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Standing Your Killing Ground

By The Reverend Published: February 17, 2014

I have always contended that the "stand your ground" laws that have been passed in a number of states are, in practice, nothing but legalized murder laws. While overall violent crime rates are down, states with "stand your ground" laws have seen a 7% increase in murders....

Whatever the merits of "Stand Your Ground" laws, they appear to increase homicides by at least 7%, reports NPR. It cites a Texas A&M study of the 23 states that have enacted "Stand Your Ground" laws since 2005. Researchers looked at the homicide rate in those states pre- and post-law, as well as the rates of non-Stand Your Ground states. It determined between 500 and 700 additional homicides take place annually as a result. "These laws lower the cost of using lethal force," says Mark Hoekstra, the economist behind the study. "Our study finds that, as a result, you get more of it. Homicides go up by 7% to 9% in states that pass the laws."

Homicides like the one perpetrated by Michael Dunn, a middle aged, Florida white man just convicted of attempted murder (but not murder) in the shooting death of the young black man, Jordan Davis, in November, 2012.

Dunn pulled into the parking lot of a gas and food mart pulling up next to a red SUV out of which loud Rap/Hip-Hop music was blaring. Four black youths were in the vehicle. Dunn proceeded to start an argument over the loud music, eventually shooting three times directly into the SUV door where Jordan Davis was sitting. Davis eventually died from gunshot wounds. The young blacks had no weapons.

Dunn "felt" threatened....I guess by loud Rap music....and said he was defending himself. However, not only did Dunn shoot three times into the car door killing Davis, but four more times as the SUV was backing up out of the parking space AND three more times as the SUV was leaving. A total of 10 shots.....that Dunn says were in self-defense.

Yet, the jury which just found Dunn guilty of attempted murder deadlocked on the charge of murder. The reason, I believe, is because of the "uncertainty" created by Florida's stand your ground laws. All "self-defense" cases involving guns now have a different legal-twist that must be considered. The threshold for violence was lowered in Florida when stand your ground was made law there. Folks who "feel" threatened, an extremely subjective criteria, can now respond using lethal force, and as we saw with George Zimmerman, murder an unarmed person, and walk free.

While Michael Dunn will go to prison for a long time on lesser charges, the fact that a murder charge in this instance could not be agreed upon by a jury, should be a troubling signal to all citizens everywhere.

For a thought experiment, I would like readers to reverse the roles in the Michael Dunn case. Let's say four white youth in an SUV are parked in a 7-11 parking space, windows down, country music blaring. A middle aged black man pulls in and parks next to the white youths. The black man immediately begins arguing with the white young men ordering them to turn down the volume. The young white males respond by flipping the black man the bird and telling him to mind his own business.

The black man, now angry and "feeling" threatened, proceeds to retrieve his handgun from his car's glovebox and fires three shots into the door where one of the mouthy white youths was sitting, killing him. The white youths now scared for their lives, start to backup to leave, whereupon the black man fires four more shots into the SUV. And then finally, as the SUV leaves the parking lot altogether, the black man fires three more shots into the SUV.

It is found out later that the white youths had no weapons in their vehicle, despite the black man's claim otherwise. The black man proceeds to a motel where he spends the night and then finally calls police the next morning.

In this hypothetical situation, does anyone believe that the black man would not have been found guilty of murder and not simply attempted murder?

Though "stand your ground" laws may not have any explicit racial overtones, is there any doubt that some angry, gun-toting white men see those laws as an excuse to "fight back" against what many whites defiantly label the "thug culture?"

Statistics are now showing that "stand your ground" laws result in increased rates of murder. Was that the intention of theses laws from the get go?

If not, what purpose do these relatively new-fangled legalized-murder laws serve?

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