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Letter: An ill-conceived law

What did we learn from the George Zimmerman trial? I learned that in Florida and New Hampshire, and other states with stand-your-ground laws, that if you’re armed and pick a fight with an unarmed person, and that person happens to get the upper-hand in the fight such that you feel threatened, you can use your gun to kill that person. With the only witness dead, nobody can challenge your version of events.

And actually, the other person doesn’t have to fight you; you can simply shoot him and claim self defense, providing there are no other witnesses.

Let’s hope New Hampshire senators get a little more sense in their heads the next time a bill to kill the stand-your-ground law comes before them. People should have a right to defend themselves, but they shouldn’t be able to use an ill-conceived law as a cover to kill innocent people.



If you look at where mass killings have occurred, where have those killings happened? They happen in schools, camps, etc. A monster that wants to commit a crime will seek out the place where he or she will have the least resistance.

Fearless did not say Gun Control Laws cause more deaths. You did! Again we have folks who want to spin what is said. What I got from his post was that in the states that have tough gun laws, the crime is high, not because of the laws, but because those laws are not enforced. If you cannot enforce the laws you already have, adding more will do nothing. Those new laws will be not enforced either. The assumption from the left is that more laws prevent crime. if that was the case, the states with the strictest laws would have less crime.

Ah - I see the problem. First of all, it appears that you and Fearless are saying two different things. He is, in fact, saying that strict gun laws result in more gun crime. It was you, not Fearless, who brought the enforcement issue into the discussion. That's fair - it is an issue worthy of discussion. The other problem, though, is in your last sentence. It is not reasonable to assume that states with the strictest laws will have less crime because there are other factors to consider beyond just the strictness of the laws. You recognize that yourself, as you point out the importance of enforcement. But it is not logical to say that New York State has strict laws, but NYC still has high gun crime, therefore strict gun laws don't work. Again, that is a post-hoc argument. It would make more sense if you looked at data such as the gun crime rate before the stricter laws went into effect and the change after the law has been in effect for a period of time. If there's no significant change, or if things got worse, then start looking for an explanation - is the law flawed? Is enforcement lax? Has crime in general gone up and gun crime is simply following that trend? My point is you can't look at one or two facts and make a reasoned conclusion.

I never said strict guns laws do not work. I said they are not enforced! You twisted what I said and what Fearless said. No laws will work if they are not enforced!

Please read what I wrote again. I'm not twisting anything. In fact, I'm agreeing with your point about enforcement. Where we disagree, it appears, is about what constitutes evidence sufficient to support a conclusion. Neither am I twisting Fearless's statement - he said that in cities with the strictest gun laws, the criminals still have guns, law-abiding citizens are disarmed, the criminals figured this out. His argument, and I'm sure he will correct me if I'm wrong, is that absent the laws that, in his view, disarm only law-abiding citizens, those criminals would think twice about attacking innocent people. I don't see how what I said twists his statement at all.

Fact: those places with the strictest gun laws (Chicago, NYC, Washington, Detroit, New Orleans) have the greatest number of shootings/homicides. Why? The criminals STILL have guns, but law abiding citizens are disarmed. BTW, the criminals have figured this out.

Your assertion is not supported by the facts or logic. It's like blaming smoke detectors or fire alarms for fires. Both fire alarms and gun control laws are responses--not causes. It's based upon a logical fallacy--the "after this, therefore because of this" fallacy. It may sound sensible, but upon examination is found wanting when looked at more closely. The reason we have high numbers of shooting victims in Chicago and other major cities is due to well known factors other than strict gun control laws. Such laws were fashioned in response to high rates of gun violence. The reason they are often ineffective is simply because it's so easy to get a gun illegally almost anywhere in the U.S.--via straw purchases, via shady gun dealers. Making it harder to buy guns illegally--including by closing the gun show loophole, would help reduce the level of gun violence in cities. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/guns/procon/guns.html

What do the top ten cities (over 250,000) with the highest poverty rate all have in common? Detroit, MI (1st on the poverty rate list) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1961. Buffalo, NY (2nd) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1954. Cincinnati , OH (3rd) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1984. Cleveland , OH (4th) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1989. Miami, FL (5th) has never had a Republican mayor. St. Louis , MO (6th) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1949. El Paso , TX (7th) has never had a Republican mayor. Milwaukee , WI (8th) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1908. Philadelphia , PA (9th) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1952. Newark , NJ (10th) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1907. anyone want to know how those liberal run cities rank in gun crime rates ? .....take a guess

Obviously it is a waste of time to hope for some understanding of logic and causation. One more time: the mere facts that A exists and that B exists does not mean that A causes B or that B causes A.

Fearless is correct, and according to a study by Syracuse U, New York, LA and Chicago come in last of all the states in prosecuting gun crimes. The laws are not enforced.

I think you've missed the point of Fearless Leader's letter, with its faults in both facts and logic, to which I responded. His claim was that strict gun control laws result in more, not less, crime. I don't think the facts support that frequently made assertion. Instead, it's the result of sloppy thinking along the lines of: "Chicago has a high rate of gun violence; Chicago also has gun control laws; therefore gun control laws must be responsible for Chicago's high rate of gun violence." In a nutshell, that's his argument, but it's flawed logically and doesn't comport with a closer look at the facts either.

But you have missed Bruce's entire point about causation. Fearless says that gun control laws cause more gun deaths. Bruce is saying that Fearless has not shown any causation. In that context, it is unclear what your point is. Are you supporting Fearless's unfounded correlation between gun control laws and more crime, or are you saying that the gun control laws might work if they were better enforced? And your reference to the Syracuse University study is also confusing. New York, LA and Chicago are not states. If the study says that NY, CA and IL are the states with most lax prosecution, that is significantly different than saying that NYC, LA and Chicago fail to prosecute. If you could please clear that up, that would be helpful.

John, What are your concerns NH's stand your ground law? your concern with the concept irrespective of the law?

The right to self defense is long-established in N.H. and elsewhere. I have no argument with that. My problem is you shouldn't be able to shoot somebody just be you "feel" threatened, and you shouldn't be able to simply say the other person was the aggressor when the other person is now dead and cannot give his side of things. It's just too easy to kill somebody without justification under this law. I realize there aren't mass killings going on under the guise of SYG, but the death of just one innocent person is too many.

John V, The flip side if you are assaulted (no citizen wants this but that is not a magic protection shield) successfully defend self/family (assume no shots are fired) then the criminal will allege criminal threatening. Then you are in jail or economically crippled with lawyers fees. does anybody here remember why SYG was requested by the voters and passed by a majority of the legislator and signed by the governor? Citizen were too often faced with violent criminals -that why. You want to re-empower violent criminals?

The Stand Your Ground Law is nuts!! We already have the right to defend ourselves in our homes if someone breaks in. However, to allow someone to pull out a gun and shoot a person claiming they were threatened out on the street or somewhere else is crazy. I can picture all kind of situations where this could be abused. You want protection! Buy a big can of pepper spray and charge it. Works better than a gun on Grizzly Bears, so should be fine for you and nobody dies.

Collie - so we are legally able to defend self/family in our homes but not out on the street where most assaults, rapes and murders happen? does that maker sense?. Criminals will have guns (and other weapons), wherever they choose - the police can't stop them. They almost always employ sneak attack - do you really think you cell phone will protect you or your children? why would you want criminals to be given more advantage than the law-abiding? Why do you think a law-abiding citizen with a gun is more of a threat than assailants, rapists and murderers? Who is try to get you to believe crazy notion and why would they?

So in your world everyone will be packing, planning to defend against assailants. We will become like the old west and gunfights at the ok corral will become commonplace. I don't think that is the world I want to live in. Perhaps serious thought should be given to becoming more civilized in our behavior instead of regressing backwards.

How are the draconian gun laws working in democrat Chicago ?

Coolie, Those are your sentiments - not mine. As to what world to live in - do you live in a world with some magical/divine force that protects people from evil? Do you live in a world w/o assailants, rapists, & murderers? Do you live in a world where all other nations are peace loving and would never mount a jihad, invasion to take other people/countries by force against the will of the citizens?

You make it sound like NH is a war zone. If you think the streets are awash with "assailants, rapists and murderers", you've been watching way too much tv, and don't get out enough. And then to toss in your gratuitous remark below about "jihad", is revealing. Watch Faux News much?: 'We distort, you believe'.

There you go again Bruce, stating that TCB makes NH sound like a war zone. He never said that. No matter how hard you try you cannot spin can you? The question was, why give criminals more advantage than the law abiding. When you do they have the advantage, not you.

I learned it is a defense lawyers dream come true. What the law needs is a clause that says if a person seeks out someone or is deemed the aggressor then they lose the right to claim "self defense". One should not be allowed to instigate the fight, then when they start losing the fight they claim self defense and shoot someone....... In my opinion once Zimmerman was told by police not to confront this person, he sought out the individual and became the aggressor. One is not "standing your ground" if you are moving toward someone.

I guess this poster knows what actually happened, who picked the fight etc. Stand Your Ground had nothing to do with this case. It was self defense.

First of all, stand-your-ground has everything to do with self defense. That's the whole basis of the law, a person's right to self defense. I don't claim to know exactly what happened, but I probably know as much as you. I'm guessing you weren't there, either. I'm not arguing one way or the other about the jury's verdict, the only point I hoped to make is that the law is ill-conceived and faulty, and it looks to me like an innocent unarmed man was killed because an armed man didn't stay in his vehicle as he was instructed by a police dispatcher.

John, Innocent little angelic-looking 12 y/o's do not bash a guys head against the cement.In reality "little Trayvon" at the time of his death stood almost 6'2" tall and weighed 175 muscular pounds. He had numerous run-ins with authorities (both at school and local police), had been stopped and almost arrested two days before his death for smacking a bus driver in the face, because the driver refused to let him ride for free. He was released because the driver was told not to press charges by the bus company and to continue on his route. When "little Trayvon" was suspended at school it was not only because he tried to bring a little marijuana in with him, he was in possession of wedding rings and other jewelry, watches, etc. that he said he "found" along with a large screwdriver while on the way to school that day. The jewelry was turned over to the Police by the school. The misinformation that Martin was always peaceful sort and that he did not attack Zimmerman first is political media spin. Part of the problem is too many "ministers", "civic leaders" and politicians make a living by sustaining hate. That is a problem worth working on.

TCB, I agree with you that Martin wasn't the sweet little teenager he was made out to be in the media. (That was my impression at first.) Media coverage of this case is a whole other matter, one worthy of discussion. I just think the stand-your-ground laws, as written in Florida and N.H. are flawed, and that Zimmerman was at fault to some degree for pursuing Martin, even though he may have later felt threatened. What the punishment should be for that, I'm not sure, manslaughter sounds right, but perhaps there are other options.

Here's a good piece on Slate that echoes your sentiments. Both Martin and Zimmerman, he argues, made stupid mistakes that led directly to Martin's death. But absent SYG, and absent his carrying a gun, Zimmerman would likely not have pursued Martin, and a kid coming back from candy store would still be alive today. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/frame_game/2013/07/trayvon_martin_verdict_racism_hate_crimes_prosecution_and_other_overreactions.html?wpisrc=obinsite

Why didn't Martin just go home?

Slate is the first thing that make this post irrelevant, conjecture that what Zimmerman may or may not have done is the other. And this kid and a candy store propaganda is just that.....propaganda. Before his facebook page was taken down it showed a very different face of Trevon Martin. Tattooed, involved in fights and expelled from school, foul language, etc.

Response to Rabbit below: Martin was killed 100 yards from the house where he was staying, on the sidewalk leading directly to that house.

We learned that Stand your Ground Law wasn't even applied to the Zimmerman trial. We also learned that it looks like the Democrat talking points are directly targeting the uninformed voter. Misinformation the democrats goal.

I know you like to express your opinions as though they were facts, but your statement is just plain wrong. Zimmerman was acquitted because he claimed he felt threatened, and under Florida's stand-your-ground law that justified his use of deadly force.

John is right, Van is wrong. It is true that the defense did not ask for a hearing under SYG, but that does not mean that SYG was not applied. SYG establishes the legal standard for the actions a person can take in self-defense. Because Mr. Zimmerman argued that he acted in self-defense, the judge was required to explain that legal standard to the jury, which she did in her jury instructions. So it is incorrect to say that SYG was not applied. It most certainly was, because it is the governing law on the defendant's primary argument.

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