Wednesday, March 28, 2012

He said; he dead

The practical consequences of Shoot First

Sen. Ortman described the
"practical effect" of Shoot First
ALEC and the NRA's Shoot First's poisonous legacy is spreading throughout the country, including recently, as most of you know, in Florida. Trayvon Martin was shot dead for the crime of walking while black and armed with Skittles. Well, he was wearing a hoodie.

Many states have adopted Shoot First -- I don't have a count as I write this -- and we had a brush with it here in Minnesota this spring. The iteration of Shoot First passed by the 2012 Minnesota Legislature, HF 1467, was vetoed by Govenor Dayton.

Shoot First was described -- misleadingly by it proponents and perhaps merely sloppily by the media -- as an extension of the "castle doctrine." That is the legal doctrine that says you can protect yourself in your home with deadly force and that you have no duty to retreat from a threat encountered there. Sensible enough.

But Shoot First says that the world -- or the states where it exists, anyway -- is your castle. If you thought the world was your oyster, this is better, no?

George Zimmerman didn't have to retreat under Florida law when he saw a person he considered threatening, nor did he have to obey the 911 dispatcher's instructions to stay in his vehicle.

No, he went stalking the teenager that he described to the dispatcher as a "f***ing coon."

We know what happend. What's left is to sort out the consequences. And that's where we come to the remarks of the Minnesota Senate's Repple Depple Deputy, Julianne Ortman, pictured above, wearing her own hair, not a hoodie, although it rather looks like she is, doesn't it?

At the time of the passage of Shoot First by the Legislature, and at a press "availability," Deputy Ortman said that she didn't think that Shoot First would affect the way people behaved, but that it would affect the consequences.

The case of George Zimmerman is Exhibit A.

First, getting out of his vehicle to confront the "f***ing coon" -- especially after being told not to -- might well preclude a claim of self defense by Zimmerman in Minnesota; he obviously had the ability to retreat or at least not escalate the situation.

Second, here's what the vetoed HF 1467 says about the burden of proof in a criminal trial where deadly force was used and self-defense is claimed:
Justifiable use of force; burden of proof. In a criminal trial, when there is any evidence of justifiable use of force under this section or section 609.06, the state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant's actions were not justifiable.
George Zimmerman says, "Yes, I stalked the 'f***ing coon' in my vehicle, got out and followed on foot contrary to instructions from the 911 dispatcher, and when I confronted him, I felt threatened and so I shot him dead on the spot."

That's some evidence of self defense, isn't it? So let's call Trayvon Martin as a witness to get his side of the story; oh right, we can't; he's dead.

So it seems that the the Repple Depple Deputy is right. Shoot First would help you get off if you set out to kill someone, especially those f***ing coons.

The title is the post is taken from a Stephen Colbert monologue that you can see at The Shannon Files.

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