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Friday, July 19, 2013

Attorney General Holder and self defense

In talking about Florida’s stand your ground law in a speech to the NAACP, AG Holder said:

“They (Florida and other states) try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if — and the ‘if’ is important — no safe retreat is available,” Holder stated.

“We must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely. By allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety. The list of resulting tragedies is long and — unfortunately — has victimized too many who are innocent.”

Some facts first.  I would go way out of my way not to shoot anyone.  But the question is not about me.  It is what is Holder saying about the fundamental right of self defense by anyone who is in danger.

Several questions come to mind:
1.         Can anyone trace for me this “age-old … duty to retreat” to its alleged ancient roots?
2.         Why is the SD (self defender) required to calculate whether “a safe retreat” is possible?
3.         What is “a safe retreat”? 
           a) If the SD can escape by leaving his money, is that a safe retreat? 
           b) If the AG(agressor) has a knife and SD thinks that he has a 30% chance of outrunning the AG, is that a safe retreat?
           c)  What if SD thinks he only have a 7% chance of outrunning ?
4.         If the opponent and SD have guns and SD is confident that he can outrun AG or kill him, but has good reason to believe that (if he runs) this will not be AG's last attempt to kill SD.  Is running a safe retreat?


  1. WRT number 2 above:

    Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. declared in Brown v. United States (1921) (256 U.S. 335, 343 (16 May 1921)), a case that upheld the "no duty to retreat" maxim, that "detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife".[4]

  2. I heard Bob Beckel state that if (or just because) Trayvon was banging George’s head on the concrete it was not sufficient cause for George to think his life was threatened and use deadly force. As Wayne suggest the arguments are getting silly.

    This is an issue, of course, because it is connected to the Zimmerman/Martin case which is racially toxic at this point.

    Not to be insensitive to the seriousness of the event, but the case is not, and never was, worthy of national media coverage, presidential attention, or special attention by the DOJ. A pox on all their houses.

  3. Here is an article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/15/6-decisions-trayvon_n_3600690.html )
    from the Huffington Post that points out 6 things that (in their opinion) would have saved Trayvon’s life. The article concludes with this sentence about Trayvon’s choice to turn and confront Zimmerman.

    “That doesn't leave someone being followed through their neighborhood many options other than fighting back”.

    So much for “duty to retreat”.

  4. Here is an article (http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/22/enemy-of-the-state-george-zimmerman-emerges-from-hiding-to-um-save-someone-from-an-overturned-truck/ ) on Zimmerman rescuing someone from an overturned vehicle. Firmly tongue-in-cheek, but it still bites a bit.