Saturday, July 28, 2018

Gun gods.

The First Amendment gives Americans the right to free speech, press, assembly, to petition the government and to practice or not practice religion. So, for example, you can believe in whatever theology you like and pretty much say whatever you wish without interference or regulation. However, if you start sacrificing humans at your worship gathering, the cops are going to show up, shut you down and charge you with murder.

If I libel or slander you with my words, you can take legal action, file suit and seek justice and damages, despite the First Amendment. No rights are unlimited. None.

Now the Second Amendment says this: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." But in Florida, that has become, among other things: "A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony." And that deadly force includes using a firearm.

This week in Florida, a man approached a mother in a parked car outside a store. With her were two of her children, a four-month old son and three-year-old daughter. The man started an argument with her, apparently because she was occupying a spot designated for the disabled. He believed he had the right to enforce parking ordinances and vigorously argued her eligibility to use the spot. There were apparently empty spaces and he insisted she move into one of them. When the woman's boyfriend and father of her children came out of the store, she opened the door of her vehicle and climbed out, putting her in close proximity of the stranger. Her partner quickly stepped forward and shoved the man who was confronting her, pushing him to the ground. Seated on the pavement, the self-proclaimed parking enforcement official pulled a handgun. The boyfriend took steps back, before the assailant shot him in front of his family. Wounded, the dad staggered into the store where he collapsed and died in front of his five-year-old son.

Law enforcement in Florida has not arrested the shooter, declaring he was within his rights to stand his ground and shoot an unarmed man because he believed he had to "to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm." The gunman had a concealed weapon's permit.

Question: Was the boyfriend within his rights to protect the mother of his children and the two youngsters inside the car because he felt concerned for their safety? Since in Florida you can kill someone if you "reasonably believe" you're threatened, it would follow you can you push someone if you "reasonably believe" you're threatened, or your loved one is threatened? Law enforcement there must not agree because they've publicly defended the shooter and referred the case to the State Attorney's office to decide. Perhaps if the boyfriend had shot the stranger who confronted his girlfriend at her car window, he would be alive today and free to go about his business because he was just standing his ground with a weapon. Perhaps his mistake was that he didn't shoot the man who came to the family car and provoked an argument. Florida law allows you to stand your ground at home, in your car, in a hotel room and apparently in a parking lot. Twenty-two states have similar laws that do not re quire people to retreat to avoid conflict.

However, just before the victim was shot, he took a couple steps back when he saw the shooter reach for his gun. He wasn't standing his ground but died anyway.

The event was captured on the store's security cameras, which you can view here. I offer this version because it has no commentary. Unfortunately the NY Post added music, but it is raw and unedited:

Now, what if the shooting had occurred around the corner, out of the camera's view?

The idea that we have reached a place where you can pull a gun and shoot and kill an unarmed person who shoves you away from his family in the broad daylight is a frightening concept. This means, your word against a dead man that you felt legitimately threatened. I can sacrifice your life if I "believe" you are dangerous and I'm free to go about my business.

I must be misinterpreting Florida law. The so called, "stand your ground" statute must be based on the First Amendment since it says: "... reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary ..." So, in Florida, you have a right to kill based on what you "believe," because your beliefs are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Sort of like a religion. It's not about facts, it's about what you "reasonably believe."

Here's one very important footnote and the basis of my sarcasm. If you watched the video link above, I'm sure you saw the shooting victim take a couple steps back a good second or two before he was shot. In Florida, the law also clearly states that anyone who "... initially provokes the use or threatened use of force against himself or herself" still has duty to retreat. The shooter took it upon himself to argue with the mother about the parking space, despite the fact there were empty spots much closer to the store entrance. He approached her vehicle, stood nearby, gestured and made demands to a total stranger. This provoked the shove from the father who came out to defend his family. As he approached, his girlfriend stepped outside the car and was much closer to the stranger. Perhaps he thought she was now in harm's way. Maybe he was concerned the stranger was carrying a weapon. Indeed he was.

Here's what one reader of the Florida Sun Sentinel wrote about the matter: "I have a handicapped Disabled Veteran Plate due to Vietnam warfare, yet I still have all my limbs, so I do not always appear disabled. However, I have already been shot (so I have a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Cross of Gallantry w/Palm, and a Combat Infantryman's Badge)," wrote David Brown. "Does that mean I should also be exposed to this (person's) poor judgment, as he stands his ground while I either produce my credentials or tell him to ...?"

You can imagine how David finished that sentence. How Florida police officials missed the idea that the unarmed father was defending his family from the unwanted advances of a stranger at the family vehicle, makes me think they're biased. Biased in favor of gun owners to stand their ground as opposed to those who are unarmed defending their turf. What they believe supercedes your beliefs and visual evidence.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9) He was not referring to the gun that won the West, the 1873 edition of the Colt Single Action Army revolver which came to be called "The Peacemaker." But the nickname implied that flashing that weapon was enough to cool heads. Unfortunately, there were no real, flesh and bone peacemakers in that parking lot in Florida. So, a father went into a store with a five-year-old to buy snacks and came outside to meet his Maker.

Tragically, in America, gun's have become gods. And some who are hired to keep the peace worship them.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

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