Who Hijacked Our Country

Friday, June 06, 2014

When “Stand Your Ground” bumps into “Open Carry,” What Happens?

I'm pretty much in between on the whole Second Amendment controversy.  I don't own a gun, but I think guns are more of a symptom of our problems than the underlying cause.  But Jon Stewart brought up some interesting questions last night on The Daily Show.

Under the ever-more-common Stand Your Ground laws, you have the right to take whatever action you feel is necessary if you think you're in danger (e.g. George Zimmerman's defense).  Open Carry laws also spreading like wildfire allow you to carry your assault rifle anywhere you want, any time, for any reason.  When these two “rights” come into conflict, what could possibly go wrong?

I first saw the term “rights inflation” about twenty years ago in a Marin County (CA) newspaper.  I've never seen the term since then, but it pretty well described the prevailing mindset, and the potential for conflict when one person's rights come up against somebody else's rights.  Marin County is famous for having some of the trendiest and most self-absorbed people in the country.  Astronomers have still never figured out how the world can simultaneously revolve around every man, woman and child in Marin County.

Anyway, the article about rights inflation was talking about the rights of smokers to light up anywhere they want, any time they want (this was before public smoking was banned almost everywhere) vs. a non-smoker's right to never ever be within half a mile of a lit cigarette.  Another example was soccer moms (I don't think that term existed back then) trying to ban all dogs from public athletic fields so their precious children won't possibly step in any dog poo during a soccer game, vs. dog walkers' rights to take their dogs anywhere, everywhere and let them do their business whenever, wherever.

Anyway, I thought the term rights inflation pretty well summed up the prevailing mentality.  But in Marin County at the time, the worst that could happen would be two yuppies arguing over their non-fat half-caf cinnamon lattes.

The stakes might be a little higher when a big macho guy walks into a restaurant waving his AK-47 in everyone's faces, and a paranoid twitch with a concealed weapon permit gets all panicky, thinks “Oh My God, he has a machine gun!” and defends himself under the Stand Your Ground law.  Who wins?  Who was “right?”

Just asking.

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Blogger jim marquis said...

I'm just so amazed how good that show is. Makes me laugh and teaches me something every time I watch it.

June 6, 2014 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

It would be hard to determine who wins or who is right when just about everyone in the restaurant will probably be dead or dying.

I like to think America will reach a saturation point within the next decade. It will be the point at which politicians finally listen to a majority of the public and enact some laws like those of Australia. We have seen some horrific massacres here in the US, and we will see more, maybe even worse than some we've seen already. Our people are going to arrive at a breaking point sooner or later.

Of course Stupidium seems to be the most plentiful element in the universe, and there seems to be a concentration of it here in the United States. You can't beat "stupid" with reason... and I would not like to see it beaten through brute force. Gotta be a way to get through.

Maybe have to take the House, keep the Senate, keep the White House and get into some massive programs where nice sums of money, tax breaks, etc. are given to those who turn in their guns to be melted/destroyed. Make it more expensive to own guns, so fewer people will want to own them... maybe create a firearms sales tax?
Smoking is an addiction, and fewer people are smoking because it's harder to afford cigarettes nowadays. Guns are obviously an addiction too, so maybe it would work with gun fanatics.

There have to be some ways to diminish the power of the NRA, get some regulations in place, and change the public mind.

June 6, 2014 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger jadedj said...

Some apropos lyrics from a song back in my day. Every time I read or heard something about current gun craziness, they come to mind:

"You can't talk to a man
With a shotgun in his hand

You can't talk to a man
When he don't want to understand
No, no, no, no, no, no"

Carole King - Smackwater Jack Lyrics

June 7, 2014 at 5:46 AM  
Blogger jim marquis said...

I hate to say it but I have a feeling something really big will happen in the next couple years that might turn the debate in our favor. Multiple shooters at a mall or something like that. I'm actually quite amazed it hasn't happened before now.

June 7, 2014 at 4:03 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

Bill Maher got it right when he talked about ammosexuals and their gun fetish last night. I'm thinking the stores are going to do something the idiots in congress have been too cowardly to do. Ban the external penis enhancers because of complaints about guns being left loaded in toy departments and idiots walking around in stores with their enhancers. I am not a fan of guns at all and I think I have told you guys here about making my husband get rid of his since we have small kids in the family who might get hold of one accidentally. Took him a while to come round to my way of thinking but he knew what was the right thing to do, if he didn't want to end up sleeping in the garden shed for all time :)

June 8, 2014 at 2:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I first heard “Soccer Moms” in 1996 during Clinton’s reelection so that’s about 20 years ago and the papers went to Marin to see Soccer Moms. Marin was also the first place to ban Perfumes in official meeting as people with Allergies complained.

40+ years ago, my high school in Marin banned dogs from the fields for the same reason. No wanted dog crap on the field mixing in with the mud during the rain trying to play football. This is not new.


June 8, 2014 at 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’ve trolled some Gun Support/2nd Amendment sites and they’re just beginning to realize what many of us have already known, that in the history of Gun Control in this Nation, most of our Gun Control Laws were aimed at minorities. From the Colonial days when they passed laws forbidding enslaved and free blacks from carrying guns then another rush of them after reconstruction (after slavery was outlawed). A little later during the turn of that Century when the West and Midwest were trying to purge the country of the Chinese, they passed laws forbidding them to carry guns, same with Mexicans in the early 20th Century when they were trying to deport them.

What people don’t realize is that California used to have open carry laws and many other liberal gun laws. Then a bipartisan legislature almost unanimously repealed those laws in a matter of days (Warp speed for Government) the liberal, pinko, gun hating Governor who signed it gladly...Ronald Reagan!

Why? Because the Black Panthers marched on the Capital carrying guns in full compliance with the law. That’s why I always say, if you want to ruin the open carry movement. Have some Black or Latino’s start carrying guns in the Suburbs.


June 8, 2014 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jim: Jon Stewart is both those things, hilarious and informative.

Snave: But whoever was "right" in that encounter can have "I was Right!" on his tombstone. Sort of a variation on the winner dying with the most toys.

Too bad the element Stupidium couldn't be used as an energy source. We could solve the world's energy crisis overnight.

jadedj: LOL. I'd forgotten about that song. Very relevant lyrics.

Jim: I agree with both things. It's gonna happen someday, and I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet.

Jess: That term "ammosexuals" really cracks me up. I keep meaning to write a post where I can work that name into the title. I think individual store owners will be the ones who take the initiative by banning openly displayed phallic enhancers on their premises. Our bought-and-paid-for congress is too scared to touch this.

Erik: I didn't know the term "soccer moms" went back that far. That article on "rights inflation" was mostly talking about smokers and militant nonsmokers, since both of those groups thought their "rights" were the center of the universe.

Excellent idea, Blacks and Latinos carrying openly displayed guns in the suburbs. I'd love to see the mass flipflopping and backtracking being done by Fox and the NRA.

June 8, 2014 at 3:04 PM  
Anonymous Bryan said...

You say: Under the ever-more-common Stand Your Ground laws, you have the right to take whatever action you feel is necessary if you think you're in danger (e.g. George Zimmerman's defense).

Stand your ground laws were not argued in the Zimmerman trial, by defense or prosecution. That case had nothing to do with stand your ground laws.

Stand your ground only affects the point AFTER you decide your life is in danger, and removes any obligation to attempt retreat at THAT POINT (this is the way common law has worked for hundreds of years, the codified stand your ground laws were only in response to retreat laws, under which many people that were clearly acting in self defense were convicted of murder).

Zimmerman contended that Trayvon was on top of him at the point where he drew and fired his weapon. If that story was the one to be believed (and it seems the jurors did) then retreating would not have been an option anyway, and stand your ground laws would not have applied at all, the verdict would have been the same even with retreat laws applied. If it was determined that Trayvon was not even on top of him at all, and that part of the story was fabricated, then he would have had a lot more explaining to do than simply why he didn't retreat...like why he fabricated Trayvon being on top of him. Hence why stand your ground laws were completely irrelevant to that trial.

The Zimmerman trial centered around whether Zimmerman's actions before the altercation were something that a "reasonable man" would have expected could lead to a lethal encounter (if so then he would have been convicted of manslaughter, stand your grounds laws don't allow you to precipitate or escalate lethal encounters), and whether or not a "reasonable man" would have considered the situation to be threat of death or great bodily harm at the point where Zimmerman drew and fired (if not, then he would have been convicted of murder, again regardless of stand your ground laws, as you cannot kill someone based on feeling alone, the "reasonable man" standard applies to whether that feeling is reasonable or not). Stand your ground laws had nothing to do with either point.

June 9, 2014 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Bryan: I first heard of these Stand Your Ground laws after the Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin "incident" took place, so I assumed Stand Your Ground was part of Zimmerman's defense. I did a few scathing posts about George Zimmerman before he went to trial, because I thought this case would fall through the cracks and Zimmerman would get away scot-free. After the trial got underway, I didn't follow it much. My only concern was that the case needed to go to trial so that the legal system could run its course.

June 9, 2014 at 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Bryan said...

You say: "I first heard of these Stand Your Ground laws after the Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin "incident" took place, so I assumed Stand Your Ground was part of Zimmerman's defense."

Well there's the problem. Most media today needs to be fact checked for truth. I used to say it needs to be fact checked for bias...but nowadays it's not just bias, it's outright falsities that you have to check for. This is one example, the idea that the case had something to do with stand your ground laws. It didn't. It never did. And yet...it was all over the media that stand your ground was Zimmerman's defense.

Another example would be that stand your ground laws are "spreading". In a codified sense they have been newer in the past few decades anyway. But the media implies that the concept is new. The codification was only in response to creation of the retreat laws that I mentioned earlier. Before them, the concepts of not having a duty to retreat was simply common law and had been for as long as this country had existed, and pretty much as long as European common law (where much of our legal concepts come from) existed before us. Yet the media makes it seem like not having an obligation to retreat AFTER the point of imminent danger to self is some new radical concept.

And another example would be that open carry laws are "spreading". The media makes it out like a new concept as well. No, awareness of the existence of open carry is the only thing that is spreading. Open carry is legal in the grand majority of states in some form or another, and has been for practically the entire history of the nation. In fact in many states the the term "open carry law" is a misnomer, because the reason open carry is legal is that there simply has never been any law ever banning it in the history of the state (law is restrictive, no law banning it = legal); in those cases there is no "open carry law", there's simply an absence of law banning it.

On to the question you ask: it's actually quite simple. When the open carry of a weapon is legal, then the simple action of doing so is often not even considered reasonable suspicion for a non-consensual police stop, nevertheless anywhere near fulfilling the imminent danger of death or great bodily harm requirement for lethal force. The entire conundrum is a result of the fabricated view of self defense laws as granting someone a right to self defense based on however they feel at the moment. That is a gross falsity. When such laws talk about one believing there is such imminent danger, the concept known as the "reasonable man" applies, and takes into account what is legal behavior on the part of the party accused of causing the imminent danger. What the person believed will be tested against the concept of whether or not it was a reasonable belief given what they knew. In a place where carrying a long arm openly is legal, viewing the action of open carry alone (without any threatening actions on the part of the carrier) as imminent danger of death or great bodily harm will not in any way pass muster.

June 9, 2014 at 10:15 PM  

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