's and excuse me's goin around! would NOT be hearin nuttin about "libatards,repugnants,stupid, idiot,fleabagger or anything about fox news!

And you're just the right type fruitcake to actually believe that. Yeah! place a bunch of these posters in a room with guns, and on one will be left standing when the smoke settles.

An armed society is just what it's proving to be. A bunch of angry, hate filled, crazed, idiots itching to snap on somebody ANYBODY. And that's what's happening.

While y'all are going off the deep challenging one another to a dual, the idiots behind these armed to the hilt bill pushers are sitting somewhere on a tropical island, sipping mai tai with some young teeny bopper hanging onto their every word, laughing all the way to the bank off you suckers!

April 1, 2012 at 8:19 p.m.
01centare said...

Florida's running into several problems with the Stand Your Ground law.

Questionable Dismissed cases. One being appealed:

In the state's largest prosecutor's office, Miami-Dade County, the chief assistant state attorney, Kathleen Hoague, is appealing a recent Stand Your Ground case where the charges were dismissed. Hoague says it involves Greyston Garcia, a man who chased a suspected burglar for more than a block before catching him and stabbing him to death.

"He came from a position of safety and pursued this person," Hoague says. "The real issue is what happened at the time that they actually came together. But certainly it wasn't a situation where our dead person attacked him."

In her order, Judge Beth Bloom wrote that Garcia was, "well within his rights to pursue the victim and demand the return of his property."

In 2009, a judge dismissed assault charges against a Miami man who bolted out of his home and fired his rifle at two electric company employees. That same year, in another case, a high-speed chase involving two armed motorists ended with one of the drivers dead from gunshot wounds.

In that instance, a judge dismissed the charges because of Stand Your Ground.

In the Garcia case, Hoague believes the pursuit is evidence the defendant wasn't acting in self-defense.

April 1, 2012 at 9:41 p.m.
joneses said...

Anyone that owns a gun or guns would be a fool not to stock up on ammunition. I personally have about 4,000 rounds of various caliber ammunition in preparation for this fool we have as president to start attacking the ammunition companies. If the dummycrats start to outlaw ammunition all they will be doing is creating another black market and murders will rise just as they are in the war on drugs. If this happens it will be another fine example of another failed liberal policy.

April 1, 2012 at 10:18 p.m.
01centare said...

Ms. Corey said her office has handled hundreds of these self-defense cases — at least three or four every month. The law constantly challenges the authorities, with people citing it for everything from bar fights to road rage. “We’ve lost Stand Your Ground motions that in my experience showed the shooter should not have shot,” she said. “Stand Your Ground needs a second look.”

April 1, 2012 at 10:36 p.m.
EaTn said...

joneses....the only people you have to worry about creating ammunition shortages are the dummy right wingers buying massive amounts of it, like the lies spread when Obama was elected.

April 2, 2012 at 6:34 a.m.
chatt_man said...

01centare said - An armed society is just what it's proving to be. A bunch of angry, hate filled, crazed, idiots itching to snap on somebody ANYBODY. And that's what's happening.

You are correct, the thugs, thieves, and people who don't want to work for the things they have, and would rather take it from those who have worked for it, have all armed themselves. And if you had your way, they would be taking all they wanted from the unarmed, law-abiding citizens with no trouble.

I'm not taking up for the Florida incident, when all the facts are in from credible sources, I'll make my decision.

I'm just trying to keep the rights this country affords me, to keep what I have worked for and to protect my family within the framework of our laws.

April 2, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.
joneses said...

Did you liberals read today that NBC, one of your liberal networks, has been caught lying about the Trevon Martin tragedy? And I bet you will still think they can o no harm.

April 2, 2012 at 10:19 a.m.

All this noise about the thug Travon Martin is just a ploy by the marxist Ogolfer administration to use this as a wedge to start race riots, try to solidify the black voting base and make another assault on the second amendment. Black kids are gunned down almost every day, even here in Chattanooga and you don't have sharpton and the black caucus trolling the streets and media of Chattanooga calling for the killers to be arrested. It's all a political dog and pony show for the idiots in the public to get excited about.

MSNBC described George Zimmerman as a "white hispanic" in one of their articles last week, yet they never describe Obama as a "white black". All of the initial reporting by the marxist propaganda machine known as the "Main Stream Media" reported him as white when all of this first came out. That should tell you all you need to know about the motivation behind all of this noisome protesting. They don't really give a flying leap about Trayvon or any other kid that got killed. They just want to stay in power and take your right to defend yourself away. The sheeple amoung us are all singing along on their way to the slaughterhouse.

April 2, 2012 at 11:01 a.m.
EaTn said...

joneses, FlyingPurple....I had to go to MSNBC to read about Geraldo's comment on Martin and now I have to go to Fox News to read about NBC's episode. This is why I try to read both left and right leaning news; maybe somewhere mixed together we may get some truth.

April 2, 2012 at 1:54 p.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Excellent commentary, TFP. But I think the crazy “castle” doctriine developed by ALEC, their Republican lawmakers and their corporate financial sponsors should be referred to as the “Kill at Will” bill. Clearly, it’s a much more apt description of what is happening.

April 2, 2012 at 2:23 p.m.
Lr103 said...

5 shot, some dead @ Oakland Religious School

"OAKLAND (CBS 5 / KCBS) — Oakland police said multiple people were shot, some suffering fatal wounds, on Monday morning at the campus of a religious school near the Oakland Coliseum and officers detained the suspected gunman."

"Chopper 5 video showed multiple victims being brought out of the Oikos University building at 7850 Edgewater Drive in east Oakland shortly after 11 a.m.; KCBS reported that at least one of the victims was covered with a tarp"

Just goes to show; some criminals are obvious, and some are law-abiding citizens until that split second they decide to become criminals, si' monsieur?????

April 2, 2012 at 3:37 p.m.
chatt_man said...

OK, Lr103, I'll bite.

I have followed your link, read the article, and watched the video. I can't see where you came up with your last statement.

"Just goes to show; some criminals are obvious, and some are law-abiding citizens until that split second they decide to become criminals, si' monsieur?????

Just where in any of this is it stated this was a "law-abiding citizens until that split second they decide to become criminal"

You wouldn't be one of the reporters reporting on the Sanford, Fl. incident would you? There are a lot of resemblances in your reporting style.

April 2, 2012 at 4:14 p.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Yes, Lr103. Lots of these Jekyll and Hyde types appear to be walking around with weapons.

April 2, 2012 at 4:31 p.m.
Lr103 said...

chatt__man said: "You wouldn't be one of the reporters reporting on the Sanford, Fl. incident would you? There are a lot of resemblances in your reporting style.

Awwwh shucks! chatt...there you go tryin' to grow a brain. All I have to say is DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB!! (sad face :< )

On that Florida incident. Well, the shooter did legally own his gun, although he has a histroy of violence(record expunged. sounds familiar?). From felony assault on a police officer and resisting, domestic violence to having thrown a woman, causing her ankle to break, while working for a private security firm. Good to have a daddy who can pull strings, no doubt?

April 2, 2012 at 6:16 p.m.
Lr103 said...

mountainlaurel GETS IT!!

Update, mountainlaurel from sanfrancisco cbs local:

"OAKLAND (CBS 5 / KCBS) — Seven people were killed and three others wounded in a shooting Monday at an Asian Christian vocational school in east Oakland; police later detained the suspected gunman."

April 2, 2012 at 6:18 p.m.
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