The Gormogons have not commented much (except perhaps on Twitter) concerning the death of teenager Trayvon Martin, pending a lengthy examination of the facts—which seem to be much in dispute, due entirely in part to an over-zealous mainstream media pillage party.
Coincidentally, Chicago news touched on a local story about an elderly homeowner who shot and wounded a teenaged robber who forced his way into the man’s home. The story made news not because of what appears to be the first documented case of a non-white non-Hispanic on non-white non-Hispanic armed invasion, but because the homeowner was arrested—as a former felon, he is prohibited from possessing a firearm in Illinois. Since he shot in clear self-defense, though, prosecutors are having a bit of chin-scratch as to how to proceed. Yes, the wounded boy was arrested as well.
But this is not the subject of the Czar’s essay today. Rather, two careless comments have been made in the media recently regarding these stories that the Czar felt he should clear up.
In the first case, you have heard a bit about the “stand-your-ground” law; national news editorial services have commented that since this law was passed, the number of so-called justifiable shootings in Florida have gone up. To the editorial writers, this indicates something is amiss with the law, and it ought to be scrapped.
In fact, no. Many, many locations around the United States have a stand-your-ground law, and unless shootings have increased in these areas as well, you cannot challenge the law’s reasoning. Rather, you might consider that legitimate self-defense shootings have gone up because they can. Look for corresponding drops in violent crime attempts, rather than leap at the first post hoc ergo propter hoc thing you can think of.
What is a stand-your-ground law?
Previously, nearly all states and municipalities had a requirement that—before you can use deadly violence—you had an obligation to make a “retreat.” What that meant varied from location to location, but basically it came down to this: before you shoot a guy attempting to kill you, you needed to at least try to make an escape. Only if there was no chance of escape could you shoot.
The problems with this are many, which is why more and more legal bodies are dropping that requirement. The original law assumed that a violent crime was something like a business transaction. Even the wording among lawyers indicates it: when a person approaches you with intent to do violent harm, you must recognize any disparity of force (he’s bigger than you) or immediate peril (he’s actually lunging a knife), and effect a retreat. If and only if this is impossible, you may use deadly force assuming all these conditions have been met.
In reality, this “transaction” goes something like this: you’re walking down the street, and some teenaged punk pops out of an alleyway and shoots you point blank in the head, killing you.
Believe it or not, the law sees that difference in many parts of the country. The stand-your-ground law recognizes you don’t have a second to waste in a life-or-death situation. If someone armed with a weapon, or physically bigger than you, or there’re two or more attackers, etc., steps out of a dark alleyway and engages you in an attack, you are justified to draw a weapon and fire. You do not need to wait to be killed before you can defend yourself.
Stand your ground and shoot.
This seems barbaric to a lot of folks, but it recognizes the reality of self-defense when criminals are at least as well-armed as you should be. And, despite uncited studies out of context, there is no evidence that stand-your-ground laws result in greater numbers of unjustified shootings.
This leads us to the Chicago story. A lot of jurisdictions (most, actually, but not Chicago so far) now recognize what is called the Castle Doctrine. This assumes that your home is your castle, and that once someone forces his way into your home, he understands and accepts that you are in your legal rights to kill him. You have no duty to retreat, no duty to assess whether there is disparity of force or not because, realistically, you have no time to assess any of these things and no place to which you can retreat.
For example, if you hear breaking glass in the middle of the night and the sounds of someone swiping your Blu-Ray player with Eat Pray Love still loaded in it, you can grab a firearm and approach the intruder. If you announce you are armed, he is obligated to drop down and submit himself for citizen arrest. If he does not, but turns to you aggressively, you have to assume—in the darkness and fogginess of sleep—that he is turning to shoot you with his own weapon. So you shoot first.
Now, the actual step-by-steps of the Castle Doctrine are a little more careful than this, and the Czar is not promoting a legal guideline for flawless home defense—but the assumption is that, contrary to anti-gun propaganda—your responsibility is not to call the police and wait several minutes while someone attacks your family. Nor are you required to let him have the Blu-Ray player and go on his way, because now you are imagining what his intentions were in the first place. And thats a bad bet.
Your home is your castle, not the police’s. Only call the police when the immediate threats to you and your family have been subdued—remember, if he submits to your pointed firearm, you can hold him there peacefully while you call the police with your non-shooting hand. If he escapes, let him go. If he waits, the police will arrive at some point.*
So as you hear the terms stand-your-ground and Castle Doctrine, know that these are both in play in many areas of the country—and that no corresponding increase in unwarranted shootings have occurred in these areas. Some have seen crime go down, some have seen crime stay the same—but crime does not appear to go up in these jurisdictions overall.
*Some years ago, the Czar’s sainted mother called because someone was forcing a basement window open in her home. She contacted the police immediately, and then called the Czar. The Czar arrived at her home in 15 minutes to determine that it was an animal trying to break the glass to get in; the police, of course, never arrived or called. This is one of those situations where no mistakes can be tolerated. The police, you may be surprised to know, have no legal responsibility to respond to any call or put themselves in harm’s way. This responsibility is yours and yours alone, citizen.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.