Would MN’s version of the Stand Your Ground Castle Doctrine law lead to legal murder too?

I was given a ‘D’ grade from the NRA in 2010.  I’m a pretty typical Minnesotan when it comes to hunting and gun ownership, so I was surprised to receive a ‘D.’ Of course it wouldn’t have surprised me if the ‘D’ grade was partially because of the letter ‘D’ after my name on the ballot.  Still, I know why I got a low grade.  I have common-sense and reasoned thinking about gun ownership.  Like, I don’t believe a person should be walking through Downtown Minneapolis with an uncased hunting rifle on their shoulder.  Apparently that is OK with that infinitesimally small percentage of gun owners who actually belong to and support the NRA.

Another question I could not in good conscience answer the way the NRA would have liked me to was about the expansion of the “Castle Doctrine.”  The question on the NRA Minnesota Candidate Questionnaire asked:

11. A doctrine in common law, known as the “Castle Doctrine,” provides that a man’s home is his castle, and that he may use any manner of force, including deadly force, to protect it and its inhabitants.  Over the years, some courts have eroded this principle by ruling that there is a “duty to retreat” before meeting force with force.  Would you support reforming Minnesota laws so that: (1) a person would have the right to meet force with force to protect himself/herself and family members regardless of their location, (2) a “duty to retreat” would no longer exist in any place a person may lawfully be, and (3) a person justified in the use of force would be protected from criminal and civil liability?

I answered “no” to that question.  I absolutely believe I have the right to defend my family in any situation, but the wording seemed odd to me.  Specifically in number (1)”regardless of location” and in number (2) the part about “any place a person may lawfully be.”  Those two sections don’t seem to be about a man’s castle, they seem to be about being anywhere.  It seems vague.

The NRA got their wish and the Castle Doctrine change was not only on the agenda in Minnesota’s legislature, the Republicans passed the Castle Doctrine, despite the objections of Minnesota law enforcement agencies.  Thankfully Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed it.

Minnesota’s “Castle Doctrine Law” is similar to the Florida law called “Stand Your Ground.”  Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed the “Stand Your Ground Law” in 2005 saying “It’s common sense to allow people to defend themselves” as he signed the new law.

Defending yourself is fine and legal. In fact, Minnesota’s law already allows for justifiably taking of a life, if it is “done in the belief that it was necessary to avert death or grievous bodily harm.”  But, we’ve seen what these laws are.  These are laws permitting murder — legalizing vigilante justice.  They have not been created in an effort of one’s defense other than legal defense of murder.  We’ve seen it in Texas and Colorado, when burglars were “justifiably” killed as they run away.  And now we have an unarmed 16 year old boy, who was pursued by a man with a gun and confronted by that man apparently because he was black and wearing a hoodie.

Who was standing their ground?  Who was defending himself?  Even if a fight ensued, wasn’t it Trayvon Martin who was standing his ground?  He was the one being followed by a man with a gun.  He had no weapon.  I’m sure he felt his life was in danger.  Be realistic! Be rationale! George Zimmerman hunted down and shot a boy because of his racist paranoia.  George Zimmerman wasn’t standing his ground, he initiated the confrontation and committed murder.

Even some legislators I really like supported Minnesota’s version of the “Stand Your Ground Law.”  They should all be ashamed.  They tried to make a murder like the murder of Trayvon Martin legal.  Thank you Governor Dayton for listening to law enforcement officers and doing the right thing.

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2 thoughts on “Would MN’s version of the Stand Your Ground Castle Doctrine law lead to legal murder too?”

  1. There are a lot of questions concerning the Zimmerman-Martin incident that we may never have answers to … the police report leaves a few questions, such as :
    #1. Mr. Martin was lying face down. The police had to turn him over to attempt CPR. How does someone get shot at close range in the chest and end up face down … was he turning when Zimmerman pulled the gun out? …was he jerking in pain trying to crawl away and finally died faced down? Was there any wetness or grass stains on Mr. Martin’s back indicating that he had initially fallen backwards? What was the distance that the bullet traveled … and when, and how, did Mr. Zimmerman pull his gun?
    #2. How long does it take a person to die from this type of gun shot wound ? The police arrived at 9:17 and Mr. Martin was dead (although a number of police tried to revive him, he was declared dead at 9:30) … what time was the phone calls of someone screaming? Was there sufficient time that Mr. Zimmerman should have called 911 again to request an ambulance and report the shooting? What time did the dispatcher tell Mr. Zimmerman to not follow Mr. Martin?
    #3. No one took Mr. Zimmerman’s gun immediately … it may have not been taken until they took him to the squad car to evaluate his injuries.

    But that was Florida and just one incident … in Minnesota, the legislature enacted with Governor Pawlenty’s approval a change to eliminate the responsibility for the local county sheriff to approve a Conceal-and-Carry permit … I have to wonder how many county sheriffs would have refused to issue a permit to someone who was arrested for confronting an enforcement person and had also called in over 40 investigation requests. As a citizen who could have been walking down those streets, I would want my county sheriff to gave greater control over who is carrying concealed weapons.

    Regarding the NRA questionnaire, Congratulations on getting a “D” … that is a very good grade for anyone running under the DFL banner.

    1. Followings is parts of two posts I offered in a forum discussion related to “Stand Your Ground” and the Trayvon Martin killing:

      To categorize myself, I would say I’m Republican 60% of the time, (mostly) anti gun control , a proponent of my right to defend myself-my family and my property, and a person who voiced my support of the “stand your ground” legislations (as well as my concern with the dangerous vague limitations/provisions) of the 2011 bill

      I credit the conservative right with being able to do something the “touchy-feely” left hasn’t been able to do. They have moved me to support replacement “castle” laws that provide very definitive conditions for the use of deadly force in protecting myself and my family. That tattoos, gold teeth, a school suspension, whether he had any business walking in a neighborhood, whether he should have run from a stalker (my “legal” interpretation)…that these points are even brought up in a discussion relating to justifiable deadly force prompts me to conclude that subjective perceptions and feelings cannot be a valid consideration in the matter. My position should it become law, will undoubtedly result in my arrest and maybe even being tried should I feel compelled to stand my ground. I think that alternative to be more just that relying on “feelings” as grounds for shooting and killing an unarmed person.

      Perhaps I lead a charmed life. I’ve lived 62 years in/near cities ranging in population from 300 to 3 million. I spent 15 years working in corrections and have been verbally threatened or had my family threatened by inmates dozens of times. I have never once felt the need to draw a weapon. I’m inclined to believe, based on my experiences, that the need for loose “stand your ground” laws is fueled more by paranoia that by a genuine need for protection.

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