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.