In this New York Times column, he begins by telling us
This is not the time for evanescent anger, which is America’s wontThen after a paragraph in which he sets up the scene, including our fawning over the royal baby than we pay attention to the gunning down of American children, he offers this:
This is yet another moment when America should take stock of where the power structures are leading us, how they play on our fears — fan our fears — to feed their fortunes.Please note - this is in the context of Stand Your Ground laws, pushed by both the NRA and by ALEC, of whom he says they falsely tell us that the 2nd Amendment and law-abiding citizens are under siege:
On no subject is this more clear than on the subject of guns.
They endlessly preach that more guns make us safer and any attempt at regulation is an injury to freedom. And while the rest of us have arguments about Constitutional intent and gun-use statistics, the streets run red with the blood of the slain, and the gun industry laughs all the way to the bank.But it is specifically the rationales offered to justify Stand Your Ground laws that gets his particular attention.
He reminds us that one of scare tactics offered by the NRA when Florida was considering its SYG law in Florida was the need of women for protection:
The N.R.A.’s former president, Marion Hammer, argued in support of the bill in 2005 when she was an N.R.A. lobbyist: “You can’t expect a victim to wait and ask, ‘Excuse me, Mr. Criminal, are you going to rape me and kill me, or are you just going to beat me up and steal my television?’ ”The link in that block quote takes you to an article in which the argument is being offered of the need for such a measure to defend against intruders. That argument clouds the issue, and does not require the scope of SYG laws. Under the Castle Doctrine a person would have the right to defend in one's home - and sometimes in one's place of business and/or care - without the need to extended it further to any public place taking away the notion of the responsibility to attempt to avoid confrontation, retreating where necessary.
Further, as Blow notes, Tampa Bay Times looked at the data from 2005-2013 of 235 cases where Stand Your Ground had been invoked and found that
only 33 of them were domestic disputes or arguments, and that in most of those cases men invoked the law, not women.So it is not women in the home feeling threatened invoking the law. And even in the home, it is more likely to be males invoking the law.
In fact, nearly as many people claimed Stand Your Ground in the “fight at bar/party” category as in domestic disputes.
Blow refers to another Tampa Bay Times article, this one noting the many killers who went free after invoking Stand Your Ground, despite a history of violence (hmm, doesn't that sound like George Zimmerman?). This is how Blow uses the material from that piece:
“All told, 119 people are known to have killed someone and invoked stand your ground. Those people have been arrested 327 times in incidents involving violence, property crimes, drugs, weapons or probation violations.”Perhaps we can see this more clearly by noting a series of bullet points from that Tampa Bay Times article:
• Nearly 60 percent of those who claimed self-defense had been arrested at least once before the day they killed someone.If we are going to have a reexamination of such laws, surely such data is relevant.
• More than 30 of those defendants, about one in three, had been accused of violent crimes, including assault, battery or robbery. Dozens had drug offenses on their records.
• Killers have invoked stand your ground even after repeated run-ins with the law. Forty percent had three arrests or more. Dozens had at least four arrests.
• More than a third of the defendants had previously been in trouble for threatening someone with a gun or illegally carrying a weapon.
• In dozens of cases, both the defendant and the victim had criminal records, sometimes related to long-running feuds or criminal enterprises. Of the victims that could be identified in state records, 64 percent had at least one arrest. Several had 20 or more arrests.
Blow does reference the Marissa Alexander case, where she was denied the right to invoke Stand Your Ground and now faces a 20 year sentence, even though she claims - and is supported by the person against whom she was standing her ground - that she did not direct gunfire at him.
Blow writes these words:
Something is wrong here. We are not being made more secure, we are being made more barbaric. These laws are an abomination and an affront to morality and common sense. We can’t allow ourselves to be pawns in the gun industry’s profiteering. We are real people, and people have power.Let me repeat certain key phrases from that paragraph:
affront to morality and common sense
pawns in the gun industry's profiteering
An observation - many for profit-industries attempt to manipulate public opinion, often through fear, as a means of increasing their profits. I certainly see this in Bill Gates' involvement in education (where he is teaming with Pearson for computerized tests matching the Common Core, which would increase the value of his Microsoft holdings as well as the corporations' profits). Pharmaceutical manufacturers try to convince us of our need for their products, be they male potency potions (do we really have a huge increase in impotence?) or behavior adjustments meds for school kids (would we really have such a huge spike in the diagnoses of ADD and ADHD absent the availability of Ritalin?).
However, the gun industry has been more egregious than all industries not focused on extracting fossil fuels. The NRA has little relevance except as a means of attempting to increase the market for the products of weapons and ammunition manufacturers, even though we have seen a significant drop in violent crime well before the push for the new round of laws - in that sense the data argues that putting more and better trained policemen on the streets does far more to decrease violent crime than does arming and unleashing people whose judgment at a minimum should be question - pace George Zimmerman.
So Blow has decided to appropriate the phrase, and make an argument for a pushback. Here is the final paragraph of his column:
We must all stress this point, and fight and not get weary. We must stop thinking of politics as sport and spectacle and remember that it bends in response to pressure. These laws must be reviewed and adjusted. On this issue we, as Americans of good conscience, must stand our ground.Politics DOES bend in response to pressure. And if Americans really care about gun violence, we will see that pressure continue, even though we are now more than a year since Aurora, more than 7 months since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. If we care we will look at the impact of SYG laws, who is invoking them and ask do we really want to be unleashing people who are so unstable and also able to have weapons? Do we want to put even more Americans at risk?
George Zimmerman is a symptom of a much deeper problem.
It is past time for us to look seriously at what is really happening.
Read Blow's article.
Read the pieces to which he links.
Pass it on.