Calling All Davids

Last week, we noted that the Strib had rejected an op-ed by Sarah Cade – a center-left African-American woman who happens to be a competition shooter, a friend of mine, and the owner of one of the most rightous ARs I’ve seen.

By way of trying to outflank the Strib’s abusive monopoly on political opinion publishing, I posted her entire op-ed on this blog last week in its entirety.

Yesterday came news that, with the advance of a “Stand your Ground” bill to hearings in the House Rules Committee this week, the Strib ran a series of fact-free opinion pieces against the legislation – but not a single piece in support.    Against the fact-free – and largely Bloomberg-financed – dreck, not a single word of learned response was allowed to see the light of day in this state’s misbegotten “newspaper of record”.

I”m just a little blog.  I’m David’s left toenail, going up against Goliath.

Well, you and me – we are David’s left toenail.

I’m going to urge you do a couple of things:

  • Pass Sarah’s article around; I’m going to reprint it again below the jump.
  • If you’re on social media, post this on Twitter.  (I’ll also be posting on Twitter, as dirty as that makes me feel).
  • If you’re a Facebook user, share Sarah’s Facebook post, with the facts of the situation and the text of her op-ed.   .

It’s not much.  But it’s the best that we can do.

And every once in a while, David gets in a lucky shot.

More on the “Stand your Ground” hearings later this week.

P.S. to the Strib:  it’s been a while since I publicly said I sincerely hope the free market drives that little DFL PR shop you call a “newspaper” out of business for good.

The more things chance, the less they change.

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Twenty Years Ago On The East Side

Hard to believe it’s been twenty years since Guy Harvey Baker – a Gulf War Marine veteran with, clearly, mental illness issues – killed officers Ron Ryan, Tim Jones, and a police dog named Laser

The PiPress has a fairly good retrospective of the events – with one crucial omission:   

Ryan, 26, was checking on a man — Guy Harvey Baker — who was sleeping in a car in a parking lot at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood about 7 a.

He picked up a .38-caliber revolver from his lap and shot Ryan.

Scores of officers joined the search for Ryan’s killer. Jones had the day off, but he came in to help.

Laser picked up Baker’s trail about 10 a.m. on Conway Street, not far from Johnson Parkway.

Mara Gottfried’s story is excellent.  But she leaves out how the police actually found Baker’s “trail” on Conway later that morning – and, in a way, the story of a man who is both the story’s unsung hero and third (human) victim.

Lyle Granlund – 48 years old, at the time – was having breakfast with his kids on the upper level of a three-plex he owned across from the parking lot.  One of his sons yelled that there’d been a shooting.  Granlund grabbed a handgun and loaded three rounds – all he could grab at the moment – and went to his window.  He saw officer Ryan on the ground, and saw Baker driving toward another woman, standing in the doorway of a nearby apartment building, apparently getting ready to rub out the only known witness to the shooting. 

Granlund – an expert marksman – pondered taking out Baker.  But he held up, worried that the Ramsey County attorney, the infamously anti-gun Tom Foley, would prosecute him.  So he opted to fire two shots through Baker’s back window, shattering it and leaving the rounds (intentionally) in Baker’s dashboard, to hopefully scare Baker off and mark the car for the police.  He saved his third round, in case Baker decided to come for him.  But no – Baker accelerated away from the scene of the Ryan shooting…

…and it was by the shattered window that the SPPD found Baker’s trail, a couple hours later, nearby on Conway Street.

I interviewed Granlund later that year, for the old Gun Owners Action League (a predecessor of GOCRA) newsletter.  Granlund told me that while the SPPD remained officially mum about his contribution to that day’s search, more than one senior Saint Paul cop had come to his door in the following days, paying their respects to his effort to save their fellow officer.  A lieutenant left him his SPPD tie pin – a gesture that Granlund, in our interview, still found deeply touching.

I wrote about Granlund again, almost ten years ago, in a piece that includes a lot of useful background and  a link to a now-disappeared column by Ruben Rosario. 

 Granlund was right, of course; Foley did try to prosecute him.  Their attempt to get him for “reckless discharge” foundered when the police lab found Granlund’s two rounds exactly where he said they’d be in Baker’s car.  The Ramsey County Attorney’s office dropped its  attempt to prosecute Granlund only when the SPPD told Foley he’d get no cooperation from the police.  Someone listing himself as a retired SPPD cop tells the story in this thread

Oh yeah – and Granlund was denied a Minnesota carry permit; the SPPD that (quietly) regarded him as a hero also didn’t think he had any reason to need one. 

Gottfried picks up the story from 20 years ago today.

Baker heard the dog whining outside a fish house where he was hiding, saw Jones through the window and, through the side of the shack, shot the 36-year-old officer with the gun had stolen from Ryan. When Laser bit his leg, he shot the dog, too.

No prosecutor will ever issue an indictment, and no jury will ever hear the case – but in a very real if indirect way, Officer Jones was killed by official gun-control hysteria. 

The tragedy didn’t end that day.  When I spoke with Granlund, probably in September or October, he was clearly upset that he’d not been able to save Jones by killing Baker.  It went much deeper than that; Granlund spent the next ten years depressed about the episode.  He died in 2004 of a heart attack, at age 58, and is buried in the same cemetery as Officer Ryan. 

The lesson?  Let nobody tell you that an armed citizen can’t do immense good; one, and God only knows how many more, people are alive today because of Granlund’s action. 

And let no weasel government official get away with terrorizing the law-abiding citizen without a fight – preferably ending with a prosecutor sent to the unemployment line at the polls.

The families of the slain officers are the main focus of Gottfried’s story, of course.  I’ll urge prayers – or whatever your worldview does – for the families on what has to be a miserable anniversary.

Ground Stood

Citizen in Alabama shoots, kills man who was herding customers in a dollar store into a back room at gunpoint. 

It seems like a no-brainer, right? Man with a gun is herding innocent third parties into a back room like a bunch of cattle.

Well, in Alabama it is.  Alabama has a “stand your ground” law, which says a law-abiding citizen has no “duty to retreat” when facing a lethal threat. 

Minnesota, of course, has no such law.  If the same episode happened in Minnesota, what would happen? 

That would depend entirely on the vicissitudes of the county attorney.  In Pennington County, the county attorney would likely buy the citizen a drink.  In Dakota County, Jim Backstrom – who has a long history of lying about law-abiding citizens and their right to self defense – would likely find any excuse he could to file charges. 

What does it say about our legal system when a persons’ freedom, life, liberty and exercise of their Constitutional rights is governed entirely by the whims, prejudices and bigotries of partisan hacks living in sinecures?

Score Another For The Good Guys

A woman with a carry permit breaks up a robbery at a Denny’s in Houston:

At around 4 a.m. Thursday, a man who does not want to be identified, said his brother was robbed by six men with guns at a Denny’s off the Gulf Freeway in southeast Houston.

“I don’t know if it was random or someone set him up. Because he got his own label,” said the victim’s brother.

His brother’s wife was in the restroom at the time, but when she exited the restroom she saw the group of suspected robbers. Police said that’s when she pulled out her gun and shot at them.

“She said she came out of the restroom and saw my brother on the floor. That’s when she started doing what she gotta do. She got a license and she’ll do anything to protect her kids and my brother,” he said.

Police said there was a shootout, but it is not known how many shots were fired at the time. However, police said the gunshots did hit cars in the parking lot.

No word of any charges filed against the woman; if there were, I suspect we’d have heard of it.  

But Texas has a “Stand your Ground” law.  Law-abiding citizens involved in otherwise legitimate self-defense shootings (i.e. in which they are not willing participants. 

The “elites” don’t get it.

Us proles?   We’re smarter.

Another Racist Law!

In the his frankly bizarre speech in re the Martin/Zimmermaas case last week, President Obama asked:

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I’d just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened?

Of course, the hypothetical question is a stupid one. Obama’s not a stupid man, of course; he knows thatbeing followedisn’t, in and of itself, not enough to convince a reasonable person that one legitimately and immediately fears death or great bodily harm.

The three key words are…:

  • Reasonable: would a jury buy the idea that being followed constituted a threat that was…
  • Legitimately lethal, not eventually, but…
  • Immediately?

“Feeling” threatened – notwithstanding the bleatings of liberal bloggers and politicians – is not reasonably a legitimate, immediate threat of death or great bodily harm. Had ZImmerman, say, jumped out of his truck, tackled Martin, and started beating his head against the sidewalk? That’s another story – as the jury affirmed last week.

But as a literal answer to an immediate, current social question? It’s a good question.

And the answer is “Yes, black people can and do “stand their ground” when under attack, and do so successfully”. Indeed, twice as often per capita (in Florida) as white people:

But approximately one third of Florida “Stand Your Ground” claims in fatal cases have been made by black defendants, and they have used the defense successfully 55 percent of the time, at the same rate as the population at large and at a higher rate than white defendants, according to a Daily Caller analysis of a database maintained by the Tampa Bay Times. Additionally, the majority of victims in Florida “Stand Your Ground” cases have been white.

African Americans used “Stand Your Ground” defenses at nearly twice the rate of their presence in the Florida population, which was listed at 16.6 percent in 2012.

One hundred thirty three people in the state of Florida have used a “Stand Your Ground” defense. Of these claims, 73 were considered “justified” (55 percent), while 39 resulted in criminal convictions and 21 cases are still pending.

Forty four African Americans in the state of Florida have claimed a “Stand Your Ground” defense. Of these claims, 24 were considered “justified” (55 percent), while 11 resulted in convictions and nine cases are still pending.

Now, for a racist law, it seems to be pretty darned color-blind.

Maybe the Administration should stick with trying to find all the guns they gave to the narcotraficantes.

A Million Reasons To Celebrate, One Reason To Keep Working

In 1987, Florida became the eighth state, and the first large state, to adopt a “shall issue” law requiring the state to issue carry permits to applicants with clean criminal records, no record of drug abuse or alcohol problems and no known record of violent mental illness.

Next week, the state of 19 million people will cross the threshold to a million active permits:

Applications for the permits in the state of 19.1 million people have doubled since 2007. Only 0.3 percent of the more than 2 million total permits issued since 1987 have been revoked, said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“Floridians who are obtaining these licenses are obtaining them for the right reason and are using them in an appropriate way,” Putnam said.

Florida’s adoption of concealed carry in 1987 was the Battle of Gettysburg in the war over the Second Amendment.  For the previous twenty years, gun control had gone from “nutty racist fringe” to “dominant racist ideology”; a majority of Americans, the stats said, supported banning handguns; guns in the hands of the law-abiding were banned not only in authoritarian cesspools like Chicago and DC, but in placid burbs like Morton Grove, Illinois.

Bur since Florida flipped the orcs the finger, the tide has turned

…everywhere but in the mainstream media.  Reuters – who wrote this story – notes…:

Florida has been a bastion for gun owners, with some of the most expansive laws on the books regarding who can carry weapons and when they can be used.

OK, we’ll call that a flub by someone who doesn’t know the issue (or gets their information from the media):  the United States has the expansive law, the Second Amendment, that says we all have the right, granted by God or whatever creator you believe in, to keep and bear arms.  States may place prudent restrictions on that right.  Florida merely has among the most enlightened set of restrictions.

But this…:

A state law that can make it difficult to prosecute shooters who claim self-defense has come under scrutiny following the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in February.

…is proof that we’ve got a ways to go.

“Stand your Ground” laws don’t “make it difficult to prosecute”; they shield the law-abiding, legitimate self-defense shooter from spurious, agenda-driven legal harassment. And in the vast majority of cases that don’t get politicized by a president during an election year, they work well.

Anyway – congrats, Florida!

Right, Wrong, And Fearless Predictions

For starters – the Thanksgiving shooting in Little Falls seems, according to what we know, to be a textbook case of how not to shoot in self defense.

64 year old Byron Smith allegedly shot Nicholas Brady, 17, as he came down the cellar stairs – and then allegedly shot Brady’s cousin Haile Kifer, 18.   He’s been charged with two counts of second degree murder.

And if the news accounts are accurate – and as we’ve learned, on all gun-related stories, we must distrust but verify the media, but this case seems fairly clear-cut so far – he’ll deserve the conviction.  While you don’t have a “duty to retreat” in your home in Minnesota, you still have to have reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm (or, nebulously, to “prevent a felony”, which in practice had better mean “the felony of killing, kidnapping or raping you or your family”), and the force you use has to be reasonable – in other words, no finishing people off.

According to the complaint, Smith told investigators:

He heard glass breaking around noon Thursday while he was in the basement. It was the latest of several break-ins that he’s experienced. Brady started coming down the stairs, and Smith shot him with a rifle by the time he saw the intruder’s hips.

Unless Brady had a chainsaw running around hip level, there wasn’t a whole lot of fear of death, there…

Brady fell down the stairs and was looking up at Smith when the homeowner shot him in the face.

“I want him dead,” Smith explained to the investigator for the additional shot.

And there’s your “unreasonable force”, right there.

And let’s be honest; you hear the same kind of talk from all kinds of people; “it’s best to finish them off”, one yahoo told me in a bar, “because then they can’t sue you”.

I’ve never heard it from anyone that’s been through carry permit training, of course.

And just in case there was some corner of his legal case that wasn’t already utterly self-sodomized…:

Smith put Brady’s body on a tarp and dragged him to an office workshop.

A few minutes later, Smith heard footsteps above him. As in Brady’s case, Kifer too started down the stairs and was shot by Smith by the time he saw her hips, sending her tumbling down the stairs.

Smith attempted to shoot her again, but his rifle jammed, prompting Kifer to laugh.

Upset, Smith, pulled out a revolver he had on him and shot her “more times than I needed to” in the chest, he said.

Smith dragged Kifer next to Brady as she gasped for her life. He pressed the revolver’s barrel under her chin and pulled the trigger in what he described as a “good, clean finishing shot” that was meant to end her suffering.

Hint:  virtually no deer-hunting etiquette is appropriate in self-defense shooting.

This is a case that should be used in self-defense classes as a punch-list of everything not to do in a self-defense case.

  • You just don’t get to shoot on sight.  Many juries will have a hard time accepting that you had a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm if you shoot before you can fully see your perp in what amounts to an ambush zone.
  • You do not finish them off when they’re down.

And above and beyond that?  You call the cops immediately.  And – it should surprise nobody – Smith did not:

 Sheriff Michel Wetzel told reporters Monday afternoon that Smith explained to authorities that he didn’t call immediately after killing the two because “it was Thanksgiving. He didn’t want to trouble us on a holiday.”…Smith acknowledged leaving the bodies in his home overnight before calling a neighbor to ask about a lawyer and to request that authorities be notified.

Naturally, you should be on the phone with the police before the smoke clears.

And while I send my condolences to the victims’ families, of course, the kids had no business in his house.  Note, unruly teenagers; you’re not immortal, and you’re only as safe as your least-informed, least-stable victim lets you be.

But here’s the fearless prediction; this case will be used as a chanting point against “Stand Your Ground” at the very least, and most likely against any sort of self-defense reform.

Not because this case has any merit as an example – no factor in this case has any bearing on “Stand your Ground”, and indeed has to have been one of the least-justified self-defense shootings I’ve heard about since Sgt. Jerry Vick’s shooter tried to claim it.

Not because Smith is a carry permit holder – while the records aren’t public, let’s just say his behavior is not that of someone who knew what he was doing.

No – because it involves two things that are catnip for anti-human-rights activists:

  • Dead “children”
  • Someone who is not, on the surface, a criminal doing something that is exceptionally rare among non-criminals; screwing up with a gun.

It’ll be wrong.  It’ll be legally as well as factually void.  It’ll be pure disinformation.

And as we’ve seen in the past two elections in Minnesota, legally/logically/factually void disinformation sells.

Just saying; if Heather Martens doesn’t put out a press release trying to tie this case to “Stand Your Ground” and/or concealed carry, I’ll be amazed.

A Victory For The Good Guy – Provided It’s Not In Minnesota

This one made the news over the weekend; in Phoenix, a 14 year old boy shot and gravely wounded an armed intruder who’d not only kicked down the door of his house while he was baby-sitting, but was pointing a gun at the kid:

The boy was home with his three siblings, ranging in age from 8 to 12, when he saw a woman they did not recognize at the front of the house around 4:30 p.m. She began pounding on the door, said James Holmes, a Phoenix police spokesman.

The boy went upstairs and got a handgun, police said. A man with a rifle had forced his way into the home. He aimed the gun at the boy, and the boy shot him, police said.

Having the coolness under fire to not only not have to stop to change his pants after what must be, to a kid, the most terrifying possible thing – a group of strangers kicking the door of your house in – and seeing a rifle being pointed at him, and returning fire with (by one report) a head shot?

Someone call the SEALS’ talent scout.

The boy and his three siblings left the house and went to a neighbor’s house, where the boy called police and his father, Holmes said.

“He took an action that no police officer, certainly no one in our community, wants a 14-year-old to have to take,” Holmes said. “And yet he’s safe, his siblings are safe, and so now we have to figure out why this happened and why these people were there.”

Another thug off the street.  That’s the good news.

Now for the (hypothetical) bad news:  in Minnesota, this kid’s problems, and his parents’, could be just beginning.

Arizona has strong “Stand Your Ground” and “Castle” laws.  If a shooting is ruled justifiable, the citizen is immunized from civil litigation over the shooting.

Here in Minnesota, even if the county attorney declines to press charges – and under Minnesota law, the boy would have to have proven he was an unwilling participant and that the force he used was appropriate and that his fear was reasonable, although clearly all three of those applied, and there is no “duty to retreat” in the home under Minnesota case law – the “victim” and his family could come after the teenager’s parents for damages for the injuries sustained.

A lawyer may well say “the suit won’t get far under those circumstances” – which is an explanation only a lawyer could buy.  The family will have to spend thousands of dollars defending against that non-lawsuit lawsuit – and that’s presuming they don’t run up against an activist judge, or a plaintiff with enough money or connections to land a big-dollar attorney with the aim of overwhelming them, or a crusading David “Darth” Lillehaug uber-attorney willing to fight against the family on a contingency just because he hates guns..

When lefties say “name one person in jail for lack of a stand your ground law”…:

a. We do, and

b. Jail isn’t the only hell that Minnesota’s legal system holds out for the families of the otherwise perfectly law-abiding citizen.   Eternal legal hell is another.

When our bored dilettante of a governor vetoed “Stand Your Ground”, all he did was give trial lawyers another marketing hook.

It Took About Six Weeks Of Investigation…

…for the prosecutor in Florida to charge George Zimmerman with Second Degree Murder.

Corey also had a message for those who have been rushing to judgment on the case.

“You cannot know what it’s like to launch this type of investigation and come to this conclusion,” State Attorney Angela Corey said during the press conference.

“We don’t prosecute by public pressure or petition. We prosecute cases on the relevant facts of each case and on the laws of the state of Florida.”

The worst thing about how the left has treated this case – as a stage prop for Obama’s re-election campaign – is that it causes doubts in the justice system, among both those who are inclined to support it or not.

Naturally, the Obama administration and the media who push his narrative had every reason to portray the local prosecutors and police as racist peckerwoods who didn’t care that a black kid was dead.  And the claque that has been benefitting from that perception for decades now – Al Sharpton and the various race-war pimps – benefit handsomely from that perception.,

Which is, of course, not to say that the local cops and prosecutors did do a good job – in fact, we don’t know.  But prosecutor Corey is right – these ambiguous shooting cases frequently do take a long time to work out.  A great example – of both the time it takes to work out an ambiguous shooting and of a justice system horribly skewed by official tush-covering – is the Treptow case, from five years ago in Coon Rapids.

So there is much we don’t know about this case.

But one thing that any rational person – and by “rational person” I mean “one who rationally assesses the facts as they know them = does know is that this case is no indictment of “Stand Your Ground”.

Let’s compare and contrast the genesis (so far) of this case, and war-game out its resolution under Florida law (with its Stand Your Ground provisions) and Minnesota law (which still has a vague, ambiguous “duty to retreat”).

Assumptions:  We’ll assume that the episode went like this: Martin was walking (we won’t ascribe motives to him yet).  Zimmerman, being a diligent (maybe over-diligent) neighborhood watch guy, followed Martin in his car, then got out and confronted Martin.  The encounter went south – accounts vary – and either Zimmerman ended up attacking Martin, or Martin attacked Zimmerman (you can believe whichever you want, because only the jury’s perception really matters at this point).  At some point, and with whatever motive, Zimmerman shoots Martin, who dies.   The police arrive.  Zimmerman claims self-defense.

Under Current Minnesota Law, if the case were being tried under Minnesota law, the prosecution would have to prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman, while not planning to kill Martin, did in fact intentionally kill Martin without justification.  Zimmerman and his attorneys, claiming self-defense, would have to prove to the jury that…:

  • Zimmerman reasonably feared death or great bodily harm – they’d have to convince the jury that Zimmerman’s fear of Martin beating him to death was reasonable.  Of course, people get beaten to death, strangled, clubbed to death with bottles all the time – there’ve been three “one-punch kills” in Minnesota so far in 2012.  I’m no lawyer, but I’m going to say this will likely mean having to prove that Martin really attacked him, injured him, and didn’t appear likely to stop at the time.   Is that enough to convince a jury?  We’ll see.
  • He was a reluctant participant – No, the fact that he followed Martin, and disregarded the 911 operator’s instructions, don’t count.  Zimmerman had a right to be on the street, whether he was following Martin or not.  And 911 operators don’t give legal orders.  It might not look good for Zimmerman – but in fact he needs to prove that he didn’t willingly dive into the actual physical scuffle that led to the shooting.
  • The force he used was reasonable  – in other words, he’d need to prove that the force he used was only enough to end the lethal threat.  If there’s evidence Zimmerman shot Martin while he was lying on the ground, then the case is over.
  • He made a reasonable effort to disengage – If he convinces the jury that he was jumped and tackled before he had a chance to try to run away, or that he did in fact try to back away while under attack, then that’s what he’d have to do.  The prosecutor, of course, can try to convince the jury that Zimmerman should have tried to escape until he slipped into a coma with brain damage; an anti-gun judge could instruct the jury to keep to the strictest possible definition of “duty to retreat”.  Zimmerman, or any self-defense shooter under Minnesota law, could have been impeccable on the other three points, and still go to jail based purely on the discretion of the prosecutor, the prejudice of the judge, and the whim of the jury.  That’s why Minnesota needs a Stand Your Ground law.  But that’s a matter for the next legislature.

If Zimmerman failed to convince the jury that he’d met all four of those criteria, then his self-defense claim fails.

Under Current Florida Law – But the case is being tried in Florida.  Florida has a “Stand your Ground” law.  That means that the prosecutor must prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • Zimmerman met all the elements of Second Degree Murder under Florida law – that he did in fact intentionally kill Martin without justification.
  • Zimmerman did not reasonably fear death or great bodily harm – they’d have to convince the jury that Zimmerman’s fear of Martin beating him to death was unreasonable.  Of course, the defense will show the jury that people get beaten to death, strangled, clubbed to death with bottles all the time – I’m going to guess if there’ve been three  “one-punch kills” in Minnesota so far in 2012 that there’ve been more than that in Gainesville alone. The prosecutor, I’ll guess, will have to debunk the notion that Martin attacked Zimmerman, or build a case that Zimmerman really did attack Martin.  We’ll see.
  • Zimmerman was not a reluctant participant – The fact that Zimmerman followed Martin, and disregarded the 911 operator’s instructions, may have been a bad idea – I know that after taking carry permit training twice, it’s the last thing I’d do.  But the defense will point out that Zimmerman had a right to be on the street, and convince the jury that he didn’t willingly dive into the actual physical scuffle that led to the shooting.
  • The force he used was not reasonable  – in other words, the prosecutor will need to prove that the force Zimmerman used was beyond what was needed to end the threat.  If there’s evidence Zimmerman shot Martin while he was lying on the ground, then the case is over.  Othewise?  Not so much.
  • He made a reasonable effort to disengage – Does not apply in “Stand your Ground” states.  Not so that people can “shoot first”, but because this is a provision that is abused by prosecutors; can anyone else see the absurdity of saying “yes, your life was being legitimately threatened – but you should have tried harder to run away before defending yourself?”

If the prosecution proves all the elements of second-degree murder, and disproves any of the three pillars of his self-defense claim, the jury will likely find ZImmerman guilty.  If the jury accepts all three of the pillars of Zimmerman’s claim (or reasonable doubts exist about them), then they will (assuming a rational jury) find him innocent.

The only difference is on whom the burden of proving the legitimacy of the self-defense claim rests.  That is all.

Sharpton and the race-war pimps will keep trying to fan this into a racial incident – because it benefits them to do so.  White liberals will try – and fail – to turn this into an indictment of “Stand your Ground” laws.

And before too long, the Obama administration will need to find itself another stage prop; the mainstream media, his Praetorian Guard, will dutifully move on, and the  case, provided you trust the local justice system, will reach the resolution it would have reached without all the national attention.

Chanting Points Memo: “How Is A Bowling Ball The Same As A Spoon?”

It’s a scenario that’s launched a thousand “miscarriage of military justice” stories and more than a few movies during and after three wars, now; soldier gets into difficult, ambiguous situation; soldier, believing himself to be threatened, shoots.  Judge Advocate General jacks the soldier up over an arcane technicality in the “rules of engagement”, adjudicated by a bunch of officers and lawyers sitting in a secure base camp, an office or the Pentagon.  And the soldier(s), having followed the rules in all but the one, most arcane, most-technical sense of the term, and having acted otherwise blamelessly, get sent to prison.

Some of the dimmer bulbs on the Twin Cities’ Sorosphere’s intellectual Festivus pole were grunting and argling yesterday about this piece here, from “Think” Progess, by one Jon Soltz, claiming that Florida’s (and by extension, Minnesota’s proposed and vetoed) “Stand Your Ground” laws “gives George Zimmerman more protection than soldiers overseas”.   It’s written by one Jon Soltz, listed as founder and chairman of



The Trayvon Martin case has gripped the nation, and forced the country to re-examine our gun laws. But the horrible affair has struck me in another way, because of my two tours in Iraq. One fact stands out in my mind: The “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida, which may let George Zimmerman off the hook for the killing of Martin, gives more leeway to shooters than our own military gives to soldiers in war.

That sounds serious.  And it is.  Seriously misleading, anyway.

We’ll come back to that. has more than 105,000 members who take a wide array of views on gun control and the 2nd Amendment,

…although the group itself is a left-leaning “veterans” group affiliated with the whacko-left “Center for American Progress”, “”, and which is supported by the Soros-affiliated “Democracy Alliance”.

But this is less about the organization than about the spreading of chanting points in which Soltz is participating.

but the Trayvon Martin case is less about the right to bear arms than it is the “use of force.” It’s impossible to ignore the legal protection George Zimmerman enjoys in suburban Florida vs. the Rules of Engagement that outline when one of our troops can shoot while in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Soltz is half right…

…well, no.  He’s half on topic.  There is something that’s impossible to ignore.

But comparing rules for self-defense among civilians out and about in a civil society is nothing like the rules of engagement for the military in a combat zone.

The U.S. military issues Rules of Engagement (ROE) for every conflict to guide servicemembers’ ability to protect themselves from deadly threats…

…which Soltz goes on to describe in great detail and, I’ll presume, accurately (although I’d love to have some of combat veterans who read this blog go over his version of the ROE just to make sure), he misses a key point.  And by “key”, I mean, “so vital that his entire point makes absolutely no sense if you get it wrong”.


key component of the ROE used during the height of violence in Iraq in 2007 was the requirement to use “Graduated Force” when time and circumstances permit. Section 3.G.(1) states that if an individual “commit[s] a hostile act or demonstrat[es] hostile intent” — meaning he or she attacks U.S. or designated allied forces, nationals, or property, or threatens the imminent use of force against any of them — U.S. Force “may use force, up to and including deadly force, to eliminate the threat.”


A soldier (or sailor, airman or Marine) in a combat has a lot of firepower at hand; a selective-fire assault rifle (sometimes with a grenade launcher), a machine gun (anything from a squad automatic weapon to an M2 .50 caliber or a fully-automatic grenade launcher on top of their Hummer), or more; antitank rockets, grenades, and more.  They can be supported by tanks with cannon with cannon that can pick your nose from a mile away with a depleted-uranium dart that flies at a mile every second and a half and that can go through a foot of armor steel.  They’re a radio call away from calling in artillery – 40-to-100 pound shells in barrages of dozens of shells that can level a city block faster than a  bunch of drunk Detroit Pistons fans – or air support, in the form of Apaches with rockets and automatic cannon, A10s and F16s flying close support,  dropping 2000 GPS-guided bombs that can fly down your toilet more accurately than the Roto-Rooter guy, or even a B52 that can drop thirty or forty of them, if you really need to dig out of a jam.

The rules of engagement are there to make sure that the 19 year old kid with the aweseome responsibility of being at the business end of all that firepower knows how to use it to advance, rather than degrade, America’s interests in the area.

On the other hand, the law regarding civilian self-defense is there to judge whether homicide is justified or not.  In every state, the questions are  “is the citizen’s fear of death, rape, maiming or other injury reasonable enough to justify using lethal force”, “was the citizen a reluctant participant”, “was the force they used reasonable” and in some states, “did the citizen make a reasonable effort to retreat”.  In some states, the citizens have to prove all of the above; in others – Florida – the state has to prove they didn’t.

We’ll come back to that.

Soltz gives an example of how Rules of Engagement caused a problem for one soldier:


In fact, Richard Allen Smith, the vice chairman of, recently told me a story he had heard during his time in Afghanistan, which illustrates this point.

The Scout Platoon leader for Richard’s Battalion was in a situation in 2007 where they detained someone, but he managed to get out of their truck and flee. While he was running away, the Platoon Leader fired at him and caught him in the thigh. They called for a medevac, but he bled out before the bird could get there.

Under military law and rules of engagement, the Platoon Leader was clearly in the wrong: he pursued an unarmed guy who wasn’t posing a threat to U.S. Forces and shot him to death. He was charged (although he was never tried because he was injured a few days later when his truck was hit by an IED and he was deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial).

I’m not sure why Soltz brings this up: does he think a citizen would skate on shooting a fleeing attacker?  As a rule, they would not.

But Soltz is slowly cutting to the chase, here.  He starts out with an honest admission:

Of course, comparing the Trayvon Martin case to a war situation is neither fair nor clean, and we still don’t know all of the facts surrounding Trayvon’s death.

But the facts end there:

But insofar as what I’ve read about the case, it sounds to me that if Trayvon had been an Iraqi soldier, and George Zimmerman had been a U.S. Soldier, there would have been an immediate investigation, and most likely a manslaughter charge, and victim’s family financially compensated for wrongful death.

And that goes to show you the risks in going by “what you’ve read” when, as a lefty (and I’ll be charitable and assume that Soltz isn’t purely reciting the party line, which, given his groiup’s funding, is probably more charitable than warranted, but I’m a uniter, not a divider), the stuff you read is produced  by groups that are trying to use the Martin case to fan racial tension to boost the President’s fortunes – or lefty-vetted “Experts” who are, in fact, not.

If Zimmerman was attacked, then under either military law (as Soltz recited it) or under criminal law, he was arguably justified in shooting.  I say “arguably” because these things do need to be investigated.

Was it?  Do we know the facts?  As Soltz himself allowed, we do not.

Which doesn’t justify just making up facts to fill in in place.  LIke this:

But Zimmerman is a civilian in Florida where, as the country now knows, a shooter is often immune from criminal prosecution and civil liability if he believed he had been threatened with deadly force.

But only if the investigation shows that the evidence warrants that conclusion.  After – y’know – due process, according to the law passed by the relevant legislature.  Same as in the military!

Yes, I did say “making stuff up”:

One of the striking components of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law — or, more appropriately, “Shoot First” law — is that it eliminated the “duty to retreat” embedded in centuries of common law about self-defense. Traditionally, a person had the duty to retreat from dangerous situations if they could, and the use of deadly force was justifiable self-defense only if a person could not have otherwise safely gotten away.

Except that’s both not true – it’s not “embedded in centuries of tradition”.  It’s a feature of some self-defense laws.  Not others.  They vary.  And simply saying “it was part of common law” isn’t a carte-blanche guarantee of validity; slavery was a part of “common law”, until it wasn’t anymore.

“Duty to Retreat” is not a feature, it’s a bug; it means that the citizen is supposed to make a “reasonable” effort to disengage (which, when you’re a civilian with a carry permit, is always a good idea even if it’s not a legal requirement).  Reasonable according to whom?  If you have a bad knee and your attacker is 18 and faster than you?  If you are outnumbered?  If you are in a stopped car and someone points a gun at you?  What is the “reasonable” course?  The answer – under the law in half of the states – is ambiguous, and entirely at the discretion of a county attorney.  It’s ambiguous.

And ambiguity makes bad law – just as it makes for lousy orders for soldiers. Which is why Rules of Engagement are so detailed.

Soltz claims that “Stand Your Ground” gives citizens more protection than it gives soldiers in the field.  Leaving aside the apples-and-axles non-sequitur of trying to compare the situations, he’s 180 degrees wrong; “Stand Your Ground” removes ambiguity from the citizen’s case, giving them a similar standard (not “the same” – combat and self-defense are not the same) as the soldier has.

It’s another entry in the library of chanting points the left is trying to use to keep the Martin case alive as a wedge issue.

Read Soltz.  Judge for yourself.

NBC: “Curing Root Rot By Trimming Leaves”

NBC identified and whacked a fall guy for the fraudulent, narrative-based editing of the George Zimmerman 911 call we talked about last week.

NBC News has fired the producer it deemed most responsible for the airing of a selectively edited 911 call placed by George Zimmerman the night he killed Trayvon Martin.

Sources at NBC who asked not to be identified confirmed a New York Times story saying that a Miami-based producer was fired Thursday, though the sources refused to identify the former employee.

In the original 911 call, Zimmerman is heard describing Martin as such: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”

The dispatcher then asks: “OK, and this guy – is he white, black or Hispanic?”

“He looks black,” Zimmerman responds.

The version NBC ran, though, was much shorter and did not include the question posed by the 911 operator.

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black,”

In other words, the producer who let the narrativizing of the news slip out too clumsily was sacked.  The executives whose policy “narrative-based news) actually is are still being chauffeured around New York.

Chanting Points Memo: With “Experts” Like This, Who Needs Enemas?

Long before the Trayvon Martin shooting started dominating the headlines, gun law reform was in the news in Minnesota, and had already spawned a smaller, more “Barney-Fife”-y version of the disinformation mill that has been sweeping the nation these past few weeks.

I and the rest of the Minnesota Second Amendment community have been playing whack-a-mole for months now, as one dishonest public official or in-the-bag cop or another misinformed/disinforming editorial board excrescence essentially spreads the same vacuous chanting points.

Usually, whether the issue passes (like concealed carry) or not, it dies down between the final passages/vetos and the next session – because none of the people who write for the other side really know much about the issue other than what they’re told.

The Martin shooting has extended the disinformation season even here in Minnesota, though, as the DFL and media try to find a wedge issue to get their base frothed up and to try to peel off the uninformed, not-very-curious ones part of the swing set – the ones voted for Mark Dayton in 2010.

Which brings us to a piece from over the weekend at the MinnPost, by one Thomas Weyandt, a former St. Paul City Attorney’s-office prosecutor who’s  joined the cottage industry of instant pundits with opinions on gun laws:

With the national uproar over the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, it’s a good time to take another look at the expanded Castle Doctrine bill that almost became law in Minnesota. Ours would have been even worse than Florida’s “Shoot First” law.

It’s an inflammatory statement.  Let’s see if he packs the factual gear to follow it up:

But first, my qualifications before I explain why. I was an assistant city attorney for St. Paul for 34 years. In about 1996, I became interested in the lack of knowledge of gun laws by police, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges. I did a study of the results of 676 cases my office had prosecuted and then wrote a manual on how to do it correctly.

His auto-bio speaks of 30-odd years in workmen’s compensation law for the City of Saint Paul – but a “special interest in gun crimes”, leading to a book on the subject, “Investigating and Charging Weapons and Gun Cases“.  Book?  Manual?

Whichever.  He’s setting himself up as an expert..

I have taught police, prosecutors and defense attorneys at a number of classes. I also was involved in the prosecution of hundreds of gun crimes during the last 10 years of my work with the city. Since retiring, I have been a consultant to a group that deals with gun laws at the Legislature.

Odd that he doesn’t favor the reader with the name of the “group” with which he “consults”.  I’m tempted to wonder if it’s “Protect Minnesota”, whose leader, Heather Martens, may be among the most discredited lobbyists on the hill – because she so habitually lies.  If so, that might be why Weyandt doesn’t give us the name of the group.  I’ll check up on that.

(UPDATE:  It’s “Protect Minnesota“, all right – check down in the “2009 Background Check Bill” section.  They’re hawking his “book”, in CD form.  Weyandt felt the need to buttress his credibility by proclaiming himself a “consultant” on the issue, but not to tell you he “consulted” with a group that’s been fighting a bit of an “Aboslutely No Credibility” issue for the past decade or two).

He also doesn’t say how he, a work-comp attorney, was “involved” in that prosecution.

There are two things to keep in mind as we proceed through Weyandt’s article:

  1. To A Lawyer, It’s As Much About The Information The Jury Doesn’t Get As What They Do:  A good trial lawyer never asks a witness a question whose answer he doesn’t know in advance.  They can also spend as much time arguing about the instructions the jury get about the law relating to the case as they do about the case itself – to make sure the jury doesn’t get the information that doesn’t help their case.  In this case, the “jury” is “the MinnPost’s audience”, and he’s already left out one key bit of information, the “group” with which he “consults”.  What else has he left out?  Oh, we’ll get to that.
  2. There Isn’t Just One Law:  Law really exists at three levels in this country; the Constitution puts down the basics.  “Statutory” laws passed by Congress, legislatures, county commissions and city councils fill in the implementation details.  And then “case law” – the stuff that makes lawyers rich – covers all the nuances that law develops over time and application to real-world situations.   We’ll come back to this.  Oh, yes, we will.

Back to Weyandt, the “expert” on gun law (and workmen’s comp!): he’s gotten his first key fact wrong.

So what’s wrong with Minnesota’s proposed Castle Doctrine bill?

Most important is the fact that there is no duty to retreat in a person’s home if someone enters illegally. That has been the major factor expressed by many in support of the proposal — “Come into my house and you’re toast.”

Pretty scary, huh?

Sounds like a pretty damning indictment of “Stand Your Ground”, doesn’t it?  The idea that Minnesotans would lose the “Duty to Retreat”, while in their homes?

Except that it seems to have escaped the “expert” Mr. Weyandt, Esq. that Minnesotans have not had a duty to retreat when in their homes – between the front and back doors – for almost thirteen years. .

It’s not in the state statute.  It’s in case law:

Case: State v. Carothers
Issue: Defense of dwelling, duty to retreat
Court: Minnesota Supreme Court
Cite: C8-98-86
Date: June 17, 1999
Decision: A duty to retreat does not attach to defense
of dwelling claims.

So why does Weyandt, the “expert”, not relate this fact?

There are really two reasons this could happen:

  • He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he’s letting it show.
  • He’s trying to shape a reality in his audience’s mind’s eye that furthers his goal, which isn’t the same as telling the truth.  LIke a prosecutor trying to make sure his “Jury” – the MinnPost audience – hears only the bits of information that he wants them to see, and none of the inconvenient facts that lead them away from his desired conclusion, he’s counting on his audience’s ignorance to make his case for him.

He’s not done.  Not by a long shot:

The proposal — sponsored by Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, and Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas — would have allowed for the use of deadly force without a duty to retreat in a great many places other than a person’s home.

Why doesn’t Weyandt specify what the “Great Many” are?

Either because he’s incompetent, or he doesn’t want to “pollute” the argument with the fact that  “the person’s property, outbuildings, vehicle or business” just aren’t and will never be a “great many” places; it’s small list indeed.

Which reason – incompetence, or a considered desire to mislead the public about the law – do you think Weyandt is exhibiting?

It also allowed a person to use deadly force if they reasonably feared harm. The proposal contained a provision that creates a presumption that the fear is reasonable. Current law requires the use of the reasonable-man standard and leaves the question up to the jury.

This paragraph is a dog’s breakfast of nonsense.

There’s an omission – from incompetence or via deception, again, and we have no idea – that presumes the fear of death or great bodily harm is reasonable “in the case of a person entering a dwelling or occupied vehicle by stealth or force”.  That’s a rather more limited set of circumstances than Mr. Weyandt seems to want you to think, now, isn’t it?

Beyond that, and speaking to the lack of integrity in Mr. Weyandt’s piece?  The law today allows a person to claim a homicide is justifiable if they “reasonably” fear death or great bodily harm.  Here’s the law, as it is today.  See the word?  It’s right there!

The difference – the only difference – is that under the circumstances covered in the proposal, in the home or vehicle or property or business, which is being entered by force or stealth, the county prosecutor will have to prove that the fear of death or harm was unreasonable, rather than the shooter having to prove it (at their own expense, with a lengthy jail term hanging over their head should they not prove themselves innocent after an admission of “guilt with an explanation”).

That’s it!

Whether someone’s fear is reasonable is something a jury can understand.

And there’s the point of view of the professional attorney speaking.

A jury – sitting in a nice, warm, well-lit room, protected by sheriff’s deputies, with coffee breaks and donuts and bathroom time, can certainly determine that.  But the jury also has to operate on information shaped by the way two lawyers – one of them a county prosector, working the case full time on the taxpayers dime, sitting in another nice, warm, safe, well-lit office, without, say, rapists beating down his door.  He’ll have the luxury of time to try to persuade the jury, not that a woman’s fear of death or disfigurement wasn’t legitimate, but that she didn’t try hard enough to retreat from that threat to satisfy his picayune reading of the law.  And if her attorney, charging her $250, can’t convince the county’s full-time attorney that that undefined “duty to retreat” was met, then she’s going to jail, even with her legitimate fear of death.

And that is the status quo that Weyandt – and Jim Backstrom, and at the end of the day Mark Dayton – are defending; the idea that a law-abiding citizen’s freedom hangs on a technicality to be decided by a bunch of lawyers.

Like Mr. Weyandt.

Cornish’s bill wasn’t a “shoot first” law.  It was a “prosecutors have to earn their pay, or at least playing rhetorically-onanistic and politically-motivated games with peoples’ lives, when the shooting is so obviously law-abiding that even a lawyer other than Mr. Weyandt could see it”.

Lamentably, that doesn’t roll off the tongue quiet as fast.

Proving beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not reasonable, as the proposed law would have required, would seem to be nearly impossible.

This is pure fantasy.

Walk through this list of cases – mostly fictional, all plausible.  They’ll show the “near impossibility” of a reasonably intelligent cop and prosecutor telling the difference between legitimate self-defense and murder, with or without the Cornish proposal.

Will some cases be more complicated than my examples?  Sure; the Martin case is one of them (at least in terms of information available to the public. There may be cases – few, indeed – where the circumstances force prosecutors to work to get their precious conviction.

There might be a reason for that; it just might be that the shooting was perfectly legitimate.

So far, I’m guessing “reading Weyandt’s book” would be a bigger handicap to prosecutors than Cornish’s proposal.

The Cornish/Hoffman proposal allowed the use of deadly force if someone is threatened with substantial bodily harm (SBH). The law defines that as including a temporary disfigurement. That means a punch to the face and a black eye would allow the use of deadly force.

This is unvarnished bullshit, and Minnesota law says so.

Substantial bodily harm is “bodily injury which involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or which causes a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ․

Go have a look for yourself.  It’s not exactly beach reading – but it’ll show you that under Minnesota law, Weyandt is talking nonsense.   A moderately-thorough scour through the cases didn’t find a single black eye among ’em.

Let me know how you do.

There are a couple of other especially troubling provisions:

• The expanded Castle Doctrine proposal would have granted total immunity from criminal prosecution.

They’re granted “total” immunity provided that the shooting was fully legal!  Read the law yourself (jump down to line 6.16)

• The proposal did not allow the arrest of the suspect until police have fully considered any claim of self-defense.

I’ve often wondered about people who object to this provision, which basically says “if the shooting was of someone who was entering a house/vehicle/property by force, and there was reasonable fear of death or substantial harm, and the force was reasonable, and every other part of the law was upheld, feel free not to arrest the shooter”.  That’s it.

Mr Weyandt’s desire to put people in handcuffs even if they are so obviously within the law that it’s transparently obvious to the cops borders on the unseemly.

So, if the police can’t arrest a suspect and bring him or her in for questioning, they have very little to no ability to determine if the person was acting in self-defense or not.  If the police can’t develop evidence that the claim of self-defense is false, there can be no prosecution.

Wait – is Mr Weyandt saying that, even in cases where the facts aren’t relatively obvious, that the best or only source of information is an interrogation after arrest?

If there is a prosecution, the proposal would presume the belief that the fear of harm was reasonable…

if the circumstances of the shooting were those covered in the law!  If the shooter reasonably feared death or sufficient harm, and were on their property/in their car or business, and if the “victim” was entering one of those places via force or stealth to commit a crime!

It’s just not that difficult – provided the cops and prosecutors are modestly competent.

Despite all my criticisms, I am not among those who think such a law would create an increased danger to police. Nor do I believe that it would result in shootings all over the place.

What I do know, though, is that this proposal virtually would have negated the ability to prosecute anyone who applies deadly force under virtually any circumstance.

Provided they were utterly incompetent.

And on, and on, and on.

The entire piece relies on two things, really:

  • Studiously misstating the context and effects of Cornish’s proposal
  • Ignoring Minnesota case law.

As such, it stands alongside the rest of of the long-debunked “Protect Minnesota” propaganda that this blog has been shredding for a decade.

Here’s a special invitation to my lawyer friends to pick apart Mr. Weyandt’s argument.  Use all the comment space you want.  Hell, email me; I’ll print it as a post.

Because humiliating this brand of partisan disinformation from the front page of the Minnesota Media would be a wondrous public service.

Chanting Points Memo: The Law And The Leftyblog Fantasy World

Hypothetically, here:  Let’s say that a Neo-Nazi – let’s call him “Tim Stevenson” – gives a rabble-rousing speech at a tiny meeting of neo-nazis.  He rouses the skinheads and flat-earthers present to a fever pitch of hatred against “N****rs, Kikes, Wops, Spics, F****ts, C**holics and Immigrants”, calling for their expulsion from the US – peacefully, if possible, not-so-peacefully if not.

Stevenson – at 60 years old a small man, 5’7 and maybe 150 pounds, with a law degree from the U of M and closely-cropped hair – is a truly hateful man.  He also has a spotless criminal record, and has a Minnesota permit to carry a handgun; “believing rotten things” is not a condition for denial.  As hateful as his beliefs are, he’s never been in a physical fight in his life. He’s got a little .380 in his pocket.

After his speech, and after coffee and coffee cake with the assembled louts, Stevenson leaves the meeting, walking out onto a cold, dark, wind-swept Brooklyn Center street to get to the parking lot, a block away.  He’s being followed, he notices, as he tries to walk toward the parking lot, by a large woman in a “trench coat mafia” duster. His spidey sense, augmenting his far-left Nazi paranoia, kicks in; he walks a little faster.  The woman walks faster still.  Stevenson breezes through the stoplight to get across the street to the parking lot; the woman breaks into a jog, yelling “Hey!”

Stevenson turns, and notices the woman appears very aggressive.  He starts backpedaling, toward his car, yelling “what?”

“I’m coming for YOU, Stevenson!” the woman – Hannah Rothenshteyn-Gabler, 29, a 5’11 former rugby player and current competitive bodybuilder, bellows.

(By an odd coincidence, a video production class was just letting out in a building across the street.  Seven people with video cameras happen to videotape the entire incident, from a variety of angles, with crystal-clear audio, albeit with a style overly derivative of early John Sayles).

At this point, it was Stevenson’s opinion and perception that something bad would happen if he waited to meet the woman.

Stevenson backpedals, yelling “DO NOT ATTACK ME!  HELP!  DO NOT ATTACK ME!” – because while Stevenson may be a neo-Nazi, he did pay attention in concealed carry training; he remembers the part where his instructor said “when you’re carrying, you have to turn into the biggest p**sy in the world”.  “HELP!  DO NOT ATTACK ME!”

As he backpedals through the parking lot, he can’t see the banana peel, left earlier in the evening by a littering driver, lying in his path.  As he backpedals, he slips and falls squarely on his butt, sprawled on the ground, dazed for a shaved instant.

Rothenshteyn-Gabler runs up to where Stevenson lies on the ground, and pulls a 16 pound sledgehammer from under her duster, and hefts it above her head.  “I am going to pound your brains into silly-putty”, she says.  “And then I’m going to soak what’s left of you in gasoline and light you on fire!”, she bellows, preparing to smash the hammer down on Stevenson’s face.

Feeling himself – in his opinion, informed by his perception of what was going on – to be in imminent danger of death and great bodily harm, having established that he was an unwilling participant and making a very credible and reasonable effort to try to run away, Stevenson pulls his .380 and fires one shot.  It hits Rothenshteyn-Gabler in the head, killing her.

Stevenson calls the police, who detain him, but review the evidence – including the seven videotaped accounts – and note that Stevenson behaved correctly in every possible way.

But the Hennepin County Attorney brings charges – Second Degree Murder.  Stevenson’s lawyer mounts an affirmative defense, a “self defense” claim, noting that yes, Stevenson did shoot Rothenshteyn-Gabler, but…:

  • Stevenson  was as reluctant a participant as it was possible to be.
  • He’d made an extraordinary effort to retreat.
  • He had a freaking sledgehammer above his head, and an attacker who was clearly ready and able to use it, putting him in very reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm.
  • He fired exactly one shot, enough to end the threat – so his force was “reasonable”.

The prosecutor got up to respond.  “But ladies and gentlemen of the jury – while the defendant meets all four criteria of the self-defense claim, HE IS A NEO-NAZI!  I mean, come on!  He’s a NEO NAZI!  He HATES Jews and women and blacks!  HE’s A NEO NAZI!  A NEO NAZI!”

Two questions for you, the audience:

  1. How does the jury rule – bearing in mind that Stevenson’s beliefs, reprehensible as they are, had nothing whatever to do with the fatal encounter itself – personal beliefs don’t justify deadly attacks, right?
  2. How would the story be any different had the “Stand Your Ground” bill passed?

For the first:  If the Jury doesn’t nullify the law and ignore that, noxious personal beliefs aside, Stevenson acted correctly?  They’ll most likely acquit him; hateful as he is, he obeyed the law.  There are no guarantees with a jury, but given impeccable behavior, he could prove the correctness of his actions.  He’d make his lawyer a little wealthier, of course.

For the second?  The lawyer would have to come up with a better argument, one that hinged less on “HE’S A NAZI”, and more on proving his fear wasn’t reasonable.

Tha’ts really about it.

I bring this up because some local leftybloggers want to ignore the facts and pretend that the first part is what matters, when it suits them.


Continue reading

Remedial Bonehead Legal Education

As we grind on through the ongoing morass of the Martin case in Florida, it occurs to me that there’s an article I should have written a month ago, when the “Stand Your Ground” bill was wending its way toward Governor “I’ve Got Two .357 Magnums” Dayton’s dim-witted veto.

It turns out a lot of liberals – in Minnesota and nationwide – are really unclear on basic logic, to say nothing of how the law works.

So as mu public service to the left, to try to educate them to a point where they might be able to participate literately in discussing the issue, I’m here out of pure unvarnished compassion to help them out.

Well, Freaking Duh! – I’ve brought this one up before – but as long as liberals say it, I’m going to have to repeat it. Lefties like to refer to “Stand Your Ground” bills as “Shoot First” bills. And I have to ask – have any of you hamsters ever thought about what happens in a legitimate self-defense situation when you shoot second?

No, I guess not. I’ll give you a subtle hint; you get kidnapped, raped, strangled, stabbed and shot.

“Shooting Second” is a really lousy idea.

(I know, I know – they’re trying to “frame” the term. And I’m just doing my best to have the frame blow up in their faces).

More Of That There Fancy Law Talk – When trying to explain what’s wrong with “Stand Your Ground” laws, liberals will get hushed, snd solemnly intone that “they mean people can shoot in self-defense if they feel they’re being threatened”. They usually follow up with one of those Jon Stewart smirks.

And I’m forced to slow waaaaay down – not so much “theatrically” as out of hope that exaggeraged emphasis will help me cut through the sludgy wall of intellectually-entitled smugness – and ask “what do you think people claim when it comes to “self-defense” in any state, regardless of whether it’s a “Stand Your Ground” state like Florida, or a place that actively persecutes the law-abiding gun owner, like the District of Columbia?”

It is ALWAYS based on someone’s “Feeling” that they are in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.. Always, always, always.”

“I mean, what do you think – that in Minnesota, there’s a Predator drone up aloft carrying out surveillance over dark alleys and trailer parks, so that there’s a photographic, objective trail of empmrrical third-party evidence as to which shootings are or are not self-defense?\  Flying up there with the unicorns that have all the money for your governlment spending plans?”

“No – in all 50 states and the D of C, self-defense is always, always, always, no exceptions about a party claiming to have felt in imminent danger of death or great harm. The difference is in how state law treats it; in Minnesota, the shooter has to prove the shooting was justified; in about half the states, the county attorney has to prove they weren’t”.

They usually run crying to their TV to see what Bill Maher tells them around this point.

Tomorrow: Time To Stand Up For Stand Your Ground

Tony Cornish’s “Stand Your Ground” bill – which would make legal self-defense a more tenable option for law-abiding Minnesotans – is coming up for another hearing in the Senate tomorrow.

For the second straight day, I’m going to urge all Second-Amendment supporting Minnesotans to get on the phone.  These Senators are all pretty much in line to support HF1467/SF1357:

They could use a call to encourage them, but mainly thank them for their continued support for Civil Liberties in Minnesota.

Three more Senators on the committee – Terri E. Bonoff, Barb Goodwin and Linda Higgins – are worthless Metrocrats.  Rust-encrusted enemies of civil liberty, none of them is worth the time it’d take to contact them.

The last two…

…are outstate DFLers, representing the kind of people who, though they’re DFLers, haven’t drunk all the statist Koolaid.  Langseth has indicated he’s not running for re-election, and he’s likely sold his vote for the DFL’s customary 13 pieces of silver.  But Stumpf, with some polite, reasoned pressure from Real Americans and Real Minnesotans [1], might be turnable.

So please – take a moment to email or (especially) call today; the hearing is tomorrow.

Remember – have them support HF1467/SF1357.

[1] Yeah, I went there.  Whatchagonnadoabout it?