Friday, March 23, 2012

Martin/Zimmerman: Fuel For The Democrat Attack Machine

Recently, the Huffington Post Enquirer ran a post regarding the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, entitled Trayvon Martin Case: 'Stand Your Ground' Law At Center Of Shooting. The unwritten implication of this article is that enhanced self-defense laws, such as Florida's, grant protection to murderers.

The left have already begun spinning this killing into an attack on Republicans. Note, for instance, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski making a sloppy attempt to connect this shooting to Rush Limbaugh. Jay at The Right Sphere reports Media Matters has already begun spinning this tragedy for political points in a number of posts.

Let's debunk the assertion that Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law somehow protected Zimmerman. To do so, we need to examine the 2006 changes to Florida's Justifiable Use Of Force law, specifically, the portion contended here- Zimmerman's immunity from criminal prosecution:
776.032 (1) A person who uses force as permitted (...) is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force (...) As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.
Stated in plain English, Florida requires police officers to establish probable cause before arresting someone for using force in self-defense. This is a far cry different from HuffPo's claim:

The Florida law lets police on the scene decide whether they believe the self-defense claim. In many cases, the officers make an arrest and leave it to the courts to work out whether the deadly force is justified. In this case, however, police have said they are confident they did the right thing by not charging 28-year-old George Zimmerman.

The failure, then, isn't with the "Stand Your Ground" law- a point which even Al Sharpton concedes- but with the failure of Sanford police to thoroughly investigate the shooting. The recording of Zimmerman's 911 call alone debunks his self-defense claim. From Doug Mataconis' excellent article:

The police on the scene appear to have reached the conclusion that Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense, but the 911 calls from that night raise some doubt about just how much danger Zimmerman was actually in, and the extent to which he may have pursued Martin despite being told by a 911 operator not to do so.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, the author of the 'Stand Your Ground' law, wrote this op-ed for FOX News, summing up the issue thus:

Mr. Zimmerman's unnecessary pursuit and confrontation of Trayvon Martin elevated the prospect of a violent episode and does not seem to be an act of self-defense as defined by the castle doctrine. There is no protection in the "Stand Your Ground" law for anyone who pursues and confronts people.

The "pursue and confront" phrase is especially applicable here: While Florida has a very well-written and well-articulated law on self-defense, it is one of the few states which has no statute authorizing private persons to use force to pursue and arrest fleeing criminals. Even if Florida did authorize this use of force, however, Zimmerman still wouldn't be justified, because Martin had committed no crime.

The anti-gun crowd, however, never let facts or the law stand in the way of their political agenda.

This law, championed by Republicans and vilified by Democrats, was contentious when it was passed in Florida in 2006; now there's a murdered boy, and a wrongful claim of self-defense. This is an election year, and the Democrat attack machine feeds on accusations that Republicans are "bitter clingers" and racists.

Take this for what it is: the Democrat attack machine working to make all Republicans look like George Zimmerman's accomplices and enablers.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Outrage In Indiana Part Four: The Barnes Bill

Last night, the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1, which, once signed into law, will resolve a nearly year-long deprivation of the civil rights of residents of the State of Indiana. Readers who have followed me for the last year will be aware of my previous "Outrage In Indiana" posts on this very subject. For those who haven't, let me recap.

In Part One, on May 13th of last year, I described the appalling decision by Indiana's State Supreme Court in the case of Barnes v. State of Indiana. The court determined that a private person had no right to resist unlawful police burglary of their home. I detailed the 800-year-old legal precedents which allow for such use of force, and the farce of the court's decision. In Part Two, I published an open letter to Governor Mitch Daniels, imploring him to take whatever action he possibly could to provide relief to Hoosiers subjected to police lawlessness. In Part Three, I published the very thoughtful response I received from his office.

To review the matter at hand: Richard Barnes had an argument with his wife, and neighbors called the police. Upon their arrival, the Barneses had reentered their home, and no further argument was occurring. Officers Lenny Reed and Jason Henry (more on them in a moment) insisted on entering the home, and Mr. Barnes refused them entry. The police, unlawfully, entered the home anyway. Mr. Barnes attempted to use non-deadly force to expel them, and he was tased and arrested.

Eight centuries of legal precedent, from the Magna Carta to two 20th century SCOTUS decisions, explicitly authorize the use of reasonable force to prevent unlawful acts of the police. The laws of the state of Indiana do not privilege police officers from justified force if they are acting outside the bounds of the law. The Fourth Amendment, and a substantially similar provision in Indiana's Constitution prohibit precisely this conduct- the unwarranted and unlawful entry into a private home by government agents.

Nonetheless, Indiana's Supreme Court ignored the eight centuries of legal tradition, multiple decisions of the United States Supreme Court, the United States Constitution, and the Constitution and laws of Indiana, and determined that a Hoosier's only lawful recourse was to sue the police agency for damages after being the victim of a violent crime (in this case, burglary and assault) committed by a police officer.

Our Second, Third, and Fourth Amendment rights were established by our Founding Fathers for expressly this reason: Prior to, and during, the American Revolution, armed agents of the British government- soldiers- would routinely enter private homes without cause, assault homeowners and arrest them without charges, and quarter themselves in private homes in order to intimidate homeowners into submission. Expressly for this reason, we have a right to keep and bear arms, a freedom from quartering in private homes, and a freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

We also have a natural, or God-given (depending on your outlook), right of self-defense, a topic which I have written about extensively. The instinct to protect ourselves, our families, and our property from violent attack is as natural to us as the need to eat. A government decree that a certain class of persons- namely, police officers- are "untouchable", and may commit violent crimes at will, and the prosecution of private persons who exercise this right against them, is wholly offensive to the basic principles enshrined in our founding document.

Thankfully, Indiana's legislature has taken up the cause of preserving individual liberties in this matter. Senate Bill 1, introduced by State Senator Mike Young and sponsored by numerous other state legislators, seeks to amend the Indiana Code to explicitly authorize the use of reasonable force against law enforcement officers who commit crimes against private persons.

In short, SB1 changes the language of the state's use-of-force laws to state that "any person" may be the recipient of defensive force, and adds a section specifically addressing the use of force against police officers. This section authorizes the use of non-deadly force against "any law enforcement officer" to prevent the police officer's criminal attack upon the person or property, and authorizes deadly force to prevent a law enforcement officer's criminal attack which may inflict death or serious bodily injury.

Once signed into law, Indiana will become only the second state in the nation to specifically authorize the use of force against police officers acting unlawfully. North Dakota authorizes the use of force to terminate a police officer's unlawful use of deadly force. Indiana's statute would dramatically exceed this limited level of protection.

I applaud the state legislature for taking this necessary step to improve the right of self-defense. I also understand Sen. Young is facing a primary challenge this year. I hope Hoosiers will go to the polls in droves and show their support for this fine representative of the people.

And on a final, and ignominious note: Officer Lenny Reed, one of the two goons who burglarized Mr. Barnes' home, and (ironically) the medic for Evansville PD's SWAT team, was also involved in an incident involving racial profiling and substantial damage to an innocent man's RV- which the man was delivering to a buyer- when Reed initiated a wrongful drug search. This incident occurred less than four months before the Indiana Supreme Court's Barnes decision. Inexplicably, Reed was promoted to Sergeant during roughly the same time frame.

The other goon involved, Officer Jason Henry, resigned from Evansville Police Department after beating up a former sheriff's deputy, only three months before the Barnes decision. The beating occurred at a meeting of the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police, no less.

Residents of Vanderburgh County have ample reason to question Evansville Police Chief Brad Hill's professional judgment. Apparently Hoosiers can't even rely upon the common sense of local officials and police administrators for relief from police lawlessness, which makes the passage of SB1 all the more vital. Mary Beth Schneider of the Indianapolis Star tweeted last night that SB1 passed the Indiana Senate 38-12 and passed the Indiana House 67-26, and is now on its way to Governor Daniels' desk.

Many thanks to my dear friend April Gregory for her invaluable assistance in researching this post.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rick Santorum: The Least Patriotic Republican

Super Tuesday results are in. Mitt Romney has won six of the ten states, and is the clear frontrunner now more than ever. The question Republican voters must ask is this: Why are we still slogging through this primary season?

The answer to that question is simple: Rick Santorum.

As I noted in this post, we have two goals for 2012: 1) winning the White House, and 2) winning the Senate. The time, money, and attention spent on our primary detracts from accomplishing those two goals. I can't overstate this point: Every moment, every dollar, every ad wasted on our primary is one less to use in defeating Barack Obama.

And the object of this distraction- Rick Santorum- doesn't share our values. The concept of separation of church and state- specifically, JFK's speech on the subject, vowing that he wouldn't take orders from the Pope- makes Santorum "want to throw up". The greater personal and economic freedom of the "libertarianish right" (read: the Tea Party movement)- which Ronald Reagan referred to as "the very heart and soul of conservatism"- can't "succeed as a culture" according to Santorum.

And he's an embarrassment to our party. He is, after all, Michael Moore's favorite Republican, the target of Moore's "Operation Hilarity", designed to keep our primary running longer- with exactly the consequences I described above. Santorum gleefully, and cluelessly, accepted Moore's "support", stating that the pro-Union, Democrat-oriented robocalls "proved" he could attract Democrats. Just as I noted with Newt Gingrich in this post, the left salivates at the prospect of Rick "Man-on-dog sex" Santorum being our nominee, as it would guarantee an Obama victory.

Rick Santorum doesn't realize the amount of damage he's doing to our cause, and he doesn't realize that his presence in the primary endangers our chances of winning this election. He is costing us money, time, attention, and the support of independents- whom we need in order to win.

If Santorum had one scrap of concern for our country's future, he would drop out and clear the field for our party to focus on defeating Barack Obama, winning the Senate, and righting this ship. He won't do that, however, which makes him the least patriotic man in the Republican party.

Make no mistake: The 2012 election is the hill to die on. Our success or failure in this election will determine whether we fix our broken economy, restrain our government, and put America back to work, or become Greece.

It's time to get behind our nominee and take the fight to Barack Obama and Harry Reid.

(Photo credit Gage Skidmore via