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Opening Arguments

Gun noise

Good piece in the National Review on the killing of 17-year-old Trayson Martin by "neighborhood watch" vigilante and cop wannabe George Zimmerman. It makes an important point that those committed to armed self-defense must also commit to the principle that those who bear arms must act responsibly:

Zimmerman acted inappropriately in the moments leading up to the shooting, and Martin would still be alive if Zimmerman had behaved as he should have. Supporters of pro-self-defense policies should roundly condemn Zimmerman’s actions, and Florida should change its laws to prevent this incident from repeating itself.

[. . .]

But regardless of what happened during the fight, Zimmerman’s actions went well beyond defending himself and others from physical threats, and into the territory of vigilantism — and they should be illegal. Zimmerman sought out this confrontation, and as a result a young man is dead — a young man who was unarmed, who was not carrying drugs, and who very well may have done nothing more than defend himself against a stranger who followed him on the street.

[. . .]

Contrary to what many liberal pundits have written, Florida should not reimpose a “duty to retreat” — the policy that prevailed before Stand Your Ground — on innocent people who face violent attackers. But it is true that the Stand Your Ground statute protects people who don’t merely stand their ground — it protects anyone who can reasonably claim he faced a serious threat, so long as he was “not engaged in unlawful activity” when the threat occurred.

In other gun news, that Hoosier ex-Marine jeweler who ran afoul of New York City's tough anti-gun laws, has avoided jail time by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor:

Ryan Jerome, who said he had tried to act responsibly but misinterpreted New York's stringent gun laws, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor weapon-possession charge. The former Marine from South Bend, Ind., will have to complete 10 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine.

"I'm happy with the outcome," said Jerome, 28, who had faced a mandatory 3 1/2 years or more in prison had he been convicted of the original felony charge against him. "I definitely did not know it was illegal to bring a handgun to New York City."

This case got a lot of attention from gun-rights advocates because Jerome was trying to do the right thing by turning his gun in at the Empire State Building. We would normally expect those groups to be making a lot of noise now, either praising the relatively good outcome for Jerome or urging him to stand up for his rights even if it costs him jail time. But I wouldn't be surprised if they toned it down a little because of the nationwide furor over the Martin case. Being strident about guns at the same time one has been so obviously misued is not good politics.