Obama Misrepresents 'Stand Your Ground'

President Obama suggested that states reconsider "stand your ground" laws, and contended that they invite people to use deadly force when it is not justified.  The following statement proves Mr. Obama's well-known dishonesty, as demonstrated below.  I refer specifically to his implication that "stand your ground" means you can shoot somebody who makes you "feel threatened."

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these "stand your ground" laws, I 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?

It is instructive to compare what Mr. Obama said to the facts, as stated by Florida's criminal code (emphasis is added):

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

"Stand your ground" does not, therefore, entitle you to shoot somebody just because he makes you uncomfortable.  That's unless the discomfort is the physical kind that results from a violent assault.  Michigan's "stand your ground" law is almost identical, and so is Pennsylvania's.  Suspicious behavior does not rise to what the law calls "reasonable," and attorneys Barack Obama and Eric Holder both know this.  Their efforts to convince the public that "stand your ground" turns streets into free-fire zones are therefore willfully dishonest.

Mr. Obama may, in fact, have set the stage for unjustified shootings through his public implication, in his capacity not only as president, but also an attorney, that "stand your ground" entitles an armed citizen to shoot somebody on mere suspicion.  This what police instructor Massad Ayoob calls "bare fear" in contrast to "reasonable fear."  Bare fear means you feel threatened; reasonable fear means that an assailant has displayed both the means and intention of hurting you.

If the idea that an armed citizen may act on Mr. Obama's interpretation of "stand your ground" sounds outlandish, one is already in trouble for following Vice President (and attorney) Joseph Biden's "legal advice" (contrary to the laws of his own state) to fire a shotgun into the air to frighten suspicious individuals who were on his property.

Barton was arrested Monday for allegedly shooting a shotgun in the air to chase people he considered potential car thieves off his property.

"I did what Joe Biden told me to do," Barton told KOIN-TV outside court Wednesday, where he pleaded not guilty. "I went outside and fired my shotgun in the air."

It has therefore been proven, for the record, that the president of the United States has been willfully dishonest about "stand your ground," and the same goes for his attorney general.  The latter individual who would have gone to jail for contempt of Congress had his boss not invoked executive privilege to shield him from inquiries about Operation Fast and Furious.  It has also been shown that Vice President Biden is dishonest and irresponsible, and this is far from the first time.  Dishonesty is, in fact, a hallmark of enemies of the Second Amendment, as shown by this example from New York.

NY District Attorney Confuses Physical Attack with Property Crime

This brings us to Roderick Scott, an African-American who was acquitted for shooting a Caucasian youth who tried to attack him during an alleged car break-in.  Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Julie Finocchio said this of the acquittal: "I just hope it's not a message to this community that you have the right to shoot an unarmed 17-year-old kid for breaking into a car."  Unless there is another side to this story, the truth might make Ms. Finocchio's nose behave like that of a certain wooden puppet with a similar name:

When Scott told the three teenagers that he had called the police, Christopher Cervini broke from the group and ran at him, shouting either, "I'll get you" to Scott or "I'll get him" to his fellow thieves.  Scott fired two shots in response.

Cervani was no longer, at this point, merely breaking into a car.  He had just created a disparity of force (three against one) situation that most jurisdictions equate to deadly force, even if the assailants are unarmed.  This, and not the property crime, is what escalated the situation very quickly to a self-defense situation.  Ms. Finocchio would acknowledge this if she did not apparently support her governor's opposition to lawful self-defense by New York's citizens.

An assault that involves disparity of force, by the way, is the kind of situation that would inspire "reasonable fear," and therefore put "stand your ground" on the table.

In this case, based on the information we have from the news report, the father of three girls would have been justified in presenting his weapon (had he been armed) against unarmed adversaries, and shooting if necessary, at the point he was confronted with multiple, hostile adversaries because he was then clearly faced with a disparity of force.

Disparity of Force is defined as a situation that any reasonable person would conclude places you at an overwhelming disadvantage in your effort to protect yourself against immediate and serious bodily injury.

Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, because I am not a lawyer.  I am, however, sufficiently educated and informed to understand, and agree with, the statements from Massad Ayoob, Ignatius Piazza, and other sources who clearly know what they are talking about.  It is particularly disturbing, and dangerous, that an attorney like Mr. Obama would suggest to the entire nation that "stand your ground" means you can use deadly force on the basis of bare fear alone.  It is dangerous for an attorney like Mr. Biden to advise people to discharge a deadly weapon to scare away a prowler.  These irresponsible and inaccurate statements by the enemies of the Second Amendment should tell Americans everything they need to know about the agenda in question.

William A. Levinson, P.E. is the author of several books on business management including content on organizational psychology, as well as manufacturing productivity and quality.

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