Skip to main content

In this New York Times column, he begins by telling us

This is not the time for evanescent anger, which is America’s wont
Then 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.

On no subject is this more clear than on the subject of guns.

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:
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.

In fact, nearly as many people claimed Stand Your Ground in the “fight at bar/party” category as in domestic disputes.

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.

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.

• 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.

If we are going to have a reexamination of such laws, surely such data is relevant.

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:

more barbaric

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.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (18+ / 0-)

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 06:48:23 AM PDT

  •  A small suggestion for change (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Tonedevil

    The country is faced with systemic problems with respect to prejudice. No one solution can address all of the problems. I have one small suggestion and that is to teach tolerance. I refer you to the Southern Poverty Law Center's teaching tolerance webpage. Also view the video on their webpage.

    Not only should tolerance be taught, tolerance should be part of the core curriculum and tested in order to graduate from high school. Organizations that are found to be intolerant should be forced to teach tolerance to their executives and employees. I see this as one small change that addresses the systemic problem of intolerance in our society.

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 06:54:39 AM PDT

  •  It Strikes Me as an Obligation To Shoot First (7+ / 0-)

    since you know your opponent has that same right and may also be armed or otherwise dangerous.

    The anti-Darwin party has replaced civilization with Darwinian selection.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 06:58:21 AM PDT

    •  A corollary. eom (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil

      Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

      by LWelsch on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 07:03:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  we will yet see that happen (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LWelsch, Tonedevil

      as more and more people are armed in more and more places -  and I will bet right now that a significant number of those who get shot will not be one of those carrying a gun since accuracy in aim even not under pressure is not q requirement in many states for licensing.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 07:19:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, LWelsch, Tonedevil

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 07:01:49 AM PDT

    •  you are welcome (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badscience, LWelsch, Tonedevil

      I had expected this to have been in the pundit roundup, and was surprised when it wasn't.  I am afraid by the time I got around to writing it up a lot of people who might have valued it were no longer online, so perhaps it will simply fade away.  Oh well . . . .

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 07:18:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the diary title (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Tonedevil

    and the direction to a thoughtful column. :-)

  •  thanks for this, but a corollary of this episode (3+ / 0-)

    might be that in some regions and situations (see structural similarity to apartheid culture), "neighborhood watch" can become racist vigilantism

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 10:25:59 AM PDT

  •  You still don't get it about Marissa Alexander. (0+ / 0-)
    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.
    It is the fact of gunfire directed away from him that was her crime.

    Shooting a gun is not to be taken lightly. It aint' the movies, real life isn't Die Hard. You pull the trigger only when all other options have been spent.

    Since it's been so hard to get people to understand that gunfire is not to be taken so lightly that it becomes acceptable to create stray bullets, how about if we examine the idea of a "Warning Shot" using nations?

    Pretend that the US and Russia are having a breakdown in peace. Say that the US really wants Russia to be scared enough of the US that Russia will simply do what it is told. Imagine that the US fires off a nuclear missile and explodes it in the upper atmosphere. Russia becomes scared at the US's "Warning Shot".

    Does that paint the picture a little more clearly? Does it become more clear that it doesn't matter that the US made the missile detonate harmlessly far away from Russia, the fallout still has to come down somewhere! Oh, hey, that is a nifty parallel to the bullet that is sent flying by a "Warning Shot" - the bullet also has to come down somewhere! Just like the stray fallout from the hypothetical USA "Warning Shot" might well land on innocent India, the falling stray bullet might well land on some other innocent random person.

    That is why Marissa was convicted - she treated guns WAY too lightly.

    Neither guns nor nuclear weapons are to be used as fear-cudgels.

    Now get yourself a song to sing, and sing it till you're done.

    by JayFromPA on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 05:39:49 PM PDT

    •  you are off on a side-track (0+ / 0-)

      my only mention is because Blow mentioned, and even though the Court denied her the right to use stand her ground the totality of the evidence is that she did not attempt to shoot him.  In fact, had she shot him she might be on better grounds, even though she went into the garage to obtain her weapon, because he had not left her house, and even without SYG, under the castle doctrine if she felt threatened she was entitled to use deadly force.

      If they were prosecuting her properly for the warning shot it would be 1 count of reckless endangerment, and she would not be facing a 20 year sentence.  But that is a side track.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 06:30:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site