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Monday, October 24, 2016

It’s been a harsh February, and I’m not talking about the weather. As the annual celebration of the accomplishments of black Americans, replete with references to President Obama, was winding down, the month presented a stark reminder of the casual bigotry that still haunts the lives of black citizens. The verdict in the Florida shooting of Jordan Davis was an unwelcome specter over Black History Month.

While Michael Dunn, who killed Davis in a dispute over loud music, will probably serve decades in prison for the attempted murders of Davis’ friends, he has so far escaped punishment for the death of an unarmed adolescent. The jury deadlocked on a single count of first-degree murder.

A juror told ABC’s Nightline that race never entered the deliberations, but it’s obvious that pernicious stereotypes about young black men hung over the proceedings. And those prejudices allowed Dunn to escape justice for Davis’ death. (Just try to imagine the opposite scenario: A black teenager claims an unarmed white man made him fear for his life, kills him and gets away with it.)

There are no laws or policies that can eradicate stereotypes, no simple cures for implicit bias. But Florida can repeal its awful “stand your ground” law, which has allowed that bigotry free rein. So can the several other states that have passed expanded “self-defense” laws that let trigger-happy gun toters open fire on the unarmed. The streets are made less safe when paranoid gun owners are able to turn a non-violent dispute into a death sentence.

Florida’s “stand your ground” law is merely the worst — the most easily abused — of those laws. Last month, in a Tampa suburb, a retired police captain shot an unarmed man dead in an argument over texting in a movie theater. The retiree claims he felt threatened.

Years ago, Florida’s law, like most, required a person who feared for his life to “retreat” if it were possible to do so. If you could leave, you were not in mortal danger, according to the law.

That changed when a diminutive firearms fanatic named Marion Hammer ascended to the presidency of the National Rifle Association in the mid-1990s. She was a chief architect of “stand your ground” and a forceful lobbyist for its 2005 passage, insisting that law-abiding citizens needed it to protect themselves from thugs.

I interviewed Hammer during her NRA presidency, and her tales were instructive. Though her oft-told lore includes a story about fending off a gang about to attack her in the 1980s, she told me that she had pulled her weapon three times to protect herself from would-be assailants.

  • daniel bostdorf

    This is all about racism. Nothing more…Tucker’s article is dead on when she states this:
    “It’s not at all clear what motivated Michael Dunn, but he seemed awfully self-satisfied after firing on a carload of young men. After he shot 10 rounds into the SUV, hitting Davis three times, he returned to his hotel room and had pizza….Dunn’s social views, by the way, are shot through with bigotry, as a letter he wrote from jail revealed: “This jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs,” he wrote. “This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these … idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior. … The more time I am exposed to these people, the more prejudiced against them I become.” “Stand your ground” laws simply encourage the Michael Dunns of the world to act on their worst impulses.

    “Stand your ground” allows racists of all colors, mostly white, to justify 1st degree murder that is premeditated.

    There is a a remarkable New York Times article from last year about the Trevon Martin travesty…. that should have been included as a references:

    Title: Racism Is the Problem Here by Kenneth Nunn who is s a professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law

    from the article:
    “Stand Your Ground does not permit the use of deadly force against an initial aggressor unless “the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger.” Ordinarily, one would expect that a reasonable force requirement would provide ample protection against idiosyncratic or morally suspect behavior. But this is not the case when victims happen to be black……decisions regarding the reasonableness of self-defense claims should be made in court. Many Stand Your Ground statutes grant killers who claim self-defense immunity from prosecution, so they cannot be arrested if the police view their assertions of self defense to be reasonable. This is wrong….”

    read more here:

    • alannah mcgrowdie

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    • sigrid28

      Concealed carry laws also enable vigilantes seeking out opportunities to eliminate those they perceive as dangerous. If the Dunns and Zimmermans of the world were not able to conceal their weapons, the rest of us would be much safer. You cannot get a job at a fast food restaurant without taking a psychology test. Why should you be able to carry a concealed fire arm without one?

      • daniel bostdorf

        They would have to run a psych test on over 2 dozen members of Congress….that would be fun…

        • daniel bostdorf

          Start with Teaparty…

          • idamag

            Love it

    • idamag

      Florida traded the lynch rope for guns. What they are getting away with is just as bad as it used to be in Mississippi. The bible belt is the most violent, hateful part of the United States.

  • Sand_Cat

    To put it more concisely, “stand your ground” laws condone murder.

    • daniel bostdorf


    • Allan Richardson

      These laws encourage dueling, but not HONORABLE dueling as in the old days, when duels were fought with matching pistols from the same case, one shot each dueler, according to established protocol. instead, whoever can get a gun out first can kill without fear of punishment, as long as there are no other witnesses. So-called “stand your ground” laws should be named “Aaron Burr” laws, after the VP who shot the Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.

  • Barbara Morgan

    Daniel Bostdorf, did you read any of remarks posted on the article. I tried to but couldn’t get t the first one read because it some of the same old stuff said by haters this time they were claiming the author of article was a violent black man. Don’t know if that is true but his article is right on target. Stand Your Ground is nothing but a law that legalizes murder. I do not understand why 3 of the jurors in Fla. couldn’t understand what he did was premeditated murder, he intended to kill one or all of teenagers if he hadn’t he wouldn’t have gone to his car, got his gun, returned shot off several rounds, paused then shot more rounds . His actions afterwards also show he is a cold blooded killer. Many people have posted on other sites that he shouldn’t be trialed again for the young teen’s death because he will probably be in prison for the rest of his life. The word probably is exactly the reason he should be tried again and given the death sentence. His killing of the teenager wasn’t the first time he was violent according to what I have read here and on other sites. He was divorced I think 2 times because of his abuse, and had had more from that one contact with the law because of his violent behavior. Even the woman that was his fiance was afraid of him and his temper. She also stated that he lied about seeing a gun in article that Nancy Grace had on Facebook. If Dunn was black and the teenager had been white, Dunn would be sentenced to death instead of there being a deadlocked jury/

    • daniel bostdorf

      Great post!

      I only see 5 comments here…

      The issue of Dunn’s previous violent beahvior was disallowed which caused the hung jury on 1st degree murder..