Last Refuge Of A Liberal Scoundrel

If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, then accusations of racism must be the last refuge of a liberal scoundrel. Accusations can come in both overt and covert forms.

For example, coming out and saying that Senator X is a racist or that some act that he or she committed was racist in intent would be an overt accusation. At least these accusations are forthright.

Covert accusations are much more insidious. They rely upon code words. Code words like Trayvon, Ferguson, and stand your ground.

So it is with the latest ad from Sen. Harry Reid’s Senate Majority PAC. Listen to the radio ad that they are playing in North Carolina aimed at African-American voters. Pay attention to the segment starting at 0:24 to 0:30 as captured from the airwaves by well-known North Carolina conservative blogger Sister Toldjah.

You heard correctly. The ad says, “Tillis even led the effort to pass the type of stand your ground laws that caused the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.” It doesn’t matter that Florida’s stand your ground law was not invoked in George Zimmerman’s trial nor that they confuse passage of the castle doctrine with stand your ground laws. It is still using covert accusations of racism to encourage black voters to turn out for Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC).

And to be honest, Speaker Tillis did not lead the effort to pass HB 650. It was Rep. Mark Hilton (R-Catawba) and Sen. Buck Newton (R-Nash). The best you can say is that Tillis did not impede the efforts to pass this omnibus bill that reformed North Carolina’s gun laws. Moreover, HB 650 was signed into law by Democrat Gov. Beverly Perdue.

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) should repudiate this racist ad but we all know she won’t. She needs the “black vote” and Harry Reid will go as low as he needs to in order to secure it for her.

Three Times Is Enemy Action

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action”

Auric Goldfinger to James Bond in Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger.

It started with State Rep. Randy Dunn (D-Kansas City) who introduced House Bill 1940 into the Missouri House of Representatives. His bill would imposed a duty to retreat when faced with a threat. In effect, it would nullify the Castle Doctrine in the state of Missouri.

Dunn says his proposed bill has three main provisions.

“It would require a person to attempt to retreat if at all possible when facing danger,” he said.

A defendant must also prove they had no other option than to use deadly force as opposed to the prosecution as it is under the current statue. The third provision would disallow automatic immunity from a civil lawsuit for anyone who uses deadly force or shoots someone.

Then it continued with a move by Rep. Harold Mitchell (D-Spartanburg) to repeal South Carolina’s version of the “stand your ground” law. Mitchell, chairman of the SC Legislative Black Caucus, introduced the bill along with 17 co-sponsors. House Bill 4801 requires a duty to retreat anywhere except in a person’s home.

From The State of Columbia, SC:

The chairman of the state Legislative Black Caucus, backed by several ministers, former law enforcement officials and activists, has introduced a bill to repeal South Carolina’s “Stand your ground” law.

The bill would not do away with residents’ longstanding right to defend themselves with deadly force while inside their homes, vehicles and businesses, Rep. Harold Mitchell, D-Spartanburg, stressed at a Thursday news conference at the State House.

But the bill – which has 17 co-sponsors in addition to Mitchell – would eliminate the “Stand your ground” legal defense used by those who use a knife or gun to kill or wound people in public places, then claim they used deadly force because they feared for their lives.

“‘Stand your ground’ is ‘last man standing.’ What we want to do is go back and protect people in their homes, their vehicles and their place of business,” Mitchell said.

And finally, the Detroit’s chapter of the National Action Network is seeking to a referendum measure put on the November ballot in Michigan that would repeal that state’s “stand your ground” laws. According to Fox 2 Detroit, the group was headed today to the state capitol in Lansing to lobby lawmakers to repeal “stand your ground”. I have no doubt that they will find a sympathetic lawmaker who will do their bidding and introduce such as bill.

The National Action Network referred to above is run by the Rev. Al Sharpton who led a rally in Tallahassee yesterday to repeal that state’s “stand your ground” law. The move to repeal “stand your ground” laws is also supported by Attorney General Eric Holder despite the fact that a study in Florida found that African-Americans benefited from using that state’s law as a defense at a rate out of proportion to their numbers in the population.

As to who is coordinating this attack on both the castle doctrine and stand your ground laws, I’m not sure. However, seeing these efforts in states as disparate as South Carolina, Michigan, and Missouri leads me to believe that some sort of coordination is going on. While the Rev. Al can raise hell with his rallies, I just don’t see him as being behind legislative efforts. It doesn’t fit his profile.

If you have seen similar efforts in your state, let me know in the comments or pop me an email.

UPDATE: It seems the Demanding Mommies have a petition against stand your ground laws according to their Facebook page. Given that they are now merged with Bloomberg’s Illegal Mayors, perhaps, and I say just perhaps, this is the next Bloomberg initiative. The curious thing is that all the efforts we have seen so far – Missouri, South Carolina, and Michigan – are African-American led efforts and I just don’t see much solidarity between them and the suburban Demanding Mommies.

Meddlesome Democrats Want Federal Action On “Stand Your Ground” Laws

In theory, the police powers have traditionally been reserved for the states in our federal system of government. Police powers are those concerned with the health, safety, and welfare of the people. Intrusion by the Federal government into these areas which have been traditionally reserved to the states has grown over the last century. And now, a group of meddlesome Democrats want to intrude even more.

Yesterday, a letter was sent to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for the Justice Department to gather more data on justifiable homicides where the Stand Your Ground defense was invoked. This effort is led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) in the Senate and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in the House. Other signatories include Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).

From TheHill:

The group is also seeking data on other variables of such killings, including their location, information about who in the altercation was armed, the kind of weapons used and reasons they were justified.

“We believe this information would prove extremely useful in helping to evaluate the laws that govern the use of lethal force and in quantifying the impact of such laws on public safety and civil rights,” the lawmakers wrote to Holder…

The lawmakers are also asking the Justice Department to sponsor research through the National Institute of Justice related to trends in justifiable homicides and state-by-state analyses of the impacts of different variations of “stand your ground” laws.

Durbin, citing existing research, said the laws have led to increased violence.

The letter includes a request to order research by the National Institute of Justice into instances of “lethal force by individuals have been issued a concealed carry permit” and whether such use of lethal force resulted in any prosecutions. They also are demanding research into whether variations in concealed carry laws have a “statistically significant impact on the incidence and outcome of uses of lethal force.”

In my opinion, this letter should be seen as not only an attack on self-defense laws but also on our Second Amendment rights. Given who is spearheading this attack, Dick Durbin and Elijah Cummings, you have to wonder if it is really about public safety and civil rights and not about midterm elections and energizing black voters. That, and protecting gangs such as the Black Guerrilla Family in Baltimore and the Latin Kings, Conservative Vice Lords, and Gangsters in Chicago.

Dick Durbin’s Dog And Pony Show On Stand Your Ground

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, finally held his delayed hearing on so-called Stand Your Ground laws. The hearing entitled, “‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force”, was originally scheduled to be held on September 17th.

The witness list changed somewhat from the earlier scheduled hearing. It added three US Representatives as witnesses in one panel and substituted the president of a prosecutor’s association for a Florida state’s attorney. The list is below:

Panel I

The Honorable Marcia L. Fudge
United States Representative (D-OH-11)
Washington, DC

The Honorable Luis V. Gutierrez
United States Representative (D-IL-4)
Washington, DC

The Honorable Louie Gohmert
United States Representative (R-TX-1)
Washington, DC

Panel II

Sybrina Fulton
Miami, FL

David LaBahn
President and CEO
Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
Washington, DC

Lucia McBath
Atlanta, GA

Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr.
Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Criminal Justice Institute
Harvard Law School
Cambridge, MA

John R. Lott, Jr., Ph.D.
Crime Prevention Research Center
Swarthmore, PA

Ilya Shapiro
Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies
Cato Institute
Washington, DC

The webcast of the 2 hour hearing can be seen here.

Fortunately, you don’t have to wade through all 2 hours of testimony to get the gist of what was said. Attorney Andrew Branca, author of The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Ed. has done it for us over at the Legal Insurrection blog. In addition to summarizing the testimony of each witness as well as that of the senators on the panel, he gives his take on the whole charade.

My first general observation is that the anti-SYG folks were, as experience would suggest, big on emotion and small on actual facts, law, or data.

One of the anti-SYG witnesses, Professor Sullivan from Harvard Law School, did raise some actual data–but when these were utterly destroyed by the later testimony of Dr. John Lott and Elliot Shapiro of CATA (sic), Professor Sullivan was swift to discount the use of data (which he himself had introduced into the testimony) and instead focus on the “real people” behind the data. In sharp contrast, the testimony of the pro-SYG speakers was focused and direct.

Second, the anti-SYG folks persistently conflated the legal concept of Stand Your Ground with utterly discrete legal concepts, such as presumptions of reasonableness and civil/criminal immunity.

When this is done by people without legal training or experience, such as Sabrina Fulton, one can of course accept it as an unknowing error. When it is persistently done by a Harvard Law Professor and a head of an (allegedly) leading association of State Prosecutors, one can only wonder at either their actual intent or their underlying intelligence.

Indeed, their misstatements of the law were so egregious that at one point Dr. Lott was obliged to read aloud from the actual Florida statute they had badly mischaracterized, to which they naturally had no substantive response. In that case they were claiming that even criminal aggressors could claim Stand Your Ground privilege under Florida law, a claim that the plain language of the statute read by Dr. Lott clearly destroys.

In any case, it is clear that their effort is intended to be a broad attack on all three fronts — likely with immunity being the true target, as it represents the largest pot of gold for their supporters — rather than any focused concern on Stand Your Ground, per se.

Finally, the bottom line is I expect this hearing, and any similar subsequent efforts, to be little more than political theater, with no substantive changes resulting to the law of self-defense.

I certainly hope Mr. Branca is correct that there will be no substantive changes and that this is nothing more than political theater. One explanation that I’ve heard for these hearings is that they are an effort by Sen. Durbin to keep alive a polarizing issue so as to promote higher turnout by African-Americans in the 2014 mid-term elections. Given that Durbin has shown time and again that he is a shameless opportunist, I wouldn’t put this past him.

UPDATE: Kurt Hofmann, the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner, gives his take on Durbin and these hearings. I agree with Kurt that having Durbin chair any committee with the word “Constitution” in its name is “a grim joke.”

Durbin’s “Stand Your Ground” Hearings

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights. As mentioned before, he plans to hold a hearing on so-called Stand Your Ground laws. He has entitled his hearings, “‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force”. This hearing is scheduled for tomorrow at 10am.

The witness list for the hearing has been published.

Sybrina Fulton
Miami, FL

Lucia McBath
Atlanta, GA

William N. Meggs
State Attorney
Second Judicial Circuit
Tallahassee, FL

Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr.
Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Criminal Justice Institute
Harvard Law School
Cambridge, MA

John R. Lott, Jr., Ph.D.
Crime Prevention Research Center
Swarthmore, PA

Ilya Shapiro
Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies
Cato Institute
Washington, DC

Sybrina Fulton really needs no introduction as she got more than her 15 minutes of fame during the George Zimmerman trial.

Lucia McBath was the mother of Jordan Davis who was killed in a confrontation in Jacksonville, FL by Martin Dunn. Mr. Dunn is charged with 1st Degree Murder in the case. Ms. McBath is concerned that Dunn will try to claim self-defense under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

Willie Meggs is the State Attorney (or DA) for the 2nd Judicial Circuit which includes the Tallahassee area of Florida. He is a well-known opponent of the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law and has called it “the dumbest law ever put on the books.”

Ronald Sullivan is a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. About the only thing I could find about regarding either Trayvon Martin or “Stand Your Ground” laws is that he spoke to a pro-Martin demonstration held by the Black Law Students Association at Harvard. He will also be a speaker on a panel  discussing “Guns, Violence, and Children” at the American Association of Law Schools conference in January 2014.

John Lott, of course, needs little introduction as he is one of the leading pro-gun researchers.

Ilya Shapiro is a Fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. The Cato Institute has made Durbin’s enemies list. In an article posted in August, Shapiro practically demanded Durbin include him in the list of speakers at this hearing.

This is unacceptable. Senator Durbin, care to invite me to testify at your little hearing? I rather enjoyed discussing Citizens United at the kabuki theatre you ran last year—though you seemed more interested in accusing me of being a pawn of the Koch brothers (with whom I have no beef, but who were actually suing Cato at the time)—and would be happy to have another tete-a-tete with my fellow University of Chicago Law School alum.

What will make this joke of a hearing even more interesting is that the Ranking Member for the Republican side is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). While Durbin will rail on about the Koch Brothers, ALEC, and conservatives, I expect Cruz will be up to the challenge.

Dick Durbin Might Not Approve Of It But The Florida Sheriffs Do

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is on a political jihad against so-called Stand Your Ground laws. These laws state that a person does not have a duty to retreat if faced with great bodily harm or death and can meet force with force. Durbin has recently been sending letters to a number of non-profits and corporations who may have been involved with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council asking them if they support Stand Your Ground laws. The Chicago Tribune calls the recipients of the letter Durbin’s enemies list.

Now, though, Durbin has changed tactics. Rather than accusing political enemies of flouting federal law, he’s suggesting that he may publicly expose them to public outrage over the killing of Trayvon Martin. The editorial page of Thursday’s Wall Street Journal reported that the senator has sent letters to corporate and nonprofit supporters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, asking them to disclose their positions on “stand-your-ground” legislation that ALEC supported in Florida in 2005.

Some of the groups that have received this letter have told Durbin where he can stick his letter. The Goldwater Institute called Durbin’s attempted intimidation “disgraceful and not worthy of the title you hold.” Cato Institute President John Allison called Durbin’s actions “a subtle but powerful form of government coercion” and that his letter symbolized an “unconstitutional abuse of power”. 

The American Legislative Exchange Council, by the way, says that they based their model Stand Your Ground law upon the state of Florida’s law and not the other way around. The Florida statutes on justifiable use of force including Stand Your Ground can be found here.

Against this backdrop of attempted political intimidation, it is quite interesting to note that the Florida Sheriffs Association voted unanimously this week to continue their support for Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. This is the same group of law enforcement officers that has opposed open carry laws supported by gun rights supporters in Florida.

From the FSA press release:

FSA President, Sheriff Grady Judd, today announced, “The right to self-defense is well-established in law. The Florida Sheriffs confirmed this position by voting unanimously, at the 2013 Florida Sheriffs Association Summer Conference, to support the Stand Your Ground law as it is currently written. Our current judicial system is comprised of multiple checks and balances to ensure fair and equitable application of all laws, including Stand Your Ground.”

Let’s be brutally honest about this. Dick Durbin doesn’t give a big rat’s ass about Stand Your Ground laws one way or another. What he does care about are only two things: denying resources to conservative political groups and keeping African-Americans safely ensconced on the Democrat’s plantation. His letter and hearings are expressly intended to do exactly this.

Alabama Summers And Snowballs

Now that the Zimmerman trial is over, gun prohibitionists and their political allies have declared a jihad on Stand Your Ground laws. Many of the attempts to repeal the protection that these laws give to persons exercising their right to self-defense will come in the state legislatures.

One of the latest attempts to repeal these laws is coming from the state of Alabama where certain Democrats vow to repeal that state’s Stand Your Ground law.

A Democratic lawmaker said Tuesday there would be an effort to repeal Alabama’s version of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law in the next legislative session, but acknowledged it could be a difficult fight.

“We know it will not just be uphill, but up mountain,” said Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, at a news conference.

Alabama has had a Stand Your Ground law since 2006 when it was sponsored by then-State Sen. Larry Means (D-Attala). Much like in Illinois in 2004 where then-State Senator Barack Obama supported that state’s Stand Your Ground law, this law was supported by Democrats.

In the last session of the Alabama Legislature, they were presented with a bill to repeal the Stand Your Ground law. That attempt didn’t make it out of committee. Nonetheless, Sen. Sanders plans to attempt it.

Sanders said he did not know what the scope of any Senate action would be or who would take the lead on it, but said he would sponsor a repeal effort if no one else did. Republicans control large majorities in both chambers, but Sanders said he would work on repeal for “however long” it took.

Frankly, I’d rate his chances of getting his bill out of committee right up there with a snowball not melting when left out in the midday sun during a hot Alabama summer. In other words, it doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing.

So Durbin Wants Hearings On Stand Your Ground

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced on Friday that he plans to hold hearings on Stand Your Ground laws in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on The Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights of which he is the Chair.

In a statement, Durbin said the Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee on Constitution, civil rights and human rights ”will examine the gun lobby’s and the American Legislative Exchange Council’s influence in creating and promoting these laws; the way in which the laws have changed the legal definition of self-defense; the extent to which the laws have encouraged unnecessary shooting confrontations; and the civil rights implications when racial profiling and ‘stand your ground’ laws mix, along with other issues.”

Normally, I’d be dreading the nonsense that would come out of such a hearing. While this still could be true, the composition of the subcommittee gives me some hope.

The Ranking Member of the subcommittee is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who is a fierce proponent of the Second Amendment and gun rights. The Republican members also include Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Orrin Hatch (R-U). While Graham and Hatch have been wishy-washy on many things, they have been solid on gun rights.

The subcommittee’s Democrats consist of Durbin, Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Bluementhal (D-CT), Chris Coons (D-DE),and Mazie Hirono (D-HI). Blumenthal is a hard-core anti gunner while the rest are reliably anti-gun.

Ted Cruz, while a mere freshman, has shown no hesitation in taking it to the anti’s. He took Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on in full Judiciary Committee over her AWB and made her look petty. I think he can do the same to those who would seek to diminish the laws of self-defense.

CCRKBA Defends Stand-Your-Ground Law At Florida Hearing

Joe Waldron, Legislative Director for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, testified today at a commission hearing in Florida that was examining their stand-your-ground law. The commission was established by Gov. Rick Scott to make recommendations about the law in response to the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman shooting incident.


BELLEVUE, WA – The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms today defended the legal concept of Stand-Your-Ground, which is the law in 24 states, during a public hearing in Florida, where a movement is underway to change that state’s statute.

CCRKBA Legislative Director Joe Waldron told the committee examining Florida’s law that the state should not change a law that has been working for seven years. Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed a commission to examine the law earlier this year following public outcry over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The incident provided a launch pad for attacks on similar self-defense statutes across the country.

“But after that single incident nine months ago,” Waldron observed, “we’re told Florida’s stand-you-ground law is terribly flawed, and should be repealed or at least restricted severely. The law has been in place for seven years. Laws should not be made – or repealed – based on a single, anecdotal incident.”

He noted that in some states, the stand-your-ground concept has been adopted via “black letter law,” that is, by judicial rulings.

“The stand-your-ground concept has been through the courts all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Waldron said. “The legal concept governs federal case law regarding self-defense.

“In all 50 states,” he added, “if you are subjected to a potentially lethal attack or one that poses the risk of serious bodily injury, you have the right of self-defense, up to and including the use of lethal force.”

“Laws that protect millions of citizens should not be changed because of public reaction to a single case,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “We are hopeful that Florida lawmakers use common sense and back away from any attempt to change or repeal this statute.”

Massad Ayoob On Stand Your Ground Laws

Massad Ayoob was part of a panel discussion sponsored by the Cato Institute on Stand Your Ground laws on Monday along with Clayton Cramer and Steven Jansen of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

Mas has served as an expert witness since 1979 in cases involving self-defense and is the author of the seminal work In the Gravest Extreme. He served for many years as a Captain in the Grantham, New Hampshire police department and is now a year-round resident of Florida.

If anyone knows anything about self-defense, the legal use of lethal force, and justified shootings it is Massad Ayoob. So when he discusses Stand Your Group laws, I listen. I only wish all the professional agitators at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (sic) would listen as well.

Below is the presentation he gave as part of the Cato Institute’s panel discussion.