Bloomberg News

Information is still emerging about the case of Ahmaud Arbery — the unarmed 25-year-old slain on a quiet Georgia street — but what is known is disturbing. Two men eventually arrested in the killing told police that Arbery was running down the road and that they thought he was a burglar and shot him in self-defense. A third man was arrested Thursday. Before state officials intervened, following months of delay, a prosecutor cited Georgia’s stand-your-ground law as an exonerating factor.

Since 2005, more than 20 states have passed some form of a stand-your-ground law. These let people use deadly force to defend themselves even if they can safely retreat. It’s worth remembering that people already have the right to defend themselves with deadly force if there is no safe alternative.

Stand-your-ground laws change this traditional last resort — potentially lethal violence — into a permissible first resort.

The idea is to empower victims of crime. Instead, the laws create more victims. Stand-your-ground laws increase gun homicides by encouraging armed civilians to escalate confrontations, according to a recent review of research from the nonpartisan Rand Corp. One study found the laws resulted in an additional 600 slayings a year.

“By lowering the expected costs associated with using lethal force,” the authors noted, stand-your-ground laws “induce more of it.” Other research, using different methods and data, arrived at similar conclusions. Florida, according to another study, saw an “abrupt and sustained” increase in gun homicides after enacting its stand-your-ground law.

It’s bad enough that stand-your-ground laws increase gun homicides, but they also appear to have racially discriminatory effects. There’s evidence that, after fatal confrontations, the race of the victim is “a significant predictor” of whether a stand-your-ground defense will be effective, with defendants twice as likely to walk free after slaying nonwhites. Another analysis found that in stand-your-ground states, incidents in which white people shot someone who was black were deemed justifiable more than 11 times as often as the reverse.

Throughout U.S. history, and still today, the criminal justice system has taken white Americans’ claims of self-defense more seriously than black Americans’. This is especially troubling in stand-your-ground cases. Split-second assessments of threat may be unreliable and are often influenced by racial stereotyping even in the absence of conscious bias. Americans are more likely to think they see guns in the hands of unarmed black men than white men, for example, and perceive black children as more aggressive than white kids. That fear can quickly become a threat to an innocent person’s life.

Some Georgia politicians are pushing to repeal the state’s stand-your-ground law. That would be wise. Other states should do the same — or at the very least study their existing laws with all due skepticism, to see if they’re actually serving the cause of public safety and justice for all.

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(29) comments

Barry Hirsh

[Third time's a charm]

"Stand-your-ground laws change this traditional last resort — potentially lethal violence — into a permissible first resort. The idea is to empower victims of crime. Instead, the laws create more victims."

It does not in the first instance, and it does in the second. The time it takes to decide that one cannot retreat before acting increases the danger of death or egregious bodily harm. Remember - the attacker has the advantage of surprise.

Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, "Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife."

Just so.

And, if the Rand Corporation is "non-partisan," then I'm Pope Francis. Its 'studies' are anything but unbiased, and it has a documented history of dissembling with regard to the constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense.

Barry Hirsh

[Corrected for typo]

"Stand-your-ground laws change this traditional last resort — potentially lethal violence — into a permissible first resort. The idea is to empower victims of crime. Instead, the laws create more victims."

It does not in the first instance, and it does in the second. The time it takes to decided that one cannot retreat before acting increases the danger of death or egregious bodily harm. Remember - the attacker has the advantage of surprise.

Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, "Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife."

Just so.

And, if the Rand Corporation is "non-partisan," then I'm Pope Francis. Its 'studies' are anything but unbiased, and it has a documented history of dissembling with regard to the constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense.

Barry Hirsh

"Stand-your-ground laws change this traditional last resort — potentially lethal violence — into a permissible first resort. The idea is to empower victims of crime. Instead, the laws create more victims."

It does not in the first instance, and it does in the second. The time it takes to decided that one cannot retreat before acting increases the danger of death or egregious bodily harm. Remember - the attacker has the advantage of surprise.

Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, "Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife."

Just so.

And, if the Rand Corporation is "non-partisan," then I'm Pope Francis. Its 'studies' are anything but unbiased, and it has a documented history of dissembling with regard to the constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense.

Seth Halpern

As stated above, Arbery was the one who was entitled to invoke the SYGL in self defense. The defendants had no legal right to stop him, let alone arguably to menace him with a shotgun, motor vehicles, etc. and he was legally entitled (if foolish) to try to grab the firearm. Nor, obviously, was he obliged to run away rather than confront his potential assailants/captors.

It would of course have made an equally controversial case had Arbery wrested the gun away and shot the McMichaels and Bryan. I still think he would have been within his rights unless he had disarmed and literally executed them in cold blood.

BTW I also happen to think that if soneone during this unresolved pandemic deliberately coughs on you, that's an assault with a potentially deadly weapon which you are legally entitled to meet with physical if not deadly force without retreating in any SYG state. In NM a man was arrested a couple of months ago for coughing on someone. That was much too good for him if you ask me.

Jim Klukkert

The import of the Arbery murder has to do with systemic racism here in the 'Land of the Free'. Racist violence still happens all too frequently in the United States, and is best understood as the enforcement arm of our racist socioeconomic system, just as the lynching of thousands and the burning of Black Towns nationwide were the post civil war enforcement weapons of choice.

I believe that Stand Your Ground Laws are probably used to protect racist violence. It is perfectly clear that almost any aspect of US Law is used to shield systemic racism. I would be more comfortable with discussion of Stand Your Ground Laws by folks who fervently and regularly stand up against racism of any kind. Until one establishes those credentials, I wonder if that line of discussion just leads away from the source of the problem, violence against people of color and systemic racism.

I stand with John Brown,

Thanks.

Charles Andreoli

For many people everything is about race. Some make a living pimping the race card. And of course only white men are guilty of racist actions. Stand Your Ground Laws have nothing to do with race. They exist to protect us all from aggressive criminals regardless of skin color.

Khal Spencer

In that case, Jim, the study to do would be to look at how many times minorities vs. whites raise a SYG defense in the states that have this defense on the books and dive deeply into whether there appears to be systematic bias in how the defense applies. It would not surprise me if there is but I would make that a hypothesis rather than a conclusion.

I've never been particularly comfortable in a KKK outfit, other than during my freshman year of college at the Halloween party, where I ran into another freshman in a KKK outfit--he was African-American and I am a Lebanese-Sicilian with, as Firesign said, a nose as long as my arm. We met at the beer tap, took off our hoods to have a beer and both laughed like lunatics.

As I said below, the only person in the Arbrey case who had a legitimate SYG defense had he been armed would have been Arbrey.

My problem with Bloomberg is that like a lot of anti-gun organizations, they rapidly dispense with an uncritical eye to studies. Also, the gun violence prevention movement tends to get spun up over every new shiny object. As far as gun violence, there are far bigger fish to fry than SYG, which has a minor impact on shootings (for example, http://www.nber.org/papers/w18187) and a major impact on gun law politics.

Jim Klukkert

Khal- Good points all.

I don't know how easy it to fund a study on SYG legal defenses mounted by various races in cross-racial cases, but certainly an interesting question.

Busy work day for me, so I don't time for any research, but I seem to remember white on black rates of violence v. black on white rates of violence that totally would trash the mythes of racist fear mongers.

Bloomberg is very problematic for me, as welcome as some of his initiatives have been among some progressives. Gun violence is a huge problem in urban areas. An entirely different view of guns is common in rural areas. To try to put the same fix in both is folly.

As a long time activist who has lived in both types of settings, I would say that the answer to urban gun violence is most easily found in a restructuring of our socioeconomic system, in favor of a system that offers opportunity to working people and communities of color. That is why I have worked hard for social democracy, and in the last year, for Bernie Sanders. I am content with knowing such programs will only come with an overwhelming movement from the bottom up, and that such a movement is years in the making.

But do vote for Bernie in our NM June primary, so he will have the added delegates to sway a Democratic Party that has in recent decades, worked more for the corporate elite than its traditional base of working stiffs, minorities, women and the disenfranchised. I have great hopes that Joe will be guided by the ghost of FDR.

As to KKK outfits, I am sure that many of us are so glad to see our youthful follies fade into good stories that are distant memories. With a last name of Klukkert, that's KLU KK ert, you can imagine the fun at having folks write out a check to me when I traveled down south. I often have to spell out my name for folks, and drew some skeptical looks when in Georgia. To which I would reply, I come from a long line of absolutists.

Still standing with John Brown, even though he was terrible with the timing.

Thanks Khal.

Jim Klukkert

Khal-

Jim Klukkert

Khal- I perhaps was not clear in my comment. My firm belief is that almost any aspect of US Law has employed in an unjust manner to protect a system that promotes racism, misogyny and other divisive prejudices to preserve the hegemony of the property owning class, i.e. the one percent.

So while there may be some problems with SYG, I don't have a problem with self-defense. My problem is with the whole darn system of corporate hegemony, with the war on the poor, and so on...

I used to be a numbers guy, I still believe in data, and found Marx's Das Kapital and the writings of C. Wright Mills very illuminating. But I could never keep up with LANL types, except socially, like you & Mike Johnson. One among several reasons that I enjoy these pages is that I enjoy the exposure to your kind of intelligence .

Almost makes the silliness of Jazzy Chazzy AnTrol endurable!

Thanks!

Khal Spencer

I have no doubt that in many ways, the legal system is either willfully or unwittingly rigged against the poor and face it, a lot of minority members fall into that situation. Recall the Philando Castile shooting? Mr. Castile worked at a working class job and lived in a suburb of Minneapolis that was well known for "policing for profit": writing up and arresting and fining the poor to float its budget and capitalizing on people's poverty to pile fine on top of fine. Castile was shot by a jittery undertrained cop during one too many traffic stops. If you are familiar with Radley Balco's work, he has written extensively about policing for profit as well as the militarization of the law enforcement community.

While we do need to deal with gun violence directly, and that could include some solutions that will make both sides mad, I do agree wholeheartedly that violence in general is perpetrated by a system that has run amok with inequality. If you look at violence rates, its no surprise that they follow poverty and underachievement. That's one thing you, Bernie and I all agree needs fixing but like turning a supertanker, will take more than one election.

Charles Andreoli

Yes Jimmy we are well aware that you consider yourself to be of the elitist class and are convinced that you know what is best for us and anybody that disagrees with you is silly and or stupid. Unfortunately for you Jimmy in the big scheme of things you fall into the "useful idiot" category as described by Lenin. People like you bought in to all that socialist/communist nonsense and he used them to make his movement happen and then he eliminated them. Funny. I hope this has been endurable for ya Jimmy.

Stefanie Beninato

Just this week on next door dot com people reported an opportunistic crime--someone came into their open garage and was taking hand tools when one of the owners came in and the guy made a poor excuse and left. They reported it to the police. Chris Dorantes responded that she should have shot him. When he was informed that we do not have a stand your ground rule and that only imminent threat of harm would justify such a shooting, he then challenged the poster's experience and then threatened the poster ( you better make sure people don't know where you live). When he was reported to the police and the website, his response is that the poster should "consider [the threat] more as advice and denied the extreme influence of violence laden social posts. He also objectified the poster (I know what I am dealing with. Typical) Just because we live west of the Pecos does not mean we live in the wild West. Words have consequences.

Khal Spencer

I agree, Stefanie. Words have consequences. That quote, "you better make sure people don't know where you live" was hardly a credible threat of imminent harm as would be tried in any court of law.

People say stupid s**t all the time on social media. It seems to be a disease that we are willing to put up with in the name of free speech.

As I posted below, NM self defense law was spelled out in a major, albeit old, NM Supreme Court case that interpreted the self defense statute that is written into the state constitution. Anyone who wants to really understand what is allowed should read it or find a criminal defense lawyer to read it to them.

As far as stand your ground law, the only person in that Arbery case who could have conceivably used SYG would have been Arbery himself had he gotten the shotgun away from the idiot who accosted him. Sadly, he did not. There was a case about fifteen years ago when Elton Richardson chased a man who tried to break into his car for several city blocks in Albuquerque and shot and killed him. Richardson was tried and convicted of voluntary manslaughter. You have to be the defender, not the aggressor, to use SYG.

Most people don't understand the law but have really strong opinions on it.

Khal Spencer

Oh, the Richardson case.

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/metro/312012metro06-21-08.htm

Bill Cass

The Arbery case has nothing to do with SYG laws. The author is trying to use a totally irrelevant case to make his point.

Charles Andreoli

It's a Bloomberg Opinion piece. Written in support of Bloombergs anti gun agenda. The same Bloomberg that has bought and paid for so many of our NM democrat politicians including the Governor and AG.

Jim Klukkert

Charles Andreoli- Documentation on "The same Bloomberg that has bought and paid for so many of our NM democrat politicians including the Governor and AG," or just seeing what sticks?

Charles Andreoli

Sure Jimmy, I'll get that to ya as soon as you provide documentation that Bloomberg doesn't provide about 80% of all anti gun financing here in NM. And yes it does stick.

Jim Klukkert

So just sticking it on the wall and to the extremely gullible. I don't doubt that Micheal funds anti gun stuff, so since I don't dispute your position, why should I doc um,ent a position on Bloombergs funding that we share?

I have on these pages provided substantial amounts of documentation and substance. You"re just lazy a lazy school yard bully, quick with the taunts, lame in the walk.

So now jazzy chatty, retort with quick sarcastic and caustic name calling stuff. Please do display the Ftumpian leadership that stinks of the swamp he swore to drain. Pile it high, so we all can see it!

Jim Klukkert

Jazzy Chazzy Loose Mouth->-> I asked you NOT provide documentation that Bloomberg doesn't provide about 80% of all anti gun financing here in NM, which I do not doubt is true, not that I care.

I ASKED YOU TO PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION FOR YOUR SCURRILOUS LIE THAT Bloomberg that has bought and paid for so many of our NM democrat politicians including the Governor and AG.

But this is a charge that you make lightly, but cannot prove.

YOU ARE A LIAR CHARLIE, Nyah Na Nana Nyah!

Charles Andreoli

Aww Jimmy boy, I twisted up your panties so tight for ya you can hardly breath. Where did you ever get the nitwit idea that I have to prove anything to a blowhard like you ? You know it's true, Bloomberg has bought and paid for so many of our NM democrat politicians including the Governor and AG. Prove me wrong. You're a funny guy Jimmy thanks for the comic relief.

Jim Klukkert

Your repeated references to panty twisting have caused many to wonder, "Are you still into pedophillia?"

Charles Andreoli

I don't know Jimmy but that leads me to ask, "Are you still into Homosexuality?"

Jim Klukkert

Charles Andreoli- Your repeated references to panty twisting have caused many to wonder, "Are you still into pedophillia?"

Jim Klukkert

Charles Andreoli- Since you posted "I don't know Jimmy but that leads me to ask, "Are you still into Homosexuality?"" I will reply, Would it bother you that I am a black, brown, yellow, white mixed blood, illegitimate, undocumented, bisexual transgender, anarcho-syndicalist Jew? If any of that bothers you, please explain why.

Oh wait, you just make accusations, and refuse to substantiate them. Because you lie.

Kinda like your hero, there Serial-Sexual-Predator-In-Cheif, all lies, and a purist interest in panties.

Have fun with all that Antrol! I hope this will distract from bullying others for a bit.

Charles Andreoli

Woohoo,l I hit vein there did'nt I Jimmy boy.

"Kinda like your hero, the Serial-Sexual-Predator-In-Cheif". YesI I did like Bill Clinton, he wasn't that bad for a democrat.

Let's see h0w this works. You accused me of being a pedophile (against all those guidelines you're constantly whining about), I fire one back at ya and you can't handle it Looks like I put another knot in your little girl panties. Little Jimmy can dish it out but turns into a babbling nitwit when it comes back on him. Personally I could care less about the color of your skin, who you pray to, or your sexual proclivities. But it does lead me back to ask, are you, bet ya are. Bullying = That's a hoot. Have fun with all that Little Jim, and have a nice day.

Khal Spencer

It figures that the New Mexican would publish this dreck. If anything, the RAND studies struggle to find reasons that SYG laws increase homicides. In one of their reports they admit "...there were a combined 2,201 firearm homicides in 2017 in Florida and Texas, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both states have stand-your-ground laws. If the effect size estimates for stand-your-ground laws are correct, then between 144 and 396 of these deaths could be attributable to the laws. But across the entire United States, there are only about 230 justifiable homicides recorded in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Reports annually, according to records compiled by the Violence Policy Center. Therefore, many of the additional homicides attributable to the laws in Florida and Texas must be criminal homicides." In other words, not defensive gun uses.

A lot of this is question begging.

Khal Spencer

New Mexico self defense law, I think, is based on a court case, State v Couch.

No. 4946.

December 31, 1946. On Rehearing May 20, 1948.

https://casetext.com/case/state-v-couch-34

If someone knows otherwise, holler out. It would be nice to have a fact based conversation.

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