Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Delores Umbridge Brought Us Stand Your Ground Laws

I recently learned from John Oliver that the Stand Your Ground law craze was started ostensibly because a woman named Marion Hammer told a tale about fearing for her life in a parking garage and feeling burdened by the duty to retreat. A car full of men, a woman alone... you feel sympathy, right? And she happened to have a gun on her to scare them off.

Did the men do anything physically threatening, though? It's not clear. The story Oliver recounts is mentioned in this 2012 article about Hammer and her history with the law, but only verbal threats are described. Of course, Hammer assumes her gun saved her. And also that a Stand Your Ground law was needed for some reason within her scenario, when it clearly wasn't: She didn't shoot anyone, and was never even threatened with prosecution based on her actions.

Florida passed the first Stand Your Ground law in the U.S. in 2005, when Hammer was in her 60s. She had been a gun activist her entire life when she encountered those guys in the parking garage. She still is, now that she's in her 80s.

She's under 5' tall, and, as the CNN article linked above says, "favors bright lipstick." Here's a relatively current photo:

When I saw that, I couldn't help thinking, She's Delores Umbridge!

Once again, let me say I'm so glad that Minnesota has managed to hold out against the Stand Your Ground stupidity. We've had multiple cases where a white person shot a black person and claimed they were "afraid" (such as this and this). With a Stand Your Ground law, it's likely those two would have been acquitted or never tried. Which is bad enough when cops do it: do we really need civilians making the same claims?

As John Oliver pointed out in his segment on Marion Hammer, the homicide rate has gone up in states that passed SYG laws, and down in states that didn't. (Here's one example.) And — big surprise! — Black people (especially Black women) still get charged with gun crimes when they use guns in ways that clearly meet the description of self-defense under the SYG law... from Marissa Alexander to Siwatu-Salama Ra

There are movements afoot to repeal SYG laws in a number of states (Florida and Georgia were two that I noted). This page on the Everytown site has a lot of good information both on repeal and reasons why.

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