Gun Rights...And Wrongs!

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Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee hosted the first of public hearings on the issue of gun control. Among those making an appearance before the somewhat contentious hearings were shooting victim former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Giffords’ presence was intended to put a public face on proposals to curtail open-ended gun availability. Among the limitations that Giffords and others are proposing is a banning on various kinds of high-powered assault rifles with high capacity ammo clips.

LaPierre spoke out against with lawmakers “pushing for new gun control measures, and warned darkly that enacting a universal background check on all weapons purchases would be a ‘nightmare’ come to life for law-abiding gun owners” (“LaPierre Fights To Stop The 'Nightmare' Of Background Checks"). More to the point, LaPierre conjured up the hyperbolic scenario to counter a proposal by the Obama Administration to close the so-called "gun show loophole," gaps in gun purchasing laws that don’t require criminal background checks on gun purchasers at dealer shows. LaPierre and other gun-rights advocates cite the lack of enforcement by authorities of current gun-related crimes is the reason why so many high-profile shootings have occurred in recent times.

Now, I am as in favor of the right of an individual to defend themselves against threats as anyone—real threats, not imaginary threats like “tyrannical governments” “oppressive regimes,” or a unspoken plan by “authorities coming to get our guns.” And yes, I do believe that gun ownership in a society where the police simply cannot be everywhere as fast as we would like them is a necessary evil (in fact, I wouldn’t feel safe living in a house without a gun). And yes, I have witnessed instances where penalties for gun-related offenses seem lightly-punished. However, there are other instances where the application of gun laws is so subjective, that criticism by gun owners that they “should be enforced” becomes laughable.

Consider Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law, which came to national recognition in light of the Trayvon Martin shooting by George Zimmerman. More than a few instances have come to light of the inconsistent way this law, as well as other gun-related crimes, as prosecuted. The case of a Florida woman highlights this inconsistent application of gun laws that gun proponents often cite as why shootings occur. In May of last year, a 31-year-old mother was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a “warning shot” at her abusive husband…a shot which resulted in no injuries, maiming, or deaths (“Fla. Woman Marissa Alexander Gets 20 Years for 'Warning Shot' : Did She Stand Her Ground?”).

One has to ask why wasn’t the Stand Your Ground law applicable to this particular case? How could a 31-year-old woman in a relationship with a man with a history of domestic violence (and whose actions did not result in any physical injury) be sentenced to two decades in prison while Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Martin, is out on bail? As an African-America, I find myself asking, where are the protests and calls for “equal justice” by the Reverends Sharpton & Jacksons in this? In our media-savvy world, it’s hard for me to imagine either of them missing such an opportunity for highlight this injustice. I suppose some gun crimes are worse than others.

This case is something that gun rights advocates might want to remember the next time they invoke the mantra of “enforce the gun laws already on the books” in their efforts to justify why they feel that should own so many weapons.

(See also: “Gun Control…No! Responsible Gun Control…Yes!” and "White Males, Guns, Politics, & Fear")



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Comments 6 comments

Alberic O profile image

Alberic O 3 years ago from Any Clime, Any Place

Interesting you wrote on this topic. I'm a gun owner and use firearms in my profession. I truly believe that background checks are the only effective means of controlling weapons from criminals. Repeated criminals are the 10% of society causing 95% of the issues. I admire the NRA in promoting gun safety but I don't agree with the senior leadership. Nor I'm a member.

Stand Your Ground is very specific. It's just that dumb lawyers don't read it line for line. Also, when you use a firearm, you use it on someone threatening your life. You never, ever fire warning shots because you will put innocent life in danger.

With fights, and domestic disputes, claiming self defense is difficult. The person who is engaged in a verbal argument and uses force on the other person will be charged with assault, no questions as. It doesn't matter if the person had a history of violence/no history, looks scary, etc. If you escalate the confrontation with that person where it gets physical you can't claim self defense. And when you pull out a deadly weapon to use or use a lethal technique, you better have a good reason to use it. I cover use of force and self defense in my hub.

Stand You Ground doesn't change the definition of self defense nor does it make prosecuting assaults or murders more difficult. If you talk to any DA or police, the the self defense plea (that criminals use) has been used so many times prior to Stand Your Ground.

Before you think I'm gonna back George Zimmerman, I'm not and the case will be quite simple. If phone records of Martin talking to his GF falls along the line of Zimmerman following him, confronting and shooting him (Martin), then Zimmerman will go to jail. (Guess who is prosecuting the case- the same prosecutor that prosecuted Alexander). If Martin attacked Zimmerman with no provocation, Zimmerman should walk.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 3 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

Thank you for reading. And if Stand Your Ground is written in such a way as not to take into account domestic disputes where violence and physical altercations are a history, then the domestic abuse laws should be written in accordance to protecting one's self with a weapon...as a last resort!


Alberic O profile image

Alberic O 3 years ago from Any Clime, Any Place

It is not necessarily how that law is written. It is establishing whether the force you use constitute as self defense in accordance to law. The evidence, and testimony of witnesses, yours and/or victim will dictate whether your claims are correct. Some will also take into account the following as well. Stand Your Ground doesn't change the definition of self defense.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 3 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

The problem is that we've elevated the 2nd Amendment to the level of religious mantra. The reality is that we've taken it out of historical context. The "well-regulated militia" provision was based on every able-bodied (and qualified citizen) being able to own a weapon for the common defense against the very real threat of England wanting to impose its will on the newly-formed country. Although people SHOULD own a gun or two in a country where dangerous criminals are a reality, open-ended, no restrictions on purchasing weapons ignores the reality that 2nd Amendment can be as out-of-date as the 3rd Amendment ("No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law") with regard to changing times.

At the same time, there is a clearly demonstrated reality of disproportionate application of gun laws, especially when it involves minorities.


Alberic O profile image

Alberic O 3 years ago from Any Clime, Any Place

Irrational fear has been used on both sides the debate and this is why I'm not a member of any gun organization because they depend on using fear when in reality they don't. There are sensible regulation in firearms such as background checks and fixing the for private transactions loophole for private sales of firearms. Other than that, I'm not gonna go off the tangent here. I will say that a lot of these laws don't work because law makers don't know jack about firearms.

In these two cases, this is about the issue of self defense more than firearms- both involving potential lethal use of force (one person is dead). Lets say with all things being the same Martin was stabbed to death. It wouldn't have made any difference what weapon or martial arts technique you used to dispatch someone. If there is a doubt in your self defense claim, the DA and police will go after you. In the case of Alexander, had she swung a bat or knife at her husband (assuming the case is the same, we are changing her weapon here), she would have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and/or attempted murder.

The 2nd Amendment doesn't change the legal definition of self defense. It allows you under the law to have the tools (ie firearms) to defend yourself but when you do, you better have a good reason to do it. Alexander was unable to prove this in court-that she reasonably used deadly force (when you fire a gun, it is viewed as deadly force).

However, another black man (Jay Lewis) about a year ago was put in jail and couldn't even make the six figure bond. He was confronted by two men and while he called 911, you can hear him in the tapes to avoid the confrontation. When the men charged, he shot both of them (disparity of force- 2 men can do a lot of damage on 1 person). 112 days later in court, the jury acquitted him based on evidence. However, he lost almost everything and became homeless after being evicted. That is an example of injustice there. This case is the reason why Stand Your Ground Law came to be.


brian 3 years ago

George Zimmerman may have to dye his skin black now so no one will find him. Kind of like robert downey. Black skin will be gz bodyguard.

Also if I was a security guard I would feel more comfortable if I was black.

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