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?”