A Progressive Critique of Efforts to Repeal Stand Your Ground


By Johnny Walking Drum


Atlanta Progressive News reported an ignominious act perpetrated by our government to curtail Moral Monday protesters’ liberties in a redress of grievance at the Georgia Capitol building in downtown Atlanta.  The Moral Monday (MM) protesters, who were challenging the Stand Your Ground law, were arrested for exercising their right under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States..


The MM protesters were upset because their rights got trampled, but they themselves wish to trample others’ rights to defend themselves with a firearm under the Second Amendment.  This is hypocrisy.  

I am glad the MM protesters stood their ground, exercising their right to freedom of speech.  

One protester, Mr. Allen, also critiqued a pro-gun rights bill that is making its way through the Legislature, HB 875.  “There is another bill, HB 875, that allows guns to be on college campuses, schools, and bars.  I’m a member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church and Martin Luther King’s mother was actually shot in church.  Someone brought a gun in church and shot and killed her.  These gun laws don’t make us safer; it puts us in danger,” Allen said to an APN reporter at the Capitol building.

There are laws, both of man and nature, that forbid murder and other egregious acts, yet criminals still commit them.  Why?  Because criminals do not care for laws; they break them.

Martin Luther King’s mother shot in church is a tragedy, but it only goes to prove that if a good guy [or girl] were there with a firearm, perhaps the outcome may have been different.  But definitely without a good guy there with a firearm, MLK’s mother was deprived of defense from the perpetrator.

What would MLK do?  It is documented that Martin Luther King kept firearms at his home.  He even applied for a firearms carry permit to keep himself and his family safe wherever they may have traveled.  Although we will never know what he would have done in this situation, we do know what he may have done if confronted with an eminent threat of harm against himself or his family: Save their lives with his firearm.

Yet Mr. Allen’s statement, “Gun laws don’t make us safer, it puts us in danger,” is correct, but not for the reasons he believes.

Law abiding citizens [the good guys] won’t have their firearms when the criminals [the bad guys] show up.  It is more eloquently stated in the writings of Thomas Jefferson, “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms, disarm only those who are neither inclined, nor determined, to commit crimes.  Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants.”

Some feel that Stand Your Ground is a deeply flawed piece of legislation.  Perhaps this could be true.  But the idea we have to have a piece of legislation in place because we have forgotten one of our basic, fundamental rights of nature is abominable.

Some say it is a license to kill because a person has no responsibility to retreat, even if they are reasonably able to do so, in the face of perceived danger.  Have we become such a pusillanimous, or timid, society where the miscreant reigns and the decent shelter?  How far have we fallen?

Gandhi, possibly the most famous non-violent civil disobedient in history, wrote, “When violence is offered in self-defense or for the defense of the defenseless, it is an act of bravery far better than cowardly submission.”

Stand Your Ground is only there to remind us we already have a right to defend ourselves, loved ones, and our property with force, if necessary.

The Bill of Rights, in both this state and the United States, enumerates the right to keep and bear arms.  We have other rights too, even if they are not written down.  The Ninth Amendment says, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  

WIth every Right, there is a flip side: Responsibility.  You can say anything you wish, but if you yell “FIRE” in a crowded theatre, you are responsible for the outcome.  As such, a firearm carrier has a duty to be utmost responsible with his/her firearm at all times, at all places, not only for his safety, but the safety of others.  Most responsible firearm owner/carriers would agree; they would rather NOT shoot if conceivably possible, but they would not hesitate if their life or the life of an innocent is threatened.

Some would say an unintended, or perhaps intended, consequence of Stand Your Ground is if one has a gun permit, and a great deal of anger, hate, or racial bias, they can potentially set out to go looking for trouble.  This is flawed logic.  Stand Your Ground does not facilitate looking for trouble, nor disparage a person from finding it.  And someone can find trouble whether they have a gun permission or not; the firearm has nothing to do with it.

The Moral Monday protesters have a right to petition the government for a redress of grievance. The press has a right to cover news, no matter where or when, and be protected in doing so.  And law abiding citizens have a right to Stand Their Ground when threatened by someone who wishes them harm.  The real debate should be how to keep the government from thieving our unalienable rights.


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