Good Source of Info On Gun Deaths, Statistics, etc.

Photo courtesy of insidetheegg.files.wordpress.com

Photo courtesy of insidetheegg.files.wordpress.com

 

Propublica.org, an independent online news organization, has compiled a thorough collection of gun-related articles on their website. It’s a great resource for anyone wanting a deeper understanding of gun violence in America.

The website lists a variety of gun-related articles and research, grouped by subject/issue. Issues covered: Are mass shootings increasing?; gun deaths among women and children; the NRA; how politics protect gun dealers who sell guns used in crimes; Stand Your Ground” laws; and others.

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FLORIDA PANEL CONCEDES STAND-YOUR-GROUND LAW NEEDS CHANGE

panelists

Read the article at endstandyourground.wordpress.com.

The panel, made up of several people of diverse backgrounds (including politics and law enforcement), and its conclusions represent an important development in the debate about the Stand Your Ground law. I call it the “Shoot First, Ask Questions Later” law, for obvious reasons! I’m just hoping that enough people are even aware of this panel and that it’s conclusions will have some influence on Congress.

Trayvon Martin Shooting Reenactment Ad About “Stand Your Ground” Laws

FROM MY “BLACK VITALITY” BLOG 🙂

50th Anniversary of The March On Washington

From the National Action Network:

NAN March on Washington Flyer

For general info about the march, click here.

For info about bus transportation to the march, click here.

Matt Damon Talks New Film, Stand Your Ground Law and Trayvon Martin Case

Photo courtesy of media.tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of media.tumblr.com

Watch video of politically savvy actor Matt Damon express disappointment in Pres. Obama’s second term. He also criticizes the Stand Your Ground law in regards to the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case. 

“Stand Your Ground” Defense Doesn’t Work for Everyone

Photo courtesy of BET.com

Photo courtesy of BET.com

 

Marissa Alexander is many things- a black woman, a mother, a domestic abuse survivor, and a violent criminal serving a 20-year bid.

Her crime in the eyes of a jury that took only 12 minutes to render their verdict was three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, according to TheGrio.com. The thing is, no one was actually hurt. That’s unless you consider a ceiling a person.

It all happened during a confrontation between Alexander and Rico Gray, her then-husband, in which she felt threatened. Considering the fact that Gray had a history of abusing her physically, it is not hard to understand why she may have been frightened.

So, in the course of the confrontation she took out a gun and fired it above her husband’s head, presumably to scare him off, since she never once aimed at him directly. His two children happened to be in the room during the incident, hence the three counts, though the children were never hurt, either.

A typical self-defense case? In the eyes of many, yes. A Stand Your Ground-worthy case? In the eyes of the law, it should have been. In fact, Alexander attempted to use the law as her defense, but the judge in the case rejected it. TheGrio.com explains the outcome of the case:

“The fact that Alexander, a domestic violence victim, was denied use of ‘Stand Your Ground’ to facilitate her claim of self-defense has served as an example for some of how the law is not equally applied to all races and all genders.”

The fact that George Zimmerman actually did shoot someone, and that person died, yet Zimmerman is walking free doesn’t make much sense in comparison to Alexander’s case. Zimmerman shot and killed someone “in self defense” who was smaller than himself and was unarmed; Alexander fired a warning shot in self defense that didn’t hit anyone and was not intended to hit anyone, while trying to protect herself from someone who had battered her before. Yet she’s in prison and he’s not.

Fortunately for Alexander, Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard also sees this as an imbalance of justice. According to TheGrio:

“State Senator Dwight Bullard sent letters to three members of the governor’s cabinet Monday, requesting that Alexander be granted a pardon and released from prison.  The letter was sent to Attorney General Pam Bondi, the state’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Attwater, and the Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putman.”

Under the Florida constitution, the governor has the authority to give pardons. In the letter, Bullard writes:

“[Alexander] was denied a defense under Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ protections, and was found guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.  Surely Ms. Alexander had a clear right to defend herself and not retreat from the middle of an altercation in which her life and safety were at stake.”

So what are the chances the pardon will be issued? Bullard is optimistic, saying that the work of the Dream Defenders (a group of young activists fighting to have Stand Your Ground repealed) has helped bring more exposure to Alexander’s case. He says:

“When [the Florida government] looks at the facts of the case it’s obvious, and that’s what gives me optimism,” says Bullard, “Opponents of ‘Stand Your Ground’ didn’t have much to look forward to [after the Zimmerman verdict] but between the success of the Dream Defenders who have been protesting for weeks in the capital, people are now doing a serious analysis of the flaws in ‘Stand Your Ground’ and this will carry over to Ms. Alexander’s case.  For the everyday citizen [it] is hard to understand how one person [George Zimmerman] goes free claiming self defense for killing an unarmed teenager and another person goes to jail for killing no one.”

“These facts should create an uneasiness and from the political standpoint it would be in the best interest of the governor to pardon Ms. Alexander.”

There are several petitions on Alexander’s behalf calling for a pardon, as well.

UPDATE: Dream Defenders Score Victory: Florida Lawmakers To Review ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws [VIDEO]

Stand Your Ground: An Explanation of the Law

Image courtesy of wtxl.com

Image courtesy of wtxl.com

 

The Stand Your Ground law (specifically the version used in Florida, location of the Zimmerman trial) has been talked about and referred to a lot in recent weeks, and especially after George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict. The problem, though, is that many news outlets have not adequately defined and described the law. In order to fully understand the events that led up to the trial, the crime itself, and the verdict, one needs to understand that law. So, this post is to help explain the law for readers.

According to usnews.nbcnews.com:

Normally, a citizen has a duty to retreat when confronted with what they perceive to be deadly force. The Stand Your Ground doctrine mostly removes that, meaning citizens who feel threatened are no longer required to try to quell a situation first before having the right to use deadly force in self-defense.

There are three parts to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law:

  1. It states that a person is presumed to have reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm when using defensive force if an intruder has broken into his or her home or vehicle and is justified in using force.
  2. It states that a person does not have a duty to retreat if he or she believes death or bodily harm is imminent.
  3. It provides immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.

The parts of the law that directly apply to the Zimmerman case are the 2nd and 3rd. In the time period immediately after Trayvon Martin’s death, Zimmerman was initially not charged with a crime because he was deemed, based on his description of the altercation and shooting of Trayvon, to be innocent of any crime. He claimed that he felt so threatened by Trayvon (although he is older and much larger in stature than Trayvon) that, after trying to fight back, he simply had to shoot Trayvon to death. Under the 2nd part of the Stand Your Ground law, this is permissible. Therefore, based on the 3rd part of the law, he was immune to a criminal prosecution of Trayvon’s death. He was only charged with a crime after the outpouring of public frustration and anger over the law.

It is very interesting to note that while Zimmerman’s defense team never used Stand Your Ground as a criminal defense in court, the judge instructed the jury to keep the law in mind anyway, causing at least one juror’s decision to be swayed by it. If that doesn’t constitute injustice, I don’t know what does.

Also important to note: this law was enacted with copious amounts of support from the National Rifle Association under a Republican-dominated state legislature in Florida. Florida was the first state to enact the law in 2005. In all, 22 states have since enacted this kind of legislation, according to CNN.com.

In any event, this “shoot first, ask questions later” law is unjust and should be removed from the books immediately.

Stevie Wonder Boycotts Performing in Florida Over Zimmerman Not Guilty Verdict

Stevie Wonder – photo courtesy of comicvine.com

 

According to Slate.com:

On Sunday night, Stevie Wonder declared that he would not perform in Florida until the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law is abolished. His boycott is politically savvy, morally righteous, and it could be enormously important.

While Stevie Wonder’s boycott of an entire state might have exerted real pressure in, say, 1976, in 2013 it’s almost entirely a symbolic act. But symbolic acts are often the first step toward kicking off concrete ones, and we should imagine what would happen if like-minded artists followed suit.

Beyoncé in 2013 might not be Stevie Wonder in ’76 but she’s not far behind, and her husband is said to be a figure of some renown. Rihanna’s 8.4 million Instagram followers felt her outrage on Sunday. If these [and other] artists were to join in Wonder’s boycott, the bottom lines of club promoters and festival organizers and concert arenas would start to look different in a hurry.

Stevie Wonder went on to say that he will not perform in any state that has Stand Your Ground laws in place.

As the article discusses, this may be more symbolic than anything else since Stevie Wonder has not released an album in quite a few years. This may also seem to some like a publicity stunt, but Stevie Wonder actually has quite a deep history with the Civil Rights Movement, according to Slate.com:

Stevie Wonder, some people might scoff, should stick to making music. But Wonder is one of the two or three most important American musicians walking the earth (Bob Dylan, maybe Aretha Franklin; end of list), with an unsurpassed track record for melding music and activism.

In 1961, a year before “Little” Stevie Wonder released his first album for Motown Records, two of the biggest stars in American music, Sam Cooke and Ray Charles, made headlines by refusing to perform before segregated audiences in the Jim Crow South; Charles opted to pay a breach-of-contract fine rather than sing in Augusta, one of the largest cities in his home state.

In the 1980s, Wonder was the musical spearhead of the campaign to make Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday, and lent his talents to USA for Africa and the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

So his decision doesn’t appear to be a “Dancing With the Stars” kind of grasp for the spotlight. Seeing that his decision has made headlines in the news, other stars who decide to participate will likely bring more media attention, and more financial pressure on music venues, to result in some real change. Obviously, it won’t only be up to celebrities, but their high visibility and influence on fans could definitely help.

Stevie Wonder’s decision is an incredibly brave one. It will be interesting to see if other celebrities are brave enough to do the same.