Posts Tagged ‘Stand Your Ground’

Who remembers this Stand-Your-Ground Case Months After Trayvon Martin?

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

 

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Who remembers the shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, Florida nine months after Trayvon Martin’s death in Sanford, Florida? The case received less media play than that of Trayvon Martin but both focused attention on white gun carriers profiling African-Americans as “bad guys” and using Florida’s extreme laws to defend themselves. George Zimmerman famously said he felt scared for his life even though he was the stalker and Trayvon Martin was unarmed. Like most bullies, Zimmerman thought he was the victim.

 

Zimmerman did not invoke Florida’s Stand Your Ground law in his defense but George Dunn, a 47-year-old software developer charged with murdering Jordan Davis, did and a new Sundance documentary covers his trial.

 

“3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets” from Participant Media, written and directed by Marc Silver, had its Chicago premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center to a sold out audience earlier this month. Lucia McBath, Jordan Davis’ mother, spoke after the film which will be shown on HBO this fall.

 

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Many remember the highlights of the case which was dubbed the “loud music” or “thug music” trial by the media. Angry about loud music in a car next to him at a gas station (while his girlfriend was buying something inside) George Dunn got in an altercation with the four youths in the car and shot and killed Jordan Davis.

 

Much of the movie’s tension centers on trial proceedings to determine if Dunn was really threatened or felt threatened before he shot 10 bullets into the car. Dunn’s lawyer, Cory Strolla, valiantly tries to prove in the film that Dunn was scared for his life before he shot, either seeing the barrel of a gun or a lead pipe, both of which are weapons that could do “harm” he notes. Dunn’s defense attorney puts law enforcement officers on the stand and tries to prove that they did a poor job of examining the crime scene; that a weapon could indeed have been displayed, as Dunn claims, and then discarded, perhaps in a dumpster. But Dunn’s girlfriend, Rhonda Rouer, denies on the stand that Dunn ever mentioned a gun or other weapon immediately after the shooting, later that evening or even the next day.

 

Moved and relieved by Rouer’s testimony, which proved a turning point in the trial leading to Dunn’s conviction, Lucia McBath says in the movie she does not know if Rouer has children of her own but felt that her compassion had inspired her to tell the truth about the shooting.

 

“3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets” includes real time audio and video from the shooting as Rouer pays in the gas station while shots ring out and bystanders yell someone’s “shooting” and they better call “911.” The film intercuts between dramatic trial footage, close up interviews with Jordan’s friends and the effect of the shooting and trial on McBath and Jordan’s father Ron Davis and even the community.

 

Despite its subject, there are some moments of laughter in “3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets” like when Jordan’s friends say he dressed sharp but was miserable at basketball and when they are asked on the witness stand why they bought gum at the gas station where the shooting occurred. (They wanted to meet girls and make sure their breath wasn’t bad, they say.)

 

Still, the broken lives from the shooting are hard to ignore–from friends and family of Jordan to those close to Michael Dunn. Upon sentencing Dunn to life in prison (after a second trial which found him guilty of murder) Circuit Court Judge Russell Healey admonishes Dunn that there would have been “nothing wrong” with retreating from the scene instead of shooting. Stand Your Ground laws remove the “duty to retreat.”

 

The first “shoot first,” Stand Your Ground law was signed in Florida by then governor Jeb Bush in 2005 and self-defense claims quickly tripled. Before enactment, Miami police chief John F. Timoney said the law was dangerous and could be used against “trick-or-treaters or kids playing in the yard” or “some drunk guy stumbling into the wrong house.” In addition to the Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis cases, over zealous gun owners have killed a woman who knocked on a door near Detroit after a car accident, an Alzheimer’s patient who knocked on a door in Georgia and a German exchange student who had entered the garage of homeowners in Montana.

 

 

 

NRA Puppet of the Week- Marion Hammer, Repeat Winner

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

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When it comes to gun activism you are a busy bee. After getting Florida’s Stand Your Ground law on the books, you pushed for a law criminalizing doctors who ask about a gun in the home. “Physicians interrogating and lecturing parents and children about guns is not about gun safety. It is a political agenda to ban guns,” you said. Now you are accusing Florida police chiefs who spoke against a bill allowing guns on campuses of “lobbying” with tax dollars. Like the $400,000 in tax dollars each gun homicide costs taxpayers?
 
Gun Loving Ghoul “OK” With A Little Homicide, You, Marion Hammer, are the NRA Puppet of the Week
 
Join our action to tell corporate America to get off the “sidelines” and take a stand against gun violence including the “can’t miss” sniper rifle sold to civilians. When corporations want sane gun laws, we will have sane gun laws. Follow us at @GunVictimsAct
 

See List of All NRA Puppets

 

Beware the Law-Abiding Citizen–Doctor Shoots Motorist in Road Rage Incident

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

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You’d think a doctor would know the sanctity of life. But that didn’t stop 71-year-old surgeon James Stephen Simon from shooting 70-year-old William Osenton twice in a road rage incident in Marin County, CA last summer. Simon was charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm and released on $250,000 bail. Police seized more than 50 guns and 200 boxes of ammunition from Simon’s home. Yesterday, a Marin County judge dismissed charges against Simon. “I’m so proud to be an American,” the tearful surgeon told reporters. “I’m proud to live in America.”

Join our action to tell corporate America to get off the “sidelines” and take a stand against gun violence including the “can’t miss” sniper rifle sold to civilians. When corporations want sane gun laws, we will have sane gun laws. Follow us at @GunVictimsAct

NRA Puppet of the Week- Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General

Friday, December 12th, 2014

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Despite the press’ exposure of the $750,000 that the NRA-backed Republican Attorneys General Association gave your campaign, your pro-gun activism continues. In November, you said a road rager who drew his gun should enjoy “immunity” from arrest under Stand Your Ground. Right. Then, you helped trash Florida’s ban on weapons in public schools by ruling that school districts have the authority to determine who can carry–opening the door for “non-law enforcement officers and non-district employees to carry weapons on campuses,” says the Herald Tribune.
 
Sleazy, for-sale Republican Party star whose gun activism knows no shame, YOU, PAM BONDI, ARE THE NRA PUPPET OF THE WEEK.
 
Join our action to tell corporate America to get off the “sidelines” and take a stand against gun violence including the “can’t miss” sniper rifle sold to civilians. When corporations want sane gun laws, we will have sane gun laws.
 

See List of All NRA Puppets

 

NRA Puppet of the Week- Jeb Bush

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

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Some may have forgotten that you signed the first Stand Your Ground law, removing the duty to retreat from confrontation before using deadly force which was imitated by 34 states. Now Wolfgang Halbig, a former Florida State Trooper who you appointed to the Florida school safety commission has come out as a Sandy Hook “truther.” The whole massacre was staged and a hoax says Halbig in a vicious campaign. Good appointment!
 

Gun lover making dangerous laws, appointments and Presidential plans, you, JEB BUSH, are the NRA Puppet of the Week.

 
Join our action to tell corporate America to get off the “sidelines” and take a stand against gun violence including the “can’t miss” sniper rifle sold to civilians. When corporations want sane gun laws, we will have sane gun laws.
 

See List of All NRA Puppets

NRA Puppet of the Week–American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

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Your mongering of ready-made model gun legislation gave us Stand Your Ground laws and empowered vigilantes everywhere. Yet corporate America wants nothing to do with the way you highjack the legislative process. Since 2005 you’ve been dumped by Coca-Cola, Wendy’s, Pepsi, Kraft and Mars and last month Google joined the crowd. On the Diane Rehm Show, Google chairman Eric Schmidt said “We should not be aligned with such people.”

 
Contaminating the legislative process on which this country was founded, you ALEC, are the NRA Puppet of the week.

 
Join our action to tell corporate America to get off the “sidelines” and take a stand against gun violence including the “can’t miss” sniper rifle sold to civilians. When corporations want sane gun laws, we will have sane gun laws.
 

See List of All NRA Puppets

Background Checks for Gun Sales: Should they be more Like Adopting a Baby?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

by Miranda Pacchiana

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More than a year after the Manchin-Toomey Amendment failed to pass in the Senate, efforts are under way again to rally support for the passage of a background checks bill for gun sales. Manchin-Toomey was drafted with input from the NRA (which later failed to support it, stating that it violates the Second Amendment) and requires background checks for all gun purchases, including private and internet sales, but contains exceptions for gifts and sales between family members, friends, neighbors and even co-workers. In many ways, the bill loosens current gun laws; including a decrease in the time required for conducting a background check – from 3 days to 48 hours and by legalizing the sale of handguns across state lines.

With the vast majority of Americans supporting universal background checks on gun sales, it is worth pausing to consider what a comprehensive and truly effective system could look like, one which would thoroughly vet applicants for their fitness to own a personal killing tool. With so much at stake, the public deserves to be protected by way of the “well-regulated” aspect of the right to gun ownership.

We need only look across the pond for an example – at the United Kingdom and the process they use to determine whether a citizen is fit to purchase and own guns. Handguns in the UK have been banned since the Firearms Amendment Act of 1997, enacted after the massacre of sixteen children and one adult at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland. Also illegal are semi-automatic and pump-action center fire rifles. Citizens who wish to purchase shotguns or firearms (any lethally barreled weapon from which a shot can be discharged) need to satisfy a comprehensive list of requirements.

First, applicants must show “good reason” for obtaining each and every gun. They are required to submit letters of reference (two for a firearm and one for a shotgun) from persons of good character who have known them personally for at least two years – and who are not relatives, firearms dealers or police personnel. Next, authorities conduct interviews with people in an applicant’s circle, make visits to their property, and of course run a criminal check, all of which can take upwards of two months.

Aspiring gun owners must answer detailed questions with regard to their physical and mental health, provide specifics about where the gun will be stored (locked, steel cabinets bolted to the wall are the norm), produce four passport-style photos (one of which must be signed by a reference), and pay a licensing fee of fifty pounds (approximately 85 US dollars). If all is in order and the firearm or shotgun license is issued, it remains valid for five years. New guns owners are then responsible for preventing anyone without a license from gaining access to their guns – which includes hiding the keys to the gun cabinet. There are no excuses for improper storage, inspectors may make surprise visits to the home, and failure to secure guns as prescribed by law results in a mandatory five-year jail sentence. There are limits on ammunition as well.

The UK’s rigorous vetting process for acquiring a potentially life-changing addition to one’s household is evocative of another type of background check in America –the kind which adoption agencies use to screen prospective adoptive parents. An extended process of interviews, home visits, letters of reference and criminal checks are all a necessary part of determining a person’s fitness to substantially impact a child’s life through adoption.

The parallel seems entirely appropriate. Like adoption, gun ownership is a privilege and a great responsibility, and the right to possess a gun must be qualified by rules that protect the rights of all citizens. Because guns are designed to kill, their use has a profound impact on people all over our country, every day and in every kind of community – by severely altering and/or ending the lives of our citizens. If you are not mentally or physically capable, cannot be recommended by prominent citizens of your community, and are not prepared to ensure the safe storage of a gun, then you should not be allowed to have one.

The list of high-profile gun massacres: Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, the D.C. Navy Yard, and UC Santa Barbara were committed by people who easily passed background checks and legally purchased their weapons of murder. And in the case of Sandy Hook Elementary School, the killer was underage but was able to take his mother’s guns because of our less restrictive storage laws. All of these murderers were known to be mentally unstable by the people who came in close contact with them. If only the United States background check system were as restrictive as that of the UK, these shooters would have been blocked before they could carry out their killing sprees.

Background check legislation that treats guns as the dangerous and powerful tools they are could make a tremendous difference in reducing gun deaths, gun assaults and preventing future tragedies. This might be the best course to address the wide range of factors that contribute to gun deaths; including emotional instability, violent tendencies and anti-government extremism. The results are telling in the UK, which has one of the lowest gun-related homicide rates in the world at 0.07 per 100,000 in 2011, versus 3.60 per 100,000 in the US in the same year. The US rate of gun-related homicide is over 50 times that of the United Kingdom.

It is time to move the pendulum back to the center of this debate and push for substantial reforms in background checks – and put the onus on applicants to prove that they are truly prepared and capable of owning a gun responsibly. Because lives are at stake, and far too often we lose our citizens at the hands of people who should never have had access to a deadly weapon. And because our second amendment right to maintain that guns be “well-regulated” shall also not be infringed.

Miranda Pacchiana is a writer, Social Worker and longtime resident of Sandy Hook, Connecticut working to reduce violence in our country.


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