The PJ Tatler

Trayvon Martin: Opportunity for Anti-Rights Media to Attack Self-Defense Laws

The media has been having a field day attacking Florida’s self-defense law since George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. At the heart of the matter is whether people support the right of self-defense. “Stand Your Ground” laws (SYG), enacted by many states in recent years:

  • Place the burden of proof on the prosecutor (innocent until proven guilty).
  • Remove the need to retreat before defending yourself.
  • Create a legal presumption that when somebody attacks you in a place you have the right to be, you’re justified in defending yourself.
  • Creates an affirmative defense against civil cases where the criminal, or his survivors, legally rob you a second time.

Media thinks this is bad. For example, Chicago Sun-Times calls Florida’s law “dangerous and offensive,” labeling it “shoot first, ask questions later.” The Miami Herald calls it a “license to kill.”

But in order to maintain this propaganda blitz, media must revise the history of self-defense law to imply that self-defense was enacted with SYG.

Florida statutes from 2004 show that before SYG, deadly force was justifiable in self-defense, but “only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.” [emphasis added]

(I examine media bias against SYG/Castle Doctrine in detail in Four Hundred Years of Gun Control.)

All SYG states are similar: Some had a retreat requirement before shooting, but there were clear rules on the use of deadly force in self-defense.

These rules haven’t changed! Certain criteria must be met before a self-defense claim passes muster. Feeling threatened is not a valid legal argument without some supporting evidence. You must be in reasonable fear that you’re in danger of “imminent death or great bodily harm.” You can still be arrested and prosecuted if evidence conflicts with your claim.

Our sheriff says that in Texas, most counties take all self-defense cases to grand juries, to avoid any appearance of favoritism. So even when you are justified, there’s still legal expense and stress.

What’s changed that angers anti-rights propagandists so much?

  • You’re no longer presumed guilty until you prove your innocence (or prove why you couldn’t retreat).
  • You no longer have to run away, making yourself an easier target for somebody who’s already proven he’s a predator.
  • The attacker is presumed guilty by attacking you.

This means that firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens just became more useful. It also means that defenders generally have relatively less financial risk. Both conditions increase your personal Liberty, and the big-government feudalists are incensed by this.

Proving once again that gun control is about control.

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