The situation is dynamic. What’s that? The subject of self-defense. The multi-facets on this topic highlight a real systemic issue we have in the United States. Once upon a time, and what a good time it was, if youngsters had conflict, there was nothing wrong with duking it out. I’m not an advocate of any type of violence. However, those dealing with a schoolyard bully today aren’t really afforded the same protections that children of the 80’s and to an extent 90’s, going back in time from there, were. Back in the day, if someone got in your face and started to push you around, laid hands on you, it was acceptable to knock their block off. In 2021 America, we now have the police called on kids that fight in school, and we deal with ridiculous punishments. In 2021 a kid can get suspended for something they did off school property. Talk about overreach. What’s that got to do with self-defense? A lot. Representative Matt Gaetz has introduced a new bill in congress; the National Stand Your Ground Act of 2021.
The fact that we need to have a law that dictates victims should not have to back away or be forced to retreat is emblematic of the schoolyard situation described. For several decades we’ve been empowering bullies by teaching our children that they’re to turn the other cheek, or run away if there’s trouble. Be a good witness as you’re getting your face beat in. Again, not advocating for a fight, but sometimes for a bully to stop bullying, they need to take a couple of blows via a fist. When conflict resolution fails. Peer mediation fails. What’s left? A left hook.
The current view on people’s ability to self-defend has been warped by the ideology that all conflict can be avoided. It can’t. Some of those bullies turn out okay. Some of those bullies turn into criminals. And some criminals had great upbringings with 4.0 averages. You get it.
“How dare you, self-defend?!” has been echoed over the last month since the Rittenhouse verdict came back. Perhaps the trial and subsequent verdict has put the spotlight on a very simple concept that people need to be reminded of. From Gaetz’s press release:
Following the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, Congressman Gaetz announced his intentions to file the National Stand Your Ground Act on an episode of his podcast Firebrand.
“Like Kyle Rittenhouse, every American has the right to defend their life from an attacker. If someone tries to kill you, you should have the right to return fire and preserve your life. Let’s reaffirm in law what exists in our Constitution and in the hearts of our fellow Americans. Abolish the legal duty of retreat everywhere,” Congressman Gaetz said.
That’s about as simple as it gets. Gaetz did not waste much ink on getting a million quotes or; having a ribbon cutting ceremony, releasing a flock of doves, lighting the Olympic pyre, or cutting cake when making the announcement. No, that’s what we get when someone left of center introduces a bill involving (restricting) firearms. Pats on the back all around! Not at all. Beyond the statement above, all else Gazetz stated in the release was who’s onboard with him and a link to the bill text:
Today, Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01), along with Reps. Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Greg Steube (FL-17), and Randy Weber (TX-14), introduced the National “Stand Your Ground Act” of 2021. This bill will codify Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law at the federal level, abolishing the duty of retreat when attacked.
Full text of the National Stand Your Ground Act of 2021 can be found HERE.
The right to self-defend and the Second Amendment has to do with “will”. That is when one individual or group of individuals tries to enact their will on another party. We’re given free will for a reason, and with that free will we’re not to force our ways upon others, but rather flourish by taking advantage of our abilities to live freely. Should that dynamic be disturbed by a criminal, or those intent on inflicting harm on us, or forcing us to do something we shouldn’t have to do in violation of our own sovereignty as a US citizen… as human beings, that’s exactly when the Second Amendment need apply.
What’s in the text of the bill to help fortify this?
(1) A person is justified in using. threatening, or attempting to use force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against an agressor’s imminent use of unlawful force. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this paragraph does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.
(2) A person is justified in using, threatening, or attempting to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believe that using, threatening, or attempting 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. A person who uses, threatens, or attempts to use deadly force in accordance with this paragraph does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand your ground if the person using, threatening, or attempts to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she have a right to be.
The lay person’s read of this is it’s okay to punch back if you’re being punched. And, it’s okay to shoot back if you’re in imminent danger. What do the legal eagles have to say about the introduction of this bill?
Surveillance footage also captured a 2014 case where the video shows a man chasing out an intruder with gunfire.
Channel 3 spoke to Chris Klotz, the attorney who represented the man. The jury found the man not guilty.
“A young man who was charged with a homicide, and he successfully defended himself with a stand-your-ground argument,” Klotz said.
Klotz told Channel 3 that states differ on where the law protects citizens, and how much that person should retreat when under attack.
“This bill filed by Mr. Gaetz does nothing to change any state’s law,” Klotz said. He tells Channel 3 it would change federal law.
We’ve seen time and time again that public opinion weighs heavily on this topic. Several generations of youth never got to shake the dust off the boxing gloves to give and take blows. There’s something eloquently jarring to getting punched in the face, especially if you deserved it. Those lessons are long gone. In their stead, we’re left with a society that leans wholly on being a good witness. There are some people that no matter what, when they read about, hear about, or watch the news concerning any type of “high profile” self-defense event, they’ll automatically victim blame the person that self-defended. There’s a bit of victim shaming that goes on against the actual victim. There’s an old saying that talks about how it only takes one violent encounter to turn an anti-gunner into a pro Second Amendment advocate, and there’s truth to that. Just like religion in foxholes.
There’s nothing wrong with orthodox measures to avoid conflict. There’s nothing wrong with meeting advisories to parley at a table. Have a plan to avoid trouble, for sure. Everything about non-violent ways to self-defend and or avoid conflict are wonderful. Our abilities to do that are what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. The principles of lawful self-defense dictate that we must do everything in our power to avoid trouble. We must be an innocent party. However our right to protect ourselves and our own should not hinge on an alleged possible escape route or anything else because someone else decided to enact their will on an innocent party.
Sometimes there’s no escape. Sometimes an aggressor will get you while you’re fleeing. Sometimes an aggressor will be beating your head into the pavement. Mike Tyson once said in an interview that “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” At that point, when all else fails, are we allowed to punch back? This bill says “yes”.