Thursday, July 18, 2013

An Open Letter to Those Opposing "Stand Your Ground"

To the folks talking about trying to get rid of the "Stand Your Ground Laws", I think we should clarify exactly what you are doing.  This is a longer post but read it.

You see, Pennsylvania has a similar law that activists helped to pass just a few years ago, and it was truly a great thing for us.  Before this law, if you were attacked, you had to prove, in court, that there was no way for you to retreat before defending yourself.  Now some may agree with this, thinking it is prudent, why wouldn't you try to retreat?  Let me paint the picture:

You are eating lunch with your family at one of the many restaurants in our area that has outdoor seating.  A man a few tables over becomes belligerent and the focus of his anger seems to be your family.  He starts yelling, you ignore him, he continues yelling and you and your spouse and your child continue their lunch as the staff tries to handle the situation.  Suddenly he is standing up and now walking towards you and continuing to yell profanities. How did this situation escalate so quickly?  Why is he so angry?  You and your wife stand to protect your child and he shoves your spouse and then grabs the steak knife off of your table.  He is mere feet from your spouse that he shoved to the ground and to your child that is currently strapped into the high chair.  You, a gun owner with a License to Carry a Firearm (Concealed carry permit or whatever it is called in your State), draws your concealed weapon and shoots the man that is feet away from you.

Good shoot?  Self defense? That depends on the prosecutor because now you must face him or her in court and prove that you had no other option.  So you were in fear for your life and that of your family? You had no other option?  What about the gate that was behind you and your family leading into the outdoor eating area? What about the doors leading back into the restaurant?  What about the set of stairs leading to the storeroom?  You could have retreated to all of these places and yet you chose to MURDER this person instead of retreating.  Of course, in all of the chaos that happened in a matter of minutes you did not take note of every place available to retreat.  And what about your child in the high chair?  Could you have safely unbuckled him or her before this man with the knife attacked?  What about your spouse that was just shoved to the ground?  Up until a few seconds ago staff seemed to be dealing with the situation but now your family is in danger.

Now, a judge or jury may or may not sympathize with the prosecutor and you may even beat those charges, but at what cost financially, emotionally, personally?  How many of us have $10,000+ to hire attorneys good enough to defend us in court from this charge?  How many of us have bosses understanding enough to not fire us if we miss time off of work because we are being held without bail, even if only for a few days?  How many of us have occupations where we have a license that can be revoked or suspended by a governing board, even if only until the trial is over?  Before these laws were passed many people that were found innocent in legitimate self defense shootings never ended up in jail but they end up having severe financial trouble.  Even if the court finds you innocent, the family of the person that you killed can sue you in civil court and a lot of them win.  That was, until, this law went into effect.

You see, my family and friends that advocate for the undoing of these laws, you misunderstand exactly what you are asking to happen.  In reality, what it means for these laws to be undone is that I can no longer defend myself, defend Ashley, or defend Harrison without the threat of spending the rest of my life in prison.  What you are asking me to do is for me to make a choice: do I lose my family to some psychopath trying to do them harm or do I risk losing my family to some Prosecutor looking to make a name?  What would you do?  Defend your family or allow someone to seriously harm them because the law does not protect you?

Many of you took the death of Trayvon Martin personal, saying that it had a direct effect on you.  Well my family and friends, your advocating that I not be able to defend myself and my family really is personal and actually does have a very real and direct effect on Ashley, Harrison, and myself.

Many of you love my family dearly; think about that the next time you want to ask your Legislators to strip away my rights.  Think about whom your actions really effect.