May 10, 2005

You Retreat Whilst I Overcome

Dani Newsum wrote a piece that appears in The Denver Posts' bloghouse. It's an attempted critique of Florida's no duty to retreat law.

Let us fisk.

"Thanks to a new bill just signed into law this week by Governor Jeb Bush, Joe Six Gun can open fire in a public place with no fear of criminal prosecution or a civil lawsuit. An NRA lobbyist was standing right next to Bush as he signed the bill.
Ah. Florida."

Nope. The law requires that force be used against a person before they can respond in kind.
Ah, lack of reading comprehension.

"The Republican-controlled state legislature there set the tone for this year’s Terri Schiavo debacle by passing “Terri’s law” in 2003, their ill-fated attempt to stick its finger in the eye of her husband Michael. “Terri’s Law” allowed Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to issue a directive ordering the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube. At the time, Florida’s conservative state lawmakers were full of bombast about 'life' - innocent life, precious life…you get the picture."

You can probably see where this is headed. Newsum makes a basic mistake; assuming all life is equal. Comparing a woman who is incapacitated or a baby still in the womb to someone who is attacking you demonstrates this sort of illogic. If a person attacks me or someone I care about, even if they feel they are justified in doing so their life just slid much further down the scale of importance than mine. If they feel their life is worth more than I do, then they can stop attacking me or my loved ones. Otherwise I'm going to lose no sleep over ending their threat to me &/or my loved ones. They devalued their life by attempting to devalue mine. Comparing that to a person who has done no harm to anyone else is disingenuous at best & it shows an utter lack of comprehension of the topic. Debate abortion all you wish; discuss "quality of life" for the bedridden & incapacitated to your heart's content. But don't compare them to someone who acts to another detriment unjustifiably & then is harmed because of it.

"Under the 'stand your ground' bill signed into law yesterday, anyone who 'is not engaged in unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be' can use deadly force, including of course gunfire, without first attempting to escape."

So you don't have to try to run away before you stop someone from beating, crippling, killing or raping you. & the problem is...?

"The law not only allows a state resident to shoot anyone who enters her home uninvited (like Colorado’s own 'Make My Day' law); it also allows residents to open fire in public place without first trying to escape the danger. Floridians now get to shoot first, and ask questions (or perhaps beg forgiveness), later."

Asshat. The phrasing used demonstrates that this person has never given more than cursory thought to self defense. Running is seldom an option. When it's there it's a damned good one, but it's seldom there. In the woods running form a predator triggers a response in them that defines you as prey. It's no different in the cities. If you run often you'll just excite whatever base motives the person had for attacking you. It's much better to stand your ground & fight if you are at all able to do so. The practical reason is if you use force in that way - by standing your ground there's a better chance that your attacker will turn tail. Much better than by your running away.

Besides, I believe Col. Jeff Cooper mentioned once that evil is not overcome by running from it. Society is much better off when the populace won't condone criminal actions against individuals. Even better still when they actively oppose it.

But to understand that you have to take the cud out of your mouth & stop thinking like cattle.

"Although I disagree with the 'make my day' laws, I understand them: it’s fair to presume that anyone who enters your home uninvited intends to harm you or your property in some way (although not necessarily in a lethal way.) But allowing people to open fire in public places goes beyond being reckless – it’s mindless."

No; if Newsum understood the "Make My Day" law there wouldn't be a disagreement. It's a very simple premise: if you break into my house I can justifiably assume you mean me harm, therefore I can use whatever force I feel is necessary to repel you. Now this may result in someone who just wanted a stereo getting shot but the idea is that a homeowner has no way of knowing the intruder's intentions & expecting someone to second guess a burglar's actions in the middle of the night is not a good way to provide for thee safety of anyone except the burglar.

To disagree with that is to misunderstand. Look at the phrase, "...although not necessarily in a lethal way..." & you'll see where the misunderstanding stems from. Newsum thinks that determining the intent of an intruder is possible. It isn't. So it's best to treat them as a deadly threat. The Colorado law reflects this. It's not telling people to shoot everyone they see crossing their threshold. It's saying that if you do shoot an intruder we won't play Monday morning quarterback when you were afraid for your life.

"Do you get to pull the trigger with impunity when someone simply says 'I oughta kill you' or 'I’m gonna get you,' (heck, I say these things at least twice a day). Or when some guy (or gal) takes a swing at you?"


If the person can be taken seriously & makes some physical gesture affirming their intentions then yes; they should be fair game. I doubt the Florida law does that. From what I've read it requires a physical attack. But Newsum casually makes statements about killing or "getting" someone? Perhaps the problem is the irresponsible practice of saying things not meant. Course Newsum is writing in the Denver Post so I can't say I'm shocked at dishonesty or insincerity.

& if some guy or gal takes a swing at you - well what do you think they're trying to accomplish? Taking a swing at someone happens when a person wishes to cause harm of some degree to another. Using force, perhaps even deadly force to stop someone from taking swings at you seems like a good way to live another day, or at least retain your health another day. Again, all life is not equally valued & if someone wishes to attack me then their life depreciates rapidly. Whether they meant to cause moderate or severe harm is not something I'm going to ponder while it's going on. Stopping an attack is much more important than understanding why it occurred.

"Is that enough to let the bullets fly right there in the mall food court?"

Is preserving a misunderstanding about the nature of life worth being crippled or killed by an unprovoked attack right in the middle of the mall food court?

"Several chiefs of police opposed the law, including Miami’s John Timoney, who predicts that innocent people are going to get killed or hurt. 'Whether it’s trick-or-eaters or kids playing in the yard of someone who doesn’t want them there or some drunk guy stumbling into the wrong house, you’re encouraging people to possibly use deadly physical force where it shouldn’t be used,' he says."


Police chiefs, Sheriff's etc. are often just political appointees who have no more idea about how to reduce crime & protect people than a Denver Post columnist or a lawyer. If trick or treaters attack someone then I'm not sure I'd be that sympathetic to their injuries. The law does require an attack to take place. & the drunken guy wandering into the wrong house scenario - first of all drunken guys have been known to rob, rape, kill & cripple other people. But more importantly that has nothing to do with this law as it concerns being outside the home. The drunken guy entering the wrong house was in danger before this law passed & he'd be in danger in most of the states he could move to.

"Especially since any nut who wants a gun can get one in this country."

That doesn't bother me half as much as any nut being able to write for a newspaper or practice law.

Guess Newsum missed that whole NICS check that occurs at every dealer sale of a firearm. Or that people with mental disabilities are usually barred from legally possessing a firearm. Too bad we can't say the same about press credentials.

"Wonder if Florida requires folks to take target practice – just to minimize the risk of collateral damage when somebody decides to 'stand his ground' in front of an elementary school or hospital or little league baseball game."

I would wonder if The Denver Post made those whose writings they post practice double checking sources, facts &/or logic, but I don't have to wonder at all about that.

Now if target practice was required (which I can't say I'd necessarily be for but the idea does have merit) Newsum would probably be screaming to high heaven about the state making people use evil guns.

"The NRA is pleased. Its pistol-packin’ lobbyist, Marion Hammer, says the guns-R-us gang plans to use its Florida victory to launch efforts to get similar laws passed around the country."

Good. That'd be one positive thing I've seen from the NRA lately (on the political front at least).

"To be fair, unlike the lawmakers who gladly carry its water, at least the NRA isn’t spouting this 'culture of life' nonsense. Not when maniac member Ted Nugent roused the group’s national convention in Houston last week with the rally cry, 'I want ‘em dead. Get a gun and when they attack, shoot ‘em…' (Still calling this guy a 'rocker' is ridiculous. The guy hasn’t done anything since “Cat Scratch Fever” – and that one stunk.)"

I disagree with Ted on a few things, but in his defense: Stranglehold. Free For All. Damn Yankees. Apparently Newsum isn't an able music critic either. Besides, I'm thinking Cat Scratch Fever (the tune Newsum claims "stunk") probably has sold more than any Dani Newsum column ever will.

"If someone is shooting at you, or physically assaulting you with a bat or other deadly weapon, or attempting to rape you – forget the law - you’re going to do whatever it takes to do to defend yourself. That’s just common sense."

Apparently not that common as there are places where such behavior will land you in prison longer than your attacker.

"But I’ve got a hell of a problem with a law that declares public places open to legal gunplay, and lets you shoot and/or kill somebody who’s merely punching or otherwise attacking you in a non-lethal manner, and that also exempts you from criminal prosecution or a civil lawsuit if you injure or kill innocent people while you’re playing Rambo."

I know mean people. When they want to get nasty they're nasty. There is no such thing as "merely" punching. People have died from "mere" punches. Not just occasionally. Over the centuries many people have been beaten to death by an attackers bare hands. I would not expect a person to judge someone else's intentions & capabilities to the point of deciding that they weren't going to kill with those "mere" punches.

But defending yourself is not playing "Rambo". No matter how many people copy that phrase from the VPC's list of catchy lies to spread it simply doesn't make it so.

"You might want to pack bullet-proof vests for the kids on your next visit to Disney World."

I'd be very surprised if Disney World allowed benevolent folks to carry firearms on its property. Course that wouldn't stop malevolent folks. I'd pack the vest anyway. Not because of Florida's new law, but because it's the only legal way to try to protect yourself in places that have drunk the same kool-aid Newsum sees to swig on. Places that make predators safe from their prey.

But I'd be remiss in pointing out that the correct term is bullet resistant, not bullet proof.

"Better yet, it might be safer to skip the Sunshine state. When it comes to life, Florida’s reactionary governor and state lawmakers only mean fetuses and the near-brain dead."

Would near brain dead be defined as an attorney who fails to comprehend the language &/or implications of a law? But it seems Florida cares for the life of crime victims. If Newsum cares to skip a state with those priorities then I doubt Florida will weep for long over it.

"For the rest of us, it’s duck-and-cover time."

Which would explain the lack of fact checking involved with that post. Course it does seem Newsum found time to go over the VPC's catch phrase checklist:

Joe Six Gun: check
Open fire: check x 3
NRA lobbyist: check
Republican-controlled: check
Gunfire: check
Shoot first, and ask questions later: check
Make my day: check
Pull the trigger with impunity: check
Let the bullets fly: check
Any nut who wants a gun can get one in this country: check
Collateral damage: check
Elementary school/little league baseball game: check
Pistol-packin: check
Guns-R-us gang: check
Maniac: check
Legal gunplay: check
Rambo: check
Bullet-proof vests: check

& finally:

Logic: uncheck

Posted by Publicola at May 10, 2005 04:37 AM

The comments are closed to anyone not agreeing to Newsum's article. Too bad. Perhaps that is a 1st Amendment issue for them restricting my right to free speech. Good fisking though.

Posted by: Outlaw3 at May 10, 2005 06:50 AM

I was living in Colorado when they passed the so called "make my day" law. I vividly remember the whiny "news" articles and op-ed pieces at the time.
gives just a taste

Posted by: dave at May 10, 2005 03:26 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?